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FRAMINGHAM – City of Framingham Councilors and members of the Framingham Democratic Committee are unhappy with the remarks – both oral and written – made by the chair of the Framingham Democratic Committee this week.

Tuesday night, the City Council unanimously approved a proclamation to protect reproduction rights in the City of Framingham.

Before the vote, the public was invited to speak in favor or against the proclamation.

Framingham Democratic Committee Chair Michael Hugo spoke.

“I am a Framingham resident, and first of all, I want to thank the subcommittee for an incredible road that it followed to get us here tonight. The work that was done by that subcommittee is just, it’s a credit to the Council and it’s credit to our city. I am here tonight speaking on behalf of the Framingham Democratic Committee, and our mission in is to work for the common good by promoting racial, ethnic, social, and economic equality for the people of Framingham. This is a local issue. I know that there’s been some discussion that it’s not. It certainly is. You can reach a crisis pregnancy center by driving 3 miles to the East or 3 miles to the west of our borders. And you will find one of the classic ones that we are working so hard to prevent from coming to Framingham. It’s that close to Framingham. Our fear is that if an unqualified sonographer misdiagnoses a heart defect, an organ defect, spina bifida, that becomes a very local issue because our school budget will have to absorb the cost of a child in special education, supplying lots and lots of special services to children, who were born with the defect. So it’s our hope that the Council tonight will pass this ordinance, and by doing so perhaps one of the businesses that might be looking at coming to Framingham, will look at Framingham and decide, well, we better just keep driving and look for a different town or a different city.”

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A few speakers later, Pat Dunne, a former Framingham School Committee member, and a member of the Framingham Democratic Committee said Hugo was not speaking for the whole Framingham Democratic Committee when he spoke about special education and abortion.

“I’m a lifetime member of the Democratic Committee, and the person who wanted to represent us went off the rails on a different direction that was never brought before the Democratic Committee. We’re not talking about eliminating special education students and the like. We’re talking about getting out good information to the people in Framingham. And he’s casting a bit too wide for me and that’s why I did want to say something.”

Former City Councilor Cheryl Tully Stoll also called into the City Council meeting and questioned Hugo speaking for all members of the Framingham Democratic Committee.

“I am a lifetime member of the Framingham Democratic Town Committee, and I am absolutely horrified at what I just heard our chairman say and relate this entire issue to special needs costs for our schools. One has nothing to do with the other,” said Tully Stoll Tuesday night. “This issue that is being put in front of us tonight has to do with women being misled about vital healthcare decisions. And it’s not just women. They come in couples and they are misled. This is not right, and I praise the city council and the group that started this.”

SOURCE media reached out to the five members of the City Council, who are members of the Framingham Democratic Committee. They are District 2 Councilor Cesar Stewart-Morales, District 3 City Councilor Adam Steiner, District 6 City Councilor Phil Ottaviani Jr., District 8 City Councilor John Stefanini, and District 9 City Councilor Tracey Bryant.

Only one responded to the digital media outlet’s request for a statement.

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“As a lifetime member of the FDC, I am repulsed. Hugo’s written and verbal testimony suggesting aborting fetuses to save on special education costs is repugnant and the vile philosophy used by dictators to justify genocide of people deemed “unworthy of life”.  There is no place for such language in Framingham,” said Councilor Stefanini.

“I was distracted at the time of the statement and did not initially hear it or I would have responded at the time. After listening to the statement, I am shocked and saddened that such a statement would be made by anyone, but especially someone in a leadership position,” said City Councilor George P. King Jr, a Democrat but not a member of the Framingham Democratic Committee. “I greatly appreciate Dr. Dunne and Ms. Tully Stoll for courageously speaking up at our meeting.  I am confident given their mission the Democratic Town Committee will address this statement made on their behalf in the most expedient manner possible.”

“I’m rarely left speechless, but there are no words. I wish the Council had heard Mr. Hugo’s remarks more clearly in real-time, as I’m sure many Councilors would have responded immediately. I’m grateful to former Councilor Tully-Stoll and Dr. Dunne, who heard the audio clearly on TV and spoke up. The fact that Mr. Hugo – as Chairman of the Framingham Democratic Committee – connected abortion, “birth defects” (I take umbrage with that term as well), and the school department’s special education budget, is truly repulsive,” said District 4 City Councilor Michael Cannon.

“Mr. Hugo’s suggestion of aborting fetuses to save on special education expenses is profoundly repugnant. While Mr. Hugo repeatedly made it clear he was speaking on behalf of Framingham Democrats, his comments were completely antithetical to Framingham’s values. My feelings of shock, anger, and sadness were doubly underscored when I read his similarly vile comments in a letter sent to the Council prior to our meeting, which I didn’t see until after we adjourned. I’m hopeful the FDC will take swift and appropriate action on this deeply disturbing matter and will select leadership which is more respectful of our community and its diversity,” said Councilor Cannon.

Councilor Cannon referenced an email letter all 11 City Council members received before the February 7 Council meeting.

Hugo sent the email to all 11 Councilors at 12:46 a.m. on February 7.

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In the letter, he writes that he is speaking for the Framingham Democratic Committee and makes the same remarks in person, that he said while speaking during the public comment of the City Council meeting.

Hugo wrote “As for those who say that our Council has no business dealing with a “state issue,” we ask if the state is going to cover the medical costs for a fetus that had sound medical reason to be terminated? is the state going to cover the costs of special education for a down’s syndrome affected child? Is the state going to pay for the extraordinary medical expense of a child with an atrial septal defect? How much does Framingham’s Public School Department pay for unreimbursed special needs school transportation, specialized education and durable supplies?”

You can read the full letter on Framingham Democratic Committee letterhead below.


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Dunne told SOURCE he did not vote on the letter dated February 6.

The Hugo letter stated that the Committee voted 20 in favor, 1 opposed, and five abstentions (the five City Councilors who are members).

“As I said at the meeting Tuesday night; the comments were ‘horrifying.’”’ They are the antitheses of what the Democratic Party and stands for; and as a human being I am sickened by the concept,” said Tully Stoll., who said she did not approve the letter before it was sent out.

Hugo reached out to SOURCE with a statement before SOURCE even contacted him. It is printed below.

SOURCE asked Hugo if the members of the Framingham Democratic Committee had read the letter before it was sent to the City Council. His response is below.

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Editor’s Note: In full transparency, the daughter of the SOURCE editor is an associate member of the Framingham Democratic Committee.

By editor

Susan Petroni is the former editor for SOURCE. She is the founder of the former news site, which as of May 1, 2023, is now a self-publishing community bulletin board. The website no longer has a journalist but a webmaster.