Gov. Charlie Baker has nominated James E. Byrne, a Dorchester attorney with extensive experience in the court room and a former Boston city councillor, to serve as a judge in the Chelsea District Court.
“James Byrne is a distinguished and dedicated attorney with many years of public service, including as a Boston City Councilor, “said Gov. Baker. “His legal experience and leadership skills make him an exceptional candidate that I am pleased to nominate for the Governor’s Council’s consideration.”
Said Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, “With 35 years of experience James Bryne has the temperament, skill and knowledge of civil and criminal law to serve well all those who will appear in the District Court.”
Byrne has been in private practice for 35 years and is a founding partner of Byrne and Anderson LLP focusing on civil litigation, including personal injury, licensing, zoning and real estate matters. Byrne served five terms as a Boston City Councilor from 1984 to 1994, including as Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, the Housing Committee, and the Planning and Development Committee. Byrne’s legal career began in 1981 as Director of Legal Services for the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department before opening his private practice, where he continued to focus primarily on criminal defense work for several years. He served on the Board of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority from 1997 to 2008 and is a member of the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys (MATA) and American Association for Justice (AAJ). He attended Boston Latin School and graduated cum laude from Harvard College in 1976 with a B.A. in Government and from Suffolk University Law School in 1980. He and his wife Jacqueline reside in Dorchester and are the parents of three children.
There are 62 District Courts throughout the Commonwealth hearing a range of criminal, civil, housing, juvenile, mental health and other case types, including all felonies punishable by a sentence up to five years, misdemeanors and violations of city and town ordinances and by-laws.
Judicial nominations are subject to the advice and consent of the Governor’s Council. Applicants for judicial openings are reviewed by the Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC) and recommended to the governor. Governor Baker established the JNC in February, 2015 pursuant to Executive Order 558, a non-partisan, non-political Commission composed of volunteers from a cross-section of the Commonwealth’s diverse population to screen judicial applications. Twenty-one members were later appointed to the JNC in April, 2015.
Joe Foti, former Department of Public Works (DPW) director, has left his position once again, this time for a top job at the state Department of Transportation (DOT).
“We’re disappointed, but we are now in the process of looking for a new director,” said City Manager Tom Ambrosino. “Bert Taverna of the DPW is the acting director. He’s been around the city and is a Chelsea guy and he’ll be filling in.”
Foti left the City last year in October 2015 for the DPW director’s position in Peabody, but returned to Chelsea by January 2016 in his old job. Ambrosino said Foti had an offer that was too good to refuse, as he is now one of the senior officials at the DOT, below Under secretary Tom Tinlin.
Ambrosino said DPW director positions are hard to fill, but that they have received a number of resumes.
He said Taverna is a candidate as well.
“We may not get resumes reviewed until early January,” said Ambrosino. “I hope to make a decision on a new director in early February. So, we’ll probably be continuing our temporary situation until the end of the winter. These are tough jobs to fill.”
Foti left his job at the City just before Thanksgiving.
A Chelsea man, dubbed the “Spelling Bee Bandit,” was arrested and charged Tuesday in connection with four bank robberies in the Greater Boston area.
Jason S. Englen, 34, was charged with the robberies of: TD Bank in Arlington on Oct. 31, 2016; TD Bank in Reading on Nov. 5, 2016; Salem Five in Burlington on Nov. 7, 2016; and TD Bank in Peabody on Nov. 13, 2016. A probable cause and detention before U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Marianne B. Bowler was expected this week.
According to court documents, on Oct. 31, 2016, a man entered a branch of TD Bank in Arlington, approached a teller and presented a note written on a deposit slip with the word “ROBERY” written on it. The teller handed the man money from the drawer and he fled the bank. Following the robbery, the man’s image was circulated on public websites seeking information about his identity. Nearly identical incidents occurred on Nov. 5 at a branch of TD Bank in Reading, on Nov. 7 at a branch of Salem Five in Burlington, and on Nov. 13 at a branch of TD Bank in Peabody. During each robbery, the man handed the teller a note with the word “ROBERY” or “ROBERT” demanding cash. During the last robbery, the man told the teller he wanted $20 and $50 bills.
Following each robbery, the man’s image was circulated on public websites seeking information about his identity.
Based on the similarity of the robberies and the physical description of the robber provided by the bank tellers, a bulletin was circulated seeking the public’s help in identifying the perpetrator. As a result, law enforcement received information that the individual involved in the robberies was Englen. Englen, who was already in state custody on unrelated charges, was arrested by federal authorities Tuesday.
The charging statute provides for a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, a fine of $250,000 and restitution. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge bases upon the US Sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.
In an op-ed on December 2, Kenneth Thorpe discussed how schools have a unique opportunity to address the obesity crisis. Healthy Chelsea, a community health coalition, and Chelsea Public Schools could not agree more. Together, we have been working toward this goal for more than five years, and seeing positive results.
