Archive | March, 2013

MA GOP may have hurt its State Rep candidate with this ill-advised mail piece

28 Mar

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

The biggest post-debate topic wasn’t really the scope and substance of what the three State Rep candidates had to say last night in their one-hour forum inside Wiggin Auditorium at Peabody City Hall in advance of Tuesday’s special election. What people from all sides seemed most intent on talking about was a campaign mail piece that was sent to Peabody residents this week by the Mass. State Republican Party.

The infamous MA GOP flier that might have hurt their candidate Leah Cole

The infamous MA GOP flier that might have hurt their candidate Leah Cole

In the end, that two-sided flyer (pictured right from the Peabody Patch) not only gave Democrat Beverley Griffin Dunne and unenrolled candidate Dave Gravel the opening to effectively paint Republicans as negative and mean-spirited. …

It embarrassed the Republican candidate Leah Cole.

Once Gravel brought it up, all Cole could really do was sit there, take the criticism, and defend herself by saying she had nothing to do with it. She was sorry it got sent on her behalf, she said. But it didn’t matter and it’s just another example of why we continue to be a one party state dominated by Democrats.

In the fullest of disclosures here, I am a Democrat. But I’m also a conservative Dem, who feels that one-party rule is hurting Massachusetts. I believe in the basic principles of my party, but I also feel that multiple party balance keeps everyone honest when it comes to spending my tax dollars.

It’s the reason why I feel it’s a shame that MA GOP leadership continues to rival the tactics of Larry, Moe, and Curly.

The MA GOP many times finds great candidates, people like Peabody’s Greg Bunn and Richard Tisei and Scott Brown, and even newcomers like Leah Cole to run solid campaigns in an effort to crack the Democratic stranglehold. But in the immortal words of Jim Morrison in describing himself, Republican leaders in our state might be “intelligent, sensitive humans.” But they also  have “the souls of a clown, which forces them to blow it at the most important moments.”

Take the case of Mr. Tisei, who mid-way through his run for Congress had a double-digit lead in the polls over incumbent  John Tierney. But then along came “help” from the national Republican Party and extreme right wing groups, who dove into the Primordial ooze and “supported” the likeable and moderate Tisei. Those mail pieces and TV ads tried to paint Tierney as the evilest  politician since Genghis Khan.  It backfired, of course, and as a result Tisei lost his lead, the election, and once again Republican hopes dried up like an egg cracked on the floor of a desert.

In the case of this latest ill-advised piece from the MA GOP, not only is it incredibly negative, but it’s also flat out inaccurate. If I were feeling a little angrier today I’d even tell you that they plain old lied about Gravel and Dunn in this piece.

They paint the two long-time Peabody elected officials at “peas in a pod” with Governor Deval Patrick when it comes to his bloated proposal for raising taxes, and spending taxpayer money. But … NEWSFLASH MA GOP! Both Dunne and Gravel are AGAINST the governor’s tax plan. So much for the fine details, I guess.

In general, Peabody voters hate this sort of negative campaigning. The lies only make this piece even more deplorable in the eyes of the voters.

But even worse is the fact that these stooges may have hurt their own candidate, who had seemingly been gaining some momentum. If I were Leah Cole, I might right now be thinking about a letter  to MA GOP Chair Kristen Hughes that begins with:

“Dear Kristen, please, I’m begging you … don’t help me.”

You can read more about the debate here in the Peabody Patch.

Council expected to side with Mayor on removing Civil Service as criteria for picking police, fire chiefs

27 Mar

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Peabody Mayor Ted Bettencourt

Peabody Mayor Ted Bettencourt

The Peabody City Council’s Legal Affairs Committee did the right thing last night in voting to advance to a vote of the full City Council Mayor Ted Bettencourt’s request to remove the police and fire chief’s jobs from the jurisdiction of Civil Service.

Councilor At-Large Jim Liacos said it best last night when he argued that the Mayor should have the ability to “pick his own team” without being hamstrung by Civil Service scores. Removing the barrier allows Peabody to find the best candidate for filling those executive positions, starting with the selection of a new police chief when Chief Robert Champagne retires on June 1.

