Tom Duggan’s Notebook (April, 2019)

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Each year the Valley Patriot celebrates our anniversary with a charity BASH scholarship and award night. This year we raised and gave away almost $10,000 in scholarships to local students, raised money for Veterans Northeast Outreach in Haverhill, and were able to give out 8 different awards to community heroes. Once again we packed the room at the Firefighters Relief’s In on Market St. in Lawrence. It was a great celebration of our 15th anniversary and we could not have done it without our advertisers, readers, donors, and sponsors. We also couldn’t have done it without a great BASH Committee. All year round, Brenda Rozzi, Maria Fiato, Chris Eldridge, Eric Malanson, Rich Russell, and Rick Bellanti, work to make this event as flawless as possible. Thank you all for helping us help others! We will see you next year at the Relief’s In for our 16th Anniversary.

Mike Agricola and Phil Wood of Salvatore’s Restaurant who donates dinner every year, Dawn Pease of Dawn’s Sign Tech in North Andover who donated our banners, Mimi and the fine people at Sahtaine in Methuen who donate the hummus and pita, Keith Wlodyka of Daily Dose Café for providing free coffee, Bob Wescott of Copilabs for donating the programs, Henry’s Jewelry and Awards in Lawrence for donating the awards, DJ Rick Bellanti of Bell Aire Music productions who DJ’s the event for free every year and the Lawrence Firefighters Association for donating the hall every year, Gracemarie and Joyce Tomaselli for providing free deserts, Kelley’s furniture in Lawrence for donating three pieces of beautiful furniture for our Raffle, and all those people who donated baskets and raffle items. A very big thank you as well to our financial donors who helped us fund our scholarships: Al Veilleux, Ken Deluca, Frank Quintanna and Quintanna Supplies, Frank Coady Family, Coady Towing, Mike Buco & Sons Construction, Kate Callahan-Callahan Heating, Brian Genest, Patrick Francis, Heather Mariani, Joyce A. Ratcliffe Mullen, Eugene Smith-Military Connections, The Lawrence Lions Club, Kelly O’Brien, Christine Prescott, Wendy Perez Solivan, Local 1421 Building Wreckers – Tom and Nancy Troy, Lisa Williams – AFC URGENT CARE, Bob Wescott, COPILABS, State Rep. Lenny Mirra, Haverhill Mayor Jim Fiorentini, Scott Punk, Mike Gagliardi, Laborer’s Union 175, Joe Viel – Cemetery Services, Joe Dunn, Geoff Diehl, Attorney Paul Lambert, DJ Beauregard, Tony Silva- Lightship Liquor, Haskmuh Vora – Rt/110 Convenience, Northeast Storage (Karen Montijo), Jana Zanni Pesche, Bob Leblanc, Kathleen Laplante, Tom Ciulla, Dawn Pease – Dawn’s Sign Tech., Irish Cottage, Roger Twomey, Lawrence Lions Club, Carina Pappalardo – Gr. Lawrence Psychological Center, Donald Jarvis,

Last month North Andover held our annual elections for board of selectmen and school committee. Up for reelection this year were Rosemary Smedile for board of selectman and Amy Mabley for School Committee. A few days before the primary a woman named Julia Ross decided to launch a write in campaign against Smedile for selectman touching off conspiracy theories that selectman Phil Decologero was the evil force behind a challenge to Selectman Rosemary Smedile.

I have to tell you this is one of the many reasons I stopped being a republican. Locally, whenever something doesn’t go their way, it’s always assumed that there’s some evil conspiracy behind it, and of course a local bogeyman to blame. In North Andover that bogeyman is usually Phil Decologero. But, I know for sure that Phil had nothing to do with the write-in campaign of Ms. Ross because Phil was in my office on Election Day instead of working the phones to help her get elected. And… if Phil had been behind the write in campaign, Ross would have received a hell of a lot more votes than the 329 votes she received. Late election night, after the votes were counted, I was contacted by a republican friend of mine who was about to post on Facebook an “in your face” message to Phil after “his write-in candidate failed miserably”. When I informed him that Phil had nothing to do with it he thanked me for preventing him from making a fool of himself and admitted he got the bogus information from the Smedile campaign.

For the first time in decades I didn’t vote. While I understand that there were only two candidates on the ballot and that both seats were uncontested, that’s no excuse for those two candidates to NOT campaign. First off, shame on the people of North Andover for not fielding at least three candidates for each seat. It shows complacency and laziness and that kind of political culture usually leads to arrogant public officials and corruption.

Not once during this election did I hear from either candidate asking for my vote, asking me what my priorities are as a voter, or even reminding me when election day was. I didn’t receive one phone call (until Election Day and that was a recording) and I didn’t get ONE mailing or piece of campaign literature.
Shame on the North Andover candidates for not caring enough to campaign and educate the voters whether they had competition or not. As far as I’m concerned neither of them deserved my vote. I hope future candidates for office in North Andover don’t take a page from the 2019 campaign.

Congratulations to our friend Andover Selectman Vispoli on his reelection last month. Vispoli is one of our kindred spirits as he was elected in March of 2004, the very month we started The Valley Patriot. Alex placed second to Dan Koh who failed last year at a run for Congress.

It’s funny when you think of the fact that Andover has become such a left wing regressive town, and then compare their actions with their rhetoric. Last year, Andover threw out right wing republican Jim Lyons as their state rep. and elected his polar opposite in a left wing democrat Tram Nguyen. Yet, when it came to voting this year for selectmen and school committee, they elected another slate of all rich, white candidates, with former congressional candidate Dan Koh topping the tickets.

