The Protesting Football Players are Not Disrespecting the Military

The Protesting Football Players are Not Disrespecting the Military

The silent protest that was begun last season by former San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick, in which Kaepernick took a knee during the National Anthem before football games, exemplifies what freedom of speech and freedom of expression mean in our country.

Kaepernick, and his fellow players who have joined him this year, have been very clear from the outset that their sole motive behind their protest is to express their view that racism is alive and well in America at all levels of our society and that this problem needs to be addressed immediately.

Although no one can doubt the truth of that assertion, we realize there are many who believe that a football game is not the place for political protests and who are upset that the players are kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem.

That’s their opinion and they, like Kapaernick, are entitled to express what they believe.

However, those (such as President Trump) who are attempting to discredit the protesters by asserting that the protesters are disrespecting those who have served in the military are off-base for two reasons.

First and foremost, the protesters never have made any negative statement about anybody in the military or that their protest is aimed at the military. Rather, it is clear that Trump and others are making this claim solely to discredit the protesters as a means of ignoring the serious issue of racism that the protest is all about.

Second however, the playing of the National Anthem before a game never has had anything to do with honoring the military. Rather, the tradition of playing the Anthem prior to the start of  a sporting event has been to show our unity as a nation — every single American — and not limited only to past and present members of the military.

The Anthem before a game makes us realize that although we may be cheering for rival teams on the playing field, at the end of the day, we still are one people, one nation.

Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling during the National Anthem — which has resulted in his career being ended (at least for now) — truly was an act of courage and stands as a shining example to all Americans, especially our young people, of their right to protest peacefully in our country.

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CHS Volleyball Team Takes a Knee at National Anthem:Players say they Kneel for a Fair and Equal Society for All

CHS Volleyball Team Takes a Knee at National Anthem:Players say they Kneel for a Fair and Equal Society for All

By Seth Daniel

The Chelsea High Volleyball team takes a knee during the National Anthem on Tuesday afternoon, Oct. 3, in a game at home against Notre Dame, who chose to stand and salute the flag. The girls, including (L-R) Arianna Pryor, Xiana Herasme, Masireh Ceesay and Guidairys Castro, plan to continue taking the knee all season to highlight inequities the lives of minority youth and immigrants. One school in Methuen has asked that they do not come and take a knee at their venue, choosing to forfeit the game instead.

The Chelsea High Volleyball team takes a knee during the National Anthem on Tuesday afternoon, Oct. 3, in a game at home against Notre Dame, who chose to stand and salute the flag. The girls, including (L-R) Arianna Pryor, Xiana Herasme, Masireh Ceesay and Guidairys Castro, plan to continue taking the knee all season to highlight inequities the lives of minority youth and immigrants. One school in Methuen has asked that they do not come and take a knee at their venue, choosing to forfeit the game instead.

The Chelsea High School girls’ volleyball team – a team loaded with seven seniors – has been together for several years and so it is that they’ve developed a family-like bond and a chemistry that sometimes helps them to act in unison.

It’s almost telepathic, they say.

In fact, when they first decided to take a knee during the National Anthem to make a statement on Tuesday, Sept. 19, at Whittier Tech, it was something they didn’t rehearse or plan in advance.

It just happened, and now it has happened two other times and – like other National Anthem protests – is sparking a robust conversation in Chelsea High, outside in Chelsea and even into the other cities and towns where they play.

All 11 players on the team are now taking the knee and did so as recently as this past Tuesday afternoon at Chelsea High.

“When it happened first, it wasn’t planned and it was just spontaneous and we all went down,” said Arianna Pryor, who pointed out that they took the knee before it became something much greater with the NFL protest on Sept. 24. “We gave each other the look and then it happened. It was just a natural thing. We had talked about it, but never planned on doing it. It was almost like mental telepathy.”

Leaders of the team say they are all taking the knee for several different reasons – whether it be for immigration issues, discrimination, economic opportunity, or better resources – but in general they seem to want to draw attention to the fact that they don’t see the country as being “free” or all of created “equal.”

