There are so many admirable qualities, career and lifetime accomplishments for which we come to pay tribute to former Chelsea firefighter William “Roy” Butt who died on Jan. 6 at the age of 92.
Mr. Butt was an exceptional athlete at Chelsea High, graduating as a member of the Class of 1940 and excelling as the captain of the CHS basketball team.
There was Roy Butt, the young man who left Chelsea to serve with distinction in the U.S. Army Air Force throughout World War II before he was honorably discharged in 1946 at the rank of staff sergeant.
Chelsea firefighters fondly remember Mr. Butt for his 32 years of service in the Chelsea Fire Department. As he came to be one of the senior members of the department, the newer firefighters admired his helpful, fatherly nature and professional demeanor that he exhibited throughout his career.
We remember Mr. Butt most respectfully for the outstanding example he set for his family. He was a loving husband, father, father-in-law, grandfather, brother and uncle who loved spending time with his family. Mr. Butt always had great stories tell about the Chelsea of years ago.
Those who have had the opportunity to meet his wonderful children recognize the personable, respectful, thoughtful and giving nature in them, traits both Mr. Butt and his beloved wife of 66 years, Vera Butt, passed on to their children and grandchildren in this close-knit family.
On a personal level, we remember how Mr. Butt would always attend his son Roy’s Chelsea Little League, Chelsea Youth Baseball League, Chelsea High School, and Chelsea Babe Ruth games and the tremendous enjoyment he experienced from watching his son excel at the sport. There was the magical day in Revere when Roy hit four doubles in one Chelsea High game, a record that may never be broken.
But he never boasted about his son’s excellence – in fact, he would sit quietly with friends at Voke Park at Pony League games and cheer on all the players, setting an example for all parents to follow.
Mr. Butt was a Chelsea product who loved this city and made it his home. He lived a great life and we feel so fortunate that we got to be in his presence.
Michael Chesley, 30, 30 Hawthorne Ave., Methuen, was arrested on warrants.
Joseph A. Ciappina, 46, 7 Jefferson Dr., Revere, was arrested for shoplifting.
Steven Stoico, 46, 140 Oakwood Ave., Revere, was arrested for simple assault and assault with a dangerous weapon.
Edin Herrera, 25, 70 Shawmut St., Chelsea, was arrested for operating motor vehicle unlicensed.
Walter Mendez, 36, 63 Gillooly Rd., Chelsea, was arrested for operating motor vehicle with suspended/unlicensed.
Stephen Lawrence, 55, 43 Louis St., Chelsea, was arrested on a warrant.
Bobby Stevens, 43, 69 McGreevey Way, Boston, was arrested for disorderly conduct and trespassing.
Noal Sabillon, 28, 157 Webster Ave., Chelsea, was arrested for uninsured motor vehicle, unregistered motor vehicle, operating motor vehicle with suspended/revoked license.
Christine Laffey, 42, 116 Ash St., Chelsea, was arrested for assault
Hector Rivera, Jr., 17, 284 Washington Ave., Chelsea, was arrested for breaking and entering nighttime, larceny from building, destruction of property over $250, possessing burglarious instrument, larceny under $250.
Oscar Romero, 45, 87 Bellingham St., Chelsea, was arrested for violating abuse prevention order.
Patricia Olson, 34, 99 Norway, Boston, was arrested for witness intimidation, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, willful and malicious or wanton damage property (2 counts).
Last month, I was among several veteran professionals associated with the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home (CSH) who attended the presentation given by the newly confirmed Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Robert McDonald, during his visit at Harvard Law School on Nov. 24. McDonald highlighted his current efforts as head of the Veterans Administration (VA) to investigate and rectify recent scandals revealing systemic corruption and gross negligence by numerous VA offices and personnel. Among other topics, McDonald discussed the current hiring campaign to fill job vacancies in VA hospitals across the nation – job vacancies his staff has identified as preventing veterans from promptly receiving efficient services – and the VA’s goal of recruiting more lawyers for the beleaguered agency. This was Secretary McDonald’s second visit to the area this year; he visited the Boston VA Healthcare System in October.
Harvard University Helps Area Veterans Find Employment in Higher Education
Harvard University, host of McDonald’s November visit, has an active student and alumni veterans association, and the university has displayed a passionate interest in working with Metro-Boston veterans. Harvard’s Human Resources office assists area veterans in finding gainful employment and in pursuing professional development programs. Recently Harvard hosted its second workshop series for veterans interested in employment at Harvard University and other Massachusetts institutions of higher education. Harvard’s Veterans Navigating a Career in Higher Education workshop series, conducted on five Thursday evenings during October, provided critical insider tips on Harvard Human Resources recruitment techniques and hiring strategies. Having worked as an academic affairs professional in the field of higher education and for the Harvard Law School, I was pleased to have been selected to participate in this year’s workshop, which was limited to 20 veterans. Being the first CSH resident-professional to attend the veterans-only series, I can affirm that this is a highly valuable professional development workshop. I encourage all Chelsea Soldiers’ Home residents and other metro-Boston veteran-professionals interested in employment in the field of higher education to keep an eye out for future social media alerts from the Harvard Human Resources office announcing the workshop’s fall 2015 session.
