|By G. Michael Dobbs|
I received the following letter from Kathleen Cutler, the wife of Ronald Cutler, the recent candidate for selectman in East Longmeadow. Kathleen is referring to the story I wrote concerning the theft of a letter from Town Hall alleged by Selectman James Driscoll:
"This letter is in regards to the article you wrote about the controversial executive session letter. When I spoke with you on Friday March 5th I told you I was concerned about the possibility of you putting a political spin on the article, not in favor of my husband, Ron Cutler. You told me that you would do your best not to favor anyone in particular. You informed me that Joe Townshend disliked you but you didn't know why. You also made a 'between you and me' comment that I will keep between you and me.
"I asked that you specify each of the four pieces of literature that my husband was handing out, you did and I thank you for that. I also requested that you specify the name of the executive session document also known as the "file tampering" document, which refers to the town accountant file tampering, you told me you would. YOU DID NOT. I specifically asked you to do so because anyone who had the literature my husband had handed out would immediately see that that was not part of the hand out.
"You also stated that Mr. Driscoll 'did not identify the resident who called the matter to his attention.' Mr. Driscoll did not identify the resident because he is unable to, solely because no such resident exists! Did you even try to get this important information from him? One would think that when such a malicious accusation is being made against an individual running for an elected seat the editor would try to get the facts to back up the accusation that he is doing an article about. As a matter of fact if you check with the DA that is handling the case you will find out that Mr. Driscoll is unable to back up his false accusations.
"You stated in your article that Joe Townshend admitted to making copies of a confidential letter. Did you ask him how many copies he made? Did you ask if he always made copies of executive session material? Did you ask if he was within his rights to do so? Of course not, because those answers don't make headlines. I'm no journalist but I called Joe and asked him myself. I also found out that Joe insists on getting copies of the Selectmen's Meetings, even willing to pay the $12 charge which was newly implemented.
"It makes me wonder what's really going on at Town Hall and why the need for so many executive session meetings. I am disappointed with you for falling for Mr. Driscoll's well-crafted scheme to smear my husband's name.
"It is obvious to me that Mr. Driscoll was very concerned with the possibility of my husband being elected, as he should have been. Driscoll was afraid to lose his lamb. No more 'follow the leader' games. By concocting this lie, Driscoll tried to kill two birds with one stone. With Driscoll's false allegations, he would make it look as if Joe gave my husband copies of executive session material, and at the same time he was hoping to stop my husband from going door to door with the open session material he was handing out.
"You see Mr. Driscoll's previous attempt to stop my husband from passing around the truth was with a threatening phone call. When that didn't stop my husband, Driscoll then went on the radio spewing his accusations. Mr. Driscoll told Brad and Bo of WHYN several people have also come forward now. That's funny because there is no evidence of those individuals either. Mr. Driscoll wrote that letter to the DA because my husband called his bluff at the Senior Center Forum. My husband asked Driscoll where he might find some 'stolen documents'; Driscoll told him the 'stolen documents' were at the police station. We checked with the Chief. This discovery apparently upset Driscoll; he was made to look like a fool. Desperate people do desperate things. I wonder what drove Mr. Driscoll to such lengths?
"One thing I'm sure of though, Joe Townshend never gave my husband executive session material and my husband never passed any executive session material out. Oh, and for the record about that 'between you and me' comment, I would like to set the record straight nothing underhanded or inappropriate was said, but did you notice how that statement could have been interpreted differently had I not elaborated further. I wouldn't do that to you Mike, you seem like a nice guy."
Allow me to respond: The fact that Driscoll could not produce the actual item allegedly handed out by your husband nor could he name the person who supposedly gave him the hand-out were facts that I thought were fairly prominent and weakened his claims. Any intelligent reader could judge the validity of the accusation by the evidence Driscoll offered or didn't offer.
I did not put in a detailed description of the letter in question because I did not want to print an accusation about a town employee that was settled as a mis-understanding to everyone's satisfaction.
Townshend called me on April 25 to tell me I inaccurately reported our discussion concenring whether or not it was proper to bring the letter in question out of Town Hall. Townshend said all of the Selectmen bring documents out of Town Hall for review and it is is legal and common practice.
I quoted Townshend and your husband much more than I did Driscoll. I printed the four issues Townshend told me were important to the race. One issue was not printed fully because Townshend did not deliver a contract that he promised to get to me that would prove his point.
On April 23, I called East Longmeadow Police Chief Doug Mellis who explained that on March 28 he told the Board of Selectmen he would convey the letter in question to the District Attorney's office. Assistant District Attorney Thomas Townshend told me that after reviewing Driscoll's letter calling for an investigation the matter has been referred to the state's Ethics Commission.
Nick Breault, the executive secretary for the Board of Selectmen, said on April 24 the board had received a letter from District Attorney William Bennett's office that notified them the matter had been referred to the Ethics Commission. Breault said the board had not seen the letter as yet as it came between meetings.
The issues of whether or not a letter was "stolen" or misused, whether or not the accusations and counter-accusations were real concerns or politically motivated and the ramifications of those actions are not yet determined.
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