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TOM DUGGAN’S NOTEBOOK (JUNE, 2019)

CHANGES TO METHUEN’S CITY CHARTER
The Methuen City Council and the charter commission are considering changes to the city charter this year (the document that governs how the city operates). Some of the proposed changes being discussed are minor tweaks to the document to make city government more effective and accountable. But, some of the ideas being bantered about are destructive and it makes me wonder if the people of Methuen have learned nothing from Lawrence’s failures. One suggestion is to have the school committee elected by district. If you want to know what destroyed the Lawrence public schools, it was the racial gerrymandering of school committee to be elected by district in order to pander to minorities. Another terrible idea being discussed in some circles is to return to Town Government and a Town Manager. Sure, Methuen ran better when it was a town and had a town form of government, but Methuen has double the population it had back then and with all the insane development going on in Methuen, the population is expected to continue to grow.

ONE CHANGE TO METHUEN’S CHARTER THAT IS DESPERATELY NEEDED
With all the discussions going on about changing Methuen’s charter (the document that governs how city government operates) there is one issue that must be addressed. In 2013 we published an editorial entitled “Change Methuen Charter to Mandate Primary Elections.” Nobody listened and Methuen still cancels their primaries if there are not enough candidates to eliminate for the general election.

Now Methuen officials are tinkering with the charter again, so I’d like to make my case one more time. Two years ago Jim Jajuga ran unopposed for mayor. Because there was only one candidate in the race during the September primary – and nobody would be eliminated – Methuen decided to simply cancel the primary. Here’s why that’s bad. Cancelling primaries is really an incumbent protection act. It protects insiders from competition. If Methuen held a primary anyway, even with only one candidate on the ballot, citizens could have mounted a write in campaign during the primary and given Jajuga (in this case) an opponent.

“But, Tom,” the disingenuous insiders tell me. “They can still mount a write in campaign in the November general election.” Yes, that’s true. But, in the November election, a write in candidate would not have their name on the ballot and would have to get more write-in votes than the person who is already on the ballot. That’s simply impossible. The people of Methuen have a right to participate in their elections. They ought to have a right to challenge candidates who are running unopposed in a primary. Holding primary elections allows them to do that. “But, Tom,” the disinguine insiders whine. “Do you know how expensive it is to hold a primary? We could save $50,000 or more by canceling the primary.” Again I say, ‘yes’, you will save money. But what price do you put on democracy? If Methuen officials are serious about community engagement and voter participation in elections they should not be making it harder for those voters to actually participate. I should know, I got elected to the Lawrence School Committee in 1996 after mounting a write-in campaign in a primary. If I lived in Methuen I never would have had the opportunity to serve.

ONE MORE THING THAT MAKES LAWRENCE UNIQUE
Last month, Lawrence High School alum and local veteran Brian Mohica was the keynote speaker at the Lawrence High School Alumni Scholarship Banquet. He started off his speech with a message for the public-school graduates that he is inspired every day by his “lord and savior Jesus Christ” to the applause of the audience. He also told the college-bound graduating seniors that the world owes you nothing. You have to work for it. Mohica told the students that just believing in your dream means nothing if you are not willing to sacrifice and work for it. I was floored. If Mohica gave this speech in a lily-white, left-wing authoritarian community like Andover he would be escorted off the stage and out of the building for simply mentioning God alone. What was even more amazing to me was that this graduating class of mostly liberal, minority students cheered his message. Good for him, and good for the administration of Lawrence High for not being left wing God haters by allowing him to give his talk uncensored in a public school.

DEMOCRATS SAY THEY SUPPORT ROE v. WADE, THEN RAIL AGAINST IT – NOBODY NOTICES
Regardless of where you stand on abortion this should trouble everyone, especially democrats.
Almost every single Democrat candidate running for president ‘says’ they support Roe v. Wade: the Supreme Court decision that made abortion a constitutional right in the first three months of pregnancy. But, while they say that in the first breath, in the very next breath they all say they believe in abortion on demand “up to birth”, that partial birth abortion should be “a woman’s choice”.

