The Sounds of Saugus
By Mark E. Vogler
Here are a few tidbits that you might want to know about this week in Saugus.
It’s about people, not politics
People — not politics — should be the motivating factor behind recent lobbying by citizens to improve traffic safety.
I’ve heard some folks putting the word out there that some of these people behind the grassroots group that calls itself “Citizens for a Safer Saugus” are just trying to hammer away at Town Manager Scott C. Crabtree and make him look bad on the issue of improving streets, roads and sidewalks for safety’s sake.
I don’t believe it. For one thing, at several meetings where the issue of traffic safety has come up, I’ve heard the town manager say repeatedly that he welcomes any public input on the issue from citizens who have concerns.
I’ve also heard him say that traffic safety is an issue that’s been neglected for decades in Saugus. So, it would be a logical conclusion that the problems that beset Saugus in terms of lack of proper signage, poorly engineered roads, excessive speed limits and other matters cannot be blamed on the town manager.
So, why the heck should it matter what the political persuasion or philosophy is of those town residents who are part of “Citizens for a Safer Saugus?”
Speaking of Citizens for a Safer Saugus, Bob Davis, one of the organizers, sent me a press release urging people to attend the Jan. 9 Board of Selectmen’s meeting, which is set for 7 p.m. that night in the second floor auditorium of Town Hall.
The press release also states the following: “Citizens for a Safer Saugus supports the efforts of the Town Manager and the Board of Selectmen to drastically improve the traffic conditions in Saugus.
“The upcoming public hearing on January 9 will allow the selectmen, as traffic commissioners, to change the speed limit on Essex St., Main St., Central St. and Lincoln Ave. to 25 mph.
“Townspeople are encouraged to attend the hearing to support this.
Citizens for a Safer Saugus, which is open to any citizen of Saugus, supports and wants to work with the town government to take immediate action to reduce the speed of traffic in Saugus to 25 mph, post signs that indicate this and have enforcement of this speed limit.
“The group believes that Saugus needs to take a long overdue step forward to have a reduced town-wide speed limit like many of the surrounding towns and cities.
“Two fatalities, an excessive amount of traffic accidents, many people injured, damage to motor vehicles and property and many traffic violations has made for a very sad and frustrating year on the streets of Saugus. Citizens for a Safer Saugus wants to change that.”
The group is also offering is offering free bumper stickers to all who want to show their support for a town-wide 25 mph speed limit, Davis told me.’
And from what I hear, several elected town officials have already take Davis up on the offer for a free bumper sticker.
Sounds like a group of citizens who just want to promote safety on their streets. And it shouldn’t matter whether they are Democrats, Republicans or unenrolled voters.
A resolve to be relevant
It’s that time of year again when a lot of people dedicate themselves to self-improvement — newspaper editors and reporters included.
As the editor of The Saugus Advocate, I continue to be interested in hearing from readers who have ideas for stories. Over the past year, I have even gotten a few suggestions for people we should interview for “The Advocate Asks,” our signature feature of The Advocate.
We strive to be a lot of things for our readers. Perhaps it’s an entertaining human interest story about a popular or not-so-popular person in town.
Maybe it’s a story that provides readers with information about a program they might be interested in.
Maybe it’s a story that entertains or makes somebody laugh.
And, sometimes we wind up publishing a story that town officials prefer we not write. I don’t go out of my way to write such stories, but it goes with the job. It’s part of being a reporter. When something unfolds in front of you that doesn’t seem in character with good and honest government, that’s where the press comes in.
Somebody is going to get upset if we use public documents containing certain information that officials don’t want the public to know about.
Newspapers are supposed to embrace public documents or the Public’s Right to Know without worrying that it’s going to make somebody in local government mad.
If a meeting looks like it’s going into Executive Session without a lawful purpose, a newspaper is supposed to question that, regardless of whose feathers get ruffled.
Unfortunately, most of my peers prefer to take the easy way out when they should be acting as the guardian of the Public’s Right to Know. And I know there are still folks in the halls of any local government — not just Saugus — who want to keep it as “The Public’s Right to Know Nothing.”
With that said, here’s hoping that Saugus town officials do as much as they can to embrace transparency in town government this coming year.
Hopefully, both the town manager and the school superintendent will put their proposed budgets online for all computer-using town residents to see once they make their public presentations.
Let’s hope that people holding public office or important town positions strive to be courteous and civil to citizens this coming year.
The Hallin Principle
Hopefully, those who are elected will go on to become good public servants for their town and that they will follow “the Hallin Principle,” etched in the classy plaque that all can see on the wall of the landing between the first and second floors of Saugus Town Hall when they exit the second floor auditorium.
The plaque, which includes a photo of Isabelle Louise Hallin, honors the Saugus School teacher who was forced to resign in 1937 after unsubstantiated rumors that she served alcohol and cigarettes to her students during a practice of a high school play in the basement of her parents’ home.
The School Committee voted to exonerate her in January 1942 — 11 days after her tragic Christmas Eve death in her New York City apartment. At the recommendation of Peter Manoogian, who researched the Hallin story, the Annual Town Meeting voted in 2012 to adopt “The Hallin Principle” and approve the creation of the plaque which was unveiled the following year. It reads: “May our actions within this Town Hall lead to greater wisdom and justice rather than sorrow and regret.”
What a great resolution! Can you imagine how much better and more civil the process of Saugus town government would be if every town official and citizen followed that principle?
As a 66-year-old grizzled newspaper guy who has spent about 48 years in journalisms, I can tell you it would be great for good government.
Best wishes to you and your family for a Happy New Year
Trash/Recycling Running on one-day delay
The Town of Saugus announces that there will be no trash and recycling collection on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019, due to the observance of New Year’s Day.
