SALEM — An investigation by Town Manager Keith Hickey has determined that Selectman Stephen Campbell did not harass a firefighter at Market Basket last month.
The issue came to light in a letter from the Salem Public Administrators Association last month that accused Campbell of asking harassing questions of a uniformed firefighter at Market Basket. The letter went on to state that the incident was part of a pattern of Campbell harassing union employees.
The letter was signed by union officials Shawn Patten, Dave Wholley, and Chris Dillon.
After conducting an investigation and viewing security tapes from Market Basket, however, Hickey concluded the incident never took place.
"I think it is unfortunate that whoever put the memo together didn't do their homework as the town manager did, and his conclusion finds that the conversation didn't occur based on the review of the tapes," said Selectman Everett McBride.
McBride also requested that Hickey speak to the union officials who made the accusations against Campbell and find out why they did not carry out a full investigation of the incident before releasing a letter to the press and the public.
Selectman Pat Hargreaves said the union officials and the firefighter who made the accusation should make a public apology to Campbell.
Campbell said he reviewed the Market Basket tapes with Hickey and that they clearly showed that he had no contact with any uniformed town employees.
"I believe I am owed a public apology by the three individuals from that union that signed the letter based on nothing," he said. "I don't care to get an apology from the firefighter. I have my own suspicions as to why this is being done. I want everyone to realize I didn't do this, and it is not a he said/she said. There is video of it."
Campbell said the accusations against him were made in an unprofessional manner.
"As far as I'm concerned, it's a witch hunt and certain people would like it to be true because they don't like me asking about overtime and proposed staff cuts," he said.
Campbell also told Hickey that he has a personnel problem in town.
Hickey admitted that Salem is a very political town but added that he did not believe that the most recent accusation against Campbell was politically motivated.
"I can tell you that the employee made a mistake," said Hickey. "The impression that I got speaking to him with the fire chief was that (the firefighter) went back to the fire station and said he believed it was Selectman Campbell, but after questioning by the fire chief and myself, he became unsure if it was Selectman Campbell, and ultimately it was not."