Legislature Passes Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

Legislature Passes Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

Last week, the Massachusetts Legislature passed the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which guarantees reasonable accommodations and safety measures for pregnant workers. Senator Sal DiDomenico and Representative Joseph McGonagle both voted in support of this legislation that makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate against, refuse to employ, or terminate an individual due to pregnancy or a condition related to pregnancy.

“No woman should have to choose between keeping her job and maintaining healthy and safe pregnancy,” said Senator Sal DiDomenico, a co-sponsor of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. “I am proud to support this important piece of legislation, which will undoubtedly make workplaces fairer and safer for all.”

 “Massachusetts is moving in a forward with this legislation,” said Representative Joseph McGonagle. “Women should have a safe and happy pregnancy and not be concerned with any negative impacts regarding their workplace.  This legislation ensures that pregnant workers can continue to work and not worry about their health or their baby’s health.”

 Reasonable accommodations may include time off to recover from childbirth; more frequent, longer paid or unpaid breaks; procuring or modifying equipment or seating; obtaining temporary transfer, job restructuring, or lighter duty; and private non-bathroom space for expressing breast milk, among others.

 The law prohibits employers from taking the following actions against an employee who is pregnant or has a condition related to the employee’s pregnancy:

  • Taking adverse action against an employee who requests or uses a reasonable accommodation;

  • Denying an employment opportunity to an employee based on the need of the employer to make a reasonable accommodation;

  • Requiring an employee to accept an accommodation if the accommodation is unnecessary to enable the employee to perform the essential functions of the job;

  • Requiring an employee to take a leave of absence if another reasonable accommodation may be provided without undue hardship to the employer;

  • Refusing to hire a person who is pregnant because of the pregnancy or because of a condition related to the person’s pregnancy if that person can perform the essential functions of the job with a reasonable accommodation that does not impose an undue hardship on the employer.

The bill directs companies to engage in a collaborative, good faith process with employees and prospective employees to determine effective and reasonable accommodations. In specific instances, employers may require documentation pertaining to the need of accommodation from appropriate health care or rehabilitation professional. This does not apply to accommodations for more frequent restroom, food or water breaks, seating, and limits on lifting over 20 pounds.

The bill has an effective date of April 1, 2018. It now goes to the governor’s desk for his signature.

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Senate Passes Bill to Expand Language Opportunities for Students

Senate Passes Bill to Expand Language Opportunities for Students

The Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed legislation that updates the existing statute relative to English language education in public schools to encompass the latest and best practices serving English language learners (ELLs) and to recognize the value of bilingualism as a skill essential to improving career and college readiness and competiveness in the global economy.

An Act for Language Opportunity for Our Kids (S.2125), also known as the LOOK Bill, removes the current mandate requiring schools to use Sheltered English Immersion (SEI), or English-only programs, as the default ELL program model, thereby giving schools the flexibility to establish programs based on the unique needs of their students.

“By allowing parents and local school districts the flexibility to choose the most effective programs to cater to the specific needs of their students is not only good public policy, but also what is best for our students to be successful,” said Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst).  “We live in a global community, and we must be able to adapt to the changing needs of our communities in a thoughtful and constructive way.  This bill achieves that purpose.”

“To ensure that every child in the Commonwealth receives the high quality education that he or she deserves, we must rethink the way we approach educating our English language learners,” said Sen. Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett), the lead sponsor of the bill. “By allowing for flexibility to implement new English learning programs, increasing parental involvement, and recognizing that multilingualism is a valuable asset in today’s global economy, this bill takes crucial strides to guarantee that every student receives a fair opportunity at educational success.”

“Language should never be a barrier to a student’s academic success,” said Senate Committee on Ways and Means Chair Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “This bill empowers parents and schools to develop high quality educational opportunities for our English Language Learner students. It also encourages biliteracy, recognizing that knowledge of other languages and cultures is a true asset in our global economy.”

