For Methuen police chief, a rich story 

 

 

It seems more like satire than reality, and that has Methuen leaders cringing. 

 

The Merrimack Valley city of 51,000 has become known as the place where “public sector employees are millionaires,” said City Councilor DJ Beauregard. This has “done tremendous damage to the reputation of the city of Methuen,” he said. 

 

But it’s not public sectors employees in general that are the focus of his ire. It’s all about one employee: the city’s lavishly paid police chief, who not only earns more than police commissioners in nearly every city in the US, but insists he is owed more. 

 

Last year, Joseph Solomon earned $326,707, more than the commissioners in Boston, New York, or Chicago. (The Globe reported that a survey of 2018 salaries among big-city chiefs showed only the commissioner in Los Angeles earning more than Solomon.) The sky-high pay seems tied to a 2017 contract, which the city’s former mayor who signed it told Globe reporter Andrea Estes he didn’t fully understand. 

 

So much for keeping a close watch on the public purse strings.  


If the mayor got duped, at least part of his defense seems to be that city councilors did too, since he tells the Globe that the City Council signed off on the contract. No one from the 2017 council is still in office. 

 

The zombie contract that is eating at the city’s coffers, but which no one can stop, has provisions that guarantee Solomon at least 2.6 times the pay of any patrol officer. The chief is actually contesting how his pay has been calculated and says the city is underpaying him by at least $50,000. 

 

While the eye-popping salary would seem to make the job more than a full-time obligation, the Globe reported last month that Solomon runs a private investigation company on the side that employs 62 people. 

 

Tensions over the prodigious payout seem to have boiled over because of fiscal pressure on the city budget. Solomon was the only department head who refused a recent request from current Mayor Neil Perry to take 10 unpaid furlough days as part of an effort to fill a $7 million budget hole. The city has had to lay off four police officers, including Methuen’s only black patrol officer, at a time of heightened concern about policing and race. 

 

Last night, the City Council approved, in a 8-0 vote, a motion of no confidence in the chief, charging that he has brought the reputation of the city and police department “into disrepute” and “placed his own financial interests ahead of the interests of Methuen taxpayers.”

 

But the vote was largely symbolic and has no force over the chief’s five-year contract, which has two years remaining, so the arresting police saga continues. 

MICHAEL JONAS

FROM COMMONWEALTH

The Boston Public Schools made an error in exam school admissions resulting in 62 students  not being admitted to one of the selective 7-12 grade schools this year or last year who should have been awarded a seat. 

State regulators approved a major change in marijuana rules, permitting pot delivery companies to operate essentially as retailers, but without the expense of operating a store. 

Secretary of State William Galvin says the state could see near-record turnout for a primary election today. 

FROM AROUND THE WEB

 

BEACON HILL

Gov. Charlie Baker ends his order activating the Massachusetts National Guard. (MassLive)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS  

Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera said he will be cracking down on noise complaints and large gatherings to avoid spreading COVID-19 through these events. (Eagle-Tribune)

Police ranks are largely white in some of Massachusetts’ most diverse cities, according to data obtained by WCVB.

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

The CDC says only 6 percent of people who died after testing positive for COVID-19 had the virus listed as the only cause of death, meaning most had underlying health problems. (Telegram & Gazette)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Violent clashes between right-wing and left-wing demonstrators have some US cities fearing a descent into chaos. (New York Times

A federal appeals court won’t order the dismissal of the Michael Flynn prosecution, permitting a judge to scrutinize the Justice Department’s request to dismiss its case against the former Trump administration national security adviser. (Associated Press)

ELECTIONS

How dim are Joe Kennedy’s chances looking to pundits and prognosticators? He was asked yesterday (the fairly absurd question of) whether he’d consider a write-in bid in November to retain his House seat should he fall short in today’s Senate primary. (Boston Herald) The Washington Post takes a final look at the Senate primary, which has received considerable national attention. 

The Berkshire Eagle writes that redistricting of the 1st Congressional District diluted the influence of Berkshire County voters.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

A quarter of businesses at Faneuil Hall Marketplace in Boston have not reopened. (Boston Globe)

The town of Orleans is planning to pursue allowing retail marijuana stores to boost revenue. (Cape Cod Times)

Encore Boston Harbor is laying off 385 workers who had been furloughed. (Boston Globe)

EDUCATION

Members of the Andover teachers’ union set up their workplaces on the lawn outside the high school, escalating a conflict with the school committee, which is threatening legal action to force the teachers to work indoors. (Eagle-Tribune)

The former director of facility maintenance at American International College pleaded guilty to a bribery scheme, admitting he skimmed nearly $1 million from contractors in exchange for hiring them for jobs on college campuses. (MassLive)

Construction will soon start on Quincy’s $8.5 million special education center. (Patriot Ledger) 

With classes beginning on Wednesday, 790 students are expected to live in residence halls at Framingham State University this year, representing 40 percent of the university’s total capacity. (MetroWest Daily News)

ARTS/CULTURE

A little over a month after the longest shutdown in its 221-year history, Peabody Essex Museum is rebounding with major exhibits planned for the fall. (Daily Item)

TRANSPORTATION

The head of Hyannis-based Cape Air, former state senator Dan Wolf, believes it could be several years before demand for his airline and others returns to pre-pandemic levels. (WBUR)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

A Worcester police officer who drove drunk on railroad tracks is still with the force, months after the chief recommended that he be fired. (MassLive)

A Williamstown police sergeant alleges sexual harassment and racial discrimination at the town’s police department — and the town select board says they only heard of the charges when a federal lawsuit was filed. (Berkshire Eagle)

Boston police were yelled at and had a bottle thrown at them as they arrested someone carrying a gun at a late-night large gathering in Roxbury. (Boston Herald)