Newburyport, The Waterfront

As I type away, massive opposition against Mayor John Moak’s stand to pave over Newburyport’s Waterfront is beginning to intensify.

Are we surprised? No.

This is my guess, if Mayor John Moak came out and said, yup, let’s do some combination of park and parking, the majority of opposition that is mounting feverishly would stop and a great sigh of relief could be heard across our small seaport New England city.

The “word on the street” is that Mayor John Moak is entrenched in his position of all parking on the Central Waterfront, and has absolutely no intention of backing down period. One would hope that the “word on the street” is wrong, but it is the opinion of this local political blogger, that the “word on the street” might well be true.

So, I would very much like Mayor John Moak to wake up, politically so to speak, “drop the waterfront rope” and do a little political compromising here.

The truth is there are no easy answers to the parking solution, answers maybe, but not easy ones. To face that reality, and get on with wrapping this whole waterfront thing up, would be a wonder. Plus, Mayor John Moak would go down in the history books as finally helping the whole thing to come to a resolution. Not a bad legacy. Believe me, that would work for me.

Mary Eaton

Newburyport, Land Bank, Housing Bank

In a previous post concerning Nantucket and Steven Karp the “editor’s note” was that I did not know what a “Land Bank” was.

Well, Grant Sanders, the host of, a website which many consider to be the place to find out what is really going on around Nantucket, sent me this information which I think is pretty interesting:

“The Nantucket Island’s Land Bank, the first org of its kind in the country, is a commission which collects a 2% fee from all real estate purchases here and uses those funds to buy, preserve and maintain open space. Currently just under 50% of the island is preserved as open space (by as many as seven or eight separate conservation organizations). Hopefully by the end of this year, that number will jump to 52% with the purchase of a conservation easement on a 270-acre parcel here known as the Linda Loring property.

Nantucket and the Vineyard are also starting a housing bank which would take 1% from the sale of a new home here. The money (around 9 million annually) will go to fund affordable housing initiatives.

You can read about the Land Bank at”

You know what I really like? I really like the idea of a “housing bank” which would take 1% from the sale of any new construction by a developer and put it towards affordable housing. That works for me.

Mary Eaton

Newburyport, An Old Story No Longer Relevant

Well, I’ve finally calmed down about the story in the Newburyport Daily News that almost two years after the fact, the City of Newburyport is forced to make public the e-mails of FORMER Mayor Clancy. And that this was initiated by the Newburyport Daily News.


The lady in question is no longer mayor. As far as I can tell, amazingly enough, the emails did not interfere with her performance in the Corner Office. The City two years ago rallied around her in a wonderful way (cheering her as she walked in the Yankee Homecoming Parade, surrounded by the Newburyport City Council) while other media outlets used the story to get publicity.

Frankly, the emails may now be considered public, but as far as I’m concerned, they are nobody’s business.

I can’t imagine why the Newburyport Daily News would resurrect this story except, to be cynical, to sell newspapers.

And I may disagree with Mayor John Moak on many political issues, but I just cannot imagine that this is something our present administration would want to deal with in any way.

And George Cushing, the new political consultant for the Newburyport Political Blog, is really quite puzzled as to why such an old story, which is no longer relevant, would be resurrected by the Newburyport Daily News.

George Cushing
Pleading with the Newburyport Daily News
to “just forget about it.”

Mary Eaton

Newburyport, A Note From Nantucket About Stephen Karp

A lot of us are very concerned about Stephen Karp and what he has in mind for Newburyport, MA.

I decided to contact Grant Sanders the host of, a website which many consider to be the place to find out what is really going on around Nantucket, about his impressions of Stephen Karp.

Mr. Sanders graciously replied to my email, and this is what he had to say:

“Hi, Mary:

I have not had any 1:1 contact with Mr. Karp, but i can tell you what I know. He seems to understand the value of Nantucket. It’s uniqueness. It’s specialness. All that notwithstanding, we don’t trust outsiders here much and passed a chain-store ban here in the historic district and it will most likely be signed by the Attny General later this year.

