Editor-in-chief, city dweller;
On May 17, the city issued the following warrant:
“No municipal or governmental entity of Andover (the term governmental entity includes, but is not limited to, authorities, boards, commissions, committees, departments, divisions, programs and services) shall include or permit the inclusion of a non-disclosure, non-disparagement, or other similar clause as a condition of employment or in a settlement agreement of any kind between the government entity and an employee or student; provided, however, that such policy may include, at the request of the employee or student, a provision that prevents the government entity from disclosing the identity of the individual and all facts that could lead to the discovery of the identity of the individual”.
Those in power have been able to maintain their power by forcing their victims to remain silent if they want their jobs or a settlement of their legal claim.
The wrongdoing can therefore continue, as long as the wrongdoer has the money to silence his victims, with a clause like this. In the case of a public entity, it is public money and public officials who are used in this way.
Town meeting, Andover’s legislative body said there would be no more non-disclosure agreements unless the victim requests one. This would seem to end the practice in our municipal government. However, the city attorney informed officials that they could still use the practice if they wished. the city attorney did not give a reason for his cavalier conclusion. This is the reason for this letter. The public should be aware of this important right when dealing with the Town of Andover. Under city governance, it is now illegal for the city to insist on non-disclosure by an employee or litigant.
When a newspaper’s or city residents’ freedom of speech is silenced by city officials through such a clause, it could well violate Massachusetts civil rights law – a problem for a other day. But it is certainly bad public policy, which Andover has now ruled out.
Will city officials respect the overwhelming diktat of the city assembly or some strange opinion of the city council?