Women Veterans Make History at the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home
The first-ever woman veteran Superintendent in the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home’s 132-year history, Cheryl Poppe, Lt. Col. (Ret.), MA Army National Guard, was sworn in at the State House by Governor Deval Patrick on Nov. 7, the same day the state Department of Veterans Services held its Women Veterans Appreciation event in the State House’s Memorial Hall. As a veterans affairs advocacy professional-in-residence at CSH, the founder and commissioner of the Boston Commission on Women Veterans, and as an avid supporter of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Women Veterans, I join the women veterans of the Commonwealth in saluting Superintendent Poppe on this historic achievement. The CSH first admitted women veterans as residents 43 years ago according to a July 1971 article published in the Quincy Sun on the occasion of the Home’s admission of its first three women veterans. This year the Home made history in employing its first woman veteran social work intern, Abbey Sereno, as well as its first full-time professional woman veteran social worker, Shannon O’Leary. Sereno is an OEF/OIF U.S. Air Force veteran currently pursuing a master’s degree in social work at Boston College, and O’Leary, also a US Air Force veteran, is a graduate of the Simmons School of Social Work. Last December, Newton resident Shemeka Hill, a U.S Air Force veteran of the post-9/11 era pursuing a degree in Human Services at Quincy College, became the first African-American woman-veteran staff professional to be employed in the Home’s Department of Residential Services. While it has made historic strides in admitting women veterans as residents, and in hiring women veterans as staff professionals, the CSH has yet to hire qualified women veteran residents despite the fact that in the Commonwealth and nationally women veterans suffer unemployment at a disproportionately higher rate than male veterans. The Home might easily establish a CSH Resident-Hire affirmative action/preference policy that requires newly hired veteran residents to terminate their residency at the Home within 60 days of hire. This policy would certainly increase the capacity for Home residents to secure employment while decreasing the number of unemployed Commonwealth male and female veterans. In the new year, perhaps our local legislators will support the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home establishment of a qualified veteran-resident-hire preference policy. This is a non-discriminatory veterans and CSH residents employment-rights policy that seems long overdue.
Soldiers’ Home Veterans and Civil War Reenactors Promote Civil War Sesquicentennial
The Soldier’s Home Superintendent, along with myself and a number of other area veterans, is an active member of the Massachusetts Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, which also has an Advisory Board. The Commission and its Board members meet monthly at the Massachusetts State House. Established in April 2011 by Governor Patrick’s Executive Order 529, the Commission’s mandate is “to plan events and activities commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War”. On Dec. 16 the Commission hosted the first “MA State House Civil War Christmas Celebration.” This celebration included a sing-along of Christmas songs written during the Civil War, such as “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”, written during the Christmas season of 1863 by Cambridge resident Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The Celebration also included the launching of the Commission’s inaugural State House Civil War Tour. The Commission’s inaugural Civil War tour included CSH residents who are members of the Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW) organization. The SUVCW members participated in the inaugural State House Civil War tour as Civil War reenactors.
Civil War Veterans Group Keeps Civil War History Alive at the Soldiers’ Home
Members of the Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW) organization are the legal heirs of the Grand Army of the Republic veterans organization. The Grand Army of the Republic is a highly esteemed historical veterans organization in the Commonwealth, and is the only Civil War era veterans organization authorized by Massachusetts General Laws to have a “room in the state house…preserved and maintained as a museum and shrine to the Grand Army of the Republic.” The SUVCW meet monthly at CSH and have a long history there. The Home was founded and established as a private corporation by members of the Grand Army of the Republic in 1882. 2014 marked the 80th anniversary of the Home’s formal and official transition from a Grand Army Republic corporation to a state institution in November of 1934, as enacted in accordance with MA legislation promulgated in the Acts and Resolves of the Commonwealth approved in June of 1931. The SUVCW (Major T. B. Griffith Camp 22) meets in the CSH Library on the second Tuesday of the month at 6 p.m. However, this coming Jan. 13 they will meet at 7 p.m. The Department Commander, Ed Norris, will swear in the new camp commander Charles Lewis. The SUVCW also holds a monthly program on different Civil War subjects at the Home’s Quigley Long-Term Care Facility at 1 p.m. on the third Wednesday of every month.
Soldiers’ Home Adds Record Number of Veteran Employees & Holds Veterans Expo
Originally established as a long-term retirement home for male veterans after the American Civil War, the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home currently welcomes and domiciles male and female veterans, including those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Under the jurisdiction of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home is unique in that it is a state entity on hierarchical par with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. This hierarchical stature makes the Home one of the few state soldiers’ homes in our nation not under the aegis of the relevant state Department of Veterans Services.
