Friday, January 28, 2011


In my last blog post, I noted that Mayor Michael Bonfanti has opted to to stand for reelection in the fall. I would like to take this chance to applaud the mayor for not going away quietly. As a non-candidate Mayor Bonfanti is speaking out at every opportunity in these times demanding a fresh approach to city spending. The mayor has always been thought of as a fiscal conservative and he has done everything to keep the tax rate lower than the average of other similar communities. He is calling for all members of the city government to take a different approach in the way it provides minicipal services and compensates its employees. He wants the city to look at cost saving ideas like the consolidation of school and other municipal services. While funding education is incredibly important the budgets for those services can’t continue to escalate unchecked and systemic changes are needed. In his final term in office we urge Mayor Bonfanti to speak out and to seek news ways to reduce municipal spending. He is in a wonderful position as a standing mayor to call for change and not worry about how he is going to get reelected. As long as I have know Mayor Bonfanti he has always spoken his mind and we hope that he continues to do so in this important area. We wish him well in whatever he wishes to do with the rest of his career.

It also appears that across the state, in units of state and local government, there is some substantial progress being made on public pension reform. It is clear that this is certainly needed if the municipalities where we all live and work are to financially survive. We urge the elected officials who represent this region to continue to work together with the unions to make certain that the workers are protected but at the same time meaningful reforms are accomplished.

In recent weeks, I’ve seen several instances of communities that are doing things to consolidate positions and to review actions at every opportunity to see if additional savings can be achieved through consolidations. I noticed stories that indicated that the Beverly Public Works had made some consolidations and that the towns of Hamilton and Wenham have also joined forces and are now sharing a single Senior Center Manager. These consolidations are all commendable moves and will help in the long term financing of the communities where we all live and work.

I also noted recently that the city of Salem was adding a solar array on the top of the High School. These are the kind of improvements that every community should be considering as we move forward and grants become available.

One of the Essex Heritage heroes that we will honor next spring is town manager Wayne Marquis who just received a most commendable review by the Board of Selectmen in Danvers. He is a manager who really understands how to make things work and how to get the most out of people. We applaud the commendable review made by the Board of Selectmen.

In the just recent past I also noted that two well-known athletic figures in this region were inducted into the appropriate Hall of Fame for each of their sports. One was Mr. Pat Yanchus, the long-term baseball coach at St. John’s Prep and the other was a long-term hockey enthusiast; Mike Gilligan. Congratulations to both Pat and Mike.

I also lament the passing of a friend and associate: Paul Higgins. Paul was the long-term Athletic Director at Salem High School and was an athlete of some note in Peabody. When I was a youth, I played sports with Paul. Later my adult life, he became a very good friend I am sorry to hear of Paul’s passing. I’d like to offer my condolences to his wife Janice and family.

I am terribly sorry to have to report another death of a good friend. Mr. Albert Robinson, a long time principal in Salem, passed away in Naples, Florida after a long and difficult battle. Marge and I both knew Al very well and golf with the Robinson’s at Wenham Golf Course. Rest in peace Al. A scholarship has been set up in Al’s name at Salem State University.

I have been moved to a new floor at Spaulding of the North Shore and after only one day I can see the wonderful support I will receive from the therapy staff at this level. During this time that I’ve been in the hospital, some of the best tonic I have received is continuing information from my grandson Brendan - a senior at St. John’s Prep. Brendan has now been accepted into five of the schools to which has applied. His decision in the near future will be an important one for him and his family, but watching from afar I certainly am enjoying his early successes. His most recent approvals were from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Elon University in North Carolina where he was also the recipient of a “President’s Scholarship”. We look forward to his decision and then following his four-year career after he finishes at St. John’s Prep in May of this year.

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