Archive | March, 2013

Council expected to side with Mayor on removing Civil Service as criteria for picking police, fire chiefs

27 Mar

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Peabody Mayor Ted Bettencourt

Peabody Mayor Ted Bettencourt

The Peabody City Council’s Legal Affairs Committee did the right thing last night in voting to advance to a vote of the full City Council Mayor Ted Bettencourt’s request to remove the police and fire chief’s jobs from the jurisdiction of Civil Service.

Councilor At-Large Jim Liacos said it best last night when he argued that the Mayor should have the ability to “pick his own team” without being hamstrung by Civil Service scores. Removing the barrier allows Peabody to find the best candidate for filling those executive positions, starting with the selection of a new police chief when Chief Robert Champagne retires on June 1.

There is also the issue of a Mayor being able to fire a department head based on performance.  Right now, unless there is some malfeasance, that’s not allowed under the Civil Service system.

Although Civil Service test scores need to remain an effective way of avoiding political patronage when it comes to hiring rank-and-file firefighters and police officers, a Mayor should have the right to pick his/her own department heads and executive team, regardless of test scores. I wrote about this earlier in the Eye, if you’d like to read more.

“We all want the best candidate, the most qualified person, for this critically important position and I believe removing the chief position, for both police and fire, from Civil Service gives us the best chance of finding the right person,” Bettencourt said.

Just three members of the Legal Affairs Committee were present last night, with Councilors Liacos and Bob Driscoll supporting the Mayor’s request. Councilor At-Large Anne Manning-Martin wasn’t supportive of the Mayor’s request.

The matter will now go before the full council on Thursday, where it’s expected to pass. The vote would serve as a home rule petition that the state legislature would then have to approve and have signed by the Governor.

You can read the full story here in the Peabody Patch.

Please let me know where you stand by leaving a comment.

Catching up on nice honor for local hero … and more

22 Mar

(Just catching up on some things after a very busy month for work travel and the campaign.)

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Local hero Alex Romano

Local hero Alex Romano

Starting this off today by talking about an honor for a “local hero,” and a young woman who should be a model for other Peabody teens to follow.

Peabody High senior Alexndra Romano was honored this week as a local hero by the American Red Cross of Northeast Massachusetts for going above and beyond in putting together a campaign to help people who became homeless because of Hurricane Sandy. Alex called her campaign “Kill the Chill,” and it included collecting clothing and blankets, and collecting donations for storm victims, which were quickly put to use by the Red Cross.

Alex and her sister Lea are both very active in their community when it comes to public service, and it’s an awesome thing to watch in these days when many young people would rather spend their free time playing video games.

The sisters also each year organize the “Caring Carolers,” who roam our Goodale Street-area neighborhood during Christmastime singing carols door-to-door while collecting money for Haven From Hunger. Not only do they get their friends together to sing for a very good cause, but their visit to your door really makes you feel good and get into the Christmas spirit.

Angela and Mike Romano must be very proud parents!

 Want to know why we are stuck with Comcast?

Mayor Ted Bettencourt  says he is asked on an almost daily basis why Peabody is not home to any alternative providers of cable TV, high-speed internet and telephone service. Conspiracy theories abound but it turns out the answer is simple and straight forward, according to a press release The Eye received from City Hall this week:

“At this time, no other provider of the phone/cable/ internet trio of services has expressed an interest in coming to Peabody,” Mayor Bettencourt tells The Eye. “We would like residents to have a choice of providers and would certainly welcome other options. At this time however, none of the alternatives to Comcast has stepped up with a proposal.”

Mayor Bettencourt said he understands Peabody residents’ frustration with the lack of choice here. “I absolutely understand their frustrations,” Bettencourt said. “Having a choice helps assure we get the best value for our money. When there is no competition in the marketplace, people feel like they are at the mercy of a monopoly. In the final analysis however, we cannot force these competitors to set up shop in Peabody against their will.”

With some of the best known alternatives out of reach for now, Bettencourt says the city may turn its attention to niche providers who offer similar services on an individual or dual basis rather than the heavily marketed three-in-one portfolio.