CSH continues to establish diversity within the ranks of its staff while it strives to move its operations into the 21st century. This year the Home also welcomed its first male veteran social worker, Dr. David Duren. Duren is a decorated US Army veteran who holds a doctorate degree in clinical counseling psychology. Other recent veteran professional and managerial staff hires include Lou Scapicchio and Paul Moran. Attorney Scapicchio, a former U.S. Army captain and a former member of the U.S. Army’s Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps, serves as the legal counsel for the Home. Moran, a U.S. Army veteran, is the new Director of Strategic Communications and Inter-governmental Relations for the Home. While in the past, designated CSH professional staff personnel have performed a similar role as Moran, Moran is the first professional to be hired specifically to advance CSH’s strategic communications and inter-governmental relations. The Soldiers’ Home now has the largest percentage of veterans in its Department of Residential Services, and among other professional staff personnel, that it has had in at least the last 10 years.
In October the CSH hosted its first Veterans Expo and launched its first official Facebook page. It is anticipated CSH soon will upgrade its website to reflect the Home’s status as a 21st-century multifaceted health care facility that has two components: a long-term care facility and a domiciliary for both retired and transitioning veterans. Throughout 2014 the CSH and its residents have been aided and supported by a host of gracious, thoughtful, patriotic, and generous community, civic, and veterans service organizations – too numerous to name – whose leaders, members, and employees generously gave of their time, talent, energy, and resources. Thanks also go out to the CSH Board of Trustees, our local city and state legislative representatives, and to the Legislature’s Joint Veterans and Federal Affairs Committee. As a member of the CSH Residents Council, on behalf of all Home residents, I offer our sincerest collective thanks to all our benefactors.
New Year Will Bring New Governor, New EOHHS Secretary, and More Activity by Valor Act II Commission to Study Veterans Care & Services
This year the Joint Veterans and Federal Affairs Committee was pivotal in the passing of Valor Act II. Valor Act II mandates the establishment of a commission to “study and evaluate the emerging changes in veterans’ care and delivery of services relative to long-term health care and housing with the goal of ensuring all services provided by the state are strategically balanced by region and are in-line with and complimentary to those services provided by the federal government and other service providers”. Many Home residents will be watching with interest for upcoming proposals from the Commission. Such proposals no doubt should lead to meaningful legislation mandating the hiring of an ombudsperson for CSH domiciliary residents. Currently CSH domiciliary residents lack any access to an ombudsperson. Also anticipated will be a new policy mandating that married veteran-residents now required to be domiciled separately from each other at CSH be given, upon their request, shared living quarters – a humane and common-sense policy already long-established in numerous other state veterans’ homes and also at the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Washington D.C.
On January 8, 2015, Charlie Baker will be sworn in as our new governor. He appears poised to appoint Marylou Sudders as head of the Executive Office of Health & Human Services (EOHHS). Baker’s and Sudders’ creative input and recommendations to the Commission and to the Department of Veterans Services will be of major interest to Home residents, Boston metro area veterans at large and to those veterans volunteering to serve on the newly developing Boston Veterans Advisory Council, which will have its first meeting on Jan. 22. It is to be expected that Baker’s and Sudders’ veterans’ policies, legislation, and initiatives for 2015 will mirror and augment VA Secretary McDonald’s national objectives, and the Valor Act II Commission’s state objectives of increasing veterans services excellence and enhancing benefits integrity at all relevant levels. Care for Bay State veterans begins at home – in this case the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home.
Dna. Maria St. Catherine McConnell is a former USAF intelligence officer and military instructor, and a veterans affairs advocacy professional-at-large-in-residence at the CSH since 2009. Active in Boston metro area veterans’ community organizations and affairs, she is founder and commissioner of The Boston Commission on Women Veterans. She is also Director of the Congresswoman Edith Nourse Rogers Initiative for Leadership & Program Management Excellence in Veteran and Women Veterans Affairs in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which advocates for increased professional excellence in local veterans affairs initiatives. She currently serves on the CSH Residents Council.
Disclaimer: McConnell is an independent veteran affairs observer and advocacy professional and writer on Commonwealth veterans affairs. The views and opinions expressed in this article are exclusively those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy, position or opinion of the MA Department of Veterans Services, the Chelsea Soldier’s Home, its staff, the CSH Residents Council, CSH residents, or any local or civic veterans service organization or any other entity mentioned.
Contributed by Dna. Maria St. Catherine McConnell (USAF officer emerita)
The old King Arthur’s Strip Club building was sold on Tuesday to a former produce wholesaler from Quincy, according to the Boston Herald, beating out Revere businessman Charlie Lightbody – who is currently under indictment for wire fraud related to the Wynn casino land deal.
Demetrios Vardakostas, who once owned Bostonia Produce and worked out of the Produce Center, purchased the property for $1.35 million, the Herald reported, at an auction on the site. Lightbody bid $1.3 million.
The Chelsea License Commission stripped the club of all of its licenses, including its liquor license, last summer. That said, the purchaser is not able to re-open the club as a strip club/bar without a completely new set of licenses from the Commission.
