It is difficult to understate the impact upon the future of our country of the Republican tax bill proposals that have been passed by the House and Senate and await a reconciliation between the two versions for a final vote by both.
The most complex piece of tax legislation to be enacted in more than 30 years was devised and voted upon with little or no debate and in the middle of the night (after midnight, actually) in the Senate, with cross-outs and extended, hand-written notes in the margins such that no Senator really knows what he or she voted upon.
However, what is clear is that the tax bill will raise taxes on the middle class — some substantially so (especially here in Massachusetts) — and all but destroy the Affordable Care Act, while giving huge benefits to the ultra-rich in countless ways.
One of the most outrageous giveaways to the ultra-rich is that they can deduct the cost of maintenance of their private jets. Wouldn’t we all like to do that for our cars, the preferred mode of transportation for the rest of us?
In addition, this tax giveaway by the supposedly deficit-hawk, fiscally-conservative Republicans will be increasing the deficit by at least $1 trillion over the next 10 years, and most likely more than that.
All in all, this represents America’s move toward a real-life Hunger Games, in which most Americans barely will be able to scrape by with little or no prospect for economic mobility.
The American Century has been turned on its head — and we never will be the same again.
Former Chelsea 8th District Councilor who worked to better the Chelsea Community
Rochelle “Shelley” A. Bennett of Peabody, formerly of Chelsea, died peacefully at home on Saturday, December 2 after suffering a long illness. She was 73 years old.
Rochelle was born in Chelsea and lived here throughout most of her life. She was a graduate of the Chelsea Public School System and Massachusetts Bay Community College. After college, she worked in an administrative capacity at the law firm of Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris and Glovsky & Popeo and then in 1984 moved to the Venture Capital firm of Alta Communications from which she eventually retired.
Rochelle considered Chelsea to be her home and she was very active in the Chelsea community. In 1994, Rochelle was elected as Chelsea’s 8th District Councilor and served as such until 2003. She had a very strong bond with the City of Chelsea and the people who lived here. Her sole focus was to help the residents of Chelsea and to make Chelsea a great city. She was awarded the “Outstanding Service Award” from the Explorer Post #109 and Chelsea YMCA. She was also awarded the “Chelsea Latin Community Service Award.”
Rochelle served for four years as a Trustee for the Breakwater Condominium Trust and worked closely with other associations to better the Chelsea community. Several of her many accomplishments include reducing weekend noise pollution from Logan Airport and being instrumental in getting the Assisted Living and Nursing Home Facilities built in Admiral’s Hill.
Rochelle was an extremely loving daughter. After losing her father in 1966, she devoted her life to taking care of her mother, Mollie Bennett, until her death in 1998. Rochelle never had children but shared a strong loving bond with her many nieces and nephews. Nothing was more important to Rochelle than her family.
Rochelle loved having fun and enjoyed watching old movies, listening to classic 40’s and 50’s music and playing the piano. She spent many weekends with her friends playing the piano and singing at the Continental Restaurant in Saugus. She took pride in the fact that she worked hard for most of her life and was able to retire comfortably at an early age.
She was so excited for this chapter in her life.
She moved to Florida to enjoy the warm weather and the carefree days of retirement. Unfortunately, illness forced her to move back to Peabody where she lived until her passing.
Rochelle leaves behind her sister, Barbara Kennedy of Boynton Beach, FL, her sister-in-law Geraldine Bennett of Framingham and several nieces and nephews: David and Ann Kennedy of Saugus, Marlene Kennedy of Lynn, Cheryl and Michael Upton of Lynn, Rhonda and Ronald Aldo of Mansfield, Alan and Angel Kennedy of Boynton Beach, FL, Lisa Kennedy of Hillsboro, NH, Sharon and Lou Shuman of New Orleans, LA, Steven Bennett of California and Diane and Kenneth Stone of Framingham, and several great nieces and nephews.
Rochelle was preceded in death by her loving parents, Abraham and Mollie Bennett, her brother, Herbert Bennett, brother-in-law John Kennedy and nephew, Robert Kennedy.
