Archive | April, 2013

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!

Peabody to honor victims of Marathon terrorist attack

21 Apr

By Eye on Peabody

ribbonThere will be an interfaith prayer service in Peabody on Tuesday night to remember the victims of the Boston Marathon terrorist attack. The service will be held at St. John the Baptist Church at 7 p.m.

More details here in this Peabody Patch article.

To donate to the official charity for the victims of the bombings, please visti the One Fund.

Triumph over tragedy in store for next year and beyond at the Boston Marathon

16 Apr

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

In what now seems like a lifetime ago, I was a sportswriter.  Long before becoming a 9-to-5 businessman, I covered sporting events for newspapers from Albany, NY, to Framingham, MA.  I not only wrote about high school sports and Little League championship games, but also about the Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins, and Patriots.

But one event always stood out.  It made my job rewarding, even in the face of long hours and weekend shifts.

baaYou see, over the course of several Boston Marathons in the mid-1990s, my favorite assignment always included being at the finish line of the world’s most-famous foot race.  But I was never there very often as elite runners broke the tape in Copley Square.

My editors wanted me out there as this event evolved from a world-class competition, into an exhibition of determination, accomplishment, personal achievement, and … love.

The best stories at the Marathon truly do happen beyond the 4-hour mark. When I covered the Marathon finish area in the day, I interviewed and wrote about people who were always so happy to tell me, from their hearts, why they subjected themselves to four-plus hours of pain on race day, and untold hours training beforehand in all kinds of terrible weather.

It was all about personal triumphs over serious health issues, to honor a deceased loved one, or to simply give themselves one major life accomplishment that no one could ever take away. Listening to them, it was as if they were telling me how each step, from Hopkinton to Boston, washed away the bad times and put them on top of the world.

Long after my deadline had passed, and what I had written ended up lining the bottom of some birdcage, the memory of watching these runners embrace loved ones, who waited hours for them to arrive on Boylston Street, left me with my own little “life is good” feeling.

Terrorism, wherever it happens, is an abomination against innocent people, and it causes us to react not only with sadness, but intense anger. What happened at the finish line of yesterday’s Boston Marathon should unite the good people in the world – and there are way more of us good people than there are of them — in hoping that the perpetrators soon feel the full brunt of justice.

But after that, we know that we will all pull together to ensure that people are out there again next year, trying for that one shining moment.

Here’s praying that what returns beyond the 4-hour mark in future Boston Marathons is again all about personal triumph, step-by-step healing of mind and body, and … love.

Peabody’s general obligation municipal purpose loan nets very low 2.042% interest rate

10 Apr

The following press release was sent to The Eye by Mayor Ted Bettencourt’s office.

From the Mayor’s Office

Mayor Edward A. Bettencourt, Jr., is pleased to announce that the City of Peabody received competitive bids from bond underwriters on Wednesday, April 3, 2013, for $10,533,000 General Obligation Bonds.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch was the winning bidder on the Bonds with an average interest rate of 2.042%.  Bond proceeds will be used to finance Library Building Improvements, Water Treatment Plant Upgrades, Flood Mitigation, as well as to refinance bonds of the City dated February 1, 2005.  The refinancing will generate total savings of $327,327.

Prior to the sale, Moody’s Investors Service, a municipal credit rating agency, affirmed the City’s “Aa1” long-term debt rating. The agency cited the City’s sizable and diverse tax base, unused levy capacity, and stable financial position as positive credit factors.

“We’re obviously very pleased with the results of this bond sale,” said Mayor Bettencourt.  “Peabody’s strong ‘Aa1’ credit rating and the continuing low interest rate market enable us to make critical infrastructure upgrades while saving taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars in interest charges.”

The bids for the bonds were accepted at the office of the City’s financial advisor, First Southwest Company, at 54 Canal Street in Boston, Massachusetts.