The owner said that he had no intention of opening a bar or club, but rather on investing in a potential hotel to support the Wynn casino just across the way in Everett.
Outgoing City Manager Jay Ash said he was glad to see that chapter of the City close before he leaves.
“I’m happy to see that chapter in the city’s history come to an end,” he said. “The building has been both a physical blight and a psychological burden on the city for far too long. We’ve done so much to improve our image and our economy and I’m glad to see this building going into new ownership with new potential to be part of the new Chelsea.”
There is, however, still a lawsuit against the Chelsea License Commission by the former group associated with King Arthur’s concerning the removal of the liquor license and the entertainment license. The sale of the building, however, is likely not associated with the progress of those suits.
City Manager Jay Ash said his formal good-bye as the leader of the City of Chelsea on Monday night in a heartfelt speech before the Council that was peppered with praise for others, and of course a few jokes, and summed up the 18 years he has spent in City Hall.
Ash will be sworn in today, Jan. 8, as the new secretary of the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development (EOHED). After serving as a legislative aide at the State House, Ash spent four years as the city planner and the last 14 years as the city manager.
“Once from Chelsea, always from Chelsea; Once a friend, always a friend,” he said at the conclusion of his speech, noting that Chelsea will always be his hometown and he will certainly be back from time to time.
Ash started off his farewell message with his patented humor, saying the speech would be broadcast on C-SPAN, or “maybe Comedy Central, we’ll see.”
Looking up at the clock in the Council Chambers that – instead of having numbers – has the letters ‘BOOST CHELSEA,’ Ash said the greatest thing he would take away from City Hall is having improved the City’s reputation internally, statewide and nationally.
“The bad old days of Chelsea are long gone,” he said. “They’re further and further in our rearview mirrors…The greatest thing I’ll take away from this is the reputation of our City has changed. There was a time when the reputation of Chelsea was very negative. I looked forward to getting out of Chelsea as a kid and starting a new life away from here…That was 30 years ago and we are no longer the joke people thought we were, but we’re the answer to a lot of questions.”
Ash listed off several accomplishments, including new hotels, a much improved school system, a public safety situation that is improving and the creation of 10 new public parks.
“We’ve been able to do 33 major projects in 1.8 square miles,” he said. “Doing 33 major projects like that is remarkable.”
Ash also spent a good deal of time praising the City Council – saying they deserve far more praise in the community than they get.
“There are people in the community who think you don’t do anything but appoint people like me,” he said. “I’m disappointed you don’t receive the praise you deserve here for what you do…You’re ready to put aside your agendas for the best of the City. You deserve so much credit for continuously putting your egos in check. None of you marched into the city manager’s office every day demanding what other elected officials in other communities – or here years ago did – and that’s a privilege.”
He joked that he often remembers fondly with Council Clerk Paul Casino that the old Chelsea Board of Aldermen “had public meetings in the parking lot to engage in a fist fight.”
Ash also credited the City’s growing partnerships with local non-profits and what he often calls “stakeholders.” He said he learned at the 1998 All-American City awards in Alabama (Chelsea’s first All-America City award) that the new way for a City to succeed is to have partnerships with numerous stakeholders in order to have more diverse views and more people invested in the community. At the time, he said, Chelsea did not really have that kind of partnership in place. However, he said he has spent the better part of several years cultivating a group of stakeholders to help acknowledge and address issues facing the City.
“They’re leadership and support has meant so much to what we accomplished,” he said.
Ash also said his farewell speech and departure from Chelsea City government isn’t something he has looked forward to, as it has always been his dream job. He said it has always been his mission to improve the City, and to show the young men who used to make fun of his hometown when he was in college, that it was not a place to be ashamed of.
“This is a night I haven’t been looking forward to because I’ve had the greatest job in the world for the past 14 years,” he said. “To be the leader of this great community and working with you and building on the things already happening in Chelsea has been a dream come true.”
His speech was followed by vigorous applause, and he finished the event by going around and personally shaking the hands of each city councillor on the board.
Mayor Martin Walsh announced that the City of Boston has filed a civil complaint against the Massachusetts Gaming Commission in connection with the proposed resort casino in Everett and Boston.
The City of Boston joined Revere and Somerville in filing a lawsuit against the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) in Suffolk Superior Court asking the court to vacate the license agreement given to Wynn in Everett by the MGC last November.
A cornerstone to the argument are the impacts on Charlestown.
The 74-page filing by Boston brought up issues ranging from the problematic land ownership situation in Everett, casino site access, traffic in Charlestown, what was referred to as “mock hearing” two years ago on Boston’s Host Community status and many other issues going back to the beginning of the entire process involving Wynn.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said he has been working diligently with Wynn to negotiate a fair agreement that benefits the people of Boston, but has been unable to reach an agreement that accurately represents the impact to the City.