“The current one-size-fits-all model has proven a failure over the past decade plus at teaching education – period,” said Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz (D-Jamaica Plain), the Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Education. “For the sake of our ELL students, our school budgets, and our workforce, we need to do something different. S.2125 will empower parents and trust educators to make informed decisions about appropriate tactics for a 6-year-old with some English exposure versus a 12-year-old who has received little formal schooling. And in this precarious moment for our country, the bill recognizes that bilingualism is a strength—not a problem to be cured.”

For some children, moving into an English-only program too soon has proven to stunt academic growth and major implications on future educational success. This has become a growing problem as the number of ELL students in Massachusetts continues to rise. Since the year 2000, the number of ELL students in Massachusetts has doubled to over 90,204 students, or 9.5% of the student population. Last year, 90% of school districts had at least one ELL student and 19% of districts had 100 or more ELLs.

While overall graduation rates for students have risen in the past 10 years, the achievement gap between ELL students and their peers has not significantly changed. In 2016, the dropout rate for ELL students was 6.6 percent, the highest rate of any subgroup of students and three times higher than the rate for all students. Additionally, only 64% of ELL students graduated from high school, as compared to 87% of all Massachusetts students.

In an effort to reverse these trends, the LOOK bill removes the current mandate requiring Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) as the one-size-fits-all default ELL program model in order to better accommodate the diverse needs of the Commonwealth’s students. Under the bill, school districts may choose from any comprehensive, research-based instructional program that includes subject matter content and an English language acquisition component.

The bill also encourages a high level parental choice and involvement in selecting, advocating, and participating in English learner programs, and requires greater tracking of ELL students’ progress to better identify and assist English learners who do not meet benchmarks.

This legislation also seeks to recognize the value of bilingualism and biliteracy as a skill essential to improving career and college readiness and competitiveness in today’s global economy by permitting school districts to adopt the state seal of biliteracy to recognize high school graduates who have met academic benchmarks, as determined by DESE, in one or more languages in addition to English.

The bill will now move to a conference committee, where negotiators will reconcile the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bills.

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Police Briefs 08-03-2017

Police Briefs 08-03-2017

MAJOR ACCIDENT ON EVERETT AVE

Two people were in critical condition at Mass General after a major car accident on Everett Avenue near Maple Street around 2 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 2.

A third man was treated at CHA Everett and was charged with causing the accident while speeding up Everett Avenue from Spruce Street when he rear ended the other vehicle in front of the FBI Building.

The Malden man fled the scene on foot, but was quickly apprehended on Second Street.

Chelsea Fire had to activate the Jaws of Life to remove one victim.

The perpetrator was believed to be intoxicated.

Hector Jimenez, 19, of Malden, was charged with operating under the influence of alcohol and other motor vehicle offenses.

He was held on $7,500 bail at arraignment.

Jimenez’s passenger remained in critical condition on Wednesday afternoon, but the driver of the other car had been released.

POLICE MAKE CRACK BUST

On July 28, around 11:08 a.m., members of the CPD Narcotics Unit placed two individuals into custody after they were observed conducting a drug transaction in the area near 125 Chestnut St. Crack Cocaine and $1,000 cash was recovered from one of the subjects.

Francisco Diaz, 26, of 199 Chestnut St., was charged with possession of a Class B drug to distribute, distribution of a Class B drug and conspiracy.

Jose Rivera, 31, of 11 Congress Ave., was charged with possession of a Class B drug and conspiracy.

ASSAULTED POLICE

On July 30, at 8:22 p.m., a CPD officer was flagged down by a security officer in front of 388 Broadway ( Las Vegas Bar). The security officer denied entry to an intoxicated male attempting to join his friend inside. The intoxicated friend then came out of the bar and began causing a disturbance claiming his friend should be allowed to enter.

At that point the subject was asked to leave several times and did not comply. He was then placed into custody were he struggled and fought with the officer.

