Tag Archives: Peabody Citizen

Godspeed to a guy who defined everything a local weekly newspaper should be; Tom Grelish, dead at 63

2 Jun

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

He was the perfect old-school local newspaper publisher, equally comfortable with posting Little League scores as he was with taking on powerful politicians. He believed in a mix of community news, pictures of Brownie troops and senior citizens at a dance. But also wouldn’t hesitate to take on any politician, who deserved a swift boot in the butt in the pages of the Peabody Citizen, a weekly newspaper that became ingrained in Peabody’s cultural fabric.

Tom Grelish: Legendary Peabody newspaper man

Tom Grelish: Legendary Peabody newspaper man

When Tom Grelish, editor, publisher, friend, devoted father and husband — and the last of the great local “characters” — passed away unexpectedly Saturday night, an era ended for our burg and for local newspapering. He was only 63.

I’m not sure what the future holds for the Peabody Citizen, a weekly through which Tom Grelish defined the phase “local newspaper,” but with his passing things will never be the same when it comes all the Peabody news that’s fit to print.

If Tom could speak to us now, he’d probably say, in his legendary self-deprecating style:  “Big deal. The village just lost its idiot.” He once proudly showed me a key chain he had with something similar written as a slogan.

It was something that showed off his sense of humor, but make no mistake, Tom Grelish was a serious, and well-respected journalist.

Peabody has lost a journalistic watchdog. I’m sure there are plenty of places still left to post bake sale announcements, local sports scores, and other community news. But there will never be another Tom Grelish to tell it like it is while holding many a political scoundrel accountable.

In doing so, Tom never discriminated. You could be a close friend and an elected official, but if you did something really dumb as an elected official, he let you know about it in his weekly and much-read “Just Thinking” column. Before opening The Citizen in 1993, Tom had been a legendary local sports writer for the old Peabody Times.

But, perhaps, this local guy with ink in his veins, earned legendary status in the 1990s when he used his small, but mighty weekly paper to take on one of the most-powerful politicians in Peabody’s history.

Just when Mayor Peter Torigian had managed to control all of the local media spin, and totally influence every editorial written about Peabody in the Salem News, along came Tom Grelish. At first, Tom was just telling the truth about Powerful Pete, and his very controlling ways, even dubbing him the “Emperor.” And when Torigian got his revenge by not allowing The Citizen to benefit from a lucrative legal notice ad business, it become Grelish vs. the City of Peabody.

When local businesses and residents come before the City Council for special permits and variances, they are required – at their own expense – to publish a legal notice in any local newspaper of their choosing. But during Torigian’s rein, the city wouldn’t offer residents and businesses the option of posting their ads in The Citizen. What it meant too was that residents would be forced – at a higher cost – to publish their legals in the Salem News, a paper that always painted the Torigian Administration in a very positive light.

While Tom Grelish was hailing Torigian as the Emperor, Salem News editorial page editor Nelson Benton was throwing roses at the mayor’s feet.

Tom Grelish fought this legal ad injustice in court, and not only won the right to run the ads, but also took the city for thousands of dollars in damages.

“It was a very big moment not only for The Citizen, but for small newspapers everywhere. We got national attention for that one,” Tom told me last fall. “As a newspaper guy it was a pretty proud moment for me. The citizens of Peabody also got a much less-expensive choice for their legal ads.”

And local, small-town newspaper publishers everywhere could thank him for being a champion of the little guy.

It was an all  glorious,  all-American journalistic run that ended much too soon. This space definitely owes its “chutzpah” to Tom Grelish, who will continue to inspire us to hold elected officials accountable to the people who put them in office.

My sincere condolences to Patti, John, and Jackie, and the entire extended Grelish family.  

I’m positive that Tom’s up in heaven right now getting ready to pen his latest “Grelish’s Goulash” sports column, or a “Just Thinking” column where he’ll poke the “Emperor” once more.

— 30 –

… my friend


If you would like to attend Tom’s services, here is the information:

 (Relatives and friends are kindly invited to gather on Thursday at 9 AM from the Conway, Cahill-Brodeur Funeral Home, 82 Lynn St., Peabody, followed by a Funeral Mass at 10 AM in St. John the Baptist Church, Peabody.  A visitation will be held on Wednesday from 4 – 8 P.M. in the funeral home.  Burial will be in Cedar Grove Cemetery, Peabody. His family suggests those who wish make a donation in his name to a Peabody Youth Sports group, or Peabody High School Athletic Department. )


Tom Grelish: ‘Croce has a right to be miffed’

22 Nov

(Editor’s note: The following “Just Thinking” column, written by Peabody Citizen Publisher Tom Grelish, appeared in this week’s edition of that newspaper, and is re-published here with permission.)