Collection services will then resume on a one-day delay for the remainder of the week. Collection will run on a regular schedule on Monday, Dec. 31, 2018. There will be no collection on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019. Collection will then run on a one-day delay from Wednesday, Jan, 2, 2019 to Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019.
The Compost/Recycling drop-off site is now closed for the season. This site will re-open to residents on the third Saturday of the month in January, February, and March, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Town of Saugus would like to thank everyone for their cooperation.
Please contact Solid Waste/Recycling Coordinator Lorna Cerbone at 781-231-4036 with any questions.
Don’t ruin your new year.
Here’s something that I think is worth recycling from last year’s column for the benefit of those readers who take chances driving while drinking alcohol to the state of total inebriation
‘Tis the time of year when folks are in the celebration mode. They want to get together at a local restaurant with family or friends over drinks.
Alcohol and ice can be a very bad combination this time of year if a loved one or friend has had too much drink and gets behind the wheel of an automobile.
The worst case scenario, of course, is getting into an accident involving serious or even fatal injuries.
Of course, drinking and driving — if you get caught by the police — can turn into an expensive nightmare that can cost you your job, your reputation, your driving privileges and a boatload of money.
I’m not preaching. I’m just sharing with our readers a situation I have first-hand knowledge of.
Somebody who doesn’t drink often goes out one night and has beers with a friend and splits a pizza. But he stays at the restaurant and bar late before he drives home. He’s not going very fast, but the police stop and are influenced by the lateness of the hour of a slow-moving car. There’s no accident. There’s no speeding violation.
But police pull the car over and do a field sobriety test. They then ask the driver to consent to a breathalyzer. He refuses and his license automatically gets suspended for 180 days. An attorney later advises him he would have been better off taking the breathalyzer.
A drunk driving arrest leads to a suspension from work without pay. His attorney advises him to seek a continuance of the case without a finding, which involves a 16-week alcohol education program that could last as long as 20 weeks. Between the program, the court costs, the legal costs, the fines involved and the increase in car insurance the costs could escalate over time. The guy loses his job despite a great work record over nearly two decades. The company challenges his unemployment benefits and he won’t get any compensation until 18 weeks later after a successful appeal before a hearing officer. Meanwhile, he has to make a premature withdrawal from his retirement account. The court has decided he has to install breathalyzer device on his car at the rate of $127 a month for a both 30 months’ — six of the months for the period he was on a hardship license.
Of course, the price of car insurance doubles despite a once-perfect driving record. The high insurance will continue for four to six years. There are probation reports to write in between job searches. The financial impact for a one-time offense escalates to a cumulative loss of $75,000 or more over a period of several years.
Despite never getting speeding tickets, any moving violations or an at-fault accident, he continues to be penalized in his car insurance premiums until he completes a four-year period of incident-free driving.
You get the picture. That certainly was an expensive night of pizza and beer. Wasn’t it?
If that’s the kind of scenario that scares the heck out of you, stay at home this New Year’s Eve instead of putting your freedom, your job, your future and maybe even your life — or somebody else’s life in jeopardy.
There are better, more productive and less expensive ways to welcome in the New Year.
Volunteer for your town
Here’s another opportunity to get involved in local government.
The Saugus Board of Selectmen is accepting applications for appointment of Board of Directors for Saugus’ television cable station.
These are volunteer/non paid positions for Saugus residents.
Anyone interested should submit a letter of interest and resume no later than Jan. 16, 2019 to the Saugus Board of Selectmen, Saugus Town Hall, Suite 4, 298 Central St., Saugus, MA 01906.
Main Attractions at the Saugus Public Library
There’s always something interesting or entertaining going on at the Saugus Public Library — for people of all ages — from young children to senior citizens. Here are a few events to check out:
- Keeping Us in Stitches returned recently. It will continue every second and third Wednesday, at 3:30 p.m. Grade 2 and up, and older children can learn to sew using needle, thread (and maybe a sewing machine) with teachers Miss Joyce and Miss Margie.
- There are a number of holiday-themed events happening now through the end of the year at the Saugus Public Library. Coming attractions include:
Winter Break Craft! Make a giant snowman! Saturday, Dec. 29, 1:30-3:30 PM. We’ll provide materials to make a darling snowman, or snowgirl! Bring anything special to make it your very own! Recommended for children ages 4 and up!
As for next month, there are already a few items that will get interest from young people.
- “Henna for Teens!” is set for Thursday, Jan. 17 from 3 to 5 p.m. in the Brooks Room. This program is for students in Grade 6 and up. No registration is necessary.
Mandy Roberge will be at the library to give henna tattoos! Mandy is the owner and creator of “Wicked Good Henna” and has been creating henna designs for more than a decade.
- A “Lego Animation Workshop” is set for Thursday, Jan. 24, from 4 to 6pm. This is also for Grade 6 and up. Please sign up because space is required. Empow Studios expert instructors will work with participants to develop storytelling skills, learn animation software and capture the action of their Lego movies. Once the movies are complete, they will be available to take them home to share with family and friends. Contact the Saugus Public Library at 781-231-4168 for more details.
Let’s hear it!
Got an idea, passing thought or gripe you would like to share with The Saugus Advocate. I’m always interested in your feedback. It’s been more than two and a half years since I began work at The Saugus Advocate. I’m always interested in hearing readers’ suggestions for possible stories or good candidates for The Advocate Asks interview of the week. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you have some interesting views on an issue that you want express to the community? Submit your idea. If I like it, we can meet for a 15 to 20 minute interview at a local coffee shop. And, I’ll buy the coffee.