“We recognize the benefit of having more than one provider of cable, phone and internet service,” said Mayor Bettencourt. “If another provider sees a market in Peabody, we are all ears.”

 Our sign of the times: Great job by Smuz and the Mayor

Hats off to Mayor Bettencourt for holding firm and instituting the cease and desist order, and to City Solicitor Michael Smerczynski for his skillful argument in court this past week on placement of the giant billboard on Lowell Street near Route 1.

Judge Howard Whitehead agreed with city officials — the 92-foot pole is definitely not where they thought it was going to be installed when he ruled against the city last year.

As reported in the Peabody Patch, Smerczynski says the issue now for Whitehead to decide is whether that truly was because of a clerical error when the plans were submitted in court or a broken promise first made to appease local officials who didn’t want the billboard there at all off Lowell Street. The city and the owner of the billboard, Total Outdoor Corp, argued their sides in Salem Superior Court this past Monday. Definitely more work to do in court before this is resolved. Stay tuned.

 Should be either Dunne or Gravel, but Cole could surprise

Going to be a very interesting Election Day on April 2 when people go to the polls to vote in the State Rep special election. Because name recognition is so important, I honestly think it’s between Democrat Beverley Griffin Dunne and unenrolled candidate David Gravel. But there is a lot of money being pumped into Republican Leah Cole’s campaign by the Republican Party and the Ron-Paul-inspirted Libery Movement. There’s also a lot of unhappiness these days with traditional candidates, so Cole might actually pull a solid number. It’s not my State Rep district, so I sort of feel cheated here. I can’t even vote! …

Great job by Councilor At-Large Tom Gould while handling the MC duties at last Saturday’s First Annual St. Patrick’s Day Roast and breakfast at City Hall. Also, a lot of surprisingly funny performances by some local politicos. I mean, who knew Ward 6 Councilor Barry Sinewitz and Mayor Bettencourt were actually funny guys? It was a really fun morning for a really great cause as all the ticket and raffle money went to Haven From Hunger.

If you are in the 12th Essex State Rep District: GET OUT AND VOTE on April 2nd!

A message from the publisher

22 Mar

Dear readers,

It has been a busy month for me with work travel, and the process of beginning my campaign for Ward 5 City Councilor, so I apologize for not posting very often lately.

As my campaign goes into high gear, it’s likely I will be posting less frequently, but I will also try to keep up with it the best that I can. Since starting this blog back in November, we’ve had almost 50,000 site visits, and I’m honored that so many people have found the content here interesting enough to visit.

Going forward my goal is to continue to bring you the best in hometown news and commentary. I just might not be able to post as often because of my personal time constraints.

But with that I’d like to offer all of our readers the opportunity to write and post as well. If you are a candidate who would like to get your message out, please feel free to submit a candidate statement.

But you do not have to be a candidate. I will consider submissions from everyone. All you need to do is email me at racroce@comcast.net, and I’ll consider it for publication. The only thing I can’t do in the main content area is use anonymously written content.

Thanks again for reading.

Sincerely.

Bob Croce, Publisher, Eye On Peabody

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

‘Make The Call’ show invites State Rep primary candidates to address voters

6 Mar

By Eye On Peabody

Please join your hosts Dick Jarvis and Bob Croce tonight, 8-9 p.m., on PAT Channel 99 when they invite the candidates from yesterday’s primaries for Peabody  State Rep. on the “You Make the Call” show.

Dick and Bob have invited Democratic Primary winner Beverley Griffin Dunne, Republican Primary winner Leah Cole, and Republican Primary runner up Greg Bunn to come on and address the voters of Peabody about yesterday’s results.

On our next show, we will invite back Dunne and Cole, as well as unenrolled candidate David Gravel in advance of the final election on April 2nd.

For now, though, please tune in and ask questions of the candidates. Each will be individually given 10-15 minutes to address the voters and answer questions from our co-hosts and the callers.

Cole edges Bunn in State Rep Republican primary

5 Mar

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

On day when just 6% of Peabody voters turned out at the polls, Leah Cole topped Greg Bunn 512-460 to win the Republican nomination in today’s primary for State Rep in the 12th Essex District.