Two questions popped into my mind as this was happening. First, if Dan Koh is such a “progressive” (which really means regressive) and he really cares about diversity as he claims, why didn’t he step aside and recruit a black woman to run for selectman and then endorse that candidate? Secondly, where is all the diversity in Andover? To me this is just another instance of liberals saying they believe one thing, while in practice doing the exact opposite. I guess it’s easy to preach diversity to others when you live in a rich, lily-white town like Ahhhndover where you get to vote for rich white men like Dan Koh, all the while castigating people in other towns for not being diverse enough.

Earlier this month the Methuen police were on the hunt for someone who reportedly shot the dog of a Methuen resident. Because Methuen is far more transparent than Lawrence and Haverhill, the police released the info they had right away, including photos of the search. Upon further investigation and an autopsy of the dog, it turned out that the dog was not shot, but mauled by another animal.

Immediately upon releasing this information, people on social media began to SAVAGE the Methuen police for “getting it wrong.” One angry snowflake accused the police of putting out “fake news”. This is patently unfair. The fact is, the police put out the information that they have when they have it. And what they had was a REPORT of a dog that had been shot. If someone really was out there shooting dogs and they didn’t release the information they would have been accused of concealing important public information.
When they learned new information and found out that the dog had not been shot, they told us that too. This is no different than the day we reported that there was a gas explosion in Methuen on Hampshire Street during the Columbia gas disaster.

We reported that because that is what the Methuen Fire Department dispatched over the scanner. When they got there, however, they learned that there was no explosion and no gas leak but that an elderly resident smelled gas and thought that saying it was a gas explosion would get authorities there faster. Within seconds of reporting the new information I was vilified as “fake news” on social media by keyboard warriors who know nothing about how these things work. But, just like the Methuen police situation, as soon as we got the updated info we put that out to the public. How does anyone know that the dog wasn’t shot in Methuen? Because the police told you!

They could have just not said anything at all for fear of being vilified by the haters and critics.

The lesson to be learned here is that if you are going to attack someone for getting something wrong the second they correct inaccurate information, you are discouraging people from ever correcting anything. Methuen should be happy they have a police department that is transparent during a public safety situation. They should also be grateful that they have a police chief and a police department that is willing to give you the follow up information when they find out new or conflicting information. That means that at the end of the day you are more informed. That kind of transparency is good for everyone.

A few weeks ago former state senator and former candidate for U.S. Senate, Geoff Diehl was asked on WRKO if he was considering a run for U.S. Senate next year against Senator Ed Markey. Diehl didn’t say no. When he appeared as our keynote speaker at the BASH last week we asked Diehl if he was going to run and again he didn’t say no. Given that, Diehl has spent far more time in Lawrence as a private citizen helping Daybreak homeless shelter and pitching in to help the city than Ed Markey has as a U.S. Senator in the last eight years. To this minute, Senator Ed Markey has never once picked up the phone to find out what they need at the Daybreak or any of the other homeless shelters or organizations that help the poor in the city. Of course, now that election time is nearing, Markey showed up in Lawrence for a press conference last week to unveil some new legislation for pipeline safety and named the legislation after the young man who was killed on Chickering road during the gas explosions last September. MEMO TO ED MARKEY: pick up the damn phone, call House of Mercy, Daybreak, Pegasus House, or Women’s Day, and talk to the people who run those organizations about what they need. After all, as a democrat who pretends to care about the poor, you might want to actually contact the people servicing the poor and do something to help them. Otherwise you just continue to be the hypocrite you have been for the last ten years.

Northern Essex Community College will hold its first health career and job fair on Monday, April 29th, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Dr. Ibrahim El-Hefni Allied Health and Technology Center, 414 Common St., Lawrence. This event, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by the NECC Career Center and Center for Health Professions. Current Northern Essex health students, alumni, and community health workers are encouraged to attend.
Attendees will have the opportunity to meet with local healthcare providers/employers and apply for jobs so bring along copies of an updated resume. The following employers will be in attendance: AFC Urgent Care, Career Services of NECC, Concord Hospital, Elliot Hospital, Exeter Hospital, Greater Lawrence Family Health Center, Home Care Specialists, Lahey Burlington, Lawrence General Hospital, Lowell Community Health Center, Moore Staffing, Pentucket Medical, Regis College, Sarah’s Place, and Visiting Angels.

Resume reviews will be held on Tuesday April 16th, and Wednesday, April 24th, from noon to 1:30pm in the El Hefni lobby for NECC health students interested in having their resumes assessed.

For additional information, contact Linda Comeau at

You are cordially invited to The Haverhill Cultural Council’s 2019 Grant Recipient Reception on Wednesday, May 15th at 7pm at the Haverhill Citizen Center, 10 Welcome St., Haverhill, MA 01832. Entertainment will be provided by HCC Grant Recipients. Light refreshments will be served. The event is open to the public and all are welcome to attend. RSVP before May 2nd, to or
Whistler House Museum of Art
Youth Summer Art Program 2019
Week 1: July 8-12: DRAWING
Week 2: July 15-19: PAINTING
Week 3: July 22-26: SCULPTURE
Week 4: July 29- August 2:
Ages 10-14 (grades 5-8) welcome.
Classes are $175/week per child.
Monday – Friday, 9 AM -12 PM.
Scholarships Still Available!
Program fees include materials and snacks. Space is limited. Learn more and sign up. Sign up before June 1st and get 10% off. If you have any questions, please call the office at 978-452-7641,or email Rae Easter at