Lenghazi Is Upon Us, Folks, Buckle Up

So by now everyone and their mom has heard that our police chief, Saugus native Lenny Campanello, has been suspended while an investigation takes place. Lenny is known mostly for his innovative approach to heroin addiction and subsequent founding of PAARI, which has literally saved dozens of lives and is spreading compassionate treatment instead of locking up addicts. The Clam folk were really taken aback by this, as most of us across the city  were. We’re no stranger to the issues between law enforcement and the citizens they police, and we prided ourselves on having a caring, nonjudgemental, decent local police force. And now, the media trucks are surrounding our downtown, and it’s a huge goddamn letdown for all of us who care so much about this town and were just so, so tired of scandals and negative stories about Gloucester.

"It's JRM's problem now, suckers!" - Hiltz, probably.

“It’s JRM’s problem now, suckers!” – Hiltz, probably.

We like(d) Lenny, but this investigation is serious business. The initial knee-jerk reaction by a lot of people is that it was a “witch hunt” and no one should say anything until more comes out, and that people including the mayor just don’t like him and are stringing him up on false charges. Because Lenny could do no wrong, obvi. I can see why people believe that – he’s literally, again, saved lives. He’s changed an entire way of thinking. He has done a lot of good for the entire dingdang nation.

But it’s getting more clear that he did something wrong, or at least the very serious appearance of such. This isn’t a light discussion on his personal life. The probe will be led by a firm outside the city. He’s stepped down temporarily from PAARI. He seems genuinely concerned for a dude that claims to be real unconcerned. Well, his lawyer is speaking on his behalf now, for what it’s worth. A Sgt. Detective has also been placed on leave that may or may not be related, and the department is now in the hands of the fourth-in-charge, which at this point is just the guy who cleans the place on weekends when the normal custodian plays in a ska band.

BASICALLY THE CITY RIGHT NOW

BASICALLY THE CITY RIGHT NOW

And so the rumors have started flying. Since all of that is just it – rumors – there isn’t really much for any local media to go on and nobody’s saying jack shit on record, for good reason.  So we’ll just list them all here, in order of likelihood, or in no particular order. Who even knows. Most are probably vast conspiracy theories. Don’t trust us to get it right.

 

  • Lenny had an affair with a woman or was dating a woman shortly after leaving his wife and it went sour and there might be some domestic issues there. The former part isn’t a huge secret and may not even be a problem. I mean, shit happens, that’s barely enough to ruin somebody’s weekend these days. He may have done nothing untoward at all. But the latter part, if there was any truth to it, would be career ending. It may be something where the truth is never really known, because of the positions of power involved. 
  • Lenny drove drunk and crashed his car or someone else’s and there was some shenanigans. Well, it’s a theory floating around, that’s for sure, but one with no evidence. Again, however,  It would be career ending as well. I just assumed if you lived in Saugus you were contractually obligated to drink seven bud lights at a chain restaurant and bomb down the right lane all the way to fahkin’ Peabody, guy.
  • He was paying himself for time he wasn’t working, or was working at PAARI, or some other not-okay situation that doesn’t involve being a total asshole but still isn’t cool. 
  • He went to Midori for lunch buffet and totally used his hands to get bonelesss spareribs.
  • He wore crocs and socks for an entire work week.
  • He is personally responsible for why they tore down everything you love on Route 1.
  • 1983-1998- didn’t rewind. Once.
  • Had Star Wars Marathon. Started with Phantom Menace.
  • Walked his dog on Good Harbor Beach in the summer and didn’t pick up his dog poop.

Obviously, this is a big thing. And we like to cut the obvious tense moods with humor. We really liked Lenny, but this could be something that makes him not a good guy. And we may have to separate our feelings for what Lenny has done for our community and beyond from the actual human that the chief is. It’s sad, but the first thing I thought of when I saw the million “he couldn’t have done it!” comments was the similar sentiment that came out directly after Bill Cosby’s allegations. It is inherently hard for us to believe that someone we respected could be a bad guy.

For the record, your beloved The Clam recommends strongly never to put another human being on a pedestal, unrelated to this incident. Human beings, although capable of tremendous greatness are also The Worst. Trust us on this.

And we all hope he isn’t The Worst. While we joke – we don’t want to lose faith in the people whom we trust to impartially, and fairly, lead our city. It’s a huge disappointment to ourselves, our kids… it just sucks. If he is guilty of something, PAARI will continue without him. It’s a great organization run by phenomenal people. We know this.

So until further notice, I guess we all hope it’s that he really loves grabbing crab rangoons with his meaty chief hands.

