Fahey supporters pack Select Board meeting

·2 min read

Jul. 21—It was a packed room as the Select Board met at Town Hall for the first time in more than 15 months since the start of the pandemic.

The board began the night by choosing Nermin Morgan to serve on the Andover Housing Authority. But the bulk of the meeting time went to a standing-room-only crowd, the majority of which were there to speak or support public speakers focusing on the firing of former Youth Services Director Bill Fahey.

More than a dozen people spoke for about 40 minutes questioning Town Manager Andrew Flanagan's decision to terminate the 27-year employee and demanding transparency around the process. It was the fourth Select Board meeting to have public comment dominated by the topic.

Many of the questions focused on an as yet undisclosed private investigator's report at the center of Fahey's firing.

After an investigation by the Essex County District Attorney's Office into allegations made against Fahey found no criminal conduct, the information obtained by the DA's office, including an interview with a 26-year-old woman where she claimed Fahey acted inappropriately with her, was forwarded to town officials, The Eagle-Tribune previously reported.

Town officials launched their own investigation, commissioning a report from attorney Regina Ryan from Discrimination and Harassment Solutions. Fahey was fired May 10 for what Flanagan would only characterize at the time as "misconduct."

The Select Board declined to respond to questions, citing pending litigation; Fahey is currently suing the town for wrongful termination and defamation.

Since then, 16 public information requests have been made for the report, including one by The Eagle-Tribune, Town Clerk Austin Simko said. The documents obtained through those public records requests were almost completely blacked out, except for the already publicly available town employee handbook and Fahey's union contract.

Multiple people have appealed the redactions to the state, including Karen and Roland Kim from Andover. They and others said they expect a more informative version of the report to be released Thursday because the Secretary of State's Office, which oversees public records law enforcement, has said the town was too heavy-handed in its redactions.

The Kims said they would appeal the town's new redactions if they were similarly heavy-handed.

During the meeting, the board also issued a proclamation celebrating India's 75th year of Independence, which Andover resident Sushil Motwani submitted. As Director of the India Association of Greater Boston, he thanked the board for their help spreading awareness and invited them to an India flag-raising ceremony that will take place in August closer to India's Independence Day on Aug. 15.

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