Moulton: It’s not about Democrats or Republicans, it’s about We The People

4 Oct

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

There’s a line at the end of a recent article in the Newburyport Daily News that caught my attention, and made me again feel that Seth Moulton is the most-impressive local candidate for office I can recall in my lifetime.

Seth Moulton

Seth Moulton

The article was from coverage of a Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce event, and during his speech Moulton recalled something that stuck with him after meeting an elderly voter at the Agawam Diner in Rowley.

“My host took me over to an older gentleman who has met many, many candidates over the years,” Moulton recalled during his speech.

“He told me, ‘Don’t go down there (to Washington) as a Democrat or as a Republican. Go as an American.’ And that’s what I will do if elected.”

If you’re reading this right now, and don’t find that refreshing, my only guess would be that you’re so caught up in either your own far left or far right ideology that you have lost sight of what government should be there to do for us.

Doing the business of people isn’t about ideology and obstructionism. It’s about being pragmatic, and ensuring that all Americans are allowed their own pursuit of happiness.

No pragmatic American wants the government to be interfering with every aspect of their lives. But at the same time, unless you simply don’t care about other people, we understand that it’s necessary for our society to take care of those who truly can’t take care of themselves.

No pragmatic American wants the government starting wars over the interests of multi-national corporations. But, unless you insanely think that terrorists can be negotiated with, then you understand that America needs to use its military to fight tyranny wherever it exists, and make our homeland safe.

No pragmatic American really wants to see every illegal immigrant, many of whom are working menial jobs just to make a few bucks to send back home, arrested and thrown in chains. But every American should care about securing our border, and about ensuring that our tax dollars are not being gobbled by illegal immigrant welfare cheats with multiple EBT cards.

I could go on, but I won’t, other than to say that I feel strongly that people want a government that works so well that you hardly even notice it’s there.

Elected officials shouldn’t tax us to death, and be wasteful in their spending.  But we get it too. Taxes as necessary when it comes to providing for a national defense, ensuring that our roads and bridges are safe, and taking care of people who truly can’t do it on their own. Taxes are necessary in a civilized society.

Federally elected officials also need to leave us alone locally when it comes to public education, and stop fighting old battles, on the left and the right, when it comes to social issues such as same-sex marriage and abortion.

Personally, I’m opposed to abortion, but I also believe that a women’s right to choose should never be taken away.

Personally, I feel that government should leave “marriage” to religious institutions. Yet, I also feel it’s time for people to stop fighting against same-sex marriage laws. That battle is over, and society has not fallen into an abyss sent from God.

It’s time for commonsense to prevail, and for us to pull together as a society.

It’s time to make government work, and to do so, we need new people in Congress like Seth Moulton. He’s pragmatic and gets it.

It’s not about Democrats. It’s not about Republicans. It’s about elected officials working for We the People.

Well said, Seth.

 

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.”

While a new obnoxious billboard lights up our life, we wonder how it got approved

20 Sep

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

For more than a year, we’ve wrung our hands over the giant billboard monstrosity hard by the Subway restaurant, just yards from Lowell Street. But now, as we wait for promises to be fulfilled, and for that massive misplaced sign to be removed, a sequel plays out just a couple of hundred yards away.

billboardCall it “Son of Giant Billboard,” if you like, but have you noticed the obnoxious electronic sign that now towers over the Hess gas station, making that stretch look more like Las Vegas Blvd. than Lowell Street?

I know that ugliness and obnoxiousness is in the eye of the beholder, but this Hess billboard seems even more intrusive than the one next to Subway that they’re promising to take down.

Not only that, it appears that we have a problem here, Peabody.

I recall  the Peabody City Council giving approval at this location for a less intrusive static sign.  Seems to me  that the Hess sign is technically not adhering to the terms of the city council’s vote. How does this happen?

If you know the answer, please let me know.  But it appears that the “billboards gone wild” era continues here in Peabody.

If she found a new mentor, I might admit I’m wrong about Leah Cole as a State Rep

18 Sep

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Since lately, I’ve enjoyed the wrath from both right wingers, and well-meaning fiscally conservative friends, I felt it was time to maybe show my softer, more sensitive side, and admit something rare.

I might be wrong this time about it being impossible for Leah Cole — because she is an out-numbered Republican  — to develop into an effective State Rep for Peabody.

But … before you get too excited, understand that my proclamation comes with an asterisk.

You see, before I can be proven wrong, Ms. Cole needs to stop hanging out with the wrong element on Beacon Hill.

If Cole wants to succeed, Reps such as Brad Jones should be her mentor

If Cole wants to succeed, Reps such as Brad Jones should be her mentor

Cole needs to change mentors, and start learning a few things from Rep Brad Jones (R-North Reading). The House Minority Leader is an excellent example of how a Republican can get things done for his district at the State House, despite being out-gunned 5-to-1 by Democrats.

