Lady killer

10Sep22

Tony Costa is the most vicious serial killer you never heard of, which is all the more remarkable considering he plied his trade right here in Massachusetts.

He didn’t just murder his victims. He eviscerated and dismembered them. And like so many other serial killers, Tony Costa was a real tough guy. He preyed on girls. He was suspected of killing at least eight young women.

Costa’s story is the subject of Helltown, a new book by Casey Sherman, who takes a novel approach to telling this tale of horror on Cape Cod.
Continue reading ‘Lady killer’


The state of Massachusetts wants more control over municipal decision-making and is threatening to withhold state funding from cities and towns that do not comply with its social and climate goals disguised as zoning.

New state guidelines based on a law passed by the legislature and signed by Gov. Charlie Baker last January require that every community with MBTA service (like Wakefield) must have at least one zoning district near a transit station in which multi-family housing is allowed by right.

“By right” means that developers can come in and build multi-family residential buildings without the bother of getting a Special Permit, variance or other relief from the local Zoning Board.
Continue reading ‘Developing a climate plan’


A Boston University study recently found that municipal zoning boards, planning boards and redevelopment boards are dominated by white male homeowners.

Wait. Men are more interested in construction, development and zoning than women are? What’s the next bombshell revelation – male drivers won’t ask for directions?

Fight the urban planning patriarchy!

Speaking of zoning and development, it’s time for your periodic reminder that most of the development you’ve been seeing in recent years is happening in and around the downtown district and along public transportation routes, not on the leafy suburban lanes of Greenwood or the West Side.

That’s not by accident, but it’s not a conspiracy, either – unless you consider Wakefield Town Meeting a “conspiracy.” In November of 2015, Town Meeting voters approved a zoning change designed to encourage mixed-use development in the downtown business districts and along public transit lines.

It has worked exactly as Town Meeting intended.
Continue reading ‘A revolting development’


Let’s start by stipulating that there will be a new Wakefield Memorial High School.

And it will be fabulous.

We know this because the local education lobby is very motivated and highly coordinated. We saw it in the recent Town Election. The three School Committee winners were all educators or former educators. And all three finished within 72 votes of each other. That’s not a coincidence. The top two had almost identical vote counts.

When the time comes to vote for the debt exclusion or override for the new high school, the same forces will again marshal the vote and overwhelm any feeble pushback from the taxpayers, assuming the taxpayers mount any pushback at all. Phyllis Hull and Mike Conley are no longer here to lead the resistance.
Continue reading ‘High school math’


A cold October rain was falling as I turned my rented Nissan Sunny down the dirt lane in the village of Portglenone, Northern Ireland. The road was barely wide enough for one vehicle and had grass growing between tire-worn tracks. Up on a hill in the distance, I could make out a pickup truck. A man closed a gate behind the truck, then got behind the wheel and began driving down the long, winding road in my direction.

One of us was going to have to pull over into the tall grass along the side to let the other pass. Having no idea if I was on private property, I wondered if this could be the land-owner who might not appreciate my trespassing.

It was 1994, and I was in the middle of a three-week solo road trip through Ireland. I had come with no particular itinerary, except at some point I wanted to see where my maternal grandparents had come from. I had crossed the border into Northern Ireland the previous day and made my way farther north to my grandfather’s home village of Portglenone in County Antrim.
Continue reading ‘An Irish homecoming’


Brave New World

11Mar22

Less than a year after dumping the Warrior logo, the Wakefield School Committee continues to demonstrate that they are more in tune with global causes than they are with the local taxpayers who pay the freight.

Last week, they quietly changed Columbus Day to “Columbus Day/Indigenous Peoples Day.”

And nobody said a word.

The 2022-2023 School Calendar approved by the School Committee last week lists Monday, Oct. 10, 2022 as “Columbus Day/Indigenous Peoples Day.” I’m shocked that they gave Columbus top billing.
Continue reading ‘Brave New World’


With COVID on the wane, last week everyone in Wakefield was finally liberated from the imperative to cover their faces. Everyone, that is, except those least at risk from the virus: school children. That’s what’s known as “following the science.”

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) lifted the state’s indoor mask mandate last week, and the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has said that masks no longer need to be worn in public schools as of Feb. 28. When two of the most alarmist state agencies are saying masks can go, you know that everybody is done.

Everybody, that is, except certain overwrought local officials, who can’t seem to let it go.
Continue reading ‘The naked and the masked’




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