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January 20, 2014

Connections

by at 11:43 am.

People might be wondering why I can’t seem to type the name Rourke in City Council posts, without adding Golden as a suffix. Well, one reason is because of things like this: someone sent me this link as regards to Pay-to-Play…

If you don’t recall what Pay to Play was, it was the Probation Department scandal, as the link explains:

More than 250 employees of the Probation Department have personal connections to politicians and court officials, or gave at least $500 to state legislators since 2002, a Spotlight analysis has shown. On Thursday, Independent Counsel Paul F. Ware Jr. found that suspended Probation Commissioner John J. O’Brien systematically hired and promoted politically-backed job candidates, against whom job candidates without connections had little hope.

O’Brien was fired, and he and others from Probation now face charges including racketeering. With the trial still to come, it might be said that more explosive testimony might be forthcoming. Remember also, as an aside, that former Senator Panagiotakos announced in March 2010 he would not run for reelection to the state Senate, just ahead of being named in the report about Probation. I’m not saying there is definitely a link, but it does seem odd…especially an announcement so late in an election year, giving prospective candidates only 6 months to scramble a campaign together for the primaries in a large state Senate-wide district.

So anyway, back to the original link. If you do a search on that page for either Rourke or Golden, they each come up once on that page. On the same line.

SUPPORTER JOB SALARY DONATIONS TOP RECIPIENT
Daniel P. Rourke Assistant Chief Probation Officer, Concord District Court $67,355 $600 Rep. Thomas Golden ($600), D-Lowell

Now, I will let you infer what you want from this listing. However, one could posit that what we have here might be less pay to play…and more like nepotism. Take your pick as to which is worse. I mean, Rourke’s closeness to his cousin Golden is well known. I certainly believe that Rourke would give Golden $600 in legal campaign donations since 2002 because he wants his cousin to win elections (notwithstanding the lack of any competition, which I decry as I do not believe incumbents should automatically get reelected). And we could imagine that Golden might want to get his cousin Danny Rourke, his good friend and family member, a job at Probation because he likes his cousin and wants to give him a leg up in the world.

However, such a circumstance would also be as prohibited as pay-to-play. Alas, such conflicts of interest abound in Lowell, at the city level and all the way up…an atmosphere of permissiveness in putting personal loyalty above ethics that I have long written about - indeed, that I began this blog to combat.

One last item of note: Jack reported, and I have confirmed as well, that at a Rourke fundraiser, Golden stood up and introduced John Cox as “OUR City Manager!” I don’t make this stuff up!

41 Responses to “Connections”

  1. Frances McDougall Says:

    Thanks, Lynne, this shines a light on the musings I have been entertaining ie, once Manager Lynch departs, will the flood gates be open to facilitate the city’s return to the Tribe resurrection. The city has a history of running things according to the tribal system and nepotism. Does this bode well for the health and financial stability of Lowell? Just wondering.

  2. Lynne Says:

    Sunlight is the greatest disinfectant, Fran!

    I find it utterly fascinating in a morose way that those who engage in things like nepotism seem to believe there is nothing wrong with this practice (ignoring the law, of course, which is very clear). Many, though not all of them, do not understand why some of us protest at such abuses. They’re just looking after their own, you know? Everyone does it!

    I love my family, and my friends, and I’m personally fiercely loyal. Of course, I pick my friends based on them deserving this loyalty…but anyway. Everyone “networks.” I owned a business, I attended networking events and was a member of BNI (Business Networking International) for years. You develop friendships and recommend other peoples’ services based on that personal connection. But, in the private sector. And, they earn it. If I recommend someone I know as a plumber to my neighbor, it’s because I have cause to believe they are a really great plumber. If I network with a plumber and come to find out he screwed someone over, I’m not going to recommend him to anyone.