He has raised rents 15-19% (according to published reports) here since purchasing the former Winthrop holdings (approximately 2/3rds of the commercial property in the historic district here). He has also dumped a few tenants in order to make room for other tenants. Nothing substantial has changed here, however. No Versace. No Gucci. No Mall brands.

The downtown here is changing, however, because of the rising rents. The artsy crafty stores and clothing spots are being squeezed out by real estate companies and galleries — two kinds of businesses that can actually afford the rents due to the high price of the stuff they sell. One friend with a clothing store is suffering.

Still too early to tell what the impact of Karp will be here, but one thing is certain. If there is money to be made you’ll attract him or someone like him. Best protect your community by initiating a chain ban and some controls over your community retail space. We’ve been toying with the idea of a commercial real estate bank along the lines of your Land Bank. Worth looking into.”

(Editor’s note: I have no idea what a “Land Bank” is.)

Mary Eaton

Possible Planning Director, Newburyport, MA

This whole planning director thing, let’s face it, is just odd.

Christopher Ryan, former Town Planner for Walpole, MA is Mayor John Moak’s choice for Planning Director for Newburyport, Massachusetts.

It’s very odd that the Town of Walpole posted the job for Planning Director this Tuesday, July 25th (see earlier posts.)

I would agree with the comments about Christopher Ryan’s website, Many of the links to the other pages did not work on my computer either (although they seem to be working better today.)

And, I have a few reservations about the fact that Christopher Ryan will be teaching a course during September and part of October of this year. Let’s face it, it’s not good to have a Planning Director gone 3 afternoons a week, unless of course the goal is to not have the Planning Director around.

And the fact that Mr. Ryan would only be working 30 hours a week during that period is not a good sign.

For anyone hanging around the Planning and Development Office in Newburyport, MA, it becomes obvious very fast that the City Planner, the Senior Project Manager and the (former) Planning Director work around 80 hours a week at least… one of the things I have admired about the top people in the Newburyport Planning Office is that for them, planning and development for Newburyport, Massachusetts is as much a vocation and a dedication as it is a job. I would hope for no less from Christopher Ryan.

We desperately need a Planning Director to “hit the pavement running,” not one that will take a stroll on it every now and then, which would happen those first couple of months.

It will take 6-9 months (at least) for the new Planning Director to figure out all the players, much less all the all the myriad of projects that the Newburyport Planning Office is dealing with. It would be my preference to have someone who could give 100% plus commitment to the job right off the bat.

And is Mr. Ryan going to keep his consulting business going while he is Planning Director for Newburyport?

Is Mr. Ryan going to continue to take time off to complete his PhD. And wouldn’t it be much better to have someone in this position who already has completed all necessary education. And is having a Ph.D. candidate in environmental studies as Planning Director a good thing? I don’t know.

It’s just not me, but I think many readers of the Newburyport Political Blog wonder if Christopher Ryan is indeed “marquee talent” that Newburyport, Massachusetts so deserves.

So I’m hoping that the Newburyport City Council asks lots of hard questions, because it appears that hard questions are in order. And I’m counting on all our local media outlets to find out as much as possible about Christopher Ryan and as well as the hiring process for Planning Director. And I’ll be interested in what the readers of the Newburyport Political Blog are or are not able to discover.

And I would also like to add that it couldn’t hurt for the citizens of Newburyport, Massachusetts to give their City Councilors a call if they have any questions about Mr. Ryan’s qualifications.

Mary Eaton

More Skepticism about the Possible Planning Director for Newburyport, MA

These comments were sent into the Newburyport Political Blog:

“I would agree with the person who wrote to say that they are not convinced about Ryan being on the preservation commission – I don’t know what the nominating group, NRC, was that appointed him (still trying to find out what those abbreviations mean).

A couple other things:

1 – 4 Points Planning – I checked out Ryan’s 4 points planning website. There is limited info that we can get to. For example, if you click the ‘About’ link on his site, you can only access the first item in the ‘About’ list. All of the other items including his resume return an error of “Page Cannot be Displayed”.

Try doing this on any of the links that pertain to either his personal information, company projects, ore references – the same error appears for all of them. Links for “About” and “Portfolio.”

