By: Kristina Ackermann
Anyone who says newspapers don’t provide a public service clearly doesn’t live in Lawrence, Mass.
An anonymous tip led reporters from the local newspaper, The Eagle-Tribune, to conduct a stakeout of Philip F. Laverriere, executive director of the Greater Lawrence Community Action Council, an anti-poverty agency funded almost entirely by federal and state contracts. After observing Laverriere for more than a month, the paper published a story detailing his grueling work schedule: arrive at the office around 9 a.m., head down to the local Elks Lodge around noon, spend the afternoon playing cards and smoking cigars, then straight home in the evening.
In fact, the Eagle-Tribune estimated that Laverriere averaged a mere 15 hours per week at the office – all while reporting an income of $144,641 between his salary, allowances, and annual bonus on his 2009 tax return. When reporters from the Eagle-Tribune confronted Laverriere, he said he had been keeping the lax schedule for three years. When asked what he would think if someone else at his agency had the same routine, he said he would not tolerate it.
After the story broke, local taxpayers were understandably up in arms. Laverriere, 85, submitted his resignation one day before the board of directors was scheduled to hold a meeting on his conduct. He had held the position for 37 years.