Long Overdue Apology to the city of Salem Massachusetts.

Dear City of Salem,

I hope this letter finds you in good health and high spirits. I write to you today with a heavy heart, filled with remorse and regret. It is with utmost sincerity that I wish to apologize for the negative campaign I conducted in the aftermath of my father’s untimely demise.

First and foremost, please allow me to express my deep condolences for any pain or distress that my actions may have caused. I fully recognize that my behavior was inappropriate and completely inconsistent with the values of respect, integrity, and compassion that should underpin any political discourse.

The passing of my father was an extremely difficult and emotionally challenging period for me. In the midst of my grief and vulnerability, I regrettably allowed my emotions to cloud my judgment and guide my actions. It is by no means an excuse, but merely an explanation for the lapse in my behavior.

I now realize the gravity of my actions and the negative impact they had on the City of Salem and its residents. My intention was never to tarnish the reputation of this great city or to sow discord within the community. I acknowledge the harm caused and take full responsibility for my actions.

As a member of this community, I am committed to making amends and learning from my mistakes. I pledge to conduct myself with the utmost professionalism, empathy, and respect moving forward. I understand that trust is earned over time, and I am prepared to work diligently to regain the trust and confidence of the people I have let down.

Moreover, I would like to extend an invitation to engage in constructive dialogue with the residents of Salem, so that we may discuss the issues that matter most to our community and find common ground for progress. I believe in the power of unity and collaboration, and I am committed to using my platform for the betterment of our city.

Once again, I am deeply sorry for my negative campaign and the repercussions it had on the City of Salem. I understand that forgiveness may take time, and I am willing to put in the effort to rebuild bridges and contribute positively to the community.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter, and I humbly request your understanding and forgiveness.

With profound remorse,

Skip Bensley

My sister Robin has passed away.

Robin Leigh Arena

May 18, 2023

Robin Leigh Arena, 59, wife of Erive Urena of Norwalk passed away unexpectedly on Thursday, May 18, 2023.

Born in Chicago, IL, on July 10, 1963, she was the daughter of the late Robert R. and Sharon Howard Bensley.

Robin had a way of lighting up any room she entered. You could feel her warmth with every smile and hug she would offer you. Her kindness in every day life, from providing food for a local homeless man for many years, to having meaningful conversations with the cashiers at CVS. No matter stranger or loved one Robin welcomed you into her heart with open arms. Her love will forever live within us as we carry on her legacy trying to be the best versions of ourselves for her.

In addition to her husband, Erive, Robin is survived by her daughters Jordan Arena of Norwalk, CT and Sarah Arena of Los Angeles, CA. Siblings Robert (Skip) Bensley and Vicki Stevenson.

Calling hours will be held on Thursday, May 25, from 4:00 to 7:00 PM at Collins Funeral Home, 92 East Avenue, Norwalk, CT. 

For those who wish to send flowers to the family of Robin Arena, please visit https://www.brucesflowers.com/. Floral arrangements can be sent to Collins Funeral Home. Please ensure that the flowers arrive no later than 5/25 to be included in the service.

Salem We are so screwed…

So the two gentlemen left vying for Mayor of Salem ( 3 year term) are Dominic Pangallo and Neil Harrington.

I met Neil on the steps of the Post office and he seemed nice enough. Tall and a bit grumpy. He wouldn’t sign my papers for election but then again he does not live in Salem.

Dominic on the other hand has never given me the time of day. This might be because I was often at odds with Kim Driscoll and many of the things she did since I moved to Salem in 2016.

I have read some really bad things online about Neil from his run ins with coworkers in Salisbury to his being both bigoted and Trans and homophobic. I am pretty sure Salem will not tolerate another Harrington Mayoral

Dominic sits back and counts his money that Kim Drisdol raised for him before she left office, and he in turn campaigns on the coat tails of everything good Kim Driscoll did for Salem.

But what about the bad stuff. The over spending on fireworks, carnival rides, The North street debacle, The Sewer treatment pipe issue, anger, racism, lack of housing, ruining the public school system, raising taxes, Increasing pay for workers at City hall, the list is endless.

I hate to say this but Dominic in my mind is the safer choice for 3 years. Maybe he can clean up the messes Kim Driscoll created or at least a few of them and then we will have another election and hopefully better candidates.

Until then maybe the devil you know is better than the devil that is bigoted, trans and homophobic.

The story about the Skateboard and the tow line.

