Menu Bar

Home           Calendar           Topics          Just Charlestown          About Us

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Town of Hopkinton tries to tries to justify cover-up

Did Morgan abuse impersonate a police officer? Is the town covering up?
By Will Collette
Don't mess with Morgan!

On January 15, I reported on my efforts to get to the bottom of complaints that now state Senator Elaine Morgan (R), who represents District 34 that includes the northern half of Charlestown, abused her office while she was Hopkinton’s elected Town Sergeant.

Morgan was accused in a Facebook posting on the WJAR page of using her uniform as Town Sergeant to act as if she was a police officer, which she is not, and interfere in a complicated personal matter. I heard about this Facebook posting too late before the election to chase it down, but after Morgan won an upset victory over Sen. Cathie Cool Rumsey, I went after the records since they now reflect on our new state Senator.

I filed a request under the state open records law with Hopkinton and was quickly turned down by the Town Clerk and then was again quickly turned down on appeal to the Town Manager. So I took the next step by filing a formal complaint with Attorney General Peter Kilmartin’s Office. I describe my appeal argument in my January 15 article and closed by saying I was waiting for the town to file a response.

I received that response from Town Solicitor Patricia Buckley on January 17. Read the full response by clicking here. In a nutshell, Buckley argues that Senator Morgan has privacy rights that outweigh the public’s right to know about her conduct as an elected official and whether she broke the law (or whether the town did nothing about those complaints).


This is the Facebook posting that started my quest
Here we have a state law that is essentially designed to give the public the ability to see what their government officials are up to, but apparently not in Hopkinton and certainly not when it comes to Senator Elaine Morgan.

I filed a rebuttal to Town Solicitor Buckley’s argument that you can read in total HERE. 

I noted that nearly all of Ms. Buckley’s brief is devoted to arguing that I can’t have documents I didn’t ask for. 

At its nub, the town;s position is the amazing claim that there is no public interest in seeing documents that might either reflect badly on Senator Morgan, or if you are open-minded to the possibility, could exonerate her.

While maintaining the town's right to withhold those records, nonetheless, in her brief, Solicitor Buckley makes a number of major admissions.

One is that there have indeed been at least two complaints against Elaine Morgan during her term as elected Hopkinton Town Sergeant. 

Another is that Hopkinton Police did not investigate those complaints. Apparently, those complaints were filed and forgotten.

According to Solicitor Buckley, Town Manager William McGarry made some notes on the complaints – and she considers those notes to be so confidential that she will not even disclose them to the Attorney General. 

However, Solicitor Buckley also reveals that McGarry took no action that resulted in generating any records.

I had thought that there might have been some memo or e-mail to then Town Sergeant Morgan to knock it off and stop using her uniform except when performing official duties, but apparently not.

Solicitor Buckley calls my request for copies of the complaints and the results of those complaints an “unwarranted invasion of [Senator Morgan’s] privacy” and claims there is no public interest whatsoever in those documents being publicly revealed.

Again, wow.

Since my January 15 article, the complainant who posted the Hopkinton Police report on WJAR’s Facebook page contacted Progressive Charlestown and posted details on what happened in comments to that article. 

To read these added details, just go to that article and scroll down to the comments.

He uses the pseudonym Boscoe Roads to “keep unwanted attention away from my son because his mother, my ex-wife, is friends with Elaine Morgan.”

To me, his description has the ring of truth but as they say, there are always two sides to every story. Sometimes, it’s a right side and a wrong side, but often it’s more subtle than that.

I said throughout my pursuit of the records that if they show some circumstances favorable to Senator Morgan, than it is in her interests to see them made public, with proper black-outs to protect innocent parties, such as the son of Boscoe Roads.

Indeed, I call on Senator Morgan to do just that – tell the Town you want all records released and explain your side of the story.

As an aside, nowhere in her five-page brief does Solicitor Buckley express any concern about the privacy rights of anyone but Senator Morgan, and that I find to be pretty disturbing.

Voters of Senate District 34 just turned out a great state Senator in Cathie Cool Rumsey and installed Elaine Morgan in her place, unfortunately without having the facts about these serious charges. It is very much in the public interest for people to know the truth about Senator Morgan’s conduct while a Hopkinton elected official.

And the Access to Public Records Act, our state’s open records law, is supposed to ensure the public’s right to know.

Hopkinton voters and taxpayers ought to be curious about why their own town officials – the Solicitor and Town Manager – are mounting this effort to bury these complaints. 

Town voters have the right to know why the Hopkinton Police took no action on those complaints, even though we can see that one of those complaints makes the serious allegation of a criminal act by now state Senator Morgan.

Boscoe Roads says the Hopkinton Police told him that then Town Sergeant Morgan would never again wear her uniform except when performing the duties prescribed to her under law. Hopkinton’s Town Charter doesn’t actually enumerate any powers for the Sergeant but the RI General Laws limits the role of town sergeants to that of being process servers (i.e. delivering writs and summons).

But doesn’t seem to be any HPD record of that or anything else. According to Solicitor Buckley, just that the complaint was filed without investigation.

I am hopeful that Attorney General Kilmartin’s office will uphold my complaint and take action to force the Town of Hopkinton to disclose the records it has on the complaints against Senator Buckley.

I not only think I made my case (though obviously I’m biased) but also believe that Solicitor Buckley’s response to my complaint is the worst I’ve seen since CharlestownTown Solicitor Peter Ruggiero argued that Charlestown could avoid disclosing records by having him take custody of them since he is not subject to the open records law. 

Wrong, totally wrong, said the Attorney General in rejecting Ruggiero's incredible argument.

As I said in the closing of my rebuttal in the current Morgan case, “at its core, this is about whether the public has the right to see charges that an elected official abused her office and whether the town handled public complaints properly and without favoritism and bias.”

And I repeat my call to Senator Morgan to address the complaints filed against her and explain her conduct as when she was an elected town official.