Chair defends warning letter to Parry; Town expected to issue official response soon

by beth on December 6, 2017

Last night, Southborough Wicked Local posted a story about David Parry’s complaint of an Open Meeting Law violation. It included two updates since my post yesterday afternoon.

As I shared yesterday, Parry filed a complaint with the Board of Selectmen for an alleged OML violation. It was based on a letter issued by Chair Dan Kolenda’s restricting Parry’s access to Town owned properties.

Although the violation complaint was based on process, it included claims that Kolenda issued the letter based on personal spite and unethical politics. Last night, Southborough Wicked Local posted a response from Kolenda. 

The Chair refuted the claims, stating that the letter was based on cause:

On Tuesday, Kolenda said police have received nine complaints against Parry in the past six months from residents and town officials based on his erratic behavior, and Town Hall staff are unable to get their work done.

“It was in the best interest of the town to issue that letter,” he said. “There is absolutely no OML violation. It is administrative.”

The story also updates that Town Administrator Mark Purple said the Town will likely issue their official response to Parry today. (Yesterday, Purple informed me that Town Counsel was working on that response.)

The article also points out that Parry’s complaint called for a public apology and the Chair’s resignation. Parry is again broadcasting his assumption that he won’t be satisfied with the Town’s response.

The former selectman posted a comment to yesterday’s blog story, labeling the Attorney General as the ultimate deciding force on the complaint. But by the AG’s policy, Parry is only meant to file with the office if he is unsatisfied with the board’s resolution.

You can read SWL’s article here.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Louise Barron December 6, 2017 at 12:26 PM

Beth,
What are the “nine complaints?”

And your reporting above that “Parry is again broadcasting his assumption . . .” is a disturbing choice of words.

To the objective third party reader, the above article seems a bit slanted. Also, the reporting on the process is actually incorrect. Where did this info come from?

The complainant completes the AG’s online form — then presents the complaint to the chair of the public board. That board then has 14 days to respond to the complaint and send a copy to the AG’s office.

https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2017/09/27/OML%20Complaint%20Form.pdf
Just saying. . .
Thanks!

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2 beth December 6, 2017 at 4:48 PM

I am sharing the information from SWL. Ask them what complaints. As I posted yesterday, I haven’t received a comment from Kolenda.

As for where I’m getting my information about the process, that’s here: http://www.mass.gov/ago/government-resources/open-meeting-law/oml-pending-complaints.html

And I don’t think it’s slanted to say that Parry is broadcasting his assumption he won’t be satisfied. He made it clear in his email on the issue he expects to hear back lies.

Finally, I don’t know why you pointed out to me that Parry is a former selectman. I wrote that in both stories.

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3 southsider December 6, 2017 at 1:26 PM

So sad. Two men who have tried to help out the town in so many ways and for so many years reduced to this.
Probably mistakes made on both sides…

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4 David Parry December 6, 2017 at 3:31 PM

The above article states as follows:

“On Tuesday, Kolenda said police have received nine complaints against Parry in the past six months from residents and town officials based on his erratic behavior, and Town Hall staff are unable to get their work done. It was in the best interest of the town to issue that letter. There is absolutely no OML violation. It is administrative.”

9 complaints ! That implies something serious is going on. But instead of jumping to conclusions, let us look at a typical example from the log report, as explained by the Chief to Parry.

Police Log: In July, the police received a call from a parking attendant that Parry had been waiting in his parked car for over 10 minutes, with the engine running. He was asked to leave, and he did leave after another 5 minutes ….. End of log.

What the log FAILED to mention was the following … the facts that Parry had been into the office, to see an Executive, but the Executive was running late and not there, and there were no seats available to wait. Therefore Parry was waiting in his car, patiently. The engine was running in order to operate the air conditioning, because it was a very hot day, and a very old (17 years) Labrador dog was inside the car, because Parry was going to visit the vet after the meeting. …. Here is proof of these facts …. the executive whom Parry was to meet with, actually called Parry later that same day, and apologized for being late.

Now … here is the mischief behind this story. When Parry met with the Police Chief on August 4, it was at Parry’s request because Parry wanted to ask the Chief what the reason was for the police harassing him at the Swap Shop a few days earlier — Saturday, July 29 — in front of witnesses (and photographed). But the Chief refused to discuss that matter, and instead started off as follows: “You have appeared too many times in our logs”. Parry was taken aback, and asked the Chief what on earth he was talking about. The Chief then gave some examples, all similar in nature to the one about parking (above) — in other words, NONE of the log reports contained any violations – NONE.

After listening to the Chief explain the log about the parking, (above), Parry explained the circumstances, and the Chief was sensible enough to admit his mistake, and apologize. The very same thing occurred with the other alleged “complaints” in the log – the logs omitted any detail, and the Chief was ignorant of the facts … and apologized after each one.

After this charade continued with more innocuous “complaints”, Parry interrupted, said it was obvious the Chief had minimal information and had some hidden agenda. Therefore Parry asked the Chief , directly, to explain what the REAL reason was for agreeing to meet. The Chief admitted that it was for an entirely different reason …. It was because he had received instructions from the Town Administrator and/or Kolenda, relating to how Kolenda was very annoyed with the Parry’s vocal criticism, so therefore the Chief should assist by meeting with Parry, by bringing up the logs, and any other allegations, all in an attempt to pressure Parry into toning down his public criticism of Kolenda.

In addition, Police Lt James was present at the meeting, because Parry learned that he was the “records” officer, and his permission was needed to obtain the record of who called in the “complaint” leading to Police harassment at the Swap Shop on July 29. Lt James refused to identify the person who called in the “complaint” …. Guess who !

Parry thanked the Chief for his apologies, and for being honest about the REAL reason for the meeting … as well as noting his disappointment that the Chief had allowed the Police Dept to be dragged down into local politics.

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5 Kelly Roney December 8, 2017 at 1:32 AM

Mr. Kolenda, an attorney, wrote a letter to Mr. Parry that cites no statutes in claiming the power to ban Mr. Parry. I think the letter is not worth the paper it’s written on.

I’ve been in the police log a few times – flat tire on Cordaville Rd., a couple of times when a tree limb where I live dropped on a power line. Maybe I need to be banned!

Whether the composition of the letter (not the banning, despite SWL’s headline) constitutes a violation of the Open Meeting Law, I don’t know, but it’s more plausible than it first appears at first glance. If the Selectmen are able to make decisions in email threads, it’s hard to see how they can ever be held to the transparency the law demands.

One thing is certain: Mr. Kolenda denied Mr. Parry any avenue of due process over the banning. And, again, I don’t think the Chair of the BoS – or even the full board – has the authority to ban someone from town property.

Yes, Mr. Parry can be intense. Deal with it! In a less authoritarian way…

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