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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.”

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.

Dunne’s in, are Cole and Gould out when it comes to Peabody State Rep race?

20 Jan

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

We know Beverley Dunne is in, but who will join her in the race for State Rep?

We know Beverley Dunne is in, but who will join her in the race for State Rep?

I thought we’d have some Peabody political insider fun this afternoon, and talk about what the Eye is uncovering in what could become another very interesting race for the State Rep seat in the 12th Essex District (Peabody Wards 1-4, Ward 5 Prec. 1 & 3).

Less than a year after Republican Leah Cole’s stunning special election upset win over Democrat Beverley Dunne and unenrolled candidate Dave Gravel, candidate names are being floated as the seat gets contested again this November.

Dunne has told several people that she’s going for it again on the Democrat side, and we’ve heard speculation that Ward 1 Councilor Barry Osborne is contemplating a run as an unenrolled candidate.

But here’s what else The Eye is learning …

Incumbent Cole is leaning away from running for re-election to focus on her nursing career, and another source tells us Councilor at-large Tom Gould is leaning against running too. Gould considered running last year for the open seat after Joyce Spilliotis passed away, but then decided against it to focus on his business.

The Cole thing could change quickly, though, once the Mass GOP gets wind of it and starts doing whatever it can to convince its Golden Girl to run again, including a promise to help her build a campaign war chest north of $100K.

It all does make you wonder, though, if the Peabody Democratic City Committee is going to step up this time and support the Democratic candidate. Osborne is really a Democrat, and so too was Gravel last time. But the party insiders were divided, and with Dunne and Gravel splitting the vote, it made things much easier for Ms. Cole to pull off the upset.

Let me know in the comments section what you think will happen here.

Lyons making credible challenge for state rep seat held by Ted Speliotis

26 Dec

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

spel

Can Ted Speliotis overcome at tough, new challenger?

With a very active 2013 for local politics just about over, 2014 is already shaping up as an even more interesting year.

Come fall, we’ll have another highly contested race for State Rep in the 12th Essex District as rookie state legislator Leah Cole goes for re-election. Meanwhile, Congressman John Tierney faces a tough primary battle against centrist Democrat Seth Moulton, and then maybe another down-and-dirty battle with Republican Richard Tisei.

But also emerging is another interesting race for State Rep in the 13th Essex. Tom Lyons, a very credible candidate on the Republican side, says he will challenge long-time Rep Ted Speliotis, whose district covers all of Danvers and West Peabody.

We don’t currently know a lot about Mr. Lyons, but the thing that instantly makes his candidacy interesting is the place where he grew up, and the place where he now lives.

He’s a Danvers native, who graduated from Danvers High in 1981, and he now makes his home with his family on Glen Drive, West Peabody. One street over from him is the town of Middleton, which is also in the 13th Essex. But the real impact of his candidacy will be felt in conservative West Peabody (Ward 6 and Ward 5, Prec. 2) and Danvers.

In recent years, Ward 6 has been one of the best voting areas in the city, and is also known for its vast number of independent, more-conservative voters. Speliotis is considered one of the more liberal members of the Great and General Court, and seemingly has never seen a tax increase that he didn’t vote “yea” on. Speliotis’ “progressive” style has cost his problems in his own town of Danvers too, where a few years ago he almost lost to Republican Dan Bennett.

More to come on all of this, but it looks like West Peabody voters will definitely have a choice for state rep come November.

Democratic City Committee Chair Mike Schulze resigning

20 Dec

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Some Peabody political insider news a few days before Christmas, but it looks like the Peabody Democratic City Committee will be seeing new leadership in 2014.

cole

Republican Leah Cole’s win in last spring’s special election for State Rep may have been aided by a divided Democratic City Committee

Mike Schulze, who some feel helped Republican Leah Cole get elected State Rep during last spring’s special election because of his lack of support for the Democratic candidate, has resigned as chair of the city committee.

