One Year Later : Councillor Believes ‘Nip’ Ban Has Reduced Alcohol-Related Issues

One year into the ban on ‘nips’ – or small alcohol bottles – at least one city councillor is proclaiming victory based on ambulance data that shows major decreases in the numbers of alcohol-related transfers.

Councillor Roy Avellaneda said he has been monitoring data and anecdotal information surrounding the nip ban, which he advocated for a little over a year ago, and believes that the ban has resulted in major victories.

First among those victories is the numbers of alcohol-related transfers done by the ambulance in Chelsea.

“It’s been one year and it’s been the most significant feature in what we see with alcoholism and reducing the alcoholism that plagued the downtown,” he said. “If I was solely to look at how the number of ambulance transfers has decreased for alcohol-related calls, it strongly correlates to the time that the nip ban went into place.”

Date from Cataldo ambulance regarding alcohol-related calls shows that there was an astounding number of those transfers in the past. In 2015, there were 872 transfers, followed by 715 in 2016 and 742 in 2017.

The nip ban went into effect in the middle of 2018, and Avellaneda points out that the ambulance data begins to decrease at the same time.

In 2018, there was a decrease to 556 transfers, and this year, 2019, data would support that the transfers have nose-dived. As of June 30, there were only 127 transfers. Doubling that number in the second half of the year would still only result in around 260 transfers – which would be 50 percent less than in 2018 and nearly 600 fewer transfers than in 2015.

“My figures show a result of 66 percent fewer alcohol-related ambulance responses and I think that’s unbelievable,” he said, noting that public works personnel have also said they are experiencing less nip bottle litter issues too.

While other things might have also contributed to the decrease, including the advanced work of the HUB by the Police Department and its partners, Avellaneda points out that the HUB does great work but mostly related to opiate and drug issues. The alcohol issues, he said, stood out to him initially because they had plagued the downtown since he was a kid in the 1980s. It had become normal, and the numbers of ambulance transfers shocked him when he first saw that they numbered in the 800s.

They were nearly seven times greater than those of other issues, like opiates, and that’s when he said he decided to join the fight to ban nips.

“I felt we were focusing way too much on one issue and not enough on the other,” he said. “There were seven times as many responses for alcohol and we needed to do something on that too…It’s something I’ve seen since I was a kid. It got to a point where we just accepted it. When you talked to merchants about it, they would say, ‘Well, that’s Chelsea.’ That’s not the Chelsea we want and we don’t have to allow these behaviors – and by that I mean the behaviors of people who are selling these nips to people with a problem or addiction.”

The battle has been difficult, though.

While the City has instituted the ban, nine package stores in the city have sued in court, and that case is pending before the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC). The City is arguing that the ABCC doesn’t have jurisdiction, while the stores argue it does. That has been pending for many months, since earlier this year.

The process is slow because Chelsea has been the first community to successfully go through with a ban, despite the fact that many have tried and many desire to follow suit.

“There are a lot of eyes on this decision,” said Avellaneda. “There are a lot of communities around the state what want to try this. There are many that did try to pass it but the alcoholic beverage lobby is so strong they turned back. Chelsea has done it and all eyes in the state are looking at us to see if we can withstand a legal challenge.”

Surviving that challenge could be made even stronger if the data holds regarding ambulance transfers.

“There is no next step here, just monitoring the situation,” he said. “They didn’t just go buy the next size to drink. We aren’t seeing the next size bottles littering the streets. That argument is out. I believe we can see this made significant changes and we’ll just build on that.”

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Council Passes $181.5 Million City Budget with Reservations

The City Council passed a nearly $181.5 million City Budget for Fiscal Year 2020 Monday night, but not without some dire warnings about the financial future of the City by a few of the councillors.

The $181,486,465 budget passed by an 8-3 vote, with Councillors Damali Vidot, Joe Perlatonda, and Robert Bishop voting against the 3.7 percent increase over the FY19 budget. The School Department’s $95.4 million commitment comprises the largest chunk of the budget.