Esvin Hernandez Vasquez, 38, of 60 Chester Ave., was charged  with assault and battery on a police officer, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

CAR BREAKER  FROM BOSTON

On July 27, at 6:53 p.m., officers were dispatched to the area of Tremont Street for a report of a male party attempting to break into several motor vehicles. The party was only initially described as male in a black hoodie. Officers investigated the male and observed items taken from vehicles that were broken into and placed him under arrest.

Michael Hurlihy, 36, of Boston, was charged with receiving stolen property over $250 (subsequent offense), trespassing and three counts of breaking and entering a  vehicle for a felony.

JUVE ON A MOPED

On July 26, at 10:29 a.m., a CPD officer on patrol in the area of Broadway and Eleanor Street and observed a male party operating a moped in the opposite direction without using a helmet.

The juvenile operator was pulled over and a subsequent investigation revealed the moped was stolen out of Boston.

The 16-year-old juvenile was charged with receiving stolen property over $250.

Police Log

Monday, 7/17

Vidal Flores, 49, 248 Revere  Beach Pkwy., Chelsea, was arrested for assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, malicious damage to motor vehicle.

Marilu Paz, 41, 27 Lynn St., Chelsea, was arrested on a warrant.

Anthony Lemus, 25, 90 Marlborough St., Chelsea, was arrested on a warrant.

Tuesday, 7/18

Maria Flores Rodriguez, 31, 138 Grove St., Chelsea, was arrested for larceny over $250.

Luis Delcid, 50, Homeless, Chelsea, was arrested for trespassing.

Rudis Garcia, 45, 55 Summer St., Lynn, was arrested for trespassing and immigration detainer.

Wednesday, 7/19

Andrew Babigumira, 31, Homeless, was arrested for trespassing.

Diane Valentin, 27, 10 Forsyth St., Chelsea, was arrested for aggravated assault and battery on a pregnant person.

Marco Roman, 20, 14 Elm St., Everett, was arrested on a warrant.

Thursday, 7/20

Christopher Steriti, 31, 269 Border St., East Boston, was arrested on warrants.

Andrew Babigumira, 31, Homeless, was arrested for conspiracy to violate drug law and distribute Class B drug.

Cesar Gomez, 32, 57 Bennington St., East Boston, was arrested for possessing Class B drug and conspiracy to violate drug law.

Luis Delcid, 50, Homeless, Chelsea, was arrested for possessing alcoholic beverage in public.

Cesar Ramos, 48, 135 Shurlteff St., Chelsea, was arrested for possessing alcoholic beverage in public.

Michael Connolly, 32, 444 Harrison Ave., Boston, was arrested on warrants.

Albin Hernandez, 35, 33 Maple St., Malden, was arrested on a warrant and possessing Class B drug.

Friday, 7/21

Jorge Ruiz, 49, 26 Astor ST., Lynn, was arrested for 2 counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, warrant and possessing Class A drug.

Ulises Arias, 51, 350 Meridian ST., East Boston, was arrested for trespassing and possessing Class A drug.

Edgar Zelaya, 23, 8 Fitz Terrace, Chelsea, was arrested for operating motor vehicle with suspended/revoked license.

Sunday, 7/23

Meshari Alsaeed, 29, 57 Revere St., Everett, was arrested for operating under the influence of liquor, leaving scene of personal injury, leaving scene of property damage and reckless operation of motor vehicle.

Albeto Hurtado, 43, 18 Tudor St., Chelsea, was arrested for unarmed robbery and immigration detainer.

Raul Romero, 33, 4 Webster Ct., Chelsea, was arrested for unarmed robbery.

Luis Martinez, 48, 108 Clark Ave., Chelsea, was arrested on a warrant.

Jose Guzman, 26, 75 Wilbur St., Everett, was arrested for disorderly conduct.

Monday, 7/24

Luis Delcid, Homeless, Chelsea, was arrested for possessing alcoholic beverage.

Michael Herlihy, 36, 39 Kingston St., Boston, was arrested for breaking and entering vehicle/boat for felony (3 counts), trespassing and receiving stolen property.

