PEABODY — For Mayor Ted Bettencourt, it’s been a case of hair today but gone tomorrow. While most of his bold initiatives seem to be bearing fruit, his honor knows when it’s time to give up. Thus, his hard-fought efforts to join the ranks of the bearded have come to an end.
It just didn’t look right, the mayor explained, letting his hair down on the subject.
“I gave it three weeks,” he said.
He said he realized it was a lost cause when one of his daughters declared that he looked “goofy.” It’s hard to argue with the kids, and the image wouldn’t do for a civic leader.
I didn’t mean you!
That’s the message lawyer Jack Keilty is hurriedly sending out to members of the Licensing Board after invoking the Three Stooges in his analysis of the recent decision of Judge Howard Whitehead, who overruled the board’s cutback in the hours when Oliveira’s Steakhouse is allowed to serve liquor. The punishment came after the restaurant was found to be on the periphery of numerous violent incidents.
The judge struck down the decision because the board had failed to alert in advance the restaurant or its lawyer that the Nov. 24 hearing was meant specifically to consider a punishment. (Chief Robert Champagne had urged pulling the restaurant’s liquor license altogether.)
In a conversation with reporters, Keilty later joked that the judge had said, in effect, “Wake up and die right,” which he noted is a catch phrase used by Moe regarding his two stooge cohorts.
“I was trying to be too clever,” a chastened Keilty subsequently told the News.
Only later was it pointed out, to his discomfort, that the issue concerned a three-person board. Thus, some interpreted his remarks as an insult directed at board members.
“It was not directed at them,” said Keilty.
Lately, he has been in the process of calling each member, Minas Dakos, Nancy Delaney and Fred Murtagh, to apologize and make that clear.
Keilty has a reputation for amusing and ironic remarks. The comments to reporters came without any reference to the board members and seemed directed instead at the vagaries of the law and lawyers. As he agreed it could be quoted, it seems unlikely he would have deliberately antagonized people he appears before on a regular basis.
For that matter, Keilty is scheduled to visit the board on behalf of Oliveira’s at the Monday, Jan. 13, meeting where the same problem will be hashed out again.
There’s not much interest in Peabody’s borrowing efforts — and that’s a good thing. The city’s bond rating from Moody’s remains at Aa1, even as it looks for loans to cover projects including Higgins Middle School, a new fire truck, improvements at Crystal Lake, a new artificial turf football field and more.
On Dec. 12, reported Bettencourt, the city borrowed $10 million from TD Securities at an interest rate of .13878 percent. And you thought your mortgage was low.
“We’re obviously very pleased with the results of this note sale,” said the mayor in a written statement. “Peabody’s strong ‘Aa1’ credit rating and the continuing low interest rate ... enable(s) us to make critical investments in Peabody’s future while saving taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars in interest charges.”
Bettencourt credits the city’s “diverse tax base, stable financial position and a manageable debt burden” as factors in maintaining the Aa1 rating, the second highest possible.
On the other hand, some have raised concerns about the recent increase in taxes, said to amount to an average of nearly $100 per homeowner.
The ambassadorsfrom Higgins
Higgins Middle School eighth-graders Jacob Gustin and Ava Marotta have been named ambassadors to Gov. Deval Patrick’s Project 351. The project encourages a “shared purpose” across the commonwealth. The two Peabody ambassadors, both National Junior Honor Society members, were chosen for their kindness, compassion, humility and generosity of spirit, according to Principal Todd Bucey.
Staff writer Alan Burke can be reached at 978-338-2524 or email@example.com.