“For me, a majority of us have immigrant parents and they came to the country to provide a better future for us,” said Rym El Mahid, a first-year player. “. What kind of American Dream is there if things are working against our parents all the time?”

Ruchellie Jimenez said she also takes the knee because she has seen how others are treated, how people treat her. She wants that to change, and this was one way to draw attention to her cause.

“I don’t think it’s fair how we have systematic forces against us and are always in the backseat of America,” she said. “We struggle and get the scraps of everyone else. My parents were immigrants and I see the way they are treated and the way I am treated. That’s why I take the knee. It isn’t fair.”

She added, as an example, that she recently wanted to improve her SAT score and went to a counselor outside Chelsea for help.

“I was sitting with the counselor and they looked at my score and said I was a minority and from a low-income area, so I was all set; there was not need for me to try to get better,” she said. “That’s not how I want to be treated. I just want to do better on my SAT.”

Pryor said others have been taking a knee to make a difference, and she saw that and brought it up to the rest of her team. They had talked about it, but made no plans. As time went on, she said she wanted to be one to make things known, to let people know that things are not right.

“I take a knee because I want to be there with the others that are trying to make a difference,” she said. “I take a knee because things need to change.”

All agreed that they don’t mean disrespect to any soldiers, and are grateful for the service of veterans – those who have died and who have returned injured. They said, however, they picked the National Anthem because it was a non-violent and because it was one of the few outlets they had as high school athletes.

“Our team is very ethnically diverse and culturally diverse,” said Capt. Jessica Martinez. “We feel strongly about how our country has been going, and we wanted to make our point in a way that wouldn’t seem violent or aggressive, but rather intelligent. We wanted to do something that showed we took a lot of time thinking out our actions.”

She added that if they had made their protest at City Hall or another public venue, it could have taken a violent course – which they didn’t want.

Added Jimenez, “We’re very grateful for what the veterans have done and they have given us freedom of speech to take the knee. I don’t think there is any other way for us to do this publicly. Everyone knows what taking a knee is.”

At school, it’s been a mixed reaction.

A lot of students don’t agree with it, they said, while others are wholeheartedly behind them.

Already, last Friday, the Chelsea High cheerleaders took a knee before the home football game.

Coach Serena Wadsworth said when it became obvious how her girls felt about taking the knee, and that they planned to do so the rest of the year, she sent out a letter to other schools. Most, she said, understood, but one school in Methuen preferred that the girls not come to their school and take a knee. The school indicated it didn’t feel it respected its school values. They were willing to forfeit the game, and also were willing to play at Chelsea.

Interestingly, the girls said their message isn’t really for those in Chelsea as much as it is for the other schools they play, many of which aren’t as diverse or understand the life that they lead.

“Our message isn’t really to be taken to only those who are doing the discrimination,” said El Mahid. “People who aren’t minority – the white and well off – don’t know the discrimination we face. It’s a way to get the discrimination out there.”

When the 2017  Chelsea High volleyball team is remembered, all of them agreed that it will probably be for their stand. They hope that it helps people think about what they did, and perhaps is something that’s continued.

“There are other teams and other seasons,” said Masireh Ceesay. “They will see what we did and see it as an example, I hope, and carry it on and find ways to go forward with our statement.”

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Some Feel CHS Volleyball Team Should Have Picked Another Venue for Protest

Some Feel CHS Volleyball Team Should Have Picked Another Venue for Protest

By Seth Daniel

Just as there have been no shortage of supporters of the Chelsea High girls volleyball team taking a knee at the National Anthem this month, there is similarly no shortage of people who are bothered by the statement.

Veterans are particularly bothered by the choice of high schoolers using the National Anthem to protest injustice, as it is historically a time to remember American soldiers who are deployed, dead or disabled. In a City where the primary state veterans care facility – the Soldiers’ Home – is located, that rings even more true than the average locale.

Members of the Soldiers’ Home said they could not comment on the matter, but many who spend considerable time there were hurt by the choice.

