Monday, March 14, 2011

Salem News gets it right ... almost

I've found plenty to disagree with in the Salem News, but today they got one close to right. Go read today's editorial, Council's not-so-fab four making Salem look foolish. Also make sure to catch the comment by Mike Blatty.

I agree with most of this editorial. However, I think that Mr. Blatty is also correct. I don't buy that councilors voted the way they did "primarily to make mischief." I believe that Sosnowski, for sure, has Salem's best interests at heart. I just think he's wrong frequently about what is in Salem's best interest. For now, I feel the same way about Ronan. I have no reason not to, and give him the benefit of the doubt.

As for Prevey and Pinto, I'm less sure of their motives. Let's look at each of them individually.

Prevey's actions regarding the purchasing agent are certainly suspect. The role of council is to confirm the appointment of the mayor, making sure that they are qualified. That's it. They aren't supposed to be vetting non-appointed candidates, interviewing candidates, or picking one of their own. Deciding whether or not the mayor's choice is qualified can be done by reviewing the qualification of the candidate for confirmation alone. The mayor has the right to choose the person the mayor is most comfortable with, as long as they are qualified for the job. Additionally, if Councilor Prevey truly wanted to see the other applications, he could have visited the city's Human Resources office to do so. I can only conclude that what he really wanted to do was make a ruckus, and a name, with a power-play where his power was really limited. I very much wonder if Prevey fancies himself as future mayor, and uses things like this to get his name out there, and position himself as the anti-Driscoll candidate. I hope I'm wrong.

I've documented much of Pinto's strangeness in the last week. Voting present, with no explanation, on the purchasing position was strike 1. His simply strange quest to make it easier for himself to obtain a taxpayer funded job was strike 2. His creating a dysfunctional relationship between the mayor and city council, and wasting taxpayer money with this annex issue, after stating that he was running for council because he was sick of his annual tax increase, is strike 3. His motive? I don't really know. He pretty much always refuses to explain why he's thinking what he's thinking.

One other issue I take with the News editorial is that if, as alleged, some of these councilors negotiated with another landlord, off to the side, they would not be merely unethical actions, as the News states, but would actually go beyond that and border on the illegal. The RFP process is in place in government to avoid exactly the impression of favoritism or back room dealing, as could be the case there.

I'm just deathly afraid that a faction on this council is dead-set on making our downtown just like Peabody's. Plenty of parking, because nobody wants to be there.

Interesting footnote: Op-ed editor Nelson Benton tweeted the following: "Fallout from Driscoll snub: Furey wants to rescind rule that let single member (Pinto) stop mayor from addressing council."

Here, here!

I noticed watching this meeting that several of the councilors seemed really appalled and disgusted with Pinto's actions. Why couldn't he just let her speak for a few minutes, and then ignore her and vote the way he was going to? How about a little decorum and respect?


Here's a completely unrelated "fun" fact. The Pilgrim Power Plant in Plymouth is set up identically to the first reactor that failed at Fukushima Daiichi. Same GE reactor, same cooling and containment system that failed. It was built in 1974, and is older than me.


  1. Dear Klassy Kat:
    There is an ancient Salem tradition, apparently, of suspecting any councillor who disagrees strongly with the incumbent mayor at any point of secretly wanting his or her job. You follow in this tried and true tradition when you accuse Councillor Prevey of the same secret ambition. From my own experience of Mr. Prevey I don't believe it for an instant. Here is an intelligent, thoughtful and hard-working man and city councillor who takes his job very seriously and does not feel comfortable rubber-stamping anything. Mr. Benton, on his editorial pages, has been misrepresenting and maligning Mr. Prevey ever since the day that he hesitated to cast the deciding vote in favor of the mayor's St. Joe's project. Prior to Mr. Prevey, Councilor Furey was Mr. Benton's whipping boy. Before Mr. Furey, it was Lenny O'Leary. I haven't been around long enough to know who was Mr. Benton's favorite target before Lenny was. Someone Mr. Benton strongly disagreed with on something, without doubt. Mr. Benton's editorial opinions are an open joke in the city of Salem. The only person who takes them seriously and who thinks anyone cares what he thinks about the local political scene is Mr. Benton himself. He is a legend, as they say, in his own mind.
    As for Mr. Pinto not sharing all of this thoughts with you or anyone else, I suspect one can chalk that up to the man's personal style. Not everyone is as open or talkative as some of us are. There is much to be said about that point of view! You are wrong, dead wrong in my opinion, to suspect Mr. Pinto or Mr. Prevey of opposing the mayor on some of these issues for opposition's sake. They happen to disagreee with Mayor Driscoll on these matters, and perhaps (I am merely guessing here) do not care for the manner in which she often attempts to force her own opinions down their throats as though she knows so much better than they do. I know that her manner would stick in my craw as well.
    Keep us the good work, G, and hope this little tempest in a teapot has brought at least one or two more readers/posters to your site. It's hard work, i know, but someone's got to do it!
    Mike Blatty (not anonymous)

