Share, email, print, bookmark SOURCE reports.

[broadstreet zone=”59983″]

FRAMINGHAM – Sunday night, the Framingham Democratic Committee, which is comprised of about 40 registered Democrats in the City of Framingham, voted 11-16-1 to hold a special meeting to discuss the possible remove of its embattled chair.

The vote while supporting Hugo, also shows the Committee is very split, on its chair.

On February 7, Hugo sent a 4-page letter on Framingham Democratic Committee letterhead saying he was speaking for the Committee and spoke at the City Council meeting that night on February 7, again stating he was representing the Committee.

In the letter he 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?”

His verbal statement to the City Council was almost the same.

Framingham Democratic Committee Secretary Doug Lawrence chaired Sunday night’s meeting.

“This is going to be a tense discussion. Please be thoughtful and be kind. I think the old advice about don’t say anything that you would not want to read on the front page of the paper tomorrow is very good advice. Please be thoughtful. We actually have media in attendance this evening,” said Lawrence. (SOURCE was the only media at the meeting)

“The meeting is being recorded, so bear all that in mind as you make your comments and ultimately I would ask that you try to be helpful and help us find solutions here,” said Lawrence, who voted to not have a later meeting to possibly remove Hugo as chair.

At the start of Sunday’s meeting chair Hugo made a statement.

[broadstreet zone=”59946″]

“I’m going to stick to my script and I want to offer you, and even though it’s scripted, I wrote this alone and I shared it with Beverly and I shared it with one other person. I want this to come from me to you. I offer my most sincere and humble apology to members of the Framingham Democratic Committee, but more especially my fellow members of Framingham’s Disability family community for comments that I made at the last City Council meeting, which were offensive and hurtful, nothing in my comments was meant to be derogatory or hurtful. And although the Framingham Democratic Committee authorized me to express support for the proclamation, the Committee did not see or review my full remarks that were sent out at 12:46 in the morning. And I failed to take that into consideration at all stages from when I wrote it to the time I actually spoke before the Council,” said Mike Hugo. “The bottom line is that I owe you an apology without any excuses or equivocation because my innermost feelings, my own innermost feelings, tell me that that’s the right thing to do, especially when I know and my heart of hearts that I’ve upset people that I truly care about.”

“I wanted to say from the bottom, bottom of my heart, please accept my apology. Tonight is a very important night because week tonight, easily because of my own terrible conduct, my own terrible words, we could destroy not just the Framingham Democratic Party, but we could destroy what the Democratic party stands for and it could spread far beyond Framingham,” said Hugo.

Hugo while speaking also chastised State Disability Committee member and long-time Framingham Democratic Committee member Kathie McCarthy “

“Now I’m off script, but I want to tell you that I reviewed every single word that every single person here has written, every single word that you said in our last meeting. I listened, I transcribed electronically and then read the words of our City Councilors and our state representative from that night. And I’ve read every single word and analyzed every single word that was said that night. And I’m telling you that we are in a position right now where we have to band together. We can’t let any outside forces drive us in any way, shape or manner. And I will also tell you that I have reached out to a certain portion of the Disability Committee and I’m trying to do something with that Committee. You’ll hear more about that in the immediate future. I did reach out. I want you all to know that I did reach out to the Disability Commission with the statement. I was advised not to appear before that by counsel. And I do value the words of my attorney. And I’m tell you that right now. Kathy, your rudeness to me is just absolutely off the charts. It’s just off the charts for you to give me a thumbs down and shake your head like that. It’s off the charts. Please stop or please just shut your camera off if you’re having trouble,” said Hugo during the Zoom meeting.

“Since I was brought up in the beginning saying I was rude, I guess I’ll address that first. My quote rudeness was because I disagreed that he reached out to disabled advocates, me being one,” said McCarthy later in the meeting.

[broadstreet zone=”59948″]

Hugo also in his speech complained that the SOURCE did not publish his apology. Mike Hugo sent an email unsolicited to the SOURCE on February 9 (see below). It was included in the report SOURCE posted on February 10 along with the other email Hugo sent to the digital news outlet.

The news outlet also posted his apology sent to SOURCE on February 17.

Also on February 17, the Framingham Democratic Committee’s executive board issued a statement disavowing the comments made by Hugo to the Council, both written and oral.

At Sunday night’s meeting Norma Shulman made a motion. McCarthy seconded it.

