Good Public Relations in Newburyport, MA

One of the things that fascinated me concerning the “87 High Street, Leslie and Peter Tolan encounter” that I had was, “brilliant” public relations. Might I learn a whole lot from this. Really.

One of the things that I’ve learned blogging the Newburyport Blog is that folks get their “knickers in a knot” over all sorts of stuff. I’ve gotten to the point where I write a blog post and I say to myself, self, “someone is going to get their knickers in on knot on this one, you just know it.” (And the frogs go, “Yup, you just know it.”)

Later, when I go back and read whatever it is that someone has gotten all knotted up about, I’ll think to myself, “Say what? They were that upset about what?? Good grief.” (And the frogs look at me and go, “Yeh, can you believe it?)

And I’ve gotten flack from the fact that I don’t think the Tolans trashed the place (87 High Street). Predictably enough, folks are real worked up about it. (And folks who are worked up about it, could think this blog post is about them. Well, I gotta tell ya, no, it’s not.) (And the frogs are going, “Yes siree, no it’s not.”) (Good grief it’s beginning to sound like a froggy Greek chorus around here at the Newburyport Blog.)

Just the granite steps in the front of 87 High Street property alone have folks hyperventilating. Ok, not the Yankee approach, but it’s not impeachable either.

What is so interesting to me, is that the Tolans had a choice. They could have made my life a miserable, because of my snoopiness and concerns about 87 High Street, or they could have taken the approach that they did.

If they had made my life “unpleasant,” every time I would have seen or heard anything related to them (which would have been almost everyday, because I pass 87 High Street almost, if not everyday) I would not have thought “nice” things.

However, now, I’m envious of their neighbors, because it seems that they might have funny, courteous and interesting people who have bought property in their neighborhood. And I wish the Tolans were spending more time in Newburyport, MA. Before, I just wanted them to go away, permanently. This is quite a turn of attitude on my part.

After reading the description of Leslie and Peter’s appearance before the Newburyport Zoning Board of Appeals in the Newburyport Daily News, I was puzzled. Peter Tolan wrote me an email, describing the experience.

At the end of the email, Mr. Tolan said that after he left the meeting, he turned to Leslie and said, “Tough room.”

Might I learn from this and apply it to my life. And I’m trying to figure out how.

And you know what? I bet they have PhD’s in Public Relations, or at least MS’s degrees in Public Relations. The frogs think so too. (Here we go, froggy Greek chorus again.) But I don’t have time to get a PhD in Public Relations, I need an online crash course.

Mary Eaton

Elections in Newburyport, MA, Civic Engagement or For the Birds

Many people say to me, “you’ve got to get a pet” (usually they want me to get a dog).

At the moment my notion of having a “pet” is having astoundingly low maintenance pets. (And no the frogs do not count as pets. A) They are “hard working” political consultants for the Newburyport Blog; and B) they are either stuffed or made out of plastic.)

No, the “pets” that I have are birds.

In my “garden/ backyard/ green-stuff,” I have 2 Finch feeders and 2 birdbaths. I mean are we talking really low maintenance here or what??

And I’m even lazy when it comes to my “self-maintaining” bird “pets.”

(You may have noticed I’m chatting about, of all things, birds. This is because I have a severe case of “candidate mind mush.” In Saturday’s Newburyport Daily News, July 28, 2007, there is a list of all the people who are running as candidates in Newburyport, MA.

Count’em… At this point, (having pulled papers) there are 6 for mayor, 11 for Newburyport City Councilor at Large (good grief), 3 contested seats, Wards 2, 4 and 5, so add 6 more; and 7 who have pulled papers for Newburyport School Committee.

Being lousy at math, I actually got out my calculator. That’s count’em, 30 people running for office in Newburyport, MA. Yes, believe you me, I’m all for civic enthusiasm and involvement, but 30 people pulling out papers, creates a severe case of Newburyport mind mush for this blogger.)

I look at the birdbaths and say, “ok, ok, so, they need a little ‘freshening’. I promise, I’ll take care of it.”

And then I dump some water in the 2 bird baths. Major effort on my part.

The first one in… the Blue Jay. Gets right in there, in the middle of the bird bath, flaps around, and soaks himself so that he looks like Alfalfa after the rain. (Sort of the “my way or the highway” approach or the “assertive” or “intense” or “enthusiastic” approach, depending on your point of view of bird bathing.) (And wow, does this date me or what. Alfalfa was in “Our Gang,” black and white TV. We are talking millenniums ago.)

And then the sparrows come. They congregate together in the one of the trees above the bird bath. Chirp and chat. And then all land of on the perimeter of the bird bath and proceed to jump in together and take a communal bath. (The sort of cooperation, committee approach to bird bathing.)

And my favorites are the yellow finches (they are gorgeous). They chow down on the Finch food, seem to either be oblivious or arrogant or just plain old enjoying themselves, depending on your point of view, that the finch food is only for them. Flitter down to a bird bath, take a couple of delicate sips, and then proceed to fly away, or continue to peck away, looking over their backs, for some unknown reason to moi, as they go at it.

I’m not sure which political type that this would correlate to. The readers of the Newburyport Blog would just have to decide for themselves. (Spoiled and entitled? Confident? I don’t know.)

So, yes, at this point, we have 30 people running for contested seats for the Newburyport 2007 election. I’m not exactly sure what this means. Whether some of this is “for the birds,” or whether this is an indication that low and behold, some of the folks in Newburyport, MA have woken up from an apathetic stupor and are taking an engaged interest in our small, New England seacoast city. I’ll just have to think a little bit more on this one.