Healthy Chelsea was formed in response to an MGH community assessment in 2009, which showed high obesity rates to be a major concern of residents. The coalition partners with Chelsea schools as a way to promote healthy eating and active living to the majority of young people in our city. According to 2010 school BMI statistical data, 48 percent of Chelsea school children in 1st, 4th, 7th and 10th grades were overweight or obese. Furthermore, statistics indicate that Chelsea residents are more likely to develop diabetes and are more likely to die from heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes than residents across Massachusetts.
This health inequity between our community and others is unjust. Fast food and corner stores are abundant and convenient–especially for families that are busy with multiple jobs and living under depressed socioeconomic conditions. These factors should not compromise the health and future of our students.
Healthy Chelsea collaborates on programming and initiatives in all of Chelsea’s public schools, from pre-K to high school. A main focus is improving the quality, freshness, and nutrition of the school meals, which most students rely on for at least two meals every day.
We partner closely with Chelsea Food Services to continuously improve upon what is being offered. Some of the major changes have included removing juice on the menu–an unpopular but pediatrician-recommended decision–due to juice’s high sugar content; and introducing home-cooked meals to the high school, such as the BBQ Chicken Dinner and a Fresh Fish Platter, made with local baked redfish.
We also recognize and strongly emphasize the need for more culturally appropriate menu items. Each year we hear students request tacos, enchiladas, baleadas, sambusas, and other meals they eat with their families. These dishes are familiar to our students, and they are healthy when made with whole and fresh ingredients. In the past couple of years, burritos, tacos, and tostadas have been added to the menu, but it is an ongoing effort.
Through Youth Food Movement (YFM), paid Healthy Chelsea interns, we bring student voice into the process. These dedicated organize school food surveys for the student body, act as spokespeople in meetings with Food Service, and have even pitched new menu items that made it into the cafeteria.
Thanks to these efforts, the CPS district administration, and Chelsea Food Service’s diligent work, we have seen huge improvements in the quality and satisfaction of school meals. At Chelsea High School (as of September 2016), lunch participation was up to 72 percent from less than 40 percent five years ago, and the amount of meals offered that fall into a “green zone,” indicating nutritional quality, has risen from seven to 37 percent.
Another cafeteria-based program is the Harvest of the Month tastings. Once a month in each elementary school cafeteria and at the Early Learning Center (ELC) after-school program, students have the opportunity to taste the fruit or vegetable of the month. Even if they don’t like the recipe, students are celebrated for trying something new and receive stickers and trading cards. Hundreds of students have sampled kale, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and more.
Healthy Chelsea also collaborates on school gardening programs in four schools. Over the past two years FoodCorps service members have worked with the ELC, Hooks, Kelly, and Berkowitz to build, expand, and teach science lessons in these garden spaces. Not only does gardening get students outside and engaged with nature, it also allows them to experience the satisfaction of growing their own food. We have witnessed first graders chowing down on raw kale and radishes that they grew in their own garden. Come visit one of the gardens in the spring, if you don’t believe us!
Finally, we promote physical activity in the classroom. While many elementary school teachers were already doing this on their own, we worked with the schools to add a policy making it mandatory to add more activity into the daily routine for grades pre-K to 4. The schools now have access to software that makes it easier to incorporate “movement breaks” into their day and even tie it to their lessons.
Our students in Chelsea deserve access to the same quality of health as every other student in Massachusetts. We will continue working with our schools to make sure that, not only are our young people receiving high quality education, they are also receiving the nourishment and life skills needed to live long and healthy lives.
The Chelsea Fire Department is in the midst of its annual toy drive to help less fortunate families in the area during this holiday season.
“After doing some research we found that 400 to 800 children in the city of Chelsea are provided Christmas gifts through the Toys for Tots program each year,” said Captain Phil Rogers who started the department’s toy drive program. “We want to assure the children in our community will be taken care of throughout the holiday season.”
Anyone who wishes to donate can drop a new, unwrapped toy at Central Fire Station located
next to City Hall at 307 Chestnut St. This is a great opportunity to help less fortunate families in our community and throughout the Greater Boston area this holiday season. Donations are being accepted through Dec. 17.
With Santa Claus and Sen. Sal DiDomenico’s help, the City’s Christmas tree lights were turned on Tuesday evening in Chelsea Square, as scores of residents turned out to celebrate the season, drink hot chocolate and listen to music sung by a choir – the Chelsea Community Choir.
City Councillors, led by Councillor Judith Garcia’s committee, and Police Chief Brian Kyes are looking to push the default speed limit on Chelsea streets down from 30 mph to 25 mph. Though it is a slight difference, the density of the city would make it a meaningful change, both Kyes and Garcia said.
“Chelsea is arguably the most densely populated city in the entire state,” said Kyes. “In order to prioritize and greatly enhance the safety of all of our pedestrians, bicyclists and motor vehicles in traffic in makes perfect sense to reduce the speed limit of all motorists traveling in and through the city to 25 mph. I applaud the City Manager and the City Council for moving in this direction to increase public safety in our community.”
Garcia said a recent meeting of her Committee revealed that there were numerous accidents in Chelsea, including three incidents in one week last month.
Kyes said on Nov. 14, a Chelsea High student was struck by a bus on Everett Avenue. On Nov. 18, two pedestrian accidents occurred.