By Tom Grelish, Publisher, Peabody Citizen

VoteJust thinking as usual this week and offering the thought that Bob Croce, who recently lost the Ward 5 city council race to Joel Saslaw, is well within bounds to be more than slightly disgruntled concerning the shenanigans that transpired in the polling place during the election.

Malfeasance in the polling place is never acceptable, and make no mistake about it – what transpired was flat-out malfeasance carried out by a couple of birdbrained poll workers. The height of stupidity, no two ways about it.

For those of you who may have missed it, here’s what took place: the poll workers, while on duty as representatives of the residents of Peabody, saw fit to post massages on Facebook urging residents to scamper to the polls and vote for Saslaw.

You gotta be kidding me. Some folks have said that the incident was tantamount to no big deal, but I vehemently disagree with that assessment. It was a very big deal and borders on voter fraud. We cannot tolerate that type of stuff. End of story.

Candidates for office must remain at least, I believe, 150 feet from a polling place so that voters are not unduly influenced by them. That’s a good rule. Then we have a couple of pinheads violating that rule from inside the polling place?

Only in Peabody could this type of baloney go on. And Croce should be streaming about it – all he asked for was a clean election, and he didn’t get it.

Let’s not be naïve about this. Those Facebook postings did not alter the outcome of the election – Saslaw took home the prize by almost 90 votes, a safe enough margin of error even if a couple of voters did heed the efforts of the harebrained poll workers.

But that doesn’t detract from the seriousness of the situation.

City Clerk Tim Spanos is handling this mess the right way – he’s turned the entire ball of wax over to the office of Secretary of State Bill Galvin, as well as the Ethics Commission, to figure this thing out and what should be done about this quagmire.

The worst thing about the polling place game-playing is that it casts Spanos, Mayor Ted Bettencourt, and Saslaw, in a very bad light. And none of them deserve to have that black light focused on them, because none of them did anything wrong but will get swept into this kerfuffle nevertheless.

I have particular empathy for Spanos, who is a top-shelf city clerk and always does his utmost to run clean elections. Then to have a couple of poll workers stab him in the back like that just isn’t right.

Spanos has no culpability in this fiasco. All he can do is hire the parties he thinks are the right people to man the polls – then, he has to trust them to do the job properly. He can’t be everywhere, all the time, on the day of the election, and was completely blindsided by those poll workers.

Saslaw, too, receives a black eye for this and he hasn’t even taken office yet. The renegade poll workers were, after all, obviously supporters of his. But there is no way that Saslaw should take guff for this – he didn’t tell those pinheads to do what they did. No way, no how.

As for Bettencourt, he doesn’t need this malarkey. He had nothing to do with it but will nonetheless be held somewhat responsible because it was city workers involved in the transgressions. He has bigger fish to fry in his efforts to run the city, and can easily live without this nonsense.

As for Croce, he has apparently retained an attorney to assist him with this election disgrace. I don’t blame him – Bob Croce has to look out for the best interests of Bob Croce. No one is going to do it for him.

That being said, I’m not sure how an attorney will be able to bolster his case, short of demanding a new election, a scenario that is highly unlikely to unfold.

The lawyer will easily prove that malfeasance took place, but that’s not going to change the outcome of the election. It’ll be very interesting to see where the lawyer takes this matter.

If he is successful in getting a new election – which, as stated, if highly unlikely – all bets are off. Croce could win it the second time around.

Wouldn’t that he something?

No matter what the lawyer does, this is for sure – the city of Peabody should reimburse Croce for his legal fees.

It would be the only decent thing to do. After all, Bob Croce did not initiate this brouhaha. A couple of city workers did.

And the rest of us are responsible for making good on the missteps of city workers. It’s lousy, but it is also reality.

So I hope the city council walks the proper path on this and gives Croce his money back. All he ever asked for was an unfettered election, and he did not receive that.

Again, some people are of the mind that all this is no big deal. Let me reiterate – it is a very big deal. No two ways about it.