AP NEWS

Motion for Honor Goes Bust

August 19, 2018

A Sun Staff report

SEVERAL YEARS ago City Hall was all in a dither over Pericles.

Then-Mayor Patrick Murphy upset many prominent local Greeks by removing from the Mayor’s Reception Room a bust of Pericles -- the father of Greek democracy -- that had been given to the city as a gift.

Adding fuel to the fire: Murphy took the bust to a downtown bar and had a picture taken with it displayed during a St. Patrick’s Day breakfast routine in March 2013.

Last week, the City Council all but killed what could have triggered as much controversy.

The children of the late George Kouloheras -- Harry, Billy and Daphne -- want the city to display a bust of the family patriarch has been done and family members want it displayed at City Hall.

City Councilor Rita Mercier delivered a motion during last Tuesday’s City Council meeting on the family’s behalf, though her trademark passion was missing.

City Councilor Jim Milinazzo made a substitute motion, referring the public-display naming issue to the city manager’s office and requesting the Law Department come up with a policy for such namings. The vote was unanimous.

A wing of Lowell High is named for Kouloheras, who served on the Lowell School Committee. And he played a role in the creation of the Greater Lowell Technical High School, where the gym was recently named after him.

But the Kouloheras public record also is tarnished with incidents of racist, homophobic and bombastic behavior.

That’s why his bust is unlikely to see any public corridor in Lowell any time soon.

As CEO of Lowell General Hospital, Norm Deschene would visit with The Sun’s Editorial Board and bemoan the size and influence of the major Boston teaching hospitals.

Deschene likely isn’t being as critical these days.

The Boston Business Journal reported last week that executives from at least a dozen hospitals in Massachusetts received double-digit pay raises in the most recent reporting year. Deschene, CEO of Wellforce, was atop the heap.

According to the Journal’s review of total compensation -- base salary, bonus pay, other compensation, retirement benefits and more -- Deschene’s total compensation rose from $2.1 million in 2015 to $3.9 million in 2016, 83 percent. Deschene also served as CEO of both Circle Health and Lowell General Hospital until April 2017.

(In 2009, a Sun article on hospital CEO salaries listed Deschene’s salary at $676,991.)

Wellforce was formed in 2014 by Circle Health, including Lowell General Hospital, and Tufts Medical Center as well as the physicians of New England Quality Care Alliance and the Lowell General Physician Hospital Organization. In January 2017, Hallmark Health, including Melrose-Wakefield Hospital, Lawrence Memorial Hospital and the Hallmark Physician Hospital Organization, came under the Wellforce umbrella.

Dr. Peter Slavin and Dr. Elizabeth Nabel, of Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, respectively, each reported $3.6 million in 2016, marking an increase of 82 and 73 percent increases in a year, according to the Journal.

During the debates Thursday night for state Senate and state representative sponsored by The Sun and UMass Lowell, the Journal article was mentioned in reference to the November ballot question which seeks to establish patient assignment limits for registered nurses. Deschene was never mentioned by name.

The underlying message from several of the candidates was CEO salaries are preposterous, and those on the front line, like nurses, are underpaid and unappreciated.

CITY COUNCILOR Dave Conway wasn’t too shocked when his motion for the city manager to include the cost of completing each motion received blowback from fellow councilors at Tuesday’s meeting.

Conway wanted to know the work hours that it took to accomplish the task, and a cost estimate for each motion. Conway’s motion failed, 3-6.

“I’m not totally surprised,” Conway said later. “I was not trying to stop anyone from putting a motion on, even though some of my colleagues tried to twist that around.”

Colleagues whispered Conway’s motion was a swipe at freshman Councilor Karen Cirillo, whose penchant for filing many motions isn’t setting well with some more senior councilors.

“That’s absolutely false. That’s people just trying to cause some trouble,” Conway said.

Cirillo brushed it off as well. She said that Conway made a similar motion when he was a School Committee member.

“I take it (the motion) for what it is,” she said.

JUST HOW much turn-over has there been in Lowell Public Schools this summer? Though some comings and goings have generated headlines -- the biggest being the placement of Superintendent Salah Khelfaoui on paid administrative in July -- not all are quite as high profile.

Near the end of the tumultuous summer, Acting Superintendent Jeannine Durkin presented a list of 12 newly hired or promoted administrators, excluding herself.

They are: Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations, Billie Jo Turner; Assistant Business Manager for Transportation, John Descoteaux; Acting Assistant Superintendent for Student Support Services, Mary Payne; Laura Lee Therapeutic Day School Coordinator, Frank Vicente; Lincoln School Interim Principal, Ginger Coleman; Morey School Principal, Kathleen McLaughlin; Reilly School Assistant Principal, Ronald Fusco; Robinson School Principal, Bridget Dowling; Robinson School Assistant Principal, Carl DeRubeis; Shaughnessy School Principal, Gregory Passeri; STEM Academy Assistant Principal, Roger Morneau; and STEM Academy Interim Assistant Principal, Nancy Crones.