Here is my concern with this:

a – This is just sloppy. And, when your website is the storefront of your business, it just makes it look like you really don’t have much to show for yourself. If this is acceptable for his own business, how much sloppiness and lack of oversight will be acceptable to him if he takes this job?

b – This prevents any of us from finding out anything about Mr. Ryan. It likely is just a coincidence, but it doesn’t help those who are trying to see what Mr. Ryan is all about.

Christopher Ryan’s educational record:

2 – Georgia Tech Masters degree: I checked out Georgia Tech to see exactly what type of master’s degree they have in city planning, it looks like there are 3 ways to get a master’s degree in city planning, it appears – one is online only, one is a ‘traditional’ master’s degree, the last is doing a combined BS and master’s in 5 years. Which one of these options did Mr. Ryan pursue?
http ://

2 – PhD at Antioch New England – the Daily News reported that he is a PhD candidate in Environmental Studies. When someone is a PhD candidate, this typically means that they have completed all of their coursework and have passed their qualifying exams and are working on their dissertation – there is typically a distinct difference between a PhD student and a PhD candidate. Which of these is Mr. Ryan? There seems to be a PhD program here where working professionals can work somewhat at their own pace toward the PhD.
http ://

3 – Walpole job: Walpole published the planner position on 7/25. The second round of interviews for the Newburyport planning director was only supposed to begin on 7/24. So :

a – did the mayor decide so fast that he was able to tell Mr. Ryan that same day that he had the job? Could / would Walpole have put the job description out that fast if Mr. Ryan resigned on Monday afternoon?

b – or, did mayor Moak tell Ryan in advance that he was selecting him for the job but was just having him and the other two candidates come to interview on Monday to make it look like it was an even race? to make the city councilors and others on the interview committee feel like they actually had a valid role in the interview process when they actually didn’t?

c – or, did Mr. Ryan resign or get ‘removed’ earlier and now the job is being posted. If he left on his own, why? If he was removed, why?

d – if he resigned b/c he was offered the Newburyport job by Moak, knowing that the city council still had to approve him for the job?

I think that it would be worth calling Walpole city/town hall to see on what day Mr. Ryan resigned and why – it should be public record, I would think.

The Historic Preservation Committee in Concord will be contacted to find out about Mr. Ryan – what his role is, who he was nominated by, how he has voted.”

Skepticism about the New Appointment for Planning Director

Gee, guess what, the readership of the Newburyport Political Blog is a tad skeptical about Ryan Christopher, Mayor John Moak’s choice for Newburyport’s new Planning Director.

Here’s one response that I think is worth passing on:

“I just wanted to comment about him (Ryan Christopher) being on his CPC committee (Community Preservation Committee) in Concord. This might not always be a good thing. Remember that Mayor Lavender put Norbert Carey on the CPC to stack the deck in favor of developers and those who were against the CPA. Before feeling to comfortable about this, I’d love to try to find out why he was appointed to the CPC and what his interests are….are they from a developers view?”

Lots of questions for the Newburyport City Council to consider.

Mary Eaton

Newburyport, Planning Appointee has Consulting Business

Christopher Ryan has his own consulting business in Concord, MA.

You can check it out at

So I guess that explains why Mr. Ryan could leave the Town Planner job in Walpole. And also that he has a fall back position if the Newburyport City Council turns down his appointment.

It does not tell us however, why he left the position of Town Planner in Walpole.

Again, I have no idea what having a consulting business would mean.

Mary Eaton

Newburyport, More on the Mayor’s Proposed Planning Director

Well, I got to tell you that the readers of the Newburyport Political Blog are doing their darnedest to find out who the heck Christopher Ryan is and if his proposed appointment a good thing.

One reader forwarded me this link. Apparently Mr. Ryan is on the Community Preservation Committee in his hometown of Concord, MA. This works for me. And Concord does have 6 historic districts, which in my book is a very, very good thing.

Apparently in Walpole, where Mr. Ryan was Town Planner, there is not much of anything historic in the town or a nod toward preservation. What this means, who knows.

It is pretty pathetic that the people of Newburyport are reduced to finding out about this nomination by in depth Googling and whatever other methods work for them.

An open and transparent government, yes, we would like that. And if Mr. Christopher is the “best of the best,” please, let’s have Mr. Moak tell us all about it.

