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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: I'm Supporting Our Town Officials

Resident Christina Granahan says the Selectmen, SPS Committee and police department have all done a lot of good despite the recent issues.

As strongly as I have felt about a number of issues in this town over the past 13 years I have lived here, I have never written a letter to the editor. I think I am at a breaking point.

I have no information other than what is reported in the press about what happened at and/or with . What I do know is that years ago I sat at someone’s house for a coffee with various members of the school committees in town and John Drobinski to discuss school budgets. I listened as Mr. Drobinski talked passionately about the schools and his concern over the impact of decreased funding.

Whenever I have been confused, which admittedly is often, about a town issue — the project or the proposed cell towers — I have found reason to call Larry O’Brien. He has never taken more than a couple of hours to return a call and spend time until I understood.

When I wanted to know about the proposal about ’s property being potentially used for housing, I called Jody Kablack. Again, she offered to meet with me. And I have not found many people as passionate about affordable housing and homelessness as Beth Rust. I share her values around this.

Finally, the school committee, all of whom I participated in electing, are a group who give their time freely to oversee the education of my four children. I trust them with what is likely the most significant reason I live in this town: the opportunity to grow academically, socially and with values consistent with what I teach them at home in the Sudbury Public Schools.

When my son stopped breathing several years ago, the was there before the paramedics and the officer acted with professionalism and compassion. These elected officials and town employees have responded, not always with answers I loved, but helped clear a path for me to better understanding.

There is a fine line between poor judgment and unethical behavior. There is also a difference between reality and perception. I will choose to support our Selectmen, town employees and our school committee members until I hear that there was an intention to break a law or dupe the citizens. I will not ask for their resignation based on one event (where the facts have yet to become clear) — I choose to support them for all the good they have done for me and my family.

And I offer my compassion and hope that anyone who struggles with alcohol, whether they be a town employee or a homeless, unemployed, underserved citizen, gets whatever help they need. I would hope that this town is full of people who share that wish, as well.