“I move to endorse the statement by the executive committee by the voting members of the Framingham Democratic Committee,” said Shulman. “I see this statement as equivalent to a motion to censure the behavior of the chair for his actions regarding the proclamation supporting reproductive rights on not only the content of the letter written to the City Council and his statements at the City Council meeting, but also his claim that these words represented the opinion of the Framingham Democratic Committee by voting on the Executive committee’s statement. To support it, we would be adding all the members’ voices to the strong statement signed by the officers of the Framingham Democratic Committee. And I would like to thank them for making that concise and strong statement. I explained further that this is equivalent to a motion to censure because that is conducive to specific identification of inappropriate conduct and it serves a censure motion serves as a reprimand that expresses our indignation and serves as a warning voice for the potential of suspension or removal if any such action occurs in the future.”

That motion passed 27-0, with two members abstaining.

[broadstreet zone=”66385″]

During Sunday night’s Framingham Democratic Committee member John Stefanini made a motion to hold a future meeting and to place on the agenda an item to discuss the chair and the possible removal of him. It was seconded by Rep. Priscila Sousa.

After much discussion, the vote was 11-16-1 to not have that meeting. Former State senator David Magnani abstained.

Voting yes to hold the meeting and to have a discussion on the potential removal of Hugo as chair were: Phil Ottaviani, Priscila Sousa, Adam Steiner, Adam Freudberg, Cheryl Tully Stoll, Norma Shulman, John Stefanini, Audrey Hall, Pat Dunne, Kathy McCarthy, and Mary Kate Feeney.

Voting no were: Mike Hugo, Beverly Hugo, Tracey Bryant, Tom Mahoney, Margareth Shepard, Lori Bornstein, Cindy Rubin, Doug Lawrence, Barbara Fontes, Chris Lorant, Barbara LeDuc, Rosamond Hooper-Hamersley, Larry Stoodt, Mel Warshaw, Parwez Wahid, and Chris Broyles.

During Sunday’s night meeting, all members of the executive board in attendance voted against the Stefanini motion.

Executive Board members Cesar Stewart-Morales and former mayor Yvonne Spicer did not attend the meeting.

Stefanini said “We as Democrats need to recognize that we cannot continue to allow power or abuse of power by anyone under any circumstances if it harms our overall cause. Simple period. This isn’t about personalities, this isn’t about other conflicts. This is about accountability and ownership for something that was said that was far beyond hurtful and harmful. And it wasn’t because of the way it was twisted or turned or because of something else that scapegoated. We need to be clear. We want to support the pro-choice movement, the local disability community movement, the local democratic movement. We need to make a strong statement. And I realize we don’t have that ability tonight because the executive committee chose to limit the discussion before us tonight. But we certainly have the ability to set the agenda for a future meeting.”

“If you don’t want to take it to another level, you vote against Stefanini’s motion. But if you want to have a discussion about new leadership on the Framingham Dems, you vote in favor of this and we have a meeting and we talk about it,” said Phil Ottaviani Jr.

[broadstreet zone=”53903″]

“I just want to say that this is probably the most, it isn’t probably, it is the most destructive motion I have ever heard at a Democratic committee. I have been an activist liberal democrat all of my adult life. I have served on three democratic committees, including one as chair. I have served under good chairs and one really bad one. In my opinion, Mike Hugo has been the most effective chair of them all and one of the most progressive that I have served under,” said Mel Warshaw. “Mike has been a superb leader, and more importantly, he is really a good human being. So I don’t know why he is being Frankenszed by some Democrats, for one unintentional gaff driving a wedge between us and inflicting more harm on this good man is destructive to Mike and his family and destructive to us. I, for one, fully accept his apology and will have no part of any unnecessary divisive path. Who among among us has not done or said something they deeply regret.”

“I wasn’t sure I was going to participate in this part of the discussion, but I think I have to,” said Shulman ” I don’t know what Mike meant by his written statement and then the paragraph he read, he will tell you that I sent him an immediate email as soon as I saw the letter that he sent out before the city council meeting happened, and I said, you can’t say that. Look at that paragraph on page three. That just can’t be whether he just didn’t have time to read it or he chose to say, oh, it’s Norma, I won’t read it. Whatever it is, he read it. He read the one paragraph of the four pages that I absolutely said, you cannot say this. So he said it.”

“Then everything goes crazy. And if he had said, I made such a grave error, I didn’t really mean what I wrote, I didn’t mean what I said, I’m going to step down for the good of the committee, then I would’ve been fine with that. That would’ve been the extent of an apology that I would’ve liked to see. It wasn’t my interest in removing him. I agree he’s done good things, but he did something so bad that it merited, as I called it, to someone falling on your sword. Unfortunately, he’s chosen not to do that. No matter how many of us may have suggested it, it was not up to us. That would’ve been his gesture that would’ve made a difference. That’s not what he chose to do. I just don’t want to see us. I’d like to be able to have a discussion at a future meeting,” said Shulman.

