SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

July 11, 2013

Heard Around Town: Speaking in a different language in Peabody

By Alan Burke
Staff writer

---- — PEABODY — It wasn’t on the agenda at last Tuesday’s School Committee meeting, but the status of Peabody High’s German program led to a sometimes contentious debate — a debate inspired by the fact it wasn’t on the agenda.

Member Tom Rossignoll started the discussion asking Superintendent Joe Mastrocola if changes were coming to the German program. He noted that such questions are being asked by parents and students.

Mastrocola answered flatly that no changes are contemplated.

Member Beverley Griffin Dunne noted that she had asked to have the issue of the German program put on the agenda and had gotten no word back. She stressed the importance of having certain matters on the agenda, given the restrictions of the state’s open meeting law. “We as members are not allowed to discuss these things unless we are at a meeting,” she said.

“The decision was made by me not to put it on the agenda,” said Mayor Ted Bettencourt. “I stand by that decision.” He explained that because there is no change in the German program, he saw no need to put it on the agenda. “German is being continued. And I didn’t think it was necessary to have a meeting on that topic.”

He said it’s the first time he declined to put something on the agenda.

“It ended up on the agenda anyway,” said member Brandi Carpenter.

“What else would you like us not to discuss?” asked colleague Dave McGeney.

Smiling and sighing, Bettencourt recalled his prior post in concluding, “I miss the City Council.”

Zoned out

There won’t be a neighborhood meeting on rezoning the Pulaski Street industrial area, or at least not in the near future. Nor will city boards take up the proposal, which was designed to split the park in half, with one section zoned for commercial use and the other for business. The proposal inspired some fierce opposition from the businesses located within and some concerns from surrounding residents.

The decision to delay action, says Bettencourt, came after consultation with residents including Lola Busta and former City Councilor (now a candidate once again) Bill Toomey.

Deputy steps down

Deputy Fire Chief Eric Harrison has submitted his resignation, according to Bettencourt. He declined to give any details. Previously, Harrison was named in an anti-discrimination lawsuit filed against the city by his predecessor, former Deputy Chief Paul Lynch, who accused him of harassment, insubordination and even “personal cruelty.”

Buttner honored

Theodore Buttner’s World War II heroism has been honored as a square in Somerville was dedicated in his name last Saturday. The father of Peabody resident Patty Caton, Buttner was killed Jan. 27 when he was hit by a car while crossing Lowell Street in front of St. Adelaide’s Church.

The city is currently studying ways to prevent accidents at the church, a stretch of road that draws both pedestrians and speeders. A Somerville resident, Buttner often attended St. Adelaide’s. His daughter and her family are longtime Peabody residents.

Peabody singer Stephanie McCarthy sang the national anthem during the dedication and Caton read the Pledge of Allegiance. Somerville officials were among the 75 people who attended. Buttner served in the Navy in the Pacific Theater where he was an aerial gunner and a photographer responsible for documenting the effectiveness of bombings.