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On candidates for council, a campaign litterbug, and a lawsuit worth fighting

1 Oct

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Cleaning out the notepad of the mind today while dodging the raindrops …

With the Peabody city election still 13 months away, we’re already hearing rumors and other scuttlebutt  about who’s in and who’s out. And most of the early activity is around the race for city council.

Ed Charest now Mr. Politician

Ed Charest now Mr. Politician

First off, we hear that the Ward 4 Councilor seat, which will be open with the retirement of Bob Driscoll, is already being coveted by school committee member Ed Charest.  We’re told by someone who knows that Charest — who once declared that he was “just a dad” and not a politician — will not only pull papers, but is lining it up so he has the full support of the out-going Ward 4 Councilor. The Endicott College pastry chef apparently wants to have his cake, and … eat it too. Welcome to the club there, Big Ed. Looks like you’re an honest-to-goodness politician just like the rest of us. . . .

The other hot rumor on the streets of South Peabody is that Ward 1 Councilor Barry Osborne is almost certain to face a strong challenge from long-time Lynnfield Street resident Jon Turco. Turco, who has worked on a number of campaigns – including those of Richard Tisei, Joyce Spilliotis, and Mayor Ted Bettencourt – is well-known and well-liked in Ward 1, presenting Osborne with what would be his toughest challenger yet. . . .

Although dislodging any of the five incumbents would be a tall task, the other rumor we’re hearing is that Light Commissioner Tom Paras might run for an at-large seat . . .

Will Dave McGeney retired from school committee?

Will Dave McGeney retired from school committee?

If Charest runs in Ward 4, and Dunne — as expected — beats Leah Cole for the State Rep seat in four weeks, there could also be unprecedented change on the Peabody School Committee.  That’s because the other hot rumor on the street is that long-time school committeeman David McGeney is leaning toward not running for re-election. Could there actually be three open seats next fall?

Stay tuned for more.

 

Signing off? Not in Demo’s case

If you didn’t know that James “Demo” Moutsoulas got trounced by Beverley Dunne last month in the Democratic State Rep Primary, you might think he’s still in the race. That’s because Demo’s blue lawn signs still litter the landscape from Lynn Street to Lake Street. Who knows? Maybe he’s leaving them there for his next unsuccessful run for city-wide office. …

Westside Restaurant: We hardly knew ya

Following a history of conflict with neighbors over attempts to get a liquor license and other disturbances, the Westside Family Restaurant will in a couple of weeks be no more. The property was recently purchased by Rabbi Nechemia Schusteman and the Peabody Chabad Lubavitcher Jewish Center. Chabad will move in by November, and plans to convert the former restaurant into a kosher kitchen, multipurpose room, and sanctuary. The good news for the neighbors on Samos Circle is that they no longer need to worry about keeping the Westside alcohol free. The somewhat bad news for Peabody taxpayers is that – because Chabad is a tax-free religious organization – about $12K will be coming off the tax roles . . .

Has All Pro cleaned up its act? Find out on Oct. 8

We’ll find out at the next Conservation Commission meeting whether or not a landscaping company located behind the Latitude Sports Club has finally cleaned up its act. If not, who knows? Maybe the politically connected All Pro Landscaping will be given yet another chance.

Months ago, All Pro was issued an enforcement order by the city’s conservation agent to clean up a number of violations. Some of the violations threatened wetlands that drain into Peabody’s water supply. Some of the violations were potential fire safety hazards. But for months, the company, with very close political ties to Ward 5 Councilor Joel Saslaw, has been allowed to ignore the enforcement order. The ConCom has threatened fines, but so far allowed All Pro to slide.

We’ll see what happens this time. Who knows? Maybe All Pro has finally cleaned up its act. If not, we’ll let you know here what happens.

File this under the title of “Lawsuits Worth Fighting”

After the city council did the right thing by sticking together, and voting against allowing a 60-foot cellphone tower in the middle of a residential neighborhood off Lynn Street, the city received notice this week that Verizon Wireless is suing Peabody over the issue. When you consider how adversely the proposed tower would affect quality of life in that neighborhood, this is one lawsuit where every taxpayer should be quoting Dirty Harry. Go ahead and sue us, “Feeling lucky punk? Go ahead, make our day.”

Poll: Who will you vote for tomorrow in primary for Congress in 6th District

8 Sep

If you are planning to vote in tomorrow’s (Sept. 9th) Democratic Primary, please take our poll to let us know your preference. Note: This poll is not scientific, and only a reflection of the opinion of readers of the Eye on Peabody.

Congress

Moulton now has Tierney’s attention; did the incumbent get caught flat-footed?