Mary Eaton

Newburyport, Mayor Moak Picks Planning Director

Wow, it’s pretty weird when you get an anonymous tip and it happens to be right.

Christopher Ryan is Mayor John Moak’s choice for Planning Director for Newburyport, Massachusetts.

I emailed my anonymous tipster, who isn’t from around here, but in the planning and development world somewhere out there in web-land.

My anonymous tipster emailed me back, and I hope it’s ok with “him/her” (I didn’t ask) but I’m going to quote the email instead of paraphrasing it.

“I don’t know him (Christopher Ryan) personally. I don’t even know him by reputation.

I always find it strange when someone leaves a job before he/she is officially hired in a new position—especially when all Mayor Moak can do is make a recommendation to the City Council.

Your original analysis is correct. It is a big leap from being a “Town Planner” in a suburban town to a “City Planner” in a complex, interesting, politically charged small city. I wonder if he has managed a staff before.

Moak must have demonstrated to this fellow that he had the votes to get him approved. If not, this fellow could be bit naïve to assume he has it locked up, especially given the Nick Cracknell situation. Perhaps he might not even be aware of the circumstances surrounding Nick Cracknell’s departure or the emerging Moak backlash.

As you indicated in your blog –this fellow better be good.

It would be very interesting to see who did not make the final cut –I would have to assume that Newburyport should be able to attract marquee talent for this job.”

As I learn more, I will let the readers of the Newburyport Political Blog know what I know.

Mary Eaton

Newburyport, MA, Planning Director

Well, no offense to whoever wrote today’s editorial in the Newburyport Daily News, but as far as I’m concerned Doug Locy, the chair of the Newburyport Planning Board and City Councilor James Shanely, who is on the City Council’s Planning and Development Committee know an awful lot about planning and development. And not to repeat myself, but they are two outstanding and honorable men and I would trust them to do right by the City of Newburyport, thank you very much. (Does whoever wrote this editorial even know these two gentlemen?)

I know that there are folks who didn’t like him, but for many of us Nick Cracknell set a very high bar for what a Planning Director can be. And Doug Locy and James Shanely not only worked closely with Mr. Cracknell, but my guess is that he taught them a great deal, and we are lucky to have two men who, along with many, many others, were more than willing to learn.

So, I’m not real big on the bashing Doug Locy and James Shanely thing, in what they felt was taking an honorable stand. This doesn’t work for me.

And yes, I know that it is Mayor John Moak’s choice who the new Newburyport Planning Director will be (as long as it gets the Newburyport City Council’s approval), but I’ll come right out and say it, darn it, I just don’t trust Mayor John Moak when it comes to picking a Planning Director for Newburyport, Massachusetts (I really would like to have a different opinion on this one.) And I think a lot of people feel the same way.

Our Mayor has let the position languish for 3 months, claiming it would be too expensive to fill it right away. This has never worked for me.

Yes, the survey came in for the Waterfront, and guess what, people do not want it to be a parking lot (that however is a whole other post), but we have this weird “task force on the waterfront” thing going on by Mayor John Moak, the goal of which seems to be to “get around” the survey. Good grief.

And then there’s the whole business of the 40B housing project being resurrected on Low Street, when there was an excellent compromise (see earlier posts) at hand.

If I trusted the Mayor on this appointment, I wouldn’t be blogging my little heart out about it.

And again, no offense to whoever wrote that editorial. “Reasonable people can disagree,” however, I think the Newburyport Daily News is really, really wrong on this one. And I think an awful lot of people following this whole process would agree.

Mary Eaton

Newburyport, Condominium Development Proposal

There’s been so much to blog about that I haven’t even gotten around to Great Woods Post and Beam proposed development concerning 7-9 Cherry Street.

The proposed condo plans for those two lots and the neighborhood objections (uproar) was in the Newburyport Daily News ages ago, Friday July 21, 2006 (another story by Stephanie Chelf) and came before the Newburyport Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) Tuesday of this Week (Today’s Thursday.) And to tell you the truth I don’t know how the whole thing turned out. (Talk about being out of the loop.)