 

 

 

A not incredibly detailed set of reasons for voting to elect Ed O’Reilly for Sheriff on Thursday

YES THURSDAY. SEPTEMBER 8

So we’re on a bit of a hiatus as we try and get our respective lives in order here at your beloved Clam. But civic duty calls and when the eleventy-fifth person asked us, “Who in the name of blessed Varda Elentári in her Great Hall of Ilmarin should I vote for to become Essex County Sheriff?” (and the denizens of the Clamiverse do talk like this, by the way) we decided it was our responsibility to find out who the best candidate is.

This turns out to have been a huge fucking mistake. There are more people running for Essex County Sheriff than can fit comfortably in a CATA bus. The big, new one. And the whole race is a total shitshow. Trust us, dear readers, you don’t want to dive into this mess without a gallon of absinthe and that tin full of flaky remainders of those hallucinogenic toadskins the weird old Najavo dude sold us on that aborted trip to the proto Burning Man festival in 1991.

But we rocked that turtle-neck-tweed combo pretty hard, as I remember

We rocked that turtle-neck-tweed combo pretty hard, as I remember

Here is just a sample of what we found:

  • One of the candidates running as a Democrat does not seem to have been a Democrat since before May.
  • One of the candidates will draw a pension from another government job while doing this government job, which we guess is cool since he earned it, but wow.
  • Some of the candidates are already managers of the corrections system and some are taking thousand-dollar-plus donations from their employees, which is also wow.
  • One of the candidates when asked about re-creating a similar effort to Gloucester’s Angel program in Lynn said something on the order of “addicts in Lynn don’t want to get clean,” and now his defenders say he was taken out of context which I can only believe if the statement before was, “A totally dipshit thing to say would be…”
  • One of them is apparently driving around in a truck with NH plates, as one does here in MA.
  • A bunch of the candidates want to privatize the corrections health care system, which is a mistake we’ll talk about in a second.
  • And other stuff. Lots and lots of other stuff.
  • Feel free to wade into this shallow pool of derp yourself and figure out who the best one is. Or do what I’m doing and vote for Ed O’Reilly on Thursday.

YES, ON THURSDAY

Did you know there was a primary on Thursday? There is. So go to your voting place and vote.

Ok, so Ed. I’ve seen him around the scene for a couple of decades now. First of all, he’s not an employee of the corrections system. He comes at this job from the other direction, from the people the system is set-up to serve.

Yes, serve. The corrections system is a service. It serves us, the public by carrying out the sentences handed out by juries and judges and it serves the people in the corrections system by offering them a safe and hopefully rehabilitory experience.

Like these guys, who when they get out will be the hottest flashmob talent money can buy

Like these guys, who when they get out will be the hottest flashmob talent money can buy

“Screw them, they committed crimes,” you might think. But you would be oh-so-wrong. Regardless of how you feel about what makes people commit crimes (and if the Gloucester Police Notes are any guide, the answer is: Being within 500′ of the Maplewood 7/11) folks caught up in the corrections system are not going away. Most of them are only going to be in jail for a short while, the average sentence is about 3.5 years. So if they go in and don’t get some kind of treatment, skills training, education, or something to prepare them for a normal life outside the walls, then they are going to be back in our towns and neighborhoods causing problems and costing the system more. So you’d better hope the system serves them and well.

Which brings us to the privatization issue. Private companies want to save money. The way they do this is by minimizing expenses. These companies make more profit if the people in their care for a few years don’t get diagnosed and treated for chronic issues. And then these folks get back outside where the public and private systems have to deal with them at much higher cost. Good call in opposing this Ed, because it’s dumbass.

As I said, Ed has been around for a bunch of years. I see him at all the right things, public service events, education events and so on. His angle at the Sheriff gig is coming from the right direction, and as we’ve learned with the Angel program- focusing on the people with the problem rather than the massive public edifice we’ve built to contain it and only ever winds up perpetuating it, is the right approach in my book.

But my last reason to vote for him is the most Clamtastic. I was cranking down a portion of my daily hogshead of coffee at Pleasant Street one day when Ed walked in. Being an obnoxious wag, I said, “Ed, if you’re running for sheriff, you should dress like one. You know, hat, chaps, the whole deal.”

Or, as the Clam crowd would no doubt prefer, go all "Sheriff of Nottingham"

Or, as the Clam crowd would no doubt prefer, go all “Sheriff of Nottingham”

He brushed by me toward the people he was meeting and without missing a beat and said, “I save that for the bedroom.”

Huzzah, good sir. You have my vote.