, Newburyport, MA

Local News

October 9, 2013

Apologies sought, but not given in Salisbury dispute

Town manager upset at group's email link to article full of 'falsehoods'

SALISBURY — Town Manager Neil Harrington is offering no apologies after publicly blasting the Salisbury Beach Citizens for Change for sending out an email link to a story he claims was full of lies.

At Monday night’s selectmen’s meeting, SBCC President Tom Saab requested an apology from Harrington as well as the Board of Selectmen for allowing Harrington to criticize his organization at the Sept. 23 board meeting for sending out a link to an article Harrington claims slandered the town and its officials.

In September, Harrington took on an article, published in the Lawrence-based Valley Patriot, and its author for not calling the town before circulating a story carrying what he said were false claims and accusations made by Joyce and Gracemarie Tomaselli. The story related to the sisters’ nearly 20-year legal battle over sewer-related betterment fee issues for their North End Boulevard properties.

Part of that battle culminated in August when Salisbury won a Land Court suit to take the properties for non-payment of more than $250,000 in taxes and fees, although that taking is on hold since Gracemarie Tomaselli filed for bankruptcy on Sept. 30.

In his statement, Harrington also called upon the Salisbury Beach Citizens for Change to repudiate the article sent to its membership, or for Salisbury citizens to disassociate themselves with the organization if it didn’t.

“The people of Salisbury need to know that their local government will not be intimidated by this ongoing campaign of lies by the Tomasellis and their allies,” Harrington said in September, “but will continue to fight for the hard-working taxpayers of this town against the efforts of a small group of self-interested zealots who are trying to mislead them.”

At Monday’s meeting Saab called Harrington to task for reading the statement in public without calling him first to find out if the SBCC sided with the Tomasellis’ claims. Saab considered the action “unethical,” he said. But, Saab added, the SBCC is a forgiving organization and forgives Harrington and the Board of Selectmen for their actions.

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