Great Woods Post and Beam hasn’t exactly been getting good press lately. And this time the developer wanted to take down two, as I understand it, perfectly good houses that are in keeping with the neighborhood and put up 2 two-unit condominiums. And I think the neighbors were right, this was not for the good of the City of Newburyport, but good for the developer’s bank account.

What’s interesting is with the departure of former Planning Director, Nick Cracknell (will we find out this week who really got the grand prize of an offer to replace him), the residents are becoming much more aware of what is going on and much more vigilant. And what I see are citizens picking up some of the slack, no longer having Mr. Cracknell there to protect them.

Maybe folks would have turned out with pitchforks objecting to the developer’s proposition, or maybe not. However, they are now and good for them.

No matter who gets picked for Planning Director for Newburyport, MA, it will be imperative for citizens to keep on being vigilant and speak up and protect our seaport city from what we believe to be inappropriate development.

Maybe developers, lawyers, architects and the Mayor will wish they had kept on former Planning Director Nick Cracknell. Let’s make having a “chat” with Nick Cracknell look like a “walk in the park,” wouldn’t that be fun.

Mary Eaton

(Editor’s note: A follow up: Apparently the Newburyport Zoning Board of Appeals denied the application by Great Woods Post Beam to permit a multi-family use for the properties at 7-9 Cherry Street. As I understand it the findings of the Board will soon be finalized and signed.)

The Job for Newburyport’s Planning Director

The information on the fact that the job for Town Planner for the City of Walpole was posted on July 25th came as an anonymous tip.

I’m not kidding. And the Newburyport Political Blog has never received an anonymous tip before.

(One of the 3 candidates for Newburyport Planning Director, Christopher Ryan, is or was, I guess, the Town Planner for Walpole.)

I really and truly have no idea what this means. It could in fact mean any number of things. But one thing that it does mean is that people are really, really watching the process of who the next Planning Director for Newburyport, Massachusetts will be. And that, I guess, says a lot.

Mary Eaton

Planning Director, Newburyport

Ok, just to be completely paranoid here, the job for Town Planner for Walpole (see previous post) was posted on July 25, 2006 (and expires August 25, 2006.) That was yesterday.

Pure speculation, but it is an odd coincidence that it was posted yesterday and John Moak has been meeting with candidates this week.

Just a reminder. The Newburyport City Council has to approve whatever nomination Mayor John Moak makes. And if Christopher Ryan is in fact his candidate, and does not have the skills and experience necessary, we are counting on the Newburyport City Council to step up to the plate big time. We as citizens are counting on the Newburyport City Council to vote down any candidate that would not be qualified for the Planning Director of Newburyport, Massachusetts.

Mary Eaton

Newburyport, Planning Director

Oh boy folks. The Town of Walpole appears to be seeking a new Town Planner. This is from the Massachusetts Municipal Association website.

I got to tell you that I am a little confused as to why the Walpole Town Planner is a candidate for the Newburyport job. Not to be cynical here, but does Christopher Ryan still have the job? And why did Mr. Ryan leave? And to be really, really cynical has the job as Newburyport Planning Director already been promised to Christopher Ryan? Wow.

Here is the information that has been posted on the Massachusetts Municipal Association website:

*Town Planner*

Town of Walpole

Walpole seeks individuals for Town Planner position. Works under direction of Planning Board. Highly technical, administrative work in planning, organizing and coordinating the programs that shape short/long-range land-use/community development needs of Town. Works with Planning Board to rewrite Town’s Zoning Bylaws. Assists in research, preparation and administrations of proposals/ grants for applicable governmental/private funding sources. Bachelor’s degree in land-use/urban planning or closely related field with 2 years municipal planning experience required. Master’s degree in urban planning/related field; AICP certification preferred. Knowledge of urban/regional planning principles/practices, zoning laws and comprehensive plans including their formation, process of adoption/enforcement. Knowledge of civil engineering, architecture, graphic presentation as applied to planning, economic, sociological and environmental aspects of planning. Knowledge of GIS. $57,846-$66,447. Send cover letter with resume to Town of Walpole, Personnel, 135 School St., Walpole, MA 02081 by 8/31/06. (posted 7/25, exp. 8/25)

The posting is also on the Town of Walpole’s website:

Mary Eaton

Sponsors and the Newburyport Political Blog

I’m flirting with this idea of maybe having “sponsors” for the Newburyport Political Blog.

