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olf is known as a gentlemens game, but nego-
tiations over the future of North Hill Country
Club have been anything but genteel. The nine-
hole municipal course on Merry Avenue is operated
by a private management company, Johnson Turf and
Golf of Weston. When Johnsons ten-year contract
ended last year, town ofcials chose a different
company. But Johnson isnt going away quietly.
Citing their track record managing North
Hill and other municipal golf courses around
the state, Johnson challenged the bidding pro-
cess and claimed the towns choice was un-
Following a series of legal lings
and a successful injunction in Mid-
dlesex County, Johnson remains
in control of North Hill Country
Club, likely for the duration of the
2009 golf season. Frustrated town
ofcials remain locked in an unhappy
marriage, and Calm Golf Inc., the Rockland-based company
awarded the new bid by the town, is stuck in legal limbo.
Its a scenario not unfamiliar to Doug Johnson, owner of
Johnson Golf Management. Through his past negotiations,
court lings and e-mails to town ofcials, Doug Johnson
hasnt been shy about defending his turf in and out of
We have always gotten along with you,
and I hope when the time comes the
truth comes out about why Im now
considered a bully, Johnson wrote in
a Dec. 30 e-mail to Recreation Direc-
tor Gordon Cushing, (obtained through
a public records request.) Im the bully
who took a dump of a golf course and
clubhouse lled with drunks and druggies
and invested to make it into a rst class fa-
In his court complaint Johnson argued
that the towns decision was arbitrary, in
bad faith and that in choosing Calm Golf, the
town was engaged in the exact type of favor-
itism which Massachusetts courts have long
held to be impermissible in the awards of
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North Hill contract at center of legal battle
continued on page 6
Duxbury has had it with
being interrupted during din-
The Board of Selectmen
agreed on Monday night to
create a policy for Reverse 911
calls to the public.
On Monday, Town Man-
ager Richard MacDonald said
that the towns emergency
notication system had been
used for publicizing events
other than emergencies or ur-
gent information and that a
policy was needed on how and
when it should be used.
He said that the town had
received complaints about
the computer-generated calls
notifying the public with pre-
recorded messages about tax
bills being due and about a
fundraiser, although he re-
fused to specify which event
that was.
We were uncomfortable
with some of the calls that
went out, said MacDonald.
Fire Chief Kevin Nord has
been researching other towns
reverse 911 policies and he
gave that information to se-
lectmen. They plan to review
it and form a policy that they
will discuss at a future meet-
ing, probably after the annual
Town Meeting.
Last November, some resi-
dents complained to the town
after getting multiple calls
Selectmen look
for reverse 911
use policy
continued on page 9
6 Wednesday, February 25, 2009 Duxbury Clipper
public contracts.
Following the injunction,
the town is now barred from
awarding the contract to Calm
until the legal issues are re-
solved. Duxbury has decided
not to ght the injunction, so
Johnson will run the course
under the terms of his last con-
tract until Dec. 31, when the
contract is expected to be re-
bid and the process will begin
Bidding wars
The ve-year contract to
North Hill was put out to bid
twice, October and January,
according to Town Manager
Richard MacDonald. The rst
time all bids were rejected be-
cause MacDonald determined
that the states bidding law had
not been properly followed.
For the second bid all ve pro-
spective companies submit-
ted two sealed envelopes. The
rst contained the companys
resume and qualications for
running a golf course. The
second contained the price the
management company would
pay the town for the contract.
Three evaluators used the
information in the rst en-
velope to narrow down pro-
spective bidders to Johnson
and Calm. When the price
bids were opened, Calm came
in higher, at $512,500 over
ve years. Johnsons bid was
the lowest of all the bidders
at $420,000. The higher bid
translates into more money for
the town.
The process for evaluating
the bids is very regimented,
said John Britten, a local golf-
er who was part of the second
evaluation process.
Its like putting a square
peg in a square hole, he said.
We had to adhere to the cat-
egories we were given.
Evaluators were given a set
of criteria and asked to rank all
prospective bidders from un-
favorable to highly advan-
tageous. Johnson and Calm
obtained the highest scores,
and MacDonald, as chief pro-
curement ofcer for the town,
picked Calm because they
were the highest qualied bid-
In a complaint led Jan.
