Why I Cannot Support Bill Manzi for Senate (opinion)


By Ken Willette, August, 2012

I have known Bill Manzi since the mid-90s through our volunteer efforts affiliated with the Methuen Arlington Neighborhood and through our respective stints on the Methuen City Council and the Methuen School Committee, where he served as Chairman. I recognize him to be a dedicated family man and generally an approachable and likable individual. However, I cannot support Bill Manzi during the upcoming First Essex District Senate race because of his deeply held political positions and his questionable actions and endorsements

First of all, I have witnessed Bill moving consistently and firmly to the left wing of his party. It is a shame, for example, that Bill would support the Governor’s flawed logic on granting judicial discretion when dealing with hardened criminals with multiple violent felonies who will now be subjected to the three strikes and you’re out provisions recently adopted by the Massachusetts Legislature, which will soon become a law. Honestly, how much more discretion should we give to these vicious monsters who murder, rape, abuse, and torture innocent men, women and children without realizing that they should be locked away permanently. In a perfect world, these so-called reformed murderers would have been executed for their heinous crimes in Massachusetts, but without the availability of the death sentence at least we are now empowered to send these remorseless, repeat violent offenders away forever without being released, for example, to commit an armed robbery and kill a police officer in the process. In terms of first degree murder cases, the matter is automatically reviewed by the Supreme Judicial Court, but do we really need to give judges any more discretion when dealing with three-time, hard-core offenders? I think not and the Governor later reversed himself given the overwhelming public outcry against such a move.

Secondly, I noticed– to my great dismay—that Bill is against a Voter ID bill to ferret out potential voter fraud and ensure the integrity of the ballot box. Some opponents have wrongly associated the support of a Voter ID Law as a manifestation of the discriminatory poll tax or other barriers of the 1960s and earlier, which adversely impacted African Americans in their legitimate right to vote. The poll tax and other one-sided barriers unfairly targeted one group only, and the Voting Rights Act reversed that appalling system of disenfranchisement. But how can we associate that evil tool of Southern leaders to the universal application of every voter producing an acceptable form of identification to verify voter status? Again, the Voter ID Law would be applied to everyone regardless of race, gender or ethnic background. Probably a dozen or more transactions in life require the production of some form of identification, but we cannot prevent voter fraud now because of the mindset of some individuals in the Legislature. Ensuring that senior citizens and disabled citizens are not discriminated against because they may not readily possess photo identification or a driver’s license can easily be rectified by allowing for Social Security, Medicare, MassHealth or other official documentation to confirm the name in the voter roll aligns with the name given at voting time.

 Thirdly, I am upset that Bill openly and proudly endorsed current Mayor Willie Lantigua of Lawrence, which speaks volumes about taxpayer-funded bailouts, state takeovers, criminal investigations, public safety layoffs, abuses of mutual aid, nightclub brawls and failed social policies in that demoralized city. The election result was relatively close between Willie and David and was by no means a landslide. Maybe a Manzi endorsement in the opposite direction could have made a difference. Maybe not, but to clearly state in a You Tube endorsement video that you learned a lot from the political means of the current Mayor of Lawrence does not bode well for reform-mindedness on Beacon Hill.

Finally, I observed first-hand about the civil service scandals occurring during Bill’s last two years as Mayor, where favoritism and inner-circle politics prevailed. Given the dark cloud forming over the State House regarding the probation department scandal, I lost confidence in Bill’s leadership based on his self-created civil service saga. Bill’s liberal positions and egregious political judgments have to be questioned by the voters of the First Essex District, and they are entitled to straight-forward answers as a result.