Bruce Dobson, who is the vice president of the East region of the Vietnam Veterans of America Massachusetts State Council, said he would like to meet with the girls. He said they are simply being followers, and not leading for the change they want.

Instead, they are hurting people who have lost life and limb to protect them.

“Protesting is acceptable in our country,” Dobson, who lives in Winthrop, said. “But to take a knee during the National Anthem is not. The National Anthem is to show respect to the Veterans who gave you the opportunity to be able to protest. If the volleyball team wants to protest, go to the steps of City Hall and take a knee. That will get a reaction without being disrespectful to veterans. The volleyball team members are being followers; be leaders and do something in your community. I would be willing to engage the volleyball at any time.”

School Committeeman Richard Maronski said he doesn’t agree with their stance and doesn’t believe the schools should allow it. For him, not only is it disrespectful, but shows that the youth aren’t being guided correctly.

“One problem is the kid seem to be leading the way in what should be allowed; we have the tail wagging the dog,” he said. “We are in a soft school system. The standards are lessened. The sports program seems to be getting worse. On the issue, I don’t think it’s right and I don’t think they know exactly what they are doing…I  don’t think it’s right they get to take a knee wearing a Chelsea uniform. They can protest on their own time…I support the kids on what’s happening to them and what’s said to them, but I don’t support how they are going about it.”

Maronski said he attends St. Michael’s Church next to the Soldiers’ Home every Sunday, and Father Healey reads a list of the soldiers who have passed every week. He said he would like the volleyball team to attend that sad ceremony, and to also become acquainted with the many wounded soldiers living in the Home – soldiers who hold the Anthem as dear to them as their own lives.

Chelsea Veterans Agent Francisco Toro said he had no official position, but as the City’s chief advocate and service provider, he’s already heard a lot of opinions. Interestingly, not all are against – yet not all are for either.

“I provide services to the veterans and am an advocate and a voice for the veterans in this community,” he said. “There are some veterans who think that taking a knee is disrespectful and some that don’t think it is. If you were to go and speak to a group of 100 veterans in Chelsea, I would say that there would be no one group on one particular side or the other…I’ve heard both sides from the veterans on this.”

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MS-13 Member Sentenced for Assaulting Gang Members

MS-13 Member Sentenced for Assaulting Gang Members

A member of MS-13’s Enfermos Criminales Salvatrucha clique in Chelsea was sentenced Aug. 2 in federal court in Boston for RICO conspiracy involving the assault of two rival gang members.

Kevin Ayala, a/k/a “Gallito,” 23, a Salvadoran national residing in Chelsea, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge F. Dennis Saylor to 42 months in prison and will be subject to deportation after completion of his sentence. In February 2017, Ayala pleaded guilty to conspiracy to conduct enterprise affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity, more commonly referred to as a RICO conspiracy.

Ayala was identified as a member of MS-13’s Enfermos Criminales Salvatrucha clique operating in Chelsea. Ayala admitted that in April 2014, he engaged in an aggravated assault upon two members of the rival 18th Street gang in Chelsea.

After a three-year, multi-agency investigation, Ayala was one of 61 individuals charged in a superseding indictment targeting the criminal activities of alleged leaders, members, and associates of MS-13 in Massachusetts. In documents previously filed with the Court, MS-13 was identified as a violent transnational criminal organization whose branches or “cliques” operate throughout the United States, including Massachusetts, as well as in Central America. MS-13 members are required to commit acts of violence to maintain membership and discipline within the group, such as attacking and murdering gang rivals and individuals believed to be cooperating with law enforcement.

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U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren Tours EBNHC

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren Tours EBNHC

By John Lynds

EBNHC CMO Dr. Jackie Fantes and EBNHC CEO Manny Lopes present U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren with a gift.

EBNHC CMO Dr. Jackie Fantes and EBNHC CEO Manny Lopes present U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren with a gift.

Last week the Democrats had a huge victory as the U.S. Senate failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obama Care. While there was much to celebrate as several Republicans, like Senator John McCain, cast votes against the Senate bill to repeal Obama Care, Senate Democrats like Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren say the fight is ongoing and Obama Care is still under attack by many Republicans in the House and Senate.