    When dealing with the public sector, this is strictly taboo. Even most private companies have nepotism clauses - if you’re found to violate that, you’re usually fired. For taxpayer dollars, there’s LAWS forbidding it. It’s far too easy to get your friend a job in the public sector despite several better candidates having applied. We want the best services from our public servants, not someone’s best friend from high school who sort of competently trucks along and collects a public paycheck. Even if someone is a stellar candidate, any intervening by a friend or relative in pushing that person out ahead of other candidates is unethical. Let your relative or friend EARN that position on their own merits!

    This is the fundamental thing they cannot understand…they are puzzled by the concept. Well, many of them anyway. The smarter ones know it’s wrong but do it anyway, and try not to get caught.

  3. Joe Says:

    Let me attempt to play devils advocate. So Lynne you are a state rep(congratulations). You have a cousin that you are close with. Your cousin graduates from college with a degree in marine biology. Your cousin now applies for a state marine biology job and asks you to be a reference. Would you say no??? I’m sorry but the blogosphere has gone so far off the rails attacking their political opponents that common sense and reality are no longer important. It’s just attack attack attack. When warren shaw talks about the divide he is talking about this nonsense. Please for the record tell me that if you would not help a qualified loved one looking for a job.

  4. Lynne Says:

    Yes, I would refuse to act on behalf of said cousin, as that is illegal. He must earn that job on his merits.

  5. Lynne Says:

    PS - there are several Joes on this forum, please add to your nickname in future comments, as you are not the Joe we typically see and I’d hate to see him tarred with your point of view.

  6. Lynne Says:

    I would tell said cousin to get his teachers’ recommendation such that if he earns the job on his own, we avoid all appearance of impropriety.

    Being an elected official means you sign on to a code of ethics and to be governed by such. If you can’t do that, resign.

  7. Mr. Lynne Says:

    Innocence and/or naivete could certainly be at work here, but there’s a reason that the standard for looking at potential impropriety is as low as the mere appearance of impropriety - otherwise innocence and/or naivete could be invoked as a defense in all cases of actual impropriety.

  8. Realistic Joe Says:

    I found your back and forth with warren shaw very interesting. It was a solid debate. But for you to claim that you have nothing to do with the divide in this city is beyond comical. Blog after blog after blog just ripping apart elected officials that disagree with you and your progressive companions. Was this particular blog post meant to heel the city or heal the city? Someone posted this list during the election. I found it interesting and read the entire list as I’m sure you did. You can clearly tell who was abusing the probation system. This blog is just more smear.

  9. Mr. Lynne Says:

    So the blog entry says.. “Now, I will let you infer what you want from this listing.”

    Now it certainly looks as though you’ve got you’re own interpretation. I find it interesting, however, that you’re of the opinion that you stating your opinion is fine but Lynne stating hers is somehow ‘wrong’.

  10. Jade Says:

    Joe says….. “When warren shaw talks about the divide he is talking about this nonsense. Please for the record tell me that if you would not help a qualified loved one looking for a job.”

    In Dracut, shaws best buddie mike maguire got the food service directors job…no experience, no educational qualifications… leapfroging over the highly qualified applicants. why???? take a good guess… this is just one example, there are many, many more………Lynne you are spot on!

  11. Realistic Joe Says:

    Now it certainly looks as though you’ve got you’re own interpretation. I find it interesting, however, that you’re of the opinion that you stating your opinion is fine but Lynne stating hers is somehow ‘wrong’.

    Opinions are funny things. Some come from the heart while others go for the throat. Dave Daley seems to be a bogeyman on this site. I promise you with a little research I can either find a candidate that progressives support or a company that supports progressive causes that Daley has given money too. Technically then I could give my opinion that this person/corporation is bought and paid for by Daley. It won’t be true but I will have a list and I can state it’s just my opinion.

    Golden’s name shows up once on this report. Just like all the other members of the Lowell delegation. There are people with 5,10 and more names on it. There are clearly two states reps that used and abused the probation department. Nobody in the Lowell delegation has more then two. And for the record the majority of college graduates with degrees in criminal justice will get jobs in the public sector. City,state or federal are in many ways the only option for employment in that field.

  12. Eric J Says:

    Not to let the facts get in the way but Maguire had food service management experience (he owned and operated a restaurant) and also served on the school committee and therefore had knowledge of municipal procurement and the various regulations concerning to school lunch program.

