SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

February 11, 2014

Our view: Walsh’s remarks were way off base

School Committee member Brendan Walsh certainly made a statement at last week’s meeting.

Unfortunately, his “statement” — calling the Salem Education Foundation a “political action committee” and its leaders “elitist snobs” — says more about Walsh’s own character and personality than it does about the people he tried so hard to disparage.

In fact, it was an embarrassment to the Salem School Committee, an uncalled-for insult to school volunteers who have done so much for this city’s children and, quite frankly, a mean-spirited and childish rant from someone who should know better.

What’s so baffling is what sparked it — a perfectly innocuous remark made by a foundation member, who prefaced her presentation about a new program to buy books for Salem teachers with a polite welcome to the two new members of the board.

“I think this is your first official School Committee meeting,” Alexa Ogno said, “so congratulations and welcome to help leading the schools.”

That was it. That was what “appalled” Walsh and prompted his angry retort.

Clearly, this is a man who is still resentful that he came in second, not first, in the School Committee election last fall, and angry that two of his former colleagues were replaced in that election. Apparently, he takes it personally.

Because somehow he twisted that polite remark in his own mind and interpreted it as some kind of a taunt about the election. A week later, in a written statement he read aloud, he accused the foundation of coming to the meeting not to introduce their new book-buying program, but “to congratulate two of my colleagues on their success in last November’s election and to express the foundation’s delight in their presence on this committee.”

And he didn’t stop there, going on to the accuse the foundation of being a “political action committee.”

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