Although Schulze technically declared that the PDCC was endorsing Democrat Beverley Dunne  in her effort to fill the seat previously occupied by the late Joyce Spilliotis, his own actions spoke volumes to the contrary.

It wasn’t that Schulze himself had a direct impact on the outcome, but as leader of the PDCC he did nothing to help to avoid the schism that developed after Councilor At-large David Gravel left the party and ran for state rep as an unenrolled candidate.

Let’s be honest here, the endorsement of Dunne was half-hearted at best, since Schulze clearly supported Gravel.

Many feel that Gravel’s decision to run as an unenrolled candidate split the vote between he and Dunne,  which allowed a previously unknown, 24-year-old Republican to pull off the upset by 73 votes.

But then again, Schulze certainly doesn’t deserve all (or even most) of the blame here for Dunne’s defeat. There were other so-called Democratic movers and shakers,  whose endorsement of Gravel, or total lack of action, also led to Cole pulling off the upset.

And a Republican winning this seat held by a legendary Democratic public servant such as Joyce Spilliotis, was a local equivalent  to Scott Brown winning the US Senate previously held by Ted Kennedy.

In an email to city committee members today, vice chair Deb Ryan told PDCC members that she will serve in the interim as acting chair. Ryan will convene a meeting on Jan. 11 for the full committee to make some go-forward decisions.

Tom Grelish: ‘Croce has a right to be miffed’

22 Nov

(Editor’s note: The following “Just Thinking” column, written by Peabody Citizen Publisher Tom Grelish, appeared in this week’s edition of that newspaper, and is re-published here with permission.)

By Tom Grelish, Publisher, Peabody Citizen

VoteJust thinking as usual this week and offering the thought that Bob Croce, who recently lost the Ward 5 city council race to Joel Saslaw, is well within bounds to be more than slightly disgruntled concerning the shenanigans that transpired in the polling place during the election.

Malfeasance in the polling place is never acceptable, and make no mistake about it – what transpired was flat-out malfeasance carried out by a couple of birdbrained poll workers. The height of stupidity, no two ways about it.

For those of you who may have missed it, here’s what took place: the poll workers, while on duty as representatives of the residents of Peabody, saw fit to post massages on Facebook urging residents to scamper to the polls and vote for Saslaw.

You gotta be kidding me. Some folks have said that the incident was tantamount to no big deal, but I vehemently disagree with that assessment. It was a very big deal and borders on voter fraud. We cannot tolerate that type of stuff. End of story.

Candidates for office must remain at least, I believe, 150 feet from a polling place so that voters are not unduly influenced by them. That’s a good rule. Then we have a couple of pinheads violating that rule from inside the polling place?

Only in Peabody could this type of baloney go on. And Croce should be streaming about it – all he asked for was a clean election, and he didn’t get it.

Let’s not be naïve about this. Those Facebook postings did not alter the outcome of the election – Saslaw took home the prize by almost 90 votes, a safe enough margin of error even if a couple of voters did heed the efforts of the harebrained poll workers.

But that doesn’t detract from the seriousness of the situation.

City Clerk Tim Spanos is handling this mess the right way – he’s turned the entire ball of wax over to the office of Secretary of State Bill Galvin, as well as the Ethics Commission, to figure this thing out and what should be done about this quagmire.

The worst thing about the polling place game-playing is that it casts Spanos, Mayor Ted Bettencourt, and Saslaw, in a very bad light. And none of them deserve to have that black light focused on them, because none of them did anything wrong but will get swept into this kerfuffle nevertheless.

I have particular empathy for Spanos, who is a top-shelf city clerk and always does his utmost to run clean elections. Then to have a couple of poll workers stab him in the back like that just isn’t right.

Spanos has no culpability in this fiasco. All he can do is hire the parties he thinks are the right people to man the polls – then, he has to trust them to do the job properly. He can’t be everywhere, all the time, on the day of the election, and was completely blindsided by those poll workers.