Wednesday, 7/26

Juvenile Offender, Lynn, was arrested for receiving stolen property over  $250.

Tiffany Sullivan, 39, 33 Maple St., Malden, was arrested for sexual conduct for fee.

Thursday, 7/27

Nevi Perez, 30, 123 Chestnut St., Chelsea, was arrested for sexual conduct for fee and assault and battery.

Francisco Rivera, 45, 4 School House Rd., Everett, was arrested for stop sign violation, unlicensed operation of motor vehicle.

Alexandria Vega, 33, 233 Hunnington St., Boston, was arrested for sexual conduct for fee.

Friday, 7/28

Francisco Diaz, 26, 199 Chestnut St., Chelsea, was arrested for distribution of Class B drug, possessing to distribute Class B drug and conspiracy to violate drug law.

Jose Rivera, 31, 11 Congress Ave., Chelsea, was arrested for possessing Class B drug and conspiracy to violate drug law.

Sunday, 7/30

Esvin Hernandez Vasquez, 38, 60 Chester Ave., Chelsea, was arrested for disorderly conduct, assault and battery on a police officer and resisting arrest.

Gabriel Medina, 35, 72 Spencer Ave., Chelsea, was arrested for dangerous weapon/knife over 4×1.

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East Boston Health Center Leads the Way

East Boston Health Center Leads the Way

Last week, the US Senate tried to undo the Affordable Care Act or Obama Care.  This system while it is not perfect and as a matter of fact it is far from the mark, still it provides a safety net for literally millions of Americans who would not otherwise be able to afford any health care.

What a sad commentary it is about our country and our leaders that in spite of our leading medical care that thousands of world citizens come here to use and yet for too many Americans, medical insurance still remains out of reach.  As a result, these same Americans are forced to wait – sometimes too long – to take advantage of our medical care that could save their lives.

What brings this to mind is that on Monday, US Senator Elizabeth Warren was in East Boston to praise the work of the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center. For decades, this health center has been delivering care to many low-income residents who lack insurance but are in need of medical help.  This center has helped thousands to cure a simple disease before it becomes progressively worse and possibly terminal.

Given all the rhetoric that is coming out about repealing or keeping the Affordable Care Act, our elected officials should look at the success of health providers like the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center.  The Center is located in an area that is serving a clientele that is below the national income average and in many cases first generation Americans who are struggling to raise a family and make financial ends meet.  Yet, these same Americans are receiving quality healthcare at a price that they can afford.

It would be too simplistic to say that the model that is now being used at the Center can fit all areas of our country.  However, it can fit many areas that are urban and poor.  If this system works here, why should it not work elsewhere?  The East Boston Neighborhood Health Center model could be one piece of solving the puzzle of affordable health care.

The quote from Boston political legend and former Speaker of the US House of Representatives Albert “Tip” O’Neil who coined the phrase that “all politics is local,” seems very apt with debate going on about the Affordable Care Act in Washington D.C. and Monday’s visit and remarks from Sen. Warren on the success of the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center.

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Chelsea Collaborative Wins Constitutional Case On Voting Registration

Chelsea Collaborative Wins Constitutional Case On Voting Registration

By Seth Daniel

Last fall, when Chelsea’s Edma Ortiz began to get increasingly concerned about the presidential election and what was at stake for immigrants and the Latino community, she finally found the time to get to Chelsea City Hall to register to vote in the election.

However, an irregular work schedule that required her to work odd hours during weekdays, and the death of her mother that took her to Puerto Rico for nearly a month in October, delayed her trip to City Hall.

Getting on a plane Oct. 19 to go back to Boston, she remembered thinking that she needed to go register for the election.

On Oct. 20, she went to the Chelsea Collaborative to get the details on how to fill out the documents.

However, she found out she was one day late – the cutoff for registrations was on Oct. 19, many weeks before the Nov. 6 election.

With that news, the life-long U.S. Citizen was disqualified to cast her vote in what was one of the most important elections in modern history.

