Since the investigator’s report has been made public, I am speaking.
The report describing the incident between a Kingston selectmen and a town employee has been completed. Although social media has been flooded the past few weeks with people stating their version of the incident, including describing the incident as an unprovoked assault and attack, I have remained silent based on the advice of labor counsel. I was not at the restaurant on the night of Jan. 9, 2020. It was not my role to decide who was right or wrong, nor whose “side” to take. My responsibility is to read the facts from an independent investigation and discuss with my fellow Board members what action to take based on the results.
Since the investigator’s report has been made public, I am speaking. The report does not say the incident was unprovoked, nor is the behavior described as an assault or attack. The report states both parties were at fault, the conduct that occurred was not sexual in nature or gender-based and the incident was described as a “heated discussion.”
The purpose of executive session was to decide the contents of the document that would be released to the public and what disciplinary action would be taken, if any. The selectmen received two documents from the independent investigator. We received the Report of Investigation, on Friday, which is privileged and confidential, therefore it was not released. Monday we received the Executive Summary of Investigation. Jessica Kramer recused herself during the deliberation and vote pertaining to the release of the executive summary. The remaining four members reviewed both documents and unanimously voted to include additional content (in its entirety) to the Executive Summary of Investigation from the Report of Investigation. The content included did not violate privilege or confidentiality but provided more transparency on what occurred the evening of Jan. 9, 2020. The Board did not make edits, as alleged by Jessica Kramer. Jessica Kramer rejoined the Board to discuss what disciplinary action would be taken, if any. Whether or not we took any disciplinary action will not be disclosed and remains confidential, as it is a personnel matter.
Josh Warren, as the chairman of the Selectmen, is one member of the Board and does not have the authority to put a town employee on paid administrative leave without a vote of the Board. As a result of this complaint, we were required to notify the town employee at least 48 hours before a discussion could occur at a meeting. The earliest all five board members could meet was Thursday, Jan. 16. For anyone to pretend they know what the conversations had been between Josh and labor council, prior to that meeting, is blatantly wrong and unfounded. On Jan. 16, 2020, Jessica Kramer read her account of a conversation she had with Josh. Unless the phone call was recorded, or being transcribed word for word, these are representations of Jessica. As the independent investigator's report has shown all of us, both parties interpretation of an incident may differ.
The town deserves leadership that is brave enough to do the right thing even when it is the hard thing, and I did. It would have been easy to support Jessica Kramer and her version of the incident on Jan. 9 and move on. It was hard doing the right thing and waiting for the independent investigation to be completed. Why has it been hard? Just recently, I was accused of going behind the “backs” of my Board because I was at Town Hall on a Friday (after hours) with members of the Police Department. I was authorized by the full Board of Selectmen to negotiate both Police and Fire contracts. That day, I was in negotiations with the Police Department. It has been hard because of the unfounded allegations of corruption, lies, fake news, misinformation, character assassination, stalking, a documented attack on my home, selectmen being followed home after meetings and a town where some took sides before having the facts. As a selectmen for seven years, it is my duty to remain unbiased and to follow protocol and regulations, which is exactly what I did.
During the same span of time, a recall was initiated. Again, it would have been easy to take a time out and say, I support Jessica Kramer and her version of the incident on Jan. 9 and move on. The right thing to do was to allow the investigation to be completed, meet as a Board and determine the next course of action. Again, I did that.
It would have been easy to put politics before principles, but I did not. In fact, at the Sept. 13 selectmen's meeting Josh and I voted to provide Jessica Kramer and any participants protection against any liability claims with our positive vote to support the Offal Pits cleanup. Even with a positive vote, members of the audience were yelling at Josh and me to resign, over four months before the Jan. 9 incident occurred. Now, four months later, the yells for us to resign have turned into a recall. Kingston has always been known for its divisive politics, and this is no different. Some people don't want to accept votes at Town Meeting that have encouraged development projects in town or the votes taken at town elections. In spite of that, I will continue to work on what you have told me is important to you, generating revenue to lessen the tax burden, and working with the Affordable Housing Trust on avenues to provide alternative housing options for our residents, and many other initiatives. That is my duty, and I will continue to represent this town that has elected me to do so.
Elaine Fiore, Kingston selectmen