Tom Duggan’s Notebook – November 2019


ReportersNotebook copyI want to personally thank Methuen City Council Chairman Jen Kannan for her decades of service to this community. Whether you supported Jen or not in this mayoral election, she has given of herself to the city of Methuen and the Merrimack Valley and made a lot of people’s lives better including the homeless. I hope this does not discourage Jen from staying involved in the Psychological Center and the many other organizations she has helped throughout the years. Whatever her faults may have been throughout this campaign she DOES care about the community and she should be thanked for her service.

Dirty politics seemed to be the norm in Methuen this year but nothing seemed more dirty than Kannan supporters (not Kannan herself) circulating a doctored photo of Neil Perry making it look like he posed in a photo with Sharon Pollard, Tom Lussier, Steve Zanni, and Phil DeCologero. If I had to guess I would say this is the work of Sid Harris and his partner Tim Wood. Regardless of who actually designed the ad and doctored the photo, however, member of the Kannan campaign were the ones circulating it. The voters of Methuen deserved the truth in this election and circulating fake photos is not the way to give it to them. Can you imagine the crying and whining we would hear from the Kannan campaign if Perry supporters doctored a photo of Kannan with Steve Baddour, Jim Jajuga, and Gary Marcoux? All of whom supported Kannan? We all know they would be outraged by it, but they seem to have no problem doing it themselves. It was shameful. Even more shameful was Evelyn Tobin’s response online claiming that it was unfair to blame the Kannan campaign when the photo was not “official” released by the campaign. This was political double speak at its worst. Especially given the fact that the Kannan campaign and Jen Kannan herself blamed the “Perry campaign” for the acts of individuals working on the campaign. You can’t have it both ways.

Last year Methuen City Councilor and his minions Tim Wood and Bill Bryant tried to have the Paying Attention! Podcast shut down. They had their friends call my advertisers, Saba had his brother approach the owner of Studio 21 Podcast Cafe and threaten to no longer do business with Two Guys Smoke Shop if Dave Garofalo didn’t cancel my show over my criticism of Saba wanting to lay off 30 cops. So, it was kind of surprising when we held our Methuen candidate debate series when I looked out at the audience from the stage and saw none other than Steve Saba sitting in the audience. I mean, I have no credibility according to Saba and if he had gotten his way last year there would be no debates to attend. Yet, there he was enjoying the presentation he tried to shut down. What a total hypocrite.

For the last few months former Loop Weekly publisher Tim Wood was pretending to be a “journalist” – publishing stories designed only to get his friends elected, and attack their political foes. He went on and on and on about how he was a real journalist and was only trying to fairly present the news of the election to the voters of Methuen. But a funny thing happened on election night, none of his friends won. You know how you can tell? If you go to his Facebook pages there is absolutely not one word about who won the Methuen elections this month. Suddenly, Tim Wood is not interested in being a “journalist” and educating the voters about what happened on Election Day. No stories of the victors or the defeated, no tidbits about what happened at the polls, no back stories about who was connected to whom and what it means for the city. Nothing. I think that says it all don’t you?

Now that new city councilors have been elected in Methuen the next question on the horizon is who will replace Jen Kannan as council president. We all know Steve Saba was supporting a slate of candidates in order to get that top spot on the council but his efforts fell short with his pal and puppy dog Bill Bryant who lost in the West End Council race. With only McCarty, Eunice Zeigler, and Jessica Finocchiaro returning to the council I’m putting all my chips on Eunice. Zeigler is the voice of reason on the council, she doesn’t speak on every issue and she generally shies away from controversy. But, whether it is Zeigler or Finocchiaro one thing is for sure, the public is going to have a professional council president in 2020. PS Mike Simard for vice chair!

