Thursday, July 7, 2011

Prebeble Cause?

Kenneth M. O’Brien

Today the Worcester Telegram & Gazette ran an article titled, “Tornado Relief Goods Misdirected – Given Away By Local Priest”.

Allow me to state at the outset that I don’t believe that clerics should be involved in politics.
This is not a new opinion for me. It goes way back to my early days when Massachusetts had a multi-term congressman, Robert Drinan, a Jesuit Priest. Those who proclaim adherence to the Christian Gospel should be cognizant of the admonition that “…one cannot serve two masters.”

Leaving that aside, we have a variety of allegations in the article.

The most damning was the remark that, “Chief Charette said there is nothing for authorities to act upon because no one has complained to the police or Fire Chief Ciesla.
“If in fact these were earmarked for specific things,” Chief Charette said, “absolutely, it could be a criminal offense. But I do not think that at any time there was any intent to commit a crime here.”

However, Chief Charette said, Detective Sgt. Ryan Roettger is talking with the Worcester district attorney’s office “to see if this is something that rises to the level of a crime.”

So, what we have is the fact that nobody complained of any criminal impropriety. Nevertheless, we have an officer, without any such complaint, seeing if, “this is something that rises to the level of a crime.”

It seems to me that this is an invitation for someone to file a complaint to justify an investigation that is already underway. Of course, Southbridge has never witnessed that before. (See “Ain’t That A Crime” and “Liquorboarding The Lazos”). In addition, I have expressed my views about how the local news media operates ( See “Profiles In Discouraged – Part V”).

I am looking into the facts of this matter. It is my hope to have more definitive facts in the very near future. However, I feel that it is only appropriate to present a statement that I received today from Father Peter Michael Preble.:

V. Rev. Fr. Peter-Michael Preble
Post Office Box 823
Southbridge, Massachusetts 01550

After the June 1st Tornado that hit my Community of Southbridge, I and several members of my Congregation decided that we would open the Church as a regional donation point.  Donations for tornado victims started to arrive and we soon knew that the Church Hall would not be large enough to contain all of the donations.

I made contact with the United Way in Southbridge who arraigned for a warehouse space generously donated by United Lens and the operation was moved from the Church Hall to the United Lens warehouse on Worcester Street in Southbridge.  Coordination was made with the distribution centers in both Brimfield and Monson and supplies were delivered to those communities as well as a similar group in Sturbridge.

Prior to the June 6th meeting of the Southbridge Town Council, then Chairman Steven Lazo asked me if I would be willing to be appointed by him to be volunteer coordinator for the Town of Southbridge.  I agreed and was appointed by Mr. Lazo to that position.  I was my understanding that the warehouse operation was still under the direction of me as Pastor of the St. Michael’s Church and as a member of the disaster response network of the International Orthodox Christian Charities.  At no point was it my understanding that the Town had taken responsibility over the warehouse operation. 

As a Non-Governmental organization involved in disaster relief coordination is made with local officials but the operation is managed by the organization and not by the Government.  The United Way and the local Chamber of Commerce sent word out through their membership to solicit donations.  The Chamber of Commerce took over the volunteer coordination as they were asked to do this by the Office of Governor. 

After two weeks of distribution the number of people coming to the site had dwindled and the decision was made to stop operations.  A decision was going to have to be made as to what was to be done with the items that remain.  I made contact with the distribution centers in both Brimfield and Monson to discover that they had so many donations they could not accept much of what we had.  The Hygiene kits that we received from Church World Service were sent to Springfield at the request of Church World Service and were distributed through the Salvation Army in Springfield. 

With the need in the area seemingly diminished I was uncertain what to do with the items that remained.  Contact was made with the local food pantries in Southbridge as well as the senior center in Charlton.  I was informed that their available supplies was diminished as they were also making items available not only to Tornado victims but to the residents that had lost power due to the storm that hit Southbridge the following week.  The Committee made the decision to move the items from the warehouse to the food pantries.  We were not sure what else to do with the items and I did not want them sitting in the warehouse not being used.

The bulk of the items were transferred to the Southbridge Food Share pantry at Catholic Charities as well as to the food pantry at St. Mary’s Church.  Some items were sent to the senior center in Charlton for their food distribution program and some items did go to the Food Share Pantry in Webster.  Approximately 100 gallons of water was given to the Relay for Life relay to aid in their effort.

The distribution of food was not done to deny affected residents of needed aid.  The decision was made due to the fact that the numbers had dwindled and it appeared that the aid was no longer needed.  With both Brimfield and Monson unable to accept any other donations I made the decision to transfer the items to the food pantries in the area to aid people.

There was never any attempt on my part to mislead people who had generously donated items to those in need.  It was my intent to make sure all of the items donated went to people in need in the Greater Southbridge area.  The decision was made in haste and in retrospect I realize that better coordination could have been made with all involved.  It was never my intent to hurt anyone but only to help those in need the best way I know how.”


