FRAMINGHAM – With regard to the appropriate concern voiced by Framingham residents about an expensive mayoral trip to Hawaii, all questions could have been avoided if the Mayor’s Public Information Officer had published the relevant facts – the costs and who is paying for them – on the official City of Framingham website in advance of the date. That is the position’s purpose and what the Officer is being paid to do.
The Public Information Officer serves to keep the people of Framingham informed of the news and activities pertaining to the Mayor’s Office.
The Mayor would not have a job if it were not for the Framingham taxpayers.
They underwrite her salary and the salaries of her staff members. It is their right to know what they are paying for and why.
Many Framingham residents are unaware of the Mayor’s impending Hawaii trip, just as they were uninformed about the exact nature of her various trips in the past, routinely enjoyed on the taxpayer’s dime.
Under scrutiny as news of her latest travel plans is being reported – and because a letter of notice about potential improper spending was sent to the Framingham City Council by a constituent acting on conscience – Framingham’s Public Information Officer now indicates the Mayor has decided to pay her own expenses: airfare, hotel, meals, etc. (Her over-the-top salary mandates she should; the conference in question is non-essential, with only 6 of the state’s 47 mayors attending.)
But that announcement should not have to be “teased out” as the result of a confrontational exchange between a newspaper editor doing her rightful job and a Mayor’s office engaged in damage control.
What about the Mayor’s much touted pledge of transparency? In this instance, it seems she was planning to keep the Framingham citizenry in the dark.
Fiscal expenditure and transparency must go hand-in-hand when it comes to governance – to prevent abuse of power. There must now be close monitoring to ensure the Mayor’s personal credit card receipts from the Hawaii trip do not land on the CFO’s desk for reimbursement in the end.
And going forward, Framingham taxpayers demand advance public announcement of any and all mayoral absences because of conferences or trips; they insist on knowing the purpose of the Mayor’s activities and how they are being funded.
The Mayor’s job is to serve the people, not herself. We should not have to keep reminding her of that.
Alida Young, Ph.D.