Tom Duggan’s Notebook ~ Heroes and Bozos of the YEAR (12/16)


Baker2HERO CHARLIE BAKER – One of the most important things that happened in Massachusetts this year was the passage of a new public records law that actually holds public officials accountable for concealing public documents. When Charlie Baker was running for the governor he said on my radio show that he couldn’t commit to signing the new public records bill, saying he would need to see the final details before he could support it. After four years of wrangling, deal making, debating, and rewriting the bill, a new public records bill found its way to Governor Baker’s office and he signed it. The new law will take effect next month and while it couldn’t have been done without the efforts of Rep. Diana DiZogio (D), and State Senator Katy Ives, Charlie Baker signed the bill that will allow you access to your government records. 

BOZOS – LAWRENCE CITY COUNCILORS MODESTO MALDONADO AND NILKA ALVAREZ RODRIGUEZ- Never letting facts get in the way of a good political narrative, Maldonado and Alvarez have been two of the strongest supporters of rapists, murderers and other violent felons being given sanctuary in Lawrence. How any elected official can take the oath of office to preserve, protect and defend the US Constitution and then advocate violating that constriction by making their city a sanctuary for drug dealers, child molesters and other criminals who are citizens of other countries is beyond me. When I was growing up we had a word for people like that: traitors. Now, every time an illegal alien with a violent criminal record commits violence against a citizen in Lawrence you should all send your Thank You letters to Modesto Maldonado and Nilka Alvarez Rodriguez who are more interested in representing the citizens of other governments than the citizens of this country who elected them.

HERO MARCOS DEVERS – One of the saddest things to happen in 2016 was the defeat of our good friend Representative Marcos Devers in the legislature by a left wing regressive Juana Mattias. Devers often broke with his party as an independent thinker, supporting Voter ID, opposing abortion and angering his party bosses by not towing the party line. But more than that, Devers spent a great deal of time helping the people of Lawrence by getting funding for the city and working well with the mayor and other officials. Devers poured his heart and soul into being a state representative for the people of Lawrence and as such he deserves to be remembered as one of the best advocates Lawrence has ever had.

BOZOS – MCKESSEN CORP. OF METHUEN – For months the people of west Methuen have been complaining about the excessive noise coming from McKessen at 3AM, 5AM and other ungodly hours. They complained to McKessen and got nowhere. They complained to the city and got nowhere. They complained to the state and got nowhere. On request of one neighbor, I took a drive over there late one night (at 2AM) to see for myself what was going on and was horrified to hear loud construction type noises echoing through the residential neighborhood near the plant. One would think that McKessen would want to be good neighbors and restrict their excessive noise to day time hours, but the response from McKessen has been to claim that according to decibel meters they are in compliance with the law, which we now know cannot be true. A BIG BOZO to the people of McKessen as well as city officials for letting this issue fester for as long as it has. We hope 2017 will be much more peaceful for the neighbors of west Methuen who have put up with this nonsense for far too long.


HERO – NORTH ANDOVER SELECTMAN PHIL DECOLOGERO – One of the things that irks me about local officials is that most of them never pick up the phone and call the press to let anyone know what’s going on in their city or town. The other thing that irks me about local officials is that they show up for meetings and then they go home but do very little in the community other than showing up for photo ops. North Andover Selectman Phil DeCologero is one of the exceptions. At least once a week, DeCologero will actually pick up the phone and let us know about an important vote coming up, or to let us know about an event in the community that we should cover. Other than a one or two calls from Selectman Tracy Watson in the last 10 years, I can’t remember the last time a North Andover Selectman other than Phil, proactively reaching out to the press to make sure we knew of something important happening in town. 

BOZO – STATE REP. JIM LYONS While it is hard to find a politician in Massachusetts that I agree with more on issues, earlier this year Rep. Lyons made a commitment to participate in a Valley Patriot debate with his Democrat opponent Oscar Camargo. He made that commitment while I was handing him a check for his campaign. But, when it came time to actually make good on his commitment, Lyons took a walk. Now, I have known Lyons a long time and have always considered him to be a man of his word, but for some reason he didn’t just refuse to show up for the debate, we didn’t even get an apology or a reason why. The Valley Patriot holds candidate debates each year to educate the public, not to benefit ourselves. So, it’s no skin off my teeth that he didn’t show. But, it does show a level of contempt for the voters that he refused to debate an opponent who had zero chance of beating him anyways. While Lyons deserves great praise for some of his stands against government corruption, he deserves a SUPER BOZO this year for not being transparent enough to sit on a stage and debate before the voters.

