, Salem, MA

October 22, 2012

Heard Around Town: Is Peabody still Brown territory?

By Alan Burke Staff writer
The Salem News

---- — PEABODY — It was Alice Roosevelt Longworth, daughter of Teddy, who said, “If you can’t say something good about someone, sit right here by me.”

Most people don’t feel that way, however — at least they say they don’t — and they grow weary of the political ads that can’t find enough bad things to say about our leaders.

Democrat Mike Schulze thinks the negative tone of U.S. Sen. Scott Brown’s campaign has boomeranged on him.

His sense, from talking to Peabody residents, is that Brown will lose this city, despite the success he enjoyed here in the 2010 special election, winning nearly 60 percent of the vote against Martha Coakley.

“If you’d asked me a month ago, I’d say Brown was going take Peabody,” Schulze says.

But positions are changing in the face of ads attacking challenger Elizabeth Warren regarding her claim of Cherokee heritage and her legal work on behalf of insurance companies.

“People are angry about it,” Schulze says of the attacks. He expects Warren would take the city today.

Schulze’s colleague on the Community Preservation Commission, Bill Power, is skeptical, however. An independent, Power replies, “I’d say it’s pretty negative on both sides.” For example, Brown has been attacked for taking campaign contributions “from Wall Street.”

“It’s negative in this race and all over the country,” Power says. “It’s regrettable, and it’s not new.”

Power believes Brown remains strong in Peabody.

“I hear people lamenting that it’s gotten so negative. But I don’t think it’s changed anyone’s view.”

Musical chairs?

School Committeewoman Brandi Carpenter paid a recent visit to the City Council, invited by subcommittee chairwoman Anne Manning-Martin to discuss the proposed ordinance banning registered sex offenders from playgrounds. While Manning-Martin chaired the meeting, Carpenter took a seat at her desk.

That prompted Councilor Dave Gravel to remark playfully, “Brandi, you look good in that seat.”

All but one of the five at-large councilors (Tom Gould) made the move from the School Committee to the council, including Jim Liacos, Mike Garabedian, Manning-Martin and Gravel.

Ward Councilor Barry Osborne ran for the school board, but lost, only to see that particular committee descend into chaos involving then-Mayor Peter Torigian and then-Superintendent Lou Perullo.

“I prayed and I prayed I’d win,” Osborne recalls. But when he saw what the board did without him, there came a revelation: “Maybe he does answer your prayers.”