Tag Archives: Peabody

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!

 

NED pipeline would imperil Ipswich, put North Shore drinking water supplies at risk

26 Jan

(Bob Croce is Chair of Peabody Citizens United, and a candidate for State Representative in the MA 13th Essex District.)

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

I’ve used this space over the past year to talk about the critically important homeowner rights and safety issues surrounding Kinder Morgan’s proposed Northeast Energy Direct (NED) pipeline. But today, I’d like to bring up a concern that should be front and center, not just in Peabody, Danvers and Middleton, but throughout the North Shore.

Protecting our public drinking water supply.

riverWe should remind ourselves of the tragedy of Flint, Mich., and come to a consensus that locating this pipeline within the Ipswich Watershed District is just too much of a risk for the half million North Shore residents who draw water from this endangered river. Now is the time for our North Shore elected leaders to unite and lobby the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to not approve this new gas pipeline infrastructure for an area so vital to the health and well being of our communities.

Here are the facts on the pipeline and the river from the stewards of the river, the Ipswich Watershed Association:

The proposed Lynnfield and Peabody lateral sections of the NED pipeline will be constructed within the Ipswich River Watershed, and it will:

  • Traverse the watershed for more than 11 miles, cross the river and dozens of named and unnamed tributaries
  • Traverse more than two miles of wetlands, alter dozens of vernal pools
  • Be built directly on the riverbank for more than two miles
  • Be built in the immediate proximity of seven public permanently-protected water supply intakes and traverse hundreds of acres of permanently protected conservation areas, including several parcels protected by Article 97 of the Massachusetts State Constitution.
  • Temporarily clear 131.5 acres of land during construction and permanently alter 65.8 acres in the required pipeline easement. The pipeline will significantly disrupt the underground hydrology of the watershed, which is critical to its function as well as the hundreds of public and private water supply intakes in the immediate vicinity of its route.

Once constructed, Kinder Morgan will continuously use herbicides to keep the pipeline right-of-way clear of vegetation, and there are no studies showing what negative effects that could have on the source of our drinking water. Then there’s the danger of leaking pipes allowing toxic methane to seep into our water.

If anyone thinks the dangers here only affect “a couple of streets” in Peabody, think again. The proposed NED pipeline should be a regional concern.

 

 

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.)

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.

Potential catastrophe averted in Presidential Heights fire

27 Aug

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

 

More details will emerge here, but The Eye has learned that the fire at 13 Madison Ave in West Peabody last night was no ordinary garage fire. Turns out that the owner of the property was likely storing a large amount of chemicals in the structure as part of a swimming pool service company.

FF

The fire caused a strong odor, and a series of small, but frightening explosions before the Peabody Fire Department arrived.

 

Were it not for an outstanding job by the PFD, this could have spread to nearby homes, resulted in major property loss, and perhaps injuries to residents living in this Presidential Heights neighborhood.

 

“You could see the black smoke and the smell was really bad,” a neighborhood resident told us this morning. “There were a few explosions as well. It was very frightening.”

 

According to city records, the property is owned by Joseph Carpenito, who also owns Pools Unlimited. On its website, the company lists 13 Madison Ave as its office.

Below is a Google Earth image that shows the location. Note the close proximity of other homes. The large garage that burned is to the back right of the property.

madison

Phil Lavoie: Peabody loses one of its truly good guys

12 May

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

In the 1970s, when you first became a teen-aged dude, your first form of rebellion, your first effort at independence usually involved what was on top of your head.

Once hitting 13, it would be no more getting haircuts with your old man, who liked to take you to his old-school barber and say “make him look decent.” That statement usually meant you were going to walk around for the next month looking like a character from “Leave It To Beaver.”

Phil Lavoie ... passing of a great guy

Phil Lavoie. The passing of a great Peabody guy

But something changed for me when I hit 13. Something new and totally different opened on Lake Street next to Muntsy’s Subs. No more haircuts with the old man. I was going to “Headquarters For Men,” at the time a new wave of men’s hair stylists, who would allow you to leave their shops looking less like Jerry Mathers, and more like Derek Sanderson.

