Tom Duggan’s December Notebook ~ HEROES & BOZOS of 2014!




photo: Eagle Tribune
photo: Eagle Tribune

BOZO OF THE YEAR – LENNY DEGNAN – It takes a lot to get bozo of the year but Lenny Degnan, (former Chief of Staff for Lawrence Mayor Willie Lantigua) has managed to do just that. Degnan was convicted of fraud and corruption earlier this year as the result of his role in the Lantigua shenanigans during his four years as mayor. Degnan was sentenced to 14 months in prison and during his stay at the Essex County House of Correction was put on work detail picking up trash at … you guessed it… The State House with the rest of the crooks.

Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera has fired Willie Lantigua’s Chief of Election Shenanigans Rafael Tejeda after years of Tejeda cooking the books for Lantigua, forging signatures on nomination papers and running the most chaotic election department in the state. To date Rivera has removed a number of Lantigua workers who were involved in the shenanigans. We are told that he is sending down City Clerk Billy Maloney’s name to the city council for termination. If that happens, Rivera will get HERO again next year too.


You have to hand it to Neil Harrington. He delayed and obfuscated our public records request for months regarding how much money the town has spent on legal fees to fight the Tomaselli’s $15,000 fake sewer betterment. While we only got a portion of the bills from the Town of Salisbury, the total we have so far is over $100K. That doesn’t include the high priced lawyer recently brought on by the town to represent the town in Bankruptcy court, or the years prior to 2005. Harrington also recommended at Town Meeting that the town transfer money from the sewer enterprise fund for the proposed construction for sewer services on the upper Lafayette Corridor and Ferry Road. According to the EPA, the sewer enterprise fund can only be used for operation, maintenance, and equipment replacement for the existing system. Harrington has a group of Bobbleheads on the board of selectmen who simply nod their heads up and down for whatever Harrington wants. The Bobbleheads also get BOZO distinction in 2014 for their complicity in Harrington’s shenanigans.

Shaun Toohey and Katie Ives Candidates for SenateBOZO – HAVERHILL SCHOOL COMMITTEEMAN SHAUN TOOHEY
As a candidate for State Senate, Republican Shaun Toohey didn’t bother to show up for the Paying Attention radio debate the Saturday before the election. He also had his signs illegally put up all over the Merrimack Valley on highway off ramps, state and municipal property, abandoned buildings and public sidewalks. Long after the election was over, Toohey signs were still up all over Methuen and Salisbury until finally last week, the final sign in Methuen came down near the Route 213 off ramp on Rt. 28.

Hard enough to be the Mayor of Lowell but Rod Elliott spends a lot of time trying to help our veterans and particularly our wounded veterans. THANK YOU Mayor Elliott for all you do for our vets.

Babs L’Italien

During the election it was revealed that Babs owed more than $7K in back taxes, even though she had loaned more than $13K to her political campaign. When we reported on Babs’ tax troubles she tried to put the stink on her opponent Alex Vispoli, claiming he owed liens too. But he didn’t. The documents she sent us turned out to show that Vispoli actually paid his taxes. Even worse, for someone who pretends to care so much about the children, I offered to donate $100 to the Salvation Army if Babs would have the courage to come on my radio show and answer a few tough questions about her refusal to pay her taxes, but she declined. Thanks to Babs L’Italien, some poverty stricken, young Black or Latino child will go without a Christmas present this year. I guess her ego is far more important than making a poor minority child happy at Christmas.

He lost his reelection by 84 votes last year, and this year Willie Lantigua tried to come back and take his old state rep. seat back from arch-rival Marcos Devers. Lantigua got his hat handed to him again. Now the rumor is that Lantigua is thinking about running for city council. Please, dear Lord let it be true! The news business misses you Willie!

He may have blown off the Paying Attention radio debate after making a commitment to show up (usually something that gets you on the BOZO list) but he did not betray his campaign supporters when he lost the primary. While other politicians in the Valley were clamoring to jump on the Barbara L’Italien bandwagon after the primary, Pavel Payano showed strength of conviction and political maturity and took a pass.

