Every tax is a pay cut. Every tax cut is a pay raise.
Citizens for Limited Taxation
|Rumors and politics in Framingham||Wednesday, August 27, 2003|
|Rick Holmes||Metrowest Daily News|
The kind of dirty politics and tacky insinuation that soiled the Clinton
White House a few years ago has trickled down to Framingham. It
arrived in the form of a rumor about the town manager's private life thinly
disguised as an ethics complaint filed with a state agency.
The complaint, filed by Seth Levenson, put a private matter into the public domain. In it, Levenson alleges he saw Town Manager George King playing strip poker with one or two of his female assistants, sisters Allyson and Karen Potter. Levenson is the estranged husband of Allyson Potter, and King has apparently been caught in the middle of their marital problems.
This kind of story belongs in a soap opera or in hushed, coffee-shop conversations. Levenson and, we suspect, some mischievous friends who play in town politics, used a frivolous ethics complaint to make it public. He threatened to tell all in a selectmen's meeting last week, but was stopped by a restraining order taken out by his wife, who takes notes at selectmen's meetings.
King and the two women named in the complaint have denied the story, but they shouldn't have to. What municipal employees do in the privacy of their homes on their own time, whether in the company of coworkers or not, is their own business. There is no town policy forbidding such fraternization. In a small town like Framingham, it's unreasonable to expect town employees to forego a social life.
If there's anything to the story, it could raise questions about King's judgment. As a rule, people in prominent positions should avoid situations that could potentially prove embarrassing to themselves or their employers. By now, all supervisors should know to steer clear of relationships with employees that could be interpreted as sexual harassment.
But if anything like that was happening between King and the Potter sisters, the complaint should come from Allyson Potter, not her estranged husband. Allyson and Karen Potter have denounced Levenson's complaint in the strongest terms, which is good enough for us.
Selectmen have handled this ugliness well. Last week they gave King high marks in his annual performance review, weighing how he does his job against specific goals. For stated reasons that make no sense, Ginger Esty refused to participate in the performance appraisal, and she abstained when selectmen, after a closed-door session, voted to dismiss Levenson's complaint.
Framingham has a long history of hardball politics, as King, who has been involved with town government for most of his life, well knows. But there are plenty of real issues to debate without dragging the reputations and families of public employees through the mud. The politics of personal destruction have no place here in Framingham.
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