Archive | September, 2014

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

 

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

Seth Moulton pulls off a political upset for the ages

9 Sep

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Seth Moulton

Seth Moulton

In what will long be considered one of the biggest upsets in North Shore political history, Marblehead businessman and former Marine Captain Seth Moulton defeated incumbent Congressman John Tierney in Tuesday’s Democratic primary in the 6th Congressional District.

Tierney, a 9-term Congressman, officially conceded the race a little after 9:15 p.m.

Moulton, 35, will face Republican Richard Tisei in November’s final election.

This was Moulton’s first run for office, and in the end, his message of change resonated with Democrats and independents across the 6th District. Moulton was also boosted by a fear among Democrats over recent polling data showing that Tierney would lose to Tisei by as many as 8 percentage points.

Meanwhile, those same polls showed Moulton beating Tisei by as many as 8 points.

Not only was  this a bad night for a fallen Congressman, it also wasn’t a very good night for Tisei, who is now a very big underdog against Moulton.

Tierney is the first incumbent Democratic congressman from Massachusetts to lose a primary since Chester Atkins in 1992.

I’ll have more analysis in the coming days.

Follow Bob on Twitter @eyeonpeabody

Dunne beats Moutsoulas in Democratic State Rep primary

9 Sep

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Beverley Griffin Dunne

Beverley Griffin Dunne

School committee member Beverley Griffin Dunne will be the Democratic Party nominee for State Rep in the 12th Essex District after easily topping Ward 3 Councilor James Moutsoulas on Tuesday. Unofficial results as of 9 p.m. had Dunne topping Moutsoulas 2,621-1,770.

Dunne will now square off in a rematch against Republican incumbent Leah Cole in November’s final election.

 

Follow Bob on Twitter @eyeonpeabody

 

 

Poll: Who will you vote for tomorrow in primary for Congress in 6th District

8 Sep

If you are planning to vote in tomorrow’s (Sept. 9th) Democratic Primary, please take our poll to let us know your preference. Note: This poll is not scientific, and only a reflection of the opinion of readers of the Eye on Peabody.

Congress

Moulton forces virtual dead heat with Tierney in Congressional contest poll

5 Sep

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

moulton

Seth Moulton … “The Comeback Kid”

After a barrage of mailings and TV commercials by challenger Seth Moulton, a new poll indicates that the race for the Democratic nomination in the 6th Congressional District is now virtually a dead heat.

The independent Emerson College Polling Society released a poll today showing Incumbent John Tierney with just a 47-44% lead over Moulton in the Tuesday, Sept. 9th primary.

Although it’s uncertain if Moulton can come all the way back on Tuesday, the new poll shows that he is indeed the “Comeback Kid.” An Emerson poll in April showed Tierney with a 64% to 11% lead over Moulton.

The latest poll was conducted Sept. 2-4th, with 343 likely Democrat primary voters, and has a margin of error of 5.3%.

The poll featured further bad news for Tierney.  Another survey also asked about general election match ups. In a November matchup between Tierney and Republican Richard Tisei the Republican holds a 51-43% edge.  Meanwhile, the Emerson poll gives Moulton a 44-36% edge over Tisei.

It will be very interesting to see what affect the Tisei match up part of the poll has on hardcore Dems, who obviously don’t want to lose this seat to a Republican. Up until now, many of the North Shore city and town committees, including the Peabody Democratic City Committee, have been solidly behind Tierney.

In the Democrat primary poll, minor candidates Melissa DeFranco comes in at 4%, while John Devine gets just 1%.

Overall, 6% remain undecided.

Poll: Who will you vote for in Peabody State Rep Democratic primary?

4 Sep

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

James Moutsoulas

James Moutsolas

Beverley Griffin Dunne

Beverley Griffin Dunne

With less than a week to go before the Sept.9th state primary, let’s see where The Eye audience stands when it comes to the most-important local race on the Democratic side.

Who do you prefer to be the Democratic nominee for State Rep in the 12th Essex District: Beverley Griffin Dunne or James Moutsoulas?

Please be honest, though, and ONLY take our poll if you are eligible to vote on the Democratic side on Tuesday, and you live in the 12th Essex District (Peabody Wards 1-4; Ward 5, precincts 1 and 3 only). Only vote in our poll if you are either a registered Democrat or an unenrolled voter who plans to take a Democratic ballot.

I would appreciate your honesty here so we can get some indication on where our growing audience is trending.

I’ve set this up so you can only vote once.