  1. This is absolutely absurd. Who the devil thinks that Fr. Preble was trying to rip off people.
    But even more ridiculous are the Telegram comments by two pf the biggest publicity seekers in this towm Demartino and Pelquin.

  2. Perfectly reasonable decision. This is an obviously experienced man. Thankyou for your service Father. God Bless you.

  3. Perfectly reasonable decision. This is an obviously experienced man. Thankyou for your service Father. God Bless you.

  4. John P. FitzgeraldJuly 7, 2011 at 10:21 PM

    Clark looked and sounded like his usual unprofessional self.

    I can't figure out why no one makes this town home when you keep browbeating it's residents.

    Nice job, Clark and friends.

    We are behind you, Father!

  5. Father Prebble appeared to be within his rights to do what he felt best with the goods. I disagree what he chose to do, but never the less it was his perogative.

    You do all realize that the bigger story developing here is that our local law enforcement seems to be creating a crime where - as they've admitted -- one doesn't exist. That is way more deplorable than a person making a bad decision. Once again our law enforcement dollars are going to lynch a private citizen while crack heads and thieves roam freely through downtown.

    A while back a woman allegedly posted false information about her son implying that he was missing to raise funds. Those funds were raised under false pretenses and right in front of the police station. Yet they never went after her.

    The polie chief in cahoots with the town manager and now even our town fire chief seem to be going after associates of the former Town Council Chair. In addition, the town manager's comment absolutely shows his ignorance on any town matters. The Town Charter specifically gives the Town Chairman the authority as the leader in emergencies. I think the tornado qualifies. So he had a right to set up the ad-hoc committee with Prebble as the head.

    Once again, our town depeartment heads, are abusing their power. That is the real crime here.

  6. Just another hatchet job by Brian Lee. He regularly meets with his "insiders" here to concoct half-baked bias stories to do political damage, as he did with his demonizing of the Lazos. Hey Brian, how about following up on Charette's never-disclosed rave party drug testing?

    At some point this hack needs to be fired and the T & G needs to get a competent reporter to cover this area.

  7. How does Chris Clark get away with humiliating out town on a Boston television station saying Father Preble is "over his head", when Mr. Clark can't even get his own office organized enough to comply with the open meeting laws and get meeting agenda's out in time? Is there anyone in town government over his head more than Chris Clark? Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!

    If Mr. Clark was a professional, he would have discouraged the story from getting so much attention by stating "no comment". there are over a dozen more significant ignored subjects in this town that should be covered.

  8. This story has been printed in multiple Newspapers, broadcasted on fox 25 and now listed in philanthropy today.
    Good thing News of the World shut down!

    Southbridge Gottcha politics broadcasted around the world - Just another in a long list of reasons to make Southbridge Home? (Sarcasm off)

  9. Hey, Anonymous! Just FYI, I don't post anything anonymously anywhere on the Internet. I am far too much of a publicity seeker to not attach my name to anything I am involved with.

  10. If your client instructs you to post something on their behalf you refuse to do so?

  11. Anonymous:
    I have absolutely no idea what you mean.
    Would you care to elaborate?

  12. Sounds like some Tea Party lunatic. They never make sense!

  13. I agree with Mr. Cranium; not that I think all (or even most) Tea Partiers (or anyone else with unpopular political opinions) are lunatics, but I will say that the Tea Party is an awfully challenging thing to make sense of, even for those of us who consider ourselves to be part of the movement. When political outsiders attempt to find voices for themselves, everything seems to get Very Confusing Very Quickly.

    (I recently found my way back to the Church after a 12+ year hiatus and I'm in the same boat with that too. So much confusion!)

    Maybe this is just me being the airhead that I am reputed to be, but I have an awfully hard time making sense of an awfully large chunk of the political landscape around here. Which is strange, because aside from college and a brief stint in Worcester, I've been Making Southbridge Home my entire life.

  14. Mr. O'Brien, when I asked "If your client instructs you to post something on their behalf would you refuse to do so?" the comment was directed to the media consultant whose comment preceded my own.

  15. Oh, hi Anonymous! You know, you could just call me or email me if you like; there's no need to keep spamming poor Mr. O'Brien's blog with your attempts to contact me indirectly. ;)

    To answer your question: no. Unequivocally, no. I do not think there is any credibility to anonymous speech whatsoever, and I think it has no place in any sort of reasonable political discourse. All of my opinions are my own, with my own verifiable identity attached to them. I make it a point to not anonymously post anything anywhere on the Internet. This would be true even in the event that a client were to ask me to do so, which I am quite comfortable telling you has not happened.

    I hope this clears things up for you. Whoever you are.