    I don’t know who else applied and what their qualifications were but to say Maguire didn’t have any experience is a lie.

  13. Realistic Joe Says:

    Intellectual honesty

    There were state reps without a doubt involved in pay for pay. The facts are right there for anyone to see. It didn’t matter if you knew the state representatives or not. If you gave enough cash cash to certain campaigns and you were in. This is CLEARLY not the case with golden and rourke. If you are reading this blog and you also have someone close to you that has run for public office then the chances are that you have given that person a contribution. And on the other side of that coin if you have ever looked for a job then there is a good chance that at some point you have asked for assistance from someone close to you in one way or another. This isn’t scandalous. This is the reality that almost all of us have dealt with. Now I ask you all. Is this blog posting intellectually honest?

  14. Jade Says:

    Eric says….”Not to let the facts get in the way but Maguire had food service management experience (he owned and operated a restaurant) and also served on the school committee and therefore had knowledge of municipal procurement and the various regulations concerning to school lunch program. I don’t know who else applied and what their qualifications were but to say Maguire didn’t have any experience is a lie.”

    Eric, YOU lie!…..Maguire owned a bar that served food. The bar unfortunately went bankrupt.

    The other QUALIFIED applicants had a B.A. or B.S. degree in Food Service Operation, Bachelor of Applied Science in Food Service Management or a Bachelor of Science in Food Service Management. Some were registered dieticians or had a school nutrition association credential with knowledge about children’s nutrition.

    Maguire possessed NONE of these credentials, the other applicants did.

    I did not realize that serving on a school committee automatically qualifies you to be a food service director…..good to know…. nothing like using a position you are suppose to use to SERVE children to SERVE YOURSELF!!!

  15. Lynne Says:

    Well there there’s stuff like this:

    Former City Manager B. Joseph Tully was allegedly recorded on a federal wiretap saying, “I need $20,000 to juice the delegation,” in a plan to keep the state Registry of Motor Vehicles’ Lowell branch office in a Chelmsford Street building owned by a business client, The Sun has learned.

    That whole article is very interesting.

    People in the city weren’t born yesterday.

    “This is CLEARLY not the case with golden and rourke.”

    Really? Clearly? I’d say, that’s not clear at all. And let’s say it wasn’t about pay, it was about family? This is supposed to be better???

    Keep on defending possible nepotism, that’s a great position to be in. LOL

    “if you have ever looked for a job then there is a good chance that at some point you have asked for assistance from someone close to you in one way or another”

    NOT on the PUBLIC dime. And, I expect to EARN that position, not GET that position against more qualified applicants. OMFG. Why is this so hard to comprehend??

  16. joe from Lowell Says:

    Meh. I’m as down on the Townie Turnstile as anyone, but if my cousin ran for office as a Democrat, I’d donate to his campaign, too.

  17. Realistic Joe Says:

    Really? Clearly? I’d say, that’s not clear at all. And let’s say it wasn’t about pay, it was about family? This is supposed to be better???

    To me the answer is YES. And it’s not even close. Taking cash from strangers for direct hire is an incredible abuse of the system. Possibly giving a reference to someone that you love and trust is not all that sinister to me. From Athens to Rome to Lowell this is something that has happened throughout all of humanity. I’m obviously not the golden family lawyer. If I was I would suck at it. I just think the linking and comparing of these two issues is unfair. I respect your interpretation of the law. I just have have a different feeling of the spirit of the law.

  18. Eric J Says:

    Mike Maguire owned and managed The Haven restaurant in Dracut. It was a full-service restaurant. This was prior to his opening and operating Maguire’s Tavern.

    Again, I have no knowledge of the other applicant’s qualifications. You’ll forgive me if I don’t accept what you say as gospel given your obvious ax to grind and not knowing what you’re talking about.

    Maguire was hired by Elaine Espindle and she wasn’t known for being a good old boy.

