LOWELL -- A lawyer representing Board of Parks member Peter Finnegan has sent a letter to the City of Lowell and the state Ethics Commission urging the bodies to reject an ethics complaint filed against Finnegan.
The letter states that Terese Dillingham, a supporter of the Cawley high school proposal, failed to demonstrate in her ethics complaint that Finnegan personally benefited from voting on March 8 against removing Article 97 conservation restrictions on fields near Cawley Stadium, where the new high school would be built. Attorney Michael Gallagher also wrote that Dillingham failed to provide supporting evidence for any of the claims against his client.
In February, Finnegan asked the Lowell High School athletic director whether his positions as a junior varsity lacrosse coach and Board of Parks member represented a conflict of interest, according to Gallagher's letter.
The athletic director advised Finnegan to file a standard conflict of interest form, which many coaches who are employed by the city must file. Finnegan did so, but the City Council did not have time to fully vet and approve the form before the March 8 Board of Parks vote and so Finnegan resigned from his coaching position, Gallagher wrote.
He added that Finnegan has also never expressed a public opinion on where the high school should be located and that he accidentally sent an email to the City Council with the subject line "Keep LHS Downtown" because "like many of a certain age, his Facebook knowledge and skills are not the most well-honed.
Finnegan's lone vote against lifting the Article 97 restrictions caused outrage among many residents who felt he had unilaterally killed the Cawley high school option.
City officials have subsequently met with the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and said they received assurances from the agency that Lowell could proceed with the regular process for lifting the Article 97 restrictions despite failing to receive a unanimous Board of Parks vote.
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