Somerville A City Cloaked in Secrecy Clutches it’s Dangling Threads

By Judy Locchi Jacobs 

If there’s one thing about politics I learned that’s true– making ones friends rich can have endless possibilities. It’s a twisted road filled with peaks and valleys, wide bends, fallen trees, and sharp turns that can result in unexpected cliff hangers. 

Enter Mayor Joe Curtatone– a man who some would say once held a promising future— on the surface things looked good, yet underneath lied a cracked veneer begging for polish.
Over the years, he and some among his iron fisted administration, began to look more like a cheap suit, steadily unraveling, quickly resembling a strange land of the unknown engulfed in purgatory and slipping into one of Dante’s circles.
How did we get here, Somerville? 
My native town I loved like a sister and thought I knew so well. And like sibling rivalries can have their moments, and begin to unwind and lose direction, so can our relationships with our life long town and its people. 
A timely message from a recent fortune cookie advised….
“You don’t have to change friends, as long as you accept, that friends change”.
I have tried this experiment–it doesn’t always work. It depends on the type of “change”, and how it effects a relationship on the verge of collapse.
Perhaps the friends never changed but remained the same and it was we who changed, and for the better. We finally grew tired of the dysfunction and moved on, moved out or changed our circle of friends.
In this political climate, it could never work. I see the magnitude of damage just too much to bare and there’s no going back to the way things were.
The needs of the few connected in our town outweigh the needs of the many because the few have far more resources to combat any foreseeable missteps. 
Yet, I choose to remain a hopeful optimist– I believe in banana peels.
We’ve become outnumbered by an enemy unseen but I assure you its presence is felt — through unbridled luxury condo development, secretive and strategic planning, zoning and finally unannounced displacement. Yet, in the face of constant adversity, we must remain focused on those responsible–the excessively wealthy carpetbaggers and their strong arming players in local government.
While growing up in old school Somerville, of the 1960’s, my parents taught me that money is not everything– it’s the people in your life that matter most of all. I knew they were right then as I do now, in between something went terribly wrong. It all started with my own experiences of homeownership and being a landlord.
My close friends call me a force of nature, a survivor. But I’m just Judy from the Ville. I really never cared about the monetary value of my family home. It will always remain priceless because of its familial and intrinsic value most can’t ever understand. Our homes become part of who we are and its bonds remain tied for generations.
If we don’t know who we are and stand on our convictions how do we expect to ever overcome obstacles in life? 
Did Joe envision gentrification and making his private club members rich, to be his legacy?
Our city is a priceless jewel shining beneath the layers of a cheap masquerade.
Our collective voice must come from a place that is absent of fear, willing to place one bet on the wheel and live with that decision.
Manipulating our fate doesn’t work- that’s where Joe went wrong.
While the mayor was trying to shake down my former employer for $80k, that same evening while meeting at Bob Trane’s victory party, Joe told me I should never forget where I came from. 
Maybe he was trying to remind me that I was born into an old boy network and I should have respected more than where my heart was leading me, but that was his first mistake. 
His second mistake was believing he could find a way to silence me. 
That goes for the alderman he protects who is equally as deceitful. 
There have been some strange occurrences of recent and damaging from people who admitted to knowing Joe personally as well as his family member from a law firm.
Also a person who continues to work for the administration. They could all be responsible for a recent event that has effected my financial future, however, I may never know. 
A member of law enforcement who knows the family well advised me to tread lightly and warned, “If you go after Joe, he will find a way to hurt you. He does this to lots of people”. 
But their MO presents itself as a continued pattern we see where others have challenged the administration.
This is how they ruin lives.
Back to the employer– Joe said that the $80k would go to the cops on detail and to businesses that had to be shut down for hours in order to allow safe passage through city limits for a huge trailer. 
Does anyone honestly believe the cops and business owners would have seen a dime of that money? 