First, the disclaimer. She worked her tail off for the Democratic nomination for State Senate against Barbara L’Italien and then she did the unthinkable when she lost the primary to Babs … she endorsed Babs L’Italien. That’s a BOZO move no matter how you look at it and one we hope Rodriguez now regrets. So why is she on the HERO list? Despite her betrayal of the issues she said she cared about before the primary, Doris Rodriguez is the real deal. She has a genuine concern for the City of Lawrence and the people who live there. She volunteers a great deal of her time to helping the poor and uneducated in Lawrence. She took a lot of heat from her party and some rabid Payano supporters before the primary and she held her ground. That’s why it was so disappointing when she endorsed Babs, but we have to remember she is a rookie. Doris is good at helping the community, organizing events, and volunteering her time, but, she is still new at this political game. I hope Doris doesn’t get too discouraged by her loss to Babs L’Italien and thinks about representing the City of Lawrence on the city council in 2015. I’ve been particularly tough on Doris since she lost the primary because I don’t want her to get sucked into the concept of “team politics” (as in you always support your party no matter what). She does deserve another chance and I hope she runs again.


Haverhill Councilor Bill Ryan
Haverhill Councilor Bill Ryan

Despite the fact that the Merrimack Valley Tea Party members campaigned hard for state senate candidate Shawn Toohey, Haverhill Councilor Bill Ryan (Toohey’s father-in-law) took to the airwaves after Toohey’s devestating loss and attacked the Tea Party members who had worked on the campaign. It sure gave a warm and fuzzy feeling to everyone who held signs in the cold and rain, stuffed envelopes, made phone calls, and spent time away from their families to help Mr. Toohey’s campaign. As a side note, many, MANY Valley Patriot readers called and texted us daily during the campaign to tell us Ryan was illegally putting up campaign signs on state property.

Myra Ortiz is not only a member of the completely irrelevant (sorry Myra) Lawrence School Committee, she also donates a great deal of her time trying to help kids in Lawrence. Myra is a doer! She doesn’t get caught up in the team politics and gets along with those on both sides of heated and contentious issues.

Governor Deval PatrickBOZO – DEVAL PATRICK
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is puppet for left wing ideologues and hate merchants. Every year he ends up on the BOZO list, and this year is no different. Last month, Patrick showed his long held hatred for police and contempt for our government and criminal justice system when he said he had hoped Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson had been indicted. He holds this belief because Wilson is white and it is the belief of Patrick and his left wing “progressives” that white men in power are always bad. It truly is sad when black leaders show their hatred for white people while pretending to care about “civil rights” and equality. But then again, what do you want from a guy who willingly fought to put a convicted cop killer back on the streets before he was governor?

Lawrence City Councilor Marc LaPlante is one of the few people in Lawrence who actually works for the community. He is involved at every level and he does so without injecting the usual dirty politics that has so plagued Lawrence City Hall. This year, LaPlante pulled off a major political coup when he got Lawrence Republicans to switch sides and support Democrat Marcos Devers for State Representative over Republican Roger Twomey in an effort to defeat Independent Willie Lantigua. His activism and the help of Dan Macland-Rivera made the difference between a return to power for Willie Lantigua or a win for Marcos Devers.

We tried to tell Lawrence City Councilor At-Large Roger Twomey before the election that he had no shot in a three-way contest for state rep. between he, Devers and Lantigua. Had Twomey spent a little more money and campaigned a little harder, he may have taken just enough votes away from Marcos Devers in South Lawrence to ensure a Lantigua win. But, of course you couldn’t tell that to Roger or his well-meaning supporters before the election. Instead of listening to solid political advice, Twomey supporters preferred to attack the messenger (yours truly) for telling the ugly truth. As a side note, a BIG BOZO to those who told Roger Twomey that they had some magic campaign strategy that could get Twomey elected to the state rep seat. Those are the people who almost got Lantigua elected again and used Roger to do it. Maybe someday, Roger will get it that your true friends are the ones who tell you what you don’t want to hear when you need to hear it the most. Those who were saying differently were certainly not doing Twomey any favors.


Massachusetts State Auditor Suzanne Bump received The Valley Patriot’s 1st Amendment Award for her work in demanding government accountability and exposing millions of dollars of fraud in the state’s welfare department and EBT cash card program. Bump also exposed the deficiencies of more than $100 million in the state’s MBTA automated fare collections system. She was attacked by members of her own party, in particular Governor Deval Patrick, but kept true to her constitutional duty by continuing to report directly to the public and standing up for her right to expose failures, fraud, waste, and abuse in state government. Auditor Bump was to receive her award last month at The Valley Patriot’s 10th Anniversary BASH but was  unable to attend due to a sickness in her family.
Massachusetts State Auditor Suzanne Bump received The Valley Patriot’s 1st Amendment Award for her work in demanding government accountability and exposing millions of dollars of fraud in the state’s welfare department and EBT cash card program. Bump also exposed the deficiencies of more than $100 million in the state’s MBTA automated fare collections system.

