Welcome to a very special — by which I mean I expect to see a lot angry of e-mails come Monday – edition of the column.
Over the past few weeks a person writing under the pseudonym “Mercy Otis” for CapeCodToday.com has posted several challenges to State Representative Jeffrey D. Perry (R – Sandwich) to “come clean” about an incident from his past – specifically from his time as a Wareham police officer.
These challenges have come with only vague allusions to the incident in question and, it seems, the writer wants Rep. Perry to fill in all the details himself. He has thus far declined.
Well, here’s the story, as (I say immodestly) I first reported on it in 2002, back when Rep. Perry was first running for the Legislature. The information is taken from extensive court documents provided to me in October 2002 by – guess what? – an anonymous source and enhanced by Rep. Perry’s own recollections as told to me in an in-person interview.
(This is the super-condensed version, so if you want to check out the original full story, go show your library some love and check out the October 22, 2002 issue of the Sandwich Enterprise on microfilm. And no, I won’t send you a copy.)
On New Year’s Eve 2002, a Wareham PD patrolman named Scott Flanagan approached then 16-year-old Heather Adams as she was preparing to light a joint in front of a Wareham convenience store. He took her behind the store and ordered her to drop her pants and lift up her shirt. A neighbor interrupted this, and Flanagan made a veiled threat against Adams to keep her quiet.
Flanagan called then-Sergeant Perry, the shift supervisor on duty, to the scene and gave him a different account of what happened.
Flanagan was fired following a rapid internal investigation. Criminal charges were later filed, and in November 1993 he was convicted on multiple offenses (including indecent assault and battery on a child over 14) and went to jail for four years. The family won a subsequent civil suit against the town.
Then-Sgt. Perry was not, according to court documents, present during the incident, he was never charged with any crime himself, nor was he ever disciplined for anything. He was originally named in the civil suit, but later dropped from it. He left the department in July 1993 in good standing and opened a convenience store.
How and why is this relevant now? Is it relevant? Some would say yes, it’s absolutely relevant; Rep. Perry is running for Congress now and should be held to very high standards of character and conduct. If he has done anything wrong in the past, it should be brought to light.
Others would say no, that the past is in the past, and to now dredge up a closed chapter in his life, which ended with no clearly damning proof of complicity, is nothing more than cheap mudslinging by those who don’t want to see a Republican — or at the very least, Rep. Perry specifically – claim the seat currently held by the retiring William D. Delahunt (D).
Neither “Mercy Otis” nor Rep. Perry are entirely in the right here. “Mercy” should have laid out specific accusations rather than engaging in rumor and innuendo, which makes his/her motivations feel shady, even cowardly; and instead of being evasive, Rep. Perry should have presented this info himself and cut the rumor mill off at the knees, lest he give people a reason to think he is hiding something.
As for the question of relevancy? Well, that’s why I present this information here now: to let the voters decide if it’s relevant – just as this paper did in 2002, when the voters considered the facts and made up their own minds.
Need I point out that with all this in mind, voters chose to support Rep. Perry’s candidacy and voted him into office, and over a three-term incumbent?
We now return to your regularly scheduled parade of dumb jokes and obscure pop-culture references.
Two key deadlines have passed for candidates: April 27 for candidates for district and county-level offices to submit their completed nomination papers, May 4 for federal and statewide offices.
This means we can officially declare that five people of note are running unopposed in 2010, barring a last-minute write-in candidacy: James M. Cummings, Barnstable County sheriff; Michael D. O’Keefe, Cape and Islands district attorney; William Doherty, Barnstable County commissioner; State Representative Timothy R. Madden (D – Nantucket), and – and this is the stunner – Martha Coakley, Massachusetts’ attorney general.
Over the next two weeks, as registrars of voters certify signatures, we’ll know if anyone else gets a free pass due to their opponent failing to collect enough valid signatures. The person most likely to go bye-bye: Grace C. Ross, Democratic candidate for governor.
Ms. Ross, who jumped ship from the Green-Rainbow Party to challenge Deval L. Patrick for the Democratic nomination, was uncertain whether she’d collected enough signatures to make it onto the primary ballot. Don’t be surprise if she falls short and drops out of the running.
Speaking of Mr. O’Keefe, he is holding in Falmouth on Monday a spring reception as part of his re-election campaign. That’ll be at the Nobska House from 5:30 to 7:30 PM, and campaign donations will be accepted.
Senate President Therese M. Murray (D – Plymouth), who stopped by the Enterprise this week to chat with the editorial board, will officially launch her re-election campaign next Thursday, May 20 with two events. The local kick-off event will be held at The Brookside Club in Bourne from 7 to 9 PM, and it’s open to the public.
State Representative Demetrius J. Atsalis (D – Barnstable) launches his re-election campaign next week – Monday, to be precise – at Tommy Doyle’s Irish Pub. That event runs from 5:30 to 7:30 PM. For more information call 508-771-5422.
Also, Rep. Atsalis’s new website is now up and running at www.electatsalis.org. It’s kind of “meh” at present but I’m told by Rep. Atsalis more content will be coming soon.
This is an interesting fundraiser: State Representative Susan D. William Gifford (R – Wareham) is combining her 10th wedding anniversary with her re-election campaign at an event at the Bay Pointe Country Club in Onset.
Anyway, the event is Wednesday, May 26 from 6 to 8:30 PM, and you can attend for a suggested donation of $25. RSVP by next Friday by calling 508-295-5999.
Back to the Congressional race for a minute. Joseph D. Malone continues to add to his really unimpressive list of endorsements with the announcement that Robert Kraus, a Kingston state rep. between 1989 and 1996, is supporting his campaign.
Joe. Baby. How about getting a nod from someone who hasn’t been out of politics as long as you’ve been?
Ah, but credit where it’s due: Mr. Malone chose Falmouth to launch his “Joe’s on the Job Tour” of locally owned businesses across the state. He hit Fucillo Ready Mix and The Clam Man to make his first stops, which marks the first time he’s visited the region since starting up his campaign. It’ll be interesting to see how he tries to counter Rep. Perry’s hometown advantage.
James Henderson, unenrolled candidate for Secretary of the Commonwealth, has launched his official campaign website at www.jimforsoc.com. It’s a starter site so there’s not much on it, but it’s there.
And Finally, Charles D. Baker Jr., Republican candidate for governor, was down on the Cape last week, marking his – and this is a rough guess – 99th visit to the region since January. One more and he earns a free pizza from Paul’s and a “Cape Cod Canal Tunnel Permit” bumper sticker.
I mention this because, so far, Mr. Baker is the only gubernatorial candidate to make any appreciable effort to get down here and do some serious campaigning. Gov. Patrick has popped up once or twice for official purposes, Green-Rainbow candidate Jill E. Stein has visited once, and Timothy P. Cahill has been a total no-show.
Granted, these other three folks have jobs while Baker’s only job right now appears to be campaigning full-time, but Cape Cod often gets overlooked by candidates in statewide races, so it’s nice that someone is putting in some face time.
Political news and announcements may be sent to Michael Bailey, Region editor and senior political reporter, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tags: 10th Congressional district, 2010 election, Bill Delahunt, Charlie Baker, Demetrius Atsalis, Governor Deval Patrick, Jeff Perry, Jill Stein, Jim Cummings, Joe Malone, Martha Coakley, Michael O'Keefe, Senate President Therese Murray, State Representative - 2nd Barnstable, Susan Williams Gifford, Tim Cahill, Tim Madden
The views and opinions in the Enterprise blogs are those of the author and are not neccessarily shared by Falmouth Publishing.