To the editor:
There are so many things wrong with Nelson Benton’s column from Dec. 28 that I’m not sure where to begin. His fantastic musings about a “cabal” that continues to make life difficult for Mayor Kim Driscoll — and the alleged “obstructionist tactics” of Steve Pinto certainly merit a response.
Perhaps Mr. Benton, not being from Salem, is unfamiliar with the city charter approved by Salem’s voters. The charter establishes a Plan B city government, as defined by Massachusetts law, with the executive and legislative branches (the mayor and the council respectively) as separate and equal branches of government.
In a Plan B city government, the city council serves an important role in evaluating and either approving or denying the mayor’s proposals. As a city councilor, Mr. Pinto performed his duties by looking at each proposal and considering it on its merits, rather than simply either rubber-stamping it or blindly vetoing it. Like most city councilors, he voted for most of Mayor Driscoll’s proposals, believing that each was in the best interests of the residents he served. On some occasions, he voted “no,” as was his duty if he felt he could not support an initiative because it was not in the city’s best interests. This was hardly “obstructionist” or creating “unnecessary discord” — this was doing the job he was elected to do.
Mr. Benton, besides unnecessarily criticizing Mr. Pinto, also did a disservice to those individuals he chose to support for the vacant seat. By criticizing Mr. Pinto for not blindly supporting each and every mayoral suggestion, Mr. Benton creates an unfair implication that Darek Barcikowski (who chose to not put his name up for consideration) or Lucy Corchado would be an automatic vote in favor of Mayor Driscoll’s initiatives. Mr. Benton’s support for their candidacies was unfortunate, as Mr. Barcikowski is an intelligent young businessman who merits strong consideration from voters if he decides to run in November and Ms. Corchado ably served her constituents when she was on the council. Both seem to have too much integrity to seek to obtain a council seat by publicly attacking Mr. Pinto as Mr. Benton has chosen to do, ostensibly on their behalf.
The 10 councilors who will vote on the vacancy on Jan. 3 are going to choose the individual they feel can ably serve with them for the year left in Councilor Lovely’s term. It is my hope that none will be swayed by the irrelevant opinions of a retired newspaperman in Arizona and instead will vote for the most qualified candidate.
James R. Willis Jr.