|Social service opponents going too far?||Tuesday, August 30, 2005|
|David McLaughlin 508-626-4338||Metrowest Daily News|
FRAMINGHAM -- Leaders of social service agencies complained yesterday to
selectmen about hatred directed toward them in recent months, including a
photo of an incinerated corpse one of them received in the mail.
Representatives of four Framingham-based social service agencies met with a board subcommittee for the first time and called for "facts not myths" about the organizations and the people they serve.
According to two people at the meeting, SMOC Executive Director Jim Cuddy said someone mailed to his Framingham office a photo of a scorched body. He declined to comment after the meeting.
"There's no room for that in any discussion, debate or dialogue," said Selectman Dennis Giombetti, who organized yesterday's meeting with Selectman Charlie Sisitsky. "There's no place for it anywhere."
As of yesterday afternoon, Cuddy had not filed a complaint about the photo with police, but spokesman Lt. Vincent Alfano said police are interested in speaking with him.
"Obviously we would be concerned about that," he said.
Selectmen formed the subcommittee following a failed attempt to meet with directors of Framingham's most prominent social service providers. Controversy has swirled around the organizations since news surfaced of SMOC's plan to turn a Winter Street nursing home into transitional housing for recovering drug and alcohol addicts.
Giombetti hopes the subcommittee will help the board build relationships with the agencies, which he called "stakeholders" in Framingham.
Those at yesterday's meeting suggested to Giombetti and Sisitsky that the board invite a state official, possibly someone from the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, to speak about the prevalence of poverty and substance abuse in Framingham.
"Let's look at the facts. Let's actually look at what the population is and what the services are," said Advocates Inc. CEO Bill Taylor. Advocates is a local agency serving people with mental illnesses and other disabilities.
Cuddy, according to those at the meeting, also complained that his home address as well as SMOC Planning Director Gerard Desilets' address in Framingham were posted on the Internet.
Maj. Jacquelin Triston from the Salvation Army, who also attended the meeting, said she was particularly concerned to learn about the published addresses. "What kind of message are we sending to youth when we do that kind of thing?" she said.
Delmar Avenue resident Harold Wolfe has posted on a Web site their addresses along with maps to their homes, though it was not clear whether Cuddy was referring specifically to his site. Wolfe yesterday defended publishing the addresses on www.smocingham.org, saying they are public records.
"The point was to say let's set up a shelter at these addresses. Let's see what their neighbors say about it," he said.
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