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If elected, Bob Croce will pay for his own gas to work

5 Jul

(Bob Croce is the publisher of Eye On Peabody, and a candidate for State Representative in the 13th Essex District. Please vote for him in the Democratic primary election on Thursday, Sept. 8th)

By Bob Croce

Political candidates make a lot of promises while trying to get elected. But here’s one that you can write down, clip and save, share with all of your friends in West Peabody, Danvers and Middleton:

If elected State Representative, I WILL NOT have the taxpayers pay for my gas so I can drive into work each day at the State House.

As for my opponent? If he’s re-elected, he will continue to put in for a controversial gas reimbursement, and quite frankly, thinks it’s not that big of a deal.

Not only will he continue to make you and I pay for his gas each day so he can go to work, but in an article in today’s Salem News, Representative Ted Speliotis called the perk “minuscule.”

He said this, mind you, as Peabody was learning that it had lost $300,000 in state aid due to a Beacon Hill budget cut, money that was earmarked for full-day kindergarten, which means more will be coming out of property taxes to pay for that shortfall.

Meanwhile, it cost us $327,338 total last year for all of the legislators who put in for what Rep Speliotis calls a “minuscule” reimbursement benefit.

“Travel has been paid for lawmakers since the first days of the State Legislature. It’s been around for hundreds of years,” the Rep told the Salem News while trying to justify why he collected $3,384 from taxpayers last year while commuting the 20 miles from Danvers each day.

By the way, State Legislators put in for this reimbursement on the “honor system.” They don’t need to show receipts, or even prove that they actually came into the State House on the days they claim.

Speliotis’ reimbursement was the highest among all North Shore State Legislators. Some in the North Shore delegation, including Senator Joan Lovely, refuse to accept the perk.

If I win, count me in with that group, which refuses to force taxpayers to pay so elected officials can drive to work. Plain and simple, it’s abuse of power.

If you have to pay for your gas to work, so should I!

 

Speliotis owes taxpayers an explanation on why he helped developer get special treatment

20 Nov

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Let’s call it what it is and all agree that it was a questionable deal that allowed a developer to get a no-bid contract to construct a state-of-the-art sports complex on the grounds of the Essex Technical Regional High School in Middleton.

Ted

Ted Speliotis

The developer, a company named Edge Sports, was not only granted the rights to build the $11 million facility on public property, it won the contract with no competition. Instead of following state law, which requires that taxpayer rights be protected through an open bidding process on such projects, Edge was granted the contract through a line item added to a larger spending bill on Beacon Hill, according to the Salem News.

Was that legal? Well, the Office of the Inspector General and the State Ethics Commission will need to decide, and a source tells us that state oversight officials are looking into whether there was a violation here.

For now, though, Ted Speliotis – our State Rep, who co-sponsored the legislation that gave Edge the edge outside of the open bid process – has some explaining to do to the taxpayers he represents in West Peabody, Middleton and Danvers.

Not only didn’t he help his constituents receive the protection of the open bid process, he helped pass essentially an “earmark” that will give Edge Sports the opportunity to lease the property at our vocational school for free.

There is a lot that smells with this deal, and so far, we the taxpayers should not be satisfied with the response from Rep. Speliotis.

According to the Salem News, Speliotis said in a phone interview this week that he did not pay close enough attention when the deal was being negotiated.

“I did go along with it, but it was really my colleagues who amended this thing” to require that the lease be awarded to Edge Sports without a competitive bid process or review by the state Inspector General, Speliotis told the Salem News.

Instead of “passing the buck” on this one, Ted, how about giving the taxpayers you represent a real explanation on how you just didn’t look out for our best interests?

RIP Tom O’Leary: Peabody loses its Champion of the Underdog

23 Oct

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

When I heard the sad news, I instantly flashed back to the first time I ever met a good guy named Tom O’Leary, and suddenly I felt better. In fact, thinking about that first meeting, made me LOL.

Tom O'Leary

Tom O’Leary

It was somewhere, sometime back in 1997 when this lanky, friendly gent, who immediately reminded me of my Boston Irish grandfather (the line back then was that he had the “map of Ireland” on his face), approached me, and stuck out his hand.

After some brief introductions, the jokes began flying, including the one that made me chuckle again the other day after I heard that this fine man, this “Champion of the Underdog,” had passed away at the age of 78.

“The thing about me,” Tom began back then, in a voice that was both gruff and loveable all at the same time. “I used to be nervous and jerky. But now … I’m not nervous anymore.”