21 with the Middlesex Supe-
rior Court however, Johnson
claimed that the town had con-
spired against him.
Duxbury and [The North
Hill] Committee decided that
regardless of price and quali-
cations they were not going
to hire Johnson Golf under
any circumstances, the com-
plaint read. The evaluators
and members of the Commit-
tee and the Chief Procurement
Ofcer and others conspired
to reject all the proposals as
a pretext to deny award of the
contract to Johnson Golf.
In his afdavit led in court
on Dec. 26, 2008, Doug John-
son said unpopular changes
made by the club were a factor
in his not getting the bid.
A vocal group of permit
holders at North Hill have tak-
en exception to certain policies
which have been implemented
by my staff, Johnson wrote. I
believe [members of the North
Hill Advisory Committee] and
other permit holders were in-
strumental in structuring the
2008 North Hill RFP to favor
themselves over the interests
of the Duxbury Taxpayers and
the general public.
Town ofcials vigorously
dispute those assertions. The
process was fair and done ac-
cording to state bidding laws,
said Duxbury Town Counsel
Robert Troy.
He claimed everyone was
conspiring against him, which
was completely fabricated,
said Troy. Were required to
take the highest price propos-
Johnsons rst request for
an injunction, which claimed
the town rebid the project in
a deliberate attempt to thwart
the company, was denied by
a Middlesex Superior Court
We denitely showed
the court that was the furthest
thing, said Recreation Direc-
tor Gordon Cushing.
That was just laughable.
Questioning Calm Golf
In granting Johnsons ap-
plication for a preliminary
injunction, Justice Herman J.
Smith showed sympathy for
Johnsons claim that Calm
Golf should not have been
so highly rated by Duxburys
evaluation team.
It is incredible to this
court that Calm Golf was
rated highly advantageous by
at least one evaluator in each
category, Smith wrote in the
Feb. 2 decision. He pointed to
the fact that Calm submitted
nancial statements that were
not audited, and that the com-
pany did not carry pesticide in-
surance and that it did not own
its own equipment.
In light of Calm Golfs
insubstantial assets... it seems
unlikely to this Court that a
reasonable person could con-
clude that Calm Golf had the
minimum equipment invento-
ry required by the RPF, Smith
In the complaint, Johnson
described Calm Golf, Inc. as
a company whose total man-
agement experience amount-
ed to a four-month contract,
and that its total assets were
$1,336.92 at the end of 2006.
Johnson claimed in an e-mail
Court papers reveal a trail of lawsuits
uxbury is hardly the rst town
to be involved in litigation with
Johnson Turf and Golf Manage-
ment. According to court documents, the
company has sued Abington, New Bedford,
Beverly and Auburn over similar contract
In Abington, a bid to manage the
Strawberry Valley Golf Course came down
to Calm Golf and Johnson. The town rejected
both bids, according to Assistant Town Ad-
ministrator Dori Jameson. Calms bid was
rejected for a lack of qualication and John-
sons for what Jameson referred to as past
performance. A judged ruled last week that
the town could re-bid the contract, and bids
were due last week. Jameson said she was
unsure what all the past performance is-
sues were with Johnson, but said
one of them was the fact that
there was not a PGA-certied
golf pro on staff.
In Auburn, the ongoing
feud between Johnson and the
town has been less civil. At one
point after a preliminary injunc-
tion was issued in 2006 prevent-
ing Auburn from awarding the
contract to another bidder, local
police ofcers locked the build-
ings and prevented Johnsons
staff from entering the Pakacho-
ag Golf Course, according to a complaint for
contempt led by Johnsons attorneys.
Johnson also provided a terse reply to a
list of complaints from Pakachoag golfers.
Members had provided Auburn selectmen
with a list of complaints from Memorial Day
weekend. Among the complaints: greens
needed fertilizing, fairways were not prop-
erly mowed, and workers were observed not
using proper safety equipment, according to a
court document. In his June 1 reply, Johnson
wrote that heavy rains had prevented mow-
ing. He called other complaints subjective
or grossly exaggerated.
He also said a committee member had
attacked his company regarding mainte-
nance issues.
