An idea just won’t float with Peabody residents

21 Apr

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

After voting to approve every billboard that’s crossed his path since being sworn in this past January, Ward 5 Councilor Joel Saslaw is now hatching a plan to get residents to  think more billboards are a good idea.

billboardSaslaw is this week encouraging the billboard companies to float balloons over the sites of their proposed roadside monstrosities to give people a sense for what it might look like when these signs are actually erected.

People might actually learn that they like the billboards, Saslaw insists.

In the immortal words of “Family Guy” legend Stewie … Say what?!?!?

Seriously, this is the solution Saslaw has proposed.  Here are all of the details in the Salem News.

Hey Joel. I have a better solution for you. How about NOT voting for EVERY billboard special permit that comes across your desk. Or, maybe instead of bringing your slimy developer sweethearts balloons, how about an nice box of chocolates or roses instead?

Too bad Ward 3 residents, who voted for Moutsoulas, can’t ask for their votes back

10 Apr

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

If I were a Ward 3 resident who voted to elect Jim “Demo” Moutsoulas Ward 3 Councilor last fall, I’d be knocking on City Clerk Tim Spanos’ office door this morning to ask him … “where do I go to get my vote back?”

Why?

Jim Moutsoulos ... running on empty.

Moutsoulas: running on empty.

Well, apparently Demo doesn’t really want the job he’s held for just four months. Word is out that the current Ward 3 Councilor, who some refer to as the “bad penny of Peabody politics,” is planning to announce next week that he’s running for State Rep.

Then again, maybe this is just Demo being Demo. We’ve seen this from him in the past, so perhaps, we’ll hold fire – a little at least – until he ACTUALLY brings back his nomination papers. After all, this guy has a habit of pulling papers for an office, and then finding some bizarre reason in the end NOT to run.

But if he is serious this time, clearly this is a slap in the face of those who supported him in his Ward 3 run against Bill Toomey and Tom Serino last November.

What is Demo saying here?

He never really wanted the job to begin with?

It’s like accepting a new job in January, and then telling your boss in April that you were giving your two-week’s notice. Some commitment, eh?

Or, is Demo hoping to “double-dip” here?  That is, hold both the state rep and his Ward 3 seat so he can someday collect TWO taxpayer-funded pensions?

I mean, it’s not like the state rep seat just opened up this time, like it did with the untimely passing of Joyce Spilliotis, which promoted a special election a year ago. This time, it’s a regular cycle election, which all of the candidates for office knew when they pulled papers to run in the city election.

If Moutsoulas gets into the state rep race, he’ll join Democratic challenger Beverley Dunne and Republican incumbent Leah Cole in a three-candidate field.

And if Demo is in, would he run as a Democrat?

Who knows? He’s capable of anything.

Maybe he should be the candidate of the “Rent’s Too Damn High Party.” Or, better still, the “Mickey Mouse Party.”

Council set to sign off on a billboard for Bourbon Street?

4 Apr

 

blank-billboardBy Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

If you live on Bourbon Street, and found the giant billboard around the corner and next to the Subway on Lowell Street offensive, get ready to be even more annoyed closer to your front door.

CBS Outdoor will go before the Peabody City Council on April 29th to seek a special permit to erect a giant, electronic billboard at 8 Bourbon Street. The billboard madness continues.

If you live in that neighborhood, call your ward councilor, Joel Saslaw, and tell him to stop voting to approve these eyesores. Mr. Saslaw, after all, has already approved THREE of these new signs in the ward since taking office in January.

Houston Astros moving to Peabody? Of course not. Happy April Fools Day

1 Apr

UPDATE: We’re sorry to report that this deal has fallen through. Hope you had an enjoyable April Fool’s Day.

stadium

Rendering of a new proposed ballpark that could be home of the Houston Astros

 

By Jack Ryder, Special Eye Correspondent

The Eye has learned that Mayor Ted Bettencourt will call a special meeting of the Peabody City Council ASAP to discuss a proposal by the Houston Astros to move their struggling Major League Baseball franchise to a new 43,000-seat baseball only stadium that would be built on the current site of the Peabody landfill off Farm Avenue.

Houston Astros owner Jim Crane would neither confirm nor deny that he was moving the National League team, but a source told the Houston Chronicle it was a “done deal,” and that “it’s all about the fine details and financing now, but it looks certain that the team will play north of Boston starting next season.”

Initial reports are that the team will be re-named “New England,” still play in the NL, and that the team will hold a contest with fans to choose a  new nickname. The Astros recently moved to the American League, but according to MLB sources, Commissioner Bud Selig will ask the owners to approve a move switching the Astros back to the NL so they don’t compete directly with the Boston Red Sox.

