Councilor Judith Garcia joined the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund, the nation’s preeminent Latino leadership organization, and more than 30 other Latino elected officials from across the country for the National Policy Institute on Emergency Response and Management from March 7-8, in Washington D.C..
Councilor Judith Garcia speaking last month in Washington, D.C., at the National Latino Elected and Appointed Officials conference.
The NALEO Educational Fund’s National Policy Institute on Emergency Response and Management provided Councilor Garcia and other Latino policymakers, some who had previously completed the NALEO Educational Fund’s Policy Institute on Emergency Planning and Preparedness, with the opportunity to enhance their knowledge and understanding of the Incident Command System (ICS 402) and the various ways ICS can be applied to respond, and recover from various types of disasters and emergencies; and best practices for such situations.
“The training provided us with an in depth look at how our emergency responders operate in dynamic conditions,” stated Garcia. “By elected officials having an inside look into the incident management system, we can better appreciate the challenges and needs of our public safety personnel.”
Participants from 12 states and varying levels of office joined NALEO Educational Fund and Councilor Garcia in our nation’s capital for this timely training. Elected officials in attendance came from Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York and Texas.
The Policy Institute convened state legislators and local policymakers with leading experts from the public and private sectors for two days of professional development that combined classroom and interactive learning. During the two-day training, Garcia had the opportunity to receive timely information, strengthen governance skills, and exchange ideas and best practices with colleagues from across the country.
The event was made possible through the generous support of Title Sponsor, State Farm®. A full schedule and agenda is available at http://www.naleo.org/2017_emergency_response.
For the first time ever, Chelsea played host to a state budget hearing of the Black and Latino Legislative Caucus on Monday night, April 10, as one stop on a statewide listening tour.
Chaired by Rep. Russell Holmes of Roxbury and incoming Chair Frank Moran of Lawrence, the Caucus made a brief statement telling the crowded Council chambers that the tour was part of a way for the Caucus to get a pulse on the communities they represent. By hearing the community, they can take back those priorities to the state and fight for money in the overall State Budget.
Gov. Charlie Baker released his proposed budget earlier in the year, but the House of Representatives released their proposal on Monday, with public hearings now coming and debate ready to ensue until July 1 – when the overall final State Budget is supposed to be signed.
Key to getting the tour to Chelsea was Councillor Roy Avellaneda and Council President Leo Robinson.
“This is a great opportunity for our community to speak,” said Avellaneda. “I’m grateful you’re doing this tour around the state and that Chelsea is a stop on the tour.”
And speak the City did.
Kicking off the proceedings, given the changes in the administration and especially within immigration regulations, Attorney Ivan Espinosa was allowed to testify about the case that he has brought against President Donald Trump for the City of Chelsea and the City of Lawrence.
Espinosa represents the Lawyers Committee for Economic Justice, which he said started at the behest of President John F. Kennedy in 1968.
He spoke about the importance of sanctuary cities and the designation of Massachusetts as a sanctuary state.
“We do not need to spend our local and state resources to do the federal government’s bidding,” he said. “They have plenty of resources.”
He also relayed a story about a woman whose son had been beaten up at school and sent home without a report to the police or medical attention. Espinosa said the principal told her that it happened because the son and mother had no rights because they were not in the country legally.
This, he said, happened in Massachusetts.
“These are not stories from South Carolina or Texas; they are stores from local families here in Massachusetts,” he said.
He said it’s important to fight for sanctuary status in Chelsea and to expand it statewide so that it doesn’t become like other states that are “laboratories for bigotry.”
The greatest part of the meeting, however, came from school officials in Chelsea and Revere – who testified that the state needs to address the problem of low-income kids not getting properly counted in the two-year old education funding formula. In that formula, only kids whose families are on public benefits qualify to be classified as low income or economically disadvantaged. Having such a status allows for extra funding for the school district to address the needs that come with poverty.
However, those funds are not coming to districts like Chelsea, Revere and about eight others.
