KM propaganda can’t hide that the gas in their NED pipeline would be destined for foreign markets

13 Aug

(Note: Please join us in our fight against the Kinder Morgan Pipeline by signing up here)

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

A dude named Allen Fore—who essentially serves as Chief Propaganda Officer for the Texas-based company seeking to profit at the expense of the health, safety and quality of life of Massachusetts and NH residents—continued his tour of lies last night at a FERC scoping meeting in Lunenburg.

There's no need for more gas in Peabody, or anywhere else in Massachusetts

There’s no need for more gas in Peabody, or anywhere else in Massachusetts

As residents inside spoke in opposition of Kinder Morgan’s proposed gas highway to hell (e.g., the Northeast Energy Direct pipeline), Fore talked to reporters about how the company is benevolently building this pipeline to save us from high electricity rates, the result of a so-called natural gas shortage.

If you listen to Fore at these meetings, you’d think we were living in a Mad Max movie, and that any day now people are going to start killing each other over a cup of methane.

Fore told the Sentinel and Enterprise newspaper last night that the only reason KM is expanding its pipeline here is because they want to alleviate high energy prices for consumers.

“Remember: gas is used for more than home heating,” Fore said, noting that it also can be used to produce electricity. “It’s an electricity issue. It’s a gas issue.”

Oh, really?

Then why did ISO-New England, the entity that oversees the region’s electrical grid, just come out with a report that showed our demand for electricity continues to decline. That’s right, the wholesale price for electricity in June was 1.96 cents per kilowatt hour, down by nearly 50 percent over June 2014. And the decline, ISO said, continued in July, dropping by more than 27 percent over the previous year.

People are conserving and prices are dropping, dramatically, which leads us to this question:

Is Allen Fore simply uninformed, or … is he liar?

Considering that the company he works for stands to make an obscene profit off the NED project, I’m going to place my bet on the latter.

It’s also becoming clear to us now that, since ISO’s numbers are proving that we obviously already have more than enough gas capacity, Kinder Morgan has motives here other than heading off what is a fraudulent New England gas crisis.

Make no mistake, the gas that will flow through this destructive line, threatening homes, pristine conservation lands and public drinking water supplies, is destined for foreign markets. Kinder Morgan is trying to get to the sea, from where it will load this this fracked Marcellus Shale gas onto LNG tankers for sale in gas-starved Europe and South America.

In fact, we believe that the so-called laterals, which KM says are being installed off the main line to supply the needs of eastern Mass. communities – including Peabody – are a clever ruse to get FERC to go along and approve its permits.

Think about it. Why were the laterals added so late in the process? Could it be that KM wanted to alleviate suspicion that this gas was headed overseas, and we were just a pass through?

Could it be that KM knew that it would have been a public relations nightmare to have people think that none of this gas would benefit the people whose lives they are disrupting with this project?

Well, consider this, it has been reported that the current Spectra (Maritimes & Northeast) pipeline that goes through Peabody’s Independence Greenway bikepath, and on into Salem, is currently running at about half of its capacity. That’s right, the demand is so low, that they can’t give away the gas running through an existing pipeline in that area.

No matter what garbage spews from the mouth of Kinder Morgan’s Chief Propaganda Officer, make no mistake, the Peabody lateral is a ruse and totally unnecessary when it comes to meeting energy demands in our community.

Time for this company to fess up to this, and cancel all of these unnecessary laterals. Time for Allen Fore to spread his propaganda somewhere else. We’re just not buying it.

School Committee, Wards 1, 4 on city council races to watch in fall’s Peabody election

8 Aug

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

The deadline for pulling nomination papers for Peabody’s city election came and went at 5 p.m. on Friday, and it appears that the most-competitive races this fall will be for School Committee and in Wards 1 and 4 for the City Council.

election-2015Here’s a quick August analysis of how the field shapes up in the ward races, for councilor at-large, and on the school committee. Incumbent Mayor Ted Bettencourt was the only candidate to pull papers in that race, and for the second straight term, he’ll run unopposed.

City Council ward races

Incumbent councilors in Wards 2, 3, 5 and 6 are each unopposed.

 Ward 1 Councilor

It’s a three-way battle for an open seat between Jon Turco, Anne Quinn and Brian Barrett, which will necessitate a primary on Tuesday, Sept. 29th.

What’s interesting here is the race between Turco and Barrett.

