Fitzgerald Blasts Bettencourt for 'Exaggerating' His Role in Firm, City Council

Fitzgerald fired off a critique of opponent Bettencourt Wednesday, claiming he's embellishing his record as part of campaign for mayor. Bettencourt fires back that latest just more misinformation from Fitzgerald.

The Fitzgerald campaign let loose a broadside Wednesday afternoon, criticizing opponent Ted Bettencourt for exaggerating his role in the workplace and on the council floor.

Sean Fitzgerald said Bettencourt has done this consistently during recent debates between the two mayoral candidates, in news stories and in all manner of campaign literature.

“My opponent has made the unfortunate choice to attempt to belittle my record of experience and leadership. That being the case, he has opened up his own record to greater scrutiny and it is my sincere belief that Peabody voters will look at the facts and make an informed decision on how he is overstating his record,” said Fitzgerald in a press release.

'Local business owner'

Fitzgerald pointed first to , dealing with many of the same challenges facing other small businesses in Peabody.

Fitzgerald noted Bettencourt is not listed as a partner at his firm, but rather “of counsel” at , which could mean a few things, but is a “big stretch” from being a business owner. Fitzgerald added to the critique the fact that Bettencourt has received health insurance from the city since entering office in 2004 for what is – technically speaking – a part-time job. That health plan costs taxpayers more than $17,000 per year at current rates.

Fitzgerald argued that most successful business owners pay for their own health insurance.

“The public deserves to know, especially when my opponent claims to have the concern of the taxpayers at heart – actions speak louder than words,” he said.

The Bettencourt campaign fired back through a press statement of its own Wednesday evening.

“Sean continues his campaign strategy to misinform and mislead voters. It’s sad to see. Either he doesn’t do his homework and doesn’t make the effort to find the truth, or he knows the facts and chooses to distort them to deceive voters. Either way, the voters deserve more respect from someone running for mayor,” said Bettencourt.

As for being a business owner, he has been a partner at since 2003, Bettencourt said. He simply stepped back from partnership and set up a separate practice within the firm last year when he decided to run for mayor. He added that he documented all this in his campaign filing with the Secretary of State’s office.

“My opponent may not understand what constitutes owning a private business as he has made a whole career out of jumping from one public payroll to another,” Bettencourt said.

In regard to health insurance, Bettencourt’s statement simply noted he takes the insurance offered to all city employees and elected officials.

A leader on the council?

Fitzgerald also took aim at Bettencourt’s work on city budgets over eight years and his involvement with improving the city’s bond rating and ensuring greater transparency in local government.

“After reviewing the public record, it is difficult to describe these claims as anything but gross exaggerations,” Fitzgerald said.

Attempting to offer some , Bettencourt had noted he worked on eight years of city budgets that now exceed $130 million and dwarf the small town budgets of Plaistow, N.H.

The City Council, however, typically only holds two Finance Committee meetings on the budget each year – sessions that involve the mayor and department heads explaining the proposed budget and fielding questions from councilors. The budget is then voted on at the council’s next regular session, often that same week, which Fitzgerald pointed out.

He noted Bettencourt – one of 11 councilors – has never voted against one of the mayor’s budgets, nor offered any line items to cut, despite claiming to scrutinize the budget line-by-line. Bettencourt has served in the past as Finance Committee Chairman.

In contrast, Fitzgerald argued he has created budgets and has had to live within them in his role as a town manager for three years.

In his response, Bettencourt merely noted that Peabody has a strong mayor form of government under which the council can only approve or cut funds. He said he has “scrutinized” each budget and a councilor cannot add or shift funds from one line item to another. Fitzgerald, however, didn’t imply that he could.

In regards to rescuing the city’s bond rating, Bettencourt did chair a special panel to review finance and reserve policy, but the full council never adopted the recommendation from the committee and neither did the city ever formally adopt a reserve policy, argues Fitzgerald. He added that Moody’s Investors has never cited the work of any city councilors in its annual reports with improving the city’s bond rating in the five years since that initial policy review.

