I had hoped to spread some holiday cheer with good news about your electric service and how to save money and go green at the same time, but that will have to wait for the next Better Not Bigger message. Unfortunately, there is more deceit and misinformation coming out of Town Hall to deal with.
For the past couple of weeks Paul Cohen and Phil Eliopoulos have been trumpeting the notion that they received a letter from the state Ethics Commission that the 9 North Road scandal has been investigated and everyone involved has been “cleared of any wrongdoing.” Nothing could be further from the truth.
Unfortunately our friends at the Lowell Sun are curiously eager to pursue controversy over correctness, and stand ready to publish opinion as fact when it helps their buddies in Town Hall – the very definition of Yellow Journalism. So they’ve fanned these flames without fact checking.
The letter received by several complainants is three sentences (see below). It is clear that there has been no investigation. It is clear that no one has been cleared of anything. And it is the case that there are continuing investigations, not only in the courts, but quite possibly at the state Ethics Commission. Here are the full contents of the letter that Cohen, Kurland, Haverty et al claim clears Cohen and Eliopoulos:
On November 18, 2011, the Commission met in executive session. Based on a report submitted by the staff, the Commission voted to terminate this matter.
The case is officially closed.
Three sentences. The Commission reviewed an internal report. There is no indication of what was in the report. There is no indication that any investigation was performed. There is no definition of “this matter” or of “the case.” Does the phrase "this case" refer to the case against Phil Eliopoulos for his representation of clients regarding matters that were before the town while he was a selectman? Does “this matter” refer to the fraudulent land deal or just refer to his subsequent violations? The letter does not allow anyone to answer these important, basic questions. Although something appears to have been terminated by the Ethics commission, the people of Chelmsford are left to wonder what happened. Importantly, there is no declaration that anyone has been cleared of any wrongdoing, only that some internal matter has been terminated.
The letter sent to Phil Eliopoulos himself mentions only the issue of whether there was a conflict serving on the Master Plan Committee. None of the complaints I know of were focused on this issue, and I would explain to anyone the reasons why the BOS-conferred “special employee status” exempts Phil from any complaints based on such an argument. Phil’s letter refers only to his seat on the Master Plan Committee and its impact on the construction licensing process, which no one I know has ever submitted a complaint about.
There are at least two open complaints about 9 North Road – more if you count the complaints against Paul Cohen about which the Ethics Commission has so far claimed it lacks jurisdiction. The issue of Ethics Commission jurisdiction is still being argued. The fact that these complaints are still open means either that there is an ongoing investigation or the Ethics Commission is hopelessly inept and incapable of even following its own procedures regarding the closure of related complaints involving the same public figures.
The fact that such a purposefully vague and confusing response, ripe for exploitation by officials guilty of facilitating graft, has been issued at all raises a number of disturbing of questions regarding the political independence and impartiality, as well as the competence of, the State Ethics Commission.
Leveraging on the utter failure of Sun “reporter” Rita Savard to perform any fact checking before she jumps onto the Town Hall propaganda bandwagon, yet another propaganda conduit has been created by the usual suspects (Paul Haverty, Jon Kurland, Roy Earley, David MacLaughlan, you know the list) to spread the misinformation that there has been closure to this scandal. In true Orwellian style, the propaganda machine is named the “Chelmsford Truth Squad.” These folks claim that the letter somehow proves that Better Not Bigger and I personally have been “deliberately deceitful” in advocating for investigation and rectification of this graft. Totalitarian states have long used the tried and true technique of accusing opponents of doing precisely what they are doing as a way to mask their own conduct. For instance, When the Third Reich invaded Poland, Germany announced to the world that Poland had invaded Germany! Town officials like Paul Haverty and Jon Kurland – both of whom are lawyers who should know better – have engaged in the same kind of artifice. They continue to deceive residents about the facts and the law in order to provide cover for the wrongful actions of our top officials. Among other things, they do this by claiming that public advocacy groups like Slow Growth Initiative and Better Not Bigger are in fact the ones trying to deceive residents. One way the guilty defend themselves is to sow confusion and doubt about important facts and rely on that confusion to boomerang false claims back at the very people who seek to discover the truth. Wrongdoers know that if the true facts are thrown into disarray or doubt, public discourse cannot move on to the discussion of bad policy decisions and other important local matters that directly affect your quality of life in Chelmsford..
Jon Kurland has betrayed his ignorance of the law on several occasions, but even he must surely understand that Phil Eliopoulos violated three separate criminal state statutes. The statutes were laid out in the Better Not Bigger mailing he received last spring, including exhibits showing irrefutably that Phil lied about his knowledge of the land deal, lied about not acting in concert with his father in negotiations with Eastern Bank, and lied about the land not being “of interest to the town.”
The Chelmsford “Truth Squad” fails to note that it is the town officials who have prevented formal inquiry, who have quashed depositions, and who refuse to carry out the mandates in the local Ethics Bylaw and in the 9 North Road deed to enforce the law. When the people who possess important facts aggressively move to suppress any attempt to obtain those facts under oath, which is what happens in a deposition, you have to ask yourself: why would anyone move to terminate any inquiry into the facts if they had nothing to hide?
So, as you read what we confidently predict will be more nonsense in the coming election cycle coming from the Chelmsford “Truth Squad,” remember that this group is made up of the same people who have been concealing information from us as long as possible, and then flat out lying to us for years. Certain town officials are clearly worried that their gravy train is in grave danger of being derailed. In the Affordable Housing Plan there is over $60 million in pork for housing contracts alone that they want to be able to dish out over the next five years. That’s $12 million a year, which is enough pork to make Oscar Mayer blush
Information is power. Our top officials have historically informed Town Meeting reps very late – or not at all – regarding important matters prior to votes being taken, and have withheld important information from voters (like how much override votes will really cost and how the town is working to promote new construction at all costs). That has to stop, immediately. Even worse, they have lied about their activities concerning graft and profitable insider deals for the privileged few. Our top officials continue with their coordinated activities to scuttle any attempt to discover the truth and work to discredit the very groups which do seek the truth, including Slow Growth Initiative and Better Not Bigger. That is why the “Truth Squad” is so focused on smearing the people trying to keep townspeople well informed about the truth.
Best wishes for the holidays,
Roland Van Liew