  16. I just re-read that last comment. I "misspoke," if one can do such a thing on the Internet. By no, I meant yes. Yes, I would refuse to post something anonymously on behalf of someone else. And no, anonymous speech has no place on credible corners of the Internet.

  17. In places like Communist China, Burma, and Southbridge anonymous postings are sometimes required to ensure one's personal security. I am more leery of people make up names other than there own, such a "John Fitzgerald", when that is the name of a locally raised professional athlete that would cringe at the way his name is used-that would be like me signing something with the name Kathy Z. DiGregorio.

  18. John P. FitzgeraldJuly 11, 2011 at 10:37 PM

    So sorry my real name offends you. At least I have the balls to state my name.

    It's a common name, you dummy!

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  20. What is your point Mr. Unregistered Voter not-in- the-phone-book Fitzgerald? There are more DiGregorio's than Fitzgerald's in town, but if you gave your real name Mr. Clark could confront your insolence.

  21. John P. FitzgeraldJuly 12, 2011 at 9:34 PM

    Inspector Clousseau, I never said I live in Southbridge now. There are surrounding towns you paranoid dope.

  22. John P. FitzgeraldJuly 12, 2011 at 9:37 PM

    PS I'm not in the phonebook because I have a cell phone. You're either a sitting councilor or the Landfill Loudmouth who just won't shut up. Keep trying though. Who the he'll uses a phone book?

  23. We need more "landfill loudmouth's" because the landfill expansion is the most idiotic decision ever made in the history of town, and it has cost almost $75 Million in reduced property values!

    The contract has been violated, and I wish one of the sitting Councilors would do something about it-like evict that Vermont company and hire professionals to run it for US instead of allowing pigs to use it all up in a decade instead of it lasting for two generations.

    I'll give "John P Fitzgerald" (with valid ID) $300 if he shows up at the next town council meeting with a name tag to collect it.

    If John P Fitzgerald exists and is from Southbridge, NOBODY ever heard of him ! Let me guess, you went to private schools too? It is better to use anonymous than a fake name, because some people started to think our football hero is an idiot thanks to some of your posts!

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  25. John P. FitzgeraldJuly 16, 2011 at 6:05 AM

    "John" anonymous, I'll give you $300 to stop talking and go back to Europe--and get a haircut. Your hero was John ROBERT Fitzgerald, not John P. But like most of your landfill "facts", you're wrong. Most people wish they never heard of you, or that you'd return home elsewhere. I don't care if you don't know me, and I don't need your lousy three hundred bucks. Next time the flair goes out, maybe you can use it to bail out someone you do know?

  26. JPF, John Pulawski has been my neighbor for many years and IS from Southbridge-and you have been unable to state one landfill fact that John has presented that was inaccurate. I'd trust JP's knowledge of the landfill contract and the site assignment over the town manager's or health director's any day.

    And the landfill Flair has gone out dozens of times, and there have been dozens of complaints in recent weeks over the vile stench coming from the landfill. The people that implied that JP or Z shut off the flair are liars. They also tried to blame the same failures on one of the board of health members! The crazy conspiracy theories are coming from the town manager's (Carlise & Clark) and the people that made the false report inspired by desperation.

    And apparently you are confusing your anonymous posters. I am a neighbor of John's. and his family has lived here since before WWI. John and his father are also veterans, Your hateful attitude and name calling says it all about you.

  27. Thanks for defending me, but don't be goaded by somebodies imaginary friend. I'd like to say that if anyone actually shut off the landfill flair, the SPD or the State Police would have arrested the saboteur.

    And I did recently accidentally misspeak the last time I was at the Podium-I said that we were promised free trash pick up-but that was inaccurate. We were told we'd get PAID for our discards. In other words, things are even worse than I said they were.

    It should be remembered that without authority of the board of health, the RecycleBank that saved Southbridge residents over a half million a year was cancelled.

    Apparently it is the belief by some in Southbridge leadership that it is better to save the landfill operator $72,000. than to save the residents over $500,000. Only in Southbridge ; )

  28. John P. FitzgeraldJuly 17, 2011 at 6:52 PM

    How in the he'll did Recylclebank save Southbridge a half million dollars? Most of it was never used. That's like saying your credit saved you money with points you never used. Just be silent and go away John.

  29. The people of Southbridge used over $500,000. in Recyclebank coupons during the last twelve months it served our town-even the operator would confirm that. The vast majority of that was cash savings at Big Y.

    Southbridge is the only Town to discontinue Recyclebank. Only 20% of people actually made use of their coupons, but that is because at first people were upset that they would not receive actual cash as originally promised.

    Fitzgerald, you still can't come up with even one inaccurate observation that I have made at the Podium? When you stated that I claimed that individuals took money-that was a ridiculous lie. It is bad enough that the town is taking money, especially for cancer causing contaminated soil !


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