, Salem, MA

November 14, 2013

A lesson plan for the ages


---- — PEABODY — Yes, Robert Burns, “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men Gang aft agley” (can often go astray). For example, he didn’t think he’d need a translator. In any case — make that in every case — you still have to have a plan.

That’s especially true in an era when state and federal mandates fall on the schools like snowflakes in February. For Peabody Public Schools, a new “strategic plan” is in the offing, according to school board member Dave McGeney.

“And we want to get it started immediately,” he said. The date for completion, set at Tuesday’s meeting, is January, 2015. “These things do take a lot of time.”

And they take organization. To make sure this is organized, the board is seeking to bring in retired and much-admired Peabody Principal Helen Apostolides to help. Her tasks, said McGeney, “would be to keep us on track, to research materials and to keep the documents.”

It’s a paid position, “but maybe we can get the hometown discount,” McGeney said.

On the roads again

Peabody Rep. Leah Cole has informed the City Council of efforts by her and other legislators urging Gov. Deval Patrick to release an additional $100 million in Chapter 90 money to cities and towns, as voted on by the Legislature last May. A chunk of that cash would go to Peabody, according to city Finance Director Patty Schaffer.

“The money being withheld by the current Administration is needed to repair roads and other important infrastructure across the commonwealth and that includes Peabody,” wrote Cole. “With winter coming up, the money is going to be desperately needed, and this will impact the hardworking people of Peabody in their daily commute if the money is not released. The governor needs to understand he is hurting the people of Peabody and the hardworking people of Massachusetts.”

Cole’s new legislative aide Horace Mello, told the News that the governor is withholding the money “and instead doing a $9 million renovation on his office.”

(Mello, a native of Norton, has stepped in for the former aide, Ryan Chamberland, who managed Cole’s successful campaign last winter and has now joined the “Charlie Baker for governor” effort.)

“Of course, we need the money,” said Schaffer of the Chapter 90 funds. “It would do a significant number of streets.”

Last meal?

Oliveira’s Steakhouse on Walnut Street has been the nexus of repeated calls to police as a result of fights, noise, disruptions and even a stabbing last month. Retiring police Chief Robert Champagne, after previous complaints to the Licensing Board, has asked that the restaurant’s liquor license be revoked.

“This premise operates contrary to good public purpose and has demonstrated itself to be a public nuisance,” he told the board.

In response, the board has scheduled a 7:15 p.m. public hearing on the matter at its Nov. 25 meeting. The management of Oliveira’s is invited.

City gives money away.

This doesn’t happen every day. But, in this case, if you get some, it’s because it’s your money to begin with. Mayor Ted Bettencourt has posted a list of people and businesses “who may be entitled to abandoned property held in the city’s treasury.”

You can check to see if some of the unclaimed $60,000 belongs to you at the city’s Unclaimed Property list on the website You can explain later how you forgot the city owes you money.

“Each claim form must include a valid signature and valid mailing address in order to be processed,” according to a press release. “Claim forms must be received by December 30, 2013.”

Alan Burke can be reached at