Category Archives: Greater Lowell

Tip O’Neill Announces a Run for Congressional seated being vacated by John F. Kennedy

If you think that the Congress of today has always been this way, well just remember Massachusetts Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill - the way he served, his work ethic and the way he ran the House of Representatives when he was “Mr. Speaker.” A man of the 20th Century,  he believed that government works and should take an active role in fighting poverty and injustice.  A  man with a genius for getting things done, his colleagues elected him as Speaker in both the Massachusetts House and U. S. House of Representatives. At his death in 1994, O’Neill was eulogized as one of the twentieth century’s most gifted politicians but also as a man who never forgot where he came from. As his North Cambridge neighbors said, “His hat still fit.”

Tip O’Neill Announces Run for Congress

On This Day... 

      …in 1952, Thomas P. (“Tip”) O’Neill of Cambridge announced that he would run for the Congressional seat being vacated by John F. Kennedy as Kennedy began a campaign for the Senate. O’Neill had already served seven terms in the state legislature. He would serve in the U.S. Congress for the next 39 years, the last ten as Speaker of the House. An affable man who believed “all politics is local,” O’Neill played an important role in national affairs —supporting civil rights, opposing the Vietnam War, and leading the fight for liberal causes. Although one of the most powerful men in the nation, at his death in 1994, O’Neill was remembered as a man who “never forgot where he came from.”
Speaker O’Neill came to Lowell  to support 5th District Congressman Jim Shannon. He is pictured here at The Speare House circa 1980 with my parents Jim and Marie Kirwin (and me).

Tewksbury Town Elections Results Are In ~ Selissen New Town Moderator!

Only the position of Town Moderator was challenged in the Tewksbury Town elections today. Incumbent Board of Selectman member Doug Sears and former Board of Selectman member – and former Chair – Jerry Selissen vied for the open position. Selissen was leading Sears in precincts 1/1A, 2/2A and  4/4A  with a count of 631 to 466. When 3/3A finally came in –  the final count saw  Selissen  at a total of 885 votes in a victory over  Sears at a total of 640 (corrected number) .  The turn-out at 1571 of the 21,098 registered voters - about  7 %  – was a poor town-wide showing.

Bruce Panilaitis will take a seat on the Board of Selectmen.  Vinny Fratalia will take the open seat on the Planning Board. Panilaitis and Fratalia were actively involved last summer in the successful grass roots NO SLOTS effort – pitted against the unanimous support of all members of the Board of Selectmen. Brian Dick was re-elected to the School Committee, two incumbents  Patrick Joyce and Robert Homeyer  were re-elected to the Library Board of Trustees, incumbent Charles Roux to the Board of Health and incumbent Louise Gearty to the Housing  Authority.

Congratulations to Jerry Selissen, Bruce Panilaitis, Vinny Fratalia and all the other winners in Tewksbury. More analysis later.

Vinny Fratalia, Jerry Selissen, Bruce Panilaitis  at their joint post-election victory celebration at the Tewkbury CC last evening. (Photo courtesy of Lorna Garey of the TDTC)

Greater Lowell Area Democrats (GLAD) To Meet Tomorrow ~ Saturday March 15, 2014

Reminder ~ the next GLAD Meeting is tomorrow /  SATURDAY!


The next regular breakfast meeting of Greater Lowell Area  Democrats (GLAD ) will be tomorrow  Saturday March 15, 2014 at 8:00 AM SHARP! in our usual location in the Independence Grill at the Radisson Hotel Rte. 110 in Chelmsford. (Some members may be leaving to attend Paul Sheehy’s funeral in Lowell so we will move the speaking program and agenda expeditiously.)

Four 2014 candidates are scheduled to attend, speak and take questions. For AG Warren Tolman; for Middlesex DA Michael Sullivan: for Lieutentant Governor Jonathan Edwards and James Arena-DeRosa. Other candidates may join us as well.

AGENDA: The regular agenda will include: the report of the Chair; Ad Hoc event committee first report;  delegate caucuses update;  candidate updates for the 2014 Constitutional and other races; activities of Democratic State Committee; 2014 nominating convention updates and other topics on the minds of GLAD members, associates and guests.