Funeral services will be held on Sunday, December 10 at 12 noon at the Torf Funeral Home, 151 Washington Ave, Chelsea followed by burial at the Mishna Cemetery, Fuller Street, Everett. In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to the American Breast Cancer Society or the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation.
Of New Hampshire, formerly of Chelsea
Norman Dion of Center Barnstead, NH, formerly of Chelsea, passed away peacefully on Saturday, December 2 at the Veteran’s Home, Tilton, NH, following a long battle with dementia. He was 85 years old.
Born in Nashua, NH, the son of the late Edmond and Olivine Dion, he was raised and educated in Chelsea aand was a tireless and dedicated worker for over 30 years at Smith Craft later Keene Lighting Corp. Following retirement, Norman and his wife, the late Doris Dion, built a home in the country to enjoy their golden years.
An honorably discharged veteran, Norman proudly served his country as a member of the United States Army 82nd Airborne Division from 1950 to 1953. During retirement, he was an avid participant at the American Legion, Post 43 in Barnstead.
A loving husband, father, and grandfather, Norman was the pillar of strength for his family. In his younger years, Norman served as a Boy Scout Leader. Norman will be best remembered for his generous heart and love of family.
Norman in survived by five children: Daniel Dion of Chelmsford, Michael Dion of Groton, Cecile Falta of Center Barnstead, NH, Andrea Toolan of Wakefield, and Paul Dion of Newton; four grandchildren: Melissa Derderian of Chicopee, Sara Dion of Somerville, and Jake and Alexis Toolan of Wakefield; three brothers, Raymond Dion of Lynnfield, Paul Dion of Lebanon, ME, and Gerard Dion of Moultonborough, NH; three sisters, Yvette Pizzano of Revere, Cecile Resca of Florida and Yvonne Petrosino of Plymouth and by many nieces, nephews and extended family and friends. In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by his wife: Doris (DeSchuytner) Dion, and son, Donald Dion of Chelsea.
His visitation will be held in the Phaneuf Funeral Homes and Crematorium, 172 King St., Boscawen, on Friday, December 8, from 10 to 11 a.m. followed by a Funeral Service at 11 a.m. in the Funeral Home Chapel. Committal at the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery, 110 Daniel Webster Hwy on Friday, December 8 will be at 12 noon. Friends and relatives are invited. To view Norman’s Online Tribute, send condolen
Carolyn Lee DeGurski
Bookkeeper at former Broadway National Bank in Chelsea
Carolyn Lee (Spiriti) DeGurski, a lifelong Chelsea resident, entered into eternal rest on Tuesday evening, November 28 at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston after succumbing to a long illness. She was 70 years old.
Born and raised in Chelsea, the daughter of the late Albert and Dorothy (DeWitt) Spiriti, Carolyn attended Chelsea Public Schools and graduated from Chelsea High School, Class of 1965. She also worked at the former Broadway National Bank in Chelsea where she dedicated 25 years as a bookkeeper for the bank. During her retirement, Carolyn enjoyed shopping, traveling and attending plays. She will be greatly missed by all who loved her.
The wife of James J. DeGurski of Chelsea, she was the devoted mother of Stacey DeGurski of Saugus, dear sister of Albert “Dean” Spiriti and his wife, Janet of Everett, James Spiriti of Chelsea and Eugene Spiriti, both of Chelsea and Deborah M. Guidi and her husband, James of Lynn; loving aunt of Cynthia Castillo and her husband, John of Littleton, Allison Ragsdale and her husband, David of California and David Spiriti and his wife, Anna Maria of Revere.
A Funeral Service was conducted in the Carafa Family Funeral Home in Chelsea on Saturday, December 2. Committal was rivate. Donations in Carolyn’s memory may be made to the Joslin Diabetes Center, 1 Joslin Place, Suite 745, Boston, MA 02215 or on-line at www.joslin.org.
Is old age a disease? Dan Weber, president of the Association of Mature American Citizens [AMAC], says a significant amount of scientific research indicates that aging is, indeed, a disease. “More important there are many who believe it is a disease with a cure.”
Weber cites the work of Dr. Aubrey de Grey, a well-known biomedical gerontologist. His focus is on extending life spans by intervening at the cellular level, repairing damaged cells and in turn extending life.
