By: Brian Genest – April, 2018
There’s nothing more swamp-like than Dracut politics. Our town keeps living up to its reputation for local politics that is personal and putrid. The current race for the Board of Selectmen is no exception, sadly.
Again this year, the nothing-to-offer negative voices are the Dracut Connection cable TV show and a fake Facebook account using the name John Lynch Cross. Both use their platforms to push their political candidates and causes. Both attack town citizens and anyone who dares to disagree with them. Both have something else in common, too: supporting four-time loser Phil Thibault and trying to smear his opponent.
It’s no different in this election. Just like three years ago, Phil Thibault’s opponent, incumbent Selectman Joe DiRocco, is the target of election-season attacks that have nothing to do with town issues. Ditto for the third candidate, John Joyce, who has been under fire non-stop from the moment he pulled papers to run for the seat. This is the ugly underbelly of politics in Dracut: it’s not about the issues, it’s about personal destruction.
It’s the exact reason good people don’t run for political office in town. Or open a business here. Or get involved.
And that’s exactly what I told Phil Thibault when he had the misfortune – for him – of coming to the Dracut Republican Town Committee meeting in March to ask for the support of our members. I was one of several who let him know that I wasn’t interested in supporting him and why. It was a long list, including making political donations to Democrat Colleen Garry, supporting the last proposed Proposition 2 ½ overrides and other issues.
At the top of that list from me and other members was Phil Thibault’s long-standing association with the Dracut Connection and the vicious attack those associated with it have launched, including that fake profile. Phil Thibault got an earful about that disgusting cable show – and he deserved it. His face was beet red – and it should have been, sadly.
Two days after the DRTC meeting, things blew up.
The fake profile John Lynch Cross personally attacked a well-known and well-liked private citizen (an absolutely wonderful woman!) in a vile Facebook comment. And it set off a huge backlash. That comment was the final straw for many good people who’ve seen too many good people in town get trashed online by this phony baloney.
In response to the comment and rumors swirling about the true identity of John Lynch Cross, Saturday Morning Live, the radio show hosted by Warren Shaw on WCAP, posted on its Facebook page:
“What we know for sure about this monster is that he does not post this garbage on his own FB page he does it on the DRACUT CONNECTION FB page. So the responsibility for the content falls on the Dracut Connection and any law suits would be directed at them as they take ownership for this garbage when they allow it on their site. These folks have been spinning garbage and libelous content directed at people they don’t like for years. It needs to end and we all need to do our part… We need to tell all of the folks that appear on their cable show and the folks that are supported by them politically and the current public officials that are their friends, that we will not vote for them.”
Phil Thibault apparently got the message, finally. He posted a statement on The Real Forum for Dracut:
“There are those standing in the wings on both sides of the stage of this election, sniping back and forth with personal attacks. I have striven to make this election issues based and it is turning into circus. I will be the adult in the room and say what needs to be said. ‘Knock it off.’ This is not behavior I condone nor want. The people of Dracut deserve better leadership than what they have had in the past.”
Let’s keep this real, Phil: The personal attacks are only coming from one side – yours. It’s the Dracut Connection and the fake profile causing all the problems. No one and nothing else.
And talk about pathetically convenient timing, here we are, about a month before Phil Thibault’s fifth attempt to win town office, and now he’s suddenly wearing his big-boy pants.
What about all the years Phil Thibault was an active participant in that circus? What about all the weeks Phil Thibault sat on the same stage with these people, grinning and nodding his head in agreement? What about the nights Phil Thibault just sat there silently, instead of speaking up, when good people were being trashed?
Do I think Phil Thibault is a bad guy? No. Do I think Phil Thibault is the type of leader Dracut deserves? No. Do I think Phil Thibault can erase years of his behavior with one Facebook post? No.
Phil Thibault is guilty by association. His “knock it off” is just too little. And it’s way too late, sadly.
Brian Genest is a member of the Dracut Republican Town Committee. A marketing and communications expert with 20 years of success driving growth, maximizing ROI and boosting profits for consumer and high-tech brands, he has developed and executed strategic initiatives for a range of disruptive technologies, including robots, mobile commerce solutions and SaaS products. Earlier in his career, Genest worked as a newspaper reporter and editor for the Dracut Dispatch, Derry News and Billerica Minuteman.