My answer to her was that she does not
need to tell us what to do and when to do it,
Johnson wrote.
The suit against Auburn is ongoing. A -
nal pre-trial conference was held in Decem-
ber, and a trial date has yet to be set, accord-
ing to the civil clerk at Middlesex Superior
A long dispute in Beverly over the Bev-
erly Tennis and Golf Club was resolved by
settlement about a year ago, according to a
spokesman from the city solicitors ofce,
who declined to comment further on the mat-
New Bedford is also engaged in ac-
tive litigation with Johnson over the Whal-
ing City Golf Course. In that city, Johnson
agreed to front the costs of some capital im-
provements to the course and
was given a 35-year lease, ac-
cording to a source familiar
with the situation. However, the
city had some issues with John-
sons attempt to amend mem-
bership fees for long term mem-
bers, and is disputing Johnsons
claim of what he owes the city,
the source said.
Johnson said that his com-
pany has lost hundreds of bids
where no lawsuits ensued. We
have only engaged in litigation
in situations in which we had a good faith be-
lief that there was something wrong with the
process, which violated Massachusetts law,
he said this week. In our view litigation of
these issues is always a last resort.
Almost all of Johnsons lawsuits are led
in Middlesex Court, regardless of where the
golf course is. (Johnsons main ofce is in
Middlesex County.) Johnson defended this,
saying that it is not necessary to le legal ac-
tion in a specic county.
The geographic location of a courthouse
makes absolutely no difference in the merits
of any case, he said. All cases are decided
upon the particular facts of the case and the
relevant law.
J. Graeber
Turf wars at North Hill golf course
North Hill
continued from page one
Johnson Golfs complaint alleges
a host of complaints, claim-
ing that Duxbury decided that
regardless of price and qualifica-
tions, they were not going to hire
Johnson Golf under any circum-
October 24, 2008:
Sealed bids for a five-year
management contract for
the North Hill Country Club
due to Duxbury. The town
decides, after reviewing
the proposals, that the
evaluation procedure was
not correctly followed and
the process will have to
start over.
Dec. 12, 2008:
Original complaint filed by
Johnson Golf in Middlesex
Superior Court against
Duxbury and members of
the North Hill Committee,
seeking monetary damages
and alleging breach of
contract, conspiracy and
fraud and breach of public
Dec. 29, 2008:
Johnson Golf files for
injunctive relief, seeking
to stop Duxbury from
re-bidding the contract and
allow Johnson to continue
running the course.
Jan 9, 2009:
A judge denies the
application to stop the
bidding process, but
allows Johnson to continue
running the golf course.
Jan. 9, 2009:
The new deadline for
proposals. The town
receives five sealed bids.
A panel of three evaluators
ranks the bids from
Johnson Turf and Golf
Management and Calm
Golf, Inc. the highest,
and when the prices are
unsealed, Calms bid is
Jan. 15, 2009:
Town Manager Richard
MacDonald awards the
contract to Calm Golf.
Jan. 21, 2009:
Johnson Golf files an
amended complaint,
including Calm Golf
and Charles Lanzetta as
Jan. 27, 2009:
Johnson Golf files a new
application for injunctive
relief, seeking to stop
Duxbury from awarding the
contract to Calm Golf.
Feb. 3, 2009:
A Middlesex Superior Court
Judge grants a preliminary
injunction to Johnson Golf,
effectively barring Duxbury
from awarding the contract
to Calm.
7 Wednesday, February 25, 2009 Duxbury Clipper
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to the Clipper on Monday that
the companys current assets
amount to $169.
Charles Lanzetta con-
spired with Calm Golf and
others to provide false infor-
mation to the Town of Dux-
bury in the hopes of securing
the contract at North Hill,
Johnsons complaint alleged.
Calms attorney, John
Geary of Kingston, said Mon-
day that Calm is simply a new
company formed by Charles
Lanzetta and Anthony Moros-
co, who together have more
than 80 years of experience
running golf courses in addi-
tion to Calm Golfs four-month
stint at Abingtons Strawberry
Valley Golf Course.
Its a question of whether
youre looking at a brand-new
corporation or the gentlemen
behind it, he said.