Supt. Mary Bourque implored the Caucus to fund the ‘pothole’ account again, which provides temporary monies to the districts to make up for what has been lost. However, she said a permanent fix is needed.
She said 2,000 students were missing from the count in Chelsea, resulting in a potential loss in the coming budget of up to $2.7 million.
“If the pothole account comes before you, support it,” she said. “If it does not, please propose it.”
City Manager Tom Ambrosino said a permanent fix is necessary.
“It needs addressing,” he said. “DESE recognizes it. We need a permanent fix.”
School Committee Chair Jeannette Velez said Chelsea cannot retain the best teachers because so many cuts are implemented to make up for the shortfalls.
“We can’t keep having this turnover of teachers,” she said. “We need the right people here because Chelsea is unique.”
Revere Supt. Dianne Kelly implored the Caucus to find a permanent solution.
“They have not come up with a fix to change the formula,” she said. “The pothole account is not sustainable…It’s not fair to our communities.”
Citing patience in the market, a familiarity with the area, the prospects of Chelsea and the presence of a solid pharmaceutical tenant, a New York company said it is excited to have purchased a commercial building on Everett Avenue for $17.4 million in late February.
The North River Company of New York purchased the building on Feb. 28 from CGI properties of Brookline, which is under Hal Garnick. Right now, the building houses Acorda Therapeutics, a biotechnology company working on a key Parkinson’s Disease drug that is in the process of being reviewed by the federal government. Previously, the building was occupied by Alkermes Pharmaceuticals.
Chris Pachios of North River said not to let the business address fool anyone. Even though they are a New York company, Pachios cut his teeth on real estate in this very area with the Phil Burgess company. Meanwhile, he also has very experienced people on the ground in Boston, including associate Andy Duloc.
“When I started in the business in the 1990s, I worked with Phil Burgess, who has made a career out of the inner suburban industrial parcels of land, including places like Chelsea, Malden, Medford, Somerville and East Boston. Phil sold us our first property in the Boston area too, in East Boston. I have known the area very well over time and am very comfortable there. Certainly, with the Silver Line next to this building, that’s important. The FBI location is big. We believe in public transportation and proximity to urban centers. Boston is right there and it’s not going anywhere.”
Pachios said they have been beefing up their portfolio in the industrial suburbs of Boston recently as they have seen them begin to show strong growth or the prospect of strong growth in the near future.
The company began by purchasing the East Boston warehouse property at 175 McClellan Highway, then purchased 200 Inner Belt Road in Somerville near Assembly Row, and then 197 Commercial Street in Malden.
The Chelsea building on Everett Avenue was the fourth purchase for the company in the area. He said they aren’t looking for things to change overnight, but they see that there is a lot of promise in the location they have purchased.
“We are a patient real estate company,” he said. “This situation shows some real promise. There’s a long-term tenant in place, but we also like residential uses…Clearly what’s happening is in the future we’ll find opportunities for different uses.”
He also pointed to the development of places down the road, such as the impending Fairfield apartment community at the old Chelsea Clock site. That, along with other developments nearby, are working off of one another to the good of the entire district.
“It’s one of the great things about real estate, what people do around you can end up helping everyone of the long term,” he said.
Duloc, vice president of North River, said they are excited about the acquisition.
“We feel very good about being in Chelsea,” he said. “We like to think that it has a great tenant right now with a lot of potential growth. It was a good acquisition for us.”
He said Acorda is on a 10-year lease in the building with good terms. He said they have a Parkinson’s drug that uses and inhaler delivery system that is in the drug pipeline with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
That, along with the potential in Chelsea, has their company excited to be the newest player on Everett Avenue.
“We’re a patient company, like Chris said,” said Duloc. “We hope in time we’re in the center of progress and the market will favor us.”
