Friday, May 13, 2011

Down goes O'Keefe (City council 5/12/11)

A few weeks ago I wrote about councilor O'Keefe getting caught on mic dissing the Salem News before a city council meeting. This week, during the meeting, O'Keefe was the victim of the dissing. Councilor Pelletier, perhaps miffed that a few minutes earlier he had been forced to stand and repeat himself by O'Keefe as president, was heard muttering "Yeah, get him off of there" when O'Keefe asked council president Jerry Ryan if he wanted to retake the presidency. Check out the video for yourself. You can both see and hear Pelletier deliver the dis.

Guys, your mics are on!

Otherwise, this was a fairly boring council meeting. The highlights? Councilor Sosnowski telling one of the utilities that they can bury a conduit on Bridge Street, but if they don't do it before the final paving they'll do it over his dead body after that, in so many words.

Paul Prevey apparently hates Y summer camp kids, as he voted to deny them a lease at Camp Naumkeag for their summer camp. To be fair to Prevey, this was a last minute pitch, that would normally go through committee, but due to the late date was passed without going to committee. I thought councilor Ronan would vote no at first, but his issues with the lease language were addressed via an amendment proposed by councilor Sargent. Could this cause an issue like the one with the City Hall Annex lease? Possibly, but that seems highly unlikely, as the language that was added simply clarified the understanding that the rep from the YMCA had already, unlike the annex fiasco where they tried to change the lease terms by amendment, without permission from the landlord. Prevey was the only one to vote against the amended language.

Joan Lovely was absent. Probably engaged in turf wars over that orange chain she's blocking the end of her street with. Weren't the cops called on her husband about that a few years ago? Strange that it's back. Wonder if there was ever a legal resolution to Mr. Lovely trying to steal a public right of way. Anyone know?

The chain that blocks the public way at the end of Story St.

In the best piece of legislation and good government I've ever heard come before city council, John Ronan  proposed an ordinance that would require a specific vote for any tax increase to pass. He explained that under the current system, by passing the budget annually the council in fact raises the property tax burden by 2.5% every year, without actually ever voting on the tax increase specifically. His legislation would require a specific, role call vote to institute such an increase, rather than allowing it to be just assumed into existence through the budget planning process. Kudos to councilor Ronan. I want to move to his ward. I encourage all of you to write or call your ward councilor, as well as all of the at-large councilors and encourage them to support this proposal. It has been referred to the committee on Ordinances, Licenses, and Legal Affairs for consideration. Let's hope our councilors don't act in a cowardly manner and allow it to die there.

Councilor Sosnowski made a motion to form a committee to meet and discuss the city purchasing Salem Harbor Station, converting it to a gas fired plant, and connecting to the LNG pipeline that passes underwater about a mile off the coast. It may have been the silliest idea I've heard at council. His premise is that the city could finance the purchase, finance the LNG connection, finance the retrofitting of the plant, employ the employees, and turn a bigger profit as an electricity provider after paying all the debt service than we currently reap in taxes. The concept is a little insane. Sosnowski looks at the 150 or so employees and says, well, we can add them to the payroll no problem. It's not just them. The city should get into this highly, hyper-regulated field with no expertise? Seriously? How many off-site employees support this plant? How many lawyers are on the payroll off-site to deal with the regulated energy markets? I frequently think that Councilor Sosnowski has no clue. This concept proved it. Councilor McCarthy, who chairs Administration and Finance, practically said so when he agreed to accept it into his committee, but made clear that he'd be leaving it there for a good while. There is already a reuse committee in town. Dominion operates 4 other power plants in the state. How much are they going to charge someone to buy the plant if they are going to become competition? The plant is assessed at over 27 million dollars. Make them an offer, but please not with our money. Please watch this on the replay, and pay attention to how simple he makes it sound to purchase this plant, hook it up to an underwater pipe, and let the cash roll in. It was comical.

In contrast, it appears that the reuse group is taking a grounded, measured, realistic approach to that dilemma, which I'll write more about in the next few days. Lots to consider there.