Some call de Grey a “mad scientist” but there is lots of independent study being conducted by those in the scientific mainstream to indicate that he is on the right track.
Most recently, researchers at the Universities of Exeter and Brighton in the UK released the results of a study that showed aging cells can be repaired. They used naturally occurring chemicals to treat aging human cells with remarkable results.
“When I saw some of the cells in the culture dish rejuvenating I couldn’t believe it. These old cells were looking like young cells. It was like magic. I repeated the experiments several times and in each case, the cells rejuvenated. I am very excited by the implications and potential for this research,” according to Exeter’s Dr. Eva Latorre, one the principal authors of the research report.
Meanwhile, notes Weber, the New York Times reports that the study of the human aging process has evolved to the point where the focus is now on what are called “supercentenarians,” individuals who live longest of all.
“It used to be that a person who reached the ripe old age of 100 was a rarity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, however, recently reported that the number of Americans over the age of 100 has grown by 44-percent since the year 2000. The U.S. today is home to more than 72,000 centenarians,” says the AMAC chief.
But the New England Centenarian Study at Boston University, a leading medical investigative group concentrating on how we grow old, believes healthy aging is all in the genes, particularly the genes of the very, very old. The study says on its Web site “the genetic influence becomes greater and greater with older and older ages, especially beyond 103 years of age.”
Whether the cellular approach or the genetic approach is ultimately successful in increasing the life span of more people in the future, Weber points out that living an extra long life can be fraught with financial danger. It will require a whole new way of thinking about retirement. Modern medicine has already extended longevity and that has resulted in fewer of us being able to retire. Many more people these days have given up on the notion of full retirement at the traditional age of 65. We stay in our jobs longer than we might like or we find ways of supplementing our incomes.
But for many elderly Americans, finding work to supplement their incomes is not an option. Social Security is what puts food on their tables. It’s their principal source of income, meager as it might be, and they would face cruel hardships if their monthly checks were cut. For them, the fact that Social Security faces major fiscal challenges in the coming years is a scary prospect.
“We need to focus, as a nation, on how the less fortunate of us will cope in the brave new world of centenarians and supercentenarians. How will they cope with their everyday lives? For them, it is not a benefit-it is a necessity and it is imperative that our lawmakers find and enact the fixes that will keep Social Security viable for the long term. For our part, AMAC remains relentless in its pursuit of solutions in our ongoing meetings with Congressional leaders. We’ve vowed never to give up and we won’t,” says Weber.
The Association of Mature American Citizens [http://www.amac.us] is a vibrant, vital senior advocacy organization that takes its marching orders from its members. We act and speak on their behalf, protecting their interests and offering a practical insight on how to best solve the problems they face today. Live long and make a difference by joining us today at http://amac.us/join-amac.
Wild Turkeys have shown up in the craziest places over the last few years, including on city streets, and that’s due in part to a 35-year effort to restore them to the state. The native species was pushed out by European settlement and industrialization in the mid-1850s. Now, they have come back in a big way and frequently come to city streets or parks.
There aren’t too many comeback stories that begin with the phrase, ‘Gobble, Gobble,’ but the story of the once-prolific wild turkey in Massachusetts certainly begins and ends with just such an utterance.
Though the wild turkey disappeared from Massachusetts for nearly 180 years, the Thanksgiving bird was once everywhere in the state, including throughout Chelsea and neighboring locales.
It was so common in the wild that it is likely the precise reason turkey is served for the Thanksgiving meal. With so many wandering around, it’s likely that the first Thanksgiving took advantage of cooking up the bird because it was so common.
It was also such a common sight that Ben Franklin argued for it to be the national bird instead of the American Bald Eagle – saying it symbolized the early Americas more than anything else.
But by 1850, it was gone from Massachusetts.
“Really, by the early 1850s, it was extricated from the state,” said Wayne Petersen of the Mass Audubon Society. “Because of all the changes brought by coming Europeans with land uses, as well as hunting and targeted removal of them, they just didn’t make it. They were gone for a good long time.”
