Mayor Murphy visits City Life

There was some compelling local cable TV yesterday. At 6am on City Life hosts John McDonough and George Anthes were visited by their regular every-other-Monday guest, former City Manager and School Committee member Bill Taupier. They ended up with a second, unexpected guest: Mayor Patrick Murphy who arrived at about 7:15 am to confront Taupier about statements made during his previous appearance on July 31. You will recall that at the time, those statements particularly riled Gerry Nutter who in the midst of a blog post entitled “Taupier plays fast and loose with the facts” wrote this:

The comments that got me the most irate were these – He stated the Mayor and Manager received envelopes with letters much earlier than June about the missing money and covered it up! He made that charge and claimed a 2nd time that the Manager was informed ahead of time and John McDonough agreed that he had heard the same thing.

I didn’t see yesterday’s program live but I was able to get a tape of the Mayor’s appearance that I’ll watch sometime soon. The part I did catch began with the Mayor’s departure from the set and the discussion among Taupier and the two hosts that followed.

Two things stood out to me from that portion of the show. One is that Bill Taupier said that the information he shared with viewers on July 31 about the Mayor knowing about the missing money long before it became public (the statement that got both Gerry Nutter and the Mayor so agitated) had been told to him by Rita Mercier. He said that twice. Aside from whether or not it’s true that Rita Mercier was the source of information, it was really amazing to see how casually that Taupier threw her name out as the source of such incendiary information.

The second thing that struck me was Taupier’s repeated statement that “if I said something that offended the mayor, why didn’t he call me” which kind of gets to the heart of a bigger battle going on in Lowell politics today. In the old days, a few self-selected insiders played a slick game of politics, spending hours each day on the phone gossiping like teenagers about the politics of the day. Those calls along with an inside track to what would be “in the paper” were all one needed to be perceived as a power in local politics. All that has changed. I don’t know if the internet and social media are a cause of it or a symptom of it or just tools that are used by people with a different view of how politics work in a changing city. It all reminded me of a scene from the movie Thirteen Days (about the Cuban Missile Crisis) in which Secretary of Defense McNamara chastises the Naval Chief of Staff for refusing to acknowledge or accept the “new language” of crisis diplomacy (the relevant dialogue comes near the end of this 3:45 minute clip but watch the whole thing and see the movie if you haven’t yet).  


3 Responses to Mayor Murphy visits City Life

  1. Greg Page says:

    [Full Disclosure: I served as Mayor Murphy’s Aide from March through the end of July. Also, I am going to cross-post this comment on Gerry’s blog].

    I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Quealey’s assessment.

    A loathsome tactic that I believe was employed here is something called “Heads I Win, Tails You Lose.” It is commonly employed by those who practice sarcasm, bullying, and rumor-mongering, and it basically works like this: “I am going to say whatever I want about whoever I want, however I want. If challenged, I will then respond by saying that I was either just kidding [and that the responder needs to lighten up] or that the responder is being a hothead, or is ‘defensive’ or is otherwise out of line/overreacting.” I might also say “you should’ve reached out to me directly, or in private,” which is another way to fight asymmetrically (I’ll spread my invective publicly, but how dare you challenge me publicly in the same forum). A slight retreat or disowning of the original phrasing is also another great way to deflect criticism…and I get it, no one wants a fair fight if they can avoid one.

    To move it away from this example for a minute, think of someone you know who regularly employs this tactic…could be a co-worker, extended family member, neighbor, etc. Probably didn’t take you very long, did it? It’s not unique to politics, or to Lowell, or to anywhere or anything else…and it always deserves to be called out whenever/wherever it happens.

    In this case, Murphy made it symmetrical by directly confronting the initiator, which — no surprise — went over like a turd in a punch bowl in that forum.

    Why? Because those who engage in “Heads I Win, Tails You Lose” are the WORST at eating their own dog food. By contrast, a sincere person who misspeaks or steps out of line and later realizes it shows contrition and an earnest desire to make it right.

    Apologies that start with “If I offended you…” are reminiscent of the forced variety imposed on children by parents, teachers, and lunch aides.

    In grown-up land, we ought to take ownership of what we say.

  2. George DeLuca says:

    Yesterday I had the pleasure of having Greg Page appear on my WUML 91.5 radio program “The Lowell Connection”. The show aired about 45 segments last year on 980 WCAP, and we’re already up to 8 segments on WUML 91.5.

    On yesterday’s show, Greg relates his recent experience as Mayor Murphy’s aide, his military service and future plans. Our discussion does touch on the City Life program referenced in this post. You can listen to the podcast at .

    Although I work part time at LTC, I haven’t seen the episode, as to access it would require the permission of the shows producer John McDonough. As I understand it, the show has been pulled from re-airing at the request of Mr. McDonough which is his right.