Paper City Notes: Holyoke police chief city’s top earner in 2021

  • Holyoke City Hall as seen from Lyman Street. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

  • Holyoke Community College anthropology professor Vanessa Martínez prepares to deliver a commencement address in June 2021. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 2/7/2022 8:13:47 PM
Modified: 2/7/2022 8:12:06 PM

HOLYOKE — The city has released records of its highest-paid employees from calendar year 2021, a list top-heavy with mostly police officers.

In 2021, the nine highest-paid Holyoke employees were police making between $169,343 and $259,401. Of the city’s top 30 salaries, 21 were HPD officers. Other top earners included the fire chief and deputy fire chief, as well as seven members of the Holyoke Public Schools administration.

Police Chief David Pratt, who took on that job in August, came in at the top of the list, earning nearly $260,000. Pratt was also the highest-paid employee in 2020, earning $264,650 that year, $97,135 of which was overtime pay.

Pratt’s predecessor, Manuel Febo, was the city’s third-highest paid employee at $243,539, despite only working seven months in 2021. Much of that difference is likely due to a provision in his contract that stipulated that upon retirement, the city would pay him out for “any and all unused, accrued and accumulated leave, including all sick time.”

Rounding out the top 10 were police Lt. John Hart at $252,356, Capt. Denise Duguay at $235,262, Capt. Matthew Moriarty at $231,406, Lt. John Monaghan at $219,515, Lt. Laurence Cournoyer at $179,825, Capt. Isaias Cruz at $172,850 and Lt. Patrick Leahy at $169,343. Holyoke’s Chief of Schools Stephen Mahoney, the former Holyoke High School principal, came in at No. 10 on the list, earning $160,931.

Holyoke Fire Chief Jeffrey Przekopowski was paid $160,122 in 2020, making him the 11th highest-paid employee.

Though most of the top salaries were police officers, the school department cabinet had seven administrators in the top 30 highest paid rolls in the city: Chief of Strategy and Turnaround Erin Linville made $154,612; Director of Health, Wellness and Nursing Cynthia Carbone made $147,121; Chief Instructional Officer Valerie Annear made $141,147; Chief of Pupil Services Marianne Currier made $138,345; Chief Financial Officer Michael Buhl made $129,921; and Executive Director of School Leadership Jackie Glasheen made $124,835.

Current schools Receiver-Superintendent Anthony Soto — who on July 1 began a three-year, $209,000 contract with the possibility of up to 4% yearly raises — was farther down the list. He was the 19th highest-paid employee in the school department, earning $113,378 in 2021.

HCC professor Vanessa Martinez honored

When it comes to civic engagement, Holyoke Community College anthropology professor Vanessa Martínez stands out.

Last month, Martínez was the recipient of a national award from the organization Campus Compact, a coalition of higher education institutions. The organization awarded her its 2022 Thomas Ehrlich Civically Engaged Faculty Award, which is given to one senior faculty member who practices “exemplary engaged scholarship through teaching and research.”

In a statement announcing the award, Campus Compact said Martínez’s teaching has inspired students to take on leadership roles in their communities. Martínez invites diverse groups of students to learn about community-based organizations, and to advocate and fundraise for community needs based on their own research.

“This is evidenced by a partnership with the Women of Color Health Equity Collective, an organization that Martinez helped to found that serves as an engaged-learning opportunity for Holyoke Community College students,” the group said. “Students learn about the social determinants of health and the role of social inequality in health outcomes while researching community and collective member needs and developing advocacy plans to help create change.”

A cultural and medical anthropologist with a doctorate from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Martínez is no stranger to big awards. In 2011, then-governor Deval Patrick awarded her the Latino Teaching Excellence Award, and in 2015 the American Anthropological Association selected her as a leadership fellow.

“Taking action in the world can and should start in your community,” Martínez said in a commencement speech last year. “The actions can be big or small, they can be self-reflective or engaging of large groups. Remember, there are community agencies to assist, neighborhood mini libraries to build, book clubs to host, protests to plan, government policies to change, peer support groups to run and so much more.”

Dolan leaves City Hall for Lesser campaign

When then mayor-elect Joshua Garcia walked out to loud applause to declare victory on election night, standing close by in the shadows was somebody who had a hand in that historic campaign: Westfield native John Dolan, who became Garcia’s campaign manager after he won second place in a crowded preliminary field.

Dolan has continued that behind-the-scenes work ever since, serving as a mayoral aide in City Hall as Garcia moved through his transition into office. But on Feb. 1, Dolan stepped down from that role.

In a phone interview Sunday, Dolan said that although he had only worked with Garcia for a relatively short time, it felt much longer because of the bond that they forged on the campaign, which resulted in the majority-Hispanic city electing its first Hispanic mayor.

“I feel very humbled that I got to work with such a great candidate and better person,” Dolan said.

But Dolan isn’t moving too far. Shortly after sending out a message announcing his departure last week, his name appeared on a press release from another local campaign: state Sen. Eric Lesser’s bid to become lieutenant governor. Dolan has now taken on the role as campaign manager for Lesser. He said he’s excited for the chance to work with the senator.

Before coming to Holyoke, Dolan worked in Pennsylvania as that state’s organizing chief of staff for Joe Biden’s presidential election bid, overseeing statewide field operations.

Dusty Christensen can be reached at dchristensen@gazettenet.com.

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