Chelmsford’s selectmen have selectively refused to uphold the law for years, most notably regarding the ethics violations and preservation restrictions surrounding the Center Park/9 North Road scandal. In addition, the BOS refuses to investigate numerous transgressions of our ethics bylaw by the Town Manager which have cost taxpayers millions during the few years he has been in office.
The Selectmen recently took the outrageous position in Superior Court that they have the legal right to refuse to uphold the preservation restrictions on North Road. If this position is upheld, officials across the land can refuse to uphold the law in favor of their cronies by simply declaring that they don’t think the law is being violated. The Selectmen’s position would gut the very law which allows preservation restrictions to exist at all in Massachusetts.
The refusal of the BOS and the Town Manager to provide information about the amount of money spent on no-bid contracts, or the contracts themselves as required by law, has necessitated a court action to compel production. They know that such a suit requires expenditure on my part but not on theirs – the town's lawyers are paid by me and all the other taxpayers.
Subsequent to their denial, entire classes of contracts which were responsive to my records requests have been identified. But there is no penalty to them for breaking the toothless Public Records law. That law and many others – like the state and local ethics statutes – require good faith on the part of public officials for compliance. Rather than act in good faith, Chelmsford’s top officials have embarked on a PR campaign which blames me for “costing the Town” tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees.
Am I the one breaking the law? No. Am I the one refusing to uphold the law? No. It is Town Officials who are using your tax money to instruct the town’s lawyers to find new ways to circumvent the law and to fund the abuse of any resident who refuses to let them flout the law.
Incredibly, some town officials have gone farther and abuse their authority for purposes of harassment and intimidation. I am not just speaking of the time-honored but despicable practice of sending the Building Inspector out to harass anyone who speaks out against pet projects of town officials. Going well beyond that, the Chelmsford Police have had me summoned into District Court multiple times on charges that were patently bogus and immediately dismissed in court each time. One of the most transparent was a phony “trespassing” charge by Michael Eliopoulos, who was furious I published photos of the “small barn-like structure” during construction, and claimed disingenuously to police that I must have trespassed in order to take photos. Policemen showed up at my home and at my offices in order to thoroughly investigate and then summon me to court anyway.
Then there's the recent additional “trespassing” charge initiated by Philip Eliopoulos who reported as a crime “looking up” at 9 North Road and “milling around.” I was walking to the fire station at the invitation of the Fire Chief for a tour of the facility prior to the Town Meeting vote. But the management of our police department decided I should be summoned into court to respond to the charge of "looking up" and "milling around."
These ridiculous claims wasted my time, the Police Department’s time, and required me to spend money for legal representation.
I regret to report this sad state of affairs but voters need to know just how far Chelmsford officials have been willing to go to abuse the use of law enforcement and the court system for their own purposes. I will not buckle to the few highly-placed and dysfunctional town officials who think they can lie with impunity and use law enforcement to harass and intimidate the honest citizens of this town. It is my firm belief that the time will come when the public officials in Chelmsford who have been responsible for thumbing their noses at the ideals of honesty, competence, and integrity are called to task and held accountable for their costly and egregious conduct. And it is my fervent hope that voters will use the power of their vote to affirm that the tactics of disinformation, lawbreaking and intimidation will not be tolerated in Chelmsford.
Roland Van Liew