CATHY RICHARDSON appears to be planning a second run against 18-year Democratic state Rep. Colleen Garry to represent Dracut and Tyngsboro in the Statehouse as a Republican.

Richardson has not yet made any formal announcement that she is seeking a rematch of the 2012 election she lost to Garry, but her longtime boyfriend, Billy McMahon, revealed as much to selectmen candidate Ted Kosiavelon during a heated exchange in Kosiavelon's kitchen.

Kosiavelon recently endorsed Garry on Facebook. Kosiavelon obtained a restraining order against McMahon after he said McMahon came to his home uninvited and threatened to pull his hair out if he said anything bad about Richardson during the forthcoming campaign.

Another sure indication to veteran observers of Dracut politics that Richardson is positioning herself for a second run is that she secured another year as chairwoman of the Board of Selectmen on Tuesday.

Though most local boards tend to rotate the chairmanship, giving it to the member next up for re-election, Richardson was re-nominated for the lead seat by Selectman Joe DiRocco, the vice chairman, who was next in line to become chairman. Richardson was quickly given a decisive third -- and board majority -- vote by new member Alison Hughes.

If Selectman Tony Archinski had any designs on the chairmanship, he didn't show it. Archinski and the board's other newly elected member, Tami Dristiliaris, made it unanimous to leave the gavel in Richardson's hands.


THE VACANCY on the Lowell Housing Authority Board of Commissioners has drawn the most chatter among the openings recently advertised by the city.

Robert McMahon, the former labor representative on the Lowell Housing Authority Board of Commissioners, recently re-submitted his application for the post. He had also submitted an application near the end of Bernie Lynch's time as city manager.

McMahon was willing to go against the grain, which can't be said of the current commissioners.

Former council candidate and LHA critic Fred Doyle also said recently he is considering applying for the position left vacant on the board when Michael Zaim resigned.

"Someone has got to clean that place up," Doyle told The Column.

The city also advertised two openings on the License Commission.

One vacancy was created when Brian Akashian resigned and Commissioner John Descoteaux's term expires June 30.

When asked about any upcoming appointments, City Manager Kevin Murphy said he is going to give residents ample time to apply before making selections.

IN LOWELL, two warring parties will meet to resolve their differences.

Then, both sides emerge from behind closed-doors using many positive adjectives to describe what happened.

This is precisely how it played out last week, when City Manager Kevin Murphy met with Gregg Croteau, executive director of the United Teen Equality Center, and Richard Cavanaugh, chairman of UTEC's board of directors.

Murphy and Police Superintendent William Taylor are concerned/angry about what they perceived as UTEC's advocacy in Lowell District Court on behalf of two Lowell men charged in high-profile gun crimes, one a shooting.

Murphy, who called the 40-minute meeting in his City Hall office, described the session as "excellent."

Croteau added, "Productive."

Both used phrases like "moving forward" and that ubiquitous Lowell term, "partnership."

Taylor didn't attend. Murphy said he will meet with him individually soon.

Croteau is steadfast in his defense of UTEC streetworkers, saying their appearance in court was not to advocate for the suspects, but to remind "both the young person and the community that UTEC remains a resource for youth who are arrested, charged, and/or convicted by the justice system."

A day after meeting with Murphy, Croteau said UTEC will have no presence during future dangerousness hearings -- at least until he meets with Taylor to discuss what happened and, of course, "moving forward."

That's a smart decision, and one that should eventually get UTEC back in the good graces of the LPD if the agency stands by what it says. 

Here's a question some might be asking: At what point or, more precisely, age, does UTEC (which stands for United Teen Equality Center) let someone go?

Answer: UTEC's mission statement says 24.

In the two cases that got UTEC into hot water, one suspect is 21 and the other is 23.

IF YOU didn't spend last summer in Tewksbury, you wouldn't have caught any signs of the bitter battle that divided neighbors for 40 days.

Town government moves smoothly -- if without much eager resident involvement -- and all's quiet. But behind the scenes, the casino fight lingers on.

The potential installation of a natural-gas pipeline around the same neighborhood where Penn National Gaming unsuccessfully pitched a slots parlor last year has residents making similar accusations -- it's another big, national corporation that they see as seeking profit at their expense.

And, once again, they feel like they're not getting all the information, just propaganda.

"It's trickery, just like the casino," said Cardigan Road resident Joan Unger.

Many of the same people who opposed the casino are gearing up to fight the pipeline.

And though the pro- and anti-casino factions aren't openly at odds anymore, there's still a sense of tension in town.

One of the organizers of an event Saturday to promote sports programs for children with special needs, Wynn Middle School teacher Ed Connerty, said he wanted to see people come together again for a common cause and day of goodwill.

"My intent is for Tewksbury to come together and forget that the slots ever happened," said Connerty, the outreach coordinator for local nonprofit Liam Nation. "No one's friends anymore."

FIVE CANDIDATES interviewed for city auditor, but heading into Tuesday's vote some councilors said there are two leading candidates for the job.

One is Hannah York, a financial auditor/analyst for the Travis County Auditor's Office in Texas. She interviewed via Skype. She is moving to the area because her husband took a job in the region.

York impressed councilors during her interview.

"I think out of the five, there was a lone star," said one councilor, referring to York.

Andrew Vanni, chief financial officer/town accountant in Middleton, was interviewed last, and also gave a strong performance, according to councilors.

Vanni has many years of experience in municipal finance, which pleased councilors, as did his answers.

"They were far and away the two best candidates," said a different councilor.

One contrast between the two emerged when asked whether they would require a contract. Vanni said yes, while York said she would not, according to councilors. That may be a deciding factor.

Karen Kucula, finance director in Tewksbury, appears to be out of the running.