Mary Eaton

Newburyport, Tour of 87 High Street

First of all the frogs are furious with me. First they threatened to leave (go ahead, leave guys, there are other frogs out there, believe you me, how about 1000’s). Then they threatened to unionize (like that’s really going to work). And then they were hurling themselves against the door (I mean it was really over the top) trying to get out to go with me when I was leaving.

Such drama at the Newburyport Blog. Wow.

Second of all, I have a wild suggestion. If a reader of the Newburyport Blog finds a post where they might be discussed- pleasantness works so much better than, for example, an offensive phone call threatening to sue the editor of the Newburyport Blog, moi, for who knows what. Really.

Third of all, preservationists out there, relax. It’s Ok.

I got a very nice email, much to my complete surprise, from Peter and Leslie Tolan inviting me to take a tour of 87 High Street (see earlier posts).

And, I am very jealous of, among other things, the gorgeous original staircase, and the huge original fireplace, which is in the dining room. Yes, serious High Street envy for this Newburyport Blogger.

And they were nice people too, with nice kids. And they’ve been walking among us undetected for quite a while. So, boo.

Ok, there will be or already is a “magical hedge” (see earlier entry). But family in town and our gorgeous small seaport city appear to be the reason for buying the house.

And I didn’t get the sense that vast streams of Hollywood folks were following in their wake (whew). I could be a total pushover (being nice to the editor of the Newburyport Blog could do that), and maybe I’m wrong and my radar could be out of wack. But the owners of 87 High Street passed the Mary Baker Eaton, Newburyport Blog inquirization.

So welcome to the neighborhood and welcome to Newburyport, Massachusetts.

Mary Eaton

Newburyport, A Sidekick on Another Local Blog

Is George Cushing of Frog Pond at the Bartlet Mall, the political consultant to the Newburyport Blog ever excited.

George has found another blog that has a “sidekick.” (George is not sure whether he likes being referred to has a “sidekick,” but for the moment he’s decided to go for it.)

The other “sidekick” is on another local blog called H2oTown watertown’s watercooler.

The editor of H2oTown is Lisa Williams, and Lisa has recently started Placeblogger (probably more about Placeblogger at a later date, because it’s a pretty interesting concept).

George is both excited and at the same time wildly jealous. Because Lisa’s sidekick has his own video. And now George wants his own video. All the frogs want their own video. Good grief.

Forget it George, no video. In fact, I’m so sick of seeing photos of frogs lately on the Newburyport Blog, that I’m not even going to put a picture of you on this post, so there.

(George is not happy with this.)

Ms Williams sidekick is called “Nicnoc”. And you can press here to see the original post on Nicnoc.

And here is Nicnoc’s bio:

“Nicnoc has come from the planet [untranslatable] in search of new methods of governance for his homeworld, whose government is mired in petty feuds. His plans to visit the White House are nixed, so he decides to take in a Town Council meeting in Watertown, MA, instead.” (H2oTown, June 26, 2007)

And here is Nicnoc’s very cool video on YouTube:

Many thanks to Lisa Williams and H2oTown watertown’s watercooler (and of course Nicnoc).

Mary Eaton

Newburyport, Hollywood Comes to Town

Boy oh boy, are the frogs ever excited, jumping up and rolling all over the place.

George Cushing of Frog Pond at the Bartlet Mall, the political consultant to the Newburyport Blog is giving the Newburyport Current the big “thumbs-up.”

George Cushing giving
the Newburyport Current the “thumbs-up”

Yes, someone has connected the dots about the revamping of 87 High Street and what this could mean for Newburyport, Massachusetts.

To quote from the Newburyport Current, July 20, 2007, Undercurrents by Donna O’Neil:

“We can see it now, a bus rolls through town offering stops at the homes of Hollywood celebs–Newburyport locations, The guide armed with a megaphone that can be heard for miles squawks, ‘First stop 87 High Street…’

What other celebrities will find our hidden gem…”

Any number of readers of the Newburyport Blog have asked me, “Newburyport has had famous people who have lived here before or live here now, what’s wrong with having Peter Tolan in Newburyport, Massachusetts?”

This is what yours truly does not want. The editor of the Newburyport Blog does not want “revamping” of historic properties in Newburyport, MA (especially on Historic High Street, good grief) by folks who are only going to use the place for brief visits.

The “revamping” of 87 High Street in its present form would raise a few eyebrows anyway. But the fact that the folks who are using such a visible and significant home for a “second residence” is of concern to this blogger.

It could mean that the buyers might NOT become an intricate part of the community (they are probably involved in their home town Montecito CA, already, the city listed on as their primary residence).

Very possibly there could be little or no community involvement (aside from paying tons of taxes, which we as residents would applaud). Possibly not having the time to understand the community, its culture and its needs.

Would “second resident” owners of with money of this magnitude become involved in local projects?? Use local banks?? (They didn’t for the mortgage

It feels a little bit like having a “residential” chain store. Looks flashy, but might not return much to the community in terms of human commitment and local moola.

So “thank you” Newburyport Current and Donna O’Neil. And hopefully it could never get to the point where there would be celebrity tour buses and bull horns in Newburyport, MA.