Warren was back in Massachusetts Monday and toured the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, a place that long before Obama Care offered quality health care to people of all ages, races and backgrounds regardless of their ability to pay.

Warren toured both the Health Center’s Gove Street and Maverick Square facilities and ended her tour with a roundtable discussion where she heard from health care providers, patients and partners of EBNHC.

“I want to thank Senator Warren and her team for visiting the Health Center today,” said EBNHC CEO Manny Lopes. “We are so happy about the work she has done to help the lives of individuals that don’t have a voice but also her work to protect the Affordable Care Act and making sure people living in this country not only have access to coverage but access to high quality health care. On our door it says ‘All Are Welcome’ and we continue to provide service to anybody who walks through our doors regardless of their ability to pay and we have stayed true to that statement.”

Warren heard testimony from EBNHC different departments and programs that have helped improve the lives of countless residents in Eastie and the surrounding communities. Whether its the Health Center’s PACE program that helps seniors live at home independently, EBNHC highly successful pediatrics department and school based health care program to cutting edge metal health and substance abuse programs, Warren said she was beyond impressed with the team at the Health Center and the services they have been able to provide to thousands of low-income residents that would otherwise be left without stable health care.

Warren also heard from patients who have benefitted from EBNHC’s quality care and programs with one patient saying she passed up the chance to purchase a nice house for a good price north of Eastie because she feared her and her family would not get the same quality health care outside of the neighborhood.

For her part, Warren thanked the Health Center staff and board for being on the front lines and being a shinning example of everything that is right with quality affordable health care.

“I just wanted to come by today (Monday) and thank all of you,” said Warren. “An amazing thing happen last week. We were able to save health care for millions of Americans across the country. I just want to be clear that this has been a hard fight and we’ve been in this fight for a very very long time.”

Warren said the fight really began following Obama Care’s passage and then having to defend expanded health care coverage to millions of Americans day after day.

“When this year started we didn’t have the votes to stop the repeal but what we did have is people from all over this country that got into the fight including people like you from our Community Health Center,” said Warren. “You got into the fight in different ways. One of those ways was just by doing what you do every day and showing America that this is the way we can provide high quality health care to all of our people.”

When arguing on the Senate floor, Warren said she points to Community Health Centers as the shining stars of what works in the the health care industry.

“Every time I hear the arguments that costs are rising or things are not working I say ‘take a look at our Community Health Centers’,” said Warren. “EBNHC is one of the best examples of how affordable quality health care can be delivered to thousands of people every day.”

Warren said the Senate Republican’s failure to repeal Obama Care was a triumph for democracy.

“Enough people from across America said ‘health care is a basic human right, and we will stand up and fight for basic human rights’,” said Warren. “This is not a partisan issue, it’s a human issue and I think that is powerfully important to realize.”

Over the national debate of whether or not to repeal Obama Care, Warren said something magical happened across America.

“America believes in health care coverage, maybe not everyone, but I think there has been a huge shift and people are seeing health care as a basic human right,” said Warren. “Also, in the first time in its 52 year existence we talked openly about Medicare. We put a human face on Medicare and talk about who gets Medicare and why they get Medicare and why Medicare is so important. People are realizing that Medicare is not about ‘some others’ but about all of us as human beings and it was important to talk about the faces of Medicare and the people that are touched by Medicare. I think now much of America has a better understanding not only of how health insurance affects our health care system but how Medicare and Medicaid are an equally important component of that system.”

In the end Warren said the fight to preserve Obama Care is not over.

“This fight is not over and it can come back at any moment,” said Warren. “There are still those across the country that want to fight to roll back health care coverage. We have to be vigilant and we can not move backwards or lose focus in this fight. People like Manny (Lopes), Senator (Joseph) Boncore and people from across Massachusetts have been in this fight and standing shoulder to shoulder by showing up at rallies, sending emails and texts and making calls. You’ve done everything to say I want my voice heard in this big national health care debate.”

