By: D.J. Deeb – September, 2012
On Thursday, July 26th, Lawrence Superior Court Judge Robert Cornetta ruled that the City of Methuen had failed to prove its case that the Civil Service Commission erred in ordering the reinstatement of Joe Solomon as Methuen’s Police Chief. This was not only the right decision for Solomon, but was the right decision for the City of Methuen as well.Like all of us, the Chief has made some mistakes, but overall Joe Solomon has been an outstanding police chief and has served the City exceptionally well throughout his tenure.
In 2008 Solomon was terminated as Police Chief for alleged mismanagement of Federal grant money and the use of taxpayer money to purchase marine equipment from his relatives. As far as the latter is concerned, this was equipment that the City needed and Chief Solomon actually saved the City money even though at a glance it may have appeared to violate ethics laws. In either case, the Civil Service Commission imposed a one-year suspension on Solomon as Chief in 2009 and ordered his reinstatement as Methuen’s Police Chief in 2010. Even though many ethics laws and rulings are well-intentioned, they often lead to negative consequences such as this one.
In praising the Judge’s ruling, Chief Solomon’s attorney, Andy Gambaccini, stated that the move to terminate Chief Solomon was “poorly conceived, poorly constructed, and poorly executed.” I could not agree more! Termination was not necessary.
Upon learning of the ruling, members of the Methuen City Council and current Mayor Steve Zanni announced that they will not likely be seeking an appeal of the Judge’s ruling. This too is the right decision. The City has spent tens of thousands of dollars fighting the Civil Service Commission and trying to remove Solomon as Chief. It is time to move on. As City Councilor Jennifer Kannan observed, “I don’t think it’s in the best interest of the city” [To appeal the ruling]. City Councilor Mike Condon also remarked, “I don’t want to appeal anything. Enough is enough. I want to get this issue behind us. I think the chief is doing a good job.”
Currently, the City and Chief Solomon are deadlocked in negotiations over Chief Solomon’s federal lawsuit againstthe former Mayor and the City; and a Superior Court decision in which Solomon was awarded lost wages in the amount of $49,000.
Chief Solomon has been vindicated and has rightfully prevailed. It is now time for the parties to reach an agreement on these issues and move on in the best interest of Methuen.
D.J. Deeb is a Methuen resident. He served as a member of the DracutSchool Committee from 2005-2008 and the Greater LowellRegionalVoc-TechSchool Committee from 1997-2009. 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. He teaches Social Studies full-time at ReadingMemorialHigh School.