Claim: Ostensible City Web Pages Serve Ryan-Ciardiello, Toohey Agendas

Former Haverhill School Committeewoman Kerry Fitzgerald and Maura L. Ryan-Ciardiello.

Editor’s note: The staff and management of WHAV wrestled with the dilemma of airing this story only a day before Tuesday’s election or waiting until later in the week. Issues thoroughly considered were the public’s right-to-know before voting and the competitive media environment.

The description of the “Haverhill Public Schools ~ Parent Group” page, as it appeared Sunday.

The description of the “Haverhill Public Schools ~ Parent Group” page, as it appeared Sunday.

Former Haverhill School Committeewoman Kerry Fitzgerald says a Facebook page, ostensibly sponsored by Haverhill Public Schools, is actually a political tool, and illegal.

Fitzgerald, who served as a school committee member from 2002 to 2010, filed a complaint Sunday with Mayor James J. Fiorentini, school Superintendent James F. Scully and some school committee members. She charged the “Haverhill Public Schools ~ Parent Group” page is really a cover to advance the political interests of in-laws Maura L. Ryan-Ciardiello and Shaun P. Toohey. Fitzgerald said public comments viewed not favorable to the in-laws are stricken. Ryan-Ciardiello is listed as the administrator of the Facebook page.

“For those of you who haven’t seen my posts, you only need to know that many of us believe there is a blatantly political scheme being conducted by what inaccurately appears to be the Haverhill Public Schools,” Fitzgerald wrote. She added, “This is not only illegal, it is an example of the worst kind of politics.”

Facebook item identifying the administrator of the “Haverhill Public Schools ~ Parent Group” page, as it appeared Sunday.

Facebook item identifying the administrator of the “Haverhill Public Schools ~ Parent Group” page, as it appeared Sunday.

Ryan-Ciardiello and Toohey are both members of the Haverhill School Committee. Toohey is also the Republican candidate for the First Essex Senate seat and Ryan-Ciardiello is the Republican candidate for Fifth District governor’s councilor. Toohey is also a member of the Facebook group, but is not accused of removing posts.

Attempts to reach Ryan-Ciardiello were not successful by deadline.

Fitzgerald said she became aware of problems Friday when a post she wrote was removed from the group. Her message criticized alleged erroneous reporting by an Eagle-Tribune staff writer that favored Toohey over incumbent Senator Kathleen O’Connor-Ives.

“I attended two of the three debates this political season. Senator Katie Ives NEVER said she did not support charter schools. She said the funding method has to be changed,” Fitzgerald said.

 Fitzgerald: Other Facebook Pages Also Politically Motivated

Two other previous Facebook sites seem to have been politically engineered, Fitzgerald said, after polling other members.

She said Ryan-Ciardiello’s sister Tatum Ryan Toohey created a “HPS SOS” group when Gene V. Zylkuski sought to unseat either Toohey, Susan Danehy or Scott Wood for school committee in 2011.

“They posted lies about Gene Z and when anyone objected, they deleted the post,” Fitzgerald said.

“When Hunking had their website, the Ryans started a HPS Hunking page and used it to promote Maura for school committee.. When questions were asked about whether the site was for Hunking or for Maura, postings were deleted then threads deleted and ultimately the page was deleted,” Fitzgerald charged.

In Fitzgerald’s letter to city officials, she concluded, “I am no longer a public figure.  I care about ethics and I care about fairness and I care about our city.  This is just so very wrong.  It hurts our community, our children and our school.  It is the most vile and disgusting sort of self-serving politics.  I will be taking this on as my own personal cause as far as I can take it.”

18 thoughts on “Claim: Ostensible City Web Pages Serve Ryan-Ciardiello, Toohey Agendas

  1. I am disgusted by what is occurring on this Facebook page I am hearing about. Not only is it unethical, but it is also not acceptable to be running a page under a false name. What Maura Ryan-Ciardello is doing is wrong and I hope people who are voting tomorrow understand this and know what they are voting for! My family was personally victimized on the Haverhill Republican page on Facebook. Not only was it unprofessional, it was disrespectful and wrong. No one, especially a political candidate, should be talking like the way she did. Voters: Please educate yourselves before you cast your votes tomorrow!

    • Kendel, You are so right. Candidates need to run on their records, not on putting down and misrepresenting their opponent’s views. Those tactics are the hallmark of an empty campaign. Ick.

  2. I am not a member and have never tried to join, but (at least, as of this moment) it shows as a closed group with 647 members. If you’ve been blocked or locked out, then FB does keep you from seeing or viewing it or anything about it.

