Letters (Week of March 19, 2008)


Peabody citizens need to monitor council

 

At its March 10 meeting, the Peabody City Council sent a message loud and clear to our community and all department heads employed by the city.

Two councilmen and the mayor tried their best to maneuver through the obstacles and smoke screen put before them Monday night by the Peabody Main Street Associa­tion. The mayor recommended the council wait until all members could be present to review salaries and the “memorandum of understanding and agreement,” which they have not received.

The mayor advised a council member to abstain from voting because she was a member of the MSA board. The mayor said there could be an ethics question and a backlash from the community. The member said she was willing to take the risk and didn’t care what the community thought.

The council permitted the vote to proceed and gave unanimous approval, and set precedent, to allow MSA to dictate to them that the person hired as a replacement for their director position be on our city’s payroll, funded with our tax dollar. This was decided without having a so-called “memorandum of understanding and agreement” between the city and MSA, and without having the council’s prior approval for hiring or replacement, or to participate in negotiating salary and benefits.

In my opinion, this action set precedent for all department heads—they are now free to hire without prior approval from council, and all council members are free to disregard ethics.

During this same meeting, the council scheduled an April 10 financial workshop, and they may be cutting services that our community has been accustomed to receiving with our tax dollars.

I challenge all Peabody citizens to start attending city council meetings and workshops to have a voice in how city government is run and how the council is spending our tax dollars.

You have no voice or reason to complain if you do not start expressing your concerns or opinions. You may not feel comfortable speaking out, but you will be sending a clear message of concern to the council simply by your attendance.

There is no requirement that you stay for the entire meeting. You are welcome to stay as long as your time permits.

Remember, we have entrusted this city council with our tax dollars, and some council members may have their own personal agendas on how they are spending those dollars.

I ask you, citizens of Peabody, is our public trust in jeopardy?

Karen Benbrook
Peabody

 

Don’t lease the Lake Hall for private use

 

This is an open letter to our county commissioners: On behalf of myself, a Marion County taxpayer, and as chairman of the Marion VFW Political Action Committee of the Auxiliary to Post 6958, I say in regard to leasing part of the Marion County Lake Hall to a privately owned eating establishment: Please separate the discussion, and the decision, into two separate projects.

The taxpayers are upset. Why? The Lake Hall was built with taxpayer money to be a taxpayers’ building for community activities. It is your job, as commissioners, to maintain the building so it is useable. If it needs better insulation or repairs, do it. It will be much cheaper than “building a new one, if needed,” as one of you was quoted as saying.

Don’t change the purpose of the building without a vote of the taxpayers. Do you realize the squabbling there will be if you divide the building between the public and private interests for a 10-year lease?

The cabin project is a private enterprise, with an altogether different argument. You compare the Lake Hall (apple) with a “city spec building” (peach) and a federal Corps project (lemon) as fruit. But each is distinct, built for a specific purpose.

Gerry Grentz
Marion

 

Do not hinder the children this Easter

 

They nailed him to a cross and he rose three days later, just like he said he would. And he did it for you and your children because he loves you and his Father, who sent him here for this purpose.

And now he says to you personally, “Please do not hinder the little children from truly coming unto me”—as we turn our kids loose to hunt Easter eggs and bunnies.

Thane M. Schwartz
Marion


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