SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

August 23, 2013

Benton: It doesn't matter that it's a dry heat

Nelson Benton
The Salem News

---- — Dry or not, 110 degrees is just plain hot. Wouldn’t mind having a lobster roll out on the deck at Victoria Station while enjoying the cool breeze blowing off Salem Harbor about now.

On the other hand, the list of cities most vulnerable to rising sea levels doesn’t include Peoria, Ariz.

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Scott Brown for president?

Some might think it outlandish. But in these days of instant celebrity, nothing is out of the realm of possibility for would-be reality TV stars or presidents.

There had been speculation that Brown might run for governor in 2014. But given the fact that they did not want to run against each other for the Republican nomination, perhaps it was Swampscott’s Charlie Baker who convinced the former U.S. senator that he was aiming too low and should seek the White House instead.

Might have been the former Harvard Health CEO’s greatest sales job ever.

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Sacrifice is often required of those who seek public office.

It was no secret that Gardner Trask’s wife worked for the Danvers School Department when he first ran and was elected to the board in 2006. But now that his daughter has taken a job in the schools as well, he says he will no longer vote on the department’s budget, which constitutes 51 percent of town spending.

That’s not fair to Trask’s constituents. And the fact of the matter is that regardless of his daughter’s qualifications, some will not be persuaded that her political connections didn’t have something to do with her getting the job.

It’s many a young person’s dream, having attained a degree in education, to work in their hometown school system. But in this case it’s created at least the appearance of a conflict of interest that should prompt Trask to question whether he ought to continue as a member of the town’s chief governing board.

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Local Democratic activist and former Salem City Council candidate Darek Barckowski just can’t help himself. Having worked to bring out the Polish-American vote for President Barack Obama in 2012 and on Ed Markey’s U.S. Senate campaign earlier this month, he’s now spending a lot of his time in Boston managing Bill Walczak’s effort to become mayor of that city.

While he’s considered a long shot, Walczak has impressed with a platform that’s focused on creating jobs and improving the quality of life in Boston. One idea: Rejecting plans for a casino at Suffolk Downs and building an “East Boston Innovation District” on the site of the aging track.

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He got Bill Cummings to spend millions transforming the derelict former Shoe plant into a modern research park, and built a new high school. But Beverly Mayor Bill Scanlon appears intent on adding to his legacy in the months before he leaves by hiring a new police chief and getting the ball rolling on a new Brimbal Avenue interchange.

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Someone who ought to have real concerns about his legacy is President Obama.

Despite many positive signs, the economy is still having trouble gaining traction; and our foreign policy appears as muddled as at anytime in recent history. Yet the GOP offers only nasty noise rather than concrete alternatives.

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Datebook: U.S. Rep. John Tierney, D-Salem, will join former speaker and current House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi at the North Shore Community College facility at Beverly’s Cumming Center this morning to discuss their “Economic Agenda for Women and Families.” … the Salem Education Foundation will host a forum for all school board candidates on Tuesday, Sept. 10, at 7 p.m. at the Boys & Girls Club.