There is also the issue of a Mayor being able to fire a department head based on performance.  Right now, unless there is some malfeasance, that’s not allowed under the Civil Service system.

Although Civil Service test scores need to remain an effective way of avoiding political patronage when it comes to hiring rank-and-file firefighters and police officers, a Mayor should have the right to pick his/her own department heads and executive team, regardless of test scores. I wrote about this earlier in the Eye, if you’d like to read more.

“We all want the best candidate, the most qualified person, for this critically important position and I believe removing the chief position, for both police and fire, from Civil Service gives us the best chance of finding the right person,” Bettencourt said.

Just three members of the Legal Affairs Committee were present last night, with Councilors Liacos and Bob Driscoll supporting the Mayor’s request. Councilor At-Large Anne Manning-Martin wasn’t supportive of the Mayor’s request.

The matter will now go before the full council on Thursday, where it’s expected to pass. The vote would serve as a home rule petition that the state legislature would then have to approve and have signed by the Governor.

You can read the full story here in the Peabody Patch.

Please let me know where you stand by leaving a comment.

Catching up on nice honor for local hero … and more

22 Mar

(Just catching up on some things after a very busy month for work travel and the campaign.)

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Local hero Alex Romano

Local hero Alex Romano

Starting this off today by talking about an honor for a “local hero,” and a young woman who should be a model for other Peabody teens to follow.

Peabody High senior Alexndra Romano was honored this week as a local hero by the American Red Cross of Northeast Massachusetts for going above and beyond in putting together a campaign to help people who became homeless because of Hurricane Sandy. Alex called her campaign “Kill the Chill,” and it included collecting clothing and blankets, and collecting donations for storm victims, which were quickly put to use by the Red Cross.

Alex and her sister Lea are both very active in their community when it comes to public service, and it’s an awesome thing to watch in these days when many young people would rather spend their free time playing video games.

The sisters also each year organize the “Caring Carolers,” who roam our Goodale Street-area neighborhood during Christmastime singing carols door-to-door while collecting money for Haven From Hunger. Not only do they get their friends together to sing for a very good cause, but their visit to your door really makes you feel good and get into the Christmas spirit.

Angela and Mike Romano must be very proud parents!

 Want to know why we are stuck with Comcast?

Mayor Ted Bettencourt  says he is asked on an almost daily basis why Peabody is not home to any alternative providers of cable TV, high-speed internet and telephone service. Conspiracy theories abound but it turns out the answer is simple and straight forward, according to a press release The Eye received from City Hall this week:

“At this time, no other provider of the phone/cable/ internet trio of services has expressed an interest in coming to Peabody,” Mayor Bettencourt tells The Eye. “We would like residents to have a choice of providers and would certainly welcome other options. At this time however, none of the alternatives to Comcast has stepped up with a proposal.”

Mayor Bettencourt said he understands Peabody residents’ frustration with the lack of choice here. “I absolutely understand their frustrations,” Bettencourt said. “Having a choice helps assure we get the best value for our money. When there is no competition in the marketplace, people feel like they are at the mercy of a monopoly. In the final analysis however, we cannot force these competitors to set up shop in Peabody against their will.”

With some of the best known alternatives out of reach for now, Bettencourt says the city may turn its attention to niche providers who offer similar services on an individual or dual basis rather than the heavily marketed three-in-one portfolio.

“We recognize the benefit of having more than one provider of cable, phone and internet service,” said Mayor Bettencourt. “If another provider sees a market in Peabody, we are all ears.”

 Our sign of the times: Great job by Smuz and the Mayor

Hats off to Mayor Bettencourt for holding firm and instituting the cease and desist order, and to City Solicitor Michael Smerczynski for his skillful argument in court this past week on placement of the giant billboard on Lowell Street near Route 1.

Judge Howard Whitehead agreed with city officials — the 92-foot pole is definitely not where they thought it was going to be installed when he ruled against the city last year.