“I came here today to just say it has been an honor to work alongside all of you,” she added.

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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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The Olympic Spirit Still Exists

For almost all of us, the Olympics have provided memories that have lasted a lifetime. We can all measure how old we were, or where we were, when we recall Olympic moments both from our youth and through adulthood.

For example, who among us (of a certain age) does not remember, as if it were yesterday (or so it seems), Mike Eruzione’s “shot heard ’round the world” when he scored the game-winning goal that defeated the Russians in the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid? Or when Bruce Jenner (now Caitlin Jenner) won the decathlon in the 1976 Montreal Summer Olympics? We could go on-and-on ad infinitum describing the scenes from the highlight reel of Olympic moments scrolling through our mind.

During the era of the Cold War, the Olympics served as a proxy for the battle between the United States and the former Soviet Union in what was perceived as the contest between democracy vs. communism, freedom vs. repression. But with the Cold War long over, the political overtones of the Olympics have all but disappeared, which has been a good thing. Although it would be nice to see America’s Justin Gatlin win the gold in the 100 meter dash, sports fans of all nationalities have thrilled to watch Jamaica’s Usain Bolt (the fastest man ever) sprint to victory-after-victory-after-victory in the last two Olympics — and no doubt will be rooting for him and his Jamaican teammates to make it a triple-medal three-peat.

The Olympics have something for everyone, from the youngest to the oldest among us. There are enough sports competitions and more than enough heroes for everyone to have their own favorite athlete to root for. Still for others, the elaborate pageantry of the opening ceremonies put on by the host country constitutes a spectacle that draws in all of us and establishes the magnitude and specialness of the games.

This is not to say that the Olympics are all fun and games. As with any event that draws world-wide attention and that involves billions of dollars, the Olympics have been plagued by controversy of all kinds. From Hitler’s 1936 Olympics that fed into Nazi propaganda, to the judging controversies of the Cold War era, to the tragedy of the terrorist attack in Munich in 1972, to doping scandals, to the the more recent accusations of bribery of Olympic officials by host countries, the Olympics have fallen far short of its own creed:

“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph, but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered, but to have fought well.”

But despite all of the controversies, the Olympic spirit has survived and the present games in Rio de Janeiro are no exception. We hope all of our readers find the time to enjoy the 2016 games and to do so with their families and friends. Even in this age of on-demand television and live streaming on personal devices, the Olympics are best-enjoyed as a shared experience.

They are only here for two weeks — so make the most of them.

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The Words That Shook the World

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

When the members of the Second Continental Congress gathered in Philadelphia in June, 1776, it was not at all clear that they eventually would declare their independence from England. Although the “shot heard round the world” had been fired at Concord more than a year earlier in April, 1775, and a de facto state of war existed in some regions of the colonies, many in America still held out hope that they could come to some sort of agreement with England regarding taxation and representation such that secession would not be inevitable.

However, with leading thinkers such John Adams making the case to break free from England, the momentum to declare independence overcame even the most skeptical of the colonists.

On July 2, the delegations from 12 states voted to declare their independence (the delegation from New York abstained) and on July 4, the various delegates signed the Declaration of Independence.

Thomas Jefferson’s words in the first sentence of the second paragraph of the Declaration are among the most famous in the English language and the most widely-quoted in any language since they became published. (Although we should note that Jefferson’s use of the word “men” was quite literal, inasmuch as it did not include women, and it certainly did not include African slaves of either gender.)

However, the use of the adjective “all men” is what was most revolutionary about the Declaration. The signers themselves mostly were of America’s aristocracy — Jefferson himself was a plantation owner with many slaves — but they clearly were meant to include even those of the non-aristocratic class.

That one sentence in the Declaration upended the world order of that time. It set the stage for the French Revolution a few years later and eventually the demise of monarchies throughout the world. Our democracy as we know it today rests on the premise that every citizen should have an equal voice in the operation of our government.

So as we celebrate the holiday weekend with our friends and family, let’s remember that the freedoms we enjoy today all began with a few novel words written 240 years — and that we should not take for granted the legacy that the Founding Fathers bestowed upon us.

