, Salem, MA

January 1, 2013

Updating some of the biggest headlines in the last 12 months

The Salem News

---- — Yesterday, we looked back. Today, we’re looking forward.

On this first day of 2013, we update two top stories of 2012 that are far from finished and check in with two newsmakers who have quietly stepped out of the limelight.

A learning experience

One of the most notable newsmakers of 2012 was Richard Tisei.

The former state senator and a real estate businessman from Wakefield nearly defeated incumbent Congressman John Tierney in a hard-fought race that captured national attention.

Republican Tisei was defeated by a 1 percent margin on Nov. 6.

Last month, Tisei said 2012 was a learning experience, and he plans to move forward in 2013.

“I’ll be working to grow my business,” he said. “That’s what I’ll be doing for the foreseeable future in 2013.”

Tisei is broker/owner of Northrup Associates Realtors in Lynnfield, which specializes in residential real estate.

Tisei said he “learned an awful lot” through the course of his campaign.

“I had a great experience over the past year,” he said. “... I met a lot of great people. I spent a lot of time in every community on the North Shore. I spent a lot of time touring small businesses. Some of the things that are done by small businesses are remarkable (support to) the local economy.”

“Spending the summer campaigning in the coastal communities was a highlight,” he said.

Tisei said he took some time off after the Nov. 6 election, before refocusing on business.

“I’m getting back to a more normal schedule,” he said. “I intend to stay very active — I will be around in the future.”

Helping the homeless

Homeless families sheltered by the state in motels in Danvers continued to be an issue in 2012.

Last year, state Auditor Suzanne Bump ruled that homeless student transportation costs were an unfunded mandate. For the first time in 2012, the state budget covered these costs, to the tune of $11.3 million.

Town Manager Wayne Marquis, who sits on an advisory board to the governor’s Interagency Council on Housing and Homelessness, said the town was told the money, about $150,000, would come in April or May. However, recent state budget cuts by Gov. Deval Patrick mean the town will not be seeing all that it was promised.

“He’s cut that in half,” Marquis said.

State Rep. Ted Speliotis, D-Danvers, took credit for winning the unfunded mandate ruling and getting the line item approved. Homeless-student transportation became an issue during the 13th Essex District race this fall when unsuccessful Republican challenger and Danvers Selectman Dan Bennett said money in the state budget will not cover the hundreds of thousands that the School Department has shelled out over the last several years for homeless-student transportation.

The number of hotel homeless continues to stretch the resources of the town’s food pantry. On Oct. 2, the town counted 192 homeless families living in motels, some of the highest numbers Danvers has seen, despite state efforts to end the practice. The town once again ran a summer program for homeless children thanks to donations from businesses and residents.

However, market forces, not state programs, may mean that fewer motels in town will be hosting homeless families.

“I was told there might be some changes,” Marquis said, “whether the hotels want to continue contracting with the state” due to business reasons.

Investigation continues

The Landmark School in Beverly is still looking into the allegations of sexual abuse made last summer against a former staff member.

The private school for children with language-based learning disabilities declined comment on the status of the investigation, which it launched after getting emails from David Breed, a Colorado businessman who claims he was groped at the school more than two decades ago, allegations he says the school has ignored.

In a message posted this fall on the school’s website, Headmaster Robert Broudo said Landmark has filed reports with state agencies and sent emails to more than 4,000 parents, alumni and faculty seeking information.

“With the assistance of a highly regarded legal team, we are conducting a thorough and timely examination of all reports and allegations that have been brought to our attention,” Broudo wrote.

Breed and another former student allege that they were molested by former Landmark staff member Howard J. Kasper as far back as 1979. Kasper, who was recently working in the Rockport public schools, was put on indefinite administrative leave by Rockport in August.

Since going public, Breed said several dozen former students have come forward on a Facebook page and elsewhere with charges against Landmark staff. Breed said he has “zero faith” in Landmark’s probe of the charges.

An official working with the school said Landmark will not comment on its investigation until it is concluded.

Life back to normal

Let’s just say he was the most famous local turtle of 2012.

Zeke was living a quiet life in the slow lane when he not-so-suddenly disappeared from his Beverly home in August. Debbie and Bob Young, who had owned him for 31 years, took out an ad and put up posters offering a reward if he was found, and Zeke became something of a media sensation.

A month later, a shellshocked neighbor spotted Zeke sunning himself in his backyard. He was reunited with his family, prompting another round of newspaper stories and TV reports.

With his 15 minutes of fame now over, Zeke has returned to his routine of roaming his house, fighting with his image in the mirror, and eating roast beef and shrimp.

“Zeke is doing very well and is hunkering down for the winter in his house,” Debbie Young reports. “I am still not sure if he is ‘happy to be home,’ but we are so happy to have him safe and sound.”

Staff writers Bethany Bray, Tom Dalton, Ethan Forman and Paul Leighton contributed to this report.