  19. Lynne Says:

    jfl: it’s not the contributions (as I noted in my post). It’s the at least appearance of impropriety on the job getting. Whether we might be talking about pay for play or nepotism, neither is a good, or ethical, outcome.

    I think Golden got on the list because of that donation and Rourke’s getting that job, which to the untrained eye looks like pay for play, until you know the relationship, then it still looks bad, but for different reasons.

    RJ: this entire thread of you defending this sort of thing is what is wrong with this city. You’re defending a position of weakness, there, morally.

  20. Lynne Says:

    You know, I think you went with the wrong nickname. I think you should be Joe the Enabler.

  21. Frances McDougall Says:

    Realistic Joe, thanks for clarifying your stage name. You made me nervous when you first posted but now I am able to assess the tenor of your statements. You are not the Joe I am acquainted with and didn’t think you were. The filter has been reset.

  22. Jade Says:

    Eric says “Mike Maguire owned and managed The Haven restaurant in Dracut. It was a full-service restaurant. This was prior to his opening and operating Maguire’s Tavern.”

    It was a bar that served food period. Funny how you cherry pick in addressing his credentials issue….that says volumes.

    Eric says “Again, I have no knowledge of the other applicant’s qualifications. You’ll forgive me if I don’t accept what you say as gospel given your obvious ax to grind and not knowing what you’re talking about.”

    YOU don’t know what you’re talking about! Just sticking up for an unqualified hack who took his time serving on a school committee and parlayed it into getting himself a job.

    Eric says “Maguire was hired by Elaine Espindle and she wasn’t known for being a good old boy.”

    Really, shows how much YOU know!

  23. Lynne Says:

    OK, guys, we got it…calm down!

  24. James Says:

    This is guilt by association with no actual evidence of wrongdoing. We can do better than that Lowell.

  25. Jade Says:

    : )

  26. Lynne Says:

    Um…no. It’s not guilt by association. Let’s review the facts:

    Fact: the Probation Dept was rife with pay to play or connected hires, and there are indictments coming out of that, and it’s a pretty huge scandal.
    Fact: Lots of legislators, including some local ones, were on the list of possible play to pay/graft hires.
    Fact: cousin Danny got a job in Probation during this period we know this stuff was happening.
    Fact: Nepotism and pay to play are illegal under Mass General Law.

    I leave the reader to try and decide for themselves what they think - but at a minimum, the appearance of impropriety is pretty stinky here.

  27. James Says:

    4 facts that add up to nothing more than guilt by association.

  28. Lynne Says:

    Um, I dunna think that means wha’ you think it means.

    Do you even know what “appearance of impropriety” is, by definition?

  29. Lynne Says:

    And most of Lowell isn’t going to shut its eyes and pretend they don’t know what’s happening. Golden introduced Cox as “OUR city manager.” We know how that guy operated. We know how many of those guys in that little network operated. I think people can draw their own conclusions.

    This isn’t the first appearance of impropriety by these folks. We’re not blind.

  30. James Says:

    There is nothing in this post that is news by any standard of definition and Danny Rourke finished 4th in the election.

    We can disagree without smearing each other.

  31. Jim Says:

    didn’t Golden and not Danny Rourk finish 4th in the election?

    didn’t Danny Rourk pretend to be from the other highly respected Rourk family which he led people to believe was his family?

  32. Realistic Joe Says:

    didn’t Danny Rourk pretend to be from the other highly respected Rourk family which he led people to believe was his family?

    Blogs are and will be an important part of Lowell politics for the rest of our lives. Their influence and reach will continue to grow. You might think that simply making something up about Rourke is an easy way to please certain people on this site. But what you are actually doing is hurting this blogs credibility. There are many people in this city that are looking for nonsense like this to use as ammunition against Lynne and the crew. Based on the argument above It may appear that I dislike this site but in all honesty I enjoy it and appreciate it. Simply making stuff up gets us nowhere.

  33. Jim Says:

    You might think that simply making something up about Rourke is an easy way to please certain people on this site. But what you are actually doing is hurting this blogs credibility. There are many people in this city that are looking for nonsense like this to use as ammunition against Lynne and the crew

    the TRUTH hurts, doesn’t it??? this blog has TONS of credibility, that’s why YOU come on here!

