Coping With Good News

By Mike Flaherty | May 16, 2011

It's OK when we receive good news sometimes.  Really, it is!


Much has been said about the forthcoming reinstatement of Lieutenant Donald Bliss to the Wareham Police Department.

I thought about making a post under the article entitled, "Fired police lieutenant to get job back, town owes roughly $200,000".  Unfortunately, that discussion has deteriorated to the point where I just had to tune out the noise.

I have read most of the decision from the Civil Service Commission and I have to say that I fail to understand why anyone would try to spin this decision in the most negative light possible.  But that is what is being done. 

What's up with that?  Why do people look so hard for the bad in things, when so much good is staring them in the face?

I have never met Lt. Bliss and I wouldn't know him if he pulled me over.  But when it comes to this issue, there is one excerpt that literally speaks for the entire 40+ pages.


Quoting directly from the Decision of the Civil Service Commission
(emphasis mine)

Summary of Conclusion

Applying these principles to the facts of this appeal, Wareham falls short of
establishing just cause for discharging or further disciplining Lt. Bliss, as there is insufficient evidence of substantial misconduct on his part contained in the record. The draconian sanction imposed here upon a career 24-year veteran WPD police officer with an otherwise unblemished and, indeed, markedly distinguished career of service to Wareham, who has acknowledge his one poor lapse of judgment and fully remediated his
behavior, is an unmistakable example of the effect of improper personal motives and undue political influence which have no place in a merit-based civil service system.


That's it.  That's all anyone needs to know about this case. 

An impartial panel of five Commisioners unanimously found that Lt Bliss was already held accountable for certain past actions and that punishing him twice would essentially amount to double-jeopardy. 

Case closed. But not before it was also noted that Lt. Bliss was a 24 year veteran of the WPD with an otherwise UNBLEMISHED and MARKEDLY DISTINGUISHED career.  I never heard or read that before about him, and I was happy to learn it. 

Facts are facts, and no amount of hand-wringing from Halifax or anywhere else will ever change that.

So unless I am missing something, Lt. Bliss seems to be exactly the sort of officer that any police department would be proud to have on their force.  That's a good thing for Wareham and I, for one, look forward to his return.


Mike Flaherty

Comments (30)
Posted by: watersprite | May 16, 2011 14:19


Thanks for writing your post.  You are right, an injustice has been corrected and the Town needs to move forward to implement the mandated corrective actions.  But the Town leadership must also reflect on the problems that created the injustice in the first place.  This is a learning moment that should not be lost.

Posted by: WarehamThinker | May 16, 2011 14:33

No one had to "look so hard for the bad" in this.  What was done to Lt. Bliss was "bad" and the Civil Service Commission made that known with the quote you cite.  Sometimes there's "being negative" and then sometimes, there is a need to point out when ex-town officials have done wrong so the town will think long and hard about who they vote into office in future elections.  Elections have consequences, and the elections that gave us the BOS as it was comprised around the time frame of 2007-2010 have left this town with some very damaging, expensive, and long lasting consequences.  If it is negative to point out negative actions, then so be it.  I rejoice at the return of Lt. Bliss, but there's nothing wrong in pointing out that what was done to him was wrong.

Posted by: Duke 2 | May 16, 2011 14:50

All good thoughts and further embellishment will occur as the COA s Directors situation unravels

Posted by: Mike Flaherty | May 16, 2011 15:00

fair enough warehamthinker.  when life gives you lemons make some lemonade.  considering that virtually everyone involved with this botched firing has been either voted out or let go then you should be happy.  apologies for the lack of punctuation typing from my phone.

Posted by: interestedparty | May 16, 2011 20:20

Good news for Bliss supporters, but there are those who feel his presence on the police force will not be positive.

Posted by: WarehamThinker | May 16, 2011 21:52

I've never met Bliss before and probably would not recognize him if I saw him walking down the street, so I'd really call myself more of a "truth and justice supporter."  I enjoy seeing wrongs righted and I enjoy it when people destroyed by certain ex-town officials get a chance to clear their name.

Posted by: interestedparty | May 17, 2011 14:45

Mike. . .or retired.


