The City’s Public Information Officer issued this statement to SOURCE news this afternoon, November 9.
FRAMINGHAM – On Friday, a local, politically motivated blog posted text messages between the Chief Operating Officer (COO) and me during a City Council meeting. The blog asked me for a statement. I chose not to provide one because the blog entry was meant to embarrass me, and any statement would be subject to the whims and political goals of the blog and its advocates. Instead, I prefer to own my narrative.
At the outset, I want to apologize to the City Council and Framingham residents for my comments on what I thought was a private text exchange. I also believe it is important to share some of the context with you, which was absent, and what led me to make these remarks.
A significant part of the texting between the COO and I was a reaction to one Councilor’s criticism of professional City staff, which was inaccurate and unfair. The Councilor in question levied claims against an employee that were patently false. All City employees are going above and beyond to maintain the level of service residents expect while ensuring that Framingham residents stay safe. I feel the need to defend employees against unfounded and false criticism and reserve the right to be disgusted by such inaccuracies. Any boss would do the same for his or her employees if claims were incorrect.
The attempts to publicly embarrass City employees is disgraceful and is something that started with some members of the Council elected prior to the current one and continue now. I have asked the Chair to use his leadership and share concerns about professional staff privately so those concerns can be dealt with appropriately. The public bullying the Council perpetuates comes down to political theater and lacks credibility. This is not leadership.
Additionally, I was reacting to what appeared as a lack of support from other Councilors who did not try to defend our employees. That is frustrating, but it only lasts for a moment, and I move on. However, I use every ounce of this frustration to motivate me to protect Framingham and our employees further.
Also, these everyday interactions teach me how I need to course correct. This experience taught me that I need to communicate more about what our employees are doing so well. I have repeatedly explained what the City is doing during the pandemic, but that message has not gotten through to some Councilors. I will double my effort.
This effort needs to go both ways. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. I would like to see the Councilors drink deeply from the fountain of information we provide. For my part, I intend to have more one-on-one discussions about relevant topics with them.
My hope is that we are all working to be part of the solution fighting COVID-19. Right now, it feels like while the City is working to help residents and businesses every day, and even though some councilors help spread information that aids residents and businesses, others are not with us on the
battlefield. Instead, they choose to lob insults from the viewing stands, which helps no one.
As I wrote to Framingham’s Councilors at Large – George King and Janet Leombruno – in response to an October 21 letter they submitted with some ideas to help curtail COVID-19, I am always open to hearing their thoughts related to the virus but also need their help in sharing the entire Council’s ideas.
We (the Administration and City Council) need to be on the same team. I often feel like the time I spend defending the City against criticism from the Council could better be used to make actual changes and achieve growth. Despite these roadblocks, we will keep moving forward. When I swore in the Councilors earlier this year, I said I wanted to work better with our City Council. That desire is the same. I want to extend an olive branch because we need to work together to progress against this pandemic in Framingham.
As always, stay safe and healthy, Framingham!
Your Mayor, Dr. Yvonne M. Spicer