So, she’s a Democrat with wacky liberal ideas. Who cares. She’s a State Auditor, and as the State Auditor she has exposed more fraud with her public audits than any other auditor before her. She called attention to the fraud in the Social Security Administration where she found that millions in benefits were being handed out to dead people, exposed the mismanagement of DFC, EBT fraud in the millions and, when her own party head Deval Patrick said her audits were wrong, she proved him to be the fraud that he is and did more audits backing up her previous findings. That gets a DOUBLE HERO in my book.

What can I say? She decided behind my back to challenge my State Rep., Diana DiZoglio last year. She never picked up the phone to discuss it with me, she never came to my office to do an interview on her campaign, yet she assumed for some bizarre reason that I would just automatically turn my back on Diana DiZoglio and support her because she is a Republican. Then she was shocked…. shocked… that I contributed to DiZoglio’s campaign. She also voted to raise taxes as a member of the board of selectmen, yet she portrayed herself as an anti-tax candidate. What’s worse, Smedile blew off the a debate on the Paying Attention Radio Show because she didn’t want to answer questions about the bogus fliers she sent out to voters erroneously claiming DiZoglio favored giving housing benefits to illegals over veterans.

Knowing her the way I do, I can imagine how personally hurt Rosemary would be if someone falsely claimed that she was favoring illegals getting benefits over our hero veterans. I called shenanigans then and I call it now. This is not the Rosemary I thought I knew. I like Rosemary and have no personal ill will, but the hurt she caused with that particular lie on the campaign trail was hateful and hurtful to not only DiZoglio but our veterans, some of whom still think their representative is anti-veteran.

devers meetmarcosHERO – REP. MARCOS DEVERS
Yes, he defeated Willie Lantigua at the ballot box fair and square (no thanks to Roger Twomey), but Marcos gets HERO status this year for another reason. During the campaign, Devers declared that he favors Voter ID and denounced the idea that Voter ID is “racist”. Devers said that he has seen election fraud with his own eyes for years in Lawrence politics. As a Dominican and a Democrat in Massachusetts, it is not easy to break with the party lie … er … I mean line on Voter ID, but Devers, like Mayor Dan Rivera supports protecting the integrity of the voting process.

It’s hard to say bad things about Democrat Steve Zanni because he’s such a likable guy, but this year Zanni pulled a BOZO move when he endorsed Phil DeCologero for State Representative over incumbent State Rep. Diana DiZoglio in the Democratic primary. Not only did DiZoglio defeat DeCologero on primary day, but also she slaughtered him 7-1 showing that Zanni had no influence over Methuen voters. Now, Zanni has to work with DiZoglio after working hard to unseat her and that should be punishment enough, but I think he deserves to be on the 2014 BOZO list. As a side note, Zanni comes up for reelection this year and I hope all those DiZoglio supporters in Methuen remember whose side Zanni was on when it really counted.

During the sentencing phase of convicted felon Lenny Degnan (see BOZO of the YEAR at the top of this page) a number of prominent people came forward for the Lantigua crone, writing letters to the judge asking for leniency. Among those who tried to influence the judge for mercy were: North Andover Town Moderator Mark DiSalvo, North Andover Selectman Richard Vaillancourt, former North Andover School Committeeman Bill Kelley, former Lawrence Mayor Mary Claire Kennedy, her former Chief of Staff Jack McCarthy, former Lawrence City Councilor and worker for the Secretary of State’s Office Joe Quartarone, Former Lawrence Police Chief Robert Hayden, Lawrence Building Inspector Peter Blanchette (who is the brother of Patrick Blanchette), community activist Brian DePina, and others. Degnan was given 14 months and is still in prison.

Diana DiZoglio

They were smeared, they were lied about, they had their signs stolen, they were called unethical, dishonest, untrustworthy, and when they tried to defend themselves they were called liars. But, State Senator Katy Ives and State Rep. Diana DiZoglio, (both Democrats), stayed above the fray and never got down in the gutter with their opponents. In short, they kept it classy and the voters rewarded them both with their first re-election win.


LAWRENCE – Well the 2014 state and national elections are barely a memory and those on the local level are already lining up to run for office in November 2015 election. In Lawrence, School Committeeman Jim Blatchford is running for City Council, At-Large. School Committeeman Myra Ortiz is running for District “A” City Council, a seat currently held by our friend Sandy Almonte. All nine members of the Lawrence City Council, and all six members of the powerless Lawrence School Committee are on the ballot in 2015. This will create an immediate opening in Districts F and C on the School Committee.

