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MAYORAL RACE – Blame For Senior Center Status Cuts Both Ways

Driscoll, Prevey, and 2013 City Council All Are Culpable For Current Situation

Problems For Salem Seniors Go Beyond One New Building

By William Legault


It’s time, past time, to throw a little cold water on those who choose to use the senior citizens of Salem as a political football.

In 2013 I was initiated onto the Salem City Council by being involved in the foolishness that was inflicted upon the city during the public meeting on who would replace Joan Lovely after she was elected to the Massachusetts Senate.  A little more than a month later I endured my trial by fire over the Senior Center debate concerning the current and still not a physical reality facility at Boston and Bridge Streets.

While on the council I tried unsuccessfully to deal with what I considered the one true injustice inflicted on of the seniors of Salem. It was not the condition of the senior center, although the building was deplorable then and remains deplorable today.

Both the incumbent and the challenger for the City hall corner office have staked out ground on the situation at the corner of Boston Street and Bridge Street.  A recent groundbreaking and some work being done at the site for the former, and statements from the latter concerning how shameful it is that we still have no actual new senior center.

This issue is a flaw in the Mayor Driscoll’s armor. No matter how you parse it, the fact that 12 years into her administration we still do not have a new Community Life Center does not work in her favor. Despite the recent groundbreaking,  I will not believe that this Community Life Center is real until I see it opened.  The delays have been to convenient for the developer.

The matter is a also a weak one for Paul Prevey.  No matter how you slice it, the fact that he, as a city councillor voted against the St. Joseph’s site as a location means that he, and other others who voted against it have culpability in the current and sad state of affairs. That vote a few years back began a long, quiet and festering dialogue in this city that finally burst into controversy this year with the sanctuary city issue.

It should be noted that all, not just Paul Prevey who were on the city council in 2013 also have culpability in this mess.

If any of those who are running for elective office in Salem this year want to actually do something good for the seniors I have a simple suggestion. Stop using them to hit each other over the head. Instead have a good long look at the Salem Housing Authority (SHA).

Instead of buying pizza, ice cream, and flowers for our seniors, tour some of the buildings that they live in.  Not the showcase ones that the SHA wants you to see. Have a look at the other buildings, at their other properties. Tour the buildings where those who don’t know somebody, or who don’t know the right people are assigned to live.  Speak to some of those who are so terrified of being thrown out into the street that they will not speak openly.

The biggest problem, the real injustice for our seniors is not the lack of a senior center that most do not, and will not use. The biggest problem is the autocracy at the Salem Housing Authority that has to answer to no one, no one at all.

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