Mary Eaton

Newburyport, The Anniversary of George Cushing’s Debut

In all the whirl wind in my brain about 87 High Street and what that could mean for Newburyport, MA and the residences therein (except for the realtors, who must be salivating), George Cushing reminded me that a year ago, yesterday, July 18, 2006, George Cushing of Frog Pond at the Bartlet Mall, made his debut on the World Wide Web, here at the Newburyport Blog.

Who would have thought, one whole year. Wow, George.

George Cushing pleased as punch at the
anniversary of his debut on the Newburyport Blog

And so much has happened since George has arrived. And who knew that frogs could be that popular.

(I, of course, am jealous.)

The twins appeared. Not that they’ve done much, but they are cute. And they still are way in the apprentice stage. They think they could be political consultants to the Newburyport Blog, but they may have to wait quite a long time. I don’t care how great they may be at researching Hollywood celebrities. Sorry.

The Twins

And of course Georgiana Tadpole, George Cushing’s great love. The activist frog from the vernal pool behind the Wheelwright House.

Georgiana Tadpole

Yes, George and Georgianna, horny little things that they are, have sired, goodness knows how many tadpoles this spring in Newburyport, MA. 100’s, I hope not 1000’s. Yes, and some of them must have made it to tiny frog status.

I have to say, I really haven’t kept up. I refuse to be an aunt much less be a grandmother to tiny frogs sired by George and Georgiana. Just forget about that one.

But Georgiana and sometimes George will go visit and see how the little things are coming along. That’s a drama for a whole other blog (and believe you me that one will not be written by moi).

So I’m very proud of George Cushing of Frog Pond at the Bartlet Mall. At least for this blogger, he has been a most welcomed addition to the Newburyport Blog.

Happy (late) anniversary George.

Mary Eaton

87 High Street Newburyport, Wow

The “Twins” are going nuts on me. They are so ridiculously excited that we have a “celebrity,” a real live Hollywood celebrity, celebrity who has bought 87 High Street.

As the Twins pointed out to me, if they (the celebrities) wanted to lay low and not be noticed they wouldn’t be doing all that “stuff” to 87 High Street, High Street being the historic and much beloved (and highly visible) gateway to Newburyport, MA.

Well, no the Twins are NOT going to go beyond their apprenticeship status at the Newburyport Blog, I mean really, just look at the twerpy little things. I mean I have an image to protect here, geesh.

The Twins

However… The twins appear to be better than moi at researching Hollywood celebrities that are buying a Newburyport, High Street home.

They found out that the gentleman in question went to UMass Amherst, and they went and looked up alumni magazines, and low and behold these silly little frogs found an interview with the gentleman, in the Winter 2000 issue. Wow. (I got to secretly admit, not bad.)

The article was by Ali Crolius, in a section called “La Stories, Catching up with the sunset kids”.

The gentleman and lady “had just moved to a 1912 Pasadena mansion so grand it had been used for exterior shots in Dynasty…”

While waiting the writer “stood in the immense kitchen drinking coffee with the nanny, coo-chooing with Beatrice, Peter’s and Leslie’s youngest, and employing visualization techniques to halt the rain so I could see the Hockneyesque gardens in sunlight.”

Well, folks, I think the “Twins” have discovered or confirmed that the new owners of 87 High Street have more money than most of us here in Newburyport, MA could possibly fathom.

From what I can make out they have either moved on from Pasadena, or bought another mansion further up the coast. Maybe I’ll get the twins to research that one too, since they are so wide-eyed celebrity goofy.

What the Twins and I figure is that a High Street mansion must look like a bargain basement deal, compared to the mansion where Dynasty was filmed.

And this is what we are wondering. There aren’t exactly a lot of other Hollywood celebrity types hanging around Newburyport, MA. Are these folks going to tell their friends about us (ie. Newburyport, Massachusetts)?

And lots of preservationists (and even some maybe un-preservationists) all over our fair seaport city are NOT happy with how 87 High Street has been revamped. Is this a vast understatement or what? So what does this say about the potential upcoming stewardship of possible beloved properties in Newburyport, Massachusetts?

From charmingly historic to Hollywood flashy?? A possibility? Good grief.

(And folks, we have NO protection. Guess what, there is NO Local Historic District… Oh, ye of ongoing hesitation, you might want to rethink this one, like having a Local Historic District might actually be a good thing.)

Mary Eaton

Newburyport, “No” is a Complete Sentence, When it Comes to Too Many Frogs

Georgiana Tadpole, frog activist, wants to know if the tadpoles that she and George Cushing of Frog Pond at the Bartlet Mall, the political consultant for the Newburyport Blog, sired (do frogs “sire”?? are tadpoles “sired”?? You’d think with all these amphibians around, I’d be better on my frog lingo stuff) could all move to the Newburyport Blog when they “mature” and turn into little frogs.

Georgiana Tadpole pleading with moi,
to have a whole lot of little mature frogs move
to the Newburyport Blog


No offense, Georgiana, but here at the Newburyport Blog, there are already, count ’em, four frogs. FOUR frogs already.

Good grief. How many blogs actually have one frog, much less four frogs, I mean, give me a break.

It’s one thing for you and George to do whatever, at Frog Pond and the vernal pool (at the back of the Wheelwright House property), but come on, you want the Newburyport Blog overrun with little frogs? It would probably be a health hazard, among other things. I mean four is way more than enough.

Georgiana, you miss them?

You thought it would be fine if they hung out with the “Peepers” at the vernal pool or with all of George Cushing relatives at Frog Pond, but you’d rather have them here??