“We have spent an enormous amount of time and sustained effort on the casino issue over the past year since this is something that impacts every single one of our residents,” Walsh said at a press conference Monday that announced the filing. “We have understood from day one the complexity of this issue as it relates to the City and it has always been our belief that Boston is a host community. Our priority is to protect the people of Boston and ensure the safety of our neighborhoods. It is clear to us that this is the best way to move forward for Charlestown, the City of Boston and the entire Commonwealth.”
Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria said he had hoped things could have been worked out without litigation from Boston and other communities.
“I was hoping we could work collaboratively with the City of Boston, the City of Everett and the City of Somerville…[Boston] should have participated in the surrounding community process and they didn’t. I know Mr. Wynn went up to see Mayor Walsh. I know the group had tried to meet with them several times. I don’t understand it…We weren’t asked when the City of Boston put their waste facility right on our border. I didn’t protest when Somerville put an IKEA in Assembly Row. We know what that does to small business…I am hoping we can all sit down together and solve the issues and talk about them.”
Asked if it was just sour grapes, DeMaria paused and said, maybe.
“For a long time Suffolk Downs was a favorite,” he said. “A lot of big Boston people were behind it. I went to the meetings there and saw the plans with the other mayors. To have someone else come in and compete with them in the region; yes they are disappointed. Maybe it is sour grapes from one of the mayors or maybe both of them.”
Wynn officials and the MGC have repeatedly told a different version of the events than Boston – noting that they tried to sit down with Walsh several times before the awarding of the license, but he did not show up or contact them.
Wynn officials told that to the MGC numerous times during deliberations last November, prompting the MGC to work out special provisions to benefit Charlestown and the traffic situation in Charlestown just prior to awarding the casino license.
On Monday, the MGC said it hadn’t read the full complaint, but had addressed issues raised at the press conference numerous times already.
“During the past year, we have addressed the issues the City raised at [Monday’s] press conference – multiple times in a public and transparent manner,” said MGC Spokesperson Elaine Driscoll. “The Commission believes that we have reviewed these issues thoroughly, objectively and fairly, and that exhaustive review helped lead to the decision to award the Wynn license with appropriate conditions. The Commission continues to believe that our resolution was appropriate but also fully understand that parties who are disappointed in our decisions may want to test that belief through litigation.”
The City of Revere filed a lawsuit in October shortly after the awarding of the license, calling for the licensing decision to be vacated. Revere has filed numerous briefs and letters in the interim on that case. The City of Somerville just filed a lawsuit last month on nearly the same terms.
One of the issues raised by Walsh was the issue of access to the casino site, which was raised two years ago and dismissed by the MGC after a two-hour hearing.
Boston believes there is no access point to the casino except by Horizon Way, which is halfway in Everett and halfway in Boston.
Meanwhile, Wynn has been in the process of negotiating an alternate access site that is entirely in Everett and runs through the MBTA Maintenance Yard facility property.
That land sale is still in the works of the state procurement process, and Wynn has an agreement to buy the land for $6 million cash from the MBTA. That process began with the MBTA in September, and has been protested by owners of Suffolk Downs and by the City of Revere.
Securing that site has been a key piece of the puzzle for Wynn in preventing Boston from claiming host status. In Monday’s suit, Boston claimed that the process of securing that land hadn’t happened quickly enough.
“Wynn has planned to develop a casino on a parcel of land located in Everett and in Boston known as the former Monsanto Chemical Site,” read the filing. “Due to the location of the casino site, the City of Boston will bear the lion’s share of the traffic, environmental, and public safety harms. Wynn disputed that access to its site would be through Boston, promising the Commission that it would obtain access through adjacent property in Everett owned by the MTBA. Wynn, however, has failed to obtain access through Everett within 60 days of the award of the license – as required by law – leaving the sole access to the site through Boston.”
The filing also criticized the hearing that was held by the MGC two years ago relating to the Host Community claim held by Boston due to the Horizon’s Way access issue.
MGC Commissioners heard both sides of the argument, and in the end dismissed the argument wholeheartedly and asked Boston and Wynn to go back and work out differences offline. That didn’t happen, though, and Boston was eventually deemed a Surrounding Community rather than a Host Community. A Surrounding Community Agreement (SCA) was never inked between Wynn and Boston, though.
On Monday, Boston said it was re-inserting its right to be a Host Community – calling the MGC hearing on the issue a “manipulation” and a “mock hearing.”
“Fearful that Boston voters would reject Wynn’s proposal due to public safety and traffic concerns, the Commission improperly barred Boston’s citizens from exercising their statutory right to vote,” read the complaint. “During the gaming licensing process, Boston repeatedly asserted that it was a host community, which prompted the Commission to conduct a hearing to determine Boston’s legal status. The Commission manipulated the outcome of the hearing by withholding documents from the City that had direct bearing on Boston’s host community status, advocating on behalf of Wynn, and deliberating and predetermining the outcome outside the public hearing context, in violation of the Open Meeting Law and the Gaming Act. As a result of the mock hearing, the Commission rejected Boston’s assertion of host community status and declared Boston to be merely a surrounding community, with no right to vote. During the hearing, the City challenged the validity of Wynn’s application on the grounds that Wynn did not have a viable site for its casino and was legally unsuitable under the Gaming Act. Absent a viable casino site, Wynn’s application could not proceed and the issue of Boston’s status as a host community was moot.”