26 Aug

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

As the race to become the Democratic nominee for Congress in the 6th District gets more interesting by the day, North Shore political pundits start to wonder if maybe incumbent John Tierney and his team got more than a little complement following some rosy polling data last spring.

Suddenly, incumbent John Tierney (right) can't simply ignore challenger Seth Moulton

Suddenly, incumbent John Tierney (right) can’t simply ignore Democratic challenger Seth Moulton

At the time, an internal campaign poll showed the incumbent leading challenger Seth Moulton by 47 percentage points, with just 20 percent undecided. It looked like the Tierney campaign could start spending its dry powder on “evil Republican” fundraising emails aimed at a November re-match against Richard Tisei, who lost to the incumbent by just one point two years ago.

Fast forward to today. Moulton, a Salem businessman with three degrees from Harvard and a resume that includes four combat tours in Iraq as a Marine captain, is hard-charging toward the Sept. 9th primary. He’s spending more than a million dollars on mail pieces and TV commercials, and at this point has all of the momentum.

The Moulton TV ads are clearly working, and this morning the Tierney camp was hit with some further “shock and awe” when the Boston Herald endorsed Moulton, writing “Tierney continues to run his stealth campaign, and we continue to be amazed that anyone would vote for him when there exists in Seth Moulton a smart, fresh-faced alternative.”

So what happened here? Did Team Tierney get caught flat-footed and all giddy following that April poll? Or, was it simply some of that legendary Tierney arrogance that allowed Moulton to make it a race.  Certainly, Tierney himself didn’t take Moulton seriously following that poll, and now watches in horror as Captain Seth races up from behind.

Whether Tierney will end up the Democrats’ version of Eric Cantor, still remains to be seen.

Moulton’s message is clearly resonating with Democrats, who are looking for new, bright leadership, and are fed up with the Pelosi Gang in Washington. But the question is whether there are enough of these type of pragmatic, centrist (and progressive) Democrats to overcome Tierney forces that are made up of the Tierney toadies who infest the Democratic city and town committees across the 6th District.

We shall see if Mr. Clean Marine can come all of the way back here, but at this point one thing is definitely clear:

Seth Moulton now has John Tierney’s attention.

Dunne accepts offer to appear on ‘You Make The Call,’ Moutsoulas declines

18 Aug

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Will talk to voters on "You Make The Ca;;" on Aug. 27th

Beverley Dunne: Will talk to voters on “You Make The Call” on Aug. 27th

The intention was to conduct a forum between the two Democratic candidates for Peabody’s State Rep in the 12th Essex District. But it looks like just one will accept the invitation to speak to Peabody residents on the “You Make The Call” cable access show on Wednesday, Aug. 27th.

School Committee member Beverley Griffin Dunne has accepted the invitation to talk to Peabody residents, while Ward 3 Councilor Jim Moutsoulas declined because of what he called conflicting engagements.

Although we’ll still welcome Moutsoulas on the show, should he change his mind, right now it looks like the entire hour (8-9 p.m., on PAT Ch. 99) will be spent talking exclusively with Dunne, who is making her second run at the 12th District seat,currently held by Republican Leah Cole.

We also plan to post a video of the Aug. 27th show here on The Eye, and on Facebook.

Dunne and Moutsoulas will square off in the Sept. 9th Democratic primary, with the prize being a match up with Cole in November. We also plan to invite the finalists for the seat on a future show following the primary.

Please continue passing the word about this opportunity to see and hear from at least one candidate for Peabody State Rep. We’ll be taking your calls that night. We’ve also been asking for questions here in the comments section.

Let the kids play: Basketball hoop, hockey net ban would be ‘wicked stupid’

22 May

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

When we were young, not that long ago, the streets of Peabody this time of year were filled with kids playing street hockey, games of “twenty-one” on a basketball hoop hanging from a telephone pole, or killer games of “cell block” and “hide-and-go-seek.”

hoopParents actually encouraged kids to go outside, and “blow the stink off ya,” and you were happy to oblige once winter shuffled off its mortal coil, and the air on these late spring nights filled with the scent of lilacs and fresh-cut grass. The thrill of that grass, which you would roll around in while wrestling with friends, before setting up a killer three-on-three game under that street lights until being called home for some homework.

Other than the sound of early evening lawnmowers, today the streets are pretty much quiet. Void of laughter. Void of kids debating whether their line drive off the shed was fair or foul.

Despite our still very safe Peabody neighborhoods, kids, for the most part, stay indoors now.

What’s changed?

Well, certainly high-tech fun is winning out over the low-tech fun of our youth. Video games have replaced games of HORSE, and water balloon fights in the backyard.

But that’s not the only reason.

You can also blame it on the adults.