[broadstreet zone=”52386″]

“I agree with what Norma said. In most part, I think our life would be easier if our chair would listen to what some people are counsel, but he apparently isn’t and won’t. So I think we need to take the next step,” said Pat Dunne. “If we don’t vote on this motion, we’re being sweeping this discussion under the rug again and stirring a whole new round of controversy. And that’s why I think consequences are important to consider when we make decisions.”

“Mike Hugo is a great guy who’s been an excellent leader for the Democratic community, except for an egregious and awful mistake. But that said, I don’t see how we cannot have this discussion and call ourselves Democratic,” said Adam Steiner.

“Now is the time to stop making things worse, to take a breath, to adopt a non-anxious presence, to resist those who might take pleasure in our conflict and to adopt message, discipline, and future communications with each other and with the public state, the facts. The chair made a bad mistake. He has apologized for it, and the Framingham Democratic Committee has rebuked him publicly. Our best message is we stand united as we take this moment to rededicate our commitment to our mission,” said the Vice Chair of the Framingham Democratic Committee Hooper-Hamersley.

“I don’t wish him any harm, but he basically wished the disabled community harm. And the statement saying of the apology saying that his statements may have been read as coldhearted, they were coldhearted,” said McCarthy. “It wasn’t what it was read as. And I was very disappointed that he didn’t come and be courageous enough to come to the Disability Commission and be seen by them and to state his words. I thought that would’ve been a beautiful healing process for us. And I take offense to be noted as an enemy because I think we do work well together as a group, but we can forgive our personal downfalls and we all have them. But in representing the group, do we want someone to represent the group that didn’t have the heart to do that?”

[broadstreet zone=”56696″]

Requesting several times to speak last during the discussion, Beverly Hugo, the wife of the Mike Hugo, said the couple has received death threats, since news outlets including the Boston Globe, NBC10, Telemundo, and FoxNews have picked up Hugo’s Council statement.

Framingham SOURCE reached out to Framingham Police on Sunday, February 26, Monday, Tuesday, February 27, and again today, February 28 about the death threats. Each time the response was the same.

Framingham Police have received no reports by Mike or Beverly Hugo, in regards to death threats, said the Framingham Police spokesperson.

During Sunday night’s Framingham Democratic Committee meeting Hugo, who is a member of the Framingham School Committee, told her fellow Framingham Democratic Committee members “You have got to help our family put a stop to this. I’m afraid. I am so afraid. I heard a sound the other day. I thought it was a gunshot.

“We have done so much for all of you. You have finally got to do this for us and not have a lynching for us,” said Beverly Hugo Sunday night. “We have got to come out strong and say enough. The vitriol going all over the country has come to us. You have got to stop this. My husband had a heart attack in August.”

[broadstreet zone=”59982″]

“Who has worked harder than us? I want to put a stop to the death threats. The only way we can is as a demo, as Democrats. We craft a meeting tonight. Yes, we understand. This was hurtful. It wasn’t who we are, but this is what we are against. We’re against death threats. We’re against the message that’s coming out against us. This is wonderful. The Republicans would love for Michael to step down. He’s a strong Democrat,” said Beverly Hugo.

“We believe in people. We believe in compassion. We believe what is happening. It’s, it’s cruel. It’s just cruel. It’s being run. This won’t stop. If we have a meeting, a what month from now, a week from now, or two weeks from now. We are not putting a stop to it. We are delaying the hatred that’s going on. We need as a group to say what we are going to be doing for the differently abled community. We need to turn this positive right now. This isn’t positive. The smirks on some people’s faces. This is not who you, I hope this isn’t who you are in your meeting, that you want to discuss your intent on destroying this family that’s given so much. We want to make amends. We need to work positively to make amends, but we need to, as a community say enough of the vitriol enough, enough of the death threats. We need to stop tonight and say, yes, this was egregious, but this is what we are doing and we will stick together and we will work towards the common good,” said Beverly Hugo.

You can listen in to what Beverly Hugo has to say in her own words below

(During the meeting SOURCE made audio recordings of several speakers.)

The Framingham Democratic Committee recorded the Zoom meeting. SOURCE requested the meeting video be released to the public. It has not been released as of the publishing of this report.

Hugo originally said he would attend the February 28 City Council meeting and make a public apology.

But at Sunday night’s meeting, he said he was going to Washington DC and would not attend the City Council meeting, nor the planned stand out in support of the disability community tonight.

“I’m going to be in Washington DC starting tomorrow morning,” he said Sunday night. “I have a flight out of here at eight o’clock. I’m spending the next three days in the halls of Congress trying to raise direct funding, going directly to local, the local cities and towns in Massachusetts for special needs and for those who are disadvantaged, I’m taking my own work to the Capitol while I’m being protested. I think that’s ironic and you need to know it. So with that, I want to just say thank you very much for your attention and I hope that tonight we don’t destroy our party.”

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.