FORMER BILLERICA state rep candidate Alicia Reddin resigned from her position as the Andover veterans services director on Tuesday after a screenshot of a tweet attributed to her was shared on a closed community Facebook page, the Eagle-Tribune of North Andover reported.

According to the Eagle-Tribune the tweet read: “You caused this. Now UN-(expletive) YOURSELF and get these slime sucking republican (expletives) out of office. REGISTER. VOTE BLUE. REPEAT.”

Another tweet from the deactivated account read: “In all seriousness - if you or your family are not registered to vote, did not vote in the Mid-Terms or for a blue candidate for Congress and Senate...all of this is absolutely your fault. #Tre45on #Fbr #BlueTsunami2018”

Reddin, a Democrat and U.S. Navy veteran, told The Column the posts were taken “drastically” out of context.

“You can see it was a cropped image that was sent in and it was politically motivated,” she said.

She went on to say: “I apologize if I offended anyone, but this was taken out of context.”

Reddin declined to comment further.

Reddin announced a challenge to Billerica Republican Rep. Marc Lombardo, but dropped out of the race in January, citing a new job with a veteran services office. In March, she started in Andover.

Andover Town Manager Andrew Flanagan told the Eagle-Tribune the posts “made it impossible for her continue to be effective as director.”

DURING THE 2016 state election cycle, The Sun sponsored an insightful, livestream debate at its offices between state Rep. Colleen Garry, a Democrat, and Republican Cathy Richardson.

The Sun was hoping to conduct a similar effort this year, featuring Garry and primary challenger Sabrina Heisey, who is a little more than a year into a three-year term on the Dracut School Committee. The Sun hoped to hold the debate one night this week, as it plans to roll out editorial endorsements the following week.

Garry was willing. Heisey delcined, saying she was too busy at work. She also said such a debate should be held at a large public venue.

Tension has been building between both candidates on social media. On Friday morning, the Committee to Elect Colleen Garry blasted Heisey on Garry’s official state representative Facebook page, saying “it is unfortunate that Ms. Heisey is not willing to debate with the Lowell Sun after she has publicly stated she would debate anytime, anywhere, even in front of Hannaford.”

Heisey responded on Facebook, saying, “it is truly appalling the lies coming out of Rep Garry’s camp regarding the debate.” Heisey said the incumbent “is refusing to have a conversation with the VOTERS of the district.”

TWO NEW television ads were announced for the 3rd Congressional District race last week.

An ad for state Sen. Barbara L’Italien, will start running Monday, making her the fourth Democrat on television. Fellow Democrat Rufus Gifford launched his third commercial, more than either Dan Koh or Lori Trahan currently have on air.

L’Italien’s ad is a snappy, energetic number highlighting the ways she “stand(s) out” from the crowded Democratic primary field, specifically her experience on Beacon Hill.

L’Italien started with higher name recognition, but joins the airwaves several months later than opponents who topped her in fundraising.

Gifford’s campaign describes his third ad, titled “Stand for Something,” as an “optimistic closing argument” with the primary drawing closer. It began airing last week and echoes a common refrain of Gifford’s on the trail: that, despite frustration with the Trump administration, “the Democratic party has to stand for something, not just against something.”

The four candidates with ads will together spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to broadcast their messages.

THE RACE for the very liberal 14th Middlesex District this fall will be between Democratic and Green party candidates.

That’s an exciting prospect for Green-Rainbow candidate Danny Factor, of Acton, who will face off in November against the winner of September’s Democratic primary: Benjamin Bloomenthal and Tami Gouveia, both of Acton, and Christian Krueger of Concord.

“It’ll be the first time that I know of, and probably the first time in Massachusetts history, that there will be a two-way race for state representative between just a Democrat and a Green,” Factor said Thursday. “I think it will be a great education for the voters to have that kind of race where there isn’t the concern of the spoiler effect that a Republican could be elected.”

Factor ran two years ago against longtime Democratic state Rep. Cory Atkins and Republican Helen Brady, both of Concord.

Atkins, who is retiring at the end of this term, endorsed Gouveia on Friday.

Brady is running again this year, against Democratic State Auditor Suzanne Bump.

DEMOCRATS VYING for state representative in the 19th Middlesex District will debate on Wednesday night. And endorsements are still coming in.

Wilmington School Committee member MJ Byrnes recently endorsed Dave Robertson, of Tewksbury.

Judy O’Connell, of Wilmington, was endorsed by Wilmington School Committee member Jenn Bryson.

Mark Kratman, a Tewksbury selectman, was recently endorsed by the Massachusetts AFL-CIO.

The debate is scheduled for 7 p.m. at WCTV studios in Wilmington, and will be show live on local access and the WCTV web page. Moderating will be State House News Service reporter Katie Lannan, who covered the 19th when she was a Sun reporter.

Contributing to this week: Rick Sobey in Lowell, Elizabeth Dobbins in Lowell and Billerica; Chris Lisinski in the 3rd Congressional District, Alana Melanson in Chelmsford, Kori Tuitt in Tewksbury and Wilmington, Amaris Castillo in Dracut and Enterprise Editor Christopher Scott.

AP RADIO
Update hourly