As reported in the Peabody Patch, Smerczynski says the issue now for Whitehead to decide is whether that truly was because of a clerical error when the plans were submitted in court or a broken promise first made to appease local officials who didn’t want the billboard there at all off Lowell Street. The city and the owner of the billboard, Total Outdoor Corp, argued their sides in Salem Superior Court this past Monday. Definitely more work to do in court before this is resolved. Stay tuned.

 Should be either Dunne or Gravel, but Cole could surprise

Going to be a very interesting Election Day on April 2 when people go to the polls to vote in the State Rep special election. Because name recognition is so important, I honestly think it’s between Democrat Beverley Griffin Dunne and unenrolled candidate David Gravel. But there is a lot of money being pumped into Republican Leah Cole’s campaign by the Republican Party and the Ron-Paul-inspirted Libery Movement. There’s also a lot of unhappiness these days with traditional candidates, so Cole might actually pull a solid number. It’s not my State Rep district, so I sort of feel cheated here. I can’t even vote! …

Great job by Councilor At-Large Tom Gould while handling the MC duties at last Saturday’s First Annual St. Patrick’s Day Roast and breakfast at City Hall. Also, a lot of surprisingly funny performances by some local politicos. I mean, who knew Ward 6 Councilor Barry Sinewitz and Mayor Bettencourt were actually funny guys? It was a really fun morning for a really great cause as all the ticket and raffle money went to Haven From Hunger.

If you are in the 12th Essex State Rep District: GET OUT AND VOTE on April 2nd!

A message from the publisher

22 Mar

Dear readers,

It has been a busy month for me with work travel, and the process of beginning my campaign for Ward 5 City Councilor, so I apologize for not posting very often lately.

As my campaign goes into high gear, it’s likely I will be posting less frequently, but I will also try to keep up with it the best that I can. Since starting this blog back in November, we’ve had almost 50,000 site visits, and I’m honored that so many people have found the content here interesting enough to visit.

Going forward my goal is to continue to bring you the best in hometown news and commentary. I just might not be able to post as often because of my personal time constraints.

But with that I’d like to offer all of our readers the opportunity to write and post as well. If you are a candidate who would like to get your message out, please feel free to submit a candidate statement.

But you do not have to be a candidate. I will consider submissions from everyone. All you need to do is email me at racroce@comcast.net, and I’ll consider it for publication. The only thing I can’t do in the main content area is use anonymously written content.

Thanks again for reading.

Sincerely.

Bob Croce, Publisher, Eye On Peabody

Frasca hopes to bring experience, Peabody roots to job of Councilor At-Large

15 Mar

(If you are running for any office in Peabody in 2013,  please send us your statement, and we will post it here as written by you. Scott Frasca has pulled nomination papers to run for Councilor At-Large in this fall’s City Election.)

 Submitted by the Scott Frasca for Councilor At-Large Committee

Councilor At-Large candidate Scott Frasca and his sons

Councilor At-Large candidate Scott Frasca and his sons on the day he pulled papers to run for Councilor At-Large

Scott Frasca was educated in the Peabody school system from Kiley Elementary to Peabody High School. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Management from Salem State and worked hard to achieve a Master’s degree in Management from both Northeastern and Harvard University where he won the prestigious Derek Bok Public Service Prize. He also completed an executive education at the Kennedy School of Government in 2009.

Based on his strong Peabody roots, entrepreneurial background, and compassion for people, he created Making a Difference in Peabody Foundation in 2002 on the belief that there was a need to help Peabody residents with basic emergency needs such as oil, rent, electricity, clothing, housing items, and fire and flood relief.  The organization has fulfilled its mission and continues to assist hundreds of people a year.

 

He has been a business owner with a downtown office since 1997 and is the owner of Frascati Clothiers and Frasca Strategies and is involved with numerous other business ventures.  After he sold his first business in 2001 and immediately after the 9/11 attacks, he was on a waiting list to work for the FBI and worked the night shift for Homeland Security at a government base while developing a new business and charity during the day.