The Council also approved the Water and Sewer Enterprise accounts for FY20, bringing total City appropriations to around $205 million, but the water and sewer accounts are paid through the water and sewer rates, not taxation.

Several attempts were made to cut money from the budget Monday night, but with the exception of a $1,300 cut in the Emergency Management department budget, none of those efforts garnered a majority.

Among those failed efforts was one by Vidot to cut salary lines in the police, fire, and planning budgets.

Vidot proposed the $80,000 cut to the planning budget, $50,000 to the police, and $100,000 to the fire last year as well, citing a top heavy administrative budgeting in the Police and Fire departments, and her displeasure with the way the Downtown Coordinator position in the Planning Department has panned out.

One of the biggest issues, Vidot said, is that the Downtown Coordinator has not been properly involved with the small, local businesses in the city.

“We have to think about the future of this city, and (the position) is leaving out a huge part of Chelsea,” said Vidot.

Perlatonda said he couldn’t agree with an effort to cut $80,000 from the planning budget when the Council didn’t take action to cut millions of dollars from the Department of Public Works budget.

Perlatonda made his own amendments looking for the cuts in the DPW budget, which would have effectively ended a request by City Manager Thomas Ambrosino to have the DPW oversee a new City Water and Sewer Department, rather than contracting for the services.

Those amendments also failed.

Councillor-At-Large Roy Avellaneda also voted against the cuts to the planning budget, noting several recent city-wide events that have brought hundreds of people to the downtown area.

Vidot noted that her amendment was not a personal attack on anyone, but added that City events would more appropriately be funded in the Recreation Department budget.

In casting his vote against the overall $181.5 million, Bishop said the constant increases in City spending are unsustainable.

“Last year, I voted against the budget because it was unsustainable,” said Bishop. “This year, it is even more unsustainable … this can’t continue. It’s no surprise to everyone that I usually oppose certain spending.

“I’m against a lot of spending because I think it is not spent wisely,” he continued. “When is this going to end? I hope I am not around when the bottom falls out, because it is going to fall.”

District 6 Councillor Giovanni Recupero voted for the budget, but said the City needs to seriously heed Bishop’s warning, noting that other large cities in Massachusetts such as Springfield and Lawrence have seen the economic bottom fall out.

“It can happen anywhere, … and then we will have to start laying people off,” said Recupero. “We only have 1.8 square miles in the city, how much can you grow in our city?

“I am going to vote for the budget because it is the right thing to do now, but like Mr. Bishop said, we have to beware of the future, because the future is not too far away,” he continued.

Perlatonda said that the budget is rising without the City doing enough to help its poorer residents through things like tax and water and sewer rate breaks.

“When is it going to end?” he said. “This budget needs to be stopped at some point.”

District 8 Councillor Calvin Brown said the councillors have gone through a long budget process with ample chance to make amendments or address their concerns to Ambrosino.

“I believe this budget is solid, well thought out, and well supported,” Brown said. “I know the investment we are making today is sound.”

Avellaneda voted to approve the budget, but said it is the first time he has ever given serious pause to voting in favor of a budget.

“What I have seen during the last year with the budget process is that I don’t think we are doing enough during budget season,” he said.

Avellaneda said there should have been more debate about, and more information provided about, the proposed change to the control of the Water and Sewer Department.

He also noted that the budget will have to be paid for in October, when the Council sets the City tax rate.

When that time comes around, Avellaneda said he will have questions for the City’s Assessing Department, which he said has been doing a “terrible job” capturing the true value of many larger properties in Chelsea.

“Across the board, there are many, many, many buildings, and these are large landlords, that are not paying their due in this community,” Avellaneda said.

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Council Looking to Limit Resident Parking for New Developments

It’s a general consensus among City officials that parking and traffic are among the greatest challenges facing Chelsea.

