By D.J. Deeb – Nov. 2018
Methuen City Councilor Steve Saba has shown true leadership in dealing with the outrageous Methuen Police Superior Contracts these last few months. In leading the charge, along with fellow City Councilor Jim McCarty, Councilor Saba proposed a reorganization that would have eliminated the Captain positions and maintained a necessary number of police patrolmen to keep our streets and city safe. Unfortunately, a majority of the City Council (excluding Councilors Jen Kannan and Lynn Vidler who reclused themselves from the votes due to family conflicts) have been complacent in supporting the Memorandum of Understanding [MOU] that has resulted in 24% and 18% raises for five Methuen Police captains while resulting in a $1.8 Million deficit for the Methuen Police Department. The Council voted 5-2 against reorganizing the Police Department and eliminating the captains. This was disgraceful and fiscally irresponsible.
After months of complaining and pretending to support the taxpayers of Methuen, a majority of the City Council have turned their backs in complacency to support outrageous raises for the Methuen Police Captains at the expense of Police Patrolmen and the taxpayers. I disagree with Valley Patriot Editor Tom Duggan’s assertion that the Saba/McCarty Plan for reorganization is “shameful beyond reason.” The fact remains that the Police Superior Contracts were deceptive and not negotiated in good faith. Just read the contracts. You need to be an accountant to understand the language.
Police Superior Union President and Captain Greg Gallant recently appeared on a show with Loop Weekly Publisher Tim Wood. On the show he attempted to justify the increases being given to the captains. Watching him was like watching a used car salesman give his pitch. No one is buying it and no one is fooled by his arguments. The fact remains that there are currently 24 superior officers for just 71 Methuen patrolmen.
In his October 2018 editorial, Publisher Tom Duggan wrote, “Let HIS [Saba’s] family wait. In fact, what I said was ‘Lay off the cops who work in his neighborhood so that GOD FORBID Steve Saba’s wife is getting raped it is his family waiting for police to respond, not the innocent people of Methuen…’”
This is a low blow. These comments are deeply offensive and have no place in public discourse.
Methuen Police Chief Joe Solomon was asked to present his own re-organization plan for 6 months and he failed to deliver. Instead of showing leadership and presenting a viable alternative plan that would prevent the layoffs of police patrolmen, Chief Joe Solomon chose to defend the superiors and stick it to the taxpayers and residents of Methuen as well as the patrolmen.
In frustration and trying to be pro-active, Councilors Saba and McCarty presented their own plan and it makes perfect fiscal sense. This plan would have closed the $1.8 Million budget gap and prevented patrolmen layoffs. The fact remains that some neighboring communities, including North Andover, do not have police captains. We do not need them either and certainly not at the salaries that they are demanding. Under the currently-funded MOU the police captains are earning base salaries of $188,206. This is ridiculous! We could add 3 patrolmen for each captain that is eliminated and we certainly should look at adding more patrolmen to help the City of Methuen address crime and opioid abuse.
By failing to act, 25 patrolmen may be pink slipped. In addressing the MOU, Captain Greg Gallant recently stated, “We’re going to stand strong.” The Methuen City Council election is only 11 months away. Methuen citizens and residents are angry and mobilizing. It is time to DRAIN THE SWAMP in Methuen and hold the City Council accountable. We will be sure to take to social media and the press to remind people what has transpired here come election time. Methuen taxpayers will “stand strong” come election time!
On another note, the Methuen School Committee has voted to contract the services of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees to conduct a thorough search for the next Superintendent of Schools. This process will include input from all of the stakeholders, including parents, teachers, administrators, and the taxpayers of Methuen. This process will take 3-4 months. More on this to come.
D.J. Deeb is a Methuen resident and Secretary of the Methuen School Committee. Deeb is an Adjunct Professor of History/Government at Bunker Hill Community College and an Adjunct Political Science Instructor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Deeb also serves as Social Studies Department Chair at Notre Dame High School in Lawrence, Massachusetts. He is the author of Israel, Palestine, and the Quest for Middle East Peace (University Press, 2013) and The Collapse of Middle East Peace (IUniverse, 2003). ◊