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July 19, 2013

Heard Around Town: Round one: Salem City Council v. School Committee

SALEM — When they handed the Welcome Wagon basket to new — or relatively new — City Councilor Josh Turiel, they must have forgotten to include the brochure, “Emily Post’s Etiquette for Elected Officials.”

Despite a long tradition in this city of elected officials ripping into other elected officials only in private moments, like when sitting on a bar stool at Bertini’s, Turiel had the temerity — or maybe honesty and gumption — to lash out at the School Committee at Monday night’s televised public meeting on the extended-year program at the Saltonstall School.

Now, granted, the Ward 5 councilor is a Saltonstall parent, so maybe he was wearing his dad’s hat rather than his council cap, but he fired away nonetheless.

Here’s some of what he said:

He pointed out that the low test scores at city schools have “happened on the watch of our School Committee.”

He called the demographic imbalance in the schools, in part, “a failure of the school department to do its job, and a failure of the School Committee to lead.”

He called the school board’s continued focus on Saltonstall’s 190-day schedule, rather than larger problems facing the system, a “failure of the highest order.”

Ouch.

Loose change

Mayor Kim Driscoll took a little heat last week for the city’s latest technological advancement — ground sensors that wipe out extra time on smart meters as soon as a car pulls out of a parking space.

Some called it “nickel and diming” the public.

Our crack investigative team found a memo on the floor of the mayor’s office with other money-making ideas that she, to her everlasting credit, rejected.

Sidewalks that tilt up late at night to catch the change that falls from tourists’ pockets.

An ordinance fining psychics every time they make a wrong prediction.

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