DOT screwed up on the plan and it landed on Joe’s doorstep. In the end, he balked at the idea of allowing free passage.
Needless to say, it ended up in a neighboring town for several days before it could reroute to an alternate path for safe passage and arrival.
I was never so embarrassed in all my life. The office roared with laughter and would always refer to the mayor of Somerville as “the extortionist”.   
When the director was retiring I told him his story of the wayward cargo was a source of entertainment to fellow coworkers for months.
He added that the federal marshal could have prevented the senseless delay and that it was his right to call, but he decided not to for reasons that were not shared. I told him I wished he had made that call. Thinking back, it may have made a difference in what I am now faced with today, along with the many he’s harmed intentionally for failure to display unwavering loyalty at all costs, even to their dignity. 
Not happening here! I’m am my fathers daughter. My dad was fighting for his own survival and of his family when he first arrived– what real work has Joe done for humanity? Show me, prove he is worthy of his seat as mayor. No one can, because it’s all bullshit.
It soon became clear, that Joe and his members-only-club continues to be based on making millions and holding onto power, regardless of the people they harm.
I tried to put myself in Joe’s shoes more than once as decisions were being made about our city, wondering how they would impact local lives, reshaping their futures. 
What I saw was a dominos effect that could have devastating irreversible outcomes for generations.
There is no denying his decisions have made negative and irreversible impacts on thousands of working class lives through the years.
How do we measure a man’s worth based on the experience of those who surround him? 
Each of us has a different experience based on what we represent– some are considered liabilities while others are assets, to his portfolio.
So who are the people who have benefited the most at the expense of thousands of displaced renters, home and business owners? 
I guess that answer would have to come from the mayor himself, because an open-door policy was never in his DNA.
I’d say his entrenched friends namely former alderman and lawyer Sean O’Donovan, who I had the unfortunate experience of meeting in court years ago before he became a self professed real estate millionaire.  
I never got the chance to thank Judge Heffernan personally, so I’ll take this opportunity to do so.
Thank you, Judge Heffernan. 
Thank you for throwing Sean O’Donovan, out of your courtroom in the Fall of 1998.
As a divorced mother of two, without my out of state attorney present, it will serve as a continual reminder of the man without the mask we see today, racking up his monopoly of real estate ventures, as a hired consultant for Assembly Row and a highly unethical poser who plots how to remove assets from the weak and aging residents of our community.
I will always remember your integrity, judge, your sharp wit and great compassion towards me. Also, Rosemary who helped me find the courage to stand inside your courtroom faced with having to disclose the personal details of my story.
While chastising attorney 0’Donovan, disgusted at his behavior, you stated that you knew me well enough that I could be your neighbor and directed Sean to never return to your courtroom with his client.
Thank you for disgracing him in your courtroom as he fumbled over his allegations based on a fabrication of lies. It provided me much solace as I began my new path to a better life for myself and my children.
So it was no surprise when a former classmate shared during a class reunion that Sean was out there shaking down little old ladies for their homes. 
There is another story one similar, of a well know lawyer referred to as the “zoning king”, by realtors — who tried swindling my own home in 2007, with the help of another former alderman/realtor. Having known this realtor as a neighborhood friend and school classmate– it was the last thing I expected. 
So I know first hand how these guys operate. They make millions while preying on the vulnerable and unsuspecting with their clever maneuvering that only those as powerful as Judge Heffernan could understand and halt in their tracks.
Just remember- the political climate in this city has been lethal for a number of years. One must be strong to overcome their shady tactics– trust me, it’s real. I have experienced a great deal of highly irregular situations by members of this administration even after the days of divorce court.
I stand by Bill Tauro and his amazing strength to uncover these stories because we are like minded when it comes to the preservation of our lives and families futures and many good locals in our town who deserve so much better. 