Knowing that he’s outnumbered like Custer at Little Big Horn, Jones wisely picks issues on which he knows he can get consensus with Democrats. It’s  how Jones and the other 20 other pragmatic Republicans in the Great and General Court get things done for their districts.

But right now,  since Leah Cole would rather follow those more interested in obstruction than bi-partisan solutions, there’s a problem.

Cole’s mentor is a right wing ideologue from Andover named Jim Lyons. Lyons, whose handed Cole a few juicy checks for her campaign war chest, is the King of Chuckleheads on Beacon Hill. If you’ve ever heard him on the radio show of hack newspaper columnist Howie Carr, you’d realize how out there on the fringe Lyons is when it comes to issues. Like Carr himself, I’m talking tinfoil hat crazy, and an always angry-at-the-world demeanor.

Instead .. Cole follows Rep Jim Lyons to the lunatic fringe

Instead .. Cole follows Rep Jim Lyons straight  to the lunatic fringe

Not only is Lyons an obstructionist, but earlier this year he marshaled his handful of extremist lunatic pals, and tried to oust Jones from the position of Minority Leader. Why? Well, they don’t like it that  Jones is willing to find consensus with Dems, and make government work for the people of the Commonwealth. Thankfully, there weren’t enough wing-nut votes to get the job done. By the way,  Jones got overwhelming support from the Republican caucus, which voted 21-0 to keep him as Minority Leader.

And guess what?  Knowing his coup was going to fail big. Lyons had his merry band of right wingers, including Ms. Cole,  not show up for the vote.

“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist, and obviously Rep. Lyons isn’t, to realize that you need some support on the Democratic side of the aisle to get issues advanced, whether they’re policy or parochial,” said Jones, during a time when Lyons and his goons failed to oust him. “That’s just a mathematical reality, as much as I may not or he may not like it to be the case.”

Brad Jones is a Republican rep who gets it.

And if Leah Cole would only listen to the wise Rep from North Reading instead of a crackpot from Andover, even I might change my mind about her potential future effectiveness as Peabody’s State Rep.

Follow Bob on Twitter @eyeonpeabody

New voke school is the ‘gift’ that keeps on giving for Peabody taxpayers

17 Sep

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

It’s the “gift” that keeps on giving, and now there’s reason to believe that Peabody taxpayers might be further fleeced because of an oversight when it comes to the new, totally ostentatious North Shore Technical School.

taxesYou see, the genius political movers and shakers, who built this Palace of Versailles of voke schools, forgot about a “little” obligation owed to the retirees of Essex Aggie, which was merged with the new voke.

Turns out that no one figured into the already over-inflated cost of the new school an additional $375,000 owed annually to pensioners. What that means is that Peabody, which wasn’t even part of the old district that included Essex Aggie, might be on the hook for a big chunk this oversight.

Oops! Maybe State Rep Ted Speliotis, a champion of this over-priced  educational edifice should simply throw up his arms and say … “sorry, the dog ate my homework.”

The new school, which will serve fewer than 200 of Peabody’s 6,000 students, is already taking a $3 million bite out of Peabody’s budget. This year, it was the primary reason for Peabody being forced, for the 13 straight year, to raise taxes on homeowners.

The problem now is that no one wants to own this mistake when it comes to the pension obligation, and no one seems to know how or why the oversight happened in the first place. Of course, the answer is simple as to who will “own” it. It belongs to us, and the taxpayers of all of the other communities who joined in here.

It’s too bad, since I’m sure the movers and shakers behind this over-the-top luxurious school building could have easily swept it under the rug when it came to the overall budget. Heck, no one would have even noticed. Right?

But now, we likely own it, and the question is, how much of it will be the obligation of Peabody taxpayers, whose kids never milked one cow at the old Essex Aggie?

Follow Bob on Twitter @eyeonpeabody

Choice should be Joyce-like when it comes to the race for Peabody State Rep

16 Sep

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

It’s been almost two years since the passing of Joyce Spilliotis, and each year at this time I think about her when campaigns heat up. That’s because, in my opinion, the former State Rep and Peabody City Councilor was a model of what we should expect from all of our public servants.

We need a rep who went about the job just like the late, great Joyce Spillotis

We need a rep who went about the job just like the late, great Joyce Spillotis

A lot of what Joyce got for Peabody while on Beacon Hill was because she was a Democrat, who was in step with the major themes of those who ran her party. But first and foremost, she always strived to do what was right for Peabody, and the people she represented.

If that meant tangling with the Speaker, so be it. If it meant cutting a deal with members of her party, and even wooing some Republican votes to get what she needed for Peabody, she knew how to negotiate.