    • Oh, I thought at first something was technically wrong with the page. So yes, I’ve been blocked from the “Haverhill Public School Parents” Facebook page when the administrator found out I wasn’t planning to vote for her brother-in-law. Very very strange behavior. Wish we could have someone non-political administrate it. Having a page for HPS parents is a good idea, but not if it’s just being used only by people who vote for the administrator or her brother in law when they run for elected office.

    • Oh, I don’t get it anymore. Maybe I was locked out? I had made a generally positive comment, but said I supported Ives. Maura hit “like” and thanked me in a follow-up comment, saying I was polite. But then the group disappeared–for me, anyway, about an hour later. Maybe because I said I support Ives? It’s no longer listed in my Groups, and I’m blocked from reading parents comments now. I get a message that I’m not authorized and when I search for the page, I get a “page not found” so it must somehow be hidden from me. Grump.

  3. I thought this was a Haverhill Public School Parents Group when I joined because that was its name. But the first thing I saw was campaigning from a candidate’s sister-in-law and wife, which surprised me. Now this Facebook group has been taken down–moments after I saw one parent’s post that complained about this page being used for political campaigning. It’d be great to have a real HPS Parent Group without its being a political tool. The actual comments from parents were interesting. Can’t someone else run it?

  4. One more thing. I know what happened with the current HPS Parent Group site but information about the other sites were from several people who contacted me after seeing the problems I was experiencing. I could not research those other two sites because they have apparently been deleted.

  5. Part of the problem is that anyone can create a Facebook page and call it pretty much what they want, even one that sounds official. Facebook shows that even though the page is titled “Haverhill Public Schools ~ Parent Group”, it is not a a community or government page or even an open group like, “You know you’re from Haverhill when…”, but is actually a closed group controlled by the administrator, Ms. Ryan-Ciardiello.

    • The laws for elected officials and federal, state and municipal employees are different from the general public. An elected official who identifies a social media site used for political purposes as an official municipal site (school committee member and Haverhill Public Schools for example) is breaking the state ethics laws. A parent who did that would have likely heard from the superintendent asking them not to use the HPS in the title or he would find someone who knows the ethics laws to administer such a site.

      Any city elected official or candidate could be sited by the State Ethics Commission for identifying a strongly political site as the Haverhill Public Schools if anyone REPORTS that breach. I have never witnessed anyone doing something this egregious in my time in politics. In this case, the site was reported.

      In my opinion, this pattern of behavior is an extreme misuse of political power, a violation of the public trust and is at the very least, ethically questionable. My own personal opinion is that it is dishonorable and dishonest and, in effect, is a new electronic way to lie to the citizens of our community..

      • I just can’t fathom what’s going on in Haverhill with the un-ethical media control by these individuals….similarly,it is utterly disgusting that these people can hold more than one state/city office at one time. Wanting to hold multiple offices at the same time shows greed and lack of full respect for any one office! I hope the public knows what they are voting for if these people agree to do what they are indicating they will do if elected!

  6. I had a posted a simple question to Ms Ryan Ciardiello’s on her campaign FB page about whether she would resign from the School Committee if she was elected to the Governor’s Council. She indicated that she would not, but would continue to hold both positions. When I explained that I personally had an issue with that and thought elected officials should devote their full time efforts to only one elected position, my response and original question were quickly deleted from the page.

    • Frustrating isn’t it? The last thing in the world I wanted to do is to get dragged back into the sewer of politics (no offense meant… that’s my personal opinion from personal experience). Also, I was told by a very good source that Shaun Toohey contacted the State Ethics Commission last senatorial election to ask if he could serve on both the State Senate and the School Committee. They said he could. He serves on two school committees, Whittier Voc Tec and HPS and would also be senator if he won. I was told by this same very reliable source that if he were to get elected to the state senate, he would hire Scott Wood as his Chief of Staff and Scott would also remain on the School Committee. For those teachers and administrators who told me they would vote for Shaun for Senate so he would no longer be on the School Committee… if he wins, he’ll serve you in both capacities 🙂 Ditto with Maura and ditto with Scott Wood.

      • FWIW, After the NECC debate, I did ask Sean the same question I asked Ms. Ryan-Ciardello, whether he would resign from the school committees if he was elected senator and without hesitation, he replied “Absolutely”; that as much as he enjoyed the “give and take” of the school committee, he recognized that his responsibility was to concentrate his full energies to the Senate district.

      • How would they be able to do this? Look at what the former Mayor Lantigua tried to do by staying in his State Rep postion while being the Mayor of Lawrence. If memory serves me correctly it was either the Governor or the Attorney General who stepped in to make him step down from one. Hasn’t this already been established previously as conflict of interest?

  7. Once again I am not surprised by how low people will stoop for their own greedy and selfish gains. Where is the Mayor on this ? The Mayor needs to step up and condemn this dispicable behavior.