Letter: Internal investigation
I was interested to read the article posted in the April 11 issue of this paper, which noted that the Hawley selectmen had exonerated Administrative Assistant Virginia Gabert of any wrongdoing, following an executive session. This presumably occurred in response to certain allegations leveled against her by former Selectman Tedd White and others in past meetings. But who made the determination that no wrongdoing had occurred? None but a jury of other individuals accused of having been party to the same violations.
I am not one to say whether or not the allegations were true, but it seems a bit off color that such claims would have been investigated by the very same selectmen who were implicated in engaging in these illegal acts, which were said to have included holding secret meetings, altering meeting minutes and attempting to modify the language of board votes after they already had been taken.
In fact, due to the nature of some of the accusations, I believe that Chairman Phil Keenan had an ethical and legal responsibility under the Conflict of Interest law to remove himself from the proceedings. Instead, the fox was asked to guard the chicken coop, while those accused of breaking the law were allowed to find themselves, “not guilty.” One might conclude therefore that Tedd White’s complaints about Mr. Keenan’s failure to follow procedure are at least partially correct.
The selectmen have done a great disservice, not only to the town, but also quite possibly to Ms. Gabert’s reputation. Assuming she is innocent, it follows that the findings of an impartial panel or hearing officer would carry more credibility in the way of clearing her name, a fact the board should have had no trouble realizing.