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Happy Holidays! Your property taxes are increasing for 14th straight year

22 Nov

Community development shows no vision, homeowners take the hit

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Used to be, back when our phones weren’t smart and our current mayor was still draining 3s for Peabody High’s basketball team, annual property tax increases were about as frequent as snow storms in July. They just didn’t happen, and “la, la, la, la, la, laaaaa” all was well in the land ruled by Peter Torigian.

taxIt’s only too bad that, while we were enjoying the rule of a man dubbed the Emperor by a former favorite ink-stained columnist, everyone forgot to glance at those dark clouds on the horizon.

But it’s time to pay for all of that now, Peabody.

In case you missed it, Mayor Ted Bettencourt came before the City Council on Thursday night to get another annual property tax increase. For those of you keeping track, combined between the Bettencourt and Mike Bonfanti administrations, that’s now 14 straight years of increases.

This time, the average homeowner will, they say, pay just $164 more a year. Doesn’t seem like a lot on its own, but let’s add this all up, shall we?

With the average increase the past 14 years being roughly 4% annually, that means our property taxes have increased a whopping 56% since 2001.

Blame it on those dark clouds, if you want. After all, the Torigian years were all about keeping taxes low in the 1980s and 1990s, with no one really thinking about the future when it came to building schools, and re-building infrastructure.

But while Democrats in Congress continue to say “it’s Bush’s fault,” it’s time for Peabodyites everywhere to stop blaming Torigian.

The late, great Emperor walked away at the end of 2001, and there were people who voted in the past election who are too young to even remember him as Mayor.

It’s also shortsighted to keep blaming this on a big bill from the North Shore Mega-Voke, which our City Council unwisely voted for four years ago.

And … trying to sugar coat it by saying the tax increase is kinda a good thing since our property valuations have risen? That’s, as you say, so much cow fertilizer! Unless you’re selling your home to get out or Peabody, who cares?

The true reason for these ceaseless annual increases is that the two mayors since Torigian have offered little vision for dramatically increasing Peabody’s revenues, while taking  that burden off residents.

Peabody still has no long-term plan for expanding its commercial tax base by bringing more quality-of-life-improving businesses to town. We have no REAL plan for the revitalization of our downtown, and the Centennial Industrial Park remains an out-of-date relic of the way business was done back in the 1970s.

Instead of having a long-term strategic plan for growth, we continue along with community development department leaders who couldn’t spell innovation without a dictionary, and think that jamming more tiny apartments into the downtown is the answer.

Look. I like Ted Bettencourt. I think he’s a great guy with lots of passion and enthusiasm for the job of Mayor, and have supported him personally with my votes and my checkbook. But he needs to lead here. He needs to clean house in community development, and bring in people who can help him develop a real plan for expanding our tax base without putting more of the burden on homeowners.

He needs to find out how they are doing it in Salem and Beverley and other North Shore communities, who have actual vibrant downtowns. Hey Ted, let’s go to other communities, where they’ve done it right, and try and steal away those strategic thinkers to help Peabody. It’s time to stop with the “well, Peabody still has the lowest tax rate on the North Shore” BS, and realize that it’s only going to get worse if we don’t start executing on a real community development plan.

After all, unless you call billboards and jamming more low income apartments into downtown “community development,” there really is no vision right now.

I truly am getting tired of writing this each year at this time.

But here we go again …

Happy Holidays, Peabody homeowners. You’re taxes are going up.

This time, will Cole put Peabody before her own personal political ambition?

6 Nov
For Leah Cole will doing the business of the people come first?

For Leah Cole, will doing the business of the people become a priority in second term?

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

The post-election haze is subsiding, and now we contemplate which direction Leah Cole will head as Peabody’s newly re-elected representative in the Massachusetts Great and General Court.

Her victory on Tuesday over Beverley Dunne, in the election for 12th Essex District State Rep, was a surprise to some, and a moment of celebration for others.

As for those who think about Peabody’s future, we wonder which road Ms. Cole will take now that she is no longer an “accidental State Rep?” She won a high-turnout general election on Tuesday, and it’s undeniable that she’s earned the job.

But, like a lot of people, I continue to wonder if Peabody’s voters will get what they paid for here.

After all, during her first 18 months in office, and after winning the special election for the seat left vacant with the tragic passing of Joyce Spilliotis, Cole was more interested in positioning herself and her future as a Republican Party rising star than she was in taking care of Peabody’s interests.