It seems that failed West End City Council candidate Bill Bryant not only has anger management issues but also has no problem telling women who they should associate with and how to be a woman. On election day Bryant approached the sign holder of another campaign and berated her for being friends with someone he didn’t like. He also told her that she was a disgrace to all women for not denouncing her friend’s comments that he deems degrading to all women. This is all very weird given that Bill Bryant is a man yelling at a woman, telling her how to be a woman. Bryant was obviously feeling the pressure of his failing campaign to a woman, Allie Saffie, and was so flustered that he left the Marsh School hours before the final votes were cast. Bryant’s campaign was rife with controversy before his election day confrontation. He had two conflicts of interest as his wife works as a school department employee and Bryant himself works for the Crest Collaborative school which gets millions of dollars from the Methuen School System. But, Bill’s biggest problem on election day was that he just couldn’t help himself when he saw the opportunity to berate a woman. Good riddance to Mr. Bryant and his bullying. He failed at trying to have my show taken off the air. He failed at trying to have Methuen Day shut down last year and this year he failed as a candidate for city council. Now Bryant has one more thing in common with Sid Harris. They are both three-time losers.

While campaign workers were spending the entire day holding signs on Election Day, council at-large candidate Steve Angelo’s mom made soup for everyone and traveled from polling location to polling location to make sure everyone had eaten. YAY MOM!
Merrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT) and the UMass Lowell English Department will present a dramatic reading of The Lowell Offering, a work in progress by Andy Bayiates and Genevra Gallo-Bayiates, at 7 p.m. on Friday, November 15, at the Lowell National Park Visitor Center, 246 Market Street. Jess Hutchinson will direct. Admission is free, but reservations are required; please RSVP at 978-970-5000.

In March MRT will present the fully staged world premiere of The Lowell Offering. In 1840 a group of factory workers began publishing the world’s first magazine written solely by women; it was called The Lowell Offering. The play is the story of the magazine’s editor, Harriet Farley, and a labor activist, Sarah Bagley – and the rise and fall of their friendship, the magazine, and “Mill Girl” culture.

Circle Health serves as the 2019-20 Season Sponsor. For The Lowell Offering, Enterprise Bank and UMass Lowell serve as Production Sponsors with WCAP Radio and Merrimack Valley Magazine as Media Sponsors.
For further information, visit

On October 16th, Representative Tram Nguyen joined her colleagues in the House of Representatives to pass a supplemental budget allowing the Commonwealth to add $400 million to the balance of its “Rainy Day Fund” and to make key investments in education, the environment, gun safety, infrastructure, local aid, and fighting the opioid crisis.

“The supplemental budget demonstrates our strong commitment to our students and future generations by investing in education and the environment. It also increases our investment in the Census 2020 outreach effort, which is incredibly important since we would lose up to $3,600 in federal funding every year for each person not counted. We do not want to lose money that could go toward local aid for our towns.” said Representative Nguyen.

The supplemental budget includes $1 million for 2020 census outreach efforts, $3 million for grants for early educator scholarships for school paraprofessionals, $5 million in a program to expand access for students to community-based mental health and behavioral health services in schools, $10 million for gun violence prevention programs, and $16 million to fight the opioid crisis. It reaffirms the House’s strong partnership with municipalities by providing $60 million to invest in local roads and bridges projects.

Additionally, the supplemental budget promotes the environment by making a $24 million investment for the testing of potential per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination of water supplies and for grants to support treatment and remediation of affected public drinking water systems, $35 million for the Clean Water Trust Fund, and $32 million in the state’s electric vehicle rebate program.

The bill will now go to the Senate.

HENRY DAVID THOREAU FOUNDATION SCHOLARSHIPS is $20K Environmental Leadership Scholarships for Massachusetts High School Seniors.

The Henry David Thoreau Foundation awards collegiate scholarships of up to $20K to eight to ten students graduating from public or private high schools in Massachusetts. As Henry David Thoreau Scholars, these select high school seniors may enroll in any college and university in the world while they major or minor in an environmentally related field.