When I was old enough, I got my first skateboard. I had to buy it secretly with my own money saved from my paper route with the Standard star. I didn’t have pads, or wrist guards or a helmet it was just me and Hanson Lane. I would turn up onto Taymil road so I would not be seen flying by my house on Hanson Lane and I also hid my board under the back porch. I was getting really good at speed riding when a friend suggested he pull me on a boat tow line in traffic.

We set out that day with good intentions and ended up eventually on quaker ridge road up near Ward school and the hill known years previous as the site of the New Rochelle Soap box derby races.

The light changed and down we went, the Car towing me down the biggest hill in New Rochelle, what could possibly go wrong? Well, a police car that’s what. His siren was on there were two of us, the driver (Glen maybe) and me on my board.

As we neared the Pinebrook boulevard off ramp I figured I better release and let the driver fend for himself for being the tow driver. I cruised down to Pine brook and kept going heading south at warp speed towards downtown. A second police car was heard, and I bailed off my board I think somewhere near Evan Forster’s house on Pinebrook and sat there on my board like I hadn’t done a thing.

This only works in the movies as I soon learned, and the policeman was both complimentary and alarmed. He talked through his speaker and asked me to approach his car. I walked around to him, and he said board please. I gave him my board. He said, you and your friend were speeding on quaker ridge road, your friend got a ticket. If you want this board back, you can send your father down to pick it up at the police station. We can fill him in on the details of your surfing safari then. After getting my details he then said,

“You are out here going 50 miles an hour on a skateboard, with no pads, no helmet, you either are the best skate boarder in the state or you have a death wish kid”. Have a great day.

Nothing more to see here, I am no longer running for Mayor of Salem Massachusetts.

What was I thinking?

Running for Mayor of Salem, Massachusetts was like a nonstop dental exam. A constant reaching out trying to get answers only to be poked, prodded and probed in return. Salem Massachusetts politics is a dumpster fire and when the pipe on Willows Ave explodes all the planning will become an afterthought. It will be a literal shit show.

Perhaps I dodged a bullet again? I actually asked the man upstairs for a sign if I should be running for mayor and just an hour later, my bed broke in 3 places after 12 years.

People are really friendly in Gloucester and say hello almost always while out walking, people in Salem don’t and almost always appear to be in a hurry and visibly angry all the time. I had one woman curse me out for trying to get signatures because Kim Driscoll had abandoned her after winning again and then trotting off to the state house. I had another woman, an employee of Rockefeller’s flip me off while I was seeking signatures. You cannot renovate class. Then of course are those of you that said you were registered to vote but are not, you guys really suck. You waste your own time bitching, moaning and doing nothing to change your stars. Register to vote! or be happy with the nothing you voted for.

Climate change will swallow up Salem Willows by 2070. If you live there, you better jack up your house if you can. Elevation is the new norm, but how high can you actually go? If you live near the water well, I also hope you have really good insurance.

The Salem, MA schools are still a mess. Don’t believe all the stories you hear about the public school system turning the corner. I met with the Salem Teachers Union, and they are not convinced if body language is any indication. Why are we all so happy about a new high school being bantered about when our public-school accreditation is so egregiously low? Can we all thank the “education” Mayor Driscoll for that? Why are charter schools doing so well?

You cannot solve the affordable housing issues in Salem MA by building recklessly and not including affordable units in the planning stages. People will get further swept away. You should not build on a coastline that could be under water in 20 years unless you are doing so on stilts.

Getting back to my signature debacle, I had 118 signatures of which 24 were labeled NFG. I verified 9 of those NFG signatures but was only given one more signature by powers that be at the City Clerk’s election office. I was 6 signatures short. It was yet another sign. It’s funny that they called me a 4:30pm to tell me that I was short with only a 1/2 hour to go but I’ll let you ask them about that.

Please also, do not vote for Dominic Pangallo, he represents business as usual or Kim Jr as I refer to him. He knows where all the bodies are buried and obviously has pulled out all his hair from covering our former mayors’ tracks. There are also lots of people “invested” in business as usual so question everything Salem.

As the bumper sticker says,

I am not a gambler.

You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em Know when to walk away, and know when to run You never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table There’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealing’s done.

Even though I know in my heart I did this with the best intentions there is just too much bad karma floating around City hall in Salem. The need to control the messaging on social media outlets by folks associated with the former Mayor is Palpable. I will be better at this the next time around and I look forward to serving you then Salem.

After hearing back from the Elections department, they only accepted one additional signature of the 9 I submitted, I was still 6 signatures short. After talking with the league of women voters in Salem ( also set up by or for Kim Driscoll) I find my message opportunities at a decisive end for now as a candidate. I do however promise to comment when and where I see fit when I see something that makes me go hmm.

