CHEERS to a new beginning for the Methuen Police Department, which has been fraught with controversy for decades largely surrounding former Police Chief Joseph Solomon, who retired in January.

In most recent years, inflated union contracts spanning from patrolmen to the highest ranks resulted in a stalemate in negotiations and Solomon being one of the highest-paid chiefs in the country.

Yes, the country.

Better times are on the horizon. Incoming Chief Scott McNamara, previously a Lawrence police captain, and Mayor Neil Perry signed a refreshingly standard three-year contract unanimously approved by city councilors Monday.

McNamara will be paid $229,000 a year, as opposed to his predecessor who raked in upward of $350,000, not to mention a convoluted array of other financial perks in a contract so complicated it’s unclear if anyone in the city — or for that matter anywhere — even understood its intricacies. How that contract was approved by a previous administration is another question altogether; another mystery to residents footing a bill that threatened to bankrupt Methuen.

“Obviously because of what happened in the past, this is going to be the most scrutinized contract we’re ever going to review. I went through it with a magnifying glass,” said Councilor Mike Simard, a Lawrence police sergeant who worked with McNamara prior to his Methuen appointment.

The new chief, age 51, was sworn in Tuesday during a ceremony at the Irish Cottage.

“Councilors were equal parts thrilled to welcome McNamara and glad to see money preserved for city services,” reporter Allison Corneau wrote last week.

A highlight of the agreement between is that it is completely “untethered from the police unions,” unlike Solomon’s. Both McNamara and Perry said this was of utmost importance, given the angst of the past.

But the past is done, as was pointed out by Councilor D.J. Beauregard with a bit of humor.

“Congratulations, I think, to the people of Los Angeles. You now have the highest-paid police chief in America,” he said with a chuckle.

JEERS to the Middleton jail inmate who “mooned” a judge Thursday. That’s just a show of disrespect — and a real bummer.

Justin MacLean, 37, “dropped his pants and exposed his buttocks” at the end of his hearing held via videoconference from the jail with Judge Mary McCabe in Haverhill District Court.

He was there for a dangerousness hearing on a variety of charges, including resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and two counts of threats.

As recounted by reporter Jill Harmacinski, while MacLean was being led away after it was determined he should continue to be held as a danger to himself or the community, he took the opportunity to expose his rear-end to the judge.

Now court officers are filing a report to seek additional charges against MacLean.

While mooning someone isn’t necessarily a danger to society, it’s not something we’d recommend doing in a court setting, especially when the target of the “moon” is someone who can send you to jail.

CHEERS to school cafeteria staff making it work with what they’ve got.

Across the Bay State schools are facing unprecedented shortages of food due to issues up and down the supply chain.

Food security for young people was one of many areas where COVID-19 made it plain just how serious the need is. Our school meal systems need more stability, not less.

Despite menu changes, scrambling to find workable ingredient substitutes and making necessary notifications to parents, school cooks continue churning out healthy breakfast and lunch (plus the all-important pizza day).

That said, appreciation for their work should not be a substitute for prioritizing getting these systems back to running smoothly — both for our kids and the dedicated cafeteria staff working to keep them fed.

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