Donation account to be created to help pay special legal fees
By Theresa Knapp
The Hopedale Select Board has asked the Town Administrator to facilitate the creation of a donor account to accept donations to be used to pay town legal fees related to supplemental counsel recently engaged in the 364 West Street matter.
The town recently engaged the law firm of Anderson & Kreiger to review the history of the case involving Grafton & Upton Railroad and advise the town on how, and if, it should proceed.
Though the motion to create the donation account passed unanimously, it was not before a lengthy discussion started by Select Board member Brian Keyes about the merits of keeping the anonymity of anonymous donors.
“Let’s have some accountability. If a donation is being presented to accept from a party who’s currently litigating against us, then I don’t see how that could be possible or even legal for that matter. So the folks that are part of the “ citizens’ lawsuit” should not be able to donate so we should know the names of the people who are being generous with their currency…I’m just saying they should be accountable and take ownership for what they want to donate to the cause. We need to have some oversight around that and so having it just be, like, anonymous, and behind the curtain, is not kosher to me; I’m sorry, I don’t agree with it.”
Keyes said the board is privy to the identity of all donors and he could reveal the names if he so chose. Earlier this year, he intentionally revealed in a public meeting the name of a private donor related to this matter.
Select Board Chair Glenda Hazard and member Bernie Stock maintained that anonymity should be respected. Several gallery members agreed as well, noting a standard practice of anonymity in philanthropy.
Hazard said, “The ultimate control over how the money gets spent is still ours and I don’t think that letting the donors remain anonymous compromises that in any way. What gets spent, and how it gets spent, is still the board’s decision.”
The final motion that passed was for the town “to look at setting up a fund to accept donations from people who wish to contribute to the legal fund and that we will protect the confidentiality of those who wish to remain anonymous.”
Keyes pushed back, suggesting “protect” be changed to “respect” but ultimately the original language passed.
For more information on the fund, contact the office of the Select Board.