Although neither would publicly admit this, since it would be “politically improper,” the other two members of our legislative delegation have picked up the slack for Peabody the past 18 months while Cole cavorted and conspired with right wing members of her party on ways to disrupt our state government. It was a strategy not dissimilar to what Republicans are doing in Congress, the only difference being that Rs on Beacon Hill remain badly outnumbered by the Ds, and thus are disrespected there like some fringe party.

But with future visions of “Governor Cole” or “Congresswoman Cole” dancing in her head, Leah has seemingly spent most of her time on Beacon Hill trying to improve her political capital with Republicans whom aren’t exactly moderates. My sources tell me it’s all starting to wear on Rep Ted Speliotis and Senator Joan Lovely, who are doing a lot of standing in for Cole while she tilts at windmills with lunatic fringe Reps such as Marc Columbo, Shaunna O’Connell, and Jim Lyons.

All of this leaves us wondering which way Cole will head now. Will she be an ambitious right wing Republican constantly in campaign mode, or like her predecessor, will she care only about doing the business of the people of Peabody?

It’s funny to see all the comments on the blog from Cole supporters, who insist that Peabody Mayor Ted Bettencourt only endorsed Dunne because the school committee member was a Democrat.

Oh sure, party loyalty, and the fact that Ted and Beverley have been friends and business associates for years, had something to do with the endorsement.

But the major reason why the Mayor endorsed Dunne was because he felt she had the experience, and would be focused always and only on Peabody. It is, after all, critically important that the Mayor have a partner who can get his city the funds it needs from the state to improve the quality of life of Peabody citizens.

Bettencourt’s endorsement had little to do with R’s and D’s, which brings me back to my original point here.

Will Leah Cole be able to put her ideology and ambition aside to effectively do the business of the people of Peabody? Will the voters truly get what they paid for this time?

We shall see.

Did Lyons show that Speliotis belongs on endangered incumbents list in 2 years?

5 Nov

Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Some observations on yesterday’s State Election now that  Martha Coakley’s personal hostage crisis has ended.

The most-interesting local result yesterday, and one that pretty much flew under the radar, came in the 13th Essex District State Rep race.

Ted Speliotis

Ted Speliotis

On one hand, incumbent Democrat Ted Speliotis won by a comfortable 779 votes over upstart Republican challenger Tom Lyons.

But on the other, it was really surprising to see how strong Lyons, a West Peabody resident with Danvers roots, finished against a guy who is the so-called current “Dean of the Peabody Delegation on Beacon Hill.”

Although Lyons ran a great campaign, it’s rare to see a newbie make it that close against such an entrenched incumbent. Most-impressive and telling for future potential candidates, who may run against Speliotis, is  how Lyons trounced the incumbent by a whopping 246 votes in Peabody’s Ward 6.

If Lyons can trounce Speliotis this badly in West Peabody, just imagine how badly the long-time State Rep would lose to Ward 6 Councilor Barry Sinewitz, who is a way more popular figure in the ward than Lyons.

If Speliotis runs again in two years, clearly he’s the most-vulnerable solon in the Peabody delegation, and maybe the entire state.

A power shift to the West in Peabody politics

Barry Sinewitz

Barry Sinewitz

Speaking of Sinewitz, outside of the candidates who prevailed yesterday, the Ward 6 Councilor was clearly the biggest winner politically during this campaign cycle.

Sinewitz, after all, gambled early on, and won big-time when newcomer Seth Moulton handily beat Republican Richard Tisei for Congress in the MA 6th District.

The gamble Sinewitz made was being the only Peabody elected official with the courage to strongly back Moulton over long-time incumbent John Tierney in advance of the Democratic primary. And now, the Ward 6 Councilor has a political star for a friend.

If you watched the television coverage of Moulton’s acceptance speech last night, it became clear how much the Congressman-elect appreciated Sinewitz’s support.  Right there behind Moulton, on a stage reserved for family and very close supporters, the Ward 6 Councilor smiled and applauded.

Although Sinewitz has already proven his strength as a candidate by routing all comers each time he’s run for Ward 6 Councilor, his association with the new Congressman clearly adds to his strength when it comes to electability. As of today, if I had to rank the most-popular/powerful political figures in Peabody, Sinewitz would move up to No. 3, just behind Councilor At-Large Tom Gould and Mayor Ted Bettencourt.

