PAYING ATTENTION WITH TOM DUGGAN
By: Tom Duggan – April 2013
Private citizen Richard D’Agostino applied for the open city solicitor’s job in Methuen among eleven other candidates. He was by far the most qualified for the position as he was one of the last two finalists before political shenanigans derailed his chances of employment with the city.
He went through the interview process and a background check. He was vetted by city councilors at open meetings and was subject to public scrutiny as well as back door whisper campaigns and scurrilous attacks by cowards who hide in the shadows, always angling for personal gain or political power.
As the fired Lawrence City Attorney, D’Agostino has a long history of public service going all the way back to the 80’s when he was an Alderman in Lawrence.
He knows the players, he knows where the bodies are buried, he knows how to play hardball with the big boys, and he knows how to get things done.
Methuen would have served themselves well to hire him to replace the outgoing solicitor Peter McQuillan.
But they didn’t.
The city council chose not to hire him after a well-coordinated attack on his character by Lawrence Mayor Willie Lantigua, someone pressured his references to retract their letters of recommendation, a coordinated effort by those who wanted to stage a coup to reinstate McQuillan by sabotaging the process, and a spate of politically motivated editorials and “articles” in the Eagle~Tribune.
The level and fury of the attacks on D’Agostino was something out of a well-managed political campaign in Lawrence, not a council appointed city solicitor’s position in Methuen.
And whether individual city councilors realize it or not, their action, or should I say inaction, in replacing Peter McQuillan with a guy like Richard D’Agostino, have given more power to the corrupt and self-serving and weekend the political power of those who are trying to stop the corruption.
By voting against Richard D’Agostino, the Methuen City Council has sent a clear message to people like Willie Lantigua that he can sabotage his political enemies in other communities just by causing controversy, whether he is right or not.
I know, I know the councilors will say that Lantigua did not influence their decision but that isn’t how Lantigua sees it and handing him a victory like this (even in his own mind) emboldens him.
It also sends a signal to the editorial board of the Tribune that they have more power in Methuen than they really have. They also scored a big win when the council ran from controversy and rejected D’Agostino for the position.
Then there are the Methuen insiders who schemed and planned and plotted to sink D’Agostino’s nomination. The council sent them a signal that their tactics work. The next time a nomination comes up that doesn’t fit with the sacred cows behind the curtain, they can create the same kind of controversy over nothing and achieve the same end.
Methuen had a real chance to get it right. They blew that chance. That doesn’t make them bad people or necessarily part of the corruption, but them caving in to the pressure of the corrupt and self-serving has certainly made them a tacit part of the problem.