At the end of the day, she was certainly a Democrat, but it was always people over party.  It was always Peabody first.

People have asked me lately why I’ve been so rough in this space on our freshman Republican State Rep Leah Cole, and the first thing I usually say is that it’s definitely not personal. Although I’ve met Leah only a couple of times, I think she’s a nice person. I also think it’s admirable when people in her age group get involved in community service, and that we need more 25-year olds running for office, especially when it comes to Library Trustee, school committee, and city council.

But I don’t think her being part of the minority party on Beacon Hill, and her lack of business, leadership and life experience are good qualities for Peabody’s State Rep. to have.

There’s something else, though, and this is where I think about the job done by Joyce.

Many times, I get the impression that Leah Cole is on Beacon Hill to be more of a foothold for the dysfunctional Mass GOP, than she is there to represent the residents of Peabody. I cite her rhetoric during the special election, during which she managed to get about 6% of the district’s roughly 28K voters to fill in the oval next to her name.

During that campaign, and while defending the acceptance of donations from outside of Peabody, she sometimes talked about how State Reps don’t just represent their districts, but also make decisions for the entire state. I don’t think I ever heard Joyce Spilliotis worry about anything other than the people who needed here most back her in Peabody.

“I believe her platform will be different. I am interested in hearing what she has to say. … So much of her support comes from outside of Peabody; I would like to know what exactly she intends to do for the citizens (of Peabody),” Beverley Griffin Dunne, Cole’s Democratic opponent on Nov. 4th ,told the Salem News yesterday.

And Beverley is right. While Joyce Spilliotis was all about Peabody and constituent services, Leah Cole seems more interested in pushing forward with the state Republican Party’s agenda, and wooing support from OUTSIDE of Peabody. She’s worked on a number of fiscally responsible tax issues, which I feel most Peabody people would agree with, but it’s all been rhetoric rather than action, since Republicans on Beacon Hill have very little influence.

Money is not only the “mother’s milk of politics,” it’s also the major thing that ends up influencing the decisions of most elected officials.  This is why my eyebrows are raised when I see that a majority of the money in Cole’s war chest coming from non-Peabody people.

When Cole talks about more responsible tax policies and not bilking the middle class, most of us stand up and cheer. But then we peel the onion, and see that she received $22K in in-kind contributions from the uber right-wing Marlborough Republican City Committee, which is in lock-step with the far right nationally when it comes to social issues. Heck, we all want lower taxes, but I believe that the majority of Mass. voters are live and let live when it comes to same-sex marriage. I also believe that, while most people are not pro-abortion, they certainly aren’t – like most Republicans – against a woman’s right to choose.

This is indeed going to be one of the more interesting Peabody State Rep races in recent memory. All I suggest is that people peel the onion, and ask themselves the following before making a decision:

Which of these two candidates is more like Joyce?

Follow Bob on Twitter @eyeonpeabody

Poll: With 7 weeks to go, who do you prefer in 6th District Congressional race?

15 Sep

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

With seven weeks until Election Day on Nov. 4th, it’s time to take the pulse of of our audience on the Sixth District race for Congress. As always, keep in mind that this poll is not scientific, and only reflects the opinions of our Eye On Peabody audience.

Please be sure to share this on social media, including Facebook and Twitter, so we can get an even larger sample.

Richard Tisei

Richard Tisei

Seth Moulton

Seth Moulton

 

 

 

 

Follow Bob on Twitter @eyeonpeabody

West Nile mosquitoes in Peabody: Take precautions, but no need to panic

12 Sep

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

A scary Nixle alert hit smart phones this afternoon, informing the public that some mosquitoes in Peabody have tested positive for the West Nile Virus.

no_mosquitoBut don’t panic. Although you should take the alert seriously by taking proper precautions while outdoors between dawn and dusk, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that your chances of getting any symptoms of the disesase are slim.

Most people, according to the CDC will develop no symptoms after being bitten, and less than 1% of infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal, neurologic illness associated with West Nile.

Even so, it’s wise to make you take the following precautions provided by the PPD and Peabody Department of Health:

  • Please take precautions to avoid mosquito bites, such as wearing insect repellent and protective clothing, especially if outdoors between dusk and dawn.
  • Eliminate standing water around your home and make sure your screens are intact.
  • For more information visit www.peabody-ma.gov or call the Peabody Health Dept at 978-538-5926.

Follow Bob on Twitter @eyeonpeabody

 

Dunne and the Dems need to avoid over-confidence in state rep race against Cole

10 Sep

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

I’ve heard it already a few times today. Less than 24 hours after Beverley Griffin Dunne’s convincing victory over Jim Moutsoulas in the Democratic primary for Peabody State Rep, people are saying that Republican incumbent Leah Cole will be trounced by the Peabody School Committeewoman on Nov. 4th.