The source told The Chronicle that the Astros were looking for an assurance of public funding by both Peabody and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Mayor Bettencourt is being asked to commit $100 million in taxpayer dollars toward the construction of the $750 million stadium (seen here in the artist rendering). The NL team is also reaching out to Peabody State Rep Leah Cole in an effort to get a $200 million commitment from the state, which would help fund a light rail transit connection from the Salem Commuter Rail station, with stops in Peabody Square.

“This would be an incredible boost to our redevelopment efforts for the downtown, provide hundreds of jobs, and a huge, lasting boost to our commercial tax base,” said a source at city hall, who wished to remain anonymous.

The Astros would also offer up naming rights for the new stadium, and according to sources, Peabody tech firm Analogic, billboard giant Total Outdoor Corp, and General Electric have already all expressed interest.

“We like the location for sure, since it’s near some pretty major Interstates,” the source told The Chronicle. “Mayor Bettencourt and the other Peabody officials have been very accommodating during the negotiations. Looks pretty good right now that this will get done.”

The struggling Astros, who finished with baseball’s worst record last season were also fourth worst in baseball when it came to attendance. TV ratings for their games were so poor, that the team’s sports network, Comcast SportsNet Houston, was forced to file for bankruptcy last September.

The Astros had just $186 million in revenue last season compared to almost $400 million for the Boston Red Sox.

If this becomes a reality, the Boston area would join New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles as the only cities to have AL and NL MLB teams.

More details to come tomorrow on April 2nd.

Billboard being removed, but only after city cuts a deal

30 Mar

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

After several months of hand-wringing, end runs, and double reverses, the Peabody City Council, Mayor Ted Bettencourt, and the city’s legal eagles have found a way to have that now infamous 92-foot tall monstrosity of a billboard removed from the corner of Lowell Street and Route 1.

Pole dance: The city has cut a deal to have this monstrosity removed

City has cut a deal to have this monstrosity removed

The Eye has learned that the giant sign, which was wrongly placed near Lowell Street next to the Subway sub shop (instead of well behind the shop as dictated by special permit), will soon come down. But before you chalk this up as a victory for our city’s leaders, understand that the enormous pole is only coming down because the city is playing let’s make a deal with Total Outdoor Corp.

That’s right, we’re hearing through the grapevine that – instead of holding its ground and fighting it out in court – the city council has promised to approve another Total Outdoor Corp billboard at another location in exchange for the Lowell Street monstrosity being removed.

We’re not sure where that new location is, but so much for standing our ground. I mean, it’s pretty clear that Total Outdoor Corp disregarded the terms of its special permit by planting that thing in the wrong place. Right?

So, now the question is … why are we appeasing Total Outdoor Corp just to get them to remove their mistake?

Instead of having our city run these days by the people we elected, are we instead being run by lawyers?

Developers continue to pretty much get their way on everything. The beat goes on out on Route 1, and makes us wonder what other hush, hush deals are being struck while the quality of life of residents is infringed upon.

This wild west mentality continues, and developers simply have no worries that our city council will do anything to stop them.

And why should they? After all, if these developers screw up, they can always simply bargain with the city’s legal team.

Bikeway snowed under as city chooses not to plow a popular recreation area

7 Mar

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Now that Mother Nature has helped finally clear all of our side streets from the icy leftovers of a horrible job of snow removal this winter in Peabody, some memories remain of the carelessness  by contracted plow jockeys and the decisions made by the DPW.

bikeway (2) (403x537)If you want to walk your dog or escape cabin fever with a little exercise, don’t even think of doing so by taking a jaunt on Peabody’s bikeway.

After all, sources tell The Eye that major sections of the bikeway, especially in West Peabody, remain icy and snow covered.

Apparently, and even though the bikeway is paved from end to end, the city decided to not plow what has become a very nice recreation area for residents.

So much for being able to exercise or commune with nature in the winter months.

The photo above shows what I mean. It was taken along a stretch of bikeway between West Peabody and the Middleton line.

As you can see, people are still trying to use it, which means that the city not plowing the bikeway is also turning into a safety hazard.

 

Is Leah Cole following the Mass GOP toward the lunatic fringe?

26 Feb

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Leah Cole ... working toward the fringe?

Leah Cole … working toward the fringe?

At the end of the day, and even though I personally view “marriage” as something that government should leave only to religious institutions, I don’t get why some politicians continue their fight against same-sex marriage in Massachusetts. After all, since becoming law in 2004, God hasn’t sentenced the residents of the Commonwealth to eternal damnation. Nothing bad has happened, and the Red Sox have even won three World Championships.