  1. That's a hilarious video LOL

  2. You know, now I absolutely see why people would want to remain anonymous.

  3. Joan Lovely had back surgery the Tuesday (2 days) before this meeting. She was home recuperating.

  4. Looks like the chain is beyond the end of a dead end street and doesn't block anything.

  5. Story Street continues as a paper street, meaning it is a public right of way. The whole street used it for parking, specifically the people directly next to it. Not Lovely's land.

  6. Here is a link that explains paper streets. Apparently paper streets are not public rights of way as only abutters have rights in them and not the general public.

    BTW, what's with the klassy grudge against the Lovely's? Do you have nothing better to do than to drive down their street and snap a photo from your car as evidenced by your silver hood in the picture? You have way too much time on your hands.

  7. I have no grudge against the Lovelys at all. I think Joan is one of our best city councillors. I thought it was weird when I read in the paper that one of our former city councillors (Steve) who is married to one of our current city councillors (Joan), had the cops called on him, and according to the cops was belligerent towards him. In said article, it was the other long time abutter who objected. Also weird, the article can no longer be found online anywhere.

    Are you a Lovely? Why are you so interested in defending them? I simply asked if there had been any sort of legal resolution to the situation. There may have been. As for Story Street, I have a need to be there daily.

  8. Here is the text of the article from a few years ago. Weird that it doesn't mention that a current city councilor lived there.

    SALEM — A former city councilor stopped erecting a fence at the end of his dead-end street after the construction work triggered the latest chapter in a long-standing neighborhood dispute.

    Stephen Lovely of 14 Story St. was trying to put up an orange chain between two posts to block off an area where his family parks their cars. Lovely, who does not own the parking area, says he has a legal right to the land because he has been using it and taking care of it for more than 20 years.

    Police said Lovely was putting up the chain "so only he could park his cars at the end of the street."

    The Tardiff family, neighbors across the street, contend this is city land that the two families should share. Family members and their visitors occasionally park there, according to Greg Tardiff.

    Police were called to the scene Tuesday night at 6:22 as a backhoe was digging the fence holes. Another police car and a firetruck arrived later.

    Patrolman Fred Ryan said he "advised" Lovely not to put up the chain, but that "Lovely put up the chain anyway," and only removed it after the Fire Department arrived with bolt cutters, according to a police report. Lovely also put up "No Parking" and "Private Property" signs, police said.

    Lovely, a councilor from 1978-85, disputed that version of events, insisted he did not ignore a police order and said he voluntarily removed the chain.

    Lovely, who is also a lawyer, said he explained his legal claim on the land and showed police a letter written several years ago by the city solicitor's office, which, he said, concluded that the city did not have legal jurisdiction over the land. The dispute, he said, is a civil matter between neighbors.

    Gregory Tardiff said his family, which has lived on the street since 1925, just wants a peaceful resolution to a dispute that has gone on for several years.

    "I just think it's a shame that two neighbors can't meet over a simple legal matter ... and share the end of the street, which is owned by the city," Tardiff said.

    The matter was turned over to the Building Department, which referred it to the city law office.

  9. No, not a Lovely but they are friends. Thanks for the explanation.

  10. Oh, absolutely not a Lovely!

  11. Pelletier is the most useless councilor to ever hold a council seat but in his own mind he's the best ever.

  12. great post - great blog ! love it.

  13. I am a resident of not only salem but, in fact, my family are Joan and Steve's neighbors. NO resolution has been reached, baffling all of us that believed the law was supposed to apply equally to all citizens. Please bear with me as I gather my thoughts, information and put together the VERY TROUBLING dispute that my family has found itself in with the 'Lovely's', and how it has put us at odds with City Hall and forced us to retain council which NO ONE desires if cabn be avoided. Mr. and Mrs. Lovely, have all the free representation they need. I literally have DOUZENS of stories whereby Steve & Joan have benefited from others misfortunes, abused the sacred office and far worse. Though libel does not apply to public figures, I say and will state all of the forthcoming information publicly and with no expectation of anonymity. Stay Tuned.


Don't forget, keep it klassy!