In what was a record low turnout for a Peabody election, Peabody School Committee member Beverley Griffin Dunne also advanced to the final ballot as the Democratic nomineee. Dunne did not have a primary opponent, but she also ended up with more votes than Cole.

Cole, Dunne, and unenrolled candidate David Gravel will faceoff in the final election on April 2nd.

In their own words: Hear from the candidates for state rep before you vote

5 Mar

By Eye on Peabody

If you haven’t yet voted in today’s Primary for the Special Election for Peabody State Rep in the 12th Essex District,  and are still undecided, check out these videos in the Peabody Patch. They are from a recent appearance by each candidate at the Brooksby Village candidates forum.

State Rep Primary Election Day is upon us: Get out and vote today

4 Mar
Beverley Dunne

Beverley Dunne

Leah Cole

Leah Cole

Greg Bunn

Greg Bunn

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you already voted today, please use the comments section to tell us who you voted for, why, and what was the scene/turnout like at your polling place.

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Today is Election Day in Peabody for those who live in Wards 1-4, and in Ward 5 Precincts 1 and 3. Three candidates are on the ballot in a primary for State Representative.

There is a contested primary on the Republican side, where Greg Bunn will face off against Leah Cole.  On the Democratic side, Beverley Griffin Dunne will appear on the ballot, but is unopposed. If you are not enrolled in either the Republican or Democratic Party, you are eligible tomorrow to choose either party’s ballot.

Either Bunn or Cole, and Dunne will faceoff April 2nd against unenrolled candidate David Gravel on final election ballot in this race to fill the seat left open in the 12th Essex District following the death of Joyce Spilliotis last November.

Polls are open  from 7 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Here are some more details in the Peabody Patch.

VOTE!

Mayor names Rydzewski to business liaison position

4 Mar

Note: The Eye received the following press release from City Hall this morning, announcing that Mayor Ted Bettencourt had made his choice for the new business liaison position.

FROM THE MAYOR’S OFFICE:

Acting on his pledge to make Peabody more business friendly,  Mayor Ted Bettencourt has named veteran City Hall staff member Julie Rydzewski the city’s first Business Liaison.

A graduate of Merrimack College who has worked in the administrations of three Peabody mayors during her 13 years in public service, Rydzewski has served as the City’s Grants Manager since 2007.  With over six years’ experience working in Community Development, Rydzewski boasts an impressive grasp of the city’s permitting process as well as the needs and direction of Peabody’s business community.

“While we interviewed a number of very qualified individuals for the position of Business Liaison, Julie really stood out,” said Mayor Bettencourt.  “Her credentials are obviously very impressive and her knowledge of the Peabody landscape – both the inner workings of municipal government and of the community at large, is what sets her apart.”

Indeed, Rydzewski began her career in government as a paid intern in the office of former Mayor Peter Torigian.  That internship continued throughout her college years and culminated with a full time position as Senior Treasury Clerk under former Mayor Mike Bonfanti.  In addition to her role as Grants Manager under Community Development Director Karen Sawyer, Rydzewski lends her considerable skills to the Board of Health, Licensing Board, and Community Development Authority (CDA).

“I am truly honored to be chosen by Mayor Bettencourt for this exciting new position of Business Liaison,” Rydzewski said.  “The City of Peabody has so much to offer the business community in terms of a skilled workforce, favorable tax structure, great highway access, and now a dedicated advocate inside City Hall.”

Rydzewski plans to hit the ground running as Business Liaison in part based on her extensive network of contacts culled from over a dozen years working in City Hall.  In addition to being the eyes and ears of the Community Development Department since 2007,  Rydzewski is a prolific volunteer.  She lends her talent and enthusiasm to a number of civic boards including the Cultural Council, the Wellness Committee, the Restaurant Week Committee and the Snowshoe Classic 5K Race Committee.

“We cast a wide net to find the right person for this important role,” Mayor Bettencourt said.  “It turns out the right person was already here.  Julie Rydzewski will be a terrific champion for Peabody’s business community.”