Now how can both of those two statements be true? They can’t. How can anyone say with a straight face that they support the Roe decision and then dismantle the basic foundation of Roe in the very next sentence, to the wild cheers of a pro-abortion audience. Even more troubling is that nobody noticed, not even those evil right wingers on Fox News. The fact is, either you support Roe or you do not. Apparently the Democrat candidates for president who pay lip service to the Roe decision and then say they support abortion up to birth … do not. It makes you wonder what else they are saying they believe in… but really don’t. If I was a liberal I’d be pretty troubled by that.
SPEAKING OF ABORTION
During the recent uptick in abortion discussions in the world of media and politics, several democrat candidates for president said that “banning abortions will not stop abortions”. They then go into the memorized talking points about back alley abortions and coat hangers. But, this is an odd position to take for any democrat given that every time there is a mass shooting these very same democrats say that banning guns will stop mass shootings. How can that be? And how is it that this kind of hypocrisy is simply ignored by “journalists” and democrat party voters?

WARREN CONTINUES TO IGNORE HOMELESS IN LAWRENCE
Last year during the senate election I asked Carina Pappalardo – the head of the Daybreak homeless shelter in Lawrence – if she has ever received any help from, or even a phone call from Elizabeth Warren to find out what she needs as she struggles to service the poorest population (the homeless) in the poorest community in New England (Lawrence).

Pappalardo’s answer was “no”. Neither Warren nor anyone in her office has even picked up the phone to talk to the people at Daybreak to see what they could do to help. I was shocked. Warren campaigns on the backs of the poor people in Lawrence. She holds herself up as a champion for the poor and for minorities, yet she has never once visited, or even called Daybreak in Lawrence to see how she can help? I also asked Carrie Weiland of House of Mercy if she has ever heard from Warren or her office as they are struggling to provide counseling, transitional housing, and detox services to the homeless. Again, I was told “no, we have never heard from her”.

Rather than just bash Warren for being a huge hypocrite (which she is), I wrote two editorials, talked about it on my podcast, and even approached some of her people to make them aware of the homeless situation in Lawrence in the hopes that Warren would actually DO something to help. “Even though I don’t like the senator, if she showed up and helped, I would be the first one to give her credit for doing something,” I said to one of Warren’s people. “I won’t even mention that she had to be badgered into it by yours truly. I will give her all the credit. I just want her to help the homeless in Lawrence.”

Still, we hear the sound of crickets out of the Warren people and Warren herself as she flies all over the country trying to seize more political power in her bid to become president of the United States, where I am sure she will continue to ignore the plight of the addicted and the homeless. The fact is, Daybreak is one of only two wet shelters in the state. That means if a homeless person is drunk or high when it’s 2 degrees below zero outside, they will not turn them away like most other shelters do. Daybreak services 55 homeless people every night. They are always at capacity, because there are more than 200 homeless people sleeping outside in the city of LAWRENCE. Carina Pappalardo says she needs a few million dollars to build a new facility so she can adequately service that population and get them off the streets.

With all her connections, Senator Warren could make ONE phone call to one of her super-wealthy political donors and raise that money in under 10 minutes. That is, if she really cared about the poor, the addicted, and the homeless in the very city she launched her campaign for president. And I will say again – if she did that, she would be on page one of the Valley Patriot for doing so with no mention of how she had to be coerced into it. But she’s not interested in helping poor people, she’s not interested in helping opioid addicts, she’s not interested in helping Lawrence, Massachusetts. She is only interested in seizing power. And that is the saddest part of all because, regardless of her flaws, Warren could make a major difference in the lives of these people with very little effort. Until now, she has shown no interest in doing so. Let’s hope she changes her mind.

