Asking our legislators to stand with the people, and stand against Kinder Morgan

10 Nov

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

article97

Residents from western Mass. urge legislators to uphold Article 97

BOSTON – Spending my day today in solidarity with the residents of Sandisfield in southwestern Mass., who fill the Gardner Auditorium at the State House to implore legislators to reject bill H.3690. That bill seeks to set aside Article 97 protection so that a Texas-based gas pipeline company — run by the guy who used to run Enron – can essentially jeopardize their scenic Mayberry-like community of less than 900 year-round residents.

Article 97 of the Mass. State Constitution says that lands set aside for conservation cannot be used for any other purposes without a two thirds disposition vote of both the House and Senate on Beacon Hill. It is our only hope as residents of the Commonwealth to fight back against not only Kinder Morgan and its notorious CEO Richard Kinder – who helped create that mess that was Enron – but also a five-person appointed board in Washington, DC, called The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Even though there is overwhelming public opposition to this pipeline — which will slash through Massachusetts and southern NH — FERC is expected to grant approval to build Kinder Morgan’s Northeast Energy Direct Pipeline Project.

But back in the Texas offices of Kinder Morgan, they probably should be saying “Houston, we have a problem.”

After all, Article 97 battles are setting up all over the Commonwealth, as KM seeks to take as many as 100 environmentally protected parcels for a project that will be of no benefit to the residents of Massachusetts. Since our Independence Greenway bike path is set aside conservation land, we could end up having our own day too here on Beacon Hill, which is why I’m sitting in the balcony right now listening to compelling testimony from residents who are asking their legislators to please do the will of the people and kill this bill in committee. If we stop H.3690 and stop them from taking Article 97 land in Sandisfield, then we might be able to do the same in Peabody. This is our precedent-setter.

Right now, residents of this beautiful little community, and others, are making a plea before the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight, which is co-chaired by our Senator Joan Lovely.

What this comes down to is a battle between residents of the Commonwealth, a company bent on increasing its already obscene profits, and the federal government. Clearly, we’re just a potentially dangerous and disruptive pass through, since it’s become clear that most of the gas shipped in the NED pipeline is destined to be loaded on LNG tankers, and shipped to lucrative overseas markets.

Facts are stubborn things, and the fact is that the NED pipeline, and five other pipeline projects on the drawing board for Mass., will produce five times more natural gas than is needed to meet future demand in the state. Peabody has zero need for additional gas, and the Spectra pipeline currently running through the bikeway area is on most days at half capacity. We assume all of the risk, get no benefit, and KM increases it’s already huge profits.

It’s not about lowering your electric bill, or keeping your home warm. But it is about big energy and big money. H.3690 was filed by a State Rep from Hingham named Garrett Bradley. His district is a 3-hour ride from Sandisfield and Otis State Forest, with its scenic and endangered Spectacle Pond, and old growth forest, yet it was he who brought the bill forward on behalf of the pipeline company. Wonder if he doing KM a solid here has anything to do with the campaign contributions Brian Hickey & Associates – the pipeline company’s main lobbyist on Beacon Hill – made to Rep Bradley’s war chest?

The fact is that Beacon Hill these days is awash in Kinder Morgan blood money. But here’s hoping that our state legislators do the right thing. Are you listening Rep. Ted Speliotis and Senator Lovely?

This needs to be about protecting the quality of life of the residents of the Commonwealth. This should be about doing the will of the people. It’s about the public trust set established when we the people voted to add Article 97 to our Constitution more than 40 years ago.

Be aware that the Kinder Morgan ‘community meeting’ at Spinelli’s will be filled with half truths and total lies

28 Oct

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

By now, you’ve probably heard about the so-called pipeline “community meeting” taking place (Oct. 29, 6-8 p.m.) at Spinelli’s function facility on Route 1 in Lynnfield.

Just so you know, this is not really a “community meeting,” but instead is a carefully orchestrated propaganda show run by Kinder Morgan, a Texas-based company bent on destroying your quality of life with a high-pressure natural gas highway that will be of no benefit to any of the local communities through which it passes.

The meeting will be brought to you by KM Chief Propaganda Officer Allen Fore, and it will be filled with half-truths and outright lies.

But there will likely be free chicken fingers and balloons for the kids, so that’s something.

