RON GLEASON GOES ON THE RECORD
This week, KingstonJournal.com received exclusive and unprecedented access to Kingston Selectman Ron Gleason and his wife. KJ.com News Editor Bradford Randall sat down with the Gleason’s to discuss the fate of his scandal-plagued seat and how we got here. For over an hour, the Jounal took notes as the Gleason’s discussed everything from Peter Boncek to wind turbines.
Read our exclusive interview with the Gleason’s below as they answer some of the most direct questions so far regarding their intentions moving forward.
When the Gleason’s first reached out to KingstonJournal.com on Tuesday night, the stresses of being under political siege for over a year were first beginning to show. Ron Gleason sat inside the selectmen chambers with his board as his wife threw curses and middle fingers at Peter Boncek in the Town House lobby.
I was packing my camera away when the altercation between Boncek and Jeanette Gleason took place, only feet from where I stood. It wasn’t until the Library Trustees slammed the door of their meeting shut that I realized, “hey, people are yelling behind me.”
I turned around just in time to see Jeanette Gleason, a senior citizen who stands at 5 feet 2 inches, flipping the bird into the face of Peter Boncek, an intervener and original complainant to challenge Ron Gleason’s residency in Kingston.
“AND, YOU! I want to talk to you!” Jeanette Gleason said as she pointed at me.
Boncek, who has over a foot and a hundred and fifty pounds on Jeanette Gleason, was calling the police on the embattled selectman’s wife while she hauled me into a hallway.
“Ron wants to talk to you,” she said, “just you.”
THE NEXT DAY
I met the Gleason’s the next day at Dunkin Donuts on Route 27. It was a public place where we wouldn’t be disturbed but as Ron said on the phone, it was somewhere where we could “sneak into a corner.”
The Gleason’s were precisely on time and sat patiently inside waiting as I collected my things, ordered my tea and sat down.
Before the interview started I asked Jeanette, “What happened last night with Peter? The police were called?”
Jeanette and Ron both chuckled. “That’s just me being Italian!” Mrs. Gleason said, waving her hands.
THE FIRST QUESTION
The first question I had for Gleason was simple.
“Why do you think Munford, Kelleher and Boncek are doing this to you?” I asked.
Ron rolled his eyes and said, “I’ve never done anything to them. Not ever.” Mr. Gleason paused and continued, “I have a feeling they want to get me off the board to use my seat for their own political gain.”
His wife Jeanette went even further, suggesting that Ron may not have been the original target of Boncek and Munford. “The rumor is that they wanted to go after Arruda first,” Jeanette said.
Mrs. Gleason said she believed that Boncek, Munford and Kelleher had “self-serving intentions.”
“These people are about power and control,” Jeanette said.
Ron, through his body language, seemed to agree. “They are absolutely dangerous people for the town,” Mr. Gleason said. The selectman continued to say that he was once even friends with Pat Kelleher’s now-deceased father and used to work with him.
Mr. Gleason said he did not believe that his former friend, Mr. Kelleher’s father, would be proud of his son’s actions at open forum over the past several months.
“I’ve served this town for 40 years and what do I get in return?” Ron said, “I get all this grief.”
Jeanette held Ron’s arm and said, “Nobody is served by these meetings lasting until 10 p.m.”
Ron Gleason is proud of his record in Kingston. He’s been a Kingston resident for over 40 years, raised two sons and has countless cousins in the area. His political success was never intended either.
“I’m not a politician,” Mr. Gleason said firmly. “I’m a hardworking man who’s raised a family and paid every tax imaginable in the Town of Kingston.”
Ron said that Kingston was always his home but, as health complications began to mount between him and his wife, the couple made a decision that it was “time to move on.”
“I have serious health concerns,” Ron said.
“And I’ve had a kidney transplant,” Jeanette added.
Mr. Gleason did not want the full detail of his health problems printed, but says that doctors have told him that he would be better served in a warmer, tropical climate.
“The cold actually bothers me,” Ron said. I looked at Ron and realized that he, unlike Jeanette and I, was still wearing his coat inside the coffee shop.
WHAT’S THE POINT?
On behalf of KingstonJournal.com, I’ve covered Ron Gleason’s residency scandal for over a year. The question that I’ve most heard directed towards Mr. Gleason is “why doesn’t he want to leave? What does he really want to do?
I explained to Mr. Gleason that it was important that he answer this question. As skepticism blossoms into paranoia and connections begin to be drawn where they might not exist, I told Mr. Gleason that many people believed he was hanging onto his seat to install Nancy Howlett as the next Kingston Town Administrator.
Ron sat back in his chair and stated that he had heard the same charge. “Nancy could have already been appointed,” he said. “I made the motion to hire the headhunting firm in the first place.”
Mr. Gleason said that he has never had an agenda. “I believe that if I wanted to appoint Nancy Howlett as the town administrator, I could make that happen. That’s not what I want to do,” Ron said.
Mr. Gleason said that the real reason he hasn’t resigned was because of something that took place in October.
“I was ready to resign on October 23rd at the Board of Selectmen meeting,” Ron said. “Then they scheduled a Board of Registrars hearing the next day and it made me reconsider.”
Mr. Gleason said he had a “bad feeling” walking into the Kingston Senior Center on October 24th for the BOR hearing. “Everything I described [to the Kingston Registrars] was exactly what was going on,” Ron continued.
