Thomas Crippen, a Hudson police sergeant whose promotion to lieutenant was rejected in a split vote by selectmen last week, said he will file an appeal with the state Civil Service Commission.
Crippen said he was “profoundly disappointed” that the promotion did not go through.
Selectmen voted 3-2 against Crippen’s promotion Monday during a meeting that featured sniping and accusations of dirty politics among board members. Board chairman James Vereault and members Charles McGourty and Christopher Yates voted against the promotion, while Joseph Durant and Fred Lucy voted in favor of it.
Vereault called out Durant for comments he previously made to the Globe suggesting some board members were “hiding” by delaying a decision on Crippen. The promotion, made two months ago by the since-retired police chief, Richard Braga, was subject to selectmen’s approval, and was tabled when it came before them on May 21.
“What has troubled me the most . . . is when any member of this board willfully and knowingly attacks another member and publicly accuses those who don’t agree with him of corrupting this process,” Vereault said. “Such remarks . . . to me, it’s the dirtiest of politics.”
‘I’m flabbergasted why this hasn’t gone through yet.’
Durant, in turn, suggested that Vereault’s reluctance to promote Crippen is based on politics. Durant mentioned that Crippen is named in a lawsuit filed by Hudson resident Charles Freeman, whom Durant characterized as one of Vereault’s “biggest supporters.”
“Coincidence? I think not, Mr. Chairman,” Durant said. “Politics? I think so, Mr. Chairman.”
Freeman could not be reached for comment.
But his attorney, Barry Bachrach, responded: “I was fairly irritated this week about Selectman Durant speaking publicly about the Freeman lawsuit without having Mr. Freeman having an opportunity to set forth his position. If you want to make Mr. Freeman’s lawsuit part of the issue, then we’ll get up there and tell them what we know.”
Vereault, McGourty, and Yates did not give specific reasons for their votes against Crippen.
Vereault initially said he wanted more time to ask a labor attorney whether voting against Crippen would constitute a “constructive bypass” of the promotion under civil service regulations. But he opposed the promotion when it came to a vote.
Yates said he only decided Monday to vote against the promotion, based on answers he received to questions at the meeting and in a previous closed session. Earlier in the meeting, Yates and McGourty peppered Crippen with a series of questions about how long he had lived and worked in Hudson, and his score on the civil service exam, but Yates didn’t say which questions and answers influenced his vote.
McGourty said he was basing his vote on issues that could only be discussed in closed session.
“Everything gets stamped confidential, so you can’t discuss it, so it makes us look like we’re buffoons,” McGourty said.
In an interview, Durant said he wasn’t aware of any outstanding issues regarding Crippen’s appointment, confidential or otherwise.
“There’s nothing pending that I’m aware of,” Durant said. “If there is, I would love it if everybody would share it with me.”
The rejection of Crippen’s appointment is the second time in recent months that the board voted against a recommended leadership promotion in the Police Department. In May, Durant was the lone member to support the appointment of Captain David Stephens as the department’s interim chief. The other selectmen asked the town’s top administrator, Executive Assistant Paul Blazar, to do a broader search.
Stephens was eventually appointed to the interim post, after Vereault joined Durant and Lucy to approve the move.
On Monday, Stephens told selectmen that the Police Department is understaffed because of the unfilled lieutenant’s position. The vacancy is holding up a number of other provisional promotions, which would clear space to allow the town to hire more patrol officers, he said.
“I’m flabbergasted why this hasn’t gone through yet,” Stephens said.