The scourge of hunger is growing in Chelsea, and with fear in the community due to federal immigration changes, many are not seeking help, and organizers of the 6th Annual Empty Bowls plan to stress that at their signature fundraising event on Thursday, April 20.
The annual event, which is from 5-7 p.m. at 180 Walnut St. in the Williams School, raises money to help provide food at the St. Luke’s Food Pantry, the St. Luke’s Soup Kitchen, the Salvation Army Food Pantry and the MGH Food Pantry. It is part of the Chelsea Hunger Network.
Ron Fishman of the Hunger Network said the situation around hunger in Chelsea is really at an alarming point.
“The situation has been growing and the need for food keeps on going up and it may continue to go up as programs are potentially cut as time goes on,” he said. “Because the community in Chelsea is pretty much stepping back from signing up for benefits from the government for fear of being exposed – and if undocumented – being taken away, the situation is getting worse. We feel people who qualify for WIC and food stamps aren’t getting the help because of fear. Therefore, the situation just gets worse. There is a real need in the City, and the situation just keeps on getting more difficult.”
The event costs $20 in advance and $25 at the door and children under 8 are free. Those participating will get a hand-painted bowl with hot soup and fresh bread. There will also be ice cream for the bowls this year donated by Mimi Rancatore of Toscanini’s in Cambridge. As another change, Fishman said they have added hand-painted mugs as he thinks there might be some “bowl fatigue” out there after six years of having the event.
A bigger part of the event will be educating those in attendance about the huge numbers of people who are food insecure, who do not have enough food to last the entire month.
“Healthy Chelsea did a survey a few years ago and found that more than 50 percent of people who responded said that at the end of the month they would run out of food,” he said. “That’s a mammoth number and it’s only worse now. That was a few years ago. It’s a situation that doesn’t get recognized as being so prevalent for people who don’t have that issue.”
Some statistics from 2016 showed that St. Luke’s Food Pantry gave out 280,667 pounds of food to 11,339 people. The Greater Boston Food Bank reported one in eight Chelsea residents may be struggling with food insecurity and one in four lives in poverty. The cost of food in Suffolk County is 28 percent higher than the national average.
To gear up for the event, 16 community ‘glazing parties’ were held between January and March to create the bowls and mugs. As a community service, Salem State University donated its time to fire the pieces in their kilns.
Those who volunteered to create the bowls included:
Senate President Stan Rosenberg, Senator Sal DiDomenico and Senator Will Brownsberger have sent a letter to the Massachusetts Congressional delegation urging them to fight against the Trump Administration’s proposed elimination of funding for Legal Services.
Last year, 23,000 low-income and elderly people in Massachusetts got help at Legal Services with foreclosures and evictions, domestic violence, illegal debt collection, veterans’ benefits, homelessness, immigration, and more.
Even with the current resources allocated, the State was not able to meet the demand for legal aid.
“Eliminating funding for Legal Services is short sighted and disproportionately harms those who cannot afford legal counsel including veterans and the elderly,” said Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst). “Massachusetts is not a place where we can make up the loss of federal funds. Justice delayed is justice denied.”
“Legal Services Corporation has helped to ensure equity under the law for low and moderate income individuals throughout the nation for decades,” said Senator Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett), chairman on the Senate Committee on Intergovernmental Affairs. “If implemented, these cuts would strip protections for thousands of people in the Commonwealth, from victims of domestic violence to our veterans and senior citizens. With this proposal, the President has created an unprecedented danger for the future of our civil justice system.”
“Cuts to Legal Services will deny those most in need of access to our justice system and will have a profound impact on our state budget. Legal Services funding should be a priority for all us who believe the values of taking care of our most vulnerable residents,” said Senator Will Brownsberger (D-Belmont) Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary.
According to the letter, elimination of funding from the Federal government would result in a $5 million decrease in funding from $45 million budget. This 11 percent cut would result in more than 2,500 people losing access to legal aid. The letter asks the members “to speak out, to stand up, and to hold everyone accountable who supports this unconscionable budget proposal.”
