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.

Are Kinder Morgan workers now joining our opposition? :)

28 Aug

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Either Kinder Morgan employees are starting to come over to our side, or civil disobedience is commencing. Look at what I found today on a KM truck parked near the Independence Greenway bikeway in Peabody. Just some harmless, Friday afternoon hi-jinks!🙂

Figured I’d post it so Allen Fore, Chief Propaganda Officer at Kinder Morgan, could print it out and glue it into his favorite scrapbook.

Please join our opposition, our critically necessary fight to protect resident safety, quality of life and to keep this Texas-based company from contaminating Peabody’s water supply.  Please sign up on the Peabody Citizens United website.

By the way, if you have photos of other acts of good, clean civil disobedience when it comes to fighting this unnecessary and dangerous proposed pipeline, please send them my way and I’ll post here for our thousands of visitors to see.


No need for primary after Wojcik drops out of race for Peabody School Committee

28 Aug

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Travis Wojcik

Travis Wojcik

The only Republican in the Peabody School Committee race — who made fiscal responsibility one of his themes during the recent televised “You Make The Call” candidate forum — has saved the city money by dropping out of the scheduled Sept. 29th primary.

Travis Wojcik, 19, announced yesterday that he was ending his campaign for school committee.

That eliminates the need for a primary, which would have trimmed the field of candidates from seven to six. The primary would have cost the city roughly $25,000, according Peabody City Clerk Tim Spanos. Per city charter, it’s required that the final school committee ballot only have six candidates.

Candidates Brian Addesa, Joe Amico, Andrew Arnotis, Michel Bonbon, Brandi Carpenter and John Olimpio each automatically advance to the final election ballot on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

Kinder Morgan’s deceitful propaganda campaign underway in Peabody

26 Aug

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Remember the covert campaign that Kinder Morgan launched to pay Peabody residents if they agreed to pose as fake pro-pipeline activists, and support its dangerous, disruptive and totally unnecessary high-pressure gas highway through our city?

Well, it looks like that campaign is now underway.

A Kinder Morgan-financed sign on Peabody city property

A Kinder Morgan-financed sign

The lawn sign image posted here is just one example. Someone planted it on Sutton Street. Well, I should say that — rather than revealing themselves by putting the sign on their own lawn — they put it on city property. It claims that the pipeline would lower energy bills, which is absurd in Peabody since our Peabody Municipal Light Plant uses very little gas to power its generators, and less than 40% of Peabody homes are heated by natural gas.

The website on the sign is financed by Kinder Morgan as part of Chief Propaganda Officer Allen Fore’s multimillion dollar plan to win hearts and minds with lies, damn lies and statistics when it comes to the Northeast Energy Direct Pipeline project. The proposed pipeline would carry fracked gas from Northeast PA to the sea, where it would be loaded on LNG tankers, and shipped to lucrative European markets to increase KM’s already obscene profits.

This is why the propaganda campaign by this company, which has become one of America’s worst corporate citizens, is so important to KM. After all, if KM can’t trump up fake support and fake demand for this gas on a local level, then getting its permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will be much more difficult.

I mean, imagine how it would look if it came out that this pipeline’s main goal is export, and that the people of Massachusetts and southern NH are being put at risk so French or British companies can benefit from cheap fracked gas, and so KM CEO Richard Kinder can increase his $8.8 billion net worth.

What we wonder now is how much they are paying a small number of Peabody residents to be fake pipeline proponents.  Or, should I say, pro pipeline dupes?

Need another example?

Check out this laughable Letter to the Editor by a “citizen,” .He talks about the wonderful tax benefit that KM will offer to the city. Wonder why he didn’t also talk about how much Allen Fore was willing to pay him to write the letter?

The letter’s purpose is not only transparent, but its point is also absurd. Tax benefits from a pipeline that would endanger homes, peoples’ lives and our environment?  While we’re at it, why don’t we also build a toxic waste dump next to Peabody High? That would give us lots of tax revenue.

Risk the safety of our water supply for tax revenue? Sorry, not the community I want to live in.

Besides, the tax revenue (an estimated $400K a year) is puny. Heck, we can get that from allowing someone to erect another couple of billboards, which are roadside eyesores, but at least no one’s going to die.

Beware, Peabody, this greedy Texas-based pipeline company is trying to win your hearts and minds, and it’s using our own misgusided citizens to help them spread their lies, damn lies and statistics

National Grid reports that there are 151 gas leaks in Peabody

23 Aug

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

As we unite to fight against the unnecessary proposed Kinder Morgan Pipeline, this shocking map emerges from local gas distributor National Grid. It shows 151 unrepaired gas leaks in Peabody, the oldest going back to 1992.  Click on the image below, and zoom in to see if there are any leaks in your neighborhood.

By the way, five of those unresolved leaks are in the Glen Drive neighborhood, close to the path for the so-called Peabody Lateral proposed by KM along the Independence Greenway bike path. Now that this map has come to light, it’s a given that this Peabody neighborhood has even more to worry about should a breach and explosion in the proposed KM line come in contact with these other unresolved leaks.