That and many other similar stories led the Collaborative to file a lawsuit last year challenging the voter registration cutoff – and this week the Supreme Judicial Court ruled in their favor.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) ruled this week that the voter registration law in Massachusetts – which calls for a cutoff for voting registration several weeks before any election – infringes on the rights of voters and should be reconsidered.

The case was brought by the Chelsea Collaborative and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) against the Secretary of the Commonwealth.

“We are extremely happy with the outcome on this case,” said Gladys Vega of the Collaborative. “We strongly feel that this law has to change and we are not saying this should have anything to do with same-day voter registration. What it should have everything to do with is U.S. Citizens being able to have their vote.”

The ACLU said it was a victory for democracy in the state.

“This is a major victory for democracy in Massachusetts, as the court agreed that the arbitrary 20-day voter registration cutoff law is unconstitutional and disenfranchises thousands of potential voters throughout the Commonwealth every election,” said Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU Massachusetts. “As the Trump administration is seeking to limit access to the ballot, Massachusetts should lead nationwide efforts to ensure that everyone has a right to vote. As champions for freedom, the ACLU of Massachusetts is committed to working together with other advocates and the Massachusetts Legislature to protect and expand access to the ballot.”

Vega said the cutoff limits force people to focus on the election in October and September – times when people aren’t paying as much attention.

However, she said when people really want to vote, they find that they no longer can do so.

“I’ve had people come down with the card to register well before the election and we had to turn them away,” she said. “It was too late. One man tore the card up in front of me and said, ‘Why do I even bother.’ That shouldn’t happen…We have to register voters at a time when no one cares about it rather that at a peak time when people start caring about voting and can no longer participate.”

She said one witness in their case before the SJC testified that more than 6,500 voters had been turned away after the cutoff.

She also said technology has come to a point where a cutoff so many days ahead of time is not needed.

“Enough was enough,” she said. “We felt that this was against the Constitutional right to vote. They don’t need the processing time and documentation time any more. Things are done so much quicker that shouldn’t be a problem now.”

The Court has instructed the Secretary of the Commonwealth, Bill Galvin, to craft a law that will be more accommodating.

It will then have to be passed by the State Legislature.

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Returning Home:Phunk Phenomenon Dance Seeks New Home in Chelsea

Returning Home:Phunk Phenomenon Dance Seeks New Home in Chelsea

By Cary Shuman

Reia Briggs-Connor

Reia Briggs-Connor

Chelsea native Reia Briggs-Connor, who has built the Phunk Phenomenon Dance Complex in to the No. 1 name in hip-hop dance in Greater Boston, is looking for another home.

Briggs-Connor, a former New England Patriots cheerleader, learned in April that the building on Revere Beach Parkway in Everett that housed her dance studio would be demolished. The studio started on Ferry Street in Everett before moving to the old Harley Davidson building on Route 16.

“We received notice in April and my end-of-the-year recital was in May,” related Briggs-Connor.

The former Chelsea High School cheerleader and Miss Chelsea pageant winner has turned her attention to her hometown and has begun talks with developers about a site in Chelsea close to the Everett border.

“I’d really love to be back in Chelsea where I came from,” said Briggs-Connor, daughter of Barbara Casino Casino of Chelsea. “I’m looking for a new location and have a specific spot in mind and I’m going through the process of signing a lease.”

Briggs-Connor’s ascension to the top of the local hip hop scene took hard work, talent, vision, and a supportive family that includes her husband, Everett Police officer Rick Connor, and their two children, Jared Connor, 12, who suffers from a rare disease, San Filippo Syndrome (the family conducts an annual fundraising event, Jared’s Run, each year), and Aaron, 7, who is a rising dancer and Pop Warner and Little League player.

Phunk Phenomeon has grown steadily to a current enrollment of 450 students of all ages. Phunk has gained considerable recognition for creating the Boston Celtics Junior Dance Team that performs in front of 18,000 fans at Celtics’ home games.

