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Collins: Ritterbusch Must Resign Immediately

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To the Editor:

With Annual Town Meeting now behind us, I would like to warn my fellow residents of Hopkinton of the apparent scheme being perpetrated by this Select Board, or the majority thereof.  Since they started this entire circus, and over these last few months, it appears that they have decided to take the route of “hiding with their heads in the sand” to avoid transparency, avoiding questions, and avoiding taking responsibility for their actions with respect to the entire Sgt. Tim Brennan issue. 

I truly believe that the hope of the Select Board is that if they ignore the citizens and pretend that nothing happened, that we will follow their lead, and bury our heads in the sand as well, and life will be good.  The only problem is if your head is buried in the sand, there is usually only one major body part left exposed. I think this Select Board has grossly underestimated the “will of the people”, and we won’t stand for it.

Tim Brennan is a solid guy, and I truly believe that when the smoke clears, he will land on his feet.  What really troubles me is that the Select Board is elected to represent us in running the business of the town. Oftentimes, there are issues of a sensitive nature that are not fit for public consumption but that need to be handled nonetheless.  Hence, Executive Session, and members of the Select Board are not at liberty to share these discussions outside of that forum. 

But this begs the question: At what point is a Select Board member, as a citizen of the town, at liberty to expose or share confidential information? I believe that any reasonable person would agree that between the lawyers for the town, the Kroll Investigations, Select Board members, and Chief Bennett, a decision was made (ostensibly in the spirit of transparency) to release the results of the Kroll Report, and that it was left for Chief Bennett to release.  With all the money that is paid to consultants and lawyers to act in the Town’s interest, I can’t believe that not one person thought to have the results of the Kroll Report proofread! This led to the sexual assault victim’s identity being exposed.  As reported by Timothy Boivin at multiple Public Forum’s, he attempted to notify the Town and Select Board, to no avail, and it went unaddressed for days.  I’d like to think it was an honest mistake; however, it happened, it can’t be undone, and it was devastating to the young lady and her family.

The next thing I take issue with is the moronic move by Amy Ritterbusch to take the same press release and repost it. I really don’t know how to address Ms. Ritterbusch’s actions as a town leader, because she has failed miserably, and clearly doesn’t care for the opinions of those who she is supposed to represent.  She has proven she cannot be trusted with privileged information, and she has been deceitful, such as when she was caught reading a pre-written response at the Loudermill Hearing. 

Ritterbusch sits at the head table like she is the “smartest person in the room” with a sophomoric, immature giggle that exposes her true persona.  I was never so embarrassed for the Board than the night of the Loudermill Hearing. Ms. Ritterbusch, I’m sorry that it took up three hours of your Friday night, but a man’s career was on the line, and there were more than 200 people there to support him. How about a little respect for Tim and the citizens who also gave up their Friday night?  It would have been a much more positive experience for everyone if you had allowed (very likely) the top subject matter expert on sexual assault in the Commonwealth to testify. The expert could have educated the entire town on the risks affiliated with forcing a sexual assault victim to relive her story. But no, Ritterbusch objected, which makes me wonder what she was so afraid to learn?  The Select Board was supposed to hear arguments from both sides of the table, addressing the accusations against Sgt. Tim Brennan, and then comment or decide based on what they had learned from the facts presented.  Ritterbusch had no interest in that process whatsoever, hoping to get out of there with a pre-written opinion while her colleagues hoped to make last call. What a clown show they put on!  At least Muriel Kramer attempted to facilitate a discussion and potential resolution.  I have been told on numerous occasions that there is more to the story that can’t be shared. I say “let’s hear it”. Why not? The Select Board has already exposed the victim’s identity, so why stop now?  

Ms. Ritterbusch, your actions of reposting the unredacted version of the Kroll report were immature, despicable, and unconscionable.  The victim’s identity being exposed may not have been your fault, but your childish urge to spread some “hot scoop” overpowered your sense of right and wrong, and you are responsible for everything that you forward and send out.  You are as responsible as if you drafted that document yourself, and shame on you for doing so.  If you are as educated as you profess to be, you knew that exposing the identity of a sexual abuse victim is against the law, but you did it anyway, and have offered no public comment on the matter since, not even a pithy apology. Tim Brennan may have violated questionable department policies that may not have even been in effect at the time, but Ritterbusch violated the law and needs to be held to account.  She has shown a total lack of maturity, compassion, common decency, etiquette, humanity, and professionalism, just to name a few. The lack of any of these qualities are a blatant example of a lack of trust in her leadership abilities, and I call for her immediate resignation as a sitting member of the Hopkinton Select Board.  The financial liability that she has caused this town are great and forthcoming, but pale in comparison to the amount of crushing emotional grief and pain bestowed upon the victim and her family.

Regrettably, the damage has been done, and the victim deserves every penny she gets awarded when her lawyers are done, and even that will only be a token and will never make her whole from the experience that this Town has put her through.

The only saving grace I see is for the Town to heed the vote taken at Special Town Meeting and reinstate Sgt. Tim Brennan. Maybe – just maybe – we will cut our losses of his wrongful termination. It is not often that we get a second bite at the apple, and I would strongly encourage the new Select Board to obey the will of the citizens of Hopkinton. You were elected to represent us, not to cost us money on frivolous investigations, and not to pay for legal advice that would allow such a mistake to happen.  End it here and now.

In closing, I encourage my fellow citizens to remain vigilant and do not be lulled to sleep by the “hoping it will go away” sentiment of this Select Board.  Don’t let them give you a false sense of security and encourage you to just “bury your heads in the sand”. Stand proud and let them know that we are all smarter than that. And remember: “always cover your Six!”

Respectfully,

Don Collins, Hopkinton  

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you, Don, for your astute comments.

    One thing that has troubled me since the Loudermill Hearing is this: Why didn’t the other members of the Select Board (SB) overrule Amy Ritterbusch when she objected to having the Top Subject Matter Expert on Sexual Assault in the Commonwealth testify? Why did they allow her to get away with that?

    During the hearing, after the evidence was presented, Amy wouldn’t let Muriel discuss the evidence, which was the whole reason we were there—to watch the government in action. But Amy refused to allow it, and Muriel and the others allowed her to dictate the proceedings.

    Furthermore, Amy dared to think she could READ her PRE-WRITTEN decision (likely written by Town Counsel) to fire Tim Brennan. The decision on which she and the other SB members were to deliberate and decide AT THE HEARING? Did she believe we were that gullible?

    Lastly, she outed the victim and her family, including her children, on Facebook and left it up for 3 days. One would expect her to at least apologize for her mistake. But no, she couldn’t be bothered.

    Don, you are correct in stating that Amy Ritterbusch should resign. Tim Brennan protected a victim of sexual abuse and lost his job despite having a perfect record for 37 years. Meanwhile, Amy Ritterbusch outed the same sexual abuse victim without so much as an “oops, my bad.” And people wonder why there’s so much animosity toward the Select Board.

  2. Don,
    I wish you would have called me first, I could have saved you some time. Amy and people like her have no shame….NONE. Shame is something she simply casts onto others. There is no way in hell she would ever resign, ever. She could out 100 more victims and you wouldn’t get as much as a tepid apology. I do not know her personally but as an elected official she is wretched, disgraceful and grossly incompetent.

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