HomeNewsSelect Board to Interview Town Managers, Receive Update on Redacted Documents Scandal

Select Board to Interview Town Managers, Receive Update on Redacted Documents Scandal

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On Tuesday, July 9, the Hopkinton Select Board has a packed agenda, which includes interviewing the next Town Manager, receiving an update from Town Counsel on the release of former Deputy Chief Jay Porter’s alleged victim’s identity, the safety of the Eversource LNG facility, and the release of a tranche of Executive Session minutes.

Town Manager

Four candidates have applied for the position of Town Manager. 

  • Lance Delpriore, current Town Engineer for City of Foxborough
  • Christopher Senior, current Town Manager for Town of Cohasset
  • Jason Hoch, previous Town Manager of Town of Williamstown
  • Elaine Lazarus, Interim Town Manager, Town of Hopkinton

The town hosted a meet & greet with the four candidates on Thursday, June 20 at the Hopkinton Public Library. Read our summary of that meeting.

Release of Insufficiently Redacted Transcript

On Tuesday night, the board will receive an update from Town Counsel on the “Release of Insufficiently Redacted Documents”. 

On January 19, 2024, Hopkinton police, through their public relations agency, released the name, birthday, college, and profession of former Deputy Chief of Police Jay Porter’s alleged victim. The victim’s name was part of an interview transcript produced by Kroll Investigative Services of former Hopkinton police sergeant Timothy Brennan, who was found to have known about the victim’s allegations for years, but by request of the victim did not disclose it to his superior officers. Presumably based on the Kroll report’s findings, Chief Joseph Bennett subsequently made a recommendation to terminate Brennan, and the Select Board did so on February 8 in a 4-1 decision.

The Northwestern District Attorney’s Office (“NWDAO”) was referred the case by the Middlesex DA’s office, who stepped aside due to their involvement in the indictment of Porter. First Assistant District Attorney, Steven E. Gagne, conducted an investigation and stated that there were many parties who could have and should have seen the unredacted portions, but were “negligent”. These include the stenographer working for Kroll, Kroll investigators Daniel Linskey and Monica Monticello, the town’s labor attorneys Mirick O’Connell, town counsel Harrington Heep LLP, former Town Manager Norman Khumalo, Chief Bennett, and the previous Select Board. Notably, the report did not mention Select Board member Amy Ritterbusch, who through her social media accounts amplified the town’s release. 

“Notwithstanding the numerous missed opportunities to avert this mistake, the evidence establishes that this was an unintentional and regrettable oversight, one that understandably caused tremendous distress to the victim,” wrote Gagne. 

>> RELATED: DA Report Finds Criminal Prosecution “Not Warranted” in Alleged Victim’s Records Release

In spite of the findings, Gagne was circumspect about whether anyone could be held criminally liable in the matter. Citing several Massachusetts statutes, Gagne concluded his report with this: “Ideally the Town of Hopkinton and its counsel will implement precautionary measures to ensure this sort of mistake does not repeat itself. However, for the reasons set forth above, I find that criminal prosecution of those involved in the transcript’s release is not warranted.

Since the release of the records, resident Timothy Boivin, who describes himself as a “close, personal friend of the victim’s family” has been relentless in his pressure on the Select Board, consistently appearing at Public Forum to demand accountability for the release. 

“With the exception of Ms. Kramer, you all have miserably failed the residents of Hopkinton,” said Boivin on March 6, following the board’s decision to not hold Police Chief Joseph Bennett accountable for his role in the release.

LNG Plant Oversight

The board will also consider forming a “LNG Plant Oversight and Advisory” committee. This is likely due to the ongoing safety concerns many residents have over the Eversource Liquified Natural Gas facility operating on Wilson Street. 

Beginning in April, 2023, HopNews published a series of articles on the Eversource facility, revealing an aging plant with equipment past its useful life, a failing early warning system, and lax security measures at the plant. Subsequently, representatives from Eversource held a community forum to reassure residents that the plant continues to operate safely. Coterminously, the Hopkinton Fire Department held a joint safety exercise with the Eversource operations team, the second such exercise in more than 20 years.

The Eversource facility is the largest Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) Peak Shaving plant in New England. It supplies LNG to more than 300,000 customers in 36 towns. The plant is divided into two sections; three storage tanks on side of Wilson Street that each hold 1 billion cubic feet of LNG, and a liquefaction and vaporization facility on the other side of the street. 

In 2016, the Town commissioned a study performed by the safety firm Smith & Burgess that used Computational Fluid Dynamic (CFD) modeling of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) dispersion patterns from the LNG plant near Legacy Farms. “The Hopkinton LNG facility is bisected by a public road and consists of a gas liquefier/expander plant and LNG storage tanks. The plant and storage tanks are connected by piping which transitions underground below the road and returns aboveground on either roadside. The facility maintains large quantities of LNG. Thus, the worst case would be considered large,” reads the report.

In the event of a break in the piping between the storage tanks and the liquefaction factory across the street, the report surmises that the dispersion pattern would cover an area of greater than 3.8 miles, based on prevailing winds, and it explicitly excluded “ignition sources”, which would compound the magnitude of dispersion. 

Presumably the Select Board intends to add an element of civilian oversight to the Eversource operation, which in the past has been described by town officials as “opaque”. 

Executive Session Minutes

Finally, responding to a citizen’s Public Records Request, the board will consider releasing Executive Session minutes for 42 Select Board meetings that occurred between August 2, 2022 and May 21, 2024. The meeting minutes are expected to include private board member discussions on a host of sensitive issues over the past two years, including the termination of police sergeant Timothy Brennan, contract negotiations for the police chief, town manager and fire chief, ongoing litigation the town is involved in, and negotiations between the town and the police, fire, and dispatch unions. 

While the Select Board agenda lists the dates of the Executive Session minutes they intend to release, there was one notable absence, and that was for the Executive Session held on April 2, 2024, whose agenda item reads: “Pursuant to M.G.L. c.30A §21(a) (purpose 2) to consider the reputation, character, physical condition or mental health, discipline, or complaints concerning Police Chief Joseph Bennett.” Although the minutes were part of the public records request, there is no word from Town Hall if its exclusion was intentional or because of a simple typo. Regardless, the public should expect the releases to be heavily redacted.

The meeting is scheduled to be held at July 9 beginning at 5:00 PM at Town Hall and on Zoom

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2 COMMENTS

  1. To whomever becomes the new town manager, can you please make a priority decision to remove the stupid ‘bike lane?’

  2. I don’t hold out much, if any, hope that anyone will be held responsible and/or suffer any consequences for releasing the personal identifying information of the survivor and her children. But I will be on hand as an advocate for the victim and her family to bear witness to the ongoing despicable abdication of responsibility by our town’s senior-most government officials should that prove to be the case at the meeting Tuesday night.

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