That said, the wild turkey in the last three or four years has re-established itself and made a complete comeback to Massachusetts – becoming so prevalent that they’ve adapted to not only living in the wild and the suburbs, but can often be found wandering around city streets in very urban environments as well.
It’s a story that Petersen said is fun, amusing and a great example of re-introducing a native bird that had been long-lost.
“It’s great to have them back,” he said. “In most cases, they are entertaining and the worst they can do is cause problems with traffic if they get into trouble on the roads. By and large, most people are mildly amused by them when they see them in the neighborhoods for the first time. I think it’s just a great story. They are indigenous and we have a whole holiday built around the wild turkey…Wild turkeys are to Thanksgiving what Santa Claus is to Christmas. I think it’s great.”
Turkeys didn’t just pop back into Massachusetts out of thin air though.
The effort to restore them began as early as the 1950s. Serious efforts were made to reintroduce them back then, but the varieties brought to the state were usually from the Southern states where they are still prevalent. Unfortunately, those birds could not acclimate to the harsh winters of Massachusetts and didn’t survive. In the 1970s, though, another group of turkeys from the Adirondack region of New York – where they are also very easily found in the wild – were introduced into the western Massachusetts region.
Later, after that group found some success, preservationists introduced them into the Quabbin Reservoir area. That was also successful, and the birds just kept moving further east in greater numbers until now you can find them almost anywhere – sometimes in the craziest places.
“Now you find them all over,” said Petersen. “Over the years, that group took hold in a huge way. It is no longer a surprise to anyone to see them in the suburbs or even in the cities. They have learned to live in close contact with people here and are very safe. Many people enjoy them. Other than being huge, they are quiet and passive. They are not known as being vicious birds.”
Petersen said they get reports all the time of turkeys in the middle of the city, in car lots, sleeping on doorsteps or holding up traffic in a congested business district.
“There are lots of reports of turkeys being turkeys,” he said. “They can hold up traffic and can be a pain if they get hit on Rt. 128 or Rt. 3, but that is spot on about where people are finding them. There is no question we get reports of them being in very odd places.”
Beyond the fun of the new and surprising sights of turkeys back in the communities where they haven’t been for 180 years or more, there is also the serious subject of brining a native species back to where it belongs – somewhat like the Bald Eagle’s success story.
“The wild turkey in Massachusetts is just another great argument for restoration efforts,” he said. “They were a native species here that was lost in time. They were here before we were here and it was our introduction that pushed them out. Now we have helped to bring them back. That’s certainly worth noting.”
This is the season to Shop Small®! On main streets across America, small businesses are getting ready to welcome customers on Small Business Saturday, celebrated this year on November 25 across the country and on Broadway Chelsea.
Results from the 2017 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey, released this month by the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) and American Express, show six in 10 (61%) U.S. consumers are aware of Small Business Saturday going into the day, and of those, 82% plan to shop at a small, independently-owned retailer or dine at a small, independently-owned restaurant on the day.
Created by American Express in 2010 as a way to help small businesses get more customers, Small Business Saturday is held annually on the Saturday following Thanksgiving. Now entering its eighth year, the day is embraced by independent merchants of all kinds—from traditional brick and mortar retailers to service providers to e-commerce businesses. And as consumer shopping habits continue to evolve, they are prioritizing small businesses – even those online: the report found that 59% of consumers said they are likely to seek out a small, independently-owned retailer when shopping online on Small Business Saturday.
“Small Business Saturday provides people an opportunity to discover and celebrate the variety of small businesses that make their communities thrive,” said Elizabeth Rutledge, Executive Vice President, Global Advertising & Brand Management at American Express. “Beyond visiting their favorite go-to spots, shoppers say Small Business Saturday inspires them to visit places they have not been to before and would not have otherwise tried.”
Consumers Will Make Small Businesses a Big Part of Holiday Shopping Plans
Among those who are aware and who plan to shop on Small Business Saturday this year, 65% say the main reason they will support local, independently-owned retailers and restaurants is because they value the contributions small businesses make to their community.