Boston bases most of that argument on the idea that the land deal in Everett is fraudulent and, thus, does not give Wynn and actual gaming establishment – as required by the Gaming Law.
Another cornerstone of the Boston complaint on Monday were flaws in the MGC’s protections instituted for Charlestown. The complaint said the City concluded those protections were not adequate.
“The Commission nevertheless imposed nominal traffic mitigation conditions on Wynn that fall far short of the statutory requirement,” read the complaint. “As to the impacted neighborhood of Charlestown, the City has expended considerable resources over many years to develop plans to transform the Sullivan Square area from a major traffic thoroughfare into a walkable, pedestrian–friendly neighborhood. The City’s principal objectives are to diminish traffic congestion, eliminate gridlock, and improve public safety in this area. The Commission’s traffic mitigation conditions are wholly contrary to the City’s planned use of its streets in Charlestown. The Commission was required to impose conditions that would mitigate traffic. This necessitated the imposition of conditions requiring Wynn to re-route casino traffic away from Rutherford Avenue and Sullivan Square. Instead, the Commission imposed conditions that will do nothing to prevent the exacerbation of existing congestion by introducing thousands of additional vehicles to the area.”
The complaint went on to read that by going ahead with the Wynn planned casino, it would create an “intolerable traffic crisis” in Charlestown.
The suit will now wind its way through Suffolk Superior Court, as are the other two similar suits from Revere and Somerville.
Councillor Leo Robinson is sworn in as the new Council President on Monday night by Clerk Deborah Clayman.
City Councillor Leo Robinson ended the drama around the Council Presidency on Monday night by getting a unanimous 10-0 vote on the first ballot by his colleagues.
Serving as vice president will be Dan Cortell, and the School Committee Rep will be Chris Cataldo.
Much controversy erupted prior to the holiday season as Robinson and Councillor Cliff Cunningham squared off in a contested bid for the votes of their colleagues. At stake was not the normal duties of the Council President, but rather the lead role in conducting the search and choice and assimilation of a new city manager. The situation resulted into the political tactic of a quorum block being used at a mid-December meeting to stall a vote on the issue. In the interim, it appears that councillors worked out a solution and were unified by Monday.
Robinson graciously accepted the support of his colleagues, and at a public meeting on Tuesday, acknowledged the hard work of outgoing leaders Matt Frank (president) and Cunningham (vice president).
However, he used his acceptance speech on Monday to drive home the point to local non-profits, to residents and to City Hall leaders that the City Council is ready and up to the task of leading the way in picking a new city manager.
That unified Council message came due to some background conversations around the City doubting whether or not the Council could work together well-enough and professionally enough to correctly make this very important decision.
“Many a stakeholder have asked ‘What are we going to do now that Jay is leaving?,’” Robinson said. “Well, it’s true that you have big shoes to fill; those size 15s of yours are enormous. Our work together though, to ‘plan the work and then work the plan’ around a single ‘Pro-Chelsea agenda’ that has done so much to produce so many results here will live on…Life would be so much easier if the things that worked would work forever. Unfortunately, nothing ever works forever, and this night was going to happen sooner or later. I personally know it could have happened much sooner, so I cry not that we’re losing you too soon. Instead, I celebrate your work, Jay Ash, and now prepare for the next important task of our work, leading an effort to find our next accomplished manager here.
“There are some in Chelsea who are concerned that we won’t be equal to the task,” he continued. “To them, I say that the City Council has been two for two, having and continuing to reappoint Jay and his predecessor, Guy Santagate, to lead us through tougher times in great ways. For the last 20 years…Chelsea has seen the benefits of professionalism over politics, and I have every expectation that approach will get us the best possible next city manager to build off of Santagate and Ash and deliver us to an even higher place than we stand today.”
He said that no one needed to worry about a return to old-style politicking in the process and that he would lead a professional, transparent search.
“As the City Council president, I pledge to all of you stakeholders that we will conduct a truly open search, not seeking our best friend, but instead finding the best possibly qualified man or woman to be our next city manager,” he said. “As the City Council president, I pledge to all of you stakeholders that while the daily process may sometimes be rough – as it is only human nature to have disagreements and to sometimes have harsh words over those disagreements – the final product will make everyone proud. The old saying of needing to crack eggs in order to make a great soufflé is certainly an appropriate one here.”
Much of the rest of Robinson’s address, however, was devoted to remembering and thanking Ash for all the years he has put in at City Hall – literally transforming the City.
“Jay, on behalf of the City Council and our entire community, let me again thank you for all you have done for us personally and the City of Chelsea as a whole,” he said. “For the 18 years you have been at City Hall, including the last 14 as the city manager, you’ve been a great change agent, our biggest cheerleader and a terrific leader.”