I have to refer back to the harm done by Chief Joyce to Wareham PD.  I think a lot of the fault for Bliss' situation falls on the shoulders of Chief Joyce because he set up a system wherein some officers received "goodies" and some received letters of reprimand in their files.  In effect, his management style set officers against one another.  There were two classes -- the haves and the have-nots.  This preferential management style is contrary to the "merit" based system referred to in the Civil Service Commission's decision.  The Commission said those in power used politics to get rid of Bliss.  I contend that Chief Joyce used politics to retain Bliss, then and now.


But, here's the problem.  Do we blame Bliss for capitalizing on his good fortune of having Chief Joyce take a special interest in him?  How can we?  Wouldn't anyone want and encourage their boss to take him/her under his/her bosses' wing?  I ask these questions to be fair to Bliss.  Whether Bliss should returned to Wareham PD, or whether he should accept any money due him and move on,  depends on the actions he took as an officer on the force and whether he himself contributed to the favoritism felt among other officers at that time.  One also needs to look at any other actions Bliss may have taken during his tenure on the force.  In particular, I have cited the fact that he appears to have shown divided loyalties between his two employers, the Town of Wareham and Intercity Alarms.  Additional inquiry into Bliss' activities, outside his employment as a public servant, might be warranted before Chief Stanley returns Bliss to the PD.

Posted by: WarehamThinker | May 17, 2011 18:20

IP, please, this is getting sad now.  Your side lost.  You don't have to like it, but accept it and move on.  This is what your side does that frustrates so many people in this town and keeps Wareham from "Moving Forward" - You people are just incapable of letting things go.  5 civil service commissioners sided against the ex-town officials you support.  You lost.  It's over.  Get over it.  Move on.  Stop whining.

Posted by: interestedparty | May 17, 2011 20:20

WT:  A debate on an issue is just that -- a debate.  You don't have to like it, nor do you have to like anything I say, which obviously you don't.  Bliss has not yet returned to the PD, at least not to my knowledge.  Therefore, these postings remain relevant.  You do not have to read my posts if they are making you angry.


I wonder if Bliss will give up his private-business employment to return to the PD.  Hopefully, he will keep those concerns separate from his employment as a civil servant.  That was problematic for him in the past with his job as a sales representative for Intercity Alarm and as a realtor for DeBois Realty.

Posted by: Mike Flaherty | May 18, 2011 00:10

InterestedParty, if I don't know Lt. Bliss at all, then I know former Chief Joyce even less.  I have nothing to say about him good or bad.

However it is clear that, for whatever reason(s), you are trying to distract from the positive findings of the Commission in favor of Bliss by attempting to put Joyce on trial here.

Sorry, but there are only two parties listed on this lawsuit and Joyce isn't one of them:  Donald Bliss (the appellant) and the Town of Wareham (the respondent) are.  That's it.

With all due respect, please do not hijack this thread.  Thanks



Interested Party wrote:

Additional inquiry into Bliss' activities, outside his employment as a public servant, might be warranted before Chief Stanley returns Bliss to the PD.

My goodness, I hope not.  That would be nothing more than throwing good money after bad, much like we did with the underwhelming computer audit.  Sure it made for some sensational headlines, but ultimately the town suffered profoundly (far beyond financing it) and with no meaningful results to show for it.

Let's learn from our mistakes and move forward.  Shall we.  Please. 

Posted by: WarehamThinker | May 18, 2011 10:01

Why isn't Bliss back to work yet?  Does anyone know?  Is this a normal delay or is the town ignoring the civil service commission's ruling?  I hope the town is not going to throw money away on an appeal that is guaranteed to fail.

Posted by: Noseyneighbor | May 18, 2011 10:46

WT, I have a feeling that they will push for an appeal due to ruling going against the PAC puppets. We can only hope that Mr Cruz will do the right thing here when the time comes.

Posted by: seriousthinker | May 18, 2011 11:22

I really wonder what everyone believes will be accomplished by all the grudge holding and negativity.  Just let it go.  Mike is right.  In my opinion, unless you were personally involved in the original situation or the decision made you really have know right to pass judgment on the outcome.  There are only a few people who know what really happened and as is the case with any trial, a judgment has been made.  Yes, there could be an appeal, but you know what does not involve you and whatever you have to say will have no bearing on the outcome UNLESS, again, you are a witness or personally involved.  The world does not revolve around how you perceive the situation to be.  We all need to grow up and deal with whatever the outcome may be and move forward together.  Let's all help make Wareham the best it can be.  Imagine how amazing this town could be if people put their energy into working together and developing the positives we have to offer instead of arguing and continuing to search out our negatives.  If the same negative attitude that is often displayed here was the same you exhibited at home...think for a minute of how miserable your life would be.   