Phil Lavoie didn’t flinch when you told him you wanted your hair to still cover your ears, and didn’t argue later on when you wanted to experiment with a mullet.  With this approach, this new school barber built a loyal customer base. Keep the ears covered when I was 13. Shave it up close to the scalp and over the ears by the time I reached 40.

“Headquarters,” which moved from the Muntsy’s Plaza to a location further down Lake next to 7 Eleven, and then back to the plaza recently, has for more than 30 years been a West Peabody institution. Its proprietor was the ultimate Peabody guy, who not only knew how to please his younger customers with everything from mullets in the ‘80s to Mohawks in the ‘90s, but also was an old-school barber when it came to conversation with adult customers. Great with the jokes, or the gossip of the day, or social commentary, Phil not only gave great haircuts, but he made it a pleasure to visit him and his sidekick Annie once a month.

This past Friday, Phil Lavoie passed away at age 65.

I was in his shop for a haircut in early April, and never had an inkling that he was even ill.

His wife Linda, and their two children have lost a terrific husband and dad, and Peabody has lost one of its most-popular and much-liked citizens.

Rest in peace, my friend, and thanks for the memories.

If you knew Phil and would like to attend his services, here are the details.

Grateful for family, friends, and supporters met along the way

7 Nov

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

SUNRISEIt’s tough losing an election. The months of hard work puts major stress on not only the candidate, but his family and friends too. When things don’t work out on election night, there is shock, followed by disappointment, and then some frustration.

But if you did it right, and still lost, if you truly ran a campaign where you put the focus on helping people and sticking up for neighbors and neighborhoods, election night’s disappointment fades as quickly as that next day’s sunset.

Today, I have reached that point. The sun came up this morning, just as it always does, and with it came satisfaction for this former candidate. Despite battling money and power, we lost the election for Ward 5 Councilor by just 89 votes. Despite having what seemed like the entire Ward 5 political and business establishment against me because I promised to always be on the side of taxpaying residents, our underdog campaign almost pushed it across the goal line in sudden death overtime.

We fell short, but we’re not disappointed anymore. Why? Because we had the right message and we put a scare into those whom are more interested in making a buck than they are with protecting the quality of life of residents. We scared them so much that they filled my opponent’s campaign war chest with thousands of dollars, and helped with a massive get out the vote effort on election night.  Their GOTV effort was just better than our GOTV effort, and they made sure since they wanted no part of this independent-minded Ward 5 Councilor candidate.

But I know as well as anyone that this will always be the nature of politics, and at the end of the day, people get to choose who they want based on what they hear and who they like. That’s America at its finest, and I believe in the system. We lost. That’s just the way it is.

Mr. Saslaw and his team were just able to convince a few more people than we could. He now says he’s with the residents, and I wish him well in his pursuit. I expect, though, that it’s going to be hard to say no to developers who just covered you in cash, and carried you across the finish line.

As for me, I’m just not sure where the political winds will blow me. It’s too soon to do anything other than thank those family members and friends whom I love, and tell them how much I appreciate everything they did for me. There are too many names to name here, so I anticipate writer’s cramp from so many thank you notes in the coming weeks.

I’ll also never forget the people who supported me because they liked my message when I came to their doors during the long campaign. Today, just as I was starting to feel down again, an elderly woman from my neighborhood — who I didn’t even know before meeting her on Election Day — called to tell me it was a “pleasure voting for you.” And then, she told me a story that inspired me to start thinking about my next step.

It was a story about her son, who was diagnosed with dyslexia back in the 1950s, only at first they didn’t know what it was, and because of it he began failing in school. Persistence and a mother’s love and determination forced this son to not give up.

He somehow made it through the Peabody Schools, and kept working hard enough to make it into college. Despite several setbacks along the way, the son — pushed by his wonderful mom — not only graduated from college, but went on to grad school and then got his PhD in education. He just recently retired from his job as Superintendent of Schools for a South Shore community.

