SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

December 12, 2013

It’s true: Peabody mayor going full Red Sox

By Alan Burke
Staff Writer

---- — PEABODY — Mayoral aide Chris Ryder is confirming that, yes, Mayor Ted Bettencourt is growing a beard.

So far it’s just a work in progress. Ryder was hard-pressed to name a previous Peabody mayor — or a mayor anywhere — with a beard. Which makes the mayor a trailblazer.

Well, it worked for Jonny Gomes.

Trunk lines

In the long debate that preceded the denial of a special permit to developers hoping to turn a building at 98 Main St. into a 10-unit apartment complex, City Council President Tom Gould momentarily misspoke. “We’re going to hear from Attorney Manning Martin,” he said, signalling Councilor Anne Manning Martin.

Manning Martin isn’t a lawyer, but she looked delighted to be mistaken for one. “That’s all right,” she joked. “I practice law out of the trunk of my car.”

Which inspired a lawyer in the room to nod, “So do I.”

If I had a million ...

The developers had pledged to spend $1.1 million renovating 98 Main St. While most praised their past work, even while denying the permit for this project, two councilors suggested they shouldn’t have bothered to show up.

“Why is Mr. Lee here tonight?” demanded Barry Sinewitz. Then he recalled that developers Norman Lee and James Gebo had turned a building a few doors down into housing units, while promising to have a commercial enterprise on the ground floor. “And I said that reminds me of a rooming house.” Three months later, he noted, the commercial space disappeared.

On the other hand, colleague Dave Gamache suggested that the 98 Main St. building is suited only for housing and might remain vacant otherwise. For that matter, he didn’t think a lot of the housing project, either.

“If I had a million bucks,” he said, “I wouldn’t be investing in that building.”

OK, but who goes?

The debate over downtown housing had Councilor Barry Osborne musing on the whole push to revitalize the area. Businesses are needed. But people?

“We are not at a shortage of people downtown,” he said. “It’s my opinion right now we have too many people downtown.”

Minutemen

Councilor Dave Gravel summed up the drivers who park in his downtown lot, uninvited and illegally: “People do what they do. They pull in. ‘I’m only going to be a minute. I’m only going to be a minute. See, I’m not really parking here. Because I’m only going to be a minute.’”

Some minute.

Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk

Everything I learned I learned from watching The Three Stooges.

At least, says lawyer Jack Keilty, Judge Howard Whitehead could have invoked the wooden-headed threesome in deciding that the Licensing Board had erred in punishing his client, Oliveira’s Steakhouse. The judge said the board had improperly summoned the restaurant owner to a hearing without telling him it would concern possible sanctions. Then they changed the hours when Oliveira’s can serve alcohol until, from 1 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The judge struck down that punishment.

Does the judge think the board can have a new hearing? Certainly.

In other words, says Keilty, he was telling them, as Moe would have put it, “Wake up and die right.”