Posted by: Davidsgirl | May 18, 2011 11:55

Now there is a post I can get behind 100%! I agree wholeheartedly with you Serious the grudges are ridiculous and cloud peoples judgement. Instead of trying to make Wareham the best it is way more important that someone wins the grudge match, problem is we all lose in the process. I believe that the negative people already have miserable lives that is why they post the way that they do, they would  like everyone else to be as unhappy as them.. spread the bitter and angry know what I mean. Please keep posting so that I can join in!

Posted by: Shantih | May 18, 2011 14:47

I agree that the negative comments of some people have been uncalled for. I also called for uniting rather than to continue dividing Wareham on the other Bliss thread.


But I have to disagree with Serious. The poster said that there could be an appeal but it doesn't involve us. It does involve us in that it will be another costly expense to the taxpayers. We have already paid Torres as special counsel once. An appeal means more money spent that could go to other departments who desperately need it.


Mike is right. Let Bliss go back to work and be glad that this episode is over and glad we have another police officer protecting the town.

Posted by: frogsrule | May 18, 2011 15:31

I was also wondering why he wasn't back to work yet. According to Civil Service rules we are paying him (with interest).

Even if the town appeals they must ask for and be granted a "stay" on the judgement (extremely rare) otherwise the judgement is in full force and effect until the appeal is resolved.

If anyone knows what is going on please share.

Posted by: WarehamThinker | May 18, 2011 16:28

I agree and I am glad to hear the people who are the biggest grudgeholders in town are starting to realize that holding a grudge is a bad thing.  After all, when you read the Civil Service Commission report, you can tell what happened to him was motivated by a political grudge. 

I agree with Shanith.  I never said that I or others were affected by this more than Bliss.  But it is wrong to say that taxpayers are not affected.  When I pay my taxes, I want to see the money go to the police, the schools, fixing the roads, the library, all kinds  of town services.  I don't want to see it going to pay employees who are willing and ready to work, but are not being allowed to work due to petty politics.  An employee who has done nothing wrong should not be prevented from working.

It affects us as taxpayers, but it also affects us as citizens.  I want good government and good leadership.  The way Bliss was treated is wrong.  I'm not being negative in saying that, I'm just stating a fact.  And the wrong done to Bliss is an embarrassment that drags down the reputation of the town of Wareham. 


Posted by: WarehamThinker | May 18, 2011 16:31

As for an appeal, it just won't win.  If it weren't for a man waiting to get back to work for two years and the further waste of taxpayer dollars, I would say go ahead and appeal it just to get another ruling that proves the prior regime's ignorance.

Posted by: Davidsgirl | May 18, 2011 16:40

WT sorry to say but I have been reading your posts and for the most part they are negative. You posted just today I think a very negative post about Mrs E so... hard to read your post above and not think that you are insincere. Don't ask of others what you yourself are not willing to do.. drop the grudges.

Posted by: Davidsgirl | May 18, 2011 16:57

And there was this one "IP, I would be happy to elaborate for powerstruggle.  TFHC stands for "Tin Foil Hat Club."  You see,  your friends have embraced bizarre conspiracy theories to the point that most of the town views them with contempt, and being worthy of ridicule"

Clearly an "us and them post" not really written with the spirit that will help any of us or the town. Just saying...

Posted by: WarehamThinker | May 18, 2011 17:02

I stand by my words, Davidsgirl.  Sorry, I know the truth can be hard to take sometimes.

Posted by: interestedparty | May 18, 2011 18:16

Mike, sorry you think I hijacked this thread.  My posts are meant to get people thinking in new and different directions.  For me, the ruling left some questions unanswered.  For example, why wasn't Mr. Torres more prepared for the hearing.  Didn't the parties exchange witness statements and evidentiary documents prior to the hearing?  Someone said Torres felt that it was a loser of a case.  Why?  Is it because the employee is usually the victor in Civil Service Commission hearings as someone suggested?  Was there not enough evidence to support the Town's firing Bliss?


Other issues I found interesting are:  1.  The failure of McAuliffe and Joyce to put a letter of reprimand in Bliss' file; 2. Lack of written proof that Bliss performed his "punishment" duty; 3. Admission by Joyce that he put letters of reprimand in some officers' files and not others - and the repercussion this may have on the Town; 4. The Commission stated that there is some evidence that Bliss signed contracts on behalf of Intercity Alarms when the other party was Wareham - what is the evidence and where is it?