President Donald Trump’s full budget proposal will be released in May and Congress will debate funding levels in the coming months.
On April 2, Maria Yilma of Chelsea and several other Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine (Geisinger Commonwealth) master of biomedical sciences students participated in the 22nd annual Gift of Life Donor Dash in Philadelphia.
Gift of Life is a nonprofit organ procurement organization (OPO) that coordinates the recovery and distribution of organs used in transplants throughout eastern Pennsylvania. More than 12,000 people took part in either the 5k or 10k race benefiting the 5,400 individuals in the eastern Pennsylvania region waiting for an organ transplant.
Franklin Ochieng, of Philadelphia, chair of the student health and wellness group, created a Geisinger Commonwealth team to raise both awareness and donations for Gift of Life. Members of the team in addition to Ochieng included Geisinger Commonwealth students Johnny Chen, Sierra McCloud, Michael Scharf, Maria Yilma, Janette Pham and Fatimah Washington, as well as employees of the Baruch S. Blumberg Institute/Hepatitis B Foundation, and medical professionals from local Philadelphia hospitals.
Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine (Geisinger Commonwealth) is the newest member of the Geisinger Health System family. Geisinger Commonwealth offers a community-based model of medical education with campuses in Doylestown, Scranton, Sayre, Wilkes-Barre and Williamsport. Geisinger Commonwealth offers Doctor of Medicine (MD) and Master of Biomedical Sciences (MBS) degrees. The college’s innovative curriculum, focused on caring for people in the context of their lives and their community, attracts the next generation of physicians and scientists from within its 17-county region in northeastern and north central Pennsylvania, as well as from across the state and the nation. Geisinger Commonwealth is committed to non-discrimination in all employment and educational opportunities. Visit www.geisinger.edu/gcsom.
The problem of homelessness in Massachusetts continues to be the number one problem among individuals and families who struggle with poverty. Homelessness is the result of families and individuals unable to meet the growing demand of the housing market. The escalation in rents, fueled by the onset in local economic development, which caters to those who can afford market rent, has created a vacuum in the system that leads to homelessness. The “affordable” housing models work only for those who earn above 50% to 80% of the median income, while the majority of our poor who have income closer to 20% of median income are excluded. With limited public housing and rent subsidies, families are constantly faced with the problem of displacement and locating housing that meets their restricted family income. Not all individuals and families are capable of working. Many people have disabilities that prevent them from gainful employment. It is well known that the absence of stable, secure and sanitary housing leads to overcrowding, illness, poor nutrition, and dependence on the system, failure to achieve education goals, substance use and breakup of the family unit.
The Homebase Program, although valuable for those who are eligible, unfortunately does not meet the needs of those ineligible, which comprises a significant percent of those who experience homelessness and in particular defined as “chronically homeless”. Single adults and those with children who are not eligible for Emergency Assistance are not eligible for Homebase. The RAFT Program, although valuable, is available only after the Court has ordered an Execution for Possession. Therefore, we in the Commonwealth continue to experience homelessness among a substantial segment of the population, thus increasing the need to expand an already overburdened shelter system.
Fortunately, there is a solution that will remedy the majority of homelessness cases not addressed through existing programs. We know that homelessness is preventable in the vast majority of cases when there is early, casework intervention that utilizes resources designed to address the acute cause. The causes that lead to displacement must also be understood and the extent of the condition measured. When we identify the conditions that cause homelessness and initiate early intervention services, we avert displacement and stop the influx of most families into the shelter system. The cost to achieve this goal is far less than the cost to shelter families in hotels and motels. There will almost surely be a need to maintain a shelter system for those cases that are complex, but we can eliminate the use of hotels and minimize the use of shelters through aggressive intervention at an early stage. It should be noted that the decrease seen recently in the number of families placed in hotels, is a result of an increase in shelter beds and restrictive criteria for those who apply and are not eligible for Emergency Assistance.