The fact is that Ted Speliotis shouldn’t look over his shoulder for a hard-charging Tom Lyons in two years.  He should worry more about born again Democrat Barry Sinewitz.

Suddenly, Manning is moving on up too

Another Peabody pol with improved cache following the State Election is Councilor At-Large Anne Manning, who jumped on the Charlie Baker for Governor bandwagon early. Manning also came out looking strong after she backed Rep. Leah Cole. While Sinewitz has a Congressman now on his side. Manning will have a Governor. That, in my opinion,  makes her the fourth most-powerful pol in Peabody.

Not perfect, but pretty close as usual

OK, so I was wrong about the State Rep race between incumbent Republican Leah Cole and Democratic challenger Beverley Dunne.

But give me some credit, will ya? I was right in predicting victories yesterday for Moulton, Speliotis and Baker. What’s the old Meat Loaf lyric about two out of three?

I was also right on ballot questions 1 and 2.

With an impressive batting average like this, I think I’m a candidate someday for the political pundit Hall of Fame. Don’t you?


Follow Bob on Twitter @eyeonpeabody

Congrats to Moulton on his win, and Tisei for being a class candidate until the end

4 Nov

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Richard Tisei

Richard Tisei

Seth Moulton

Seth Moulton

Not a lot of free time to write tonight, but I have to say that I have even more respect for Richard Tisei after just watching his concession speech on NECN.

No doubt it was a tough result to swallow for Richard, but his concession speech was as gracious as it gets.

Congrats to Seth Moulton on his victory.

But like I’ve written in this space before: We would have been well served in Congress no matter which man won this election.

I’ll have a full recap and more commentary on the results both locally and across the state tomorrow.

In the local State House races, Ted Speliotis won by a comfortable margin over hard-working challenger Tom Lyons, and Republican Leah Cole upset Peabody School Committee member Beverley Dunne for the second time in the 12th Essex District.

Official results from City Clerk Tim Spanos on the 12th Essex race:

Cole 7,264

Dunne 6,829


Bettencourt endorses Dunne in Rep race; should make her the favorite on Tuesday

2 Nov

“Beverley shares my vision for Peabody and we agree on what has to be done to make that vision a reality,”

- Mayor Ted Bettencourt

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

For a guy who doesn’t like to take sides, and likes to seek consensus with everyone, Ted Bettencourt is making a bold move in an effort to not only control his political environment, but to do what he feels is best for Peabody.

Peabody’s Mayor is endorsing Beverley Dunne for State Rep in the 12th Essex District.

Beveley Dunne

Beveley Dunne

Mayor Ted Bettencourt

Mayor Ted Bettencourt

“Today I am enthusiastically endorsing Beverley Griffin Dunne for State Representative from the 12th Essex District,” Bettencourt said in a prepared statement. “Beverley will be a strong and effective State Representative and that’s what Peabody really needs fighting for our city on Beacon Hill.”

Seemingly, Dunne now has ALL the advantages in this race against Republican Leah Cole. Dunne is the more well-known candidate, has a huge edge in experience, and now she has the enthusiastic blessing of Peabody’s most-powerful politician.

This could also be an indication that Bettencourt learns from the past, and doesn’t want to repeat it.

“Beverley shares my vision for Peabody and we agree on what has to be done to make that vision a reality,” Bettencourt said.

One of the reasons for Cole’s fluke victory 18 months ago over Dunne and Councilor at-large Dave Gravel was that Bettencourt remained publicly neutral during that special election. When Cole slipped into office as a freshman member of the overwhelmingly minority party on Beacon Hill, it left Peabody with ineffective representation at the State House. It was a huge drop off from former legendary Rep Joyce Spilliotis.

When the results were in on that election night, I personally watched a visibility upset Bettencourt come to the AOH, and offer consolation to Dunne. You could tell at that point that he regretted not having endorsed the long-time Peabody School Committee member.

“We really need Beverley on our legislative team. Peabody competes with cities and towns from across the state for state funds that we need to help pay for our schools, senior services, public safety protection, and economic development,” Bettencourt said. “Beverley Griffin Dunne has the intelligence, experience and maturity to become a strong and positive part of Peabody’s (legislative) team.”

Congrats and thanks to the Mayor for doing what’s best for Peabody.

Can you say, “game, set, and match” when it comes to this race?