HERO – PHIL LAHEY of METHUEN. Former Methuen City Councilor Phil Lahey has a daughter who was hooked on heroin and as such his life became a living hell that far too many families have experienced since the opioid epidemic hit the area a few years ago. But, being a leader in the community, Phil didn’t just sit home and wallow in his family’s personal misery. He went out and did something about it. First, he started a cable access TV show to educate people on the dangers of the opioid epidemic. Then he started a community organization to get family members of drug addicts together as a support group which quickly became a vehicle to educate parents and family members on how to recognize addiction, where to go for help and who to talk to for help and advice. What’s more, Lahey visits local schools and has enlisted the help of high school and middle school kids across the Merrimack Valley to raise awareness of the dangers of addiction. Phil Lahey and all those who help in this effort are real community heroes and were recognized by the Methuen Exchange Club with the “Book of Golden Deeds” award last month.

BOZO – SENATOR LIZ WARREN – “Donald Trump will never be President of The United States,” Senator Warren said a few short weeks before Trump won.

HERO- STATE AUDITOR SUZANNE BUMP – The one thing I never understood about my fellow conservatives is their refusal to give credit where credit is due to Democrats like Suzanne Bump. Let’s face it, before Suzanne Bump came along you would never see a state auditor aggressively going after fraud in social and welfare programs for fear it would give those programs a bad name and they would lose funding. Bump believes, as I do, that the more fraud you expose and the more of that money you being back into the state coffers the more truly needy people can be helped. One of the biggest sticking points for us conservatives is waste, fraud, and abuse in our social safety net programs. Why then, can’t we support a Democrat who is helping to expose and recover some of that waste, fraud, and abuse? I say we have an obligation to support Democrats who think outside the box and do their jobs well. Bump may be a left wing ideologue when it comes to political issues, but when it comes to being an auditor for the state taxpayers she is an effective leader and she is deserving of being named one of our HEROES of 2016.

Earlier this year The Valley Patriot held a pro police rally in Methuen. While we had a tremendous amount of help from dozens of people, one person who unexpectedly stepped forward to help was Jana DiNatale. This wasn’t the first time Jana reached out to us to help out, whether giving us needed information for a story or just looking into something she thought we might be interested in here at the paper. Thank you Jana for stepping up!

BOZO – BOXFORD POLICE CHIEF JAMES RITER – I think you will agree that I am one of the most pro-cop people you have ever met. So, it gives me no great pleasure to add a police chief to the BOZO list for 2016. Last month, I got a tip about some activity in Boxford and rather than let it bother me that cops were being accused of bad stuff I submitted a public records request to see for myself what was really there. One of the things I asked for was 24 hours of 911 calls and the corresponding police scanner calls for that same day. The response I got from the chief was $736.70 bill to pay for the Chief himself, at his hourly rate, to listen to all 24 hours of recordings in case anything on those tapes were not considered a public record and (in his opinion) needed to be redacted or deleted.

But, public phone calls, made by members of the public, to a public police station, answered by a public employee, to dispatch to publicly paid police officers is by definition a public record and shouldn’t be redacted or hidden from the public for any reason. Of course, I filed a complaint with Secretary of State Bill Galvin’s office and I suspect that the $736.70 bill will be wiped clean. In the mean time it shakes one’s confidence in any police department when their chief believes public 911 calls might not be a public record. I will keep you posted on what we find, if anything.

BOZO – LAWRENCE MAYOR DAN RIVERA – Yeah I like the guy, in fact I like him a lot. However, earlier this year he hired someone to run the Lawrence Public Library over two very highly qualified people who already work there. The person Dan hired does not have even close to the qualifications as Kemal Bozjurt and Rosemary McCullough-Ghali. You can read our editorial on page two for my second reason Dan gets Bozo this year.

As scandals go it’s not Watergate, but the town manager has been violating the open meeting law for a long time and this time he got caught. A man named Patrick Higgins filed a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office because the town held a Board of Selectmen executive session where they never informed the public exactly what was being discussed, and never published the address where the meeting was being held.

HERO – KELLY ANNE CONWAY – A mother of four, Kelly Anne Conway is the first woman to manage a successful presidential campaign. She tolerated disgraceful accusations of racism and a news media that was so corrupt and so biased against the Trump campaign that the win alone is monumental. But, I have to wonder why Senator Elizabeth Warren is not touting the accomplishment of the first woman to successfully run a presidential campaign? Maybe because Senator Warren only cares about women who share her Alt-left, extremist views and not women in general.

BOZO – JEB BUSH, MITT ROMNEY It’s hard to think of anyone who had more wrong this past year than Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney. Like Elizabeth Warren, both men predicted that Donald Trump would not even win the Republican nomination, much less the presidency. The old guard of the Republican Party needs to get what happened here in 2016. The Republican Party won a landslide mandate, taking the house, the senate, the presidency, and by default the Supreme Court and all lower courts. This proves that the path the old guard of the GOP was on, moreover, their cowering to left wing assaults on our culture, was a losing formula they would have kept repeating over and over no matter how many times they lost. Donald Trump changed that. Pro-gay, anti abortion, anti fair trade, but pro tax breaks, Trump proved you don’t need to disagree with Democrats or only agree with the Republican philosophy 100% of the time. Despite his stand on transgender bathrooms, the far right, social conservatives still voted for him in record numbers.