PAYING ATTENTION! with Tom Duggan

Blanchette was Absolutely Right on Padellaro Lawsuit

(editors note: please see follow up column from Feb 08 here)

LAWENCE, MA - A few years ago Assistant City Clerk Jennifer Padellaro made allegations against her (then) boss City Clerk James McGravey. Among other things, she claimed that McGravey was looking at porn on his city computer and shared those sexual images with her.

She claimed McGravey created a hostile work environment and further claimed that the issue was being covered up by members of the Sullivan administration who were friends and political allies of McGravey.

Strangely enough, Padellaro was so emotionally distraught by having seen naked pictures on a computer, and so psychologically damaged by the “hostile work environment” of having to deal with McGravey’s friends in city hall every day, that she ended up applying for McGravey’s job after he resigned in total disgrace.

Whether or not Jim McGravey was guilty of sexual harassment or any of the other allegations made against him is something we will probably never know.

We know something happened of an inappropriate nature in that office, but what we don’t know are the details. Did Padellaro encourage him to behave this way?

Did she participate in said behavior until such time as other city hall workers became aware of it and then threw all the blame on him?

Did she willingly go along and use this little piece of information to get favors from McGravey and his “political friends” in city hall?

Again we will never know. But there were certainly enough public suspicions at the time (long before Padellaro applied for McGravey’s vacant job) that Jennifer Padellaro had set up McGravey because she was next in line to be the City Clerk. Why would a woman who was so emotionally distressed by working in city hall with the friends of her lecherous boss and so psychologically damaged by seeing a naked picture even WANT to be elevated to city clerk where she would have to deal one-on-one with these very same individuals she claimed made her environment “hostile.”

Then, and only then, when City Council President Patrick Blanchette refused to hire her or even recommend her for the city Clerk’s positions, did Padellaro suddenly realize that her work environment was unbearable. So unbearable that she could no longer continue working in city hall and needed to go out on disability, being paid more than $600 per week for staying home.

Besides getting a big fat paycheck every week for doing nothing, Padellaro also filed a Federal lawsuit against the city claiming Blanchette and members of the Sullivan administration retaliated against her by not hiring her in the midst of this whole fiasco.

At the time, Blanchette said that, because it was her complaint that lead to the job vacancy in the city clerk’s office, it would be unwise to then elevate her to that job, especially when investigations were still going on regarding the alleged incidents.

Now, I am no supporter of Patrick Blanchette and I am certainly no defender of the likes of Jim McGravey, but city council president Patrick Blanchette absolutely did the right thing in not hiring Padellaro. It was both responsible and in the best interest of the taxpayers to seek a candidate for the job who was unconnected to the controversy and scandal that rocked city hall for more than a month and still had the potential of lawsuits; both by McGravey and by other city employees in that office.

It is a disgrace that the taxpayers of Lawrence have to foot the bill and pay Padellaro nearly of a million dollars (total) because she was so emotionally damaged by the hostile environment in city hall that she was applying for a job that was, by all definitions, political.

It is even more of a disgrace that the city settled this lawsuit at a time when there is no money in the budget to pay for it, tax hikes are being recommended, water rate increases are being proposed, city employees are being laid off, city services are being reduced, and people who want to work are being sent home for lack of funds.


Tom Duggan is the president of Valley Patriot, Inc., a former Lawrence School Committeeman, and hosts the Paying Attention! Radio Program on WCAP, 980AM, every Saturday afternoon from noon-2pm. You can email your comments to Tdugjr@aol.com .

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January '08 Edition

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