There’s no work like teamwork and Chelsea Fire gave a head’s up assist to the Chelsea Police last Friday, Jan. 2, in apprehending two alleged car thieves.
The situation began when Acting Fire Capt. Joe Conlon heard over the EMS radio that a Chelsea Police officer had spotted a stolen vehicle in the area of Cary Avenue. The officer reported over the radio that the car was headed towards Broadway, but the officer wasn’t sure whether it had turned north or south on Broadway.
At that same time, Engine 3 was returning to the station for a call and Conlon had opened the overhead door and activated the stop traffic light for the engine to back into the station.
Lo and behold, as he did that, he spotted the car that had been allegedly stolen.
It was stopped at the light and waiting for Engine 3 to finish.
Exercising some quick thinking, Conlon ordered Engine 3 to stay in the middle of the street and block traffic for a while in order to buy some time.
As that happened, Conlon contacted dispatch to notify the police that the vehicle in question was stopped in front of the station and was blocked in by the fire engine.
Police responded immediately and removed and arrested both suspects at gunpoint.
The controversial land deal on lower Broadway slated to hold the new Wynn casino passed papers on Monday, with Wynn purchasing the former Monsanto Chemical property for $35 million from FBT Everett.
On Tuesday, City leaders had planned to celebrate the milestone at a gathering on the property, but the extreme cold weather drove the celebration indoors.
Numerous members of Everett United, as well as elected officials and a herd of Boston news media members crowded the Council Chambers for the jovial ceremony – where Mayor Carlo DeMaria gave Wynn’s Bob DeSalvio a new curbside trash bin as a gag gift to welcome them as new property owners in the City.
The mayor referenced the Lower Broadway Planning process that started in 2008 and how the Wynn project unexpectedly fit right into those plans. He said it has been a long road, but one that he’s glad the City took.
“A lot of people weren’t on board at first,” he said. “There was a lot of hesitation in the city about a casino. Many on the City Council were questioning it. My wife and I had long conversations about it every day…I wanted to build something great for the city and soon this became a no-brainer. At one point, [former] Gov. [William] Weld took me aside and told me I had to do it and he laid out the reasons why. He was right.”
DeSalvio said there was nothing that could stop Wynn from developing the resort now that the land had been purchased and cleared.
“With this land transaction and our arrival, nothing gets in our way from moving forward,” he said. “We look forward to getting started with remediation. We know how important that clean up is to you. We know how important it is for you to reconnect with the waterfront. We’re going to be taking the next six months to make sure that site is cleaned up and we’re coming out of the ground this summer and opening late 2017.”
Wynn now has full ownership and control over the property and company officials said that clears the way for site cleanup and construction to move forward. That will likely take place after permitting is completed in the next few months.
Wynn officials in a press release on Monday said the purchase was the most significant advancement on the project since being awarded the license last September.
Added DeSalvio, “Today, we hit the ‘go’ button and we’re not stopping until a spectacular Wynn Resort with a new waterfront public park for all to access and enjoy is completed.”
The long-vacant property has been and continues to be the source of a great amount of criticism about the Wynn project.
On Monday – the same day the sale was finalized – the City of Boston filed a lawsuit against the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) under the auspices, partially, that the state had been defrauded by the land deal.
The genesis of those complaints arise from the allegation that Revere businessman Charlie Lightbody had been a one-time partner in FBT Everett, but was barred from ownership rights due to the regulations set by the MGC. He had alleged that he was out of the partnership before Wynn began negotiations on the property, but an MGC investigation showed cause for pause as to whether that had happened.
There is currently a case in state and federal court related to Lightbody and some other owners about whether or not they misled investigators and committed wire fraud in the deal.
Through all that, though, the MGC had always contended that Wynn Resorts was not aware or a party to any of those situations. The MGC went so far as to require the owners of the property to reduce their price from $75 million to $35 million in light of the controversy. They also required the partners to sign an affidavit that stated no “unspoken” or “secret” partners would gain from the sale of the land.
The federal and state cases are still working their way through both levels of court.
Seth Daniel can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com
The Chelsea High boys basketball team broke into the win column with a 58-43 triumph over Lynn Tech Friday evening.
The Red Devils led all the way, though the contest was much closer than the final score might indicate. Chelsea led at all of the junctures, 14-11 after one period and 30-21 at the half, but held a slim six point advantage after three frames, 42-36.
However, the Red Devils turned it on down the stretch to pull away for the double-digit victory. Senior captain Eric Flores pumped in 22 points to pace Chelsea in the scoring department. Victor Corrales, who has been playing well for the Red Devils, also reached double figures with 14.
Dominic Hightower and Chris Torrez added seven points each and Albie Alicea and Jahro Marshal chipped in four points apiece.
“Although we didn’t open up a big lead until the final period, we stayed in control and played consistently throughout the game,” said CHS head coach Jay Seigal. “It was nice to get that first win under our belts.”