But the best way to help ease clogged streets and ensure residents aren’t endlessly circling their block to find an open parking spot are open to debate.

The latest proposal is an ordinance introduced by City Council President DamaliVidot and District 1 Councillor Robert Bishop seeking a change in the City’s off-street parking requirements.

Under the proposal, the residents of any development or housing that is granted relief by the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) from the City’s parking requirements won’t be eligible to participate in the residential permit parking sticker program. Already, in Everett, City officials at their ZBA have been requiring new developments or expanded housing units in triple deckers to not participate in their parking sticker program. That tool has proven quite successful over past several months.

The Chelsea proposal will head to the Planning Board for a recommendation before coming back for a public hearing before the City Council.

“This will require any developer that comes into the city to put their money where their mouth is by asking tenants not to participate in the City parking program,” said Vidot.

Bishop said it is unfair that larger developments come into the city and ask for and are granted well below the 1.5 parking spaces per unit required by the City.

“There are too many units and not enough parking,” said Bishop. “Where do you think all those cars go? They go all over the streets, that’s where they go.

“There is very little parking even in areas where there was once parking. This is something we should have done years ago.”

District 6 Councillor Giovanni Recupero said that while developers promote the use of Ubers, Lyfts, and public transportation, the fact is that more development brings more cars into the city.

“There are more cars being registered in our city, our streets can’t support all the cars,” Recupero said.

If developers want to build in Chelsea, Recupero said they should do like they do in Boston and provide parking underneath the units.

Several councillors said there are still some questions about the proposal made by Vidot and Bishop.

Councillor-At-Large Roy Avellaneda asked what would happen with condominiums, where there are owners as opposed to tenants. He also questioned what would happen if developers did provide required parking.

“If they meet the conditions and there are 15 spots for 10 units, would we still allow the parking sticker?” he asked.

Avellaneda said he is supportive of working out more details for a parking plan, and also noted that many of the biggest parking issues come not from the larger developments, but from smaller conversions where parking relief is granted for buildings increasing from one to two or two to three families.

District 3 Councillor Joe Perlatonda said there needs to be a closer look at the overall parking program for the city.

He said the current program, which limits resident sticker parking to 12 a.m. to 5 a.m. is unfair to residents.

“Unless we change the parking program to 24/7, these people are still going to be parking in our streets, and I’m sick of it,” said Perlatonda.

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10 Weeks: Bumping and Grinding Not Part of Latino Culture, Commissioners Say

The City’s Licensing Commission might want to consider making its public hearings adults’ only affairs.

At its Thursday, May 2, meeting, the commission handed down a 10-week liquor license suspension to Latinos Falcons at 185 Broadway after police showed a video from the bar featuring an assortment of groping, grabbing, grinding and all-around Dirty Dancing among waitresses, staff, and patrons.

The Falcon was called before the commission for a public hearing after a patron was placed into protective custody for public intoxication after drinking at the bar.

Before video from the bar was screened, the attorney representing Latinos Falcons, asked that the commission members keep in mind that some of the displays of affection captured on screen were merely representative of the restaurant’s predominantly “Latino culture.” The attorney also noted that there has recently been training at the bar for staff to help prevent future incidents.

As the video, featuring a fair share of bumping and grinding, came to an end with a shot of a security guard at Latinos Falcons sniffing a waitresses hair, commission member Gladys Vega was having none of the attorney’s justification.

“This has nothing to do with Latino culture,” said Vega, visibly incensed and angered despite battling laryngitis. “You should be ashamed. That is so disrespectful to say what you do about my culture.”

While the video evidence was from only one night at Latinos Falcons, and City Solicitor Cheryl Watson Fisher stated that the bar has not been formally cited before, City Councillor-At-Large Roy Avellaneda said the behavior shown was nothing new.

“I’ve been told about these allegations for a while now, and in 2014 and 2015 I witnessed them myself, this is nothing new,” said Avellaneda. “Unfortunately, this (behavior) is prevalent in a few bars in Chelsea and we’ve heard complaints from former waitresses, especially at this place.”