Look, first of all, I have no idea how you and George Cushing actually got all the way over to the vernal pool and to Frog Pond to have all that frenetic activity, and I really do not want to know, it’s got to be the mating season thing, right? But, that’s the way it goes, kiddo. The little twerps, I mean little tadpoles, stay right where they are, when they “mature.”

Sorry, sorry. Maybe you and George Cushing could coach them, and eventually, they too could become frog activists and frog political consultants.

Think of it this way, maybe they could spread out and be froggy inspirations to the populace of Newburyport, MA. And I’m sure this won’t be the first batch, or bunch, or frog family, or whatever that you and George might “sire.” Right?

That’s a big job?

Well kiddo, frog’o, whatever, I’m not worried, I am quite sure you and George Cushing will figure it out. But they are definitely, definitely NOT going to come to the Newburyport Blog.

Mary Eaton
The Newburyport Blog
(Home already to way too many frogs)

Spring in Newburyport, MA

With all this whoopla about election stuff, I forgot it was “mating season.” Good grief.

Georgiana Tadpole (frog activist), has let me know there are little tadpoles swimming, in yup, you guessed it, in Frog Pond at the Bartlet Mall, and her home haunt, the vernal pool at the back of the Wheelwright property.
Georgiana Tadpole

When I looked at Georgiana with a “say what” expression, she patted me with that cute little froggy web appendage of hers, and said, “Mary, what did you think would happen?”

Well, quite frankly, I hadn’t thought about it at all.

I pointed out that the tadpoles at the vernal pool in back of the Wheelwright property might be in some kind of danger. The developer has gotten the go ahead with that property and has decided to moved the houses closer to the vernal pool. One would think that there would be a little construction going on.

Georgiana was not fazed in the least. She was quite sure that the tadpoles would be ok, and when they “matured” would either stay there, depending on what transpired with the property and hang out with the “peepers,” or find their way to some other spot.

Hadn’t she, George Cushing of Frog Pond, the political consultant for the Newburyport Blog (Georgiana’s love interest, and I guess father of the tadpoles??), and the “twins” all made it quite safely here, to the Newburyport Blog.

Well, yes, good point Georgiana, good point.

Georgiana also thought, quite thoughtfully, that it might be a good idea for me to concentrate on the fact that there were these little tadpoles all swimming around that are connected to the Newburyport Blog, instead of getting myself in a “dither” about politics and mayoral elections in Newburyport, MA.

Well, that’s one wise frog. Or is it frogette?

Mary Eaton

Newburyport, Possible Conservative Council Backlash

Well I’m in a funk.

George Cushing of Frog Pond at the Bartlett Mall, the political consultant to the Newburyport Blog says that I am in grave danger of becoming one of those “humorless” liberals.

George warning me I am on the verge
of becoming “humorless”

Ouch, George. Good grief, what a terrible accusation.


This is why George is worried.

With all the recent whoop-la over the mayoral race, I am concerned about two thing.

Mayor John Moak could zip into a second term, at least at this point (yes, I know we have a long, long way to go).

Mayor Moak has moved more to the “center,” but whether it is center enough for me, I don’t know.

Take protecting our historic assets (an ongoing Newburyport Blog theme). Yes, I am incredibly grateful that Mayor Moak has appointed a Study Committee for a Local Historic District, but that is no guarantee that he would give a “thumbs up” to an actual Newburyport Local Historic District, should it come to pass.

And second of all I am concerned that there might be a conservative backlash when it comes to the race for the Newburyport City Council.

I think that this has been a terrific Newburyport City Council. Would all Newburyport City Councils be this good. A big congratulations to the gentlemen and lady in question.

George thinks that I am becoming humorless over these possibilities. He reminds me, that I don’t exactly have a lot of control over these things.

Thank you George.

And it might be good to lighten up a little, and give the old frog a smile, oh editor of the Newburyport Blog.

Ok George, I’ll try.

Mary Eaton

Newburyport, A Challenge for a Candidate

I need George.

George Cushing, of Frog Pond at the Bartlett Mall is the political consultant for the Newburyport Blog.

And I need George to do some consulting.

I woke up this morning more excited by the Newburyport political scene than I have in a long, long time.

However, I also woke up confused.

George Cushing trying to help me out

I expected chatter, a lot of chatter about the fact that Tom Ryan is running for mayor of Newburyport, MA, but so far the silence has been deafening.

Victor Tine did write a good piece on the announcement of Mr. Ryan’s candidacy in the Newburyport Daily News, June 12, 2007. And Ulrika Gerth is doing a lengthy interview with Mr. Ryan for Friday’s Newburyport Current.

Mr. Ryan the candidate sounds a whole lot different than Mr. Ryan the editor of the Undertoad.

Example: As editor of the Undertoad, Mr. Ryan trashed the “Yes for Newburyport” committee.

As a candidate, Mr. Ryan tells me that people have got to understand that the schools are in trouble. Superintendent Kevin Lyons has got to be the “face” of the Newburyport city school crisis, and as mayor he would walk door to door with Mr. Lyons explaining to people the plight that the schools are in.

Example: As editor of the Undertoad, Mr. Ryan has trashed Newburyport Building Inspector Gary Calderwood.

