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Tom Duggan's Notebook

Ryan's Fall from Grace

Poor Bill Ryan from Haverhill. Ryan, who was reelected two years ago placing second in his bid for the Haverhill City Council. But, this year he did not fare so well, dropping to eighth place in last month’s City Council election. (The top nine are elected) Some are speculating that Ryan is ripe for defeat in two years and word is already spreading in political circles that candidates are gearing up to run an anti-Ryan campaign. Ryan is well known in state political circles as a rhino Republican state committeeman who routinely showcases lawn signs for Democrats, angering many in the party. But now it seems that he has angered many Democrats as well, begging the question, is this Ryan’s last hurrah?  

A New Warden

Lawrence School Committeeman Amy McGovern was in a tithter on election day when she found out that former rival Mark Gray was the new warden at the South Congregational Church on South Broadway. Gray was defeated by McGovern and Larocque in the primary after running a hard campaign calling for the firing of Superintendent Wilfedo Laboy. Since McGovern and Gray have a basic agreement about the superintendent’s performance, and Peter Larocque ran a campaign more favorable to the superintendent, we are still a little puzzled as to what the fuss was all about.

Do As I Say!

Listeners to the local Spanish language radio station routinely hear my good friend Milagros Dominguez railing against people who do not vote, and extolling the virtues of taking part in the most sacred symbol of democracy. But The Valley Patriot has learned that Milagros (who loves me for sure) is not a voter in the city of Lawrence. WHY? Well, according to Milagros (which means "miracle" in Spanish), she is not a United States citizen. So my only question is ... why not? If the United States is good enough to live in and make a living in, and you are going to take advantage of your right to criticize our elected officials and the political process, don’t you think it is time she became a citizen? Either that, or maybe she should just keep her non-citizen opinions to herself about our American elections. By the way, I love you Milagros!

Warden Ejected

While there were very few problems with voters being “disenfranchised” or intimidated at the polls in Lawrence on Election Day, at least two precincts (out of 24) reported a problem that resulted in police intervention. Mike Rivera, the warden at the Lawlor School voting precinct, reportedly confronted a voter and asked him to vote for a particular candidate. Police had to eject Mr. Rivera from the building. Howard Tejeda, former candidate for mayor, said he was asked to leave a polling precinct when he confronted a poll worker whom he said was telling people who to vote for.

Not a Woman?

By far, one of the dirtiest campaigns in Lawrence was in District “F” (South Lawrence East), where former councilor Marilda Gosselin and Jim Stokes squared off for the fourth and final time. Three days before the election, Stokes addressed a crowd during a fundraising event for Nunzio DiMarca, declaring that Marilda Gosselin is NOT a woman! He then launched into a five-minute speech about how Gosselin was “a liar who abuses her authority and is the most corrupt politician this city has ever seen.” While I am no fan of Ms. Gosselin’s bullying tactics, I can hardly agree that she is anywhere near the top of the list of “most corrupt official” in recent years. Perhaps Mr. Stokes should do some research about the Dowling administration now that he has a little more time on his hands.  

Campaign Finances a Joke ... and,
by the way, Who Paid for Those Signs?

Several candidates for office in Lawrence did not file their campaign finance reports as required by law. Among them were: Nunzio DiMarca, Israel Reyes, Carlos Matos, Howard Tejeda, Barbara Gonzalez, Jorge Gonzlez, Ruth Rojas, and Martina Cruz.   But two candidates who did file their campaign reports to the city clerk’s office omitted some important information. Both District “E” candidates Dan Rooney (City Council) and Peter Larocque (school committee) had signs on people’s lawns throughout the campaign, but neither of them declared who donated the money to buy the signs, where they were purchased, or how much they cost. According to state law, all candidates must file a campaign finance report listing all donations, expenses and even what is called in-kind donations. An in-kind donation must be listed on a campaign finance report, for example, when a candidate has a fundraiser and someone donates free coffee, or material for posters that the candidate doesn’t actually pay for. The dollar amount of the items donated must be listed on the report. But you see, this is Lawrence, and for years candidates have routinely turned in their reports late, not turned them in at all or turned in inaccurate reports, and nobody has ever been fined or punished for it. So, as long as there is no enforcement of campaign finance laws in Lawrence, candidates will continue to break the rules with impunity.

Who’s the Renegade?

City Clerk Billy Maloney issued an order on Election Day that reporters were not allowed to take pictures inside the polling precincts.
According to the Secretary of State’s office, he has every right to do so if someone is disrupting the voting process.

But Mr. Maloney told the Eagle~Tribune that his order was the result of a “renegade reporter” on primary day “who was disrupting the polls and bothering voters.”

The incident Maloney was referring to took place on primary day at the Adalante Youth Center on Hampshire Street. But it was not the reporter who was disrupting voters; it was Lawrence Police Detective Soucy.

You see, when The Valley Patriot photographer snapped one picture of the back of voters casting their ballots, Detective Soucy immediately ordered the photographer to stop, claiming that “in my 20 years at this polling place, pictures have never been allowed.”

The detective then ordered the reporter to leave and when that reporter tried to explain that the Eagle~Tribune routinely shows pictures inside polling locations at election time, Detective Soucy became belligerent, using foul language, a not-so-veiled threat of arrest, and caused a scene that even embarrassed City Councilor Barbara Gonzalez who witnessed his disgraceful behavior.

Of course, we placed a call to the Lawrence police and spoke to Soucy’s captain that afternoon who apologized and even offered to personally escort our reporter back to the polling location to get the pictures he needed for the story. But all we wanted was one picture and we already had that, so as far as we were concerned the matter was closed.

