Conflict of Interest Torpedoes Thibault in Dracut ~ EYE ON DRACUT

By: Brian Genest – 01-23

Here we go again: Cue the violins for Dracut’s self-proclaimed victim, Phil Thibault. This time, he’s lamenting because he was rejected by the Board of Selectmen for the newly created at-large seat on the Zoning Bylaw Review Committee—and he’s blaming everyone but himself, just like he always does. Meanwhile, the board majority cited conflict of interest, as Thibault is an architect who conducts business in town. But Thibault doesn’t like the truth to get in his way.

Right now, the Zoning Bylaw Review Committee is in the process of executing a major overhaul of the town’s zoning bylaws for the first time since the 1980s. Selectmen expressed concerns about Phil Thibault’s business interests in town, his past conflict of interest and the potential for future ones.

“I, in good conscience, can’t vote for this candidate for the appointment,” Selectman Jennifer Kopcinski told her colleagues, saying her concerns came from Thibault’s own words. “He resigned from a seat on the planning board after speaking with the state’s ethics commission, as his profession is an architect in town. As far as I know, his business is still operational.”

Kopcinski added that she felt appointing Thibault to the position would be setting the town up for issues in the future.
Chairman Alison Genest said she agreed with Kopcinski and expressed similar concerns.

“There was an admitted conflict of interest in 2016 where this applicant was a member of the planning board and, after a conversation with the ethics committee, he stepped down from the seat because of his professional career and his work as an architect in town.” Genest said. “I’m not just troubled by the fact that that’s a known conflict, but I’m also worried about any potential future conflicts that I think are too great to ignore.”

Selectman DiRocco also said he couldn’t vote for Thibault for the same reasons. “It could be, I’m not saying it is, I’m just saying it could be, a self-serving position for him on projects that are upcoming,” DiRocco said. “I think his business could flourish from changing the bylaws to do certain things. To me, it’s a case of putting the fox in the hen house and I’m not going to support it.”

Thibault’s buddies on the board, of course, thought letting him serve, despite an obvious conflict, was a great idea. Selectman Tony Archinski said failing to appoint Thibault would be “despicable.” Selectman Santiago-Hutchings was “disappointed” that Thibault won’t be able to make the rules for those in town who hire him and fund his business.

Instead of reflecting inward, Phil Thibault lashed out, just like he always does. This time, he blames the board majority. He had his sob story published on a Lowell website, which included an editorial note saying he was a paid sponsor. Pay-to-play Phil wants you to believe the board’s vote was personal instead of factual. But it’s all true. In 2016, Thibault resigned from the Planning Board and then he went on his buddy Warren Shaw’s AM radio program to talk about it. Shaw’s sidekick Shawn Ashe posted the audio recording on his Dracut Forum blog.

If there’s anyone with an ax to grind or an obvious grudge, it’s Phil Thibault. After all, he isn’t just a big victim, he’s also Dracut’s biggest loser. The perennial candidate has lost 9 town elections—one more defeat and he gets a set of steak knives. In addition to losing a race for Housing Authority, Thibault has come up short in eight elections for selectman, so far, in 2005, 2007, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2020, 2021 and 2022. He’s lost electoral contests against all five current Selectmen, including three head-to-head matchups against Selectman Joe DiRocco.

Phil Thibault blames everyone but himself for that, too. During the 2022 town election, Thibault was calling Dracut sleepy. In 2021, Thibault said our town was starting to rot. Dracut voters keep sending the same message, but Thibault doesn’t want to hear it, apparently. Meanwhile, Thibault continues to align himself with some of the most nasty and negative voices in our town, those who constantly try to tear down Dracut. Thankfully, no one is buying what he’s selling—toxicity.

Here’s what the Lowell Sun said when Phil Thibault lost his selectman’s race in 2020.

“It just might be that in Thibault’s case, familiarity breeds more contempt than content.

Buoyed by the backing of several town influencers – including former selectmen – one would have thought it was his election to lose, which he did.

It could also be payback for the decision by that screening panel he ran not to put interim – now permanent – Town Manager Ann Vandal on the list of finalists for that position.”

And speaking of conflict of interest and making money, later that year, in October of 2020, the Lowell Sun exposed some of Phil Thibault’s self-serving behavior at DATV.

“Imagine if Phil Thibault had been elected to the Dracut Board of Selectmen.

Even though the Dracut Access Cable Television board of directors, on which Thibault serves, is technically not a government body, Thibault apparently thought there was nothing improper with landing a $10,000 contract to help design DATV’s new studio, as Thibault is an architect.”

If there’s one thing you can count on when it comes to Phil Thibault, it’s consistency. He’s a perennial victim, loser, and crybaby. But if I were a betting man, I’d wager Thibault is likely to “win” those steak knives.


—Brian Genest is the producer and host of Eye On Dracut, winner of the Hometown Media Award for News, which airs on DATV Channel 8 and online at ◊