It’s time to set the record straight and make our city whole again and time for a fresh start and a new mayor, to work on bringing our neighborhoods together not dividing them as Joe has–we need someone who will remain dedicated to all residents not their bank accounts, and not developers.
The majority of people representing that group are not invested in our community– they are only in it for the quick buck. 
How else are they able to stay on top? Many are soulless creatures– I know first hand because I spent too many years working for some of those types. Many of the so called professionals are some of the hardest people to get along with– they are much like the starving artists who crave unlimited attention and preferential treatment compared to Hollywood name-in-lights and award winning stardom. 
I’ve got one thing to say to them– “Get Over Yourselves–you are pretentious, ego driven, entitled, overpaid, whining windbags”. 
We also have too many lawyers buying up real estate and entire neighborhoods– to what end?
Their brains our wired differently- they are taught from an early age to take from the working class, and it’s okay to disrespect us– remember, my favorite movie of all time–
Matt Damon in, “Good Will Hunting”
Will struggles with an identity crisis– he loves his roots and looks for any excuse not to leave the place he is grounded. He understands the fundamental reasons of personal happiness vs. career driven goals based on a superficial world that doesn’t provide the same human needs and satisfaction.
We locals have the “good-ole boys”, in one corner, the monied liberals on the other side and working class in the middle trying to combat both. 
Of course there are good and bad in all groups but our society for the most part frowns on independent thinkers who demand freedom of individuality- it only accepts “clubs”, “cults”, and “cabals”. 
Somewhere in all, there lies Joe’s new friends who helped him stay on his throne.
Many have asked why the mayor has been able to remain in power for six terms, a total of fourteen very long years for some of us who learned early on–he wasn’t in this for charity work.
Fast forward to present day Somerville– what do we see but a city that has become a transitory depot for wandering travelers, speculating suburbanites who, as hard as they try can’t manage to scrape together a down payment for a home in Lexington or Concord. 
So what do they do? What else– flip homes in Somerville, so frequent that a renter in Union Square, admitted he had a new landlord every year for 7 years and a new rent obligation one higher than the last– from $1200-$3000, sharing the apartment with 2 other roommates.
Each time the home sold, profits were between $100-200 thousand dollars– surely enough for a down payment in any number of homes off Route 2 and 95. 
The bigger problem would reveal itself much later as rents began to soar– our working class would be forced out while monied liberals descended upon more real estate ripe for the taking while local lawyers entrenched in city politics would be standing by to accommodate their every need– buying, selling and condo converting–to include fattening all bank accounts.
And they ask why the local community isn’t being accepting to change. I’d love to see how the Wellesley crowd would react to a few thousand working class big lottery winners descending upon their town to convert it to a town resembling Hampton Beach and Canobie Lake Park, throw in about 12 high rises for their friends and family down the street right next to Ken and Barbies trophy home.
My point is, not everyone believes it’s right to make such drastic changes to urban landscape– some things are meant to be left alone, that includes established life long neighborhoods.
By the way, I’ve been told by reliable sources that the upcoming zoning plans have been put on hold until after the November 2017 election. Is anyone surprised?
Update on zoning concerns:
I’m trying to gather information to share with readers who will have a comprehensive understanding of what exactly is being proposed across the city.
I’ve attempted to read the information put forth by the administration regarding zoning changes.
I can honestly say I believe it’s written in a way that is cleverly crafted to discourage anyone who isn’t directly involved in its process. The language is impossible to dissect as it applies to streets, neighborhoods and wards.
In other words– what you don’t know, can and will hurt you (at least in this case).
We must demand transparency and an overall understanding of how the new zoning will effect each and everyone of us in great deal.
Directing residents to workshops across the city from 2-8 p.m., is not only insulting but devisive.
In order to have an open dialogue about this process, we need one location so aldermen and experts on zoning can share with a crowd.
There should also be time for residents to share their concerns at the podium.