I presented a side in support of the Town's decision.  Others presented their side in favor of Bliss.  The sad part about all of this is that, some people cannot refrain from making personal attacks.  We should be debating, not calling each other names.


Just because the Commission makes a ruling, doesn't mean it is correct in every element.  I tried to play devil's advocate, to get people thinking and to see if there is a justification for appealing the decision.  I enjoy analyzing court decisions, breaking down the elements,  and I am sorry some of you don't.


Mike, there are two parties in the case, but there are many participants in the hearing process.  Therefore, comments on the Commission's decision should not be limited to those two parties.

Posted by: seriousthinker | May 18, 2011 20:05

Shantih -

I completely realize the monetary implications of an appeal and the way they affect us as a town.  I too would rather see our money being spent giving our children the books that they need for school, etc.  What  I meant was that as with any other situation, we should refrain from passing judgment if we really do not know all the details.  I definitely agree with you, let Bliss get back to work and end all this madness. 

As far as the comments about stopping the negativity, I believe we have to choices.  We can sit and complain about how horrible everything is or we can choose to stand up and make a difference.  I think that it behooves everyone that those with intelligent ideas make use of them and at least try to make a difference.  I may not agree with everyone but I see absolutely no point in the negativity and name calling.

Posted by: Davidsgirl | May 19, 2011 12:32

WT please remember that that is your truth not mine, since I have no direct knowledge of anything involving this case all I have are opinions. You stated above that you wanted people to drop grudges clearly you were being disengenious because if you really meant it you would follow your own advice... do as I say not as I do is quite different from walking  the walk.

Posted by: WarehamThinker | May 19, 2011 14:21

Davidsgrl, nobody owns the truth - the truth belongs to everyone.  The truth for the Bliss case comes from the written decision issued by 5 impartial civil service commissioners.  That decision called Bliss' firing a "draconian sanction."  I didn't put the report out - the civil service commission did.  It's a bit juvenile to stomp your feet and say "it's a grudge" in response to discussions about a publicly available report issued by a state commission about the Town of Wareham. 

Posted by: Davidsgirl | May 19, 2011 15:25

WT you are missing the point, you agreed with ST in your post but... then you posted negative grudgeholding posts and then followed up with a repsonse to me about my "juvenile foot stomping". I am neither juvenile (at least not in this case :)) nor have I stomped my feet in at least .. a week or 2 but definetely not stomping my feet about this subject. The original post from ST was about (in my opinion) letting go of the grudges and the negativity and finding a new way.. to be.. a way that will work in a positive way for all of us and make Wareham great.

Posted by: WarehamThinker | May 19, 2011 16:03

I did agree with the need for the grudge holding to stop.  I just think your friends need to take a long, hard look in the mirror and realize that they are, in fact, the grudgeholders.  The ones accusing others of grudgeholding are ironically the biggest grudgeholders in Wareham.  I'd be happy to back that up with a long list of grudgeholding actions your friends took when they were in power, but then I'd be accused of being negative.  I do agree the grudge holding needs to stop - but it's your side that is doing the grudge holding.  So, whenever you all wish to practice what you preach, that would be great.  In the meantime, having a discussion about a publicly available civil service comission decision that affects the town of Wareham is not grudgeholding.

Posted by: old lady | May 19, 2011 18:16

Amen, Warehanthinker, Amen

Posted by: Mike Flaherty | May 19, 2011 19:19

Both sides clearly have held their fair share of grudges and apparently still do.  Again, virtually (if not literally) all of the folks involved in this botched firing are no longer in town government.


So whatever side you are on, if you want to continue discussing "your" grudges or "theirs" and keep shouting at each other, then start your own thread please.  Might I suggest a title of, "It's Your Fault!"

Hope that works out for you.

Posted by: Davidsgirl | May 20, 2011 08:49

WT Not sure who you think my friends are cuz my friends don't live in Wareham. In the spirit of Mike's original post I would like to spread some good Wareham news. I had the need to attend a couple of Conservation Commission meetings recently and I left both meetings with the same thought...what a great group of people. The meetings were professional and the discussions were civil and intelligent. So here's a shout out to the conservation commission and the great job that they are doing, with a gold star to our conservation agent David P for his intelligent, thoughtful and patient demeanor.

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