Tom Duggan’s Post Election Notebook, November-2014


CHANNEL 5 DEBATE – Of all the debates this political season, Channel 5’s debate between Charlie Baker and Martha Coakley was by far the worst. It was so awful and apparently biased that I actually had to go back and watch it twice. It was like a train wreck you can’t look away from. This was a televised debate where time was important for voters to hear how each candidate would govern the state. Yet, the foolish questions, one after another, made it clear that the Channel 5 moderators were trying to coach Coakley on how to appear more warm and fuzzy, her greatest deficiency during the campaign. Insipid questions like “Who do you admire?” and “When was the last time you cried?” are questions you expect on TMZ, not a so-called “news” debate. Hell, I was expecting the moderators to ask if the candidates preferred “Ginger or Maryann? Boxers or Briefs? Voters want substance, they want plain talk and they want to hear what the candidates are going to do to make government work better and smarter. Voters want to learn about the candidates as if this was a job interview. Instead what they got was propaganda for Martha Coakley. The voters got robbed by Channel 5, and they are owed an apology.

DAN REA DOES a REAL DEBATE – Given how badly the political forums called “debates” are in the current mainstream media, I was actually delighted last month when WBZ’s Dan Rea held a congressional debate between Richard Tisei and Seth Moulten. Rea had a conversational debate about real issues (national security, education, taxes) and the candidates rose to the occasion. The most important part of holding a real political debate is to educate the voters who feel satisfied walking away having learned something. Dan Rea pulled that off wonderfully. Even though I am up on all the issues and am submerged in this political stuff every day, even I learned something from the WBZ debate. BRAVO Dan! Not only are you a classy guy, but you are a true professional in an industry that is a cesspool of deceit and incompetence. In the age of Candy Crowly, Wolf Blitzer and the WCVB debate team tipping the scales during debates for their preferred candidates, it should not go unnoticed when someone conducts a political debate the right way, and Dan Rea did it right. He is a credit to a once prouda, but now disgraced profession. If we had more Dan Reas on the scene we would have better government officials, better care for our veterans, and a more educated electorate. Thank you, Dan.

Somehow Lawrence City Councilor Roger Twomey was convinced that he actualy had a shot at not only beating State Rep. Marcos Devers but also former Lawrence Mayor Wiliam Lantigua. We tried to tell Roger it was a fruitless effort and would most likely result in splitting the anti-Lantigua vote in the final election, in fact lots of people tried to tell him, but the Twomey supporters really thought that his high vote totals in the City Council race from last year would translate to a win. What’s more, they demonized and personally attacked people who tried to talk sense into Twomey as if they were the enemy. I don’t expect an apology from Rogery Twomey but with his 912 votes in last place, one would be nice.

While members of the Merrimack Valley Tea Party were out campaigning hard for Republican Shawn Toohey for State Senate, they had no idea how Toohey and Haverhill City Councilor Bill Ryan (Toohey’s father-in-law and campaign manager) really felt about them. After Toohey got demolished by State Senator Kathleen Ives, however, the Tea Party got quite the education on cable access television after the loss. Councilor Ryan, distraught that his quest for more power was foiled, appeared on TV and attacked the Tea Party calling them useless and further bad-mouthed Tea Party members to anyone who would listen in the days that followed. Toohey himself was overheard election night saying that the Tea Party was “useless” and “a drag on the campaign” refusing to do any real work. While I tried to lead my fellow members of the Merrimack Valley Tea Party to see what Toohey was really all about before the election, most of them continued to follow Toohey off the cliff and into oblivion. Maybe next time when a right wing conservative like myself comes out to publicly support a Democrat it will raise a few red flags about the Republican candidate in that race.

Election laws in Massachusetts say that candidates for public office are not allowed to put campaign signs on public property, abandoned buildings, telephone poles, etc. Yet, every year, candidates for office try to cheat by advertising their message on municipal or state property, or in some other way breaking the law. As small of an issue as it may be, candidates who do not respect the very lenient state election laws (laws that are rarely enforced) show a foundational disrespect for the law, not to mention what it says about their sense of fair elections. This election season The Valley Patriot went in search of candidate scofflaws seeking to get an unfair edge on their opponents by illegally posting political signs on public property. Most sign violations we found belonged to one candidate, Shawn Toohey, candidate for state senate. There were a smattering of other candidates in violation of the sign laws, but most were first time candidates who had a few, compared to the hundreds of illegally posted signs by the Toohey campaign. We did see Toohey’s father-in-law, Bill Ryan, personally placing illegal signs on highway off-ramps on more than one occasion. Ryan is a Haverhill City Councilor and former Haverhill mayor who should know better.

When state senate candidate Barbara L’Italien won her Democratic primary in September, she defeated Doris Rodriguez and Lawrence School Committeeman Pavel Payano. While Doris did endorse the party’s nominee (despite her positions being closer to Alex Vispoli) Pavel Payano did not endorse L’Itailen and stayed neutral.

