, Salem, MA

September 13, 2013

Our view: Cheers, jeers for local newsmakers

The Salem News

---- — CHEERS to the large crowd of parents and other city residents who filled the gymnasium of the Boys & Girls Club on a sweltering Tuesday evening to hear from candidates for the Salem School Committee.

The full house was a good sign. There is important work to be done over the next few years in the Salem schools, which are deep into their Accelerated Improvement Plan, the turnaround plan put into place after the state designated Salem a low-performing, Level 4 district in 2011.

Salem has been given three years to turn around student performance on the state MCAS exam and to improve in other areas, and the next iteration of the School Committee will play a key role in those efforts.

Fortunately, there is an exceptionally deep field of candidates this year, including incumbents Janet Crane, Lisa Lavoie and Brendan Walsh and challengers Katie Casiglia, Rachel Hunt, Rick Johnson and Patrick Schultz. Cheers to them, too, for stepping up at a difficult time.

Tuesday night’s event, put on by the Salem Education Foundation, did a fine job of drawing out candidates’ views on everything from standardized testing and communication with parents to after-school programming and bus routes.

If you missed The Salem News coverage of the event, there’s still time to review it before next Tuesday’s preliminary election, which will narrow the field to six candidates (there are also runoff elections for mayor and wards 4 and 6 on the ballot). You can also watch the forum in its entirety tonight at 7 on Salem’s cable access television. Then vote Tuesday.

CHEERS to the Marblehead Harbors and Waters Board for finding a compromise to allow fishing to resume from town docks.

Earlier this summer the docks were swamped (nearly literally) with fishermen looking to take advantage of a historic squid run. Debates about out-of-town vs. Header anglers aside, it was clear there were too many people in too small of a space, especially at the Commercial Street pier. The board had little choice but to enact a temporary ban.

Earlier this week, the ban was lifted and replaced with a fairly straightforward set of rules limiting the number of people who can fish from the docks and floats at any one time. The board also banned portable generators (used to light the area at night, to the consternation of the neighborhood) and posted a clear set of rules at Commercial Street.

It seems like a reasonable plan to us.

JEERS to whoever at the Massachusetts Port Authority decided to hold firefighting exercises at Logan Airport Wednesday, the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Those attacks, of course, involved flights that originated from Logan, and the sense of pain and loss is still keenly felt here. So to hold training — which involves burning a metal container that looks like a plane fuselage — on the anniversary attacks was insensitive at worst, unthinking at best. At least the Port Authority had the good sense to apologize.

“It’s just dumb,” Gov. Deval Patrick told reporters Wednesday. “I mean the timing could not be worse.”

We agree.

CHEERS, meanwhile, to the Danvers police and firefighters and Beverly police officers who crossed the Boston Marathon finish line Wednesday as part of Sean’s Ride, a bike trek in memory of Sean Collier, the MIT police officer killed during the hunt for the marathon bombers.

Collier, of course, was a well-liked Salem State University graduate who also worked for a time as a security guard at the Liberty Tree Mall and as a Somerville auxiliary officer.

The ride was the final leg of the Tour de Force, the annual Sept. 11 memorial ride benefitting families of police killed in the line of duty. Each rider raised a minimum of $250 for the Tour de Force Fund.

In talking to reporter Paul Leighton earlier this summer, Danvers police officer Kevin Wood said, “We all know in the back of our minds that there’s a danger that in our line of work sometimes guys go to work and just don’t come home. We want to celebrate Sean’s life and take care of others who have lost someone in this fashion.”

Mission accomplished.