In his defense, Bettencourt points to an excerpt from a story published in the Peabody Weekly News in 2006 in which Mayor Michael Bonfanti was quoted giving credit to Bettencourt and the other councilors on the committee for crafting a reserve fund policy.

“Under Ted’s leadership, they worked to come up with a plan that recognized the need to boost reserves and to strengthen the bond rating,” Bonfanti was quoted as saying in the article.

In his statement, Bettencourt did not respond to Fitzgerald’s last criticism of his role in ensuring greater transparency in local government in regards to complying with the state’s Open Meeting Law.

The special council committee Bettencourt chaired only met once in October and never issued any recommendations to the full council, Fitzgerald said. He added that the committee’s minutes for that one meeting show the initial concern Bettencourt had relating to the Zoning Board of Appeals wasn’t even discussed.

“I’d ask the voters to examine our records and choose based upon real experience and results,” Fitzgerald said.

Bettencourt, calling Fitzgerald’s critiques a “barrage of misinformation,” said he is confident more important concerns to Peabody taxpayers will take precedent over these in the candidates’ next debate on Oct. 20.

Jen Leavitt October 14, 2011 at 02:04 AM
Fitzgerald's the worst, Ted's the best, end of story!!!
Sean C. McCarty October 14, 2011 at 02:20 AM
I have known Ted for many years. He know him as the person Larry described with very redeeming qualities. Everyone I know feels the same way about him. I honestly wonder if you Fitzgerald supporters even know who you are talking about. Clearly people that know nothing about Ted are throwing things out there and hoping that they stick. Guess what? It's not going to work! November 8th cannot come fast enough!
Stefan Dufresne October 14, 2011 at 01:50 PM
I do not appreciate being insulted on a daily basis by Bettencourt supporters. Anytime an article is posted about the candidates, Bettencourt supporters accuse Fitzgerald supporters of being ignorant, "dogs that do Sean's dirty work", that know nothing, that are too young to know anything about politics, I could go on for a while. So let me say this, when people stop this bickering, stop accusing the other side of lying and conspiriacies, when people show some respect, this campaign will take the clean route that the level headed voters wish to see. So have a great day everybody and drive safe, the roads are wet!
Mary Simmons October 14, 2011 at 02:08 PM
Fitzgerald is the one that is not taking the clean route. When he can stop all the mud slinging and show Ted the respect he deserves then we will have a level headed race. During the debate Sean did not even pay attention to what Ted had to say he sat and took notes. When Sean spoke Ted listened the entire time. I met Sean at an event in Peabody he came up to me and my husband and told us that he was going to work with Ted for Peabody because the main goal was to make Peabody a better place. He has done the opposite he has done nothing but try to bash Ted. I thought that he seemed like a standup guy but he quickly proved wrong. Sorry like Larry said I don't want someone who plagerizes and someone who can't do their homework!!!
Terry P October 14, 2011 at 03:00 PM
Ditto, Ditto DITTO!!! Exactly. I have known Ted for 30 years since he was a young kid. Ted is honest, compassionate, has above board character and is modest. Not arrogant, not underhanded, and plays clean! If SEan plagerized just in a campaign I shudder to think what he would do as mayor. Nothing, nothing will change with Sean. The same people for the last 30 years will be running the show. We need vision, improvement and team work. With Ted I believe this city has a chance and I believe in giving this better man the opportunity to give the city back its pride and honesty. This city has been stalemated for years and years and years. Right wing supports we are not. We are citizens of Peabody who want to be proud of Peabody. Go Ted!!
Terry P October 14, 2011 at 03:05 PM
I have to add that at least Ted's supporters are not placing signs on peoples lawns without permission or placing signs under false statements to the homeowners. They are also not stealing or even touching anyone elses signs. Of course, everyone knows signs don't vote in any case. I have heard a lot of underhanded crap being told to residents who live in ward 3- some my relatives- how low can you go Sean. You are desparate.
