Lovely and Cole don’t make us pay for their commute … Meanwhile, Speliotis is ‘King of the Per Diem’

1 Jul

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

We spend significant time in this space exposing elected officials when they don’t act in the best interests of “we the people.” So, it’s only fair that we also make mention when they do the right thing.

Leah Cole ... working toward the fringe?

Leah Cole: “We’re supposed to work for the taxpayers, and most people don’t get paid to drive to work.”

Those mentions come today as we tip our caps to State Senator Joan Lovely (D-Salem), and State Rep. Leah Cole (R-Peabody).  After all, it came to light last week that neither Mrs. Lovely nor Ms. Cole are bilking the taxpayers for one of the most-outrageous benefits received by most of the solons on Beacon Hill.

Neither Lovely, nor Cole take per diem (up to $18/day) for just commuting into the State House. According to state treasurer records, taxpayers gave lawmakers more than $300,000 in per diems last year. Think about that as you’re paying out of your own pocket to fill up your tank three times a week just to get to work.

So, thank you Senator Lovely and Rep. Cole …

But now, let’s consider the case of the “King of Per Diems.” The people of West Peabody are represented by a man who shamelessly took your money at a rate of $18 per day just to commute to work. Ted Speliotis, who never saw a tax increase he didn’t like, collected $3,510 of your money last year to make 195 trips into Boston. By the way, the solons get this reimbursement without needing to provide receipts. It’s all on the honor system. Of all of the North Shore lawmakers, Speliotis took the second largest overall per diem, but he was less than $80 out of first place!

With per diem, we essentially pay Mr. Speliotis, who faces a stiff challenge this fall from West Peabody resident Tom Lyons, more than $70K per year for what’s essentially a part-time job.

And just as an important aside here … this guy voted for the gas tax. Why wouldn’t he? We’re the ones filling his tank for free.

“We’re supposed to be working for the taxpayers, and most people don’t get paid to drive to work,” Ms. Cole told the Salem News last week. “But I only live about 20 minutes away, so it’s not a big deal.”

By the way, if you see Ted Speliotis in traffic on the way into work someday, make sure you don’t have any cash in your hands if you decide to wave. He might grab it.


21 Responses to “Lovely and Cole don’t make us pay for their commute … Meanwhile, Speliotis is ‘King of the Per Diem’”

  1. anonymous July 1, 2014 at 12:43 pm #

    Good for Ms. Cole and Ms. Lovely. Two people who get it. Ted, on the other hand. I’d bet lots of money that he didn’t actually make all those trips into Boston that he collected per diem for. I’ve been voting against this guy for what seems like forever. Please let this be the year.

  2. Flabbergasted says..... July 1, 2014 at 6:15 pm #

    Are we also paying for his tolls!? What total disrespect for the people he represents. I can’t believe he voted to raise the gas tax and then takes $3500 for driving to work. This shows he cares about nobody but himself. Let’s get a hold of the transponders on the Tobin bridge to see how many times he really went to work.

    • anon July 1, 2014 at 8:11 pm #

      Not to be belligerent, don’t most people in business fill out a travel expense reimbursement. Don’t business owners log every mile and gasoline purchase to write off a deduction. How is this any different?

  3. Bob Croce July 1, 2014 at 8:17 pm #

    Anon. the difference is that very few companies — if any — pay for you to drive into the office. Most companies pay for out-of-town travel, or pay you for mileage if you have to work at a site outside of the office. But it’s pretty much unheard of that anyone would get paid for going into work, and the State House is the “office” for State legislators. This is an outrageous benefit that taxpayers continue to foot the bill for.

    But the truly bothersome part of this is the fact that these solons don’t need to provide any receipts at all, meaning they could be lying about how many trips they take. I mean, do you really trust any of them to be honest about it?

    • anon July 1, 2014 at 8:27 pm #

      How about having an expense account? Or getting the company “bonus” check around the holidays. I know that is no longer a common practice, but there are all sorts of “freebies” as a private employee. I don’t think giving a guy $18 bucks a day extra is an extravagance, but I understand the resentment taxpayers have towards their government workers. Maybe some of this can be directed to Comcast or BP or Microsoft who have the taxpayer in a tighter vice. Taxpayers do pay for their extravagant office decor etc. but hardly a peep.
      But an elected official -open game.

      • Jason July 1, 2014 at 8:44 pm #

        Wow, Anon, if you don’t see the difference and why this is wrong here why don’t you volunteer to pay more in taxes? There’s a little box on the state income tax form where you can do that.

  4. anon July 1, 2014 at 9:22 pm #

    The point I’m making Jason is that you “check the box” many times a day when you pay bills and make purchases from private companies, -dunkies throws out the stale donuts -you pay for that because they price their fresh batch based on that waste, microsoft updates its operating system -you pay for that. The price of everything is based on the operating cost and that is determined AFTER a company deducts its expenses and costs of doing business, and then adds it profit margin. That is what we do everyday, buy things and pay for its companies’ waste or extravagance.
    But when there is “extravagant” government spending, well that just drives people crazy, because this is your “tax” dollar being wasted, nevermind the cell phone plan that costs a third as much in Europe. We waste our money all the time with our everyday purchases, the advertising costs are stupid wastes and we pay for that all the time with not a whimper.
    But a government official who makes $70K a year, well that’s just robbery!
    That’s my perspective. I know few will agree or understand.