Britten said that Lanzettas
name is well known in golf
Charles Lanzetta is one of
the most respected golf names
in all of Massachusetts, he
In a brief led in Janu-
ary on behalf of Calm Golf,
Geary and attorney David
Edge argued that there is no
requirement that a town make
a distinction between the ac-
tual legal entity presenting the
bid and the actual principals
who will be running the golf
Geary also said that Lan-
zetta is president of another
company that has been manag-
ing the Rockland Golf Course
since 1978.
Atty. Troy believes the
judge exceeded his author-
ity by acting as the evaluator
of the bid proposals. He cites
a portion of the ruling which
points to Calms lack of pes-
ticide insurance, an issue Troy
believes could have been re-
solved in the working up of a
He does not have the right
to substitute his evaluation,
Troy said of Judge Smith.
Troy said the town is look-
ing at ling a motion to dis-
qualify the judge, since he
seems to already have made
up his mind.
Drunks and druggies
Troy pointed out that Dux-
bury ofcials had been com-
plimentary of Johnsons work
at the course.
Cushing, the towns rec.
director, agreed. They do an
excellent job; the course is in
terric condition, he said.
Johnson has built a new
clubhouse and septic system
at the course, although Cush-
ing pointed out it was required
in the last contract. Although
the town was not privy to the
exact price of the clubhouse,
Cushing estimated it cost be-
tween $400,000 to $500,000.
Economically I think it
was a great deal for the town,
Cushing said.
When asked what Johnson
meant by drunks and drug-
gies comment Cushing said
he had no idea. He said the
tone of the communication be-
tween Johnson and the town
wouldnt prevent him from
working with the company un-
til the contract is put out to bid
Theres certainly no hard
feelings on our end, he said.
Were all professionals and
were going to do whats best
for the town.
Asked to explain his com-
ments, Johnson said that the
conditions at North Hill were
disgraceful when he took
over the facility. The trans-
formation of North Hill under
our management is well estab-
lished, he wrote in an e-mail
this week, and pointed to the
positive comments of Cushing
as well as private golfers.
In another e-mail, Johnson
told Cushing that he was plan-
ning to notify the newspapers
as to what has transpired over
the past ve months, because
I know some people will be
spreading their spin.
Johnson said this week
that he did not mean to imply
that Cushing or MacDonald
has engaged in any particular
My reference is to the
people who have harassed my
employees over the past year,
telling them that they would
be losing their jobs because
Johnson would never get an-
other contract in Duxbury.
Play on
For now Johnson will con-
tinue to run the course for at
least another season.
At that point we said its
February, the snows melt-
ing, we should get the course
up and running, Cushing ex-
MacDonald said the town
can live with the result of the
injunction, and that his prima-
ry goal was to make the course
available to residents.
According to the judges
injunction, the terms of the
old contract remain in effect,
meaning Johnson will pay
$100,000 to the town for this
That amount is higher than
what either Johnson or Calm
would be paying had they been
awarded the most recent con-
tract, a fact that pleases town
ofcials, and should please
local golfers who might have
otherwise faced higher greens
As for Calm Golf, Geary
said that his client has not
made a decision as to what it
will do next, preferring to wait
until the court case is resolved
For his part, Johnson says
he is just trying to make sure
his company gets a fair shake.
Evidently some people
have the perception that I am
a bully, said Johnson. I am
not a bully. I simply wanted a
fair shot at earning a contract
at Duxbury based on my com-
panys qualications.
Evidently some people have the perception that I am a
bully ... I am not a bully. I simply wanted a fair shot at
earning a contract at Duxbury based on my companys
Doug Johnson,
Johnson Turf and Golf Management
Johnson Turf and Golf Management owner Doug Johnson said he has made substantial improvements to
North Hill over the course of his tenure, including building this clubhouse which was required under the
terms of the prior contract.
Visit duxburyclipper.com and
click on Document Vault to
download pdf copies of court
Johnsons amended appli-
cation for complaint
The preliminary injunction
issued Feb. 2. by a Middlesex
Superior Court Judge.
Affidavits from Doug
Johnson and his attorney.
Calm Golfs response to
the motion for injunctive