In the years that followed, and as we developed a friendship, I’d hear the same line over and over again as Tom endeared himself to others. And each time, the corny joke, his joke, made me laugh just as hard as I did the first time that I heard it.

He was a genius at using self-deprecation to endear himself to those he came across in a lifetime of helping all those he came across.

At this point, I should also mention that one of my great regrets in life was losing touch over the years with Tom, and his wonderful bride Marsha. My separation from this very good man isn’t his fault whatsoever, and is rooted in personal reasons on my end only. Long story, short, it’s one of those “life is too short lessons.” You’re going to regret it when they’re gone, and I definitely regret that I didn’t keep in touch with Tom O’Leary the past 14 years.

In Yiddish, the word is “mensch,” which means a person of integrity and honor. And Tom O’Leary was most definitely an Irish mensch.

He ran unsuccessfully for Ward 5 Councilor a couple of times, and we the people missed out on being served by a guy, who I believe would have been an outstanding advocate for the neighborhoods when it came to quality of life. The mess that is Route 1 when it comes to excessive and intrusive development would have never happened under Tom O’Leary’s watch as Ward 5 Councilor. That would have been a given.

But the loss of people all over Ward 5 was the gain of those who live in mobile home parks from Peabody to Cape Cod. Fighting for the rights of families and seniors seeking to hold onto their homes became Tom’s lifetime crusade, earning him the moniker of “Champion of the Underdog.”

He never got elected to public office, yet he was always there for the little guy, whether that meant being a rock on resident rights when it came to serving on Peabody’s Rent Control Board, or simply inviting people into his home for some good advice and the “best cup of coffee in Peabody.”

For me personally, that meant him pouring his heart and soul into two of my campaigns for office. I didn’t win, but my family and I have always been grateful for what he did for me.

In recent years, I understand that Tom’s health kept him from being able to do what he loved, which was being a pain in the neck to the powers that be when it came to defending resident quality of life. But after seeing him briefly at the Kiley School polls during the election two years ago, I also saw that he never lost his gregarious, make-you-feel-good personality. When I saw him that day, which turned out to be the last day I ever saw this very good man, he made me smile again with his giant trademark of a laugh. I gave he and Marsha a brief hug, and then walked away feeling I had lost out by not having them in my life for more than a decade.

It makes me feel sad today that this was the last time I saw him. It makes me sad that I didn’t stay in touch all of these years. It is indeed a life is too short type of lesson.

But surely, the little guy in Peabody is way better off for having had Tom O’Leary on his side.

Rest in peace, my friend. You were a good man of very high integrity, and more importantly, you were indeed the Champion of the Underdog.

(If you would like to pay your respects, here are the details for Tom’s services.)

Turco tops primary for Ward 1 Councilor; Barrett second

29 Sep

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

turcoJust a quick post tonight to let everyone know that Jon Turco beat Brian Barrett by 26 votes today to top the ticket in the primary for Ward 1 Peabody City Councilor.

Ann Quinn placed third.

Turco and Barrett will now square off in the final election on Nov. 3rd for the seat left vacant by Barry Osborne.

Run Tom, run: Peabody needs Walsh on Beacon Hill

29 Sep

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

If you know him, call him. If you see him on the street, encourage him.

Tom Walsh for State Rep

Tom Walsh for State Rep

Peabody needs Councilor At-Large Tom Walsh to run in the soon-to-be-announced special election for State Rep in the 12th Essex District.

Since the passing of Joyce Spiliotis three years ago, Peabody has struggled when it comes to getting the assistance and resources it needs from the State Legislature. But Tom Walsh would not be a back-bencher. He would not quit in mid-term. He would give Peabody what it needs in the Great and General Court:

A mature adult, who would command respect from the leadership on Beacon Hill, and use his experience and intelligence as an elected official to help Peabody get the local aid it needs, and constituents get the help and services they desire.

No offense to announced Republican candidate Jaclyn Corriveau, who I feel is smart and has a bright political future in Peabody, but Walsh has way more experience and would be way more effective at this stage on Beacon Hill.

No thanks to announced Republican candidate Stephanie Peach, the former aide to Rep Leah Cole. Cole is causing Peabody to go without representation in the House for the next six months, and is costing taxpayers the price of yet another special election. Cole quits at mid-term and her aide Peach takes over? Fool us once, shame on you, fool us twice . . .

And no way to perennial State Rep candidate Jim Moutsoulas. Hey Demo, how about concentrating on doing the job of Ward 3 Councilor a few more years, and then calling it career.

Tom Walsh, Peabody’s former State Rep, who then did an outstanding job as a school committee member, and now Councilor At-Large is what Peabody needs.