The 2017 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey found:
As much as 80% of all consumers surveyed say at least some of their holiday shopping will be done at small, independently-owned retailers or restaurants;
Three-quarters (75%) of all consumers surveyed are planning on going to one or more small businesses as part of their holiday shopping;
90% of all consumers surveyed agree it is important for them to support small, independently-owned restaurants and bars;
Of consumers who are aware of Small Business Saturday, 89% agree that the day encourages them to Shop Small all year long, not just during the holiday season;
For those who are aware and who plan to shop on Small Business Saturday, 44% plan to spend more this year compared to last year.
“Supporting small businesses is critical to the health and livelihood of our national economy and local communities,” said NFIB CEO and President Juanita Duggan. “We are proud to partner with American Express to bring attention to the importance of small business and look forward to another successful Small Business Saturday.”
Grassroots Support Boosted by Neighborhood Champions and the Small Business Saturday Coalition
Local support for Small Business Saturday is largely driven by Neighborhood Champions: small businesses, business associations, local Chambers of Commerce and other community organizers who help energize their neighborhoods on the day. To date, more than 7,200 Neighborhood Champions have signed up to plan activities and events to draw shoppers to small businesses across the U.S., leading up to and on Small Business Saturday. Click here to find Neighborhood Champions near you. Small business owners can also find event inspiration and create customizable Small Business Saturday marketing materials to rally their communities at ShopSmall.com.
Another important group that drives participation on the day is the Small Business Saturday Coalition. Led by Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP), the Small Business Saturday Coalition was created in 2011 to help amplify the Shop Small message. The Coalition is comprised of national, state and local associations that help coordinate Small Business Saturday activities with merchants, consumers, small business owners and public officials in every state across the country.
Show Love for Your Favorite Places on Social Media
Consumers have made it a tradition each year to share their love for Small Business Saturday on social media, and all are encouraged to show off their favorite independently-owned businesses by using #ShopSmall and #SmallBizSat on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. This year, American Express is also encouraging consumers to RSVP on Facebook here for reminders about the nationwide celebration to Shop Small this November 25th.
To discover and share the impact shopping small has in your state, visit: www.shopsmall.com/mystate.
Corporate Supporters Rally Communities to Support Small Business
To help drive excitement for Small Business Saturday, American Express has enlisted the support of many companies that are serving as Corporate Supporters. Together these companies reach millions of small businesses and consumers and are key players in the e-commerce, retail, telecom, media, hospitality, transportation, and professional services industries. FedEx is among the medium and large-sized companies that will be participating. The company is shipping Shop Small merchandise kits to Neighborhood Champions and small businesses across the country free of charge, and printing select materials in the kit at no cost through FedEx Office. Grubhub is helping restaurants stand out, deliver memorable experiences and optimize online offerings on Small Business Saturday. Additionally, Ace Hardware, FTD, Square and Liberty Mutual Insurance are lending their support to the day.
Its was 99 years ago this Saturday, on Nov. 11, 1918, that World War I formally came to a conclusion on the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month.
Americans observed the first anniversary of the end of the war the following year when the holiday originated as Armistice Day in 1919.
The first world war was referred to at the time as “the war to end all wars.” It was thought that never again would mankind engage in the sort of madness that resulted in the near-total destruction of Western Civilization and the loss of millions of lives for reasons that never have been entirely clear to anybody either before, during, or since.
Needless to say, history has shown us that such thinking was idealistically foolhardy. Just 21 years later, the world again became enmeshed in a global conflagration that made the first time around seem like a mere practice run for the mass annihilation that took place from 1939-45.
Even after that epic second world war, America has been involved in countless bloody conflicts in the 72 years since General Douglas MacArthur accepted the Japanese surrender on the Battleship Missouri. Today, we still have troops fighting on battlefields in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Niger, and God-knows-where else.
Peace at hand has been nothing but a meaningless slogan for most of the past century.
Armistice Day officially became known as Veteran’s Day in 1954 so as to include those who served in WWII and the Korean War. All of our many veterans since then also have become part of the annual observance to express our nation’s appreciation for the men and women who bravely have answered the call of duty to ensure that the freedoms we enjoy as Americans have been preserved against the many challenges we have faced.
Although Veteran’s Day, as with all of our other national holidays, unfortunately has become commercialized, we urge our readers to take a moment, even if just quietly by ourselves, to contemplate what we owe the veterans of all of our wars and to be grateful to them for allowing us to live freely in the greatest nation on earth.