The councillor urged the Licensing Commission to send a message to Latinos Falcons and other establishments that exhibit similar behavior in the city with a heavy punishment.

“This was only one night, you can imagine what else happens,” said Avellaneda. He noted that patrons, waitresses, and owners were all engaging in unseemly behavior at Latinos Falcons.

City Council President Damali Vidot said she initially showed up at last week’s public hearing to support local business.

“But if this is the way you do business, I have a huge problem with the way you treat women and them being objectified in this video,” said Vidot. “This video is very disturbing.”

Kimberly Martinez, who said she is a Salem State University student who has worked at Latinos Falcons for six months, countered that she has never been encouraged to act in any sexual manner or to flirt with customers as a way to increase the bill. She said many of the problems at the bar are caused by certain clientele.

“We are trying to filter that as best we can,” she said. “I feel like we are moving forward and things are changing.”

But for the commission members, it wasn’t enough to sway them.

Commission member James Guido noted that on top of everything else, the waitresses were seen drinking with customers and called for harsh punishment.

“For me, this is so disturbing and troubling,” said Commission Chair Mark Rossi. “How anyone could allow that in their establishment, with the owner taking part, is so out of line … How can that environment be conducive to reporting sexual harassment?”

Rossi, who sometimes acts to tamp down harsher penalties proposed by other commission members, wasn’t averse to going all the way to the most extreme punishment for Latinos Falcons.

“I will shut you down right now, this is so repugnant,” he said.

Guido initially proposed a 30-day license suspension for the bar, but it failed to pass. The lengthier 10-week suspension passed unanimously, along with a rollback of the bar’s hours from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. to 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

•In other business, the commission continued a public hearing on a change in manager for Los Agaves at 950 Broadway. There are currently legal proceedings in probate court over the ownership of the restaurant.

Licensing Commissioners are asking that all the current owners work together to find a new manager acceptable to all sides in the fight as the legal case makes its way through the court system.

•The commission also adopted revised licensing rules and regulations. The revised regulations place stricter requirements on security staff at bars and restaurants, requiring that security wear clearly marked red shirts, have city-issued identification, and not carry anything that could be used as a weapon.

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A Lot of Noise but Little Action on Planes at Council

A Lot of Noise but Little Action on Planes at Council

For as long as jets have rumbled over Chelsea as they land at and depart from Logan Airport, City officials have struggled with getting state and federal officials to help mitigate the noise from that air traffic.

Monday night, District 6 City Councillor Giovanni Recupero introduced an order asking City Manager Tom Ambrosino to look at renegotiating a deal with Massport to bring back the window and soundproofing program to the city.

“People deserve a little more consideration than they have been given,” said Recupero.

The Councillor said he would like to see Massport provide soundproof windows for residents suffering excessive noise from plane traffic, as it has done in the past.

“I’d like to get them back to the table and figure out a way to help with the problem,” Recupero said.

Councillor-At-Large Roy Avellaneda said he appreciated Recupero’s efforts to get Massport back to the table to discuss sound mitigation, but that he didn’t have high hopes that it would be successful.

“Whenever the City Manager has approached Massport, the answer has been that it is a nonstarter; they have done their program,” said Avellaneda.

Avellaneda said he has been working with City Manager Tom Ambrosino to find a company to undertake an independent sound study of noise from the airport. But, he said it has been very difficult to find a company qualified to do that study.

If a company is found that can perform an independent sound study, Avellaneda said he hopes it has the support of his fellow councillors.

On the positive side, Avellaneda said he attended a recent Massport meeting with airport communities in which officials stated that a new Massport sound study is underway. He said this study will take into account items that a study released in 2017 did not take into account, such as the impact of hills on sound and the resonating sound of airplanes.

The 2017 study was conducted by the Center for Research on Environmental and Social Stressors in Housing Across the Life Course (CRESSH), which is a division of the BU School of Public Health.

