, Salem, MA


February 15, 2013

Benton: President overshadowed


He continues, regarding recent allegations of welfare fraud, “(it is) us taxpayers who not only funded the fraud but are now paying state employees overtime to straighten it out — because they couldn’t get it right the first time, too.”


Lobbying via text message?

Apparently, it’s being done. I know for a fact that during the recent debate over filling a vacancy on the Salem City Council, at least one councilor received messages on his cellphone urging him to change his position; and it’s hard to imagine others weren’t being similarly cajoled. It’s easy enough to do; all you need is your representative’s cellphone number. He or she merely glances at the phone — a common practice these days — and the message is conveyed without a spoken word exchanged.

Some might view this as a convenient way for constituents to express their opinions in real time as deliberations are under way. Except that not everyone has access to those numbers.

Representatives at the local, state and federal level usually provide contact numbers constituents may use to keep in touch. But cellphone numbers are often kept private, for use by family, staff and close friends only.

It gives those friends with a cause to promote or an ax to grind an unfair advantage. Want to know how much your councilor or congressman really values your opinion? Ask him or her to exchange cellphone numbers with you.


Nelson Benton spent 40 years covering politics on the North Shore before retiring from The Salem News. Contact him at

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