16 thoughts on “Somerville A City Cloaked in Secrecy Clutches it’s Dangling Threads”

  1. In these times, people need to come forward. There is nothing this mayor can do anymore to retaliate. He is going to be so highly scrutinized, he wouldn’t dare do something stupid. And if he tries, it just proves corruption. With all the technology and news that is coming out, he does not have the power he used to. It’s time this city comes together to do the right thing for its residents.

  2. I do not live in Sean’s ward and actually knew nothing about him until that incident. But strong arm displays what I observed. I have never even met the guy. I have yet to figure out what power these people have to control things. I do know I look forward to the day when our Mayor is handcuffed. The only personal problem I had was back in Lester Ralph’s day but a friend is a big time lawyer and had the power to get pass the handout to the alderman then. But I am one who will cut their nose off in spite of their face if a situation arises. But I am too small of a fish for them to have any dealing with me. I have nothing.

  3. Hey A.Moore…. thanks for sharing. Yes, I’m aware of those who did not step forward. It’s due to the entrenched “connections” and people who covered for these crooks. They were much more powerful in the days when the writers produced Somerville Files 1-4 (google it if you haven’t read it) which they were forced to then retract much of it. Then the stories dropped off and cover ups continued. I met some former classmates a few years ago during a reunion and two shared about Sean — one was preparing his mortgages and receiving $250 Capital Grill gift cards which they used during dinner. They also mentioned the reason he was getting away with it was due to his “connections” at the state house, but no names were mentioned. This was before our current Governor was in office. The other shared he was taking homes from our elderly residents. I’m not sure how it happened in the other cases, but it almost occurred to me when I considered turning the home into condos and selling off the units and remaining in one. Well, the alderman contacted a different lawyer who is referred to as the “zoning king”. The following day he called and said that this lawyer has millions in cash and would pay off the loan then “let me live in one of the condos at no charge, rent free”. Well, luckily I knew better than to believe this obvious scam. I imagine it may have happened this way with our elderly who can be too trusting especially if they have known the people involved for a number of years. In my case, I found a new attorney and decided not to condo since I had other options.

  4. I hope it finally catches up to them. The mayor I can only speculate but I have seen first hand one of Sean’s dealings. It was too bad the person he was trying to strong arm would not step forward.and do anything about it. This is why some people can get away with so much. Nice to be able to speak ones mind here. During the last year censoring has gotten out of hand on another city newspaper which never used to. But those of us who care abut this city would like to see what goes on in city hall finally put to an end. But the people hurt by it will never really seejustice.

  5. Ann,

    I appreciate your comments very much. Bill has given me the opportunity to speak about true events that happened to me by these low life bums who have caused misery and financial loss to many good people. I understand why long time residents moved out. But I’ve been patient for too long.

    My dad bought our home in 1930, raised two families here. He married again in the late 50’s after losing his first wife from illness. My half siblings were much older and that’s how I know so much about the city. Although, I recently have suffered financial loss, which can never be proven, unless those involved were to come forward, I will continue to fight for the working class families across this town.

  6. Judy, thank you for the well written and courageous story that you wrote. I too grew up in Somerville and after knowing how Curtatone has screwed so many people that I know, I don’t even want to be associated with the city anymore. That makes me even more upset because my family has roots that date back to my great grandparents who lived in the city and many of my family members worked to make this city what it is today. Because of a punk who abuses the system, our great city is no longer the city I remember and love. He has been a hypocrite since taking office and anyone who knew him growing up knows that. He was not even a Democrat until he ran for Alderman because he knew he would not win in Somerville. He was the biggest racist out there but now acts like he cares about illegal immigrants and black lives. Everything he does is for power and money. You are right when you say that he has hurt many lives and many of those people were his former “friends”. He is like a mafia boss, if you cross him or say anything negative about him he will screw you one way or another. I really hope he will finally go to jail where he belongs. We all know about his dirty past. I hope karma finally kicks in because this sleaze ball always seems to find a way to escape justice.

  7. I have some information and such that I will get to the Somerville News Weekly concerning the Mayor soon. What mailing address can I send it to?

    I do not want to divulge it online. Some of the info deals with matters before he was in politics. And can you reveal the facts on a former aide to the Mayor who was naughty, left, and was about to be welcomed back to the position of Mayoral Aide until some very brave city hall employees made it clear that if he came back to the city position, the facts on him would be made public?

    They announced that due to “family considerations” he decided not to return. But before this was announced in the Somerville Journal my freind told me that this explanation would be given. Remember-ABC!

    Anybody But Curtatone! We are making up the ABC bumper stickers right now.

  8. Judy, have you heard the latest. A reliable source in the city told me that attorney and former Alderman Sean O’Donovan now owns the gas station property on Broadway just past Cedar Street near the Ball Square bridge. He plans to build an 11 unit apartment building and that any restrictions on building that type of building at that site will be removed courtesy of the Mayor and his cronies in due time!

    1. You are definitely correct we will you posting that in the next couple of days about the restrictions that it can never be an apartment building thank you!

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