We didn’t take a picture of voters’ faces. We didn’t take a close up shot of anyone’s ballot. We didn’t disrupt the voting process in any way. The only disruption that occurred was when detective Soucy became loud and then came nose to nose with our reporter, violating his personal space to declare that “pictures have never been allowed inside the polling precinct.”

 So I am a little confused as to why City Clerk Bill Maloney made the decision he did or why he chose to lie to the press about it. Whatever the reason, polling precincts are public places and nobody should be prohibited from taking pictures there unless they are purposely trying to get pictures of what voters are doing with their ballots.

And by the way, if Mr. Maloney (whom we lobbied hard for to get the city clerk’s job) paid more attention to keeping his office open during the required City Hall hours and reining in renegade election workers instead of reporters taking pictures, the public would be much better served.  

Show Me the Money

North Andover Selectman Don Stewart is up for reelection this spring and knows he is in for a fight. Apparently, the North Andover Democrat Town Committee is putting up someone to run against him, even though Stewart is a member of that committee.

This time, he says he is taking no chances and for the first time in fifteen years he will be accepting campaign contributions and running fundraisers. Insiders say that North Andover Police Officer Danny Lanen plans on running again and has the support of many Republicans in town. Lanen supporters are hoping to knock off tax and spend liberal Mark Caggiano, who is also up for reelection. So, it looks like a dogfight in March for the two open selectman seats.

Pizza on the House

Sal’s Pizza (not an advertiser in The Valley Patriot) was very gracious to area veterans on Veterans Day by providing free pizza at the North Andover VFW Hall to all vets and parade participants. The Valley Patriot would like to thank Sal Lupoli for recognizing the veterans who fought for this country.  

A collision course with disaster!”

North Andover Selectman Jim Xenakis told the Board of Selectman last month that because of the way the town negotiates labor contracts: “We are going to need an override every year for the next three years ... and even with that, we will still have to cut services.” Xenakis sparred with fellow board members and finance committee member Paul Stewart, who has been positioning the budget for an override each of the last two years and wants to raise taxes and fees. Xenakis said he wants to put a hold on all raises and contracts. He also said that the state does not need to give North Andover more money to solve the problem, as some have suggested.

”For God’s sake, what we need to be telling our state legislators is that we have to be able to control our own costs. We don’t even have the ability to control our own spending. The answer is not raising taxes and fees or getting more state money, it is controlling spending.” Xenakis then made a grim forecast, “We are on a collision course for disaster.”

Bob Andrew for Council President in Methuen

Who will be the next council president in Methuen? Six of the nine recently elected councilors have previously served on the council and word is that they all want to be president. If they all vote for themselves, that leaves only three votes up for grabs, or a maximum of four votes to any one candidate (it takes five votes to be president). Maybe the council presidency should go to one of the two top vote getters. Some insiders say Jack Cronin should get the job as a bonus for what happened between Bob LeBlanc and him years ago.   ...Or maybe it should just go to Bob Andrew.

Women will now Control the School Committee

It has been a while since women outnumbered men on the Lawrence school committee, but last month’s district school committee elections have put women squarely in charge once again. The committee went from two women (Amy McGovern and Nancy Kennedy) to four women (we don’t count Laura Vanderveer since she never showed up for meetings anyway).

The new female committee members are: Omaira Mejia, Amy McGovern, Martina Cruz, and Patricia Sanchez. Now I have a real reason to attend every single school committee meeting in Lawrence, as opposed to the Methuen school committee, which has only one woman (Martha Welch) out of nine members, and North Andover, which has no women on the board. Normally I end up arriving a little late to these meetings, but now I will be making a special effort to be early at every meeting and, most likely, will be the last one to leave when the meeting is over. Let’s hope Billy Maloney doesn’t ban cameras from school committee meetings.

With Friends Like That...

As gleeful as I was to see every single one of Willie Lantigua’s hand-picked candidates for City Council lose on Election Day, I actually felt bad for Councilor Michael Fielding. Unlike the rest of the Lantiguanistas, Fielding was no puppet and was actually a pretty decent councilor (with the exception of voting to fire Roger Twomey). Fielding was the unwitting victim of one of Lantigua’s last minute campaign brainstorms. A few days before the election, campaign fliers went out to voters asking them to vote for both Fielding (who placed second in the primary) and Israel Reyes, who came in fifth and then dropped out of the race. Willie’s strategy backfired and cost Fielding the election.

As a side note, we want to apologize to Councilor Fielding again for inadvertently leaving his name off the sample ballots in our special election edition. If it had been done on purpose, I would declare it proudly, but the fact is that it was an oversight.   Candidates Lining Up Against Lantigua

Speaking of Willie Lantigua ... talk about a man walking around with a bulls eye on his back! At least seven local politicos have said they intend to run against him after seeing how weak his political capital was with the voters last month when his candidates got trounced at the polls. One name I was pretty excited to hear about was Jose Alfonso Garcia.  

Corrections & Apologies

Last month we reported that the North Reading bus company employed by the Lawrenceschool department was being managed by Kevin Clement’s son. Clement is the transportation director for the Lawrence public schools. Come to find out that he is only a dispatcher at the company and we want to correct the record.

Also, after looking at the bus contract I learned that the company is not in violation of their contract by using small vans to transport students, and there is a provision that allows for a gas price increase.

Tom Duggan is the president of Valley Patriot, Inc., is a former member of the Lawrence School Committee, the former political director for Mass Citizes Alliance and is the host of the Paying Attention! radio program on WCAP radio (980AM). You can email Tom at tdugjr@aol.com

*Send your questions comments to ValleyPatriot@aol.com
The November Edition of the Valley Patriot
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