    Rourk was asked more than a few times if he was related to the “highly respected Representative Rourke family and he ALWAYS evaded the question!!!

  34. Realistic Joe Says:

    I think it’s fair to say that Lynne and jack are political opponents of rourke. If he had misled people during the election I assure you that it would have been blogged about. But it wasn’t blogged about. And the reason is because it never happened. The truth hurts? Please name any paper or website or reporter or credible person that was misled by rourke. Some of you are getting embarrassing at this point. But I must say I am intrigued by the rumor going around the city that rourke was born in Kenya. We need that birth certificate.

  35. Jim Says:

    Rourk was asked by a friend of mine and on facebook, he never answered the question I wonder why?

  36. Lynne Says:

    We did freaking blog about it. Go back and read archives.

  37. molly Says:

    When Susan Rourke, widow of State Rep. Tim Rourke, was on WCAP one morning, Teddy said to her “Oh, we just got a text . . . Danny Rourke says hello.” And she was like “Uh . . . he is running for city council, right? I do not think we are related.” Obviously he texted in his “hello” to make people think they were related.

  38. James Says:

    Look, under your terms there is no possible way that nobody did anything wrong. That is false. That is saying if your (for purposes of the nepotism law, non-immediate) family member is a state rep and you want to be a probation officer, you can’t do it. Doesn’t matter you’re guilty. No evidence needed. What about the city councilors who have relatives who are teachers, are they suspect too? Yes there was a scandal in the Probation Department but neither cousin was implicated and lots were (and the $600 donation showed up on that list because all donations by probation employees are public record and are reported…there was NO implication in either the Ware Report or the Globe that Golden had anything to do with his hiring) If you have evidence, great.

    Let me phrase it another way, under what conditions is ok to be a probation officer?

    Danny Rourke is a city councilor now. He took actions last night you can judge him on. I think thats a worthwhile discussion. This, short of any actual evidence, and having nothing to do with the job that matters more to us (city councilor vs. probation officer) is just a smear that hurts the cause of progressive professional management backers throughout Lowell.

  39. Lynne Says:

    I can’t believe you’re still here arguing about this.

    The facts are as they are. If something looks like a bear and growls like one, the most likely explanation is that it is a bear. Sure, there are other bear-like creatures that exist but it’s less likely.

    There is FAR too much coincidence not to notice that a likely scenario here is problematic at best. The Probation Dept was THICK with this culture, state Reps and Senators getting their contributors or family members jobs. Suddenly, in the same period, you expect people to believe that THIS hire is above board? When Golden has been part of a known GOB culture, is friends with Cox and Kazanjian types, operates in this sort of fashion? Good luck with that.

    I guess you can believe what you want. But man, does it stink to high heaven to the average, objective observer.

    So, James, are you friends with Golden or Rourke, or related? Please disclose this, or I’ll just assume you are, the way you keep coming back and insisting nothing smells.

  40. James Says:

    So in your words, it is impossible–100 percent impossible that he earned his job. Good to know. It’s guilty until proven innocent. And you bring this up now, while spending the city council campaign attacking Darius Mitchell of all candidates. Timing doesn’t even make sense from a political assassination point of view.

  41. Lynne Says:

    I’d say I’m on the 95% probable, sure. Given the entire scandal around the situation, yeah. Look, we’re not blind or dumb.

    I’m just pointing out something I FOUND recently, and it happened to dovetail nicely into explaining that there is no way for me to type the name Rourke without adding Golden’s afterward. We know where Rourke is getting a lot (all?) of his ideas. After all, the only thing Rourke actually campaigned about during the race was having more “after school programs.” Someone ought to tell him, he ran for City Council, by the way, not School Committee.

    He was bereft of ideas then, what makes anyone think he’s got his own now?? And we blogged about him in the campaign. Maybe YOU weren’t paying attention. I’m sad to say I’m as disappointed in him as I expected to be.

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