By now, you are likely aware that the current selectmen voted on Monday to extend Paul Cohen's contract through 2015. Cohen's contract wasn't up until July 2012, but the selectmen on Monday indicated that they felt that replacements, who might recognize that Cohen is demonstrably both incompetent and dishonest, would not properly understand Paul Cohen's value as a "franchise player," as Jim Lane put it.
Paul Cohen's main value as a "franchise player," of course, is as a person who appoints three times as many town officials as you ever get to vote on. And the Town Manager's office is a central speedbump for obstructing investigation as formal inquiry into corruption proceeds, if officials cannot keep it from proceeding entirely.
I wonder if Town Moderator Richard DeFreitas and Eliopoulos pal Tom Gilroy, both of whom have vocally decried the success of the recall process as a "subversion" and "perversion" of the Town Charter, will rebuke the selectmen for abusing their authority under the Town Charter to once again waive the residency requirement and extend the Town Manager's contract prematurely as they are being kicked out the door by the voters whom they are once again disrespecting and disenfranchising.
I think not. In fact, today the Lowell Sun's editors write that the selectmen did the right thing because "it is the duty of responsible leadership to see that government is preserved in the best interest of the people." In other words, if the voters vote to change leadership, it's best that the old leadership determine the direction of the appointments and administrative policies of the Town Manager for the next four years. Does anybody think that the Lowell Sun Editors possess even an ounce of objectivity when it comes to the interests of the Eliopoulos clan?
In addition to extending Cohen's contract, the selectmen have claimed that government will essentially come to a halt if they are recalled;
and that Phil Eliopoulos didn't know that the town had an interest in the land behind Center Fire Station even though he had been a selectman for 12 years.
Of course, there is only one strategy to use to defend against the hard evidence that proves that major ethics violations have occurred and the 9 North Road land deal was fraudulent; that is confusion in the public discourse.
Yours with best wishes and hope for the future of our town,
Roland Van Liew