People who are devout when it comes to their personal religious beliefs have a right to be against gay marriage, and we should respect their beliefs.  But it’s also time for us to all admit that, after almost 10 years, same-sex marriage has become one of those big whoopty-do type of things. Most people don’t really care either way, and want their elected officials to focus on REAL issues such as the economy, schools, and improving our crumbling infrastructure.

It’s time for our politicians  to finally realize that the war is over on the issue of same-sex marriage, and that it’s time to move on.

That’s why it was so puzzling to see that the Mass State Republican Party has submitted a 2014 party platform with the following language in it’s “values” section:

“We believe the institution of traditional marriage strengthens our society. There should be no infringement on the rights of the people of Massachusetts to vote on ballot initiatives..”

Sounds to me like the Mass GOP is encouraging crazy people to attempt to put a referendum on the ballot that will seek to ban gay marriage. And what’s most bizarre here is that Peabody State Rep Leah Cole, who is up for re-election this fall, appears to be an ardent supporter of this plank in her party’s platform. That’s right, Ms. Cole’s own  legislative aid is on the Mass GOP platform committee, and voted for this anti-same-sex marriage language.

So what’s up with this? Has the Mass GOP decided to cozy up to lunatic right wing Republicans elsewhere?  And if so, how do socially liberal-to-moderate Republicans such as Charlie Baker and Richard Tisei feel about their party’s new platform? Tisei is openly gay, and supports same-sex marriage. Wonder how he feels about this platform language?

I haven’t talked to her, but certainly the actions of Ms. Cole’s aid speak volumes here, since he does work for her. I never really viewed her as a far right crazy, and really like her opposition of the big pig tax policies of the Patrick Administration.

But if Cole is going to start working stances on social issues into her playbook, good luck to her getting re-elected in the 12th Essex. Peabody is most definitely a fiscally conservative community, and it’s a big reason for Leah Cole’s success in last spring’s special election. It’s also the reason why, in the past 5 years, Scott Brown, Baker, and Tisei have also won here. But while we Peabodyites like to protect our hard-earned money, we also have a phrase for politicians who adopt far right stances on social issues:

Welcome to the lunatic fringe, Ms. Cole.

On bad snow jobs, signs of our times, and Democratic justice

19 Feb

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Cleaning out the Rolodex of the mind today while wondering when we’ll ever see the grass again …

Wanted to start by thanking two neighbors who last week helped push out my car after I slid into a snowbank at the corner of Curwen and Jordan Roads.  The reason I got stuck? Well, despite six inches of snow on the ground, the city’s DPW still hadn’t deployed any plows.

Of course, just as they pushed me out, a plow did come by and almost run over the female neighbor who was helping me.  Fortunately, she got out of the way just in time. But when we looked up to curse at the driver, we noticed he was texting on his phone and couldn’t see us flipping him the bird.

If you haven’t noticed, city snow removal hasn’t exactly been stellar this winter. Many of the city’s side streets are in deplorable condition, and there are dug up lawns everywhere. Might be time for the city to evaluate some of these private contractor plowing clowns, and not offer them anymore work.

Sign us up for the moratorium!

Mayor Ted Bettencourt

Mayor Ted Bettencourt

I have to laugh when I hear city councilors, and even Mayor Ted Bettencourt now talking about putting a “moratorium” on special permits for new billboards. I mean, these are the same guys who got us into this problem with billboards in the first place, right? Most recently, the mayor sent a letter to the council saying enough was enough and that we should now stop approving these special permits. Of course, he sent this letter after begging the council for two more billboards on city land that netted us a cool $50K in permitting fees.

By the way, if the mayor and the city council wants a “moratorium” on billboards, they’ll likely need to go back and change the zoning again. And, just for the record, the reason we’re being overrun with these roadside eyesores is because the city council and the mayor worked together to change the zoning in the first place to allow unlimited billboards on Route 1 and elsewhere. Don’t blame the billboard companies for this getting out of control. As Bill Shakespeare once wrote, “The fault is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”

Bring on the clowns … there have to be clowns

We hear that Stonewood Tavern owner Sal Palumbo will go before the city council on Monday night to not only renew, but to expand his entertainment license. Now he wants comedians and clowns for kids birthday parties to go along with the 8-piece R&B and classic rock bands. It seems that these days Stonewood wants every form of entertainment. Well, short of strippers and … 3-piece jazz bands, we guess.

Sweet caucus justice by a legendary Peabody Democrat 

Mr. Democrat, Dick Jarvis

Mr. Democrat, Dick Jarvis

Hats off to my “You Make The Call” partner Dick Jarvis for holding some scoundrels accountable at last week’s Democratic city caucuses. City Dems met to elect delegates to June’s Democratic State Convention, and Jarvis managed some justice when it came to those Democrats who refused to support the ONLY Democrat on the ballot last spring in a special election to replace the late, great State Rep Joyce Spilliotis.