Companies putting up new, giant electronic billboards on Route 1 bear watching

9 Apr

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

What the Peabody City Council approved unanimously back in December,  could become a reality this week when Clear Channel Communications goes before the Mass. Office of  Outdoor Advertising (MOOA) to seek four electronic billboard permits on Route 1.

billboardThe new signs are at 71 Newbury (near Santarpio’s Pizza)  and 201 Newbury (a little South of Lowell Street).  It’s two polls, but Clear Channel needs four permits, since the signs have both South facing and North facing sides. At this point, we don’t have a true indication of what affect these billboards might have on this Ward 5 neighborhood.  But considering the battle we are in with another outdoor advertising company, Total Outdoor Corp, over a misplaced billboard on Lowell Street near Route 1, it’s important for the city to be vigilant on these new signs.

In any event,  we continue to have an issue in Ward 5, particularly on Route 1, when it comes to intrusive and excessive development, including the destruction of property on Winona Street due in part to a project by developer Richard Marchese.

The billboard issue needs watching. Although there is only so much we can do legally to stop these roadside eyesores from going up, we need to ensure that theses companies abide by the terms of their special permits.  In many cases, there are appropriate places for these billboards, and it’s a nice piece of revenue for the city coffers.  But none of these giant advertising vehicles should be erected in areas where it has a negative affect on resident quality of life.

The city did a great job of that in shutting down Total Outdoor Corp when they placed their 90-foot billboard poll close to Lowell Street, and not where it was supposed to go. Now, we need to keep an eye on Clear Channel, a company with a reputation for not exactly caring about how their giant signs affect quality of life of people who live in the affected neighborhoods.

Today, I was contacted by the environmental group Scenic Massachusetts, which lobbies to ensure that billboard companies do not violate state regulations.

Scenic Mass wanted to thank me for my stance on billboards as a Ward 5 Councilor candidate, and inform me that the MOOA would hold a hearing on these new electronic signs on Thursday, April 11, 11 a.m., at the Transportation Building (10 Park Plaza, Boston). The public is welcome to attend, but I’ll also try to update everyone where on what happens in regards to Clear Channel’s permit request.

Stay tuned.

Lesson learned for all Peabody Democrats? For the sake of the party, we hope so

3 Apr

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Peabody Democrats from Lynnfield to Lake Street came to realize earlier today that the sun did indeed come up on this frosty cold, un-spring-like morning.

But while sticking with this celestial theme, what we should have been thinking about was this lesson from Bill Shakespeare:

 “The fault, dear Democrats, is not in our stars … but in ourselves.”

Leah Cole, Peabody's State Rep

Leah Cole, Peabody’s State Rep

Before I go any further, I want to congratulate Peabody’s new State Rep, Republican Leah Cole, and urge all of my Democratic colleagues to do themselves a favor today and STOP with the excuses. Cole won fairly, and if you look at the campaign she ran, you immediately come to the conclusion that both Beverley Griffin Dunne and David Gravel likely never saw this coming.

The Dunne and Gravel campaign teams were solid, and worked their tails off throughout the weeks leading up to this special election. But all of us underestimated and mis-calculated when it came to Ms. Cole.

All we saw, and I’m as guilty as anyone else, was a 24-year-old, first-time candidate with zero name recognition on Day 1, and all we thought was … “this is a kid with no chance.”

What didn’t we see?

Well, we didn’t see that she was backed by an aggressive, very experienced, and battle-tested statewide professional political organization.  Ron Paul’s Liberty Movement showed once again that it can not only organize, but also infuse a candidate with the Mother’s Milk of Politics: Lots and lots of cash. They were also able to keep her focused on the populist message that government takes too much from us, wastes our money, and is now asking for even more from Peabody’s working classes.

Although I’m sure the mainstream Mass. GOP is crowing this morning about winning a seat which the Dems have held for decades, they don’t deserve the credit and still have no credible, grassroots process for building a “farm team.” This victory belongs to the sons and daughters of the Liberty Movement, who are sort of like the Tea Party, only with younger members and fewer far right zealots.