An effective way to determine the likelihood of housing displacement is found by examining the annual household income in relationship to the annual housing cost. This calculation determines those “at risk” of homelessness. It is reasonable to define “at risk” as those households that expend in excess of 50% of their annual income on housing costs. “If your income is $500,000 a year, you can pay 40 percent and still have money left,” says Frank Nothaft, the chief economist at Freddie Mac. “But if your income is $20,000 a year, it will be hard to make ends meet if you’re paying 30 percent of your income on rent.” In considering this opinion and the demographics in Massachusetts, it is prudent to use the 50% marker to determine risk status.
At a recently conducted “at risk” housing survey conducted by Community Action Programs Inter-City, Inc. (CAPIC), which serves the Chelsea, Revere and Winthrop area, 51.1% or 261 respondents of 510 total respondents claim to spend more than 50% of their annual income on rent. More alarming is the revelation that 59% or 301 respondents are not able to pay their rent every month. 58% of the respondents fear they will be evicted due to non-payment, whereas only .09% has been homeless within the past two years! This result shows that those who are most “at risk” of displacement are not among the chronically homeless. It further demonstrates that there is a trend developing among those considered low wage earners that displacement is imminent and early intervention is indicated.
The way to avert displacement from housing involves developing intensive casework solutions before the family/individual is in crisis. Short-term financial resources are needed in order to prevent most displacements, combined with a concentrated effort to then stabilize the tenancy. Identify families and individuals who are “at risk” of being displaced from housing and assist them with early intervention services including, counseling, mediation, job assessment and short-term financial assistance. Provide long-term stabilization assistance to ensure on going tenancy.
Homelessness in Massachusetts can be prevented in the majority of cases through early identification of causes and aggressive intervention. Displacement from housing is preventable when the cause is identified and addressed at an early stage. Community Action Agencies have the mechanism in place to identify “at risk” households before displacement becomes imminent. The statewide network of Community Action Agencies, possess the resources to offer comprehensive services that attack the problems that cause homelessness at the root cause. Implementation of a statewide Homelessness Prevention Program funded at $10 million annually would end the need to use hotels and decrease the shelter population. An appropriation of $5 million annually would enable the initiative to prevent 2,000 families from entering the shelter system, by a 50% decrease in incidence.
We see other local needs that include continued funding for Head Start, After School and Child Development Services for those who work; heating assistance for those on limited and fixed incomes; programs for those persons seeking treatment and recovery from substance use and better compensation for child care workers.
Community Action Programs Inter-City Inc., (CAPIC) is a private, non-profit corporation that was chartered in 1967 to identify and eradicate the root causes of poverty in Chelsea, Revere and Winthrop. CAPIC is designated by State and Federal Government as a Community Action Agency (CAA). The Agency provides services to over 15,000 area-wide residents, annually.
Rigoberto Gonzalez, 59, 73 Clark Ave., Chelsea, was arrested for trespassing.
Enrique Rivera, 23, 728 Broadway, Chelsea, was arrested for trafficking cocaine.
Lucas Miranda, 20, 74 Englewood Ave., Everett, was arrested for breaking and entering daytime (2 counts), and on warrants.
Malcolm Dorsey, 23, 49 Rockland St., Boston, was arrested for warrant and operating motor vehicle with suspended/revoked license.
Brian Belew, 32, 179 Franklin Ave., Chelsea, was arrested on warrants.
Michael Scoppa, 44, 39 Boylston St., Boston, was arrested for breaking and entering nighttime for felony and trespassing.
David Kerns, 42, 30 Park Ave., Revere, was arrested on a warrant.
Justin Velez, 23, 48 Pine St., Waltham, was arrested for shoplifting.
Jeffrey Valenzuela, 167 Shurtleff St., Chelsea, was arrested for disorderly conduct.
Thomas Rourke, 56, 39 Boylston St., Boston, was arrested for shoplifting, possessing alcoholic beverage.