When asked by moi, if as mayor Mr. Ryan would fire Mr. Calderwood. The answer was “no.” Of course I’m thinking here former Newburyport Planning Director, Nick Cracknell and Mr. Calderwood did not exactly make a harmonious team (vast understatement). Mr. Ryan’s response, “I would be running the city, Nick Cracknell would not be running me.”

Example: As editor of the Undertoad, Mr. Ryan has trashed any number of Newburyport City Councilors.

Mr. Ryan says that he would meet individually with the Newburyport City Councilors throughout his term as mayor. And that as mayor he would discuss anything controversial and try to problem solve any issue with the Newburyport City Council before that issue would be made public.

Ok, can you see why I was excited when I woke up this morning.

This is the agenda and voice of someone who could actually lead the city.

George agrees that what we are hearing is real different than the often cruel, smart assed editor of the Undertoad, who often appears to have a very large chip on his shoulder.

And George and I agree that Mr. Ryan’s biggest challenge is to convince people of Newburport, MA that the persona we that we have seen as the editor of the Undertoad, is not the same person who could lead the city of Newburyport if elected mayor. George and I agree that is going to be one heck of a challenge for Tom Ryan.

Mary Eaton

Tom Ryan Takes Out Papers to Run for Mayor of Newburyport, MA

Tom Ryan, the editor of the local journal, The Undertoad, has taken out papers to run for Mayor of Newburyport, MA.

Good grief I must be getting a journalistic streak, because, boy, did I ever want to break this story.

And a big story it is too.

Mr. Ryan and I actually had a “chat,” because, holy crackers, yes, I had a few questions (and by the way, so did George).

Apparently there were two “tipping points” towards Mr. Ryan’s decision.

The first was a communication, or I gather a whole lot of communications, with former Planning Director, Nick Cracknell, who on Wednesday night, June 6, 2007 urged Mr. Ryan one more time to run for mayor of Newburyport, MA. How about them apples.

The second was (and I knew, knew, knew this was going to be weirder than fiction) in reaction to the “Committee Towards a Better Newburyport” the political platform initiated by Jim Roy, and endorsed by many a far-thinking progressive (see previous post).

The few people that I’ve talked to have asked me if this is a joke.

This is what I know. Mr. Ryan and I chatted about exactly how he would run his campaign. The answer is low key and going door to door. Little in the way of a campaign committee (and definitely not the “Committee Towards a Better Newburyport” from either side’s point of view).

There was conversation about what would happen if he actually got elected mayor of Newburyport, MA. He would be a progressive’s, liberal’s dream.

He would put Nick Cracknell back as Planning Director of Newburyport, MA. Put Doug Locy back on the Newburyport, Planning Board. “What do I know about finances? Nothing,” says Mr. Ryan. The answer to that, a group of top rate financial advisors. (Works for me, and would be a good suggestion for any mayor of Newbuyport, MA.)

Also, a group represented by every constituency in the city of Newburyport, MA, from a stay at home mom to a senior, to give Mr. Ryan a true picture of what people are thinking in our small seaside city. The group would, as I understand it, rotate every 3 months, to keep it fresh.

And working with the Newburyport City Council? No problem. Mr. Ryan says he would look forward to working with the Newburyport City Council.

Ok, this was a “chat,” this was not an interview. Apparently the editor of the Newburyport Current, Ulrika Gerth, will be sitting down to interview Mr. Ryan this week. That will be quite an edition of the Newburyport Current to get your hands on next Friday morning, June 15, 2007.

So get ready to rock n’ roll. Mr. Ryan has made a whole lot of enemies in Newburyport, MA, during his 10 year plus tenure as the editor of the Undertoad. Including, ironically enough, a number of people endorsing the “Committee Towards a Better Newburyport.”

However, Tom Ryan apparently also has a whole lot of friends, if former Newburyport Planning Director Nick Cracknell is any gauge.

Weirder than fiction folks. Possibly this election could be a blogger’s feast. Or a blogger’s nightmare. I have no clue, but we all surely will find out.

Good grief.

Mary Eaton

Newburyport, Override Press Release

I received a press release from “Yes for Newburyport” yesterday evening, and instead of thinking, “Yes, good go’n folks, smart political move,” my reaction was one of being really, really, pisssed.

Now, I’m not sure why my reaction was one of being really, really pissed, so I got the frogs out to take a look at the email/press release.

In the previous post I commented on how useless the frogs have been up to this point on this issue, so you see here, I’m really, really desperate.

First, George Cushing, from Frog Pond at the Bartlet Mall, the political consultant to the Newburyport Blog, took a look at the email and then he was joined by the “Twins,” and eventually by frog activist, Georgiana Tadpole.

George Cushing taking a look
at the email/press release on my computer.

The feeling I had was one of being manipulated and rail-roaded into voting for an override for our schools that, to say the least, I am deeply ambivalent about. (Is that tactful or what.)

The opening quote on the email/press release is from Sheriff Frank Cousins (who I like a lot):

“In the correctional system I see first hand what happens to kids when education is not a priority…”

I have a feeling that Sheriff Cousins didn’t mean it the way it sounded to me which was, “Unless you vote for the override, Newburyport, MA will probably turn out a bunch of criminals.”

A little heavy handed, which is definitely not Mr. Cousins’ style (at least not in my experience).

And then there is a long list of “important” people, who I could have told anyone, would support an override in Newburyport, MA for a whole number of reasons.

They have formed an advisory board.

” “Forming the advisory board lends a level of credibly to the grass-roots organization that will help maintain the group’s momentum long after the May 22nd special election,” said Paul Acquaviva, YES for Newburyport’s chairman.”


