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Offender photos sent to basement Sunday, February 26, 2006
Lisa Kocian 508-820-4231 Globe West
It was a startling introduction to town government: nearly two dozen photos of the most dangerous sex offenders plastered next to the Framingham selectmen's meeting room.

But when they were moved to Town Hall's basement last week, at the request of a resident helping to hire the new town manager, some observers criticized the move, saying taking down the wall of shame amounted to a coverup of the town's seamier side.

Janet Leombruno, a Town Meeting member, said she's all for promoting the good side of Framingham but not at the expense of duping a candidate for the position of town manager. "I thought that we wanted somebody who knows what they're getting themselves into," she said. "I don't want some bonehead town manager who thinks he's coming into a small suburban town -- half of it is, but you've got the south side" as well, she said, referring to the more-urban neighborhoods in town. The debate began Feb. 14 when Larry Marsh, who is on the town manager search committee, e-mailed the selectmen's office, saying the police-issued photos of sex offenders represent a "gdismal picture" of Framingham. "Although I am one of the many in town that support 'zero tolerance' for sex offenders, I also feel that the police station or post office would be a more suitable location to post these photos," wrote Marsh. "I would like to see us paint a more positive and balanced image of Framingham for candidates and the many others who come to Town Hall for government business, hearings, or as visitors." Soon thereafter, selectmen voted to remove the photos from outside their meeting room, where town manager candidates will be interviewed, triggering a slew of complaints on an online community chat board, frambors.syslang.net. Framingham has 21 Level 3 sex offenders and 86 Level 2 sex offenders living or working in town, according to the Police Department's website. Level 3 offenders as classified by the state are those who are considered at "high risk" of committing a sex crime again, and Level 2 offenders pose a "moderate risk."  By law, police departments are allowed to disseminate information about Level 3 offenders only.  They also are allowed to disclose information about Level 2 offenders but only if a resident comes to the department and requests it in person. There has been much discussion about sex offenders in town recently because of a push by Police Chief Steven Carl to bar all such offenders from the "wet" homeless shelter downtown, which accepts people who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Selectman Dennis Giombetti defended the relocation of the posters, saying it's not about hiding a problem, but rather about projecting a balanced portrait of the town that reflects both the good and the bad. "gWe're all very concerned about sex offenders in town," he said.  "We're trying to hire a town manager and if he only sees the negatives, we're not representing ourselves well. . . . It was not to remove the sex offender listing or put it in a remote area in Town Hall, but it was more to balance the positives." In his e-mail, Marsh suggested Town Hall should have displays highlighting Framingham's historic sites, parks, schools, shopping centers, large corporations, or planned developments.

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