Christina Granahan
95 Shadow Oak Drive

siobhan hullinger June 19, 2012 at 01:55 PM
YON - you pose an interesting point - Do we know if any of the bills from that evening were expensed?
YON - Jan C. Hardenbergh June 20, 2012 at 01:26 PM
Siobhan - Can I take that as you agreeing with me? If it was not a Town event, then it does not make sense to be asking Town Officials about it.
siobhan hullinger June 20, 2012 at 03:12 PM
I wouldn't say that but what I will say is that without an honest, open and transparent discussion headed by Selectman Haarde, I can't say either way.
YON - Jan C. Hardenbergh June 20, 2012 at 04:13 PM
Siobhan, would this discussion be limited to the business of the Town government, or would individual morals be fair game?
Mike Hullinger June 20, 2012 at 04:30 PM
The fact that Selectman O'Brien recused himself and left the BOS meeting "on advice of counsel," highlights that the selectman and Town officials created an inherently exploitable situation when they showed up at Lavenders, including ehtical questions about unwarranted privileges and creating an appearance of conflict of interests. The owner may have a duty to enforce the local regulations, but the town officials have a duty to avoid conduct that creates the impression they are receiving unwarranted privileges or creates the appearance of a conflict of interest with a business they directly regulate.
siobhan hullinger June 20, 2012 at 05:22 PM
I'm not following your road here - please give an example of what you are referring to.
SueChap June 20, 2012 at 05:39 PM
The conversation should not be considered complete without conflicts of interest being discussed. This is as much if not moreso about abuse of power and conflicts of interest, as it is whether or not residents care if O'Brien consumes 6 mai tais during his visits.
Christina Granahan June 20, 2012 at 05:49 PM
I am just curious....trying to follow....it's hard for me. How would anyone know if there was a conflict of interest if the owner of Lavender says there was not? And the police have investigated and found no improprieties? I just feel like a large forum with open conversation, which I am ALWAYS a fan of, will yield nothing that isn't already public. At some point, don't we have to trust that we are all doing our best here to make our town work as efficiently as possible and start looking at issues like the Johnson Farm project and NSTAR (who is cutting 22 trees from inside someone's fence in my neighborhood today)?? All I keep thinking is what would be possible if this much energy was put into those kinds of issues. If as many people showed up to stand in front of the NSTAR trucks as post here, maybe some of the south Sudbury families would have had a chance in their fight. I'm just saying.....I get it. It feels really important to some people and they have to do what they have to do. I just don't understand what will be revealed that will do anything but cause further divide in what I have come to know as the town I will live in forever.
Rob June 20, 2012 at 06:20 PM
It is a shame that Larry and the rest of the gang that was at Lavendars continue to let this position rip apart the town rather then doing the right thing and step down or at a min let a special election take place where they could run for their seat again. Its obvious they are putting them selves before the town and their obligations as elected officials.
siobhan hullinger June 20, 2012 at 06:21 PM
I totally hear you, Christina and I can only speak for myself here but I am doing my best to help the Johnson Farm group, the parents issue with the handling of the recent Noyes events, following the meetings the various boards and committees, finishing room parent responsibilities, high school banquets, renovations and so on. I guess we all do what we can. I will pose a question to you - do you realize that all these issues surround the same people? I think it great that the BoS has made statements to NStar but shouldn't that have happened when NStar FIRST notified them? And what about all those developments in South Sudbury? Ms Kablack did NOT file our housing plan as requested by Selectman Haarde and the Johnson Farm developer filed his plan 1 day prior - I find that curious to say the least, especially since she is assisting the developer, as I understand, in getting it approved. Why would all 4 developments in South Sudbury be approved in such rapid manner? Why didn't the BoS look at the best interests of this area? Who is driving this train? I think to look at the Lavender event would be to see the how, what, where, when and why of how this town is run. Once you do that - no, I don't think you can have trust that our officials are doing the best they can for the town as a whole.
sla271320 June 20, 2012 at 06:23 PM
Well said, Christina. Unfortunately, some place a high value on the politics of personal destruction. Helping our neighbors would be a much more worthwhile use of everyone's time.
Mike Hullinger June 20, 2012 at 08:02 PM
In Massachusetts, public officials must avoid conduct that creates the impression they are receiving favors from a business they regulate. When 2 selectman show up an hour after the posted closing time, are permitted to enter, and stay for 2 or 3 hours it creates the impression they are receiving priveliges from the business owner not normally available to you or I. It creates the appearance the owner is hoping the selectman will treat him favorably at the annual license renewal, even. The result of the two selectman and other town officials putting the owner in an inherently exploitable situation this time is that one town official was cited for OUI, at least one selectman and others remained on premises in violation of local regulations, and the owner received a citation. Its not about the expectation of a quid pro quo, its the simple impression of one that creates the appearance of a conflict of interest between licensing authority and owner.