HAVERHILL – Mayor Fiorentini had kits of Narcan installed in police cars, and fire trucks will be next. Narcan is a drug that reverses the effects of heroin and can potentially save the lives of individuals that have overdosed on opiates; it is an antagonist to treat overdoses. The Haverhill Police Department has been trained on the use of Narcan, and the Haverhill Fire Department will be trained shortly. The Narcan in the cruisers is a nasal dose. Haverhill has seen an increase in heroin overdoses, and this drug is a potential lifesaver. The city received $22,000 in grant money from the state to fund the Narcan and Narcan training. “By having our first responders equipped with Narcan, we can attempt to save the lives of individuals that have overdosed. We have a Drug Task Force that will work to address drug activity in our city and in our schools. I want to thank Representative Dempsey for his funding support,” the mayor said.

READING, AUSTIN PREP. – The Academic Decathlon team at Austin Preparatory School in Reading received the Small Schools Division First Place trophy in the regional competition.
The school finished with a total of 21,189 points, beating out 14 other schools in the Small Schools Division. The nine-person team competed in seven events, earning 22 medals individually, and placed second in the overall competition. The theme for this year is New Alternatives in Energy: Ingenuity and Innovation.
Small Schools Division medals are awarded to the top three finishers (including ties) in each subject in each of three categories determined by student grade point average. The highest category is Honors, followed by Scholastic and then Varsity.
The team includes: Senior John Smolak of North Andover (Varsity): Gold for Social Science, Language and Economics; Silver for Science and Music; Bronze for Art; Silver for Overall Performance among Varsity students

The following students have made the first-quarter honor roll at Austin Preparatory School in Reading.
Dracut – HONORS: Alexis Nichols, Austin Nichols, Rebecca Lowe.
Haverhill – HONORS: Alexander Gilmore, Laura Rosado.
Lawrence – HONORS: Ashley Moore, Nicole Bautista, Tuong Thai.
Methuen – HONORS: Adriana Farias, Catherine Flagg, Eric Naish, Maria Luccisano.
North Andover – DISTINCTION: Emily Mastrocola, Michael Kamelle, Molly O’Leary.
HONORS: Alessandra Petrozza, Anna Schiff, Christopher Applegate, Elizabeth Boucher, Jacob Norris, Madison Rieumont, Max Rieumont, Megan Mahan, Melissa Saindon, Michael Roche, Olivia Zdrojewski, Salina Nihalani, Sarah Schaller, Shuruthe Raju, Stanley Alger

From OCPF: Spending by outside groups and Independent Expenditure “Super” PACs to support or oppose gubernatorial party finalists was twice the total spent by the candidates themselves.
Outside groups reported making $16.9 million in independent expenditures to support or oppose the finalists, Charles Baker and Martha Coakley. The candidates reported $8,406,864 in expenditures during the election cycle (Jan. 1, 2013 – Nov. 15, 2014).
Combined, spending by outside groups and the campaigns totaled $25.3 million, and does not include in-kind contributions by state party committees, which will be dis-closed by candidates in January.
Independent expenditures are made by Super PACs and other groups to support or oppose a candidate, but without coordinating with candidates and their campaigns. Super PACs accounted for $9.9 million in spending to support Baker, a Republican, or to oppose Coakley, a Democrat. Super PACs and other groups reported spending $6.9 million to support Coakley and oppose Baker.

Most IEPAC spending was done by two committees – Commonwealth Future, which benefited Baker, and Mass IEPAC, which benefited Coakley.

Commonwealth Future reported the highest spending total, $9.3 million to support Baker and oppose Coakley. The committee was funded primarily by the Republican Governors Association, which contributed $9,400,000.
Mass IEPAC reported $6.3 million in ex-penditures to support Coakley and oppose Baker. The primary donors to the commit-tee were the Massachusetts Teachers Asso-ciation IEPAC ($2,539,355), the Democrat-ic Governors Association ($1,394,000), and WOMEN VOTE! ($1,150,000).

Baker led all gubernatorial candidates in spending with $4,575,157, followed by Coakley at $3,831,707. Three other unenrolled candidates appeared on the ballot — Evan Fal-chuk ($2.4 million); Jeffrey McCormick ($1.5 million); and Scott Lively ($29,491).

