Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Southbridge’s Rogue Regime

Ken O’Brien
John Adams famously observed that a republic is “a government of laws, and not of men.”
This view was subsequently enshrined in the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780. Article XXX of the Bill of Rights states:
“Art. XXX. In the government of this commonwealth, the legislative department shall never exercise the executive and judicial powers, or either of them; the executive shall never exercise the legislative and judicial powers, or either of them; the judicial shall never exercise the legislative and executive powers, or either of them; to the end it may be a government of laws, and not of men. “
At January 23rd’s meeting of the Southbridge Town Council, the ruling majority threw this concept out the window

At issue was agenda item number 11, ““Vote to approve the utilization of $3,000 from the “Grow Southbridge Fund” for the Southbridge-Downtown Partnership Event on May 31, 2012.”
Foremost among the issues raised by councilor Laurent R. McDonald was a statement by an official of the Secretary of State’s office that the Southbridge Downtown Partnership was not in good standing with that office.
Ronald Chernisky, President of the Downtown Partnership, was adamant in maintaining that this was not the case and that documentation could be provided to the contrary.
Councilor McDonald nevertheless moved to postpone action until such documentation could be provided as well as evidence of a vote by the Partnership’s Board of Directors pledging the remaining $7,000 intended for the project and a supporting line item budget.
Led by acting chair councilor Clemence, the majority voted six to two to defeat councilor McDonald’s motion and inherently accept Mr. Chernisky’s claim of being in good standing.
In doing so, councilor Clemence directly contradicted her prior conduct when a similar issue arose relating to the certificate of good standing from the Secretary of State for a business owned by the Lazo family and appointments to the Liquor Licensing Board
In an earlier article on this blog it was noted that:
“On Friday, June 24th, the Worcester T & G published an article by Brian Lee entitled, Southbridge bar’s status raises doubts - Lazo pins tiff on politics.  The article mentions a key element in the timeline of events ‘On a related note, and at the suggestion of Councilor Denise Clemence, councilors on Monday delayed reappointing Bruce W. Newlands and alternate Michael Daniels to the liquor board, saying they wanted to examine the board’s handling of Mr. Lazo’s license.’….What was made clear during the Liquor Licensing Board meeting of 6/22 was that Mr. Lazo had a valid Certificate of Good Standing and his corporation had been exonerated by the Town Treasurer of any tax delinquency status that could jeopardize his license renewal.”
So the councilor was willing to hold up appointments to a town board over questions of a certificate of good standing, but in Mr. Chernisky’s case she felt it was OK to grant the use of town money without any such validation. Her acolytes on the council fell dutifully in line as they have in the past.
It is of additional interest to note that the filing of the Downtown Partnership’s list of officers and directors with the Secretary of State’s office for 2010 lists among its directors Sandy Acly, the current Director of the Department of Economic Development and Planning. Her appointment as a director at the time of that filing was stated to continue through November of 2011.
As I pointed out in yesterday’s article Hand in Glovernment, on January 4th, Ms. Acly, acting in her official capacity, sent a memo to the town manager recommending that this funding request be approved.
Additionally, Ms. Acly appeared at the podium during the council meeting advocating approval of the funding request.
Of final note is the fact that records from the State Office of Campaign Finance indicate contributions by sitting councilors to Mr. Chernisky’s 2006 campaign for State Representative. Among those were $500 from councilor Denise Clemence, $125 from councilor David Langevin and $50 from councilor Darlene Marcucci.
While there is nothing improper about these contributions, it nevertheless raises questions about how Mr. Chernisky and his Partnership were treated given the prior treatment of the Lazo family, not to mention the delay in the appointment of recommended candidates to the Liquor Licensing Board.
In yesterday’s article I also noted how interesting it was that this event was being scheduled so close to the annual town election. That takes on additional significance when you realize that it is only three days after Memorial Day. Just how many of the truly influential people the event purports to plan to attract are likely to be available for this soiree at that time?


  1. More importantly, where's his business plan showing a) who he intends to attract to this "event", b) how many businesses will come, c) what the objective of a person coming to this meeting will be, i.e. do they expect them to up and re-locate to the non-existent dump/park?, d) what is their measure of success?, and e) will they be publicly disclosing the cost/benefit of this event, complete with receipts?

    My guess, as you so well point out, is that this is strictly political before the election, so they can say "look at me!". The good news, holding this on a Thursday heading into a Holiday week will be a bust, but the transparency of their allegiance to Chernisky and disdain for the Lazo's, and Clemence's hypocrisy, is evident to all.

    In the elections in June, let's try to make Sturbridge home to Clemence, Livengood, and Spinelli. We need the break from them as much as they need it from us.

  2. Stephanie DeMartinoJanuary 24, 2012 at 8:51 PM

    Unreal!!Can Southbridge become anymore corrupt. I mean honestly Denise! Really? You obviously DID Not take notes this past year!

  3. C'mon kids, who are you going to believe? Mr. Cherinsky or the Secretary of State's office who obviously got it all wrong! Gosh I believe in this crazy council and want to see signs that read, "Let Casella and the Southbridge Town Council Force You To Make Southbridge Home!" God Bless America and the Southbridge Way.

  4. so this "event" will take place the day before the one year anniversary of a devastating tornado ripping through the town....hmmm....i can think of a better way to spend the "town's" money.

  5. I suppose Chris will say he was bullied into supporting this.

  6. At what point will the voters of this town realize what
    a mess the town council is and revert to a 5 member board
    of selectmen with a town administrator to run the day to
    day operations. we (taxpayers) can not afford the current
    town manager and his "totally out of control" spending and
    the back door politics in this town. the town council is
    starting to make the United State Congress look good.


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