Someone told me recently that they thought the blog was “classy.” Now I’ve thought of a lot of adjectives for the Newburyport Political Blog but that one never occurred to me. And I thought, well, if one person thinks the Newburyport Political Blog is “classy,” maybe other people do too.

The blog had 10,000 readers in the month of June. Which might not be a lot for some bloggers, but I was pretty surprised by that number. The readership appears to be mostly local, but has a small but growing national following.

The blog is what it is. I don’t exactly think the banks would be real interested since I keep harping on the fact that the Five Cents Savings Bank demolished an historic building in downtown Newburyport. (Although they appear to be making “restitution” by helping the Newburyport Historical Society rescue the Perkins Mint.)

I imagine local business might be wary, the blog is somewhat controversial and who wants to lose any business at all if you’re a small business owner. Although there is a lot of chit chat about not having chain stores in Newburyport on the Newburyport Political Blog.

Mr. Karp isn’t exactly getting wonderful press here.

Forget developers and realtors who sell their projects. I think those folks are definitely out.

So I’m not exactly sure who’s left for this nifty idea of sponsorship.

But, the blog does champion historic preservation, speaks up against inappropriate infill, appears to be a big fan of open space, champions the Newburyport Master Plan, gives folks a voice who otherwise can’t find one. It does give our mayor a hard time, but on the other hand the editor of the Newburyport Political Blog does not want to see him fail. And the blog does have a certain perspective that might not jive with everyone who is in the political arena, although it does try to be fair and balanced, and may or may not succeed.

So this is what I was thinking.

$10 a week or $30 dollars a month to be a sponsor on the sidebar of the Newburyport political Blog. Chabot Web Design is a good example. It’s their logo, made to fit in with the look of the blog. (And let’s face it, there’s no bigger sponsor than Mary Baker Art, that one was easy.)

$25 a week to have a banner across the main page of the blog, where the Google ads are now. $25 a week to have a banner on all the individual pages that show up in the individual search engines. (And the Newburyport Political Blog appears to show up on the search engines a lot.) I’d work on something classy but effective, Chabot Web Design again being an example.

And for $10 a pop, a sponsor could have a space in an individual post that would then zip out with the RSS feed and appear all over the place. Seems like a pretty good deal to me.

So I’m floating this idea of sponsorship for the Newburyport Political Blog. I think it has to be a pretty good place to let people know that they and their business exist.

Thanks so much,

Mary Baker Eaton
Editor of the Newburyport Political Blog

Newburyport, Endangered Historic Resources

Sally Chandler © 2004
Wheelwright Historical Garden

The gardens of Newburyport’s Wheelwright House have been nominated for Preservation Massachusetts’ (formerly called Historic Massachusetts) Ten Most Endangered Resource Program.

Endangered Resource Program “chump change?” No.

High Street was nominated and won in 1999. The only roadway ever nominated. It was a very, very big deal. (Fenway Park made it to the top ten that year too, and it’s still standing, thank you very much.)

People bellyache about the Federal Street Overlay, but in 2001 the two historic houses, the William Barlett House and the William Johnson House in the Federal Street Overlay District made it to the top ten. Not only are they still standing, but they both have been lovingly restored, with deed restrictions no less.

(If we can’t have a large Local Historic Districts anytime in my lifetime, maybe people with historic properties could think about deed restrictions for the benefit of the future generations of Newburyport, Massachusetts.)

The “Common Pasture” made it to the top ten in 2004, and the Common Pasture has had many successes. So all of you out there in web land who are sick of acquiring Open Space, don’t forget that one.

From what I can make out, deed restrictions are being placed on the Wheelwright dwelling itself, but nothing that I’ve heard protects the historic Wheelwright gardens.

So what’s with the gardens anyway? Who cares? Parking lots are practical. And how much work would it take to keep that thing up anyway. And who even gets to see it, good grief.

You can hear the rational. Yes?

But historic gardens, like open space or any other historic resource in Newburyport, MA, add to the intrinsic value of the place that we all live or love to visit. To pave over this little piece of paradise would be an incredible travesty and the garden is something that could never, ever be replaced.

