SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

November 28, 2013

How to sell schools and influence people

By Alan Burke
Staff Writer

---- — PEABODY — His job is education — not sales. But on Tuesday Dan O’Connell, superintendent of the soon-to-be opened Essex Technical High School, gave a multimedia presentation to the School Committee, selling the progress and the future of the Danvers site with more enthusiasm than Dale Carnegie and Ron Popeil put together.

“Dan,” asked member Beverley Griffin Dunne, tongue in cheek, “are you excited about the project?”

“Can you tell?” he said, laughing.

“Wow,” said School Committeeman Jarrod Hochman after the meeting. “It was bells and whistles, streamers flying. A great presentation.” His major concern is getting more Peabody kids admitted to the regional school.

Plenty to go round?

Downtown. The Mall. Who wants an “over quota” liquor license? Mayor Ted Bettencourt is seeking 10 to be distributed between the Northshore Mall and the downtown. But City Councilor Barry Sinewitz, noting the efforts to rebrand Centennial Park with high-end restaurants a possibility, suggested that a license might go there.

“It’s a shame we’re going to go after these and not allowing somebody in there (Centennial Park) to have one,” Sinewitz said.

Commenting later, state Rep. Ted Speliotis, who helped write the law that provides the over-quota licenses, suggested that while these are site-specific licenses, it might be that a specific site isn’t named until the license is issued. That might make Centennial Park eligible.

An important feature of the process, for the state and for Peabody officials, is that the licenses can’t be sold off for hundreds of thousands of dollars to some big chain seeking a license in a hurry. Some of the nearly 60 licenses the city is presently allowed to have can and have been sold — most recently to Trader Joe’s for $205,000.

These site-specific over-quota licenses ordinarily can not be sold, Speliotis said. Ah, but there is a loophole, he conceded. If a Peabody restaurant gets a license and later decides to sell its business to the International House of Alcohol, the license could go with the building, the payment for the license hidden within the sale price.

My aching back

Expect him to return soon. Newly re-elected City Councilor Mike Garabedian has missed a few meetings as a result of a slipped disk that had him hospitalized for a time.

An old-fashioned Christmas

Christmas isn’t celebrated the way it used to be celebrated. Except at the Peabody Historical Society & Museum, which is mainly about the way things used to be. They’ll have their annual Christmas Open House on Sunday, Dec. 8, from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Nathaniel Felton Jr. House on Felton Street. The house and fire museum will be decorated for the season and ready for tours. And it’s free. For information, call 978-531-0805 or 978-977-0514.

Wisdom

Faced with a tough choice after the chief of police recommended stripping troubled Oliveira’s Steak House of its liquor license, Fred Murtagh of the Licensing Board turned to Deputy Chief Marty Cohan and asked for his recommendation.

“I leave it to the wisdom of the board,” Cohan replied.

“Come again,” Murtagh said.

Colleague Nancy Delaney may have had a firm grasp of the situation when Oliveira’s owner Sebastia Gomes complained that the decision to limit alcohol sales until 10 p.m. could hurt the wedding receptions he’s booked. “The bride and groom want to leave anyway,” she suggested.

New strategy needed

The School Committee is still looking for someone to ride herd over its efforts to create a strategic plan. Former principal Helen Apostolides passed on the job.