And all day … I’ve been telling them they’re taking Cole way too lightly.

Leah Cole ... working toward the fringe?

Leah Cole

Beverley Griffin Dunne

Beverley Griffin Dunne

Make no mistake, if she runs the right campaign, and is able to raise some money, I feel that Dunne will be our next State Rep from the 12th Essex District.  I also feel that Dunne would be a far more effective state rep than Cole, who as a member of the minority party on Beacon Hill,  has no shot to bring Peabody anything more than a scrap of the bacon.

For the simple reason that Democrats overwhelmingly dominate the Massachusetts Great and General Court, Peabody needs a Democrat in that seat.

But while I don’t think Cole, or any Republican for that matter, can help Peabody get what it needs when it comes to local aid, I also think that people are way underestimating the incumbent’s strength as a candidate.

People who underestimate a Republican’s ability to win in Peabody are either misinformed, or still living in 1972.

Peabody is no longer a city dominated by Democrats. That’s not just me talking. That’s science. Although Dems still outnumber Republicans almost 4-to-1 in our fair burg, those without any party affiliation outnumber Democrats almost 2-to-1.

These voters, designated as the “unenrolled,” have the most impact on all of our elections, and are the reason why Republicans Scott Brown (twice), Charlie Baker, and Richard Tisei have carried the vote in Peabody in recent elections.

It’s also one of the reasons why Cole won in the first place. Oh sure, Cole was definitely aided in that special election 18 months ago when Dunne and Dem-turned-independent Dave Gravel split the vote. But mainly conservative, ticked off unenrolled voters put Cole over the top. I know this first hand after my door-to-door campaigning last fall for Ward 5 Councilor. With many unenrolled voters I visited, it was sometimes snarls once they learned that I was a Democrat.

But the great conservative unenrolled vote is not the only challenge faced by Dunne.

Ms. Cole is not just some candidate from South Peabody. She is a young trophy piece for the Massachusetts Republican Party in what is a sea of blue on Beacon Hill. With the exception of Charlie Baker and Richard Tisei, Cole will get more Mass GOP attention when it comes to money and strategy than any other Republican candidate this cycle. She already has a 4-to-1 advantage over Dunne when it comes to cash in her war chest.

She’ll have plenty of dry powder to launch mail campaign salvos at Dunne, painting the Democrat as a dreaded “liberal,” while painting herself as a state rep with a record of fighting to keep your taxes in check. Even though Ms. Cole has no power on Beacon Hill to keep salons from raising your taxes, and even though Dunne is a moderate on many issues, Cole’s anti-tax message will sound good to those reading the brochure.

This will not be a cake walk for Beverly Griffin Dunne. If the Democrats take Cole lightly, their candidate might go down in flames. It’s something that everyone who wants to see that seat turn blue again needs to understand, and believe.

Get ready, because like the Congressional race, this one is also going to be a battle to remember.

Follow Bob on Twitter @eyeonpeabody

Peabody should be proud of its chief elections official for doing the right thing

10 Sep

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

We spend some of our time in this space pointing out when those on our public payroll don’t do the right thing when it comes to the public trust.

So, it’s only fair that we also point out when public officials do the right thing. Today is one of those days.

I’ve always known Peabody City Clerk Tim Spanos to be both professional and honorable, and my positive opinion of the job he does as the city’s chief election official was affirmed last night when my wife Maureen and I went to vote at the Kiley School polling place.

Following some very bad behavior by poll workers at the Kiley when I ran for Ward 5 Councilor in last fall’s city election, Mr. Spanos not only took my complaint seriously, but he also acted to ensure that no candidate would ever have his or her bid for office jeopardized by unprofessional, and potentially illegal activities by supposedly unbiased election officials.

Simply put, he cleaned house at the Kiley. Poll workers who participated in campaigning for my opponent, Joel Saslaw, while on duty as election officials, are no longer working the polls.

Saslaw’s margin of victory was less than 90 votes, and the behavior of these rogue poll workers immediately questioned the validity of the outcome. Spanos also banned the use of cell phones inside polling places across the city, since the bad actor poll workers in question used their phones for their illegal electioneering activities.

This is the first time I’ve written about the episode, choosing instead to file official complaints with the Secretary of State, State Ethics Commission, and Mr. Spanos. I initially thought about legal action against the city, but Tim Spanos’ responsiveness and professionalism during that time gave me the confidence that I could trust him to take care of the situation.

He did, and now any future candidate who decides to run against Mr. Saslaw can expect a level playing field on Election Day.

It’s nice to know that Peabody voters can be secure in the knowledge that we have an honest and professional man as our chief elections official.

Hats off to Tim Spanos.

Follow Bob on Twitter @eyeonpeabody

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 43 other followers