Turco’s very active in the South Peabody community, and was instrumental in helping then city councilor Ted Bettencourt carry Ward 1 when the Mayor first beat Sean Fitzgerald for the chief executive seat in 2011.

Barrett, who was once Peabody’s assistant city solicitor, comes from an old South Peabody family, and his dad was a long-time city councilor.

This one is a battle of new Peabody (e.g., those who “emigrated” from places such as Revere, East Boston, Everett and Chelsea) vs. the “old Peabs,” who think anyone whose family hasn’t been here for 100 years is a “carpetbagger.” What’s interesting about that dynamic is that – these days — there seem to be just as many new arrivals as there are old families.

If Turco can get the newer arrivals out to vote in massive numbers (which is always challenging) he’ll win. If not, the Barrett name will be tough to overcome.

Ms. Quinn could also have an impact here. She’s the only woman on the ballot, and half the voting population is female. Typically, that dynamic has more of an effect on the councilor at-large and school committee races. But in a three person ward primary, it could be a factor.

Ward 4 Councilor

School committee members Ed Charest and Jarrod Hochman compete for the seat being vacated by long-time Ward 4 Councilor Bob Driscoll.

This one is too tough to call at this point, and neither one of these candidates has ever run a one-on-one race. We’ll see what develops between now and Nov. 3rd. But it will likely come down to whomever runs the most-effective campaign.

Councilor At-Large

Incumbents Anne Manning-Martin, David Gravel, Tom Gould, Tom Walsh and Michael Garabedian are all huge favorites to win re-election at this point. The old adage that councilor at-large incumbents just never lose will likely hold true again this time. The last time a councilor at-large incumbent lost was in 1998, when then sitting school committee member Jim Liacos beat Bill Toomey by less than 100 votes.

Challenger Peter Bakula, making his second run for an at-large seat, faces very long odds here.

Russ Donovan, a South Peabody resident and frequent candidate for office, has pulled papers, but as of Friday at 5 p.m., hadn’t brought back the required 50 signatures. Donovan has until Tuesday, the deadline for returning papers, to decide whether he’s in or not.

School Committee

For the first time in a while, Peabody has a wide-open race for a citywide office that is filled with new candidates. That will make this the most-interesting race of this election cycle.

Two of the three seats are open, and Brandi Carpenter is the only incumbent. There are eight candidates overall, with seven bringing back the required number of signatures to be on the ballot.

At this point, here’s this pundits view on how things are shaping up:

Carpenter should be an odds on favorite for re-election, since she is not only an incumbent, but also the only woman on the ballot. Traditionally in Peabody elections, where voters have more than one vote, there’s a huge advantage to being the only female name on a ballot. But it has also been a rough year for the sitting members of the school committee, who have felt the public’s wrath over the FKO afterschool program issue, and the debacle of sticking the taxpayers with a large separation agreement settlement for departed superintendent Joe Mastocola.  Brandi should win back her seat, but it’s definitely not as big of a lock as it would have been in most other years.

As for the rest of the field, here’s how I feel it shapes up:

Based on who I feel are the most qualified candidates, educators Brian Addesa and Joe Amico and attorney and CPA John Olimpio should be considered the odds on favorites to compete for the two open seats.

Throwing in Peabody’s penchant for wanting to always vote for candidates with deep roots in the city, also throw Andrew Arnotis into the previous mix. My feeling on Andrew, who comes from a well-connected South Peabody family, is that he’s a bright young candidate with a great future in Peabody politics. But I also feel that he’s not ready at this point. He’s a college student, and my fear is that he’ll be manipulated too easily by the existing school committee members, who haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory this year.  It’s not a knock at Andrew, who I feel is a good guy. It’s just that I honestly feel it’s not the right job for any 22-year-old.

At this stage, I really don’t see the rest of the school committee field as being all that competitive.

Michel Bonbon has over the years been very active in the Peabody Democratic City Committee. But I see the key members of that committee supporting Arnotis in this election. Travis Wojcik is another young candidate who could have a bright future in Peabody politics, but his lack of name recognition and inexperience will hurt him this time.

The only other candidate to pull papers is Neil Papamechail, who has until Tuesday to bring back his signatures and get on the ballot. Papanechail pulled papers two years ago, and didn’t bring them back. If he gets on the ballot this time, I feel he’ll be the longest shot in the field of eight.

The school committee candidate field will be trimmed to six following the Sept. 29th primary.