(I suppose that’s a little catty of me. But gosh darn it, that email/press release brought out the very, very “catty” in me.)

It did say at the very end:

“…the committee has also identified the need to create a broader strategy to address long-term financial issues.” That part works for me.

I guess what doesn’t work for me, is that there is no sense of community in that press release. It has the cumulative effect of a “pep-rally” combined with an “all out war effort.”

I want to be able to live side by side with my neighbor, build bridges, not flip them the bird.

I want this to somehow be a “win-win” situation, where “reasonable people can disagree.” And obviously, I was feeling slightly cantankerous by the time I got through reading that darned press release. (For goodness sakes I hauled out the frogs to take a look at the email/press release, and that’s a little scrunchy, believe you me, when I’m relying that heavily on the frogs!)

Mary Eaton

Newburyport, Meal Tax to Help Municipalities

Well, George Cushing, of Frog Pond at the Bartlett Mall, the “astute” political consultant for the Newburyport Blog was going to roast our State Representative, Michael Costello.

George Cushing being astute

An article in the Sunday Globe, “Option on meal tax stirs debate
Communities could benefit,” by Kathy McCabe, May 6, 2007, caught George’s eye.

The frogs have been feeling left out lately. I haven’t consulted them in this whole school override debate thing. (And quite frankly, between you and me, I haven’t consulted them on this issue because they have been absolutely no help at all. Good grief, aren’t political consultants and aspiring political consultants supposed to be helpful??)

But, both George and I think the 1-2% meal tax that would help municipal coffers to pay for stuff like the schools and fire trucks, would be a really, really good idea. (Never mind that the Massachusetts Restaurant Association doesn’t like it, of course they wouldn’t like it. Is anybody actually surprised by this? No.)

At the end of the article in the Boston Globe, May 6, 2007 by Kathy McCabe, there is this quote:

” “This tax has been talked about before,” said Michael Costello, executive director of the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce in Gloucester. “This tax gives a glimmer of hope to communities. . . . But all it really does is unfairly tax businesses, to right the municipal ship.” ”

Well, George Cushing proceeded to get his panties all in a bunch (do frogs wear panties??) that Michael Costello would not be for the proposed meal tax that would help his very own city of Newburyport, Massachusetts.

Whoa. But wait a minute here.

Good thing I am the editor of the Newburyport Blog and George Cushing is not.

On closer inspection this morning, the Michael Costello in the article is the “executive director of the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce in Gloucester.”

Am I massively confused or what? How many people by the name of Michael Costello could there possibly be? And is our State Representative moonlighting as the “executive director of the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce in Gloucester?”

How to resolve this weirdness. Do I call Michael Costello’s government office in Boston, and ask, “Are you working for Gloucester too??” Or do I call the Gloucester Chamber of Commerce and ask, “Is Michael Costello a state representative??” Which would be less embarrassing for moi?

In the end I decided to try the Gloucester Chamber of Commerce, and yes, I had the feeling when they answered my question that they thought I was completely nuts.

But, the mystery of our State Representative Michael Costello working in two places at once is solved. He’s not. There are, low and behold, 2 Michael Costellos. Who knew?

So, I have spared George Cushing the embarrassment of making a total fool out of himself (lucky George).

I have no idea how our State Representative feels about the meal tax. I am presuming that he is for it, since he knows first hand how municipalities are struggling. But neither George or I have checked that pertinent piece of information out.

We were way too busy checking out just how many Michael Costellos there happened to be within a certain proximity. I guess we’ll find out State Representative Michael Costello’s position on this very important matter at some later date, whenever.

Mary Eaton

Newburyport, Tax Relief

Now that I’ve chit chatted about the Republican point of view towards local fiscal woes, George Cushing, the political consultant for the Newburyport Blog felt it was really time to take a look at the Democrat point of view.

Ok, George. Good idea.

And that means taking a look at Governor Deval’s “Partnership Act” (The long version, the “Municipal Partnership Act.”), which I gather is still being “tweaked.” And I gather the Partnership Act is not support by one and all. Gee, what a surprise.

Let’s start with something simple in the proposal:

The Partnership Act would allow cities and towns to adopt a sales tax on meals of up to 2 percent in addition to the 5 percent state tax.

25 percent would go to property tax relief for seniors.

“Local officials, Patrick testify on behalf of partnership act”, Tuesday, April 10, 2007

“Patrick described the local option taxes on meals as “purely a local decision.”

“The idea is to trust local communities to make those judgments by themselves according to their own circumstances,” he said.

He cited studies showing that New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Seattle all have higher meals taxes than Boston would if it were able to enact the local option tax.

“In all those places the restaurant business is booming,” Patrick added.

Twenty-five percent of the revenue generated by the local option meals tax and room occupancy tax would be used to reimburse cities and towns for property tax exemptions that senior citizens are eligible for.”

By MMA Associate Editor Mitch Evich

A Republican response to this, aside from the fact that it’s yet one more tax on top of all the other taxes is this:

“Deval’s local tax hike scheme actually gets worse in the details. The reason, friends, is that communities that make the mistake of raising these local taxes only get to keep 75 percent of the hike. The rest goes into (hold your breath) a state fund that would reimburse communities that provide property tax abatements for senior citizens.”, February 28, 2007

Liberal Democrat that I am, I think 25% towards a property relief for seniors is a good thing. That one really works for me.