NORTH ANDOVER WELLNESS CENTER PROVIDING PROSTITUTION
On May 14th, acting on information received regarding possible illegal activity at the Natural Wellness Center, 483 Chickering Rd. North Andover, North Andover Detectives and FBI Lowell T.O.C.-West Task Force arrested Li Zhou, age 50, of Quincy, MA for solicitation. Natural Wellness Center advertises a variety of massage and spa services. On this date an undercover officer went to the spa and requested a massage. During the massage the undercover officer was offered a sex act for an additional fee, at which point backup officers entered the business and effected the arrest of Zhou.

MAYOR RIVERA A NO SHOW AT LAWRENCE HIGH ALUMNI DINNER
It’s one thing to snub a Lawrence High senior at The Valley Patriot’s annual Charity BASH when we give out scholarships, it’s quite another to sub the entire graduating class of 2019 at the Lawrence High Alumni Scholarship Banquet. Yet, last week, as the alum of Lawrence High was digging deep to donate money to this year’s graduating seniors, Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera was noticeably absent … again.

DAVID BEAUREGARD A RISING STAR
When I first met Dave Beauregard, he was a wide eyed teen ager working as an intern for Methuen Mayor Bill Manzi. And, just like North Andover Selectman Phil DeCologero, he stayed active behind the scenes through his teen years and into his 20s. He worked for Bill Manzi and then for Manzi’s rival Kathleen Corey Rahme. Yet, Dave did so without making any political enemies. Now, at 30 years old, the teenage kid we all remember is married with a new baby and is running for Methuen City Council At-Large. If he stays clear of partisan politics, and continues to steer away from the juvenile bickering that has overtaken Methuen politics, Dave will be a rising star with a very bright political future. At his kickoff fundraiser last month, Dave remained positive and highlighted the fact that he has no conflicts of interest like so many others do. For that reason alone he actually has a fighting chance to get on the council.

GROVELAND SEEKS VOLUNTEER TO FILL BOARD POSITION

The Groveland Water and Sewer Department wants to remind residents that there is a vacancy on the Board of Water and Sewer Commissioners. The Board of Water Commissioners is an independent board responsible for overseeing the Water and Sewer Department and acting as stewards of the town’s water and sewer infrastructure. Members of the Board serve a three year elected term. Duties include placement of fountains and hydrants, regulating the use of water, establishing equitable pricing for water and sewer services, appropriating department revenue and department policy making. The Board is seeking an engaged resident who will commit their time to overseeing this important work, which is vital to maintaining the board’s sovereign oversight of the department’s operations. The board meets approximately once a month, typically on a Monday. Anyone interested in an appointment to the board is encouraged to contact Water and Sewer Department Office Manager Pat Rogers at 978-556-7220.

METHUEN COUNCILORS ON MCTV
If you are like me and you are a political nerd you probably watch public access TV in Methuen. Recently, cable access has been airing video of members of the Methuen City Council talking about … well… themselves. This is an election year, and while I am sure this was well intended by the people at cable access, it gives incumbents an unfair advantage over lesser known political challengers who do not get the free airtime on cable access to introduce themselves to voters with prerecorded messages. I’d like to see these kind of public information snippets in every community, they are a good idea, just not in an election year.

THE MUELLER REPORT’S NEW STANDARD… GUILTY UNLESS WE CAN PROVE YOU INNOCENT
Like Donald Trump or hate him, the fact is we are all supposed to be innocent until proven guilty in this country when it comes to being charged with a crime by the government. But, last month Robert Mueller created a new standard, “Guilty unless we can prove you innocent”. Mueller came out and announced that Trump was not being charged with conspiring as a traitor for Russia to steal the 2016 presidential campaign. He also did not charge Trump with “obstruction” of the crime that never occurred. He then followed up, both in his written report and in his bizarre press conference by saying that he could not “exonerate” the president of obstruction.

Remove Donald Trump from the equation and just imagine for a minute that YOU are being charged with a very serious crime like child molestation, rape, or murder. The prosecutors conduct an investigation against you, bring everything to a grand jury and the grand jury voted NOT to indict (formally charge) you with that crime. You have now been exonerated.