Senator Barry Finegold - candidate for State Treasurer – has rescheduled for the March 15 GLAD meeting.
Please join us at this meeting of area Democrats.
For more information:

In the Merrimack Valley ~ Mayor Rivera Awards an Ambulance Contract

Ambulance contacts continue to be a  thorny issue in the Merrimack Valley. Some area communities like Andover and my own in Tewksbury have 911 emergency ambulance services covered by the local fire department. Others like Chelmsford and Lowell use a private contractor. In recent years, the Lowell City Manager  has negotiated a fee to be paid to the city. Not so in Lawrence where until a few days ago the city used a private, well-known area contractor. New Mayor Rivera has hired Lawrence General Hospital to provide ambulance services wanting to ”strengthen the hospital’s standing in the region” as it ramps up plans for a $72 million expansion and to end what he describes as the “impropriety’’ that hung over the  service  under the administration of former Mayor William Lantigua. One charge had ambulances being sent out of the country in a tit-for-tat Lantigua arrangement.

Rivera’s transition team recommended that the city would get quicker, better service and a financial benefit from allowing the city’s fire department to do the work. But Rivera has chosen a different path with Lawrence General. The new provider LGH will also not pay a fee to the city. Swirling through this action are recorded political contributions to both Lantigua and Rivera, political connections as a former state rep is hired as the ambulance provider’s lobbyist and the Mayor’s pledge that doing business with the city of Lawrence will be different than in the past.

Patriot Ambulance based in Chelmsford used to provide the ambulance service and owners have recently engaged the lobbying services of former State Rep David Torrisi.  Of note ~ Rivera’s highly respected Chief of Staff is Lisa Torrisi – the new lobbyist’s sister.

Stay tuned -  with “no comment” yet from Lawrence General, Patriot or Torrisi, there may be more to come.

Eagle-Tribune writer Keith Eddings lays out the story … read it here:

Changes in my North Tewksbury Neighborhood

Every morning as I prepare my Facebook weather comments, I open my front door, look around and get a feel for the conditions in my immediate neighborhood. This morning I had a clear view of the white wood clapboarded Baptist Church on the corner at Andover Street at the top of the hill in our North Tewksbury neighborhood. What I have known for forty-three years of living here as the Winthrop and Elsie Fitzgerald home has been completely razed. The home of weathered dark brown wood with an attached garage or small barn sat closely adjacent to the church – looking almost a part of the property.

For weeks now the inside has been gutted, picked clean of what was once the Jonas Clark home and historic property -  built in 1820. The Tewksbury historic properties list of the Massachusetts Cultural Resources Inventory notes it was built in the Federal style and its usage as a “General Retail Store;  Post Office; Single Family Dwelling House” and its location as “North Parish – North Tewksbury.” The church acquired the property a few years ago and while some rooms were used briefly for church business and perhaps for residential living, the home continued to deteriorate. While not quite an eyesore, it certainly became a shaky property. The current pastor and church board felt that the time had come for the home to come down.

The neighborhood continues to be a wonderful place to live even as many changes have come to these environs. Many more homes – many more recently in the mini-mansion style  -have been built especially closer to River Road. Traffic levels are high as the street is a serious crossroad between River Road and Andover Street or what many know as Route 133. The commercialization of North Tewksbury has come gradually especially between North Street and the on-ramps to Route 495 – the Mobil station, Cracker Barrel, other eateries, hotels, and the office complexes. Plans and concept proposals are on the table for more changes. This past summer the gaming/SLOTS push for the beautiful Ames Pond Road area became a point where residents put their collective foot down and pushed back.

But whatever more comes to the area – the iconic church, the old red schoolhouse, the newer school, the gracious historic homes, the newer residences continue to be the focus of the neighborhood – all backed by the closeness to the Merrimack River, the connective way of River Road, the staid seminary and the bucolic feel of St. Mary’s Cemetery and even the rolling waves and ridges of the golf course. I’m keeping my eye out every morning checking for the weather conditions but ever mindful of what other conditions need checking as well. More coming on my North Tewksbury neighborhood!

An update ~ here is my view from a few houses down of the 20 Fiske Street  ”Clark-Fitzgerald” home site at just before noon today. Debris removal and tree work is underway.