Saslaw, too, receives a black eye for this and he hasn’t even taken office yet. The renegade poll workers were, after all, obviously supporters of his. But there is no way that Saslaw should take guff for this – he didn’t tell those pinheads to do what they did. No way, no how.

As for Bettencourt, he doesn’t need this malarkey. He had nothing to do with it but will nonetheless be held somewhat responsible because it was city workers involved in the transgressions. He has bigger fish to fry in his efforts to run the city, and can easily live without this nonsense.

As for Croce, he has apparently retained an attorney to assist him with this election disgrace. I don’t blame him – Bob Croce has to look out for the best interests of Bob Croce. No one is going to do it for him.

That being said, I’m not sure how an attorney will be able to bolster his case, short of demanding a new election, a scenario that is highly unlikely to unfold.

The lawyer will easily prove that malfeasance took place, but that’s not going to change the outcome of the election. It’ll be very interesting to see where the lawyer takes this matter.

If he is successful in getting a new election – which, as stated, if highly unlikely – all bets are off. Croce could win it the second time around.

Wouldn’t that he something?

No matter what the lawyer does, this is for sure – the city of Peabody should reimburse Croce for his legal fees.

It would be the only decent thing to do. After all, Bob Croce did not initiate this brouhaha. A couple of city workers did.

And the rest of us are responsible for making good on the missteps of city workers. It’s lousy, but it is also reality.

So I hope the city council walks the proper path on this and gives Croce his money back. All he ever asked for was an unfettered election, and he did not receive that.

Again, some people are of the mind that all this is no big deal. Let me reiterate – it is a very big deal. No two ways about it.

Poll: How do you feel about taking voting out of the schools

14 Nov

Some members of the Peabody School Committee, citing student safety and disruption of the educational process, would like ban the city from using schools as polling locations on Election Day.

How do you feel about the issue?

Please join us tonight for live ‘You Make The Call’ show

13 Nov

SAMPlease join my partner Dick Jarvis and me tonight as we discuss the Peabody issues of the day on a new, live “You Make The Call Show,” 8-9 p.m., on PAT Channel 99.

This is our first new show since the election, and on our list of topics tonight will be the latest with the expansion and entertainment license of the Stonewood Tavern in South Peabody, the issue of using public schools for voting, and much more.

It’s always open lines on YMTC, so we’ll entertain and comment on whatever is on your mind.

Please tune in and give us a call. You can also follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/calldickandbob

- Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Grateful for family, friends, and supporters met along the way

7 Nov

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

SUNRISEIt’s tough losing an election. The months of hard work puts major stress on not only the candidate, but his family and friends too. When things don’t work out on election night, there is shock, followed by disappointment, and then some frustration.

But if you did it right, and still lost, if you truly ran a campaign where you put the focus on helping people and sticking up for neighbors and neighborhoods, election night’s disappointment fades as quickly as that next day’s sunset.

Today, I have reached that point. The sun came up this morning, just as it always does, and with it came satisfaction for this former candidate. Despite battling money and power, we lost the election for Ward 5 Councilor by just 89 votes. Despite having what seemed like the entire Ward 5 political and business establishment against me because I promised to always be on the side of taxpaying residents, our underdog campaign almost pushed it across the goal line in sudden death overtime.

We fell short, but we’re not disappointed anymore. Why? Because we had the right message and we put a scare into those whom are more interested in making a buck than they are with protecting the quality of life of residents. We scared them so much that they filled my opponent’s campaign war chest with thousands of dollars, and helped with a massive get out the vote effort on election night.  Their GOTV effort was just better than our GOTV effort, and they made sure since they wanted no part of this independent-minded Ward 5 Councilor candidate.

But I know as well as anyone that this will always be the nature of politics, and at the end of the day, people get to choose who they want based on what they hear and who they like. That’s America at its finest, and I believe in the system. We lost. That’s just the way it is.

Mr. Saslaw and his team were just able to convince a few more people than we could. He now says he’s with the residents, and I wish him well in his pursuit. I expect, though, that it’s going to be hard to say no to developers who just covered you in cash, and carried you across the finish line.