His mom, meanwhile, despite being 87-years-old, legally blind and needing a walker, made it to the polls at the Kiley School on Tuesday after our campaign was able to give her a ride.  When I thanked her for going above and beyond to support me like that, all she said to me was:

“You’re a good guy. You deserved it. I didn’t give up on my son, and I wasn’t going to give up on you.”

You know, maybe I did go down to defeat because I said I would always take the side of residents like this great lady who is my neighbor. But … I think I can live with that, and even start sleeping through the night again.

Here’s to another beautiful sunrise.

Re-development in Peabody should always be connected to responsibility

25 Sep

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

It was a good meeting last night at the West Branch Library. A night during which residents were presented research by a consultant on how we can revitalize Peabody’s downtown, and then asked their opinions on what should go in currently developable properties.

But there was also a moment near the end the meeting that summed up a major challenge we face as we go through the process of not only revitalizing parts of our community, but also reinvigorating our economic engine.

When the presentation was over, and all of the brainstorming done, Community Development Office official Blair Haney made a comment that spoke to something that’s unseen by many, but gotten us into past messes when it comes to development. Essentially, what Mr. Haney told the audience was that — in order to move forward — we need the full cooperation of the Peabody City Council and the residents when it comes to granting developers special permits.

Giving him the benefit of the doubt, I don’t think Mr. Haney was talking about granting special permits to build everything and anything developers want. After all, haven’t we recently seen the ugly side of blind cooperation when it comes to many developers in Peabody?

But it should cause us to pause, think, and ensure that we don’t get fooled again. This is indeed a cautionary tale.

Wasn’t it unchallenged “cooperation” that got us that ugly condo complex on Walnut Street, and isn’t it unchallenged “cooperation” that is causing the residents of the Winona Street neighborhood near Route 1 major headaches? I could go on and on about developers maximizing profits by building cheap, ugly projects,  grossly violating the terms special permits, and not caring about residents’ property rights.

But let’s spare you of  those gory details, and say that I don’t think there are many residents who don’t agree that we need an economic rebirth in Peabody. After all, we have a lot to pay for these days, and bringing more responsible development to the city will help us pay for capital improvements. At the same time, it would stabilize the residential tax rate. More businesses mean a lot more commercial tax revenue, which in turn means that residents aren’t taxed to death. As a result, we’d find a sane way to pay for a much-need new middle school, and flood mitigation, and all of the other improvements necessary for our civic infrastructure.

Economic development would be a great thing for Peabody, but until we get smart about it and get the right kind of development, a request for our full cooperation with developers sends chills up the spines of residents, who have had their quality of life trampled on far too often.

As a city councilor, I would most-definitely be pro-business and pro-economic development. But the rights of residents still need to come first, and those developers with a track record of violating their special permits can’t be given more chances to mess this all up again. It can no longer be a case of everything goes in Peabody, not in our downtown, and not out on Route 1.

What we need is responsible and well-planned out community re-development, and for Peabody to partner only with reputable developers to get this all done. If it’s  not the right thing to do for a neighborhood, city councilors should never fear  saying “no.”

That’s what those residents who attended that excellent meeting last night want, and that’s what they and our city deserves.

Peabody to honor victims of Marathon terrorist attack

21 Apr

By Eye on Peabody

ribbonThere will be an interfaith prayer service in Peabody on Tuesday night to remember the victims of the Boston Marathon terrorist attack. The service will be held at St. John the Baptist Church at 7 p.m.

More details here in this Peabody Patch article.

To donate to the official charity for the victims of the bombings, please visti the One Fund.

Lesson learned for all Peabody Democrats? For the sake of the party, we hope so

3 Apr

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Peabody Democrats from Lynnfield to Lake Street came to realize earlier today that the sun did indeed come up on this frosty cold, un-spring-like morning.

But while sticking with this celestial theme, what we should have been thinking about was this lesson from Bill Shakespeare:

 “The fault, dear Democrats, is not in our stars … but in ourselves.”

