|February 16: Petersen's efforts come to naught. Whoops. The once-touted $6 million Causeway project is now $8.2 million and the all-important state funding resource is in doubt. Representative Petersen announced last week to the Board of Selectmen that "he got $5 million in seawall repair funding included in the House supplementary budget." Later it was learned that this sum did not pass muster in the Senate version. So, he got it, and then they ungot it, apparently. Senator McGee was blamed by Petersen, saying, "Tom couldn't get it in the Senate budget." [Lynn Item] Petersen reported that he was warned by House Ways and Means Chairman Robert DeLeo that the way Petersen was going about it (the establishment of a new state account for the seawall work) was not the way things were ordinarily done. Petersen, optimistically went on, "If it doesn't get through the conference committee in the supplemental budget I'll include it in the next annual budget." So, we can do this all again and again. Petersen pointed out that the state and county "were involved" in the original Causeway and he was quoted as saying that it seems to him they have some obligation to maintain it. Well, is was planned to last for 25 years, the state and county could point out that at least their involvement really worked. The Selectmen's liaison to the committee planning the Causeway work and funding, Harry Christensen, was not quoted in the article.
February 9: Representative Petersen's decade-long efforts finally pay off. [The Reporter] After the bitter 2004 election battle with fellow-democrat Mark Paster, in which his opponents, Democrats and Republicans, accused him of ineffectiveness, having no support in the leadership, and being lackluster in sponsoring original legislation, Mr. Petersen's (he's a co-author of the bill) annually postponed legislation on curbing the use of mercury in products sold in the Commonwealth apparently caught the fancy of the Great and General Court and passed unanimously. He stated that he has spent the last five or six years "battling industry opposition" to the bill. Mercury is a neurotoxen is proven to have deleterious effects on children as well as damage to the heart, nervous system and other somatic systems. Mercury emissions from power plants also send merrcury into the air and water, effecting populations and fishing industries. The ban is to go into effect immediately on January1, 2007, gradually being phased in, beginning with a year of planning. There is also a "bottle bill" clause that pays for equipment containing mercury which is turned in. The bill also will generate "educational" efforts to indviduals and consumers about Mercury. The bill is obviously a beginning, not an immediate removal of mercury from the environment. Mr. Petersen's battle is far from over. The Reporter's editorial this week appropriately lauded him and his environmental efforts.
February 5: Election update. Jackie Belf-Becker and Harry Christensen have filed their "nomination" papers with the Town Clerk, Tom McNulty, indicating that they are definitely running for re-election this year. Selectmen Jacobi, Shribman and Nye have not taken out their papers yet. One Selectman challenger has emerged, Michael Auerbach. Auerbach has taken out his papers but has not yet filed them.
January 27: James Dearborn announces for School Committee. Former Finance Committee member and Chairman for one year, James Dearborn, has announced his candidacy to fill the seat recently given up by retiring member Joan Rosenthal. Dearborn's time on the Finance Committee was not without controversy, at times at logger heads with the Board of Selectmen. He also worked hard for the Trash Collection general override of $400,000, and served as treasurer for current school committee member Amy Drinker's campaign. Dearborn's two sons are currently attending Marblehead Public Schools and his wife is active in the PTO. He cited a "lack of openness" [The Reporter] on the part of the current school committee, and stated that his view of the Charter School might be "slightly more constructive" than some members of the current school committee. Bringing out the old saws of every conservative candidate for office, Dearborn could not resist the clarion calls of "efficiency" and "financial caution," despite over 25 years of Proposition 2.5 and endless investigations of school spending all resulting in finding no irresponsibility or large-scale incompetence. In fact, with the appearance of the school's new business manager, things are even more transparent and businesslike than ever. Plus, the fact that Phil Devaux, Acting Superintendent, is known around the state for his excellence in management of all aspects of school affairs. Nonetheless, Dearborn went on to announce that the town was suffering from "override exhaustion." The overrides he was speaking of, over the past few years, have maintained current and essential (but in some cases all time low) staffing levels and essential town services. These overrrides have passed, almost all of them, with overwhelming majorities in every precinct. Dearborn went on to advocate a new teacher's contract that "does not require us to go back to the voters." With the school budget already running over due to unavoidable energy costs (see below) Dearborn seemed to be advocating a zero or minimal raise contract for teachers.
Town Incumbents seem to be staying put for the most part. The Selectmen all seem to running fo re-election, as do the Recreation, Park and Forestry commissioners, the Board of Assessors, the Cemetary Commission, the Board of Health, the Housing Authority, the Library Board of Trustees, the Light Commission (although one seat may be up for grabs), the Panning Board, and the Water and Sewer Commission. So, if you want to run, you will probably have to face the incumbents. Election papers are available at the Town Clerk's office at Abbot Hall. If you want to run, papers must be filed by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, March 20. Fifty signatures of registered voters are required to obtain a place on the May 9 ballot.
January 20: Joan Rosenthal won't run. Joan Rosenthal, after three non-continuous terms, has announced that she will not seek re-election in May this year. She was praised around the table for her service and quiet effectiveness on the Marblehead School Committee. Her closing quote [Lynn Item] was similarly denotive: "I take great satisfaction in knowing that I have made many significant contributions to our schools and to our community."