That report showed that flights over Chelsea have nearly doubled between 2011 and 2015, and that certain health effects associated with airplane noise are very high in Chelsea.

But getting Massport to kick in for additional noise mitigation efforts has been an uphill battle.

“Confronted with the increase in air traffic, their response has been, ‘But our planes are quieter,’” said Avellaneda.

The Councillor has been pushing for the independent noise study since at least the time the 2017 airport noise study was unveiled.

“We (can) do a real noise study with proper equipment and prepare to say we have proof that our community is impacted and possibly prepare to embark on a lawsuit against MassPort and the FAA,” he said at the time.

•In other business, the Council unanimously approved sending a home rule petition to the state legislature that will allow for the construction of the new Innes Housing Development.

•Recupero introduced an order asking the City Manager look into hiring another animal control officer for the purpose of issuing fines to people that don’t clean up after their dogs.

•Councillor-At-Large Leo Robinson introduced orders asking the City Manager for updates on the City’s master plan and the status of the Salvation Army building on Broadway. The Council approved taking the building by eminent domain in 2017.

•District 1 Councillor Robert Bishop was absent from Monday night’s meeting, but with good reason. He was celebrating his 35th anniversary with his wife. Happy anniversary to the Bishops.

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Council Looking into Keeping Some Marijuana Licenses for Residents

Council Looking into Keeping Some Marijuana Licenses for Residents

Chelsea city councillors are looking at ways in which they can legally find a way to reserve some of the recreation marijuana licenses for Chelsea residents.

Councillor Roy Avellaneda forwarded an order recently to reserve at least two of the four recreational licenses for Chelsea residents, as so many residents have been impacted by the War on Drugs and the prosecution of marijuana possession crimes.

Avellaneda said his order is to amend the current retail marijuana ordinance in similar fashion to Somerville and Boston. At the state level, the Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) signaled early on that it would approve licenses quicker in communities like Chelsea that historically have been heavily impacted by drug prosecution.

However, Avellaneda and other councillors said they have only seen well-heeled investors from out of town turning up to take advantage of that designation in Chelsea.

“The recent rush we have seen by well-funded and politically connected individuals and groups to apply for the available licenses puts those living in communities like Chelsea at a serious disadvantage,” he said. “The goal of the legislation I have introduced is to provide a two-year window for two of the four licenses just for Chelsea residents or a business entity comprised of 60 percent Chelsea residents…I think we would have better host agreements and community benefits offered by an individual or group based from Chelsea than from someone with no connections to this city. Should we allow the money made from these lucrative licenses leave the city? Or should we try to keep that revenue here?”

The Council held a Committee of the Whole meeting on Monday night, Feb. 4, to discuss the matter and try to find a solution.

Council President Damali Vidot said she and Avellaneda and the rest of the Council seem to be on the same page with the idea, but may differ on how to accomplish it.

“My concern at Monday’s meeting and a couopld of other councillor’s concerns were that we could be interfering with a business’s right ot commerce,” she said. “If I own an adult-use shop and want to sell it, I don’t know if we can limit who you sell it to. We don’t want to cut people off at the knees. That will effect investors because they may not want to enter into a place where there are so many limits on their investment…Also, we’re only allowing the rich to get richer. If you live in Chelsea and have the money to buy one of these, you’re obviously already rich.”

She said the marijuana licenses mimic the regulations for liquor stores, and there are no such limits on liquor licenses.

That said, she agreed that Avellaneda has a good idea that needs to be explored and hopefully implemented in some fashion to help Chelsea residents – to empower those economically who have been affected in the past.

Avellaneda said the idea is consistent with the recent 100 percent residency requirement for all new police and fire hires, as well as the affordable housing requirement for Chelsea residents.