    • anonymous July 2, 2014 at 8:53 am #

      Anon the difference is that with private companies you can choose to take your business elsewhere if you don’t like their practices. With government you are at their mercy and you can’t decide not to pay taxes. Very few people in business today get the benefits these guys get unless they are upper management types. Government workers in general get better benefits and in many cases make better money as well than those in the private sector. It used to be that people working in government had the great benefits to help offset generally lower salaries. That isn’t the case any more. Now they they are ahead of the private sector in both areas. Public employees continued to get raises during the recession while the rest of us were taking pay cuts and layoffs, while their defenders tried to justify by saying, “well they work hard and deserve a raise”. And we don’t? So while we were getting hammered, as a certain senator likes to say, our taxes were increasing to pay for this stuff. This is what pisses people off and results in the attitude towards government that you speak of.

  5. anon July 1, 2014 at 9:29 pm #

    On the other hand we can only elect people who are independently wealthy and refuse these little expense benefits, or get huge campaign contributions and don’t need the $18 bucks a day. For my druthers, I would prefer to vote for someone who needs the $18.

  6. 1OO% FED UP July 1, 2014 at 9:32 pm #

    Who could possibly think being reimbursed for travel to work is alright? Imagine if all public servants, ie., police, fire, teachers, were allowed to do this? Elected officials such as Ted must feel entitled like Royalty. They forget that it is FOR THE PEOPLE that they work for … but instead take any opportunity to take as much as they possibly can. Disgraceful! Kudos for the “true to the bone” patriots like Leah and Joan for not taking advantage of the taxpayer.

    • anon July 1, 2014 at 9:51 pm #

      Who had the largest single campaign donation? Speliotis, Cole, or Lovely.
      My guess is between Cole and Lovely.

      • Jason July 1, 2014 at 10:07 pm #

        With the way you keep defending Ted you must either be him or you are a huge supporter of his. What do campaign contributions have to do with Speliotis being a pig when it comes to getting reimbursed to drive to work?

      • anonymous July 2, 2014 at 8:55 am #

        What does this have to do with anything, Ted?

  7. anon July 1, 2014 at 10:20 pm #

    The tone of this article defines the $18 per diem as a dastardly thing that any elected official should decline. I don’t think $70K salary is exorbitant and I don’t want to have only people who don’t need the money, or get huge campaign contributions perhaps for some future payback or favor, to be my representative, -that’s all. Requesting the travel amount means the guy could use the money, -that’s all. He probably is not all that wealthy, he probably does not benefit from huge PAC money to fund his campaign. He is probably an ordinary middle class guy trying to make a living like the rest of us ordinary folk.
    Beware politicians with big campaign chests.
    There are bigger examples of greed than this. See above.

    • Give me a break July 1, 2014 at 10:43 pm #

      $70K a year for a PART-TIME job. There are a lot of people out there working for a lot less who have to pay for their own gas. There is no excusing or justifying this. Spelliotis is being greedy by taking this very large per deim. It DOES NOT cost $18 a day to drive from Danvers to Boston. This is obscene.

    • anonymous July 2, 2014 at 8:57 am #

      Nobody gets paid for driving to work, period, except for these pigs. If you can’t see that, and it’s truly amazing that you don’t, then you are part of the problem.

  8. Barbara Guillette July 2, 2014 at 10:25 am #

    I agree anonymous,,by the way who voted this in anyway.? Not I.

  9. anoy July 2, 2014 at 6:29 pm #

    Try to get something down trough these 2 useless tax dollars wasted want to be’s.

  10. tax payer July 2, 2014 at 6:51 pm #

    Useless tax payers waste
    Called her office about an issue several times got no response.
    Got voted in, checks in the mail can sit back like all the other political non caring high paid idiots.

  11. Greed is good says.... July 2, 2014 at 7:00 pm #

    Ask anybody, Speliotis goes into town by route 93 to avoid paying the toll to pocket the money. He then takes $3500.00 per year for gas. Hmmmm…..lets figure this out. 365 days per year minus 104 days for weekends leaves 261 days…..subtract 60 days for the summer recess leaves 201 days. Takeout 13 legal holidays leaves 188 days…….Hmmm something doesnt add up to 195 days going in. Also take out his private vacation and personal days and this guy is scamming the system. Thanks Leah and Joan for doing
    the right thing.

  12. political watcher July 2, 2014 at 7:21 pm #

    Are they even there everyday do a check they are never present,
    All area’s of private and public managers and politicians are ripp offs never forget that.
    Look at Bozo Duval P. rips the state tax payers off on everything he can raise.

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