, Salem, MA

January 23, 2014

Leah on the money

By Alan Burke
Staff Writer

---- — PEABODY — Peabody’s Republican state Rep. Leah Cole’s first run for office in a special election last spring was financed primarily by people and groups outside the city. As we move into the 2014 election year, a majority of her donations continue to come from outside of Peabody, but she has increasing support from within the city. In filings with the secretary of state, Cole lists 24 Peabody donors out of 58 in total.

The largest donation, $500, comes from Lexington resident James Green, who is also chief operating officer of Peabody-based Analogic Corporation. Second place at $200 goes to Joel Solimine of Lynn’s Solimine Funeral Home, who has personal ties to the Cole family.

Also included on her list are familiar Peabody names like GOP activist John McCarthy ($25), Licensing Board Chairman Minas Dakos ($25), former school board member Suzanne Borin ($100) and former library trustee Margaret Tierney ($20), a cousin to Congressman John Tierney, a Salem Democrat.

Cole reported a balance of $2,899 in cash on hand at the end of 2013. She has said it’s likely she will run for re-election. Also expressing an interest in the job has been City Councilor Barry Osborne and, according to media reports, school board member Beverley Griffin Dunne, who ran in last year’s special election.


Cole was mistaken when she told the News she was the youngest member of the House on Beacon Hill. We know this because Rep. Jonathan Zlotnik, D-Gardner, promptly called the News Tuesday to declare, “I am the youngest member of the House.”

Zlotnik is 23, Cole 25.

“I’m assuming it was just a mistake,” he said, “because she came in after me.” Zlotnik got his job in 2012, shortly after graduation from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. (And your kid is still at McDonald’s.) He did confirm Cole’s remarks regarding a “youth caucus” for lawmakers.

“There are about 15 of us (under 30) who would be in the youth caucus,” he said.

Suspected in the Old Dominion

His Peabody roots were a point of pride when Republican Bob McDonnell was elected governor of Virginia in 2011, notwithstanding that he left here at age 1. On the other hand, the family returned regularly. Today, however, the former governor sits indicted on charges he took gifts, vacations and loans illegally. Of course, he’s innocent until proven guilty, but does McDonnell’s trouble reflect on the Leather City?

Former Mayor Mike Bonfanti downplays the connection.

“We’ve had great Peabody people who left the area and did well.” George Peabody himself came readily to the mayor’s mind. “We’ve also had our own who get in trouble.” And they managed to do it without leaving the city, the mayor said, before adding, “Not that I’ll mention any names.”

Irish morn

City officials and politicians will walk the fine line between humorously “roasting” one another and making a career-ending gaffe as they celebrate the Irish at the second annual St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast and Roast on Saturday, March 15, from 9 to 11 a.m. at Wiggin Auditorium. Still, you probably can’t get into that much trouble before noon in a city building.

Mayor Ted Bettencourt announced the event, adding that it will cost $30 per person, with the money to go to Haven from Hunger. Irish tunes will be provided by McGeney and Moore. (Peter Moore and school board member Dave McGeney). The event climaxes with the appearance of the Irish Person of the Year. What qualifies one as the Irish Person of the Year?

Well, said host Tom Gould, the winner won’t actually have to be Irish, except in the sense that he or she wear some green.

“It will be someone who has done some good for the community,” he said.

Those interested in attending should send a check to St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast, City Hall, 24 Lowell St., Peabody, MA 01960 no later than March 4.

Alan Burke can be reached at