Aggregate quarry creates demand for KM pipeline lateral through Peabody

4 Aug
(Re-posted from the PeabodyCitizensUnited.org website)
By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher
 Since the day we learned that Texas-based Kinder Morgan was proposing a pipeline lateral through Peabody that would threaten homes, the environment and our public drinking water supply, we’ve wondered about who would purchase this fracked natural gas.

There was certainly no need for this gas when it came to Peabody homes or the Peabody Municipal Light Plant.

Well, if Kinder Morgan is allowed to build a 24-inch diameter “bomb” under the Independence Greenway bike path, it turns out now that someone in Peabody does have a need for this gas.

National Grid, which would purchase the gas in the Kinder Morgan pipeline lateral through Peabody, has filed for approval of a “firm transportation service agreement” with the State Department of Public Utilities to be the middle man in selling this gas to the Aggregate Industries quarry.

That’s right, Aggregate Industries, arguably the worst corporate neighbor in Peabody’s history, would benefit from this gas

“The Customer (Aggregate) has dual-fuel capability and is able to meet its energy requirements using waste oil in addition to or in lieu of natural gas. The Customer is, however, willing to provide a firm commitment to natural gas in exchange for a customized transportation agreement with a fixed rate,” National Grid wrote in its DPU approval request.

So, in addition to damaging homes with its blasting, and disrupting quality of life with its non-stop, high-decibel construction noise, Aggregate is essentially helping to pave the way for this pipeline lateral’s construction.

Come fall, Kinder Morgan will seek final approval for a permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to build its Northeast Energy Direct pipeline, including the section that will run through Peabody. And when KM goes before FERC, all it will need to do to get approval is show that it has “customers.”

Thanks to Aggregate, that argument will be a lot easier to make. The beat goes on for Peabody’s worst corporate neighbor of all-time.

There will be a hearing on this before DPU coming soon. Once I know the details, we’ll pass them along so we can be there to protest. Stay united, Peabody.

Our turn to stick up for our quality of life in Peabody: Please show up to tell KM we don’t want their pipeline here

22 Jun

In true all-American fashion, we Peabody residents tend to disagree often on issues involving our city. But tomorrow night (Tuesday, June 23rd), we have one of those rare times when we’ll be all for one, and one for all.

Coming before OUR City Council will be a Texas-based pipeline company, which wants to run a destructive and potentially dangerous high-pressure, fracked gas pipeline across our community.

Kinder Morgan will soon seek final approval to build its gas highway from a five-person, federally appointed board in Washington, DC, and the pipeline company is essentially telling us that there’s nothing we can do to stop them.

This is why we need to stand united tomorrow night. We need to stand up not only to Kinder Morgan, but to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which has never seen a pipeline project it didn’t want to approve.

We need to stand up to them as one community.

Peabodyites all, out to protect our quality of life, and the quality of life of our neighbors.

We have the total support of OUR Mayor Ted Bettencourt. We have the total support of OUR City Council, which was elected by we the people, and not appointed by some DC bureaucrats. And, if we can pack Wiggin Auditorium beginning at 6:30 p.m., we will show this major corporation, with its “greed is good” executives, that we stand by one mantra:

Not here. Not ever!

This pipeline would run along the Independence Greenway bike path, and endanger the Ipswich River Watershed, the ultimate source of our public drinking water supply. That part of the project would not only destroy that section of the bikeway, but then make a dangerously close pass to homes in the Glen Drive neighborhood.

But this also our opportunity to stop them based on Article 97 of the Massachusetts State Constitution, which says that land set aside for conservation cannot be used for any other purpose without a two thirds vote of both houses of the State Legislature.

The battle has only just begun.

Please join us at City Hall and stand as ONE Peabody against the interests of a company that could care less about your quality of life.

Competitive field already shaping up in race for Peabody School Committee seats

20 Jun

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Since giving voters multiple candidates to choose from is always a good thing, it was both distressing and disappointing two years ago when all three Peabody School Committee incumbents ran for re-election unopposed.

Incumbent Brandi Carpenter

Incumbent Brandi Carpenter

But now, with two of the three seats open on the November ballot, suddenly a large field of contenders is emerging. Long-time school committee member David McGeney is retiring, and Ed Charest’s decision to run for Ward 4 Councilor opens the two seats. Brandi Carpenter, meanwhile, is the only incumbent running for re-election.

Eight candidates have so far picked up their nomination papers to get the required 50 signatures to run. If all bring back their signed papers by August, there will be a primary in September to narrow the field to six.