He then decided to work 4 years as a Budget Manager on the site integration phase of a new classified Missile Defense Agency contract while developing his business and charity part time. This defense system is currently deployed to protect the United States and its Allies from incoming missiles. Once this system was deployed, Scott decided to focus full time on developing his business and charity.

Scott serves in numerous community positions and is President and Founder of Animal Health Fund, Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides funding to Peabody residents for preventative and emergency animal care. He is also a member of the Peabody Historical Society,  Peabody Area Chamber of Commerce, Harvard Club of North Shore, Celiac Disease Organization, and American Labrador Rescue.

He previously served in numerous community positions including Vice President of the Peabody Chamber of Commerce, President of the Library Board of Trustees, Higgins Middle School Council Member, Chairman of the Peabody Republican City Committee, member of the Lynn Area Chamber of Commerce, and American Cancer Society fundraiser.

Now, Scott wants to take his education, experience, and community service to a new challenge and serve Peabody as Councilor at Large.  He wants to be a voice for open space and beautification, an advocate for increased senior housing and services, and a strong voice to demand world class public schools in Peabody.  His business and management background will bring leadership and energy to help revitalize downtown, expand the economic base, and ensure that we have a strong public safety.

Please consider supporting Scott so that together we can make Peabody the best that it can be!

Mayor is right: Hiring of new Chiefs shouldn’t be determined only by test scores

12 Mar

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Mayor Ted Bettencourt

Mayor Ted Bettencourt

When a community searches for a new police or fire chief, the process shouldn’t be hamstrung by a test that has a primary intent of keeping politics out of hiring.  Civil Service tests are a good thing when it comes to keeping the hiring of police officers and firefighters “honest.”

But it’s just too limiting of a tool for evaluating and hiring public safety chief executives.

This is why I support Mayor Ted Bettencourt in his request that a Civil Service test score no longer be the determining factor when it comes to Peabody hiring for these two critically important positions. The Mayor is asking the City Council to vote to remove both the police and fire chief positions from the jurisdiction of Civil Service.

Not worrying about how a candidate scores on a Civil Service test will help broaden the pool of potential candidates for the new Police Chief when current Chief Robert Champagne retires on June 1.

“My research has shown that the best process for the city is to take the (chiefs’) positions out of Civil Service,” the Mayor told the Peabody Patch.

And he’s right. Who the right person is for the job needs to be based on several criteria,  and to eliminate people simply because they didn’t get a Top 3 score on a Civil Service exam would be to eliminate some of the best candidates for a position that is essential when it comes to public safety.

Bettencourt says that he wouldn’t totally eliminate the test as criteria, but other criteria would carry as much, if not more weight, than the Civil Service score.

The Mayor’s request is likely headed for the Council’s Legal Affairs Committee. But the Council should act quickly here,  and I feel the councilors should approve this request so Peabody is assured of the best possible replacement when Chief Champagne leaves.

Seeing the trees through the forrest, and catching up on other Peabody news

7 Mar

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Catching up on some things today while taking a break from writing about the state rep special election.

Capital punishement for Peabody trees?

Capital punishement for Peabody trees?

Turns out that Massachusetts’ ban on capital punishment doesn’t extend to trees.

Jennifer Pinkham Davis, Peabody’s Director of Parks and Recreation, recently told the City Council’s sub-committee on Legal Affairs that — under state law — any citizen can have trees on city property cut down at any time and at taxpayer expense.

Davis says that, if a citizen asks for a tree to be cut down, the city must go out, examine the tree and determine if it’s a danger to the public. In some cases, the roots of these trees make sidewalks impassable, and potentially dangerous. But it doesn’t stop there: Davis says that, if the city determines the tree is healthy and no danger to public safety, citizens can still petition and have it removed. And most times, the citizen wins.

But here’s the rub: Many times completely healthy trees that pose no danger to the public are cut down, and it can cost the taxpayers up to $8,000 per tree.  And … sometimes the resident’s reason for cutting down the tree can as frivolous as “the leaves are making a mess on my lawn.”