“It asks that any new jobs created in Chelsea have a priority for Chelsea residents,” he said. “I doubt Chelsea would lose any opportunities or see a delay in applications because any outsider looking to open in Chelsea would look to partner with a Chelsea resident rather than risk losing a chance at a license by waiting two years.”

Western Front Moving Quickly on Webster

The Economic Empowerment marijuana proposal on Webster Avenue is moving quickly through the local process for a marijuana dispensary at 121 Webster Ave.

Western Front is a minority-owned firm that received the Economic Empowerment designation from the state last spring, and had its community meeting shortly after. The firm plans to open a dispensary and also employ those who have been adversely affected by the War on Drugs – particularly people from the Chelsea. The ownership of the company comes from Boston and Cambridge though. Western Front is scheduled to go before the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) on Feb. 12 at 6 p.m. It is the first ZBA hearing in Chelsea for a marijuana proposal.

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‘Big Top’ Comes to Chelsea City Council

‘Big Top’ Comes to Chelsea City Council

Civility was at a premium at Monday night’s City Council meeting.

While the meetings typically end with a pro forma opportunity for councillors to make community announcements and hold moments of silence to honor those who have recently died in the community, this week’s meeting ended with a flurry of accusations, banging gavels, and frustration.

Tensions were already high Monday night, as the month-long debate over a water and sewer discount for homeowners was rescinded by one vote (see related story).

Things only got hotter as the Council got to an order introduced near the end of the agenda by Councillor-At-Large Roy Avellaneda. That order asked the Council to schedule a conference with the City Clerk’s office to discuss the campaign finance filing deadline enforcement policy, and the state’s campaign and political finance office findings of campaign finance law violations, by Council President Damali Vidot’s campaign committee.

“I was a little surprised when I saw that you allowed this particular order to be placed before the Council,” District 1 Councillor Robert Bishop said to Vidot. “One councillor going against another councillor, it should be ruled out of order. It’s a personal thing, and I don’t think those types of things should be put on the floor.”

Vidot ruled that Avellaneda’s motion was out of order. She said she brought the matter forward as a matter of transparency, but would not allow orders attacking her personally to go forward.

“I think this matter is totally inappropriate, and Councillor Avellaneda, I understand you wanting to embarrass me, but this is not the place to do it,” said Vidot.

Avellaneda argued that nowhere in his motion was he attacking Vidot, and that it was a motion based on facts. He challenged Vidot’s decision to rule the motion out of order.

No councillors joined Avellaneda in voting to overturn the challenge.

Matters only got more out of hand as the meeting wound down with the announcements portion that typically ends the night.

District 4 Councillor Enio Lopez accused Avellaneda of putting forward proposals that would directly affect his business ventures, which Avellaneda denied.

Vidot repeatedly banged the gavel as she tried to restore order to the proceedings.

“We are looking very circus-like,” said Vidot. “I ask that we display a little decorum and reflect on the type of representation this community needs.”

As the meeting ended, several councillors had already walked away from their seats as a steady stream of cross-talk filled the chamber before Vidot was able to settle the room for a moment of silence.

After the meeting, several councillors were visibly frustrated and expressed dismay over the recent proceedings in the Council chambers.

  • In earlier, more sedate business, the Council received communication from City Manager Tom Ambrosino asking the City to consider a request for proposals for use of the Salvation Army building for residential and commercial use.

District 6 Councillor Giovanni Recupero asked that the City Manager look into ways the building, now owned by the City, could be converted into a community center.

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Condo Owners say Water and Sewer Discount Unfair

Condo Owners say Water and Sewer Discount Unfair

The City Council passed District 6 City Councillor Giovanni Recupero’s measure to provide a 10 percent water and sewer percent discount to Chelsea homeowners last month.

Yet, since that vote, there has been a fair share of resident dissatisfaction from condominium owners who don’t qualify for the price break, as well as allegations of some social media shenanigans between councillors.

But despite an attempt on Monday night by Councillor-At-Large Roy Avellaneda to consider a repeal, the discount will stand for now.