But hold up …. the next day the prosecutor holds a press conference live on television for all the world to see, saying that while he could not find enough evidence to charge you with that very serious crime, he also could not say for sure you didn’t do it … despite the fact that not charging you with the crime does in fact, exonerate you. This is not only un-American its Anti-American. For three years we were told by democrats and their media mouthpieces that Trump was a traitor. He was a spy for Putin’s Russia. He was going to be dragged out of the White House in cuffs any day now. And when that didn’t happen, instead of apologizing to America for their lies and phony political narrative, they simply shift to a new narrative that Trump is guilty of obstructing the investigation.

Let’s get something clear. Critics of the president say that if Trump was not president he would be charged with obstruction, but the law doesn’t allow it. Pretending that’s true for a minute (we know it’s not because Bill Clinton was charged), that’s like saying if smoking cigarettes was a crime, I’d have been arrested for breaking the law. But it’s not. So, therefor I didn’t. And neither did Trump. Fact is, George Bush pardoned several members of the Justice Department shortly before they were to testify against him and it wasn’t called “obstruction of Justice because the president is in charge of the Justice Department. Trump could have fired Mueller. He could have ordered the Attorney General to stop the investigation and would have been well within his constitutional right to do so. Yet, he didn’t and the liars on TV, including Mueller, continually use circular logic to pretend Trump obstructed justice in a lame attempt to cover up their own role in a fake witch hunt where they accused the president of the United States of being a traitor who stole the election from their anointed candidate Hillary Clinton.

WHIM RESTAURANT AT SMOLAK FARMS IN NORTH ANDOVER
New England’s favorite outdoor dining experience is back for the summer celebrating its 9th season! Back by popular demand, Smolak Farms presents “Whim 2019” located at 315 South Bradford Street, North Andover, Massachusetts. Whim will take place every Wednesday evening starting June 12th, and continuing until August 28th, beginning at 5:30pm and will feature some of New England’s best chefs!

“Whim is such an innovative concept that is really difficult to ignore. It is something that people talk about and get excited for because it is a one-of-a-kind experience that you’re not going to find anywhere else. It is so easy to get wrapped up in the craziness of the city of Boston and I think people appreciate an evening away from it all. We’re taking the best food in the city and bringing it to a more rustic and relaxed setting. Top that off with the fact that each dinner supports a great cause and you really can’t beat it,” said Michael Smolak, owner of Smolak Farms. Guests will experience a meal under the stars prepared by some of New England’s most respected and praised chefs. Included in the $85.00 ticket price is a multi-course dinner prepared by guest chefs on a “Whim” based on the freshest produce available from Smolak Farms. For more information on “Whim” or Smolak Farms, please visit www.smolakfarms.com. Tickets can be purchased directly via: http://www.smolakfarms.com/whim-dinner-series.

6/26: Woodman’s of Essex, Chef Ned Grieg
7/10: Post 390, Chef Nick Deutmeyer
7/17: The Smoke Shop, Chef Andy Husbands
7/24: 110 Grill, Director of Culinary, Elliot Williams
7/31: Harvest, Chef Tyler Kinnett

$85 per person (gratuity and tax not included). Visit smolakfarms.com to learn more and purchase tickets. Dress is casual. Beverages not included. Paired wines, beer and non-alcoholic beverages available for purchase. Only one menu will be presented with no substitutions. Ticket is non-refundable. ◊

Tom Duggan

Tom Duggan

Tom Duggan is president and publisher of The Valley Patriot Newspaper in North Andover, Massachusetts. He is an author, host of the Paying Attention TV/Radio Program, lectures on media bias and police issues, is a former Lawrence School Committeeman, former political director for Mass. Citizens Alliance, and a 1990 Police Survivor. You can email your comments to valleypatriot@aol.com.

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One Response to TOM DUGGAN’S NOTEBOOK (JUNE, 2019)

  1. Joseph dipietro DiPietro Reply

    June 29, 2019 at 10:24 AM

    Off Topic BUT……….. Can this guy Bob LeBlanc be a bigger uninformed ass-hole than even the 25 DEMS running for president ???!!!

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