The Soapbox Stand up. Speak up. It’s your turn.
I sat down to write an essay about the man I call Gutless Guinta after appearing on Joe Kelly Levasseur’s show, where I was the token Democrat calling for Guinta’s resignation. Joe and co-host Ed Sapienza hit on a couple of points that left me afterwards thinking, “I wish I’d said that.” I started writing down the things I wished I’d said using the theme, “A Man’s Character is his Destiny.”
As I wrote about Guinta, something Joe said kept coming to mind: “If Guinta was a Democrat you wouldn’t be calling for his resignation.” My thoughts kept going back to a would-be Frank Guinta: Patrick Arnold, Democratic candidate for mayor.
Before last November’s election, I sat with Arnold in The Pint Public House, watching Chris Pappas on the “Manchsterdam” show. “That’s the man I’ll be opposing for Congress,” he told me casually.
To quote Phil Greazzo, the comment was “revealing.”
The Maryland native intended to emulate Guinta and use Manchester as a stepping stone. Gutless Guinta used the tax cap to get his fanny in the Mayor’s Office and his foot in the halls of power in Washington. Soon after the election, Arnold launched his second mayoral campaign, emulating Guinta by touting support for the tax cap.
On the night of May 20th, I sat in the Pint Publick House with Arnold, again, watching David Letterman’s farewell show. The soon-to-graduate from high-school 18-year-old, who serves as his campaign aide, had been pestering me to write an editorial piece pressuring Joyce Craig for debates. I had ignored her, as it would have to be based on Arnold’s canard, that at a meeting of the Manchester City Democratic Party I attended, he had called for debates.
Let me state unequivocally, he did not.
To paraphrase Union Leader publisher Joe McQuaid’s take on Gutless Guinta: “Patrick Arnold is a damned liar.” I was not going to participate in propagating that lie.
During the Letterman farewell, Arnold stopped hiding behind his campaign aide and started pressuring me.
“Gatsas is not going to debate,” I said, trying to brush him off, knowing Gatsas was not the object of his latest stratagem. I knew what he wanted, and after admitting there was no possibility for debates, he asked for it in plain language, for what’s known in the trade as a “hit piece.” A hit piece embarrassing Joyce Craig, similar to the one he encouraged me to write saying school teachers and their unions wouldn’t support Craig. I had stuck a paragraph at the end of an article stating just that; subsequently, Arnold had sent out a political circular using it. I had given him permission to quote the article, but did not know what he had intended to do with it.
I had played ball then but was refusing to be “played” again.
Arnold’s use of an 18-year-old to negotiate with a middle-aged man who clearly WAS saying “No” by ignoring her, as well as his personal wooing of me at The Pint when that failed, were pathetic. I refused to commit, and after Letterman bid America farewell, the event that would lead me to bid farewell to Patrick Arnold occurred after the bar cleared out. I asked him whether he’d listened to a Girard at Large radio show on the mayor’s race I had alerted him to.
“I only listened to the first part of it.”
“Girard says you’re going to drop out,” I said.
“They’ve got something on me,” he said, not looking me in the eye.
What did they have on him? I don’t know. I turned on my heel and walked out of Pathetic Pat’s life.
A cynic, it is said, is someone who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. The price to power for Gutless Guinta was $355,000 and five years of lying. Aside from lying, what was Pathetic Pat’s price? It’s something I don’t want to think about. (What was my price? It was the opportunity to indulge my own vanity and ego, to feel like a “player” instead of being irrelevant after losing a close race for State Rep in which Arnold was one of my few allies from the Manchester political establishment.)
Letterman’s successor as Late Show host Stephen Colbert revived an old 19th Century word, “truthiness,” on his old talk show. Truthiness means that someone has a gut feeling that something is true. It’s my gut feeling that Patrick Arnold used whatever influence he had with the Board of School Committee (BOSC) to push the unprecedented tax cap-busting school budget. The intent would have been to hurt Joyce Craig, who co-authored the tax cap override budget and is his main rival to challenge Mayor Ted Gatsas in the general election.
Whether one works in military intelligence breaking out enemy communications networks or as an investigative journalist, one realizes there’s always a weak link in any chain. If there was a behind-the-scenes effort to push the school budget to give Pathetic Pat an advantage over Joyce Craig, it was the Arnold supporter on the BOSC who couldn’t resist telling an alderman, “Now you’ll have to override the tax cap.”
That supporter might be innocent of any wrong-doing, but why does she support a candidate, Patrick Arnold, who publicly supports the cap? Because he doesn’t? Because his advocacy of the cap is a cynical ploy – just as is his lie about asking for debates? Because it is a damned lie? How can one support busting the tax cap and a candidate wedded to the cap?
Is it a stretch to suppose that support in certain quarters for the tax cap-busting school budget might have been intended to give Patrick Arnold an edge in the upcoming primary? If my gut feeling is true, I wonder: Was there any thought of what the consequences would be in the general election, if Arnold paired off against another tax cap supporter, Ted Gatsas? Would it have hurt the chances of the Democratic members of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BOMA) who supported the tax cap override in 2014? Is that what is motivating Patric Arnold, too?
Pat Arnold has appeared on my show, Ward 13 with Jon Hopwood, many times. Frankly, I was shocked when he came out as a tax cap supporter on my show. He explained that under the City Charter, a mayor has to come in with a budget that meets the cap. His explanation was meaningless, like much of his rhetoric.
Pathetic Pat served two terms on BOMA and knows very well that mayors backchannel their real budget through their BOMA allies. I realized his public support of the tax cap was calculated to hurt Joyce Craig. Pathetic Pat was putting his ambition before the needs of Manchester citizens. His pro-tax cap sophistry not only threatens Craig, but every one of the brave BOMA members who joined her to override the cap, which was the right and proper thing to do.
To survive in politics, one must look away from the grossness and ugliness of politicians.
I can no longer look away. Plainly, Pathetic Pat doesn’t care about endangering the futures of the Democrats on BOMA, most of whom he served with. I believe that with his campaign failing and his dreams of returning to his home haunts as the conquering hero ebbing away, he is driven by jealousy and envy rather than a concern for the common good.
I found out long ago that when a person criticizes someone, they often are inadvertently revealing something about themselves. In my presence at The Pint, a guy from Manchester Public TV asked Arnold what he thought made Joe Kelly Levasseur tick. Arnold recalled a scene from a Batman movie, where the Dark Knight’s servant, Alfred, says of the Joker, “He wanted to see Gotham City burn.”
I now believe Arnold was revealing his innermost self, not deconstructing Joe Levasseur. For this essay, I obtained the actual quote. It is a scene where Barman is discussing with Alfred how the criminal gang he is fighting has “crossed the line.” He wants to know the motivation of such desperadoes.
“Some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money,” Alfred says. “They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.”
A man’s character is his destiny. It is my personal opinion that Patrick Arnold’s lack of character, like that of his doppelgänger Frank Guinta, makes him unfit for political office.
Frank Guinta so far has proven too gutless to do the right thing and resign, and Patrick Arnold is too pathetic to see that the parade has passed him by. Gutless Guinta needs to resign for the good of the 1st Congressional District and Pathetic Pat needs to drop his mayoral bid for the good of the Queen City. I cannot stand by and watch my home town burn.
Jon Hopwood is a former political activist and writer who lives in Manchester.
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