As for me, I’m just not sure where the political winds will blow me. It’s too soon to do anything other than thank those family members and friends whom I love, and tell them how much I appreciate everything they did for me. There are too many names to name here, so I anticipate writer’s cramp from so many thank you notes in the coming weeks.

I’ll also never forget the people who supported me because they liked my message when I came to their doors during the long campaign. Today, just as I was starting to feel down again, an elderly woman from my neighborhood — who I didn’t even know before meeting her on Election Day — called to tell me it was a “pleasure voting for you.” And then, she told me a story that inspired me to start thinking about my next step.

It was a story about her son, who was diagnosed with dyslexia back in the 1950s, only at first they didn’t know what it was, and because of it he began failing in school. Persistence and a mother’s love and determination forced this son to not give up.

He somehow made it through the Peabody Schools, and kept working hard enough to make it into college. Despite several setbacks along the way, the son — pushed by his wonderful mom — not only graduated from college, but went on to grad school and then got his PhD in education. He just recently retired from his job as Superintendent of Schools for a South Shore community.

His mom, meanwhile, despite being 87-years-old, legally blind and needing a walker, made it to the polls at the Kiley School on Tuesday after our campaign was able to give her a ride.  When I thanked her for going above and beyond to support me like that, all she said to me was:

“You’re a good guy. You deserved it. I didn’t give up on my son, and I wasn’t going to give up on you.”

You know, maybe I did go down to defeat because I said I would always take the side of residents like this great lady who is my neighbor. But … I think I can live with that, and even start sleeping through the night again.

Here’s to another beautiful sunrise.

Why I want to be Ward 5 Councilor: I’m in it to be a serious public servant for you

30 Oct

(Please vote on Tuesday, Nov. 5th. Polls are open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.)

By Bob Croce, Ward 5 Councilor Candidate

Why am I running?

Well, it’s simple: I want to represent the people of Ward 5, and be on their side no matter what. It’s not complicated being an effective ward councilor: People call you with a question or concern, and you help them.

I’m not in this to take campaign contributions from attorneys of notorious developers, or to put campaign signs on the properties of some developers and some business owners who could care less about the rights of taxpaying residents. You’ll never see one of my signs on the Golden Banana either.

I love where I live. My wife Maureen and I raised two beautiful daughters right there on Goodale Street. We actually know that the little neighborhood elementary school the girls went to is spelled K-I-L-E-Y. It was named after two brothers who grew up in the neighborhood, joined the military, and paid the ultimate sacrifice to their community and their country.

I’m not running to be one of the “cool kids” either. This is about becoming a serious and dedicated public servant, and not “Sophomore Class President.”

There are a lot of issues that pose serious threats to quality of life, and these issues need the attention of a serious public servant, who will always return your phone calls, and always seek a solution to every issue no matter how large or small.

In the past seven months, I’ve visited over 1,000 homes in Ward 5, and I’ve listened. It’s these visits that taught me what the job of ward councilor is all about. It’s all about people who pay their taxes on time, and expect their quality of life to be protected, not trampled on. You learn these things not by waving at cars on a street corner, or by putting multiple signs in front of abandoned buildings, or gas stations. You learn these things by actually talking to voters.  On these visits to many of your homes, it amazed me to learn that I was the only Ward 5 candidate who visited to learn about what you felt was important.

This isn’t about “grasping at straws.” It’s about listening, and then making sure that I make it clear that it’s all about the residents, and not about me. This wasn’t “a good opportunity for me to run.” It was an opportunity to try and give back to a community that has given so much to my family and me.

No, I’m not in this attempting to win elective office to become one of the “cool kids” in town.

I’m in this always and only for you. I’m in this to serve.

If that’s the kind of Ward 5 Councilor you want, then the choice is pretty clear, and I would be honored to have your vote on Tuesday, Nov. 5.

Sincerely,

Bob Croce, Your Candidate for Ward 5 Councilor

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