Ron said he tried to be as forthcoming as possible while Peter Boncek and Selectwoman Susan Munford “tried to be Perry Mason.”
Mr. Gleason said the deal breaker on his resignation was when he realized the BOR hearing stripped him of his vote. “Imagine if somebody tried to take your vote away,” he said to me.
Since losing his vote, Ron Gleason has received a temporary injunction which allowed him to vote for president in November and retain his seats on the Planning Board, Board of Selectmen and the Permanent Building Committee. “I got a very good attorney,” Gleason said, “and since then we’ve gone to court three times and I’ve prevailed each time.”
“I only wanted to serve one term on the Planning Board and the Board of Selectmen,” Mr. Gleason said, adding that he has never accepted town insurance. “The people did not elect me for a year, they elected me for three years,” he said.
Ron said he has always “tried to represent the people in the best possible way I can.”
WHEN WILL YOU RESIGN?
Mr. Gleason said that his fate on the Board of Selectmen is no longer in his hands. “That’s in the courts but we’re going to move when our house in Florida becomes livable,” Mr. Gleason said. It seems now that Mr. Gleason’s case will go to further hearings, slated to begin next Tuesday in Plymouth County Superior Court.
Jeanette Gleason chimed in, saying that the house is “not quite done” and that she and her husband have been staying with friends when they visit Florida.
“Even here in Kingston, I have 5 or 6 people we could stay with at anytime,” Ron interjected.
Mr. Gleason then brought up a story published by the Journal in November entitled “Casna confirms rumors: Gleason’s asked to stay at Casna’s house.”
In the story, Joe Casna, the Chairman of the BOS, told the Journal that Jeanette Gleason had asked his girlfriend to stay at the Casna’s Pembroke Street home for a trip to Kingston in early November.
“I don’t know why Joe [Casna] said that,” Ron Gleason said, “we never asked him that. It’s not true.”
“I’D LIKE TO MAKE A STATEMENT”
During a lull in our conversation, Mr. Gleason reached into his coat pocket and said, “I’d like to make a statement. I prepared something to read to you.”
Ron pulled out a folded out piece of paper with cursive scribbled on one side.
The statement was about who Mr. Gleason felt was best suited to replace him.
“It is my hope that somebody with honesty, integrity and common sense…someone without an agenda…steps up. I hope that person will come without personal goals of payback. There are good people out there to help Kingston move forward.”
After reading the statement, he refolded the piece of paper and put it in his pocket.
Mr. Gleason said he felt that he still had a role on the Board of Selectmen. “I have always read the selectmen book cover to cover before meetings. I’m always prepared,” he said.
Ron said that he felt like he was the “voice of reason” during this Tuesday’s discussion about whether or not to approve a one year leave of absence for the Kingston Public Library’s archivist. Gleason was the only vote to approve the leave of absence. It failed 3-1.
RON GLEASON’S PROUDEST VOTE
It seemed an odd question to ask a man who is the focus of a year-long political scandal, but I asked Mr. Gleason which vote he was proudest of so far as a selectman. Ron’s eyes lit up and he gave an answer without hesitation.
“I was the deciding vote when the board voted to include town employees into the process of deciding their own health insurance plans,” Mr. Gleason said. Ron continued to say that the alternative choice was having the Board of Selectmen decide which health plan town employees should have.
“That was about a year ago and since then, it has gone nowhere. The issue of health insurance for town employees was never resolved,” Ron said as he fiddled with his watch.
MR. GLEASON’S CORRECTION
My November 13th KingstonJournal.com editorial, “WHY RON SHOULD RESIGN,” did not go unnoticed with the Gleason’s.
“I did read that,” Mr. Gleason said. He withheld his personal opinions and said, “I just wanted to make one correction.”
In the editorial, I was praising Ron Gleason’s legacy of town service before calling for a resignation that has never come. I wrote, “When the lights above the football field at Silver Lake Regional High School needed electrical work, Mr. Gleason stepped forward and offered to maintain the lights for no charge.”
“I constructed and donated the lights,” Mr. Gleason said. “It was free of charge,” he told me.
Ron went on to say that the project cost him $55,000 personally when they went up in the early 80’s.
“Silver Lake won the state championship the first year the lights went up and our son was on the team,” Mrs. Gleason said.
The Gleason’s son, David, played soccer at Silver Lake Regional High School and set a scoring record that held until the 1990’s. Mr. Gleason explained that before the lights were constructed, all games for Silver Lake’s football and soccer programs were played during the day.
My conversation with Mr. Gleason and his wife began to wrap up after nearly an hour of questions. Mr. Gleason wished to dedicate his final comments to the wind turbine discussion.
“A shutdown is a bad thing,” Ron said.
“Without proper science the town would be illegally breaking the contract by shutting the turbines down.” He also left a hint of optimism to the citizens claiming to be most negatively impacted by Kingston’s four industrial wind turbines.
“There’s always a remedy but the opponents have dismissed compromise. I don’t know what they want,” Mr. Gleason said.
Mr. Gleason said that he feels he stopped the Kingston Selectmen from shutting down the wind turbines “illegally” in December.
Gleason continued to say that the wind turbine complaints did not have proper scientific substance yet. He added that he has “nothing but compassion for the people affected by the turbines.”