, Salem, MA


April 15, 2014

Letter: Editorials on civil service off base

To the editor:

When is enough just plain enough? The Salem News editorial board continues to get carte blanche defending Salem Mayor Kimberley Driscoll on anything and everything. Most recently, an editorial appeared on April 11 that insisted the mayor was right, the council was wrong, and the chief for fire and police should have been taken from civil service. Why is this still an issue with The Salem News when everyone else has moved on?

On March 12, the day of the City Council meeting to discuss the mayor’s proposal, the editorial board wrote an editorial endorsing the mayor and her attempt to take the chief’s position from both police and fire out of civil service. It stressed that the mayor should be allowed to take the position away, in large part due to the system being “120 years old and has long outlived its usefulness.” Funny thing, the Constitution of the United States is a lot older than that, and we think it is still useful. It mentions no praise whatsoever of the Salem police or fire departments, with their indisputable reputations throughout the North Shore. In essence, it states that the councilors should let the mayor do whatever she wants because she is right.

After a very intense council meeting that night, in which the mayor’s second proposal (the first being discarded because it was a sure defeat) was also defeated by a 10-0 vote, The Salem News continues to demean the decision by the entire council. In a March 21 column (”A good week for Salem mayor”), Nelson Benton, a retired, yet still contributing, columnist, almost threatens that “firefighters and police who last week cowed city councilors (with the exception of Ward 2’s Heather Famico) into backing off on Driscoll’s proposal to take the chief’s jobs out of civil service might want to hold off on their celebrations.” What is he implying with this statement? Is he insinuating that the council, voted in by the citizens of Salem, used a rational, logical and reasonable approach in deciding the issue with a 10-0 decision and were all wrong? We don’t think so. And as far as cowing to the unions, he wasn’t even at the meeting, yet he can make those comments from far away without any firsthand knowledge.

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