Assclowns R Us: It’s the new slogan for the Mass. GOP

31 Oct

By Bob Croce, EOP Publsher

Not sure if this is a case of Richard Tisei running his campaign for Congress in the MA 6th District in total desperation mode, or if it’s simply further evidence that the Mass Republican Party is run by a bunch of assclowns.

I’m sure some of you received a series of mailers this week that flat out lie about Democratic candidate Seth Moulton, and his record on women’s issues.

At first, when I saw these mail pieces, a couple of which insinuate that Moulton is anti pro- choice, and even against birth control, I just assumed they were put out by some lunatic far left group still bitter over their lefty icon John Tierney getting clobbered  by the Clean Marine in the primary.


Mass GOP hits a new low with this totally dishonest mail piece.

But in a bizarre, making you scratch your head moment, there it was in the corner, on the back of the mail piece:

These mailers were brought to you by the Mass. Republican Party in advance of Tuesday’s final election.

Say what?!

Now, I wasn’t shocked that these Republicans who support Tisei were lying. After all, I believe dishonesty is actually one of the planks in the Mass GOP state platform.

But if the ads were true, I would think that misogynist R’s everywhere would be on the Moulton bandwagon.

But then again, I guess in this 6th District race, up is down, down is up, and desperate, Mass. Republicans will do anything to win at least one Congressional seat.

After all, the leaders of the Mass. GOP want to win this seat so badly that they have even momentarily put down their Bibles, and checked their homophobia at the door to support Tisei, who is gay and married.

Anything to win. What’s next, will the Mass. GOP put out a mailer that says Seth Moulton was seen drowning puppies in Salem Harbor? Don’t laugh. It might be coming.

Like I said, what a bunch of assclowns.

Who will benefit from recent negative campaigning, Moulton or Tisei?

21 Oct

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Is it the case of a candidate just “playing defense” in the wake of his opponent’s recent negative TV ads? Or, has the race for Congress in the Massachusetts 6th Congressional District simply turned nasty on both sides?

Well, I will say that — if Democrat Seth Moulton is just playing “D”  — he appears to have chosen a rugged style that would make Zdeno Chara smile.

Just days after Republican Richard Tisei’s campaign released an attack trying to portray Moulton as being in the pockets of Wall Street bankers — in other words, making him look more like a Republican than Tisei himself — the Democrat’s campaign released the ad below.

But both candidates are definitely guilty at this point of taking one of the nasty pages out of John Tierney’s playbook. As you might recall, Tierney two years ago tried to paint the moderate Tisei as an agent of the “evil” Tea Party, and it almost cost the incumbent Congressman the election.

By the way, with two weeks to go, polls are pretty much showing that this race is a dead heat, so negative campaigning at this point is most-definitely a risky venture.  The tactic sometimes isn’t bad for catching up, but most people deplore crazy attacks, and the strategy has a tendency to backfire with polls showing the final outcome within the margin of error.

You’ll recall that Moulton had an 8-point lead a few days after the primary, so maybe the negative tactics by Tisei are working. But for Moulton, I feel that going negative is a much riskier proposition. Tisei is a likable guy, and isn’t seen as a crazy right winger by most of those voters who live their lives in the sensible center.

Here’s the negative Moulton ad to which I refer. Let me know what you think in the comments section.

Which candidate for Congress has the better strategy in his latest ads? Let me know

20 Oct

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Interesting approach here by both campaigns as we close in on Nov. 4th, and  the final election for Congress in the Massachusetts 6th Congressional District.

Looks like Seth Moulton’s campaign is going with the more positive approach, while Richard Tisei — who this space has always seen as more of a nice guy than a pitbull — is going in the opposite direction after two pretty negative ads.

Take at look at the latest ads from each of the campaigns, and let me know what you think. I’m going to hold my fire for now, and then weigh in based on your comments.

Here’s the latest Moulton ad:

Here’s the latest Tisei ad:

Welcome to the ‘Bizarro World’ of Tisei the ‘Democrat’

17 Oct

Follow Bob on Twitter @eyeonpeabody

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Up is down. Down is up. We say goodbye when we arrive, and hello when we leave.

Welcome to the Bizarro World of North Shore politics, where a “Republican” is trying to make himself look like a Democrat, while portraying the real Democrat as evil, shady, and out of touch with the little guy. Superman, where are you now that we need you?

Confused yet?

