Valley Patriot Editorial: Methuen City Councilors Should Butt Out

December, 2006

 Last month, Methuen city councilors tried to inject themselves into the so-called controversy between Police Chief Joe Solomon and the officers and union members under his command.

 What’s more, they tried to subvert the Methuen City Charter by interfering with Mayor Bill Manzi’s clearly defined duties as the chief executive officer of the city.

 Under the charter, the mayor is the sole authority on all matters regarding personnel, including the hiring, firing and discipline of all city employees. And while it is true that the City Council must give approval for the hiring and firing of department heads and a handfull of other employees, nowhere in the charter does it give councilors any say over whether or not the police chief can be forced out of his job or even how he does his job.

 Over his long career as a law enforcement officer, Joe Solomon has served the city of Methuen honorably. And because he has been a police officer for so many years, it is not hard to imagine that he has made enemies with a few politicians and perhaps even some members of the community.

 But everyone knows what is going on here. At least two Methuen city councilors have a personal agenda against the chief and they will use any excuse they can to “get” him, or at least embarrass him publicly if his removal is not possible.

Methuen City Councilors needs to butt out of the affairs of the police chief and how he does his job. If Chief Solomon has committed a crime, the district attorney will investigate and prosecute him, not the City Council. If Chief Solomon is deserving of disciplinary action for violating a city ordinance or department policy, the mayor and the mayor alone will make that determination, not the City Council.

 It’s time for certain city councilors to get proactive about doing their own job and start putting items on the agenda which will increase the quality of life in Methuen, instead of interfering with the jobs of the mayor and the police chief.

With all due respect, councilors, keep your personal agendas away from the council table and out of the public light and do the job you were elected to do.