SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

April 12, 2013

Benton: Prevey's singing a different tune now

Ward 6 Councilor Paul Prevey wants the mayor to speed up the appointment process for Salem boards and committees. Yet several years ago, he had no problem himself delaying the appointment of a purchasing agent for the city for the better part of a year.

In a May 17, 2010, letter to the editor, Prevey defended his actions, noting, “As an elected councilor, I take seriously the responsibilities that go with my office since I represent the interests of the taxpayers of Salem. As councilors, we often hear complaints from the general public that all too often public officials fail to dig beyond the surface-level information they are spoon-fed.”

That was in response to criticism by this columnist and others over Prevey’s effort to block the appointment of Tom Watkins as purchasing agent. It took from April until September — longer than it required the U.S. Senate to confirm a pending Supreme Court justice’s appointment — for the council to finally approve the mayor’s choice for the position.

Yet now the good councilor is demanding that Mayor Kim Driscoll fill vacancies on various boards and committees within 90 days. Could there be a member or two of Prevey’s fan club, the Mack Park Neighborhood Association, chafing for a position in city government?

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The late Sam Zoll had no such problems with appointments when he occupied the corner office at Salem City Hall.

He would always have someone in mind for the most high-profile positions, even before a vacancy occurred. That way, if someone else approached him about the post, he could let them down gently by saying, “If I’d only known you were interested!”

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Ward 5 Councilor Josh Turiel’s effort to bring the Salem City Council into the 21st century, by equipping members with iPads, apparently has members of the Luddite faction on that body abuzz.

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