Ryan Lawsuit Is Politics As Usual
The Lawyers Win, The Ugliness Continues, Salem Loses
By William Legault
A few years ago a political brawl was initiated in Salem over the use of a single word. Sanctuary. One word in a title, that in the context of the document it headed, represented an ideal and not a reality.
Tomorrow Jerry Ryan and his team will appear before a judge in Lawrence in an attempt to continue that brawl by asking for an injunction. The actual document shows clearly the poor preparation that went into its creation as it spells the name of the incoming Ward 6 Councillor Megan Riccardi, and the name of a member of the Salem Board of Registrars incorrectly. If issued this injunction would nullify the Ward 6 city council election. Yes this is a legal right. But being a right does not make it right.
I was at the recount and saw the Board of Registrars do their job and do it well. I watched and listened as the lawyers do what lawyers do best, which is attempt to confuse or obfuscate reality in order to achieve the desired result. Challenges were made by both sides and argued by both sides. In the end the 1 vote margin stood, just as both sides expected, or actually knew it would end.
The single voter in question, who showed up late on election night and was not registered, and was then denied a provisional ballot is not among those who have filed affidavits as a part of this injunction request. This speaks volumes. Instead we have affidavits from others, including the third candidate from this very same election who lost in the September preliminary.
This desperation attempt at a classic Hail Mary pass is built on the flimsiest of possibilities based on possible human error. Questionable signatures on absentee ballots, the possibility of poll workers checking the wrong box or nor checking a box as a voter entered or exited. These are the types of “make work” legal contortions that make lawyers, and in this case a candidate for local office look bad.
All of this for a city council position that comes up for election every two years. I am not buying, and will never buy the “it’s about the principle” argument. It isn’t. This is about one side of the Salem divide against the other. It’s interesting because Jerry Ryan in all reality has never firmly entrenched himself on either side. He surely made some votes over the years that made the anti-Driscoll side very happy. But people should remember that it was Jerry who was the swing vote to build the new senior center on Bridge Street. Putting him back on the council does not guarantee that the Mayor will not have the votes needed for her initiatives.
I served on the council with Jerry. I like Jerry. He was always a good councillor. But I don’t like this business of holding the city hostage for a vendetta. Disappointment and dismay are all I feel here. Disappointment in Jerry and dismay for Salem.
The only true function to this legal action is to continue the fight that began over that one word. Sanctuary. One word in a title, that in the context of the document it headed, represented an ideal and not a reality.
I am embarrassed for my city.