When the name of someone who openly supported unenrolled candidate Dave Gravel in the special election over Democrat Beverley Dunne was put into nomination as a delegate from Ward 3 last week, Jarvis opposed the nomination, and his claim was backed up by  “Rule 20″ in the state Democratic Party charter. Essentially Rule 20 states that you can’t be a delegate if you openly work against the party’s nominee in a previous election. her name was taken out of nomination.

File this one under sweet revenge. It was very interesting too that once Jarvis blocked this particular delegate wannabe, no one dare put Councilor At-Large Tom Gould’s name into nomination. Gould, as you’ll recall, also supported Gravel.

Dick and I will be discussing these and other issues on tonight’s live “You Make the Call Show,” 8-9 p.m., on PAT Channel 99. Please join in and give us a call.

Did you hear the one about the Stonewood Tavern owner who met with residents?

31 Jan

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Maybe Sal Palumbo will stand up in front of the neighbors tomorrow morning, and say: “Hello ladies and germs. A funny thing happened to me on the way over to the community meeting. Remember that promise to cut back on our entertainment at Stonewood Tavern? Well, um, well …”

Mr. Palumbo, owner of Stonewood Tavern,  told the Salem Snooze this week that he was holding a community meeting at 9 a.m. on Saturday morning to “try and make everyone happy.” And how he will tell neighbors “how we have cut back on our entertainment.”

Meanwhile, back at City Hall …

Palumbo, who many feel is already operating well beyond the stipulations of his entertainment license, has applied to expand said license to allow … wait for it …

Comedy shows.

I guess large, disruptive bands weren’t enough when it came to disturbing the peace and quality of life of Lynnfield Street neighborhood residents.

By the way, Sal will also ask the city council to give him permission to hire clowns for birthday parties. Insert your own one-liner here________________________________

For those who aren’t up-to-date on this issue, back when Palumbo made plans for the neighborhood bistro, and successfully revitalized a dilapidated property, he told us all that he was only looking for a quiet little three-piece jazz band to play occasionally within the original foot print of the restaurant.

What the neighborhood got instead was the fabulous Amber Room, where three-piece jazz bands have been replaced by raucous 8-piece R&B bands and classic rock groups. Lynnfield Street now has the feel of Bourbon Street, and the neighbors are feeling like Sal pulled a fast one.

Residents wonder whose side Ward 1 Councilor is on.

Residents wonder whose side Ward 1 Councilor is on.

With the exception of outspoken councilors Anne Manning-Martin and Barry Sinewitz, the Peabody City Council hasn’t been much help in bringing Stonewood to heel when it comes to its entertainment. Ward 1 Councilor Barry Osborne, who must be looking forward to the comedy amateur night at Stonewood, has seemingly been more on Sal’s side than on the side of the neighbors who elected him to be their representative.

Maybe if the neighborhood finds a candidate next time to unseat Osborne, Sal can hire Barry as one of those birthday party clowns.

Patch editor will be missed: Thanks for the great coverage, John

30 Jan

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

John Castelluccio

John Castelluccio

Long before I became a  “citizen” journalist, and long before I started making my living as a B2B Publishing company executive, I was proud member of what they used to call the Fourth Estate. I was what some might even refer to as an “ink-stained” wretch, making my living off of newspapers as a reporter, editor and columnist.  The pay stunk and the hours were long, but I always prided myself in doing the job accurately and fairly.

Unfortunately, today there are very few local newspaper reporters and editors left who take similar pride in their work. Case in point is a dying publication called the Salem News. The News these days is the realm of hack “journalists,” who go through the motions, collect a paycheck, and could care less about accuracy or thoroughness. Even though I haven’t made my living as a print journalist in 14 years, I still do love newspapers and newspaper journalism, so it’s a shame to see us stuck with such an amateurish publication as the Salem News.

This is why yesterday’s news about a good guy and dedicated local journalist losing his job also truly makes me sad.  As part of a worldwide cutback by the company that owns the Peabody Patch, editor John  Castelluccio was laid off yesterday along with hundreds of other editors across the country.

John is talented, and I feel he will definitely land on his feet somewhere else soon. But it’s a loss for us here in Peabody, since his coverage of local issues and local politics was truly superior to the coverage we’re stuck with in the local daily newspaper.

On a personal note, I just wanted to thank John not only for his professionalism, but for his fair and accurate coverage during my two campaigns for city council the past four years.

Good luck, my friend. You’ll definitely be missed by those of us who appreciate accuracy in journalism.

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