I submitted the letter below for the April 11 edition. It was printed in the Harvard Hillside but not in the (other paper). Instead, your paper ran a surprise editorial claiming “If you can’t say something nice…” Last year, your paper had no problem printing a really nasty letter from Jonathan Feist personally attacking one of the women running for selectman. At that time, your newspaper was quick to defend Feist’s letter.
Yet barely one week after your attempted mea culpa editorial, you ran a shocking letter from Willie Wickman personally attacking Bill Johnson. And again this week you defend your actions!
My letter, by comparison and reproduced below, merely recited one candidate’s record and gave him a chance to correct his questionable actions in public service. The voters surely deserved to hear Stu Sklar’s answer.
Your paper’s attempt at political censorship has done a disservice to the voters of Harvard and my many good friends who work for the paper you own.
For those of you who are new to town or may have forgotten, former School Superintendent Thomas Jefferson and a School Committee member who no longer lives in town were each charged with violating state ethics laws. The charges involved the authorization of special-education funds that permitted the daughter of the former School Committee member to attend a private academy not on the list approved by the state for special education.
Many in the community were upset by this betrayal of the public trust and by the failure of a previous School Committee to deal with the matter.
At special Town Meeting on Oct. 10, 2007, the School Committee was censured by an overwhelming vote. The censure cited extending Jefferson’s contract by a year while two years into his three-year contract, and giving Mr. Jefferson a positive job review while the ethics violations were under investigation by state and federal agencies. On April 28, 2010, the Massachusetts Ethics Commission found Jefferson guilty of violating the conflict-of-interest laws and levied the maximum fine. This finding was upheld by the State Superior Courts on appeal by Jefferson.
Stu Sklar, both as a member and chairman of the School Committee at the time, stood firmly behind the disgraced former superintendent throughout the unfortunate saga. He exercised extremely poor judgment. He failed to speak out against the betrayal of public trust which occurred on his watch. Everyone makes mistakes and has the opportunity to learn from them. Stu needs to acknowledge his mistakes and to apologize for them. He must put this matter behind him before he can be considered for yet higher elected office.