SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

May 2, 2014

Benton: A pension is what light commissioners want

So members of the Peabody Electric Light Commission want a raise? That’s in addition to the $4,000 they already receive annually for serving on the board along with the generous health benefits that go with the part-time position.

Make no mistake: This is all about receiving a guaranteed pension for life, just like the School Committee got when its members’ compensation exceeded the $5,000 threshold recently.

Years ago, in arguing for special legislation that would have made library trustees eligible for taxpayer-funded pensions, the late Joyce Spiliotis suggested the move wouldn’t cost anyone anything. Not true. It’s either your taxes or, in this case, your electric rates, that will subsidize this largess.

City councilors were right to cast a skeptical eye on the commissioners’ request. Serving on the utility board is supposed to be an act of public service, not self-service.

Isn’t this mayor’s job?

Mayor Ted Bettencourt has garnered a fair amount of praise, including kudos from this newspaper’s editorial board, for his decision to solicit public input on the selection of a new police chief in Peabody. A forum will be held next Tuesday (6 p.m., City Hall), to solicit comments which the mayor says “will carry a great deal of weight” in his choice of a permanent replacement for retired chief Robert Champagne.

Sorry, but this observer always thought choosing a new chief and other department heads was the mayor’s responsibility. Otherwise, why not have the candidates parade before the local cable channel’s cameras and urge residents to make their preference known in an “American Idol”-style competition?

An ideal pairing?

A new ABC News-Washington Post poll shows President Barack Obama dragging down Democratic congressional candidates nationwide. Wonder whether U.S. Rep. John Tierney, D-Salem, has asked him to come to the North Shore to campaign on his behalf.

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