The challenger field so far includes all men, many of whom have kids in the Peabody Public Schools, and have never run for office before. This could give Carpenter an edge when it comes to retaining her seat, not only because she is the lone incumbent, but because lone women candidates on a ballot traditionally do very well in Peabody elections where voters can make multiple choices.

The rest of the field, though, is fascinating for political junkies like myself to handicap. I’ve participated — either as a candidate, campaign worker or wiseass pundit – in dozens of Peabody campaigns the past 20 years, and this is the first time I don’t see any clear favorites beyond the one incumbent.

Right now, I see several challengers with legit shots to get one of the two remaining seats, and I can’t ever recall that being the case at this stage in any Peabody School Committee election. Although there are a number of candidates in this race with the “right stuff” to do the job well, none of them right now have much in the way of all-important name recognition.

All of that will change in the coming months, and whomever manages to run the best campaign is going to prevail. For now, you can’t tell the candidates without a scorecard, so maybe my take here will help:

Joe Amico has been out there working longer than anyone else in the field, having been one of the first to pull papers. He’s even already held a successful fundraiser, and has lawn signs out. He’s personable, a good family man, and has experience in the Revere Public Schools as an educator.

School committee Brian Addesa and family

School committee Brian Addesa and family

Brian Addesa is the newest candidate in the race. For the sake of full disclosure, I’m already helping Brian with his campaign, since I feel he has some great, commonsense ideas for improving Peabody’s schools, while also being mindful of the tax concerns of young families, empty-nesters and seniors. Brian decided to run after being a leader of the parents group that fought and won to preserve the For Kids Only (FKO) afterschool program. He’s not only a noteworthy family man and father, he’s also an educator.

john

John Olimpio

John Olimpio, is an attorney, CPA and family man from West Peabody, who has run before for school committee. I don’t know John well, but I hear positive things about his character, and will attempt to learn more about his ideas as the campaign unfolds.

Andrew Arnotis and Travis Wojcik are both college kids running for the first time. Neither has the professional or life experience of the previous three candidates, but I’m always encouraged and happy to see young people get involved.

The other two candidates who have pulled papers are Michael Bonbon and Neil Papamechail. Michael has been active in the Peabody Democratic City Committee. Other than the fact that he pulled papers last time to run and then didn’t bring them back, I don’t know much about Neil’s background.

More to come, but this should definitely be an interesting year when it comes to the school committee ballot.

Mayor Bettencourt voices his strong opposition to pipeline in a letter to FERC

19 Jun

The following was re-posted from the Peabody Citizens United to Stop the Kinder Morgan Pipeline website:

Mayor Ted Bettencourt

Mayor Ted Bettencourt

Strong support from Peabody Mayor Ted Bettencourt for our opposition to the proposed Lynnfield Lateral of the Northeast Energy Direct pipeline project continues. Below is a letter he recently sent to FERC.

The city’s elected officials continue to unite with residents in fighting this destructive and potentially dangerous project.

 Please join us on Tuesday, June 23rd when Kinder Morgan comes before the Peabody City Council at 6:30 p.m, to answer some tough questions.

Here’s Mayor Bettencourt’s letter to FERC:

June 12, 2015

Sandra Waldstein, Director

The State, International and Public Affairs Division

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

888 First Street, NE

Washington, DC 20426

RE: Docket No. PF14-22

Dear Ms. Waldstein:

The Tennessee Gas Pipeline, L.L.C. has submitted to FERC an Application to open a pre-filing proceeding of Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company, L.L.C. under New Docket for Tennessee’s Northeast Energy Direct Project under PF14-22.

As part of this project, Tennessee Gas has proposed building a spur of subsurface pipeline in an area of Peabody, Massachusetts wholly unsuited for such a utility.  As Mayor of Peabody, I feel it is my duty to convey to FERC the concerns and fears of so many in our community.

First, the area proposed for pipeline construction runs adjacent to one of our city’s most beloved and tight knit neighborhoods.  Families who live here are justly concerned about a disruptive construction project which could forever alter the landscape of their homes.  Homeowners have also expressed to me their concerns relative to public safety and protection of property.

Also, the area proposed for pipeline construction runs along the Peabody Independence Greenway.  Known locally as simply ‘the Bikepath,’ the Greenway is a favorite destination for thousands of walkers, joggers, cyclists and wildlife enthusiasts.  Many of these individuals have expressed their dismay over this pipeline proposal and I share their concern for preservation of this vital community resource.

