I would like to offer my condolences.
I’m the sort of person who always says “I’m very sorry for your loss” as soon as I learn of a death, or in your case, two recent deaths. How I wish I’d done this last night during the Select Board meeting, but I was so taken aback by the tone and tenor of how you were speaking to me that I was at a loss for words.
At minute mark 59:20, I was at the microphone for public comment.
My comment was more of a question, which was: What is the Select Board doing about its Host Community Agreement (HCA) between the town and the Littleton Apothecary?
The Littleton Apothecary, through its solo representative—Christine Nordhaus—engaged in extensive negotiations between the summer of 2019 and the late spring of 2020 with the Select Board, Littleton’s regulatory board that oversees the award of HCAs. Elemental in those negotiations was the representation that Christine made that if the town–through the Select Board, were to award her an HCA to sell recreational cannabis, she would, in fact, operate a business selling recreational cannabis.
That’s not happening.
In April of last year, I was approached by a woman in town. She asked me what was happening with the Apothecary. It seems it was on her mind since she’d just been to the recently opened Community Care Collective. When I told her I had no idea, she said she was going to ask. She asked the town administrator’s office about this in an email. She told me that she was told that because the town was “getting ready for town meeting” in early May, her inquiry would need to wait.
It’s my understanding that she received no follow-up from the town administrator’s office—your office.
Midsummer 2022, Rob and I came in to speak to you in person in your office. We happened to be in the building and came by impromptu. After exchanging pleasantries about our sons, who at one time considered rooming together at UMass-Amherst, I asked what was happening with the Apothecary. You said, essentially, that you had no idea. You did mention “a Select Board member” had also expressed interest in this matter. I figured it was either Gary Wilson or Mark Rambacher because they’d been elected to the Select Board in May 2022. Even so, I didn’t ask, nor did you name which of the four members made the request for an update on the Apothecary’s progress, or absence thereof.
(Side note: You and I are both well aware that there are five sitting members on the Select Board, though in ethical terms, only four are permitted to weigh in on any matter regarding the Littleton Apothecary based on Matthew Nordhaus’s conflict of interest.)
So, I did as you suggested and sent this to you and each of the five Select Board members on August 10, 2022:
Please include this email in the Select Board’s Packet for its next meeting. I also request that this email be read during the portion of the Select Board’s meeting where such business is taken care of.
Dear Members of the Select Board,
When will Community Care Collective and Littleton Apothecary be asked to come before the Select Board to update the residents of Littleton on the progress each has made towards capitalizing on the contractual relationship each has with the town through the HCA each entity holds?
With each passing day, Littleton misses out on the benefit of collecting the 3% Marijuana Excise Tax unless each entity is diligently working toward both establishing itself as a retail entity in town and opening for sales to the public.
Holding an HCA is a privilege, as it’s the only way for a potential marijuana retailer to begin the process of full licensing with the commonwealth. HCAs are highly valuable, and the townspeople deserve to understand what exactly is happening with the businesses that hold them.
As a property owner in Ayer, I have seen my real estate taxes go down. I suspect the thirty-one million dollars ($31,000,000.00) of sales in 2021 alone at the only recreational marijuana shop in Ayer accounts for a large portion of this decrease in residential property tax.
Given how focused the town had been in 2018 and 2019 on the prospects of recreational marijuana shops in town, the time is right for a comprehensive update from the retail marijuana HCA-holders so that the townspeople know the progress these retail businesses are or are not making toward providing Littleton taxpayers the benefit of that 3% Marijuana Excise Tax.
As this issue indirectly impacts each Littleton taxpayer, I, as one of them, thank you for your conscientious attention to ending this dearth of communication.
You told me to write a letter in the summer of 2022.
And although I requested it be read, it was not, though it was vaguely referred to.
Curiously, this August 10th letter, which concerns the economic impact of the Apothecary’s inaction on the taxpayers of Littleton, didn’t end up in any Select Board packet. This means it didn’t become part of the public record. This is especially concerning because I made that specific request in order to preserve the public record.
Moreover, I cannot seem to find anywhere in the recordings of the “Read Mail” portions of the 8/22, 9/12, or 9/26 Select Board meetings where it was briefly discussed. Though I do recall Cindy Napoli saying, something along the lines of, “I’ve been asking about this since May.”
So, it was Cindy who was asking way back in May 2022 for an update from the Apothecary and not Gary or Mark as I initially thought.
On February 13th, at the Select Board’s meeting, again, Cindy, at minute mark 16:15, asked about what was happening with the Apothecary. You said, at 18:00, “Perfectly honest, we haven’t had an opportunity to really address any host community agreements . . . . we’ll provide an update.”
And you said that update would happen last night, on February 27th.
While I now understand that there were matters over the last two weeks (as listed by you as explanations for why you had no update last night), what about all the opportunities between May 2022 and the February 13th, 2023 Select Board meeting?
Cindy is not alone in these inquiries. It’s my understanding that both Chuck DeCoste and Gary Wilson have also expressed interest in finding out what’s happening with the Apothecary.
If I understand you correctly, you assert that there’s been no opportunity to “really address any host community agreements” in the last nine months.
Objectively, that’s hard to swallow.
Also, if you review the recording of the February 13th meeting, the only HCA that was being discussed by the Select Board was the Apothecary’s not “any” HCA. And honestly, what does “address any host community agreements” even mean apart from an email or a phone call or maybe a letter?
It’s not a big ask.
Last night, I came to the Select Board’s meeting to renew my request. You were the person from the front table who responded.
You know, I have to say, what really stuck out, Anthony, what left me scratching my head was your statement, right around the 1:01:48 mark where you bring up my financial interest in the Apothecary in what came off as a clear ad hominem attack.
While my “financial interest” in the Apothecary is a matter of public record, you’d need to know where to look, or you’d need to be told by someone the detail. And I know for a fact that I never told you I had a “financial interest.”
Do you know how I can be so sure?
Because I signed a contract, in the form of a Settlement Agreement, which included this language:
“The nature, substance, and text of this Agreement itself shall be held confidential between the parties.”
Some exceptions were listed.
Running for a seat on our town’s Select Board is not one of those exceptions. Even so, when Christine ran for a seat on the Select Board in the spring of 2021, she published a document from the litigation between us as part of her “candidate’s page” which was brought to my attention sixteen hours, give or take, after she and I signed our Settlement Agreement with that language.
She made it public in April 2021, and I opted not to respond.
But last night, when you made it public, I felt it appropriate to respond, despite how very stunned I was by your words.
Why would you take any interest in my “financial interest?”
What’s it to you?
And moreover, who told you about this “financial interest” of mine, because you sure didn’t hear it from me.
I’m of the opinion that the people of Littleton are sophisticated enough to see that any “financial interest” of mine in no way negates the taxation-relief interest that each and every taxpayer in Littleton has. Additionally, even if I had zero “financial interest,” I happen to be one in a class of many, i.e., Littleton taxpayers, who most assuredly share an interest in paying less in tax.
So, to that end, I will look forward to getting that update you promised last night in two weeks, on March 13th.
Of course, that’ll add another fourteen days to the six months and eighteen days since you and the Select Board received my letter of August 10th.