First we condition our kids to believe that it’s not worth playing if you don’t have a coach or a fancy uniform, or well-polished basketball court. We don’t let them experience the joy anymore of sacrificing the skin on their knees to invent new moves to the hoop on the Peabody’s well-worn asphalt streets.

And now comes even more lunacy when it comes to the adult killjoys.

In a move that would further discourage kids from playing outside, the Peabody City Council is considering creating an ordinance that would ban street-side basketball hoops and street hockey games.

Why?

Well, Councilor At-Large David Gravel brought the issue to the council after one of his grouchy neighbors on Tara Road began constantly complaining about a MAJOR “crime” in her neighborhood. That’s right, balls were inadvertently bouncing into this woman’s yard

To his credit, Gravel responded to a resident’s concern, but maybe what he should have done instead was tell her to calm down, and be a better neighbor. Of  course, since this story broke, we’ve heard from other Nitwit NIMBYs, who are now citing child “safety concerns” over curbside baskets and street hockey nets. Good Lord! Why don’t we all just give up already, and have our kids live in plastic bubbles?

Gravel has done his job and responded to a resident. Now the city council should do the right thing, and not even bring a formal motion on this to the floor. It is, after all, in the words of Peabody’s kids, “wicked stupid.”

Let the kids play.

Here’s how Boston TV news station Fox25 covered the story:

 

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

19 Feb

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

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

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

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

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

Sign us up for the moratorium!

Mayor Ted Bettencourt

Mayor Ted Bettencourt

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

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

Bring on the clowns … there have to be clowns

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

Sweet caucus justice by a legendary Peabody Democrat 

Mr. Democrat, Dick Jarvis

Mr. Democrat, Dick Jarvis

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

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

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

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

Thanks to you, 1 year later, EOP blog is still standing

16 Nov

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

eyeResarch shows that the average lifespan of your average citizen blog is less than three months, and many burnout in the first couple of weeks. That’s why I’m proud to come to you today bragging about the “longevity” of Eye on Peabody.

Today marks our First Anniversary. Exactly one year ago today, I launched with this post.   Twelve months later, and following two city elections and special elections for State Senate, State Rep, and US Senate, we’re still standing while keeping you informed on the issues that matter most for our hometown of Peabody, MA.

We had a little bit of a sabbatical while I ran recently for Ward 5 Councilor, but our visitor statistics have bounced back up the past two weeks as we’ve gotten back into keeping you informed. Since our debut on Nov. 16th, 2012, we’ve had more than 62,000 page views, and more than 15,000 unique visitors. What that means is that more than 15K different people have viewed at least one page of EOP the past 12 months.

Thank you for visiting and reading. Considering that life happens, it’s not always easy to keep content coming your way, but I’ve enjoyed bringing you each and every post, and I’m committed to keeping it going.

So just for fun, here are some other details I’ll share.

What was our busiest day for visits? 

That would be Nov. 29, 2012 when we announced the tragic  passing of State Rep. Joyce Spilliotis. In tribute to our friend Joyce, more than 900 people read our coverage that day, including 600 who read this post, and many who left comments in tribute.

What was my favorite post of the year?

It was one that also made me feel great, and I published it on the night these kids came to my door.

Of course, there are several other posts I’m proud of, but to choose between them would be like asking me which are my favorite children. So, I invite you to visit our archives and let me know which were your favorites.

Here’s to the start of another great year!

Taking somewhat of a hiatus for now, but we’ll be back!

25 Apr

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

The first thing you learn when you start a blog is that it’s more work than you expected.  Content is king here, and unless you are constantly posting new things, it’s difficult to keep a loyal audience coming back.

But here’s the rub: When you have to work for a living,  and pay attention to the rest of your life, you realize that constantly feeding a blog like this just isn’t practical. Add to that trying to run a campaign for Ward 5 Councilor, and … well, you get the point. This is my 132nd post, meaning I’ve averaged more than 22 posts per month since putting this blog here. It’s been rewarding and enjoyable, but also time-consuming.

It’s why today I come to you to say that you can expect Eye On Peabody to go on a bit of a hiatus. Not a total hiatus, mind you, since I will still post when something grabs my attention. But until the city election is over in November, the posts here will become less frequent than they have in the past.

Here’s what you can expect, though, in the coming months:

  • I’ll definitely post when I can, and especially when it comes to major news or issues that affect Peabody.
  • I’ll definitely, as promised,  post anyone’s candidate statements
  • And, if anyone in our audience would like to write, I’ll definitely consider other peoples’ submissions.

And just so the Outfront Guy doesn’t go insane, I’ll also continue to approve and post to the comments sections.

As for me, I’ll write when I can.

We’ve had more than 54,000 site visits, and almost 1,600 comments since launching last November. The response has been overwhelming, and I’m definitely grateful.

Thanks for reading. Talk to you soon!

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.

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

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