Melissa October 14, 2011 at 03:12 PM
VERY well said! Anyone that says Ted is dishonest has never spent more than 5 minutes with him..... One of the best people I have ever met.
Melissa October 14, 2011 at 03:18 PM
Not sure we were at the same debate?? I attended the PTC mayoral forum and I did not see any desperate moves from Bettencourt. He pointed out facts and talked about his vision for Peabody. What I DID find desperate was Sean yelling "I BLEED TANNER BLUE!" Really??
Susan Sturgeon October 14, 2011 at 06:33 PM
Please take some of these totally off the wall accusations against Sean with a grain of salt. I could make up some things too or even repeat some nasty rumors about Ted that I've heard, but I won't. Enough already!
Susan Sturgeon October 14, 2011 at 06:38 PM
Ted threw the first stone at that debate and his supporter acted like children!
bella October 14, 2011 at 07:41 PM
Plagiarism speaks to a person's character. There isn't any recovery from that, in my opinion. Granted, I had made up my mind from the beginning that I would cast my vote for Ted Bettencourt even before Mr. Fitzgerald announced. Still, any candidate who has plagiarized would never get my vote.
Melissa October 14, 2011 at 09:26 PM
I am still wondering what you are talking about here...
peter holden October 14, 2011 at 10:07 PM
Voters, All of this mud-slinging is distracting us from our main objective, which is to examine the credentials and vision of our two candidates with our own eyes and ears and choose who best to lead us into the future. I believe flood mitigation to be issue #1, as our downtown cannot be invested in without business trust in it staying dry, as flood insurance makes investment too risky. After level-headed examination, Fitzgerald has a clearer and more coherent vision of how the project will conclude through the East End and into Salem. A widening of the canal is courageous, necessary, and quite a lot of legislative work. Sean F. has shown successful experience IN JUST THIS POLITICAL FIELD. Peabody cannot be as insular and self-reliant as Teddy projects when flood mitigation necessitates that we work with Salem (who, by the way, will be interested in how much water will be coming their way and how fast). This is where cheerleading ends and diplomatic arm-wrestling begins. And when the sleeves are rolled up, after reading their ideas online and listening to them speak, I trust that Fitzgerald is the guy I want in the ring to make Peabody, rather than an orphan of Salem, a great sister-city of Salem. "To and not through," as Fitzgerald says. I believe in this kid.
Susan Sturgeon October 14, 2011 at 11:19 PM
I couldn't agree with you more on all counts!
SMick October 15, 2011 at 02:53 AM
And let us add: the Environmental Protection Agency is going to be interested in how much (heretofore) dormant and polluted sediment we are going to disrupt with the digging and widening of the canal. I know that Fitzgerald has significant experience in city waste clean-up and how it is moved and removed due to a similar project in Plaistow, NH that he managed. The EPA is not the type of entity that is going to be impressed with booklets, cheerleading or basketball statistics. A major, major, major diplomatic effort is necessary to spearhead the crucial last two phases of our flood mitigation project. It is going to take a leader who is borderline possessed with the spirit of ambition, which is really why the flooding issue has not been properly resolved in the last 75 years. Political fear in the face of moving a mountain. Only once in a generation does a personality and talent like Fitzgerald come along, and as a single tiny voice in this city, I scream: "VOTE FITZGERALD INTO OFFICE WHILE WE HAVE THE CHANCE!" and save our city from further mediocrity.
harold lipton October 15, 2011 at 03:22 PM
If you have any doubt that Fitzgerald shouldn't be mayor, just have a conversation with him. He will tell you what he thinks you want to here for a vote. I think in-genuine is probably the best word to describe Sean. Plagiarism is just the start of the nightmare he would bring to the mayors seat. Ted on the other hand is personable, intelligent, educated, and of high moral character. When voting use your common sense and vote for Bettencourt. If not you will wish you had! Good luck Ted