Mary Eaton

Newburyport, Rail Trail

There was so much gloomy news today, that as I sat in my funk, George Cushing, of Frog Pond at the Bartlet Mall, the political consultant for the Newburyport Blog, suggested I concentrate on something happy. Something in the works, something that has funding, something everyone is enthusiastic about.

George Cushing suggested that I blog about the Newburyport Rail Trail, or the Clipper City Rail Trail (its official name).

George Cushing suggesting
I blog on a happy project

So digging through my files, yes, I found the story in the Newburyport Daily News, March 20, 2007 that yes, there was a Public Hearing for the first phase of the Clipper City Rail Trail.

And this is from the MassHighway website:

“The proposed project consists of a one mile path along the former B&M Railroad corridor from Parker Street (at the end of the MBTA Commuter Rail line) to the abutment of the railroad trestle bridge located at the edge of the Merrimack River. This path will consist of a 10′ wide paved surface with connections to local streets. A new pedestrian bridge is proposed at Low Street and the existing railroad Bridge at Merrimac Street will receive a new deck and safety barrier. The path will cross Parker Street and Washington Street at-grade. Proposed improvements at the edge of the river involve modifications to the railroad Bridge abutments and lowering of the rail bed embankment to provide access under Route 1/Gillis Bridge.” (

I’m utterly unable to figure out what they are talking about, where the bridge on low street would go, where the path goes exactly… Luckily the Coastal Trail Coalition has a map which you can see if you press here.

According to the MassHighway website, the Estimated cost is $4,162,284. A tidy sum. However, the “project is planned to be funded through the 2007 Transportation Improvement Program for the Merrimack Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization.” Another words state and federal funds. Whew!

How refreshing is that.

And the years and the work and the number of people involved is huge. So, we as a community owe them a great big “thank you.”

And I am very grateful that there is something so successful for me to blog about today.

Mary Eaton

(Editor’s note: Here are two related and very helpful links. The Coastal Trail Coalition and The Essex National Heritage Commission.)

Newburyport, Frogs and The New England Really Religious Watch

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any weirder with frogs, The New England Really Religious Watch is concerned that I am corrupting the youth of Newburyport, MA and wherever, by having the frogs “live in sin” at the Newburyport Blog.

The New England Really Religious Watch is concerned that, you guessed it, George Cushing (of Frog Pond at the Bartlet Mall in Newburyport, MA, the political consultant for the Newburyport Blog ) and his “love interest,” Georgiana Tadpole, are setting a very, very bad example for youth in general on the World Wide Web.

George and Georgiana, both angry and perplexed
by the accusations

I assume that they are talking about the “Valentine” post where they mercifully and eventually “hopped off to froggy hormonal wonder-land wherever,” and my reference to “love-struck, hormonal frogs” around the Newburyport Blog.

First of all they are making the assumption, whether it is true or untrue, that George and Georgiana are “getting it on.” Personally, I do not think that there is any indication that that might be true, thank you very much.

Second of all George and Georgiana are adults (I think). Well at least George is. I’ve never had a “chat” with Georgiana about her age. However the last name of “Tadpole” does give one pause for thought. But she’s a FROG, for goodness sakes, so who cares how old Georgiana Tadpole might be. Good grief.

And G & G are FROGS. Even if they were humping their little brains out, they are FROGS not human beings. What right does The New England Really Religious Watch have in being upset that FROGS could be humping “in sin” or not “in sin” at the Newburyport Blog.

Am I supposed to insist that we now have froggy nuptials at the Newburport Blog? They just met, for crying out loud. Who knows if they want to get married or even if it would be a good idea. A little early to be insisting on a wedding for goodness sakes.

And do frogs even get married? I don’t know. I simply don’t know that much about this sort of FROG stuff. George is supposed to be a political consultant, not a political lightening rod. Good grief.

Who knew. Intimating that moi, the editor of the Newburyport Blog has fornicating frogs hopping around. Being threatened with lawsuits was bad enough. But this, Oy Veh.

Mary Eaton

(Editor’s note: Having just read the editorial in the Newburyport Daily News, March 2, 2007, “Bloggers need beware of legal challenges,” reminding me once again that yes, there is such a thing as “blogging peril,” as far as I can tell by extensive Googling, etc, “The New England Really Religious Watch” is purely fictional, and such an organization does not really (I hope) exist.)

Publishing, Weather, Comics and Newburyport News

This is what I’ve come to ask myself as I reflect on my momentary euphoria at putting links to horoscopes, the weather, comics etc on the Home Page of the Newburyport Blog:

Have I gone over to the “dark side,” the commercial side, by blatantly linking to CNN and the Weather Channel instead of my fellow struggling bloggers and even my own local media?

Or is this a case of “blogger savvy?” Aspiring to lure local readers to bigger things, in hopes that they might notice the encroaching elements and issues that (in my mind at least) plague their own home town? (Or have I just lost it?)

I’m not a black and white thinker. Multi-determined, probably.

I myself find that I now linger over my own blog, checking the weather, then my horoscope and finally finding out what Doonesbury could possibly be up to. I find that I actually forgo checking out the 20 something “stud-muffins,” that may be “very easy on the eyes” at the Personals.

Yes, a quick check at Sports. A wander over to the National News. (It’s fun.) And then I crawl back to the warmth of my own sometimes myopic blogging of my own small New England burg.

