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These 5 only candidates worthy of your school committee votes

20 Aug
School Committee candidates (from left) Brian Addesa, Joe Amico, John Olimpio, Andrew Arnotis and Travis Wojcik

For School Committee: Brian Addesa, Joe Amico, John Olimpio, Andrew Arnotis and Travis Wojcik

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Officially, there are seven candidates running this fall for one of three seats on Peabody’s School Committee.  But in my opinion, only the five shown here are worthy of one of your three votes.

Why?

Well, each of them came on the “You Make The Call” cable show last night, and made themselves accessible to the voters of Peabody. It’s an important point, considering that the current school committee members haven’t exactly earned high grades lately for their communication skills.

As for the two who didn’t show, and didn’t make themselves accessible to the voters, it was their loss. And it could be a very big one. One of the no shows was this race’s only incumbent, which made us all wonder whether she needs to develop a thicker skin. Thankfully, most of Peabody’s elected officials understand that part of the job includes maturely being able to deal with the slings and arrows of public comment.

The five who came on last night are an impressive group, maybe the most-impressive I’ve seen when it comes to being at ease with answering questions and handling themselves under the lights.

Each of the five was totally at ease, and I’d personally feel comfortable voting for any of them.

If you missed it and would like to see these guys in action, we’ll re-run the program next Wednesday (Aug. 26), 8-9 p.m. on PAT Channel 99.

There’ll be a primary election on Sept. 29th to trim the field from seven to five. Just my opinion after last night, but the only candidates you should consider that day for your three voters are Brian Addesa, Joe Amico, Andrew Arnotis, John Olimpio and Travis Wojcik.

Candidates for school committee vie for your vote tonight in TV forum

19 Aug

‘You Make The Call’ show will air at 8 p.m. on PAT Ch. 99

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Brian Addesa

Brian Addesa

After a decade, we’re finally on the verge of an era of new ideas and independent thinking.  The upcoming city election will ensure that change is inevitable for Peabody’s School Committee.

Joe Amico

Joe Amico

By January, we’re guaranteed to have two new members of that board, and maybe three should current member Jarod Hochman win his race for Ward 4 Councilor.

Travis Wojcik

Travis Wojcik

But don’t dismiss the possibility that we could change four of the six seats this year, as several very viable and competitive challengers seek to not only fill the two currently vacant seats, but also go after incumbent Brandi Carpenter this November.

Tonight, on our “You Make The Call” television show (8-9 p.m., PAT Ch. 99), co-host Dick Jarvis and I will introduce and quiz the challengers for school committee. Five of the seven candidates for the three seats this fall will appear, as you the voter get to hear from Brian Addesa, Joe Amico, Andrew Arnotis, John Olimpio and Travis Wojcik.

Andrew Arnotis

Andrew Arnotis

John Olimpio

John Olimpio

If you ask me, the above five gentlemen should be the only ones you consider worthy of your three votes. After all, each has enthusiastically accepted this opportunity to speak to you, the voter.

Meanwhile, Carpenter has declined to appear on the show, and challenger Michel Bonbon has neither accepted nor declined the invitation. Make of that what you will.

But we hope you can tune in to what will be an excellent opportunity to hear from candidates who will change – hopefully for the better – the way Peabody’s School Committee operates.

School Committee candidate forum on ‘You Make The Call’

17 Aug

election-2015

The seven candidates for Peabody School Committee have been invited to appear Wednesday, 8-9 p.m., in a forum on the “You Make The Call” show on Peabody Access Telecommunications Channel 99.

The format will include each candidate briefly introducing themselves, followed by a Q&A from co-hosts Dick Jarvis and Bob Croce, and ending with each candidate presenting a closing statement.

The seven candidates, Brian Addesa, Joe Amico, Andrew Arnotis, Michel Bonbon, Brandi Carpenter, John Olimpio, and Travis Wojcik, will square off in a primary election on Tuesday, Sept. 29th.

The top six vote getters in the primary will meet in November’s final election, where they will vie for three seats on the board.

Update: So far, the only candidate to not reach out to say if he could make it on Wednesday is Mr. Bonbon. Meanwhile, Ms. Carpenter — the only incumbent in the race — has officially declined the invitation to come on the show to talk to the Peabody voters.

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.

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

 

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

A nice ‘problem’ to have for the voters of the 6th District

16 Oct

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

When the primary was over, and Seth Moulton’s raiders had stormed the castle, those of us for whom politics is like an intoxicating drug, went to bed that night all giddy. We had what we figured was a “dream” candidate for Congress in the MA 6th District.

John Tierney, the anachronistic liberal, was history, and Moulton, the Clean Marine with the multiple Harvard business degrees was a new type of Democrat, headed off to save the day in our dysfunctional capital. We political junkies with the “D” next to our names rejoiced, and looked forward to a victory on Nov. 4th.

Seth Moulton

Seth Moulton

Richard Tisei

Richard Tisei

Overall, I still feel that way. After all, for quite some time. I’ve  been a Democrat in exile. As pragmatic leaders of my party were replaced by far left ideologues, who cared more about the rights of polar bears and illegal immigrants than the needs of America’s middle class, I drifted away from my party.

But Moulton’s upset of Tierney brought me back into what suddenly again felt like a “big tent” of ideas for we wayward Dems. Oh sure, Moulton campaigned against Tierney while leaning on the dreaded “progressive” label. But as a conservative Democrat, I’ve been OK with that, since I also see a huge level of pragmatism with this candidate. I truly believe, after all, that Seth Moulton feels it’s better to focus on getting our struggling economy going and protecting the homeland,  than it is for us to all hold hands and hug a tree.

Now, though, as we creep within 20 days of the election, there’s a problem, Peabody, for those of us who were looking forward to a Moulton coronation:

Republican Richard Tisei is not only an impressive candidate, he’s a really good guy. Like Seth Moulton, I feel he’d be an excellent and effective Congressman.

Last night, Tisei made an impromptu appearance on my “You Make The Call” television show on Peabody Access Telecommunications. I gave up my chair and my co-host Dick Jarvis interviewed Mr. Tisei for a little more than 30 minutes. By the end, we were all impressed with Tisei’s answers, and his genuine likability. We were close or in full agreement on several important issues. We spoke after the show too, and both Dick and I left the studios with a favorable view of Tisei as a person.

Immediately after the show, I received a text from a friend, who’s a big Tisei supporter. It read: “How can you not vote for him? He’s awesome.”

I couldn’t disagree, although there are so many things that also make me still feel that Seth Moulton will be an outstanding Congressman for the 6th District.

This is why now, as the giddiness of primary night fades, I feel that many voters will have a tough time choosing a candidate on Nov. 4.

In the end, though, it’s one of those proverbial nice problems to have.

After all, this is one of those rare times in life where you can’t go wrong.

Follow Bob on Twitter @eyeonpeabody

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