Be well and thanks.

Online Trolls

According to ChatGPT.

Online trolls often gain a sense of power or satisfaction from causing trouble or getting a reaction from others. They may also enjoy the anonymity and lack of accountability that the internet provides. Some trolls may also gain attention, either from the people they are trolling or from others who are watching the interactions. However, it’s important to note that not all trolls have the same motivations and they can range from individuals seeking attention, to those who are using trolling as a form of cyberbullying.

My experience :

I was asked by the Salem group on reddit to do an AMA and I really had no idea what reddit was or is. I went into the room and I was overwhelmed by the angry confrontation and insular mob within. I tried wholeheartedly initially to answer questions but I was over run. I tried to get some of the questions moved to Facebook but even then it was unmanageable.

I spent parts of two weeks trying to reason with characters and people hiding behind screen names. One of the luxuries and failings of reddit is the almost zero accountability. You don’t use your own name and your avatar and created identity becomes your own online personae. You can also vote someone up in agreement or down to silence them. This Salem group was great at both and tried as I might with ethos, pathos and logos to reason with anyone it was a non starter. I even tried launching a better Salemmass group hoping that people that wanted to engage would. This of course upset Reddit and they deleted that group. ( thank you Reddit)

I even invited members of that group to a meet up on a Thursday night at 5:00 pm I arrived a bit later at 5:15, I had an interview with a group of environmentalists in Salem, MA and it ran a bit longer than expected. I got there and it appeared nobody had shown up. I later learned that a 30 something male that was manically texting on his phone was a member of the Salem Reddit group but he lacked the social graces and abilities it appears to put down his phone and have a conversation. Yes he was rude in person like so many of his peers online. I drank my margarita finished my chips and guacamole and deleted my Reddit account.

What did I learn?

Peoples actions online and peoples actions in person are usually not the same except when it comes to members of Reddit. I was surprised to learn in fact that Trumps reddit was deleted from its platform. I would think Reddit would revere a loud mouth saying whatever hurtful things they could muster.

I’ll be honest I have a hand in this, I lost my cool but I was uninformed and unaware and it was an epic fail. Did I call the whole group of them a bunch of losers you bet I did. Are they voters who won’t vote for me? probably. But if I got them thinking about actually voting in the special election for somebody else or anyone I can take some solace that my work was done. I learned much, I will continue to learn and I will use it going forward.

My father’s obituary

Robert “Russ” Bensley Obituary

Robert “Russ” Bensley finished his final broadcast on August 9, 2022. The oldest (by minutes) child of Robert Daniel Bensley and Sylvia Gates Holton Bensley, Russ is survived by his children Skip Bensley, Robin Arena, and Vicki (Ryan) Stevenson; his grandchildren CJ, Sabrina, Jordan, Sarah, Andrew, and Ryan, as well as his twin brother Edward (Laura) Bensley. He is predeceased by his wife, Patrica Bannon Bensley. Also survived and predeceased by a sea of those who admired and respected him throughout his long career at CBS, as a horse farmer, and as an overall great guy.

Russ grew up on and around the University of Chicago campus, where his grandfather was the head of and his mother professor of Anatomy (and the first female graduate of the University of Chicago Medical School), and his father and aunt were integral to the vast scientific advances made there, particularly in the realm of diabetes research, for which the senior Robert Russell Bensley won a Banting Medal. He graduated from Hyde Park High School and went on to earn both an undergraduate and master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University. During his years there, he commuted daily from Hyde Park, as he was also caring for his grandfather.

Russ’ career began in radio, eventually landing him at the WBBM-TV station, where he wrote and anchored the late-night news broadcast. Amusingly, this broadcast was watched by one Pat Bannon while sitting at Wally’s Tap in Homewood; she would meet him in person and then marry him almost 20 years later. Russ made his national news television debut doing “man on the street” interviews following the death of JFK.

The CBS network then brought him to New York, quickly making him a producer (eventually executive) of the Evening News with Walter Cronkite. In 1968 he took a crew to cover the Vietnam war, got shot, and then evacuated to a hospital that was then bombed.

“Not a great day” as he put it.

In 1971, he won the first of four Emmy awards for his work on the groundbreaking documentary, “The World of Charlie Company,” for CBS.