  2. MB,

    I'm not suggesting that Prevey should rubberstamp anything for the mayor. It's quite clear what city council's job was in the purchasing confirmation. Their only duty was to determine whether or not the mayor's appointment was qualified for the position. That's what he should have done. The responsibilities are set in stone. The mayor chooses his or her preferred candidate, and the council decides whether the chosen candidate is qualified, or not qualified. Prevey, by his own admission, never did that. He stated himself that he couldn't vote for him because the mayor only made the private candidate applications available in the city's Human Resources office, rather than delivering them directly to him. That's not deciding the qualifications of the (fully certified purchasing agent) applicant. Unlike Prevey, Councilor Lovely went to HR, and reviewed the applications. She then voted to confirm Watkins. She also called Prevey's actions "disgusting." Prevey's act here, along with his holding up the process was pure petulance. In the 5 and a half month delay he caused he never even interviewed the candidate before him for confirmation.

    There were very good reasons not to make copies and hand out the applications. Imagine you applied for the position, and because the mayor started distributing the applications around, your current employer found out you were applying for jobs. They then fired you. Could you sue the city? Probably not successfully, but you could cost them some money defending it.

    With the current situation, I have to strongly doubt the intelligence of the councilors who have no problem wasting the property taxes of ten plus homeowners. That's all they accomplished here. Well, that and not getting new carpets and upgraded HVAC provided by the landlords.

    When the mayor says, let's pay $340,000 in rent, and a minority of councilors say, "No, let's pay $392,000," I don't know how anyone applauds them for "standing up to the mayor." They do so at the expense of the taxpayers. I take that personally.

    As for Benton, I frequently disagree with him, (I disagree with the mayor a fair amount too) but he's right that if this dysfunction continues it will push us closer to being Peabody. I don't want to live there.

  3. I'd also say that, as a councilor, you have a responsibility to explain your votes to the voters.

  4. Disgusting is a very strong word and should not have been used by Councillor Lovely in discussing the decision of her co-councillor, in my opinion. I think you use it too readily, too.
    Many of these matters are a direct result of the manner in which the mayor approaches members of the city council. No one wants to be treated as though their opinion is considered unimportant or less informed than is the mayor's. She has brought the majority of these disputes upon herself by her superior and arrogant manner, in my opinion.
    Beyond this, I think it would have been a mistake for the city to sign on with RCG for a longer period of time than we did. I think a better deal will present itself within the year.
    Have a good night!

  5. P.S. No doubt the mayor would have been less hysterical in the council chambers had she not assured the RCG people that their lease with the city was a done deal. Made her look smaller than she wishes to be perceived.

  6. So, I'm confused. Previously you said they just disagreed with her, no harm, no foul. Now you're saying it's personal. There's no place for that.

    Which is it?

    You're starting to sound like Northern_Lynn. RCG, RCG, RCG. Remember, Stan moved us into the Annex, not Kim.

    I hope you're right about a better deal presenting itself in a year, from the city's perspective. From a macroeconomic perspective, I hope to God you're wrong. On the plus side, the 10 Federal people have a much better idea of what number they need to beat.


Don't forget, keep it klassy!