The discount applies to all units in any owner-occupied single, two-, or three-family homes and any owner-occupied condominium that has an individual water meter. The problem, as some condominium owners noted at Monday night’s council meeting, is that very few condominium units in the city have individual water meters.

“I chose 15 years ago that I wanted to buy a condominium and not a house,” said resident Suzanne Perry. “I consider this to be a basic issue of discrimination and unfairness. I’m sure it was not meant to be that way, but that’s the way it ended up.”

Condominium owner Alison Cuneo circulated an online petition with more than 130 signatures as of Monday night asking the Council to overturn its water and sewer discount vote.

“I would oppose this even if I were to benefit from (the discount),” Cuneo said.

The debate over the issue took a personal turn early in the meeting, when District 1 Councillor Robert Bishop spoke out about a social media post by Avellaneda. In the post, Bishop said Avellaneda posted a Google maps image of his home and pool, noting that Bishop would benefit from the discounted water and sewer rates.

“Councillor Avellaneda wrote that Bob Bishop would get a discount to fill up his pool next year,” said Bishop. “That is not only petty, but it is untrue.”

Bishop said that he, like many people, has an individual water meter on his pool that would not qualify for the homeowner discount.

The District 1 Councillor also said he would be in favor of extending the discount to condominium owners if there was a way to determine the water use in owner-occupied units.

Avellaneda’s attempt to overturn the discount was struck down on a procedural vote.

Council President Damali Vidot ruled the request by Avellaneda to take another vote as out of order.

“We shouldn’t set a precedent just because this is something you disagreed with,” she said. “The majority of the Council voted in favor of adopting this.”

Avellaneda challenged Vidot’s ruling that his request was out of order, but the challenge failed.

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Fiesta Verano

Fiesta Verano

Alex Taborta and Esther A. danced inside Pan y Cafe during Fiesta Verano last Saturday, Aug. 4. The second part of the Chelsea Art Walk had a hard time avoiding rain this year, having been cancelled once due to rain. On Saturday, organizers decided to go for broke, and moved the event inside Pan Y Café – courtesy of owner Roy Avellaneda. Several acts performed inside, and the Latin-themed afternoon was a hit.

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2018 World Cup is Unusual Both On and Off the Field

2018 World Cup is Unusual Both On and Off the Field

The 2018 FIFA World Cup has been rather strange.

Historically and currently elite teams struggled in the group stages—Portugal and Argentina barely squeezed through, while Germany was ousted after a major upset against South Korea.

In the Round of 16, which began Saturday, June 30, host-country Russia eliminated powerhouse Spain. After barely squeezing through the group stages, both Argentina and Portugal, starring Lionel Messi and Christiano Ronaldo, respectively, were eliminated.

However, this year’s World Cup has been unusual off the field as well.

“It’s a strange World Cup because the games are in the morning,” said Roy Avellaneda, Chelsea City Councilor and avid fan of Argentina. “Having it in the morning, in these time zones, that negated the previous benefits of this and the gathering.”

The time difference is particularly impactful after the 2014 World Cup held in Brazil, which has very similar time zones compared the U.S. With games being played at times like 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., there’s simply no time for people to gather for games during work hours, Avellaneda said.

There’s no denying that the World Cup remains a popular event, however.

“It’s something that’s on 24 hours at this point,” Avellaneda said. “It’s very pervasive that the World Cup is going on. Whether you go to a restaurant, whether you go to a bar, there’s a promotion going on.”

“Particularly in the Latino community, there’s a lot of attention,” said Avellaneda, who has Argentinian roots and runs Pan Y Café, a Latin American style cafe.

While his store doesn’t see as significant of a benefit as a sports bar would during a major sporting event, Avellaneda said he certainly doesn’t mind the additional customers who watch the games at his café in the mornings.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup continues this wee.

The quarterfinals begin this Friday, and the semifinals begin Tuesday, July 10. The event will conclude on Sunday, July 15.

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