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Enjoy the Weekend — Safely

We saw a statistic the other day that seemed baffling: The death toll on our nation’s roads and highways once again is on the rise. Last year, there were 38,000 highway fatalities in America. That’s about 100 Americans killed every day in motor vehicle-related crashes and accidents.

In addition, there are hundreds of thousands of Americans who receive serious injuries in motor vehicle crashes, especially brain injuries, that can have devastating effects on victims.

The reason that we say this statistic is baffling is because motor vehicles never have been safer. Air bags, anti-lock brakes, and other technological innovations have made surviving a high-speed car crash far more likely than at any other time in the history of the automobile.

But we venture to guess that there are a lot of reasons why the carnage on our nation’s highways is increasing: We have an aging population; distracted driving is epidemic, thanks to cell phones and radios with 100 channels that require more hand-eye coordination than the old push-button radios; motor vehicles with all of those high tech featurers not only make speeding more attainable, but also lull us into a false sense of safety; our roads are in terrible shape and constitute a safety hazard; and our national epidemic of sleep deprivation that results in more people than ever falling asleep at the wheel.

But whatever the reason, those factors multiply during holiday weekends, when the roadways are filled and drunk driving becomes a huge factor in public safety. It is predicted that more Americans will be on the road than ever for this Memorial Day weekend.

So please be sure to be safe this Memorial Day weekend — especially when driving — and most especially, do not drink and drive and make sure that you do not allow anyone you know to drink and drive.

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The Final Report

For more than 25 years, the Federal courts have been monitoring the quality and necessary cleanup of Boston Harbor as submitted by the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority. The final report as ordered by the courts was submitted March 18, 2016.

Those of us who grew up in the Boston area and enjoyed the local beaches can still remember how the water quality continued to deteriorate in the 1960s and 1970s, culminating to the point where, in an infamous 1988 presidential advertisement, Boston Harbor was named as the most polluted harbor in the country.

Since then, much has changed for the better, but at a tremendous cost to local ratepayers. For some users, the water bills that for years had been a few hundred dollars a year have skyrocketed to thousands of dollars a year. Older cities like Revere had been fined hundreds of thousands of dollars in order to repair outdated and inefficient water and sewer lines.

The bottom line has been that Boston Harbor has seen a resurgence in marine life, with herds of seals living in the Harbor and whale spottings off the coast of Revere last year.

Beaches like Constitution Beach in East Boston, once closed for many days during a summer heat wave due to dangerous water quality issues, are now open. Residents can now safely swim in the Charles River, but in the 1970s, if one fell into the water, a tetanus shot was required immediately.

Organizations like Save the Harbor/Save the Bay can now focus on the positive aspects that living on the coast can afford residents, rather than continually fighting for the basics like better water quality.

However, while much has been done for the water quality, much still remains to be done. There are still many brownfields along waterways like the Mystic River that leach chemicals into the water. The Wynn organization has spent tens of millions of dollars in cleaning up the contaminated planned casino site in Everett. In Boston, homeowners are now required to spend thousands of dollars in neighborhoods like the South End and Back Bay on water filtration systems to take the rain runoff from the roofs and put into the ground rather than run off the ground.

All these are positive examples of more than 30 years of hard work and billions of dollars to bring back the water quality to acceptable levels.

Today, one can be optimistic about the future of the Harbor, but also guarded. Massachusetts’ politicians have always shown the willingness to spend money on public projects, but not the resolve to fund the maintenance of these projects. Our deteriorating infrastructure and the transit system are two examples of billions having been spent in the construction phase, but then grossly underfunded for maintenance.

Living on the coast, given the fact that our population is growing, our water environment is safe for now. But if our current strong water status, gained from impressive public effort and extraordinary cost, are not constantly monitored going forward, then we will find ourselves back in the same place, a place of public danger and national ridicule, when songs were sung like “Love That Dirty Water” in the 1970s and being named as the most polluted harbor in America in 1988.

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