Finally, the area proposed for pipeline construction is home to a number of natural resources which could be jeopardized by such a large scale and disruptive project.  Thanks to its vicinity to the Ipswich River, the area is rife with wetlands, plants, trees, and other types of vegetation.  While Peabody is renowned as a center of industry and technology, we treasure our open space and natural resources.

I join my fellow elected officials on the City Council as well as hundreds of Peabody residents who have united to oppose this project.  The Tennessee Gas proposal will disrupt Peabody neighborhoods, jeopardize public safety, decimate a treasured recreational amenity and wipe out precious natural resources.  Thank you for your consideration of this public comment.

Warmest regards,

Edward A. Bettencourt, Jr.

Mayor, City of Peabody

School committee members made FKO issue all about them, and their hurt feelings

18 Jun

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Beverley Dunne should have asked herself last night:

Beverley Dunne should have asked herself last night: “What would Joyce Do?”

As the dust up clears on the FKO issue, we continue to get the feeling that – based on last night’s meeting – many members of Peabody’s School Committee still don’t get it.

Thanks to some off-line work by Mayor Ted Bettencourt, the afterschool program the parents wanted was saved for at least one more year. The Mayor gave school committee members an out, a chance at a do over, a mulligan to behold.

And what did some of them do?

They got all defensive while making comments “for the record,” and making it about their own hurt feelings.

As a taxpayer, it was distressing to watch, since – other than ego gratification – there seemed to be no good reason for them to play the role of victim. There was no crime committed here. There was nothing unethical, nor was there a need to explain themselves. Instead of getting defensive, they could have, should have simply said:

“We made a mistake when it came to communication. We underestimated how important this program was to the parents and their kids, and we’re here tonight to fix it.”

No need for defending themselves after that. Decent people are forgiving and know that no one’s perfect.

The decent people within those FKO families would have forgiven and forgotten had those school committee members simply asked for a mea culpa.

Instead, the school committee circled its wagons, made it a case of them against the world. They did everything except admit that they had made a mistake. They made it about themselves. They made it about their own pain.

By the way, memo to Ed Charest: Your years of service and accomplishments on the school committee, and your championing of all-day kindergarten, has nothing to do with the missteps here on the FKO issue. Also, although I admire you for defending your daughter, your visible anger and rant over some lout verbally attacking her, was completely out of place and inappropriate at this meeting. 

Memo to Dave McGeney: You were doing well lately, publicly admitting that the school committee screwed up when it came to communicating on this issue with the parents. But it was totally out-of-place and unnecessary last night for you to tell the world how this is the “best school committee” you’ve ever served with. Please, save that for a toast later at the AOH bar.

Memo to Beverley Dunne: The issue here for the parents is NOT the difficult FKO contract negotiation. They don’t care about that, nor should they. Also, Beverley, since I consider you a friend and have always supported you with my votes and my voice, I find it disappointing that you would essentially say that most of the FKO supporters were somehow doing the dirty work of that organization’s executive director. These people were there for one reason, Beverley … their kids.

A close political mentor has for years drilled into me that, when you’re a candidate or elected official, it’s important that you always and only make it about the people you represent. It was the major theme behind what made late State Rep Joyce Spilliotis Peabody’s greatest public servant.

That’s why I personally think it’s a shame that two of the late Rep’s political protégés, Ms. Dunne and Mr. Charest, didn’t ask themselves this question before speaking last night:

“What would Joyce do?”

Congrats FKO families: You stood up for your kids, and you won

18 Jun

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

kidsLet’s put the bruised egos of the “poor” elected officials aside here, and celebrate this morning a victory for our democratic process.  After all, we the people – especially those hundreds of parents who fought what they viewed as an injustice – prevailed last night.

Without going into all that transpired at last night’s special meeting of Peabody’s School Committee – including the comments by some members embarking on a campaign of damage control in this election year – we happily report today that the highly successful For Kids Only afterschool program will return.

At the start of the meeting — before FKO families at the Kiley School — Mayor Ted Bettencourt essentially gave parents the verdict when he announced that the Torigian Family YMCA was withdrawing its bid to replace the current afterschool program.

It was a good moment for the Mayor, who after watching school committee members make the wrong call a few weeks ago to replace FKO with the YMCA, stepped up and showed the type of leadership Peabody needs from its chief executive. The reason for the first ill-advised vote in the first place? School Committee members told us it was a “contract dispute.”