I think to myself, why not? Newspapers have a broad swatch of whatever and then lure readers to dangle over, while checking out TV Listings and the Comics. Why not moi?

Why not do it backwards? Have a small blog-about, about whatever and then lure readers with the possibilities of “stud-muffins” at the Personals and “laughter” at Comics and “euphoria and agony” at Sports.

In fact, I wonder why I had never thought of this sooner. Why not blend hot-stuff major mindsets and things with small city, local blogging?

One of my frustrations is that so many people in Newburyport, MA find out about “important stuff,” let’s say like the proposed development at the Wheelwright property, a year after the whole thing has gotten well under way.

I checked, the first blog entry on the SOS on the Wheelwright Property was way back in January 2006. The second major blog entry no less.

Where have these people been? Some of them have been reading the New York Times and the New Yorker for goodness sakes. All good stuff, but nothing in there about the encroaching dilemmas of Newburyport, MA. How will they know? Or at least how will they know a little sooner or the vague possibility of a whole lot sooner?

Or worse yet, they haven’t been reading much of anything, if anything at all.

So my little theory and experiment. A brief glance might inform about some of Newburyport’s concerns, whatever. And then, yippee, fun and serious stuff can be linked to, and hence, it might be worth a visit to the Newburyport Blog.

So I will be interested to see how the “Newburyport Blog goes national” thing goes. And at the very least, I’ll be entertaining myself, “dark side” or no. (Plus, the frogs love it. And, yes, this is the deciding of all important, possible deciding factors; factual, fun stuff for frogs.)

Mary Eaton

Newburyport, Landscapes and Open Space, Historic Assets

Ok, what’s the point of having the Newburyport Blog if I can’t “hype” what I do every now and then. Seems like it should be one of the “perks” of blogging the Newburyport Blog along with “frogs” (Are the frogs a “perk?” I’m not sure if I would exactly describe the frogs as a “perk.” Maybe something else.)

Anyway, when I’m not blogging, I’m painting. And the Newburyport Blog has actually influenced what I paint. I’ve been blogging so much about Open Space in Newburyport, MA, that I’ve actually started to go back and do paintings (or I guess technically they could be called “landscapes”) of the “Open Space” in Newburyport that I love so much.

One of the things that I couldn’t believe when I first “discovered” Newburyport, MA and moved here in 1981 was the combination of pasture or untouched farm land and a gorgeous historic small historic seaport city, right on the mouth of the Merrimac River and the Atlantic Ocean.

And I’ve always loved driving up Route 95 and seeing that expanse of Open Space and then driving down historic High Street.

And I’ve always loved going down Scotland Road and seeing all that beautiful pasture.

As I’ve blogged the Newburyport Blog, low these almost 14 months, I’ve learned more than I ever imagined how hard all kinds of people are fighting to preserve that wonderful balance between Open Space and our architectural historic assets. And it has been so engrained in my own “hard drive” that I did a painting of that area along Scotland Road that the City of Newburyport has been fighting so hard for to preserve as Open Space.

I’m very grateful to all those folks who fight so hard to preserve our historic assets, whether they are historic open space or historic architectural resources.

“The Pasture”
Oil on Paper, 5.5″ x 22″
2007 © Mary Baker (that’s my painting name)

More of the “Open Space” landscapes can be found at Mary Baker Art.

Thank you for indulging me in my “hype” and my “perk.”

Mary Eaton

Newburyport, Valentines Day and Wild Weather

What a day, Wednesday, February 14, 2007 in Newburyport, MA, good grief.

Oy Vey… Do I like the snow and wind and rain and sleet? No.

Do I like some snow? Yes. Did I like this particular storm. No.

And on Valentines Day with George and Georgiana no less.

George Cushing, of Frog Pond at the Bartlet Mall, the political consultant to the Newburyport Political Blog and his new frog “heart-throb,” Georgiana Tadpole on their FIRST Valentines Day together with a blizzard outside no less.

George Cushing and Georgiana Tadpole
on their very FIRST Valentines Day

And here is a picture of the two “love frogs.” The heart is a visual clue that they are being romantic, just incase it isn’t all that obvious.

Such excitement around the Newburyport Political Blog, except there just happened to be a blizzard outside.

Would I take George and Georgiana to whatever romantic frog place they had in mind on their special day?

No. Are you kidding. You’re frogs and there’s a blizzard outside for crying out loud.

Do I consider myself an ogre of an editor and a lousy friend, no less, because I won’t drive you where??

No. Are you kidding. You’re frogs and there’s a blizzard outside for goodness sakes.

And then, I made the mistake of suggesting that they might help out a little, instead of being so “demanding.”

What a mistake that was. First of all, frogs hopping around outside in a blizzard with spoons as shovels, complaining, and then getting freezing right away. Plus they’re not doing anything, because what can you do with a spoon in a blizzard? Right? Not a good idea on my part. Not a good idea at all, let me tell you.

And then trying to warm them up. I thought frogs were supposed to adapt to this sort of thing? But no, whine, whine, whine. (Frog whining is quite an experience. Picture really high pitched whining.)

What a nightmare, G & G’s first Valentines Day. I doubt it will ever be forgotten. And, I got to admit, even I was feeling a little sorry for them. Oh, well. Eventually, they hopped off to froggy hormonal wonder-land wherever.

Who knew that having a frog as a political consultant to the Newburyport Political Blog was ever going to be this kind of froggy learning curve? Not moi, I can tell you. Not moi.

Mary Eaton