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May 2, 2013

Heard Around Town: More Champagne for Peabody

PEABODY — Whether you’re cooking rice or making laws, you can’t hurry the process. It takes as long as it takes.

That’s the message from state Rep. Ted Speliotis, D-Danvers, who also stands for West Peabody and who is predicting that legislation allowing the city to take the police and fire chief out of civil service is not likely to be approved anytime soon.

Even as the chairman of the Committee on the Third Reading, a prestigious House office, he can’t make it happen faster than June 1, when current police Chief Robert Champagne is scheduled to grab his fishing rod and sail off into retirement.

“It will definitely not be in time for that,” Speliotis says. “We’re very formal.”

At the same time, Mayor Ted Bettencourt will not rush the process of choosing a new chief by using the old civil service system. Consequently, he says, “We’ll ask the chief to stay on. He’s indicated he would be willing to stay for a few weeks, and maybe a few months.”

Attack of the 40Bs

How frightened are public officials of 40Bs, the housing developments allowed to bypass local zoning by including 10 percent low-income housing? The mention of them, Councilor Barry Osborne said at last week’s meeting, is enough that “if Councilor (Dave) Gamache had any hair, it would stand up.”

A smiling Gamache took the needling in good humor.

An exclusive address on Newbury Street?

No, not that Newbury Street.

Planning to retire after this term ends, Gamache made a prediction about 40Bs in Peabody, the housing projects constructed over local objections and in violation, often, of local zoning because they include some affordable units.

“Route 1 is a prime spot for a 40B,” he said. “Whether we say it or not. ... It’s going to happen.”

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