Oh sure, there is a lot of evidence that leads to the conclusion that had Mr. Gravel not been in the race as an unenrolled candidate, Ms. Dunne would have won this seat back for the Democrats. But he was in, and as Democrats shouldn’t we have all known that it would split our vote? Shouldn’t we have seen more unity and support among Dems behind our only Democratic candidate in this race, especially from some of those who call themselves Peabody Democratic Party leaders?

For weeks, all I heard was speculation on who Cole would hurt more yesterday, Dunne or Gravel. Did anyone really ever stop to consider how much Dunne and Gravel would hurt each other?

 But once again, the fault, dear Democrats, is not in Dave Gravel … it’s in ourselves.

Seventy-three votes was the difference. As a party couldn’t we have united enough to find 74 more votes?

Maybe. But this should also be a moment of clarity for us. If you can learn from it, sometimes losing isn’t a bad thing.

It’s time for us to realize that we need to get back to the principles that made fiscally conservative working class people in a city like Peabody embrace Democrats like our late, great State Rep Joyce Spilliotis?

Why have Peabody people suddenly begun turning on us Democrats, and voting for the Scott Browns, Charlie Bakers, and Leah Coles?

Our party has swung too far to the fringe, and people who work for a living are tired of losing more of their paychecks to support tax increases that feed a wasteful, bloated state government. By the way, I’m not talking about Beverley Griffin Dunne or Dave Gravel here. I’m talking about Democrats such as the State Rep from western Mass., who yesterday told me she felt that Governor Deval Patrick’s bloated budget proposal and tax increase don’t go far enough.

Both Dunne and Gravel stated during the campaign that they opposed the Governor’s tax increase. But it didn’t matter, the big-spending stench surrounded them just enough to have people pass on connecting the line next to their name. Guilt simply by association, perhaps.

As Peabody Democrats, it’s time that we adopted a message that we are the party that helps people who need help, but part of that responsibility includes ensuring that struggling working class people aren’t smothered by onerous tax increases designed to fund wasteful spending.

Isn’t it possible as a Democrat to be socially moderate or progressive while at the same time be fiscally  conservative? Most people, after all, want to be helped, but not hurt by government.

Aren’t those the type of principles under which Joyce Spilliotis operated?

And isn’t that what the voters of Peabody told us loud and clear yesterday?

Message sent, for sure.  But what still remains is,  as Democrats, what are we going to do about it?

Get out and vote today: State Rep Special Election, polls open until 8 p.m.

2 Apr

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Today is the Special Election for State Rep in the 12th Essex District  (Peabody Wards 1-4, and Prec. 1 and 3 in Ward 5).

PLEASE: Do your civic duty today, and get out and vote. Polls are open until 8 p.m.

Here are the candidates:

Leah V. Cole 369 Lynnfield Street Republican
Beverley A. Griffin Dunne 10 Colfax Street Democrat
David C. Gravel 20 Tara Road Unenrolled

Here’s a listing of all of Peabody’s polling places. If you are not sure where you vote, please call the City Clerk’s office at 978-538-5756.

Ward 1
1-1 Saint Ann’s Church 140 Lynn St.
1-2 Woodbridge Assisted Living 240 Lynnfield St.
1-3 Saint Ann’s Church 140 Lynn St.
Ward 2
2-1 Welch School 50 Swampscott Ave.
2-2 Welch School 50 Swampscott Ave.
2-3 South School 16 Maple St. Ext.
Ward 3
3-1 Our Lady of Fatima Church 50 Walsh Ave.
3-2 Our Lady of Fatima Church 50 Walsh Ave.
3-3 Wilson Terrace Rec Hall 15A Wilson Ter.
Ward 4
4-1 Higgins Middle School 1 King St. Ext.
4-2 Higgins Middle School 1 King St. Ext.
4-3 Peabody Vets Memorial High School 485 Lowell St.
4-3A Macintosh Clubhouse 300 Brooksby Village Dr.
Ward 5
5-1 Kiley School 21 Johnson St.
5-3 McCarthy School 76 Lake St.