Will the real Richard Tisei (right) and the real Seth Moulton, please stand up? (Photo from CBS. Channel 4, Boston)

Will the real Richard Tisei (right), real Seth Moulton, please stand up?
(CBS. Channel 4, Boston photo)

Well, I definitely am after viewing a new video put out by “Republican” Richard Tisei’s campaign. (see below).

In it, Tisei’s camp paints Democrat Seth Moulton, who he opposes in the MA 6th Congressional District election on Nov. 4th, as some shadowy character right out of a vampire movie.

Not only that, but Tisei the “Republican” tries to confuse us further in the ad by insinuating that Moulton is aligned with Wall Street instead of Main Street.

Hey Richard, I know that it’s tough here in Blue Mass. to win as a Republican, so maybe I understand this tactic. A little anyhow. But this truly is the Bizarro World moment of your campaign.

I mean, what are you saying? That, if elected, you won’t be voting with the same  Republican dudes who are famous for putting billions of dollars in the pockets of Wall Street bankers, but that Moulton the Democrat would? Great. Speaker Boehner is going to really enjoy introducing you to his buddies in the Cloakroom.

Just when Mr. Speaker was wondering how he was going to explain to these intolerant Neanderthals that Tisei was gay and married, now he has to tell them that the freshman Congressman from Massachusetts is against corporate welfare?

Steve Chabot will really be thrilled, especially after he also learns that Tisei  won’t join in on a coup to impeach the President.

By the way, in the ad, one of those scary announcer voices also asks  who is Seth Moulton and who is “behind his campaign?”

I’m not sure that Tisei knows that answer himself.

A couple of weeks ago, after I wrote a positive piece here about Moulton, I got a call from one of the leaders of Tisei’s campaign. During our conversation, he told me that I was all wrong about Moulton being pragmatic, and that the former Marine Capitan and Harvard-educated businessman was actually some sort of stealth extreme left winger.

I wasn’t buying it, but now I’m really confused after this ad. Does the Tisei camp now feel that Moulton is a stealth Republican? Or, is it simply a case that they had Marissa DeFranco write the video script as part of her endorsement?

Maybe what we should be asking at this point is: “Who is the real Richard Tisei?”

Time for a little ‘Kumbaya’ between fellow Democrats Tierney and Moulton

16 Oct

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Has John Tierney turned his back on a fellow Democrat?

Has John Tierney turned his back on a fellow Democrat?

It has Democrats, even reformed ones like me, wondering when we should file the missing persons report, and use his official MC head shot on the side of the milk carton.

Where have you gone John Tierney?

And, more importantly, why haven’t you endorsed Democrat Seth Moulton for the seat you’ll vacate come January?

Me thinks our current, long-term Congressman — the Liberal Lion of Lynn, the Sage of Salem, the Peabody Professor, the Baron of Beverly — is more than a little reluctant to hold hands and sing “Kumbaya” with his fair-haired successor.

After a brutal primary season, during which each campaign participated in a lot of nasty “nah, nah, boo, boo” antics in mail pieces and television commercials, the iciness continues as Moulton battles an old Tierney nemesis, Republican Richard Tisei, just 20 days before Nov. 4th’s final bout in the MA 6th Congressional District.

As is tradition, when Moulton upset Tierney in the primary, the victor and vanquished called each other to congratulate and console. But we’re hearing that the Congressman wasn’t too pleased with the level of sincerity when Moulton called him to try and smooth things over after the two spent so much time tossing haymakers and upper cuts.

The story goes that, during a call, Tierney perceived that Moulton was trying to distance himself from the nasty attacks made on the Congressman during the campaign. Those weren’t Moulton’s true feelings, Congressman.  That was strategy!

Not having been on the call myself, I’m not sure if Tierney has a good case for interpreting Moulton’s message that way, but I do know one thing:

Gentlemen, there was enough nastiness to go around on both sides. You both did what you could to win, and at times it just wasn’t pretty. But Moulton won fairly, and it’s time for some “Kumbaya.”

A while back, one of my Irish-American relatives asked me if I ever heard of a condition known as “Irish Alzheimer’s.”

“Irish Alzheimer’s?” I responded in quizzical fashion.

“Yeah,” said my relative. “You forget about everything except your grudges.”

Unless John Tierney wants to go the Marissa DeFranco renegade route and endorse Tisei, it’s time for him to forget his grudges and do the right thing as a Democrat.

It’s time for Tierney to tell his still very large base of supporters to unite behind Democrat Seth Moulton.

Follow Bob on Twitter @eyeonpeabody


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