A resident filed an open meeting law complaint with the state Attorney General’s Office regarding the handling of public comment during the Aug. 18 Select Board meeting, when the board allowed two speakers and two letter-writers to deliver anonymous criticism of Planning Board member Muriel Kramer for her work with the Massachusetts Bail Fund.
Only the critics’ first names were revealed. Normally speakers are told to provide their full name and address.
Two board members, Amy Ritterbusch and Mary Jo LaFreniere, made it clear they were uncomfortable with allowing the anonymous criticisms. However, Select Board chair Brendan Tedstone said he was concerned for the critics’ safety because their comments referenced individuals accused of violent crimes.
In her open meeting law complaint, resident Darlene Hayes wrote that it was “upsetting” to watch, adding, “To see it encouraged by [Tedstone] to break protocol is unethical, unfair and unwarranted based on so-called unsubstantiated fears.”
Added Hayes: “The SB chair was out of line in his role to bully and not follow same practices in place and policy as meetings prior to the pandemic. This exception because it is an issue he wanted out there to shame a community member is wrong.”
In the section of the form that asks what action the complainant would like to see the public body take, Hayes wrote that she wanted Tedstone to “publicly apologize for abuse of power and negating inherent protocols for public comment during open meetings.”
The matter is on the agenda for Tuesday’s Select Board meeting.
Hayes is chair of the Hopkinton Democratic Town Committee, although she filled out the complaint form as an individual. Kramer is a Democrat as well. Tedstone is an independent.