I’ve been debating all week on whether to inform you of this dog and pony show, since the last thing we want to do is help KM with its tour of lies. But you’re all grownups, and can decide for yourselves whether or not to attend. But please, go knowing that what will really be served for food is a heaping helping of crapola.

All you really need to know about this obscenely profitable Texas company is that it is seeking to risk the safety of your home, your environment and your water supply to build its pipeline and all of its laterals. Furthermore, KM plans to get approval for this project through a five-person appointed board in Washington, DC, called FERC. Loaded with friends of the fossil fuel industry, FERC hardly ever rejects a pipeline permit. Your ELECTED representatives will have no say here.

Know going in, too, that all of this gas is destined to be loaded on LNG tankers and shipped to lucrative, gas-starved foreign markets.  None of the gas will be used by Massachusetts residents.

There is zero need for additional gas in the Commonwealth, the ISO-New England statistics prove this, and right now we’re simply cannon fodder for this company and its goal to make even more profit for its shareholders. They’ll tell you otherwise, but in Peabody we have a gas line owned by a company called Spectra, and that pipe is currently at half capacity.

By the way, did I mention yet that the “Kinder” in Kinder Morgan is for Richard Kinder, who went along for the ride as a high-ranking executive for a famously notorious company called Enron. Kinder Morgan is indeed everything that is wrong with America. Somewhere, Gordon Gekko is smiling, since when it comes to Kinder Morgan the company motto is … “greed is good.”

So, if you go tonight, please ask some tough questions and let them know that you know what they’re up to, all of it bad for Peabody, Lynnfield and Danvers.

Kinder Morgan is a disgraceful corporate citizen, and their destructive and dangerous pipeline will benefit no one other than their stock holders.

Rep. Speliotis accepts campaign contributions from Kinder Morgan pipeline lobbyist

26 Oct

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

For months I’ve been giving Representative Ted Speliotis the benefit of the doubt, hoping all along that he would unconditionally be on the side of the thousands of West Peabody, Middleton and Danvers residents, who passionately oppose the potentially dangerous and totally unnecessary Kinder Morgan pipeline proposal.

Ted Speliotis

Ted Speliotis

There have been days when Rep. Speliotis has seemingly been with us. But then we’ve been puzzled on days when he’s either been on the fence, or curiously, seemed to discourage our opposition efforts.

He has been all over the place, never really 100% committing to opposing this project, which would not only threaten homes and Peabody’s pristine Independence Greenway bikepath, but also the Ipswich River, which provides public drinking water to 350,000 residents on the North Shore.

His lack of total commitment had been puzzling, but maybe we now know why he hasn’t been 100% with residents on opposing the pipeline.

On the rep’s two most-recent campaign finance reports, posted on the Mass. Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF), there are several contributions — worth more than a thousand dollars — from lobbyists who represent the natural gas industry.

But one contributor stands out above all others. In the last two reporting periods, Brian Hickey of Brian Hickey & Associates — who was hired to represent Kinder Morgan’s Massachusetts interests — has given Rep. Speliotis two checks for $200 each. By the way, $200 is the most a lobbyist can give to a State Rep legally in one year, so you have to wonder how much he would have received had there been no limits.  Here’s the link to Speliotis’ full campaign finance report

For a year now, Hickey and KM Chief Propaganda Office Allen Fore have been peddling truths, half-truths and flat out lies to Mass. State Legislators, while filling several campaign war chests with thousands of dollars.

There is, of course, nothing illegal going on here. After all, greasing palms is standard operating procedure for lobbyists on Beacon Hill, and I can’t blame Mr. Hickey for trying to make a living.

But how thoroughly disappointed are we in Rep. Speliotis?

Didn’t we elect him to work for the people of West Peabody, Danvers and Middleton, and oppose this project that will endanger resident quality of life, while providing no benefit to the people of the 13th Essex District. Didn’t we expect that he wouldn’t be taking any of this “blood money?”

The fact is, no matter how much Kinder Morgan tries to avoid the question – and trump up a fake scenario for local demand – we feel that this gas is destined for lucrative foreign markets. The residents of Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire are being used as a pass through for this potentially destructive gas highway.

Rep. Speliotis knows this, and maybe, just maybe he should have sent back this KM blood money? Shame on you, Ted, but I guess at least we now know why you haven’t been 100% supportive of our opposition.

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.

KM1KM2

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.

MAP