The council will vote near the beginning of its 6:30 p.m. meeting on Tuesday. The nine-member body has been without a permanent auditor since Sheryl Wright retired in late February.

BILLERICA SELECTMEN emphasized the dire need for a new high school during a tour with parents and residents last week.

"Our kids deserve better than this," said Selectman John Piscatelli. "If everyone could see this, there's no doubt everyone would vote for a new high school. Now the discussion moving forward has to do with where it's going to be and how much is it going to cost."

Superintendent Tim Piwowar and Billerica Memorial High School Principal Tom Murphy showed the lack of natural light, leaks in the ceiling, labs from the Stone Age and much, much more. The old wing of the high school opened in 1957, while the "new" wing opened in 1975.

"The tour helps us provide information on the physical issues and educational needs of the students," Piwowar said. "Our goal is to work together to make it better for our kids in the future."

Selectmen Chairman Mike Rosa said the tour showed the school is too large for the current student population, adding the town needs a school that better fits the district's size.

"And some of the parts of the tour were very telling about how dated the school is," Rosa said. "It's good that a majority of the board could take the walk. We support the idea of a new high school, and we just want to build the right school for Billerica."

Selectman Dan Burns also said the tour showed the age, size and maintenance problems.

Selectman George Simolaris emphasized the lack of natural light is not conducive to learning.

"I'm very excited and hopeful that a good plan will come forward to the residents, and we can get the 50 percent or so reimbursement from the state," Simolaris said. "It's a shame the school hasn't been updated. We need to get a state-of-the-art facility here, so we can compete with area districts. There's no reason we can't."

The future high school project is expected to cost about $140 million to $150 million, which means the town would pay about $70 million to $75 million after reimbursement from the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA).

The district hopes to be invited to the MSBA board meeting in early June, when Billerica could get the go-ahead for a feasibility study. At that point, the schools would hire a project manager and designer for the project.

WHILE BILLERICA Town Meeting member John Kleschinsky asked selectmen last week to form a stipend review committee, Rosa has told him the committee is not needed.

Rosa pointed to the Finance Committee "already thoroughly reviewing" selectmen salaries about five years ago.

At Town Meeting on May 6, Piscatelli said he will donate his $1,800 stipend to groups around town, prompting Kleschinsky to propose that no selectman be paid. While some in town called it politically motivated, because Kleschinsky supported the two of the losing selectmen candidates, Kleschinsky emphasized that was "short-sighted."

Kleschinsky's amendment was rejected, so he proposed a committee to look at all boards. But Rosa stressed that wasn't necessary with the Finance Committee's decision five years ago, as well as research under way to develop comprehensive data on salaries across the state.

In response, Kleschinsky said the town needs to look at more than just selectmen salaries. He emphasized that there should be a comprehensive review of all boards in town. Kleschinsky pointed out how some area towns, like Chelmsford, compensate several other officials that Billerica does not.

LITTLETON SELECTMAN James Karr was a happy man last Saturday night after beating community blogger Christopher Simone by a 400-vote margin in the town election.

"We kicked their butt!" Karr shouted while on the phone with retiring Selectman Ted Doucette, who called to congratulate him.

So, who are "they"?

Karr said "they" are "a faction" including Simone and Selectman Alex McCurdy who don't see eye to eye with the majority of selectmen on various issues.

"The core group talks a lot," making it appear that Littleton is politically divided, Karr said. But, in the town election, Karr said, the "silent majority" -- the majority of voters who aren't as involved in town politics -- made it clear that the group's view didn't represent theirs, he said.

"(The voters) saw what they are all about," Karr said. "The silent majority came out to vote and spoke."

The real winner of the night was Melissa Hebert, a political newcomer who topped the selectmen's race with 1,164 votes, 152 more votes than for Karr. Hebert believes that being neutral helped her win. Karr said, though, that he and Hebert shared supporters.

"My supporters supported Melissa, and Melissa's supporters supported me," Karr said.

THE NEWEST member of the Chelmsford Planning Board is Jeff Apostolakes, a Town Meeting representative. He takes the place of Bob Joyce, who resigned his seat when he was elected selectman last month.

Apostolakes, who served as a Planning Board alternate, was the unanimous choice of the Board of Selectmen and other members of the Planning Board last week.

WHICH TOWN departments and services do Chelmsford residents think most highly of?

The results of a recent survey show that police and fire get the highest marks -- the most scores of 1 on a 1-to-5 scale -- followed by the library and trash/recycling removal.

The lowest scores were given to traffic, pedestrian amenities like sidewalks, planning and the Town Manager's Office.

Services and departments overall did score well, with an average of 2.1 on the scale.

In a separate question about potential new services, the greatest portion of respondents called full-day kindergarten "a great idea." Only 5 percent of respondents said they'd pay a fee for full-day kindergarten, though. They were more likely to say they'd pay a fee for leaf-pickup service. People were least likely to be willing to pay a fee for extended library hours.

AFTER LEAVING the Middlesex District Attorney's Office in 2011 to spend a year in Ireland to finish his novel, Assistant District Attorney Sean Griffith is back with the DA's office.

Griffith, who won the 2008 Paul R. McLaughlin Community Activist Award, appears in Lowell District Court daily, supervising prosecutors.

Griffith, who is well liked among prosecutors and defense attorneys, seems to be a welcome addition to the Lowell team.

Contributing to The Column this week: Enterprise Editor Christopher Scott, Lyle Moran in Lowell, John Collins in Dracut, Katie Lannan in Tewksbury, Hiroko Sato in Littleton, Lisa Redmond in the courts, Rick Sobey in Billerica and Grant Welker in Chelmsford.