Leah Cole, Peabody's State Rep

Leah Cole, Peabody’s State Rep

Before I go any further, I want to congratulate Peabody’s new State Rep, Republican Leah Cole, and urge all of my Democratic colleagues to do themselves a favor today and STOP with the excuses. Cole won fairly, and if you look at the campaign she ran, you immediately come to the conclusion that both Beverley Griffin Dunne and David Gravel likely never saw this coming.

The Dunne and Gravel campaign teams were solid, and worked their tails off throughout the weeks leading up to this special election. But all of us underestimated and mis-calculated when it came to Ms. Cole.

All we saw, and I’m as guilty as anyone else, was a 24-year-old, first-time candidate with zero name recognition on Day 1, and all we thought was … “this is a kid with no chance.”

What didn’t we see?

Well, we didn’t see that she was backed by an aggressive, very experienced, and battle-tested statewide professional political organization.  Ron Paul’s Liberty Movement showed once again that it can not only organize, but also infuse a candidate with the Mother’s Milk of Politics: Lots and lots of cash. They were also able to keep her focused on the populist message that government takes too much from us, wastes our money, and is now asking for even more from Peabody’s working classes.

Although I’m sure the mainstream Mass. GOP is crowing this morning about winning a seat which the Dems have held for decades, they don’t deserve the credit and still have no credible, grassroots process for building a “farm team.” This victory belongs to the sons and daughters of the Liberty Movement, who are sort of like the Tea Party, only with younger members and fewer far right zealots.

Oh sure, there is a lot of evidence that leads to the conclusion that had Mr. Gravel not been in the race as an unenrolled candidate, Ms. Dunne would have won this seat back for the Democrats. But he was in, and as Democrats shouldn’t we have all known that it would split our vote? Shouldn’t we have seen more unity and support among Dems behind our only Democratic candidate in this race, especially from some of those who call themselves Peabody Democratic Party leaders?

For weeks, all I heard was speculation on who Cole would hurt more yesterday, Dunne or Gravel. Did anyone really ever stop to consider how much Dunne and Gravel would hurt each other?

 But once again, the fault, dear Democrats, is not in Dave Gravel … it’s in ourselves.

Seventy-three votes was the difference. As a party couldn’t we have united enough to find 74 more votes?

Maybe. But this should also be a moment of clarity for us. If you can learn from it, sometimes losing isn’t a bad thing.

It’s time for us to realize that we need to get back to the principles that made fiscally conservative working class people in a city like Peabody embrace Democrats like our late, great State Rep Joyce Spilliotis?

Why have Peabody people suddenly begun turning on us Democrats, and voting for the Scott Browns, Charlie Bakers, and Leah Coles?

Our party has swung too far to the fringe, and people who work for a living are tired of losing more of their paychecks to support tax increases that feed a wasteful, bloated state government. By the way, I’m not talking about Beverley Griffin Dunne or Dave Gravel here. I’m talking about Democrats such as the State Rep from western Mass., who yesterday told me she felt that Governor Deval Patrick’s bloated budget proposal and tax increase don’t go far enough.

Both Dunne and Gravel stated during the campaign that they opposed the Governor’s tax increase. But it didn’t matter, the big-spending stench surrounded them just enough to have people pass on connecting the line next to their name. Guilt simply by association, perhaps.

As Peabody Democrats, it’s time that we adopted a message that we are the party that helps people who need help, but part of that responsibility includes ensuring that struggling working class people aren’t smothered by onerous tax increases designed to fund wasteful spending.

Isn’t it possible as a Democrat to be socially moderate or progressive while at the same time be fiscally  conservative? Most people, after all, want to be helped, but not hurt by government.

Aren’t those the type of principles under which Joyce Spilliotis operated?

And isn’t that what the voters of Peabody told us loud and clear yesterday?

Message sent, for sure.  But what still remains is,  as Democrats, what are we going to do about it?

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