SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

December 17, 2012

Giving Bettencourt the business, er, liaison

By Alan Burke
Staff writer

---- — PEABODY — Almost every idea can be improved.

So when Mayor Ted Bettencourt asked the City Council to allow the new position of business liaison, member Mike Garabedian offered some suggestions.

First, he urged that the new person be bilingual, speaking both Portuguese and Brazilian, which he allowed are basically the same. “Make sure they can speak two different languages,” he joked. “Especially English.”

“He never lets me down,” commented colleague Barry Osborne.

While making his appeal for a business liaison, Bettencourt was visibly holding his breath when City Councilor Anne Manning-Martin showered him with praise. It was a great idea, she said. And things were popping in Peabody, she added: it’s “something you feel just walking into City Hall. However ...”

“I thought there might be a however,” Bettencourt replied.

Manning-Martin said she believes the new business liaison is likely to be unguided, answering to no one. Other that that, she urged the mayor to continue on the path he is on.

“You’re bringing about that change,” she said. “Great year.”

Bettencourt thanked her for the kind words. However, he added that the new post would be under the supervision of the community development director.

Protecting Hillside Protection

Hillside Protection was a bylaw passed by the city and then, apparently, rescinded. But no one can say exactly when or where or how.

It had been designed to protect the sort of hilly areas in South Peabody now being transformed into the 100 homes-plus Boulderwood development.

Community Development director Karen Sawyer told the council’s legal affairs subcommittee last week that following investigation, she learned that hillside protection was eliminated on the advice of former city solicitor John Christopher, because it constituted “a taking without compensation.”

“Did we take a vote to eliminate it?” asked member Arthur Athas.

No one could remember. Chairwoman Anne Manning-Martin promised an investigation of the minutes.

A tradition of running

The state champion girls cross country team from Peabody High School was honored Thursday in a gathering at Wiggin Auditorium in City Hall. Mayor Ted Bettencourt and most of the City Council attended. Road signs were unveiled calling attention to the girls’ achievement.

“The Girls Cross Country team performed at an exceptional level all season,” said the mayor. He praised their teamwork and commitment to excellence.