From Criminal Conspiracy to Smoking Cigars
Since we started the Valley Patriot 16 years ago, I’ve been hearing the same stories, accusations, lame excuses, and dire predictions about Methuen Police Chief Joe Solomon.
For years, I have been told by politicians that Solomon is “corrupt” and he “mismanages his department.”
And whenever I ask for proof, I get the same tired excuses, “any day now” or my favorite “I don’t trust you”.
Anyone who thinks I would cover up for a corrupt cop who spit in the face of everything my father lived and died for is fooling themselves. Anyone who provides proof of corruption of any cop will make page one in The Valley Patriot no matter who they are. Remember Sheriff Frank Cousins? Disgraced and fired Lawrence Cop Bill Green?
I stand on my record.
My policy with Joe Solomon (or any cop) has always been, show me the proof or shut up.
Don’t say you have some secret information that nobody else knows about, and that SOON everything will come to light. We’ve all seen that movie and we know how it ends.
After all, Joe Solomon is still here.
Even after being investigated by the FBI, the state, the Department of Labor, the District Attorney, the Attorney General, and a myriad of other investigatory agencies, Joe Solomon is still the chief.
Mind you, he also won a lawsuit against the city where his critics had every opportunity to prove – in the open court- how “corrupt” Solomon is and how badly he “mismanaged” the department.
Until recently, the political campaign of misinformation had mostly died down, only to be resurrected once again by current members of the city council with personal agendas.
FACTS ARE FUNNY THINGS
Without ever presenting any proof, councilors accused Solomon of being involved in a “criminal conspiracy”, hiring unqualified “friends” who “worked for his private security company”, and “failing to adequately train his men.”
Councilors routinely spout these accusations against Solomon, even after the accusation is proven wrong.
As just one example, the chief doesn’t hire or fire police officers, the mayor does that. Yet, councilors continue to say he “hires his friends and refuses to fire or discipline them when they do wrong”.
They’ve also made claims that Solomon mismanaged his department when he moved Lt. Randy Hagar out as head of a crime bureau and replaced him with Captain Gallant, who has half the experience running that bureau.
When Solomon explained that Hagar was demoted from captain to lieutenant as the result of the city council cutting his budget, and further explained that only a captain can run a bureau, the council pretended he never said it, and continued calling it favoritism anyway.
This misinformation spouted by councilors was so egregious that Lt. Hagar himself walked into the meeting and asked to be heard. Lt. Hagar said he believed it was unfair of the council to demote him from captain to lieutenant, and still expect him to do the work of a captain – running a bureau – for Lieutenant’s pay.
Councilor Zeigler has long warned her fellow councilors that they open themselves up to a lawsuit when councilors publicly name city employees.
Not to mention the fact that the city council has no say over the day to day operations of any city department, much less any authority to tell the chief who to assign to a particular bureau.
With all the rumors and lies being spread, back in January Mayor Perry agreed to hire an outside firm for a management audit of the police department to objectively investigate the truth about the chief’s management.
Councilors agreed to the audit and voted to spend more than $80K for an independent contractor to do the audit.
Every single councilor said at the time that they would respect the result of the management audit, whatever it showed.
NOT SO FAST
While the audit is currently taking place, councilors decided they didn’t want to wait for the results of the $80K audit they just purchased a few weeks earlier. So, they called for a symbolic vote of “no confidence” in the chief.
Without presenting any evidence, councilors made the same, tired old accusations I’ve been hearing since 2004.
“Solomon smokes cigars in a city owned vehicle!”
GASP! Say it isn’t SO!
“Solomon gets paid too much!”
Yeah, his contract was approved by the city council and signed by the mayor.
“Solomon hires his friends and demotes his enemies!”
Once again – the chief doesn’t have the authority to hire, fire, or discipline police officers, only the mayor can do that.
But, the most humorous deception was when Councilor Beauregard cited all the bad press Solomon brought to the city. Mind you, the last three Globe and Eagle Tribune stories were generated by councilors looking to grandstand about how they are the guardians of the taxpayers’ money.
So, in essence, councilors run to the press, bad mouth the chief – which makes the city look bad – and then blame the chief for the “bad press”.
If that’s not a bag job, I don’t know what is.
WHEN FACTS GET IN THE WAY
To top it all off, this little exchange between Councilor Simard and Chief Solomon really said it all.
Councilor Simard accused the chief of not properly training his men as an example of his mismanagement of the department.
Solomon told the council (and meeting minutes back this up) that, for the last four years he has requested the money for officer training and his requests were denied.
“You never take the blame for anything, do you?”
And there you have it.
In the face of actual facts, continue the deception because some people will always believe it.
Continue to attack because the man you attack is unpopular and makes too much money. Any amount of dishonesty is acceptable, so long as you can get your name in the paper.
VOICE OF REASON
Councilor Nick DiZoglio was the only voice of reason.
“We, as a council, voted to do an audit. This will bias the audit. The audit is either going to say his department has been neglected and mismanaged or not. We don’t know that yet. The additional drama this council has created over the years is exactly what the voters rejected in the last election. We as a council have to change that. We are in this problem because the (previous) mayor and council kept voting on things behind the scenes. Now we are doing the same thing.”
DiZoglio said his fellow councilors presented no evidence of wrongdoing and he has seen no evidence of mismanagement.
He added that the Globe had the wording of the no confidence vote against the chief last week, while he only received it the night before the meeting.
“And that’s because you knew I was not for this,” he charged.
Councilor DiZoglio stood alone and voted “present” on the vote of no confidence. That took courage given the current public anger against the chief over his pay.
My prediction is that if the audit shows Solomon has not “mismanaged” his department, some city councilors will question the integrity of audit and claim it is somehow tainted because this council is not interested in the truth, they are interested in promoting a political narrative.
Facts be damned.
It’s time for this foolishness to end.
Councilors Simard, Beauregard, Saba, and McCarty need to show the public proof of corruption and mismanagement by Joe Solomon or shut up until they can.◊