, Salem, MA

February 7, 2013

Heard Around Peabody: Watch out for the black and tans

By Alan Burke
Staff writer

---- — PEABODY — Not one to be left high and dry during the wettest holiday on the calendar, City Council President Tom Gould has announced Peabody’s first annual St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast and Roast, set for Saturday, March 16, at the Wiggin Auditorium in City Hall. Presumably it won’t be the corned beef that’s roasted, but the city’s politicians.

In a wrinkle that separates his event from others, Gould won’t be collecting for any campaign war chest; the profits from the $30 entry fees will make their way to Haven From Hunger.

Mayor Ted Bettencourt, whose roots go deep enough to reach both Ireland and Portugal, is on board. And another longtime Peabody politician will be heard from, School Committeeman Dave McGeney, who has been singing Irish songs with partner Peter Moore for 30 years.

“We sing everything,” says McGeney, “from the ballads that make you want to cry to the rebel songs that make you want to stand up and break a chair.” (And doesn’t that bring back past School Committee meetings.) He credits Gould with coming up with the idea. Perhaps there’ll be some green ice cream.

Free parking for freedom fighters?

Of course, when it comes to the United States military, they’re all our freedom fighters. And Peabody veteran Daniel Heafey thinks they ought to be able to park for free. In fact, he sent the City Council a letter outlining his belief that veterans should not have to pay at city parking meters.

Noting the sacrifices made by those in the armed forces, he calls his proposal Operation Eternal Gratitude.

A postal employee now, Heafey explained that he is a veteran of the Cold War, having served in the U. S. Army from 1974 to 1978. “My proposal is this,” he wrote to the council. “Any motor vehicle (from any state) displaying any variety/type of a veteran’s license plate be allowed to park at any city parking meter free of charge.”

The idea came to him, Heafey said, after he was parked at a meter and the time expired before he could return to feed in more nickels. A ticket resulted. He thinks the idea would serve in two ways. It would be good for those who have borne the battle, particularly those who are disabled, Purple Heart winners, Gold Star families and former prisoners of war. It would also give the city good public relations.

“It’s really not too much to ask,” he wrote, “small pocket change for years of training and service.”

Because we said so

Much of government spending comes courtesy of mandates from both Boston and Washington. At a recent City Council meeting Dave Gamache reached his breaking point after Mayor Bettencourt called for $1 million in improvements to the city’s water treatment plant.

It’s a federal mandate, the mayor explained.

“We can’t afford these mandates anymore,” Gamache said. “When I hear the word mandate, it’s Big Brother.” Others make the demands, he complained, but never kick in any money. The localities are expected to pay for them instead.

“When I was on the school board, Dave,” replied collegue Jim Liacos, “it was worse. Everything came down and none of it was funded.”

State Auditor Suzanne Bump recently released a survey showing the cost of unfunded mandates statewide at $11 million.

Gamache urged contacting the city’s delegates on Beacon Hill and in Washington to complain.

Bye-bye senator

Long time John Kerry backer Mike Schulze had a front row seat as the U.S. senator made a farewell to his constituents at a Faneuil Hall rally last Thursday. Kerry is moving on to a job as the nation’s secretary of state.

“There was a group of us there known as the Kerry Alumni,” said Schulze, who has backed his fellow Vietnam vet throughout his political career. “He acknowledged us from the stage.”

Also present from the North Shore, said Schulze, were Wayne Burton, Peg Harrington, his son Josh Schulze and Congressman John Tierney. “His seat was as good as mine,” Schulze said of the newly re-elected Tierney. “I was pretty close.”

Schulze added that he was wrong on a previous pronouncement made to The Salem News. After conferring with School Committee member Jarrod Hochman — who doubles as chairman of the Republican City Committee — Schulze conceded that the GOP committee is properly constituted.

He still thinks his Democratic committee is not legally organized.