EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

November 10, 2012

Mayor offers Solomon proposal

METHUEN — Mayor Stephen Zanni said he has extended a new settlement offer to police Chief Joseph Solomon.

Zanni said the offer was issued in writing Nov. 2. “He has it in hand and I’m waiting to hear back from him,” said Zanni.

The mayor’s offer ends a four-month stalemate in negotiations. Talks between Zanni and Solomon seeking to settle the chief’s federal suit against the city and former Methuen Mayor William Manzi began in April but broke down in June.

Solomon has said he is open to continued settlement negotiations. But, if the sides fail to come to terms, the chief’s suit is slated to proceed Feb. 27 with a scheduling conference.

Officials have repeatedly refused to disclose a potential settlement amount.

“I can’t divulge that at this time,” Zanni said.

Manzi fired Solomon in May 2008, claiming the chief verbally abused officers, misspent federal grant money and broke state law by using taxpayer money to buy marine equipment from his sister and brother-in-law.

Solomon appealed his firing with the Civil Service Commission, which reduced the punishment to a one-year suspension and ordered Solomon reinstated as police chief in 2010.

The city appealed the decision, but its bid was rejected in July by Lawrence Superior Court Judge Robert Cornetta.

Solomon sued the city in federal court in May 2011, accusing Manzi of “unconstitutional and retaliatory actions” for “illegally” firing him in 2008.

The lawsuit said Manzi fired Solomon for “exercising protected activity under the First Amendment,” such as appealing a suspension, suing the city and participating in a federal investigation of Manzi.

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