The Henry David Thoreau Scholarships are up to $20,000 four-year scholarships awarded to eight students graduating from public or private high schools in Massachusetts. High school seniors awarded the Henry David Thoreau Scholarships can enroll in any college and university in the world while they major or minor in an environmentally related field. Henry David Thoreau Scholars are encouraged to enroll in internships or study abroad to broaden their awareness and understanding of environmental issues.

Henry David Thoreau Scholars have studied a wide variety of environmentally related areas, including biology, epidemiology, oceanography, international affairs and environmental law, and upon completing their undergraduate degrees, they became members of the Henry David Thoreau Society. Thoreau Scholar alumni have published articles in the Henry David Thoreau Environmental Digest, initiated environmental projects on planetary health, and formed companies and organizations including the animation company, Oxbow, with clients including WildAmerica and the Center for Food Safety, satellite imagery startup CrowdAI, and the nonprofit energy organization Equitable Origin.

The Henry David Thoreau Foundation further assists its scholarship winners by identifying environmentally related internships, offering internship stipends, and providing networking opportunities. Upon graduation from college, Henry David Thoreau Scholars are inducted into the Henry David Thoreau Society. A sign of success of the Henry David Thoreau Foundation’s mission to foster environmental leadership is the support of past scholarship winners and to provide to present scholarship winners.

To learn more about the Henry David Thoreau Foundation and the Henry David Thoreau Scholarships, please visit An online application will be available on October 15. Students have until February 1, 2020, to apply.

Northern Essex Community College is holding information sessions, November 20th, and December 11th, for individuals to learn about a seven-week, 140-hour Robotics & Automation Training Program that begins this winter.

The grant-funded, noncredit program is free to qualified applicants.

The information sessions, which are free and open to the public, will be held at the Greater Lawrence Technical School, (GLTS) 57 River Road, Andover, at 4 p.m. The program, which is designed for unemployed and underemployed individuals (ages 17 to 29) with the minimum of a high school diploma or equivalent, runs from January 21 through March 13, Mondays through Thursdays, 4 to 9 p.m. at GLTS.

The program is ideal for anyone with mechanical, electrical, IT or manufacturing skills or experience.

This program introduces the concepts and technology used in modern manufacturing environments. Students learn fundamental skills that will help them gain employment as a manufacturing technician or related position and prepare them for the specific training required by manufacturing companies running automated equipment. The program includes online modules as well as hands-on activities using training equipment. The concepts and skills presented during the program are relevant to setup, programming, running and troubleshooting automated equipment and industrial robots.

Students who successfully complete the robotics portion of the program by passing the online modules, hands-on labs and final exam, will receive the FANUC CERT “Handling Tool Operations and Programming” Cert Level I.
The program, offered through NECC’s Center for Corporate and Community Education, is sponsored by a $4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration. For additional information, or to register for one of the information nights, call 978-556-3067 or 978-722-7054.

State Representative Frank A. Moran (D-Lawrence, Andover and Methuen) presented a check for $50,000 to community development organization Arlington Community Trabajando (ACT Lawrence) this past week. Joined by fellow Lawrence delegation members Senator Barry Finegold and Representatives Christina Minicucci and Marcos Devers, the check presentation commemorated and celebrated the securing of funding to support community development initiatives at ACT Lawrence.

“ACT Lawrence has been doing incredible work in our community for a number of years now and I can’t say enough about the progress I have seen because of their existence. Ana Luna and the entire ACT Lawrence team is changing lives on a daily basis by ensuring members of our community are better equipped with the life skills they need to navigate daily life. I congratulate ACT Lawrence and I am proud to have secured this funding for such a worthy organization,” said Representative Moran.

ACT Lawrence will utilize the funding secured by a budget amendment to the FY2020 state budget filed by Representative Frank Moran to enhance their existing community development initiatives around affordable housing, foreclosure prevention, first-time homebuyer, and financial literacy education.