The Red Devils traveled northward Tuesday evening to take on undefeated Greater Lawrence and almost pulled off an upset, falling short by a slim 47-45 final score. The contest was a back-and-forth battle all the way, with neither team able to establish any separation. Chelsea held a five-point lead with 3:20 to go, but GL forged ahead in the final minute. The Red Devils had a chance to tie in the closing seconds, but misfired on their final possession.
Flores once again had a strong game, hitting for 24 points. Angel Alvarez was next for Chelsea in the scoring department with eight points, followed by Moises Casado and Freddie Cruz with four each and Alicea with two.
“Overall, we played well,” said Seigal of his team’s performance afterward. “But we still have little inconsistencies that add up over the course of a game and that make the difference in a close one such as we had tonight.”
The Red Devils, who now stand at 1-4 on the season, trek to Shawsheen Tech Friday. They will host Whittier Tech Tuesday at 5:30 and the entertain rival Revere Wednesday at 7:00.
by Bob Morello
Bruins at crossroads
The Bruins appear to be a team in need of a GPS system – they still have not found direction or the missing ingredient(s) that have them lacking in goal production, heads up play, and any signs of consistency in their play. Having managed three overtime losses in the past six days, it’s hard to understand how it all seems to have disappeared from the team’s memory bank of how the game is played. Shots on net have become an issue, the team’s poor showing on Sunday in Carolina was a prime example: a first period total of four shots on net (with the first shot coming with 16:55 gone in the stanza), and a third period that featured two shots on net. All while facing the lowly Carolina Panthers, a team that is in the bottom two of the NHL’s overall standings. Their total of 28 points in 39 games pales in comparison to the Bruins’ 44 points in 40 games – yet, the Panthers were able to hang on with the Bruins, and eventually beat them in the overtime shootout.
On the plus-side – if one is to be found, Boston was able to cull a single point from each of those games, but the concern continues as the team enjoys all players back healthy, but still fails to exercise a jump start, coming out sluggish on a regular basis. Frustration is evident, especially when listening to the post-game comments of goaltender Tuukka Rask – he hasn’t stolen any games lately for the Bruins, but he has managed to do a credible job in net, despite the power shortage the B’s are mired in.
On Tuesday, Charlie Jacobs was named CEO in charge of Boston operations, TD Garden, the Boston Bruins, and NESN. During his press conference Jacobs expressed his dismay at the team’s play. He minced no words regarding the current state of the Bruins, “I’d say without question this has been a very disappointing year. It’s unacceptable the way this team has performed given the amount of time, money and effort that’s been spent on this team, to see it deliver the way it has is unacceptable.” Regarding a change to correct the problems he continued, “I don’t have that answer. I can just tell you that at the moment this is a very fluid situation that is being monitored very closely. I don’t have any answers for why we’re under performing. If I did I would have tried to fix them long ago. For us to be a team that’s out of the playoffs is absolutely unacceptable. Everybody in the executive offices are fully aware how I feel and they feel the same way, which brings us to this evaluation process and it’s fluid right now. I can’t say at any moment we have a final decision other than to say that it’s been an utter disappointment and a failure, complete failure.”
Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli recalled forward David Pastrnak from the Providence Bruins (AHL), and he was scheduled to travel with the team to Pittsburgh. It was not known at press time whether he would play in last night’s (Wednesday) game, or be held out to be in the lineup on home ice tonight (Thursday) to face the New Jersey Devils. Pastrnak recently played for the Czech Republic in the World Juniors Tournament, where he led the team in points (seven) and assists (six) while scoring one goal. It would be expecting too much to think this young man is going to be able to step in, take the gauntlet and run with it, in light of the B’s tempo of play at the present time.
With the 2014-15 season nearing the halfway mark, the concern has started to creep in to discussions as to whether this current team will be able to get the ship righted in time to make the playoffs. Chiarelli is the man with the answers, and he will have to decide the direction he wants to take this team – does he go outside and make a trade to shake things up, or does he stand pat and hope that it all works itself out? Bruins coach Claude Julien basically has his hands tied, while he juggles the lineup with the players he has, having to work with the roster he’s been given. Hope lies in the thought that Captain Zdeno Chara will bounce back from the malaise he’s been in since returning from his knee injury. Chara is not 100%, but being the gamer he is, he continues to try to fight his way back to the high level of play of which he is capable.
Julien continues to juggle the lines, looking for the combination that might spark the return to the style of play he knows his team is capable of playing, but even with the return of David Krejci’s, things are still out of whack. Now getting close to crunch time, Chiarelli will have to decide if he should take the bold step and make some major moves. There is not much available that the team can afford to lose from the current lineup, so he may have to go along with his earlier thinking, that this team he has put together has the ingredients to be a Cup contender. Right now, the answer appears to be a ‘no-brainer,’ a shakeup is needed right now, or the end is closer than anyone wants to admit.