Baker’s spending total was less than all other successful gubernatorial candidates since 1998:
• 2010 Deval Patrick $5.4 million
• 2006 Deval Patrick $8.9 million
• 2002 Mitt Romney $9.4 million
• 1998 Paul Cellucci $7 million
Former Gov. William Weld spent $4 million in 1994.

Super PACs and other groups also made expenditures to support or oppose other statewide and legislative candidates. Complete studies on independent spending and statewide candidate activity will be issued by OCPF at future dates. Super PACs originated in 2010 after two court decisions. In the Supreme Court’s Citizens United vs. FEC decision, the court ruled that independent expenditures by corporations that are made to influence candidate elections cannot be limited, because doing so would not be consistent with the First Amendment. The second court decision, vs. FEC, held that individuals, corporations, and other groups can provide funds without limit to independent expenditure-only committees (Super PACs). This decision was made by the U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C.

F.H. Cann & Associates (FHC), a woman-owned business based in North Andover, Massachusetts, is proud to announce its selection as a small business collection contractor for the US Department of Education. In a long and extremely competitive process, FHC was awarded the US Department of Education contract based upon its significant experience in default collections, superior performance, outstanding customer service and strong compliance and security. Frank Cann, President and CEO, stated “we are thrilled to win this award which is considered to be the pinnacle of contracts within defaulted student loan collections”. He went on to say “we invest in people and technology and deliver unparalleled service and responsiveness to our clients and their customers. This is truly a testament to the hard work of our entire staff”.

While a national leader in education collections and partnering with some of the largest FFELP guaranty agencies in the U.S., FHC also delivers strong results working with many prestigious clients in Financial Institutions, Commercial Businesses, State and Local Governments, and Schools; as well as provides Default Aversion Services. FHC takes a tailored approach to each client and employs recovery specialists in each business discipline. F.H. Cann is proud to have been named one of the 2014 Best Places to Work in Collections by insideARM. A distinction they have held each year since 2011.


The Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, a nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy group dedicated to promoting better government and right-of-center fiscal and economic policy solutions, today called upon lawmakers not to act on proposals made by a commission that recommended large salary increases for a wide range of state elected officials.

“Simply put, passing the commission’s proposals would send the wrong message at the wrong time,” stated Paul Craney, the group’s executive director. “With tens of millions of dollars in cuts to local aid and other programs being proposed to close a gaping hole in the state’s budget, enormous pay increases for politicians are a completely inappropriate use of taxpayer money.”

Among its other recommendations, the commission proposed to increase the governor’s salary to $185,000 and provide a $65,000 annual housing stipend as well. Under the plan, the speaker of the state house and senate president would see 72% pay raises to $175,000 a year, with smaller percentage raises to boost the attorney general and state treasurer’s salaries to the same level. Rank-and-file lawmakers would receive larger expense allowances based on the distance from their districts to Boston, although the commission also suggested ended the so-called “per diem” payments that have criticized as an accountability-free way of paying lawmakers to drive to work. Furthermore, if the proposals are passed before the end of 2014, all re-elected lawmakers would essentially be voting for their own raises without having to face the voters, a clear conflict of interest.

“We certainly applaud the commission for joining the call to end per diem payments. That said, Beacon Hill politicians should use common sense and not vote to give themselves a raise paid for with money that could be better spent fulfilling the broken promises of local aid. Craney concluded.

NerdWallet researched 61 cities in Massachusetts with more than 20,000 residents for growth in jobs, income and population. The numbers, based on 2009-2012 data, show Methuen ranked #4 in growth for communities in the Commonwealth. 

These numbers show that Methuen has increased its population by 10.9% and its income level by 4.3%. At the same time, the number of employed residents in Methuen fell by just 1.3%. The report is another example of Methuen’s ever-improving financial standing.

In July of 2014, Methuen achieved an AA/Stable Bond Rating by Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services, the highest rating in the city’s history. Methuen was also assigned an SP+ rating on the outstanding Bond Anticipation Note of $20 million that will be rolled over until the next fiscal year. In addition, the city issued an underlying rating of AA-/Stable Rating.
NerdWallet ( is a popular financial outlet that creates user-friendly tools across banking, credit cards, education, health care, insurance, and investments. In February of 2014, NerdWallet rated Methuen as the 9th best Massachusetts community for homeownership. Their report boasted Methuen’s 72.3 % homeownership and affordable homeowner costs which take up just 36.2 %t of the median monthly household income.
The report also lauded Methuen’s civic pride, Mayor Zanni’s Artist of the Month Program, and our many boards and commissions, which give citizens an opportunity to move Methuen forward.