 Phunk showcased its national credentials by earning a spot on MTV’s “America’s Best Dance Crew” show that was videotaped in California. Phunk dancers also appeared on “America’s Got Talent” and were a finalist for Jennifer Lopez’s new show, “World of Dance.”

“My dancers and I have been blessed enough to meet a lot of celebrities such as Busta Rhymes and Salt-N-Pepa and a lot of old-school rappers and hip hop artists. They love it that we keep hip hop alive from the foundation and all its high energy.”

A graduate of Wheelock College, Briggs-Connor is proud of her studio’s legacy and looking forward to building on its stature as the hub of youth hip-hop dancing – at a new location in Chelsea.

“I think the popularity of our studio, aside from the opportunities that our students get, is the family-oriented space that we offer and staying true to hip hop dance and its foundations. Basically it’s the love and care that goes in to the kids and we accept kids of all levels of dance ability. We build their confidence.”

 Briggs-Connor said her goal as a studio owner and professional instructor hasn’t changed since opening in Everett in 2001.

“Hopefully I can help more kids in Chelsea and all the surrounding communities. That’s always been my goal. I want to help these kids learn and appreciate the joys of dance and teamwork and have a positive outlook on life.”

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Open Seats Heat Up District Council Races

Open Seats Heat Up District Council Races

By Seth Daniel

Candidates are lining up for what looks to be a very competitive City Election season this fall, especially in Districts 1 and 8 where long-time councillors announced this summer that they wouldn’t seek re-election.

The hotbed of the activity right now is in Prattville, where several well known candidates are seeking the seat vacating by Councillor Paul Murphy.

District 1 is the most active voting area in most municipal elections and so every vote will make a difference in what looks to be a very close race with very qualified candidates.

Four candidates have pulled papers as of this week, including former City Clerk Bob Bishop, School Committeeman Shawn O’Regan, Planning Board member Todd Taylor and Collaborative activist Sylvia Ramirez.

All are well known in the City and carry heavy constituencies at the outset.

However, as of Wednesday, none of the four candidates had been certified for the ballot.

The last day to turn in signed and completed nomination papers is Aug. 8 at 5 p.m. – so candidates have a little under two weeks to qualify.

The other hot district with an open seat is District 8, long dominated by Admiral’s Hill. Councillor Dan Cortell will not run for re-election this time, so many candidates are also in contention.

Already, newcomer Zaida Ismatul Oliva of Winnisimmet Street has qualified for the ballot and will be in contention for the seat.

Ismatul Oliva works for Bunker Hill Community College and is a life-long resident of the city.

Others pulling papers qualifying are long-time former Councillor Calvin Brown, who previously was an at-large councillor before losing out in the last election cycle. Interestingly, though, Brown has also pulled papers for at-large Council, but having qualified for District 8, it’s not likely he will also seek an at-large seat.

Long-time resident Lad Dell of Breakwater Drive has pulled papers, as has Jermaine Williams of Admiral’s Way.

In the last go-around in the City Election, there was plenty of action for the three at-large seats, but that isn’t the case so far this time.

All three incumbents, Councillors Roy Avellaneda, Leo Robinson and Damali Vidot have pulled papers and qualified for the ballot. At the moment, they have no competition.

In District 7, a spirited race looks to be coming between Councillor Yamir Rodriguez and License Commissioner Mark Rossi.

In District 5, challenger Henry Wilson has qualified for the ballot, and will likely face incumbent Councillor Judith Garcia – who has pulled papers but has not yet qualified for the ballot.

Garcia and Wilson faced one another in the last election as well, so a spirited re-match is expected.

In District 3, known as Mill Hill, former District 5 Councillor Joe Perlatonda – who has moved to Clinton Street – has qualified for the ballot and will likely challenge Councillor Matt Frank, who has not yet qualified but has pulled papers.

Frank and Perlatonda, when serving on the Council, had many sharp disagreements and are probably as far apart on the issues as any two people in the City. That said, it should be a spirited contest full of dichotomies.