So the Endangered Resource List is an incredibly powerful tool. And just because a garden has never been listed before, doesn’t mean that Preservation Massachusetts wouldn’t think it wasn’t just a dandy idea. It wouldn’t be the first time that they thought “outside the box.”

Mary Eaton

Newburyport, The Search for Planning Director

Shephanie Chelf wrote a terrific article in today’s Newburyport Daily News, July 25, 2006 on the search for a Planning Director for Newburyport, Massachusetts.

To quote today’s story:

“Moak declined to release the candidates’ resumes yesterday, citing an opinion from the city attorney. Capriola said the mayor would not release the information out of concern for personal information listed on resumes and cover letters.

Moak’s decision may be a violation of state public records laws. Typically, resumes of finalists are released because they are considered by state law to be public documents. The Daily News obtained resumes and cover letters for the three finalists from others who are involved in the hiring process.”

And so much for an open and transparent government. A possible violation of the state public records laws. My.

Good for Stephanie Chelf that she was industrious enough to get the resumes and cover letters from other folks.

And what do these resumes and cover letters tell us.

One of the things that I know many people are concerned about is that some of the candidates simply do not have enough qualifications for the job, and they are confused as to why they made it into the final cut, and other more qualified candidates did not. As Ms Chelf so tactfully put it, “The three remaining finalists have a range of planning experience.”

Of the three, Laura Harbottle, Town Planner for Scituate appears to be the most qualified, hands down. (You’ll have to read Ms Chelf’s story.)

Christopher Ryan, Town Planner for Walpole, would not strike me as being qualified for the job (at least on paper) of Planning Director in Newburyport, MA. Personally, I would want someone a whole lot more seasoned and experienced.

And Brian White, Senior Planner in Savannah, GA, according to today’s paper, “was informed of the planning position from Maria Capriola, assistant to Mayor John Moak. Capriola worked for the city of Savannah prior to coming to Newburyport.”

Again, not enough experience in my book, and Mr. White appears to agree.

“My educational background is in planning and geography. The position in Newburyport interests me because it would be a challenging opportunity to lead a planning department, but one I feel capable of doing.”

Personally, for such a vital, demanding and sometimes overwhelming job, I would want someone who knew they were capable of doing it and had proven it, not someone who felt they might be capable of doing it. Good grief. No wonder Mr. Moak didn’t want anyone to see these resumes and cover letters.

So good for the Stephanie Chelf and the Newburyport Daily News for doing a first rate story and getting the information that we all wanted to know, even though Mayor John Moak apparently didn’t want to part with it.

Mary Eaton

Newburyport, Commission for Diversity and Tolerance


Newburyport –The Commission for Diversity and Tolerance seeks adult and youth commission members to fill open positions. Established in 2005, the Commission meets monthly and works with the police, schools, city government, service agencies and the business community to eliminate incidents of hate in our community and to create a place of welcome for all. We have developed a Communications Plan with a protocol for response to hate crimes, and we proactively reach out to the community through the Peace Prize, mini-grants and Peace month activities. This fall we hope to strengthen our community partnerships providing a forum to work together to eliminate bias, hateful acts and violence in our City.

Please send a letter of interest with resume or applicable experience by August 5th to Beth Horne, Commission for Diversity and Tolerance, P.O. Box 1283, Newburyport, MA 01950.

The Commission for Diversity and Tolerance was established by ordinance in September, 2005. The nine member commission is charged with fulfilling its mission of, “…promoting a sense of welcome, inclusion and worth for all and to eliminate prejudice, intolerance, discrimination, and acts of hate in our community,” by developing events and recognition of individuals and organizations in the community supporting these ideals. The Commission subsumed the former Partnership for Peace which began the Peace Prize and Mini-grants more than 10 years ago. It also replaced the No Place for Hate Committee efforts which began in 2000, when Newburyport was qualified by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) as a “No Place for Hate” community—a nationwide effort with the ADL’s World of Difference campaign. Through the Commission Newburyport remains a No Place for Hate community.

Contact: Commissioners Beth Horne 978-465-1871 and Kent Allen 978-465-0533