DORIS RODRIGUEZ – One of the candidiates who didn’t win this year was Lawrence activist Doris Rodriguez. She ran a clean campaign and put in a lot of effort in her campaign for state senate. Though she stumbled at the end by endorsing Barbara L’Italien after the primary, I want to encourage Doris to stay involved. Now that she has more name recognition and has proven she can run a clean campaign on issues (and her resume) I think Doris should run for city council or school committee next year. Lawrence needs people like her.

Even though state senate candidate Alex Vispoli beat Barbara L’Italien in Dracut, Tewksbury and her home town of Andover, L’Italien beat Vispoli 3-1 in Lawrence to pull off a win. Lawrence voters also defeated Republican Charlie Baker 3-1, and in some races defeated Republicans by an even larger margin. Vispoli ran a very positive campaign, paid all his taxes and didn’t lie about his finances as his opponent did. But none of that mattered as the only thing Lawrence voters seem to care about is the party someone belongs to.

State Senate candidate Barbara L’Italien called a state representative a tax cheat five years ago when it was learned her opponent in that election had been behind on paying his taxes. Yet, this year, L’Italien was caught not paying her taxes and suddenly it was “a family issue” that Babs decried as “dirty politics” saying it was not fair game to talk about her failure to pay her taxes while she was making more than $110K in the State Treasurer’s office. After The Valley Patriot broke the story of L’Italien’s tax liens, she first tried to blame her opponent Alex Vispoli saying it was “Republican dirty tricks”. When that didn’t work, she tried to pass off bogus documents that she claimed showed Vispoli also had tax liens. When that didn’t work, she tried to blame the messenger saying that The Valley Patriot was not a real news source and named me personally as making up the whole thing. After our story was published, Babs claimed she paid her delinquent taxes but refused to produce documents to prove it. Giving her the benefit of the doubt for a moment, L’Italien paying her taxes after being caught does not negate the fact that instead of paying her $7,000 tax bill in the first place, she chose to lend her campaign $13,000. It also doesn’t negate the fact that instead of owning up to her transgression, her first reaction was to blame everyone else. While L’Italien had no problem playing the victim of dirty politics, her non- payment of taxes is fair game when you consider the fact that as a State Representative she never met a tax she didn’t want to raise…. for other people that is.

Yes on Question #1 Wins.
Though the question itself was misleading. The legislature passed a gas tax that would rise at the rate of inflation but will never go down if inflation goes down. Question #1 repealed that legilsative action
Voters in Massachusetts resoundingly rejected Question #2 which would have expanded the bottle bill to include a five cent deposit on water bottles, juice bottles and other assorted drinks.
The legislature in Massachusetts approved the construction of casinos and question #3 sought to repeal their action. Voters in Massachusetts rejected the ban on casinos.
Voters decided to force some businesses to offer earned sick time to employees. The law as written is very convoluted and will not apply to all businesses.

One of the candidates who ran for office this year and lost was North Andover resident and veteran Oscar Camargo. Throughout his campaign against Diana DiZoglio for state rep., Camargo was always respectful, always thoughtful, and impressed me so much I asked him to start writing a monthly column about North Andover. My hope is that Camargo can help our readers better understand what North Andover town government is up to and give us a perspective on life in North Andover. His column this month is on page 5.

After the election, The Eagle Tribune ran what has to be one of the funniest articles I have ever read. In a clear attempt to kiss up to the Lawrence mayor, the Trib ran a piece telling their readers that Rivera was some kind of kingmaker and that the candidiates he supported all won. But won what? Rivera supported Steve Grossman for Governor (lost), Warren Tollman for Attorney General (lost), Phil DeCologero for State Rep. (lost), Pavel Payano for State Senate (lost), Martha Coakley for Governor (lost), and Rivera lost all the ballot questions he supported. Sure, Rivera won the most important race in Lawrence when he teamed up with State Rep. Marcos Devers to defeat Willie Lantigua, but for the Tribune to portray Democrats winning in Lawrence as some kind of referendum on Mayor Rivera’s political power shows how stupid they think their readers really are.


Visit the home page for updates on the recount
Republican Jim Kelcourse won a three way race for the 1st Essex Rep. seat being vacated by Mike Costello. Kelcourse won by 9 votes on Election Night but provisional ballots still needed to be counted leaving his win in limbo for three days. After provisional ballots were counted that Friday, Kelcourse wound up with an 11 point lead and will be sworn in as the representative for Salisbury, Newburyport and Amesbury. Kelcourse ran as an Independent two years ago for state senate against Kathleen O’Connor Ives. We have high hopes for Jim as one of our ringers in The State House who will help us fight for public records disclosure, and adding penalties to those who violate the state’s public records law.