In District 2, Olivia Ann Walsh of the Soldiers’ Home has qualified for the ballot and will likely face Councillor Luis Tejada, who has pulled papers.

In District 4 and District 6, incumbent Councillor Giovanni Recupero and Enio Lopez are the only ones to pull papers and both have qualified for the ballot as well.

The last date to submit completed papers, once again, is Aug. 8 at 5 p.m.

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Former Pats Cheerleader Briggs-Connor Will Perform at Aug 31 Game

Former Pats Cheerleader Briggs-Connor Will Perform at Aug 31 Game

By Cary Shuman

Reia Briggs-Connor was a “Patriette” before she became a New England Patriots cheerleader.

“We were called the Patriettes in my first year and then it became the New England Patriots cheerleaders,” said Briggs-Connor.

Briggs-Connor will be back in Foxboro for the first-ever New England Patriots alumni cheerleader performance on Aug. 31 during halftime of the Giants-Pats game at Gillette Stadium. The cheerleaders will practice the choreography at a rehearsal before hitting the field in front of 68,000 fans.

After serving as a captain of Chelsea Pop Warner squads and the 1991 Chelsea High School cheerleading team, the then-19-year-old Briggs-Connor tried out for the New England Patriots squad and earned a spot. Briggs-Connor was already an accomplished dancer from her years of training at Genevieve’s Dance Studio in Chelsea. She also excelled in athletics as a member of the CHS track team.

She enjoyed her three seasons as a Pats’ cheerleader. Briggs-Connor had a trading card in her name, made personal appearances, signed autographs, was pictured on the team’s promotional calendar, and met many celebrities.

“I just missed out on the Patriots’ Super Bowl in 1996,” said Briggs-Connor. “The quarterback was Drew Bledsoe and then it became Tom Brady and they’ve been great ever since. But my cheerleading career was a fun time. It’s one of the best times of my life. It molded me in to what I do today. I learned a lot of the professional side of dance and created a sisterhood with all of the cheerleaders that continues to this day.”

Briggs-Connor will receive a specially designed New England Patriots’ alumni cheerleading uniform. Several students from her well-known Phunk Phenomenon Dance Complex will be on hand to see her on-field performance.

“This will be my first time dancing in the new stadium,” said Briggs-Connor. “It’s exciting. I get to dance on turf and not dirt.”

The Briggs-Connor family, husband Rick Connor and children, Jared and Aaron, will be cheering for Reia at Gillette.

“I’m very happy that my sons and my husband are going to see me perform,” said Reia, who is an official member of the National Football League Alumni Cheerleaders Assocation. “It’s going to be a proud moment for them to see their mother next to their favorite players on the field. I’m also looking forward to seeing my former teammates.”

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Sen DiDomenico’s Appointment Is Outstanding

Sen DiDomenico’s Appointment Is Outstanding

We wish to take this opportunity to congratulate our State Senator, Sal DiDomenico, for his recent appointment by Senate President Stan Rosenberg as the Senate Chair of the newly-created Italian Caucus of the Massachusetts legislature.

The establishment of the Italian Caucus comes at the urging of the Italian Consul General to Massachusetts, Nicola de Santis, who foresees the caucus as an instrument for fostering cultural and trade relations between Massachusetts and Italy.

In this era of increasing globalization, the Italian Caucus can serve an important purpose, especially in Massachusetts, where 14 percent of our residents confirm that they are of Italian heritage. Further, Massachusetts is one of the leading states for trade with Italy, and the Italian Caucus clearly can play a key role in enhancing economic development and opportunity among businesses here and in Italy.

For Senator DiDomenico, we are sure the appointment brings enormous personal satisfaction because of the pride he takes in his Italian-American heritage. Given Senator DiDomenico’s unique background and yearning to improve ties between Italy and America, his appointment by Senate President Stan Rosenberg as a chair of this committee is an outstanding one in every respect.

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