Mike Curry June 20, 2012 at 08:45 PM
Why is it a personal attack when someone questions how town officials, who oversee the liquor license process, can gain access to a restaurant after posted business hours and stay an hour after the liquor license ends? I’ve always thought that Larry O’Brien seemed like a nice guy the few times I’ve seen him around town. However, that does not allow him or any other elected official to get any preferential treatment. In my mind it is as simple as that. Do people really think that at 1:00am (on a weeknight) the employees cleared all the alcohol from the tables and yet elected officials stuck around for another hour because they lost track of time? I honestly believe that had there been a major mea culpea at the time from those involved, this issue would already be over; it would have been for me. But when I see the Chairman of the BOS read a statement rather than answer questions and recuse himself on advice of counsel, is see politics at its worse. All that is missing now is someone saying they are “not a crook”. Yes, that’s an overstatement I know, but like that case, I think the cover-up is much worse than the crime. The whole situation has caused undo problems for the town, the restaurant owner as well the Sudbury police.
Bryan S June 20, 2012 at 08:54 PM
Christina - There is much irony in bringing Johnson Farm into this discussion. Both of the selectman involved with Lavenders did not assist when we tried to repeal 40B statewide. One said he was not "opposed" to 40B, the other called it a "useful tool" as recently as the election. Worse, the selectman involved in Lavenders wanted to send a neutral letter to Mass housing on Johnson Farm until Haarde objected. However, Johnson Farm is a policy dispute. Their support of 40B is a policy difference. They are entitled to that. The issues at Lavender go way beyond policy. We shouldn't mix the two. This entire incident should have been a non-issue had it been addressed openly at the May 22 BOS meeting like similar licensing violations in the past, that did not involve members of the BOS nor OUI. Yet here we have a licensing violation, including members of the BOS, an OUI, and town management and crickets from the BOS. No mention of this publicly until the PATCH breaks the story. We let the Police hang out there for weeks taking the blame for not acting since the BOS doesn't bother to address what happened. This goes way beyond policy.
Christina Granahan June 20, 2012 at 10:43 PM
Mike et al., I totally get your position. I really do. I just want to understand HOW you will know. I thought the questions had already been asked. Maybe I am misunderstanding. Thanks for responding so thoughtfully.
Kirsten Vandijk June 20, 2012 at 11:22 PM
Who are you, sla271320? I don't understand why getting to the truth about serious improprieties and mismanagement is not very directly helping your and my neighbors. I ask who you are because you seem to have a voice that could be better utilized focusing on the big picture rather than trying to divert the very important attention of what seems to be a very large number of taxpaying and law abiding citizens of Sudbury. Once this debacle is addressed and dealt with accordingly the Town of Sudbury can begin to refocus on pressing issues that do not involve "saving face". I wish more people on Patch would use their real names and include a photo. It would be nice to see the faces behind the voices--it makes it all so much more community-based and real. I respect your right to remain anonymous but still would like to be able to recognize you on the street and know that you, too, have a voice and want to be heard. I may not agree with the content of your opinions but celebrate our mutual need to voice them.
sla271320 June 20, 2012 at 11:29 PM
Re: Bryan Semple's comments... The police were only blamed because Bob Haarde dragged them into this witch hunt. Let's just say this is what happens when someone is a bit overzealous in his attempt to harm a colleague.
siobhan hullinger June 21, 2012 at 12:06 AM
WRONG!! The police are in the spotlight - unwarranted- because a) town officials entered an establishment AFTER posted hours. b) ignored the first soft request by PD to leave c) knew of a potential identity of an employee who was cited for OUIs and crashed d) had to be asked to leave a second time e) took their sweet time exiting e) didn't appropriately address it with other board members f) didn't appropriately and timely address it with the public. Sla271320 - you are either part of this "above the law" group or a BFF You are certainly not a reformist or realist nor a pragmatist. Be true to your words, stand by them and say who you are. I don't typically care if someone has a moniker but you, "James" and "Carol" must be of the same cloth or circle and I wonder if you would make such statements under a recognized name? One way or the other, you should speak the truth - as proven not as provided by someone else's verbiage
Mike Curry June 21, 2012 at 03:03 AM
Hi Christina, I agree that the questions have been asked, but unfortunately, Larry and the others are not giving any answers to them. We lost track of time just won't cut it and is an insult to my intelligence.
Enuff June 21, 2012 at 12:16 PM