Photo: Site work is in full swing at the Clark-Fitzgerald home site at 20 Fiske Street this morning. It's a real dust-up as debris is removed and trees are felled and cleared away. I expect an unobstructed view of the Baptist Church by later today!

In the Merrimack Valley ~ Democratic Caucus Politics

The air in the Merrimack Valley is electric with political static these days. Of note is the open window of opportunity for candidates looking for a spot on the September Democratic primary ballot. Since February 8th and through March 2nd, across the Valley and across the Commonwealth delegates seats for the June 13-14 Democratic Party convention are up for election. These delegates – as well as some ex-officos and some add-ons – will validate and endorse candidates for our Constitutional offices. Vigorous courting, soft reminders of past commitments, connecting to issues, mutual colleagues, family, friends even alums are part of the strategies of this political process. The Merrimack Valley continues to be a “hot spot” for the primary push. The caucuses that I attended in Tewksbury and the ward caucuses in Lowell and Lawrence were well-attended and boasted of old faces and new. They were the focus of most state-wide candidates as evidenced by the line-up waiting to speak at the Lowell High cafeteria last week, and the density of campaign workers knotted at the doors of the Tewksbury Library Community Room and the Lawrence  Firefighter’s Hall “Relief-In” yesterday. Caucuses are a great opportunity to collect signatures – also a very critical part of the process! Delegate counts are being taken; campaigns are calculating percentages; pundits are prognosticating; columnists are critical, curious and whiney. Notwithstanding, the whacks of Glober Joan Venocchi and the quizzical frowns of other observers, the process – occasionally tweaked – works for Democrats and for this democratic political process. Any Democrat in good-standing can play!

In Tewksbury:

In Lawrence:

In Lowell:

Coming to Tewksbury ~ Bestselling romantic suspense author Suzanne Brockmann


The Tewksbury Public Library and the Friends of the Tewksbury Library bring yet another author of note to the Library as part of an ongoing series. This Thursday February 20, 2014 – best selling romantic suspense author Suzanne Brockmann will discuss her latest book “Do or Die” – part of her Reluctant Heroes series - and take question from the audience. Seating is limited and registration is required! Of note: Suzanne Brockmann - a graduate of Boston University - lives outside of Boston with her husband and children.  More details on the events below…

It’s our biggest author visit in a decade, since Jodi Picoult!  This Thursday, February 20 at 7pm, enjoy an evening with Suzanne Brockman, one of the country’s leading romantic suspense writers, as she discusses her latest novel, Do or Die.  Q&A and book selling/signing will follow the talk.  Refreshments will be served.  Sponsored by the Friends of the Tewksbury Public Library.  Limited to 100 seats.  Reserve your seat by calling 978-640-4490 x 205, emailing, or registering HERE.

Suzanne Brockmann is the New York Times bestselling author of 53 novels.  Since her explosion onto the publishing scene twenty years ago, Suz is now widely recognized as one of the leading voices in romantic suspense.  Her work has earned her repeated appearances on the USA Today and New York Times bestseller lists, as well as numerous awards, including Romance Writers of America’s #1 Favorite Book of the Year (three years running), two RITA Awards, and many Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Awards.

Greater Lowell Area Democrats (GLAD) To Meet ~ Saturday February 15, 2014

Reminder ~ the next GLAD Meeting this coming  SATURDAY!

The next regular breakfast meeting of Greater Lowell Area  Democrats (GLAD ) will be this coming  Saturday February 15, 2014 at 8:00 AM SHARP! back in our usual location in the Independence Grill at the Radisson Hotel Rte. 110 in Chelmsford.

Please join us at this meeting of area Democrats.
For more information:

AGENDA: The regular agenda will include: the report of the Chair; the financial report; the delegate caucuses update; report of the By-Laws committee; candidate updates for the 2014 Constitutional and other races; activities of Democratic State Committee; 2014 nominating convention updates and other topics on the minds of GLAD members, associates and guests.

No particular candidates are expected at this meeting – most are attending the town/ward caucuses. There will be five candidates at the March 15 GLAD meeting.
*Note:  The Lowell Democratic ward caucuses are scheduled for 11am this Saturday at the Lowell high School cafeteria – the GLAD meeting will begin on time so members may get to Lowell!
Elected officials, candidates and their representatives are welcome to join us! Please advise the Chair.