To stop this process, Davis is hoping the City Council can create an ordinance that would send that $8,000 bill to the person demanding the destruction of a healthy tree.

Stay tuned.

Peabody Police: Alert on a utility scam

ppdThe Eye is running the following alert from the Peabody Police:

This is a regeneration of an alert sent 02/21/2013 regarding National Grid. PMLP has received customer reports that they are now calling alleging to be from PMLP.

They tell the customer that their account is delinquent and to avoid power shut off they must pay now via credit card. They then use the credit card data to make fraudulent purchases. If you get a call from someone stating they are from PMLP collections, report it to PMLP and the Peabody Police Department. PMLP does not collect over the phone nor threaten shut off in this manner. If you can capture the originating phone call on caller ID please report the number.

Free parking for veterans coming to Peabody?

Postal worker Daniel Heafey has asked the City Council’s Legal Affairs Sub-Committee to pass an ordinance that would provide free parking for veterans in Peabody.

Heafey, a Cold War veteran (1974 to 1978), who blames some hearing loss and a bad knee to some tough work as a military police officer, said he was parking downtown recently and was troubled when he could only park for 15 minutes after putting a nickel in the meter.

“I put a nickel in the meter,” Heafey said. “I was gone for 15 minutes, and I got a ticket.”

No details yet on how the city would enforce this possible new ordinance.

 Tickets still available for St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast & Roast

Ttickets remain for the City of Peabody’s First Annual St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast and Roast,  which will take place on Saturday morning March 16th from 9:00 to 11:00AM in the Frank L. Wiggin Auditorium at Peabody City Hall.

“We have gotten a terrific response for this first St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast and Roast,” said Mayor Ted Bettencourt, “Judging by the demand for tickets, this event is destined to become a longstanding Peabody tradition.”

The public is welcome to attend the breakfast, which will feature Irish music by “McGeney and Moore” and good natured roasting of some of the city’s best known politicos. The cost is $30 per person and all proceeds benefit the Haven from Hunger. Tickets must be reserved in advance as there will be no tickets sold at the door to the event.

Those interested in attending the breakfast should contact Mary Bellavance at 978.538.5704.

Changes to our commenting policy

6 Mar

Dear readers,

In an effort to keep this forum constructive, I’ve decided that going forward all comments will be moderated and approved. I promise I’ll get to approving them soon as I can, but please be patient if you are commenting during the work day or late in the evening.

I have also, in an effort to keep things more credible here, deleted some of the comments I felt were over the line. We put this forum here as a place to inform and discuss the issues of the day related to Peabody. I am not going to allow it to become a slamfest.

Thanks for reading.

Bob Croce

‘Make The Call’ show invites State Rep primary candidates to address voters

6 Mar

By Eye On Peabody

Please join your hosts Dick Jarvis and Bob Croce tonight, 8-9 p.m., on PAT Channel 99 when they invite the candidates from yesterday’s primaries for Peabody  State Rep. on the “You Make the Call” show.

Dick and Bob have invited Democratic Primary winner Beverley Griffin Dunne, Republican Primary winner Leah Cole, and Republican Primary runner up Greg Bunn to come on and address the voters of Peabody about yesterday’s results.

On our next show, we will invite back Dunne and Cole, as well as unenrolled candidate David Gravel in advance of the final election on April 2nd.

For now, though, please tune in and ask questions of the candidates. Each will be individually given 10-15 minutes to address the voters and answer questions from our co-hosts and the callers.

Cole edges Bunn in State Rep Republican primary

5 Mar

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

On day when just 6% of Peabody voters turned out at the polls, Leah Cole topped Greg Bunn 512-460 to win the Republican nomination in today’s primary for State Rep in the 12th Essex District.

In what was a record low turnout for a Peabody election, Peabody School Committee member Beverley Griffin Dunne also advanced to the final ballot as the Democratic nomineee. Dunne did not have a primary opponent, but she also ended up with more votes than Cole.

Cole, Dunne, and unenrolled candidate David Gravel will faceoff in the final election on April 2nd.

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