After his time on the evening news, he headed the Special Events Unity, covering events like space shuttle launches, royal weddings, and presidential conventions and elections. He recently told his family he loved special events because he wanted to be where the action was. He was the executive producer of On the Road with Charles Kuralt, which he enjoyed for the interesting and uplifting stories. He also taught journalism courses as a guest teacher in a variety of settings, including Columbia University, New York.

After his retirement from CBS in 1985, he, Pat and daughter Vicki moved to Niles, MI, where they raised Morgan Horses until 2003. When asked about what seemed like a major life change, Russ was frequently known to quip, “It’s just a different kind of manure.” He continued remote work for CBS for almost 3 years, putting together a videocassette series, The Vietnam War with Walter Cronkite.

After horse-farming, he took up his favorite title full-time-Grandpa. Russ and Pat moved to Homewood, IL (where Pat had grown up) in 2003, and he remained there until 2014, when he moved into the home his daughter, Vicki, and husband Ryan built for them. He enjoyed the rest of his years in the “west wing” with Vicki, Ryan, his grandsons Andrew and Ryan, and a variety of cats and dogs whom he adored. His grandsons clearly benefited from his constant presence; both have gone into journalism.

Russ celebrated his 84th birthday by jumping out of a “perfectly good” airplane, handling it like a pro, and at 86 had to have an amputation of his lower leg (unrelated to the jumping out of an airplane) proceeding to put everyone in rehab – including 30-year-olds – to shame. (Upon waking from surgery being asked how he was, he replied, “Footloose and fancy-free.”) He walked at home without so much as a cane, and used a walker only at the annoying insistence of his daughter. Until the stroke that disabled him seven weeks prior to his death, he took daily walks, got his own paper and did the crosswords, all while shaking his head at the changes in TV news.

Russ’ colleagues say he was among the best in the business, and to this day speak with great admiration and affection for him and his work. Giants in the industry have described him as “one of the all-time great television news producers and editors” and “the best newsman television ever had….[and] that for a few years a lot of Americans got their information about what was going on in the world from the honest and direct way [he] chose to tell them.”

Russ’ kind heart was even bigger for animals. If you are inclined to honor him in some way, please make a donation in his name to the South Suburban Humane Society, where many of his beloved pets came from. If you want to honor him another way, sneak some oreo cookies and perhaps a good, dark beer.

And above all, the family encourages you use the phrase he was famous for as often as you can – “Everything is Going to be All Right.”

#TBT Story

The one about when “There was no Joy, in Joyriding”

So as teens when you are raised in an affluent part of Westchester County in New York State you run out of things to do. Mini bikes did it, go carts did it, joy riding in a stolen parents car with only a learners permit, hmmm.

My pal Glenn had just gotten his learners permit and was glad when his parent’s went away for a week. Jon and Glenn, Beth L and I all jumped into Glenn’s fathers pristine gold tone Volvo and off we went. There we were driving around like adults with no license and a fast turbo charged 4 cylinder leather interior barca-lounger to joy ride in.

We drove down Quaker ridge road then down weaver street. We buzzed by the YWHA just in case anyone we knew saw us. WE turned around in the Golden Horshoe parking lot, and then headed back down weaver when we ran into a police car coming in the opposite direction.

Shit!. We were spooked of course and Jon suggested we take the back roads back to their house near Quaker ridge road. It was a sunny day 70’s sprinklers were going in this neighbor hood on the cusp of Scarsdale and New Rochelle. Music was playing, we were laughing and then the Golden Volvo skidded just a little and we grazed the oncoming station wagon making a rather noticeable dent on the driver left side. No body was hurt but Glenn was having kittens and Jon was trying to comfort his brother. It was then that we all got out to see the damage and make sure the other car was ok.

To our shock and surprise 4 teenagers ( from Scarsdale perhaps) were doing the same surveying of damage. I yelled out are you guys ok, they said yes but that they were fucked, and thats when jumped back into the Volvo and headed to Jon and Glenn’s house. What were the chances that 8 kids went joy riding in 2 stolen cars and crashed into one another. They had to be astronomical, but we did it.

We got back to Jon and Glenn’s house talked about it and headed our seperate ways. I got a call from Jon later and he walked me thru the parent story about how his dads car got stolen and was being driven to the bronx by another friend and that I should stick to that story if his dad followed up with me. This plan while well thought out and executed did have one flaw, my father standing behind me very intently listening. Suffice it to say there was no joy from that joy riding and it took over a year to get ungrounded and be allowed to hang with Jon and Glenn again.

To Glenn’s credit I think he spent the next 6 years working part time and paying for his Dad’s Golden Volvo. He was allowed to breathe air as long as he bought the car he stole.