In addition, let us offer a prayer that despite the drumbeats of war-talk emanating from Washington these days, a peaceful solution will be found for all of our present-day conflicts before they escalate into a full-fledged war.
If nothing else, Veterans Day should remind us that freedom isn’t free and that every American owes a debt of immeasurable gratitude and thanks to those who have put their lives on the line to preserve our ideals and our way of life.
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.
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.”
Hundreds of young people and families in Chelsea were put on edge Tuesday when President Donald Trump announced he would end the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program – though with the caveat of keeping it intact for six months to allow Congress to attempt to enact a law.
The DACA program prevents the deportation of people brought to the United States illegally by their parents when they were under the age of 16. When President Barack Obama initiated it in 2012 via executive order, it allowed young people to do things they had not been able to do previously, like getting student loans, working legally and qualify for other programs. Anyone with a criminal record, however, was barred from qualifying for the program.
Now, all of that is up in the air for many people.
Joana (whose last name is shielded) is a freshman at Northeast Voke and a resident of Chelsea who said she has family and friends who are now in flux due to the decision – as well as the uncertainty as to whether Congress will act in the next six months.
“I feel like it wasn’t a very thoughtful decision because most of the kids in Chelsea are from other countries,” she said, noting that she has family who are in the DACA program. “It feels scary because you don’t know what is going to happen to a loved one. It’s a wait and see situation and something bad could happen in seconds, minutes, hours, months or even years…I find it all very pointless because families are scared and they tried everything in their power to bring their children here and all the sudden that opportunity they found so hard for is going away. They have sacrificed everything to get kids here and now that opportunity could end.”
City Manager Tom Ambrosino said he was discouraged by the decision also, knowing that hundreds of Chelsea residents are enrolled in DACA and now find themselves in limbo as they wait to see if Congress will do anything.
“It is incredibly discouraging that our President is prepared to terminate a program that has been so beneficial and meaningful to childhood arrivals, many of whom have no knowledge of nor connection to their native land,” he said. “I’m hopeful that Congress will act quickly to remedy this unnecessary and heartless executive action.”
Supt. Mary Bourque said she has put out letters to parents and students, as well as guidance to staff and teachers about how to handle the anxiety around the decision, which affects so many Chelsea students and their families.
“Many of our students and their family members are DACA immigrants consistently contributing to our community and therefore our country,” she wrote. “We support our students and their dream for a future in the United States. I want to reaffirm to our Chelsea Schools community that the Chelsea Public Schools is committed to our mission statement, ‘We Welcome and Educate ALL Students and Families.’”
Bourque also affirmed to all parents that the schools are safe havens from immigration enforcement if, indeed, the program ends after six months.
“Our schools have been deemed by our Chelsea School Committee as Safe Havens for all students to learn and thrive,” she wrote. “It is through education that the doors of opportunity are opened for all our students. We, as the Chelsea School Community will continue to advocate for and support our students and their families as they embrace the American Dream through education. We will work on behalf of our students and families alongside our community based organizations and legislators in the coming weeks and months.”
Bunker Hill Community College President Pam Eddinger also reaffirmed a similar viewpoint in a letter signed by all of the state’s community college presidents.
“Those with DACA status attend and graduate from our K-12 schools and benefit from the ability to attend excellent post-secondary education in order to bring the skills and credentials needed in our workforce today,” read the letter. “Individuals with DACA status live in our communities, pay taxes, and are ready and willing to continue to positively contribute to our local economies and communities. Ending DACA and subjecting these individuals to deportation not only contradicts our shared values and the inherent principles in our educational missions, but also threatens the economic well being of our region, state, and country.
“We remain committed to meeting the needs of every person who walks through our doors looking to learn and achieve, regardless of their immigration status,” it continued. “We stand together to fight for the continued protection of all the young people with and eligible for DACA.”
The Trump decision did allow for anyone with a DACA permit expiring between now and March 5, 2018 to re-apply for another two-year renewal – giving protection through 2019. The application for renewal must be submitted by Oct. 5, 2017.
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.