UnoGate is officially over.
At an executive session on Wednesday night that lasted more than four hours, selectmen discussed the investigation of town department heads over comments made at an after-work gathering at Pizzeria Uno last fall. In a statement issued after the executive session, the Board of Selectmen said the investigation concluded there was no wrongdoing on the part of the town employees, and no disciplinary action would be taken.
The statement issued by the selectmen also revealed that the Southborough Eight was actually the Southborough Four. According to the statement, the employees under investigation were Town Administrator Jean Kitchen, Assistant Town Administrator Vanessa Hale, former Town Planner Vera Kolias, and DPW Superintendent Karen Galligan.
“Contrary to reports, Carla McAuliffe, Brian Ballantine, Fire Chief John Mauro, and Doreen Ferguson were only among the witnesses and were never the subject of the investigation,” the statement read.
With the exception of Brian Ballantine, all of the named employees attended the executive session, many with their lawyers in tow. Police Chief Jane Moran — the reported subject of the comments made at Pizzeria Uno on the night in question — also attended the session.
Before selectmen entered the executive session, Town Administrator Jean Kitchen made an impassioned request to keep the session open to the public to help “clear the air.” She also asked for a written statement clearing her record, and for an apology.
Kitchen said the work environment within the town had become “hostile and intimidating” as a result of the investigation. “An apology would go a long way to re-establishing trust,” she said.
In their statement selectmen also addressed rumors that Kolias, who resigned as town planner last month, left as a result of the investigation. “Any idea that Ms. Kolias was asked to leave her position as Town Planner is completely false,” the statement read. “The Board of Selectmen had absolutely nothing to do with Ms. Kolias’s resignation. It knew her as an outstanding and dedicated employee who left her position solely on her own initiative to make a positive career move.”
At a joint meeting of the Planning Board and Personnel Board earlier in the evening, Kolias said the investigation did play a role in her departure. “I would not have applied for the job I got if this hadn’t happened,” she said. “The right job came along at, unfortunately, the right time.”
You can read the entire statement by the Board of Selectmen here (PDF). An executive summary of the investigative report is expected to be released sometime on Thursday.