Juvenile Offender, School disturbance.
Marcos Tavares, 18, 131 Marlborough St., Chelsea, was arrested for unlicensed operation of motor vehicle, failure to stop for police, negligent operation of motor vehicle, assault with a dangerous weapon, receiving stolen motor vehicle, leaving scene of property damage, furnishing false name and on a warrant.
Christopher Perez-Valladares, 20, 76 Willow St., Chelsea, was arrested on a probation warrant.
Cesar-Jose Valentin, 31, 23 Eleanor St., Chelsea, was arrested on a warrant.
Christopher Wallis, 24, 37 Kings Hill Dr., Lynn, was arrested for larceny over $250 and on a warrant.
Christine Burke, 29, 27 Fuller St., Dorchester, was arrested on warrants.
Joseph Shelzi, 29, 460 River Rd., Andover, was arrested for being a fugitive from justice without warrant.
Madeline Rosa, 39, 767 Broadway, Chelsea, was arrested for assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.
POLICE BriefsBy Seth Daniel and Paul Koolloian
STOLEN CAR, SPEEDING NEAR SCHOOL
On April 5, at 2:26 p.m., while directing traffic outside of the Williams Middle School, officers observed a 2008 black Infinity G35, accelerating through the school zone. The officers signaled for the operator to slow down and pull over. The operator disregarded the commands and nearly struck an officer. The operator later crashed into a tree and fled the scene on foot. After a brief foot pursuit, the subject was placed into custody. The motor vehicle used in the incident had been reported stolen out of Boston.
Marcos Tavares, 18, of 131 Marlborough St., was charged with assault with a dangerous weapon, unlicensed operation, failing to stop for police, negligent operation, receiving a stolen motor vehicle, leaving the scene of property damage, giving a false name and one warrant.
On April 7, at approximately 10:19 p.m., officers received information that a male party was wanted out of New Hampshire for Felony Reckless Conduct with a Deadly Weapon. Officers were also informed that the subject was currently leaving 100 Heard St. in a black Range Rover. Officers immediately responded to the area and conducted a motor vehicle stop. Subject was identified as the passenger and subsequently placed into custody. New Hampshire State Police were notified of the apprehension.
Joseph Shelzi, 29, of Andover, was charged as a fugitive from justice.
GLASS BOTTLE ATTACK
On April 7, at approx. 11:57 p.m., while on routine patrol in the area near Bellingham Square, officers observed an altercation taking place between a male and female party. Upon arrival, officers observed the female party striking the male party over the head with a glass bottle.
The female was placed into custody.
Madeline Rosa, 39, of 767 Broadway, was charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.
Although our winter season was a mild one, both in terms of cold and snow, giving us hopes for an early arrival of spring, our optimism proved illusory thanks to a near record-setting chilly and wet month of March that extended into the first week of April.
The awful March weather curtailed outdoor activities, pushing back the start of the spring sports season for high school and youth athletes. Our gardens, especially sensitive plants such as hydrangeas, were tricked into displaying their future buds early, only to have that potential for early-spring growth literally nipped in the bud by single-digit wind-chills, all but assuring a summer season bereft of clusters of blooms.
However, what a difference a spring day or two makes! The warmth of Monday and Tuesday felt so nice — and how quickly all is forgiven of Mother Nature for the cruelty she forced upon us in March.
No doubt we will have many more un-springlike days before the summer arrives. The word “spring” by itself is an oxymoron for those of us who live in Eastern Massachusetts, where the still-frigid ocean water ensures that we always will be 10 degrees cooler than it is 10 miles inland.
But we will take what we can get, and it does not get any better than what we have had these past few days.
Leah Kazuko, as Marcie, daydreams about what might be along with the rest of the cast of ‘You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.’ Students at Chelsea High School will put on the uplifting play from April 6-8 at 7 p.m. each evening. The annual drama entry is a staple of Chelsea High and sure to be another great production.