One was a highly publicized incident where a minivan hit a 72-year-old woman on Broadway and 4th Street and fled the scene. An arrest was made a few days later.
Later that day, an 18-year-old Chelsea High student was hit on Everett Avenue at Chestnut Street. The operator stayed on scene there and was cited for negligent operation
It is not believed that speed was a factor in any of them, but Kyes said density is the issue here.
“The reality is that 30 mph in a thickly settled district is simply too fast in densely populated city like Chelsea,” said the chief. “The definition of ‘thickly settled’ is an area where buildings that are less than 200 feet part for a distance of one-quarter of a mile. Other than Eastern Avenue or Marginal Street there is not a location in the city where buildings are ‘less than’ 200 feet apart.”
Garcia said they learned that there were 77 accidents where pedestrians were involved in 2014. This year, so far, there have been 49.
“It’s definitely a conversation that we think we need to take seriously because it will definitely protect pedestrians and improve the quality of life here,” said Garcia.
Councillor Leo Robinson said he is in favor of the change as well.
“It has to happen; it’s critical,” he said. “It’s just too dangerous on many of our streets at that speed.”
City Manager Tom Ambrosino is also in favor of the change.
The change is permitted based on Gov. Charlie Baker’s Municipal Modernization Act, which had one component that allowed municipalities to lower their default speed limits.
Garcia said there will be a Traffic Commission hearing on Dec. 13 to vote on the change.
If it passes, the change will move to the City Council where a Dec. 19 vote is anticipated.
Chelsea Fire’s Tower 1 apparatus was called into service at the massive 10-alarm Cambridge fire last Saturday, Dec. 3. In addition, Engine 2 from Chelsea also responded and both groups of jakes were right in the thick of it all day, Chief Len Albanese said.
When the beginnings of a 10-alarm fire erupted quite suddenly in East Cambridge on Saturday afternoon, firefighters in Everett, Revere and Chelsea knew that their services would likely be needed sooner rather than later.
Chelsea Fire responded about the same time as Everett, taking its specialized Tower 1 and Engine 2.
Chelsea Fire Chief Len Albanese said his crews responded to the fire early and didn’t return until 3 a.m.
“They were involved in operations in the fire area for 12 hours or so,” he said. “There isn’t a huge number of Tower ladders in the area. Chelsea having a Tower ladder is a specialty piece of equipment, so it is often needed. We felt like our Chelsea guys did great work over there.”
Everett Chief Anthony Carli said that Everett’s Engine 1 and Ladder 1 were both called into service as part of the existing mutual aid agreement. They were called to respond at the 7th alarm, he said.
He said Everett firefighters, like the surrounding cities, were on scene about 30 minutes after the first dispatch and were in the thick of things right away.
Engine 1 returned around 9:30 p.m. from the fire, and Ladder 1 came back home at 1 a.m.
Anecdotal reports indicated that Everett jakes were stationed to the church that went up in flames, which was recently converted to affordable housing.
Revere Fire Chief Chris Bright said their Engine 4 responded to the fire early and returned around 1 a.m.
He said their Ladder 2 apparatus responded to cover the Harvard Square Fire Station. Once there, they had several responses he said, including two smaller, unrelated fires.
Bright said he felt the fire happened at the best time possible for such a thing, as it was in the daytime and that made it easier to evacuate people.
“Between Chelsea and Everett, Revere and all our neighbors, with our mutual aid agreements, we can be called up to duty anywhere,” he said.
He said Revere’s jakes were also right in the middle of the fire with the Everett crews.
“They were right in the thick of it and did a lot of work by the original fire building and the church too,” he said. “They rolled up and grabbed a hydrant. They were there up on a lift and it was already quite a fire.”
Bright also said Cambridge Fire did an admirable job in responding and coordinating the original efforts.
“They did a really nice job and they have a good department,” he said. “They did a good job realizing they didn’t have a handle on it and setting up a perimeter and being able to ensure there was enough water pressure on it. They really did a good job getting out in front of it. I’m glad we could all help them when they needed it.”
As an aside, Bright said on Saturday, he had a brand new firefighter who was on Engine 1, which could have been called to the fire instead of Revere’s Engine 4.
“Had they been called, it would have been his very first call on his very first day as a firefighter,” said Bright.
Tipping their hat to the beloved Latin American tradition of ‘Las Pasadas,’ the Chelsea Collaborative will sponsor an event on Dec. 20 from 4-7 p.m. where participants will march and sing through the streets in solidarity with all immigrants and refugees.
Las Pasadas is a tradition that recreates the Biblical story of Mary and Joseph’s perilous journey, running from danger and seeking shelter.
Collaborative organizers said it was the perfect backdrop to raise awareness and celebrate the strength of the Chelsea community in concert with all immigrants and refugees.
At 3:45 p.m., those interested in marching will gather at the Chelsea Police Station.
They will march through the streets and up to City Hall singing carols and chants, arriving at City Hall around 4:30 p.m.
At 5 p.m., they will proceed to the Collaborative, 318 Broadway, for a time of song, prayer and a community celebration.