It was definitely a shock to me to see an unrepaired leak right outside my front door too.

If you haven’t already, please join the fight against this dangerous and disruptive new Kinder Morgan gas highway. None of this gas will be used in Peabody, making it even less worth the risk. Let’s continue to tell this Texas energy company that we won’t allow them to endanger resident safety, destroy property, and contaminate our water supply just so it can make an even more obscene profit.


Kinder Morgan is not being honest about its Danvers pipeline plans

21 Aug

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

If you have friends or family in Danvers, please let them know that they should call their selectmen immediately, and tell them to not be duped by Texas-based energy giant Kinder Morgan, which is now  threatening their community with its unnecessary and dangerous natural gas highway.

KMstopAfter all, the spin masters at KM – led by Chief Propaganda Officer Allen Fore – are at it again today. With their usual brand of half-truths, misinformation, and outright lies, a KM spokesman is using the Salem News this morning to brag about the riches the company will bestow upon Danvers.

“The estimated annual tax projection [for] Danvers … is $150,000 the first year after the project is in service,” KM spokes-weasel Richard Wheatley said in today’s Salem News, a number that probably came out of thin air. You see, the KM propaganda machine has a reputation for just making up numbers in an effort to lure communities into thinking that putting resident safety and quality of life into jeopardy is a good thing.

But that’s not the only concern for Danvers residents.

It also appears that the KM propaganda machine is working to fool Danvers residents and town officials into thinking that the pipeline will not put any Danvers homes in danger, since it will stop near the old landfill and behind Rosewood Drive.

“We haven’t had any calls from residents because it’s at the landfill,” Town Manager Steve Bartha told selectmen Tuesday night as he brought them up to speed on the project.

But based on this company’s reputation for half-truths, outright lies, and obscene thirst for profits, I guarantee you this isn’t stopping at the landfill.

KM’s ultimate goal is to get this pipeline to sea, from where it can put this gas on LNG tankers and ship it to lucrative foreign markets in Europe and South America.

It’s time now for Danvers to prepare. KM won’t stop at Rosewood Drive. They’re heading across Danvers to the Port. Make no mistake about that.

It’s what they always do: Get a small foothold in a community, and then expand further. Think about it. How does it make any sense that they’ll just stop at Rosewood Drive when they could run their line to Danversport, from where it could be extended out into Salem Harbor, where the infrastructure for an LNG terminal already exists.

There is no need for any of this gas in any of our local communities. Kinder Morgan knows this, and we shouldn’t be fooled into thinking that these so-called eastern laterals, off their main Northeast Energy Direct pipeline route, are anything other than a ruse to get this project approved. After all, they’d never get approval if they told the truth, which is that all of this gas is destined for foreign markets, and that we’re simply fodder along the route.

It’s time for the Danvers town officials and residents to get organized. Kinder Morgan, with its horrendous safety record, is using the town just like it uses all other communities in an effort to increase its own profits.

They won’t stop at the landfill, and the measly $150K carrot they’re dangling in front of you is the product of the KM propaganda machine.

Sign up and join the fight with Peabody, and we’ll help you keep this Texas-based company from wrecking quality of life in your community too.

School Committee candidate forum on ‘You Make The Call’

17 Aug


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.

Kinder Morgan releases maps of homes that could be incinerated should its pipeline rupture

16 Aug

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

They call it the “incineration zone,” and it’s a phrase used for the area near a high-pressure gas pipeline that would face total devastation should the pipeline rupture.

Well, Peabody, we now know which specific homes are directly in harm’s way should the 24-inch line proposed by Texas-based energy giant Kinder Morgan rupture.

KM, which has a notoriously horrendous safety record, has released drawings showing the homes along Glen Drive that would be most-effected by its disruptive and dangerous project, which will transport gas that won’t be of any benefit to Peabody residents. The maps show homes that are located within 25 feet of the proposed easement, and I’m told the maps may be missing several homes. And even if homeowners aren’t concerned about an accident, think about this: Heavy machinery and equipment will be disturbing your peace from 25 feet away while they do the construction.

See the drawings below. I count more than 20 homes directly affected. These maps don’t show hundreds more Peabody homes in the Glen Drive neighborhood, which could be impacted too.

Here are the homes closest to the proposed pipeline path from Google Earth. Click on the photo for a larger view:


For residents who live in other towns along the so-called laterals, here’s the link to all of the maps released to show where homes lie in harm’s way. ALSO, for Peabody residents, maps display a lot larger if you click on the link and scroll down to the Peabody maps.

IF YOU LIVE IN ANY OF THESE HOMES on Glen Drive, please continue to deny access to your property to Kinder Morgan surveyors. Send a copy of this form to the company and one copy to the Peabody Police Department. If KM tries to come on your property after that, the advice is that you have those surveyors arrested, and that you press charges for trespassing.