He has the experience, and he’s a responsible adult.  He gets it. Like the late-great Spiliotis, he knows what is required to give Peabody the representation it needs now more than ever.

So … call him, encourage him. Tell Tom Walsh that we need him on Beacon Hill.

School Committee candidate forum on ‘You Make The Call’

17 Aug

election-2015

The seven candidates for Peabody School Committee have been invited to appear Wednesday, 8-9 p.m., in a forum on the “You Make The Call” show on Peabody Access Telecommunications Channel 99.

The format will include each candidate briefly introducing themselves, followed by a Q&A from co-hosts Dick Jarvis and Bob Croce, and ending with each candidate presenting a closing statement.

The seven candidates, Brian Addesa, Joe Amico, Andrew Arnotis, Michel Bonbon, Brandi Carpenter, John Olimpio, and Travis Wojcik, will square off in a primary election on Tuesday, Sept. 29th.

The top six vote getters in the primary will meet in November’s final election, where they will vie for three seats on the board.

Update: So far, the only candidate to not reach out to say if he could make it on Wednesday is Mr. Bonbon. Meanwhile, Ms. Carpenter — the only incumbent in the race — has officially declined the invitation to come on the show to talk to the Peabody voters.

Congrats to Moulton on his win, and Tisei for being a class candidate until the end

4 Nov

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Richard Tisei

Richard Tisei

Seth Moulton

Seth Moulton

Not a lot of free time to write tonight, but I have to say that I have even more respect for Richard Tisei after just watching his concession speech on NECN.

No doubt it was a tough result to swallow for Richard, but his concession speech was as gracious as it gets.

Congrats to Seth Moulton on his victory.

But like I’ve written in this space before: We would have been well served in Congress no matter which man won this election.

I’ll have a full recap and more commentary on the results both locally and across the state tomorrow.

In the local State House races, Ted Speliotis won by a comfortable margin over hard-working challenger Tom Lyons, and Republican Leah Cole upset Peabody School Committee member Beverley Dunne for the second time in the 12th Essex District.

Official results from City Clerk Tim Spanos on the 12th Essex race:

Cole 7,264

Dunne 6,829

 

Time for a little ‘Kumbaya’ between fellow Democrats Tierney and Moulton

16 Oct

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Has John Tierney turned his back on a fellow Democrat?

Has John Tierney turned his back on a fellow Democrat?

It has Democrats, even reformed ones like me, wondering when we should file the missing persons report, and use his official MC head shot on the side of the milk carton.

Where have you gone John Tierney?

And, more importantly, why haven’t you endorsed Democrat Seth Moulton for the seat you’ll vacate come January?

Me thinks our current, long-term Congressman — the Liberal Lion of Lynn, the Sage of Salem, the Peabody Professor, the Baron of Beverly — is more than a little reluctant to hold hands and sing “Kumbaya” with his fair-haired successor.

After a brutal primary season, during which each campaign participated in a lot of nasty “nah, nah, boo, boo” antics in mail pieces and television commercials, the iciness continues as Moulton battles an old Tierney nemesis, Republican Richard Tisei, just 20 days before Nov. 4th’s final bout in the MA 6th Congressional District.

As is tradition, when Moulton upset Tierney in the primary, the victor and vanquished called each other to congratulate and console. But we’re hearing that the Congressman wasn’t too pleased with the level of sincerity when Moulton called him to try and smooth things over after the two spent so much time tossing haymakers and upper cuts.

The story goes that, during a call, Tierney perceived that Moulton was trying to distance himself from the nasty attacks made on the Congressman during the campaign. Those weren’t Moulton’s true feelings, Congressman.  That was strategy!

Not having been on the call myself, I’m not sure if Tierney has a good case for interpreting Moulton’s message that way, but I do know one thing:

Gentlemen, there was enough nastiness to go around on both sides. You both did what you could to win, and at times it just wasn’t pretty. But Moulton won fairly, and it’s time for some “Kumbaya.”

A while back, one of my Irish-American relatives asked me if I ever heard of a condition known as “Irish Alzheimer’s.”

“Irish Alzheimer’s?” I responded in quizzical fashion.

“Yeah,” said my relative. “You forget about everything except your grudges.”

Unless John Tierney wants to go the Marissa DeFranco renegade route and endorse Tisei, it’s time for him to forget his grudges and do the right thing as a Democrat.

It’s time for Tierney to tell his still very large base of supporters to unite behind Democrat Seth Moulton.

Follow Bob on Twitter @eyeonpeabody

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.

 

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

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