Jaclyn Corriveau October 16, 2011 at 04:15 AM
Peabody needs a mayor that knows what to do and how to do it. That mayor is Sean Fitzgerald. http://peabodymayorrace.blogspot.com/
SeanM October 16, 2011 at 12:21 PM
Mayor Bonfanti gave a great speech at Fitz's A.O.H. fundraiser last night. It was particularly emotional when he told of how both he and Sean FItzgerald succeeded in finding kids who were forced to live in Route One motels better living conditions. It was a great speech of endorsement and a great night. I hope the best man wins and the best man is FItzgerald, for too many reasons.
Sean C. McCarty October 16, 2011 at 04:07 PM
(The Original SeanM) Interesting how a Sean supporter would chime in with the same name as myself. I've only been active on here since the beginning of the campaign! I guess it's par for the course when the candidate commits plagiarism, his supporter would copy another's name.
SeanM October 16, 2011 at 07:05 PM
Sorry. Just another Irish-American gentleman in Peabody. No offense, mate. Vote Fitzgerald!
Stefan Dufresne October 16, 2011 at 09:00 PM
Class and civility, team Fitzgerald's way. Vote for Sean Fitzgerald on November 8th!!! Because, like many other traits, class and civility matter!
SeanM October 17, 2011 at 12:24 AM
I second that, Stefan.
Vicki Kotoloski Lobb October 17, 2011 at 02:40 PM
Ya--they sent them to Danvers---what a joke. And about Sean working for Torigian---they were so impressed by him that the whole Torigian family is backing Bettencourt---daughters come to all the fundraisers and nice Bettencourt sign on Mayor Torigians family home...
Terry P October 21, 2011 at 01:10 PM
Not off the wall- my relatives couldn't make up this stuff and others have told me the same thing. Where there is smoke!
Terry P October 21, 2011 at 01:13 PM
You must have the wrong candidate. That description fits Bettencourt. He is the one with class and civility.
Terry P October 21, 2011 at 01:21 PM
Wake up! where have you been living. The EPA knows full well of the contaminants the live on the streets of Walnut and Foster not to mention a few others. When it rains and when it floods the contaminants are always disruptied and have been percolating up from the ground and go where the water goes. I worked and lived in the area. The river flowed colors of the rainbow. There is more than just a brown field here and there. Psst, Psst, there serious chemicals on the former New England Sportswear property where I worked, but keep that a secret. Do you think the APa has been blind all these years. Get real. As far as booklets go, when developers or anyone wanting to do construction in this city goes, it would be a great idea if there was a booklet so they understand the procedures, fees and logistics on how to procede. Not every town or city has the same. Perhaps this city does need some cheerleading after years of seeing it go down hill. We need someone like Bettencourt who truly cares about Peabody. Have a good day!
Kimberley Gale November 03, 2011 at 02:53 PM
Bettencourt defends exaggerating his role by exaggerating his role. See, http://peabody.patch.com/articles/bonfanti-outraged-at-deceptive-campaign-material-by-bettencourt
Susan Sturgeon November 03, 2011 at 11:49 PM
All you have to know is that Bettencourt used an out of context quote by Mayor Bonfanti in his latest mailing to make it look like the mayor is endorsing him when the mayor has made it clear that he is endorsing Fitzgerald. How desperate and dishonest can you get?
Terry P November 04, 2011 at 03:34 PM
You can interpret it anyway you like but I believe you are wrong. Bettencourt is not doing that at all, he is simply showing that Bonfanti gave him credit where credit is due. You just refuse to see that Bettencourt deserves credit,period, end of story.
Fran C. November 09, 2011 at 09:10 AM
Dianne A. When i had asked Sean why certain people in my neighborhood could get away with doing what they want WITHOUTpermits.My land has the same zoning and i,m not allowed to do what i needed to do, even going through the correct channels.He stated they do FAVORS for the city.I asked if that was fair and Sean replied "thats politics".Well Shawn THATS POLITICS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.Congrats Ted..the people have spoken.


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