It is interesting you equate accountability and fact finding as "overzealous in his attempt to harm a colleague" Bob Haarde was the only one not there. The people that were need to be accountable for what happened that evening. By the way, I don't know anyone blaming the police in town. The police do a fine job (as does the fire department). Meanwhile O'Brien, Drobinski and Valente all want to blame Lavender for this three ring circus. It is about time MOBRINSKI came clean and let the facts come out. People are not going to let this be swept under the rug.
YON - Jan C. Hardenbergh June 21, 2012 at 02:03 PM
Mike, many, many questions have been asked. But only one of them pertains to Town government. That is which entity will hear the next Lavender license review. Issues related to the alleged OUI and the license violation have been handled by the Police. The gathering at Lavender was not a Town government event. People were there as individuals, so, questioning Town Officials about it is not appropriate. Your motivation for wanting to question Town Officials may be as pure as the driven snow, but, when I read this page I see 10 posts containing personal attacks and this page is tame compared to some others. There are clearly some people who just want to cause further embarrassment. Time will tell how much of this is politically motivated. If there are unanswered questions that are appropriate for Town Officials to answer, what are they?
Enuff June 21, 2012 at 02:27 PM
Yon, The only thing politically motivated is the reluctance of our Town officials to be accountable to the people that elect them. Silencing the public is not the right approach. If there is no big deal, and as Drobinski says "it is minor" then let the Chief of Police come on in and tell us all how he feels. Not doing that just increases the skeptical nature of what is going on.
Mike Curry June 21, 2012 at 03:33 PM
YON, I'm not sure we know that it was not a government event. Was it a personal "special event" that allowed them to get there after business hours? Perhaps. Was it a government "special event"? Also perhaps. I think at least, that question should be answered. There are definitely political attacks, and they are happening on both sides. However, I think a regular taxpaying shmoe like myself who’s lived in the town for 17 years, deserves a few answers. If it was not a governmental meeting then you may be right that it is a personal question rather than a town question. Either way, I think Larry and the others can see how negatively it is affecting the town, including non-partisan townspeople like myseIf. If there's nothing to hide, just be honest about what happened (again, sorry, but "lost track of time" after they took all our drinks away an hour before, does not pass the smell test). If there is something to hide, it will come out eventually, but better to bring it out yourself rather than let this continue. By keeping quiet, the only people they are helping are their opponents. I just want the truth and I think I can handle it.
Let's Open our eyes June 21, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Siobahn, it seems you have quite detailed knowledge of the events that occurred that night. More than I've read in any public forum. I guess it would reason, therefore, that you were there as well?!?
SkimThreePercent June 21, 2012 at 03:52 PM
A bit off topic, but try "A Civil Action" for some good summertime beach reading. Drobinski was lying then (1979) and he got caught big-time. Hurt the Woburn families big-time. Guess now is the time for the families of Sudbury to pay the price for his "leadership" and "transparency" skills. BTW, when did Yon become the thought police here in Sudbury?
Enuff June 21, 2012 at 03:56 PM
So are we to believe that this was not a Town event and that as a coincidence, 20 plus people all decided to go to Lavender independently an hour after it closed to the public. All 20 were just let in after the posted closing hours and they all happen to have come from the same Town Meeting. A lot of coincidences. Then after the police came the first time 10 people all lost track of time and didn't leave until 2:00am. The Chairman of the Board of Selectmen is there to meet the police. It is hard to convince the public and a reasonable person that this is not a problem.
Kirsten Vandijk June 21, 2012 at 04:00 PM
I had a refreshing and short conversation with Police Chief Richard Glavin this morning. I asked him if he would attend the Board of Selectman's meeting on Tuesday, June 26th 2012. He responded that he planned on attending. I then suggested it might be a good idea, given the heightened energy and frustration of those who might attend, that an officer should be present in case things get a bit out of hand. I was heartened by his response that ( I interpret here) he would not want to give the wrong impression. I look forward to the meeting on the 26th.
Kirsten Vandijk June 21, 2012 at 04:01 PM
Then I asked for a paperclip to fix the visitor parking sign out front. Yankee thrift.
SkimThreePercent June 21, 2012 at 04:50 PM
That the Chief plans to attend is great news, but keep in mind that Drobinski typically does not allow for public comment. I haven't seen an agenda yet, but assuming this discussion item is included that's terrific! Leave Nix home or send him over to watch Larry.
siobhan hullinger June 21, 2012 at 04:58 PM
HA HA - no - I was not there - too late for me and I wouldn't have been granted access since posted closing hours are 10PM. I am only going by the timeline released byt the police, the police reports of that evening including the OUI. They are all here on the Patch or you could go the station yourself. Facts - only facts as the police have reported.

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