Memo to school committee members: Next time, please realize that this isn’t just like negotiating a bus contract. It’s just not cool to mess with the emotions of parents and their children, and then use a contract dispute as an excuse.

The meeting last night included the school committee passing motions that will allow FKO to stay in Peabody’s elementary schools for the 2015-16 school year, after which time the need for an afterschool program will be put out to bid.

Although there was more last night — including the “beep, beep, beep” of very defensive elected officials backing up on their previous vote — the important lesson here is that the parents prevailed.

It’s a great example, a perfect formula and case study for future residents out to remind Peabody’s politicians that – once elected – they are there to always and only be our public servants. The FKO families mobilized and made sure their voice was heard.

Great job, FKO families! Thank you for standing up for your kids, and for Peabody.

Please attend gas pipeline meeting at Peabody City Council on June 23rd

16 Jun

By Eye on Peabody

Kinder Morgan gas pipeline company representatives will come before Peabody’s City Council on Tuesday, June 23rd, 6:30 p.m., at City Hall’s Wiggin Auditorium to answer questions about their proposed pipeline project, which is scheduled to cut through a section of West Peabody.

The company will present details on the project, which is part of the proposed Lynnfield Lateral of the larger Northeast Energy Direct high-pressure natural gas pipeline, answer questions from city councilors and hear comments from residents.

If approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the pipeline would pass through a stretch of Peabody’s Independence Greenway bike path, and make a close pass to several hundred West Peabody homes near Glen Drive and Emily Lane.

Opponents of the project, including those with the local group Peabody Citizens United, say that the gas from this pipeline is not needed in Peabody, yet the project will destroy the bike path, threaten homes, and potentially contaminate the water supply along the Ipswich River.

“We oppose because it’s of no value to Peabody. None of this gas will be used in Peabody. We’re just a pass-through community so Kinder Morgan can eventually export this gas and make even larger profits,” said Bob Croce, Chair of Peabody Citizens United.

FKO parents try to TKO school committee vote: Meeting set to re-consider

11 Jun

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Following a week of intense public pressure, it looks like the Peabody School Committee members and Mayor Ted Bettencourt have blinked.

kidsWe’re getting confirmation at this hour that a special meeting will be held on Wednesday, June 17, 6:30 p.m. at the Kiley School to discuss the For Kids Only (FKO) afterschool program issue.

At that meeting, school committee members will have the opportunity to discuss why they voted to sack FKO, and replace it with an afterschool program run by the Torigian Family YMCA.

Member Jarrod Hochman wrote on the FKO Facebook page that a motion will be made that night to re-consider the vote. Hochman was the only school committee member two weeks ago to vote against removing FKO from Peabody’s six elementary schools.

We’re hearing some contradictory information as to who exactly got the meeting scheduled, and what the rules will be that evening. But the meeting definitely doesn’t necessarily mean that the decision to remove FKO will be reversed.

Another source, though, is telling me that Mayor Ted Bettencourt wants the committee to go along with a compromise that would allow FKO to remain in the Peabody schools for one more year, and after that put the afterschool program out for bid.

It’s become clear that this issue, coming on the heels of the controversial dismissal of Superintendent Joe Mastrocola, has caused a great deal of dissension on the board charged with overseeing policy for our public schools.

We’ve seen the ugly side of politics too.

On the positive side, we’ve seen a very organized group of concerned parents, who all along have been kept in the dark and given no answers as to why this successful program for their kids was being replaced with an unknown YMCA program. Showing that they were unwilling to go away, they deserve all of the credit for getting this meeting scheduled.

On the other side, we’ve seen sudden tension and a little dysfunction on the part of elected officials.

All of it has raised some interesting questions.

Is Hochman with the parents group because he truly believes that the FKO program needs to remain a vital service for Peabody’s families? Or, as fellow member Dave McGeney asserted, is he just “pandering” because he’s running for Ward 4 Councilor? Then again, we should point out that School committee member Ed Charest, who is running against Hochman in Ward 4, is a close friend and ally of Mr. McGeney.

Has the Mayor, who serves as Chair of the school committee, suddenly fallen out of favor with many of the members? “He took care of himself at the expense of everyone else, and aligned himself with Hochman,” one member said in a Facebook message to me earlier today, adding that “Teddy is done (with the school committee). Finished. He showed his true colors.”

A lot more to come on this, for sure.  For now, though, congrats to the parents, who took charge and let this school committee know that they are there to serve us. It’s not the other way around.

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