Supt. Mary Bourque explaining CHS’s five-year vision during a panel discussion and visit from Gov. Charlie Baker and his administration last Weds., Sept. 5. Baker came to CHS to review and hear about Chelsea’s innovative college credit program in association with Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC).
A recent news article in The Boston Globe quoted a number of reportedly important RepubIican party members who asserted that they have been disappointed in the performance of Gov. Charlie Baker because he has been “too liberal.”
They are upset with his support both for social causes they deem “liberal” and for his assent to the recently-enacted, so-called “grand bargain” that will raise the minimum wage, among other items.
However, what they really seem to be upset about is that Charlie Baker rates as the most popular governor in the country among his own constituents. They would prefer a governor who is combative, negative, and insulting — in other words, they crave a Donald Trump at the governor’s desk, who is intent only on sowing seeds of hatred and discontent.
When you think about the disaster in Washington, as well as the bitterness that exists in many states among governors and their rivals, thank goodness we have Charlie Baker at the helm of our ship of state.
Massachusetts stands out among the the states in many measurable ways (such as our public schools’ performance), but chiefly we stand out because of the respect that our state’s leaders have for each other and the manner in which they work together.
They conduct our state’s business by the twin maxims that it is possible to disagree without being disagreeable and that politics is the art of compromise.
What these so-called Republicans are ignoring about Charlie Baker are four things:
First and foremost, he is as honest and straightforward as any governor who has served us;
Second, he campaigned in support of the issues he has signed into law. In short, he has kept his promises to the people who elected him — what a novel concept for a politician!;
Third, he is a Republican in Massachusetts — a True Blue state with veto-proof majorities in the Democratic-controlled legislature. Yet, Gov. Baker and the legislature have achieved as much for the people of our state in the past four years as ever have been accomplished by previous administrations — including Democratic ones; and
Finally, Charlie Baker has appointed people in his administration who actually know what they are doing and who are dedicated to public service, such as Jay Ash, the secretary of housing and economic development.
The bottom line is that the vast majority of the people in Massachusetts believe that our state is headed in the right direction and they attribute that to our governor, Charlie Baker.
Apparently, there are some who don’t agree and that certainly is their right to do so.
However, we are glad that Charlie Baker has failed to heed their calls for rancor and divisiveness. Massachusetts is moving forward — and the administration of Gov. Charlie Baker undeniably has played a large role in our success in the past four years.
Gov. Charlie Baker announced last Friday that the state has secured approximately $70 million in federal funding for the new 154-bed Community Living Center at the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home – federal funding that pretty much gives the green light to proceed on the project.
State leaders have made a priority of designing and funding the $199 million project, but getting the federal funding was always a crucial piece of the puzzle that had to come through.
On Friday, the Veteran’s Administration State Home Construction Grant Program announced it would provide a 65 percent reimbursement of approved construction projects, including the Soldiers’ Home.
“Our veterans have sacrificed greatly to protect our freedoms and we are proud to see this project move forward as we continue to provide them with great care and dignity,” said Baker. “We are grateful to the VA for their support of Massachusetts’ veterans and this funding allows us to construct a state of the art facility that will be a model for future veteran homes across the country.”
The Community Living Center at the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home will provide 154 “home-like” rooms for veterans in accordance with VA standards of design, which promotes greater accessibility, mobility, and enhanced quality of life. Services will include physical and occupational therapy, recreational activities and greater access to the outdoors. The current facility, the Quigley Memorial Long Term Care Center, will continue to be fully operational during the construction process with an anticipated project completion date in 2021.
“We appreciate the Department of Veterans Affairs’ approval to replace the existing long-term care facility at the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home Campus,” said Secretary of Veterans’ Services Francisco A. Ureña. “In addition to approving our replacement project, the VA granted the Commonwealth $129 million in matching funds.”
In May 2017, the Baker-Polito Administration announced state funding for the new long-term care facility as part of the Fiscal Year 2018 capital budget plan, and in November, Governor Baker signed legislation to fund the project.
“I am thrilled that the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home will be receiving federal funding for its new Community Living Center,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo. “The House has been a longtime supporter of this project and, as a neighbor of the Soldiers’ Home, I have been proud to support the residents and their needs throughout my tenure in the House. This financing will allow the Soldiers’ Home to further improve and enhance the vital care that they provide our veterans.”
Governor Baker was joined at his 2018 State of the Commonwealth Address by U.S. Navy Veteran Tom Miller, who lives at the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home, Director of Nursing Debbie Antonelli and Superintendent Cheryl Poppe to celebrate the Administration’s commitment to this necessary funding.
“This funding will allow us to provide our veterans with a long-awaited updated home that will enhance their quality of life with increased privacy and greater access to services,” said Chelsea Soldiers’ Home Superintendent Cheryl Lussier Poppe. “Our veterans deserve the very best, and this home will complement the quality care our veterans receive here at the Soldiers’ Home. We are grateful for the support of the Baker-Polito Administration for this opportunity.”
The Soldiers’ Home in Chelsea first opened its doors to Massachusetts veterans in 1882. The first residents were Civil War veterans who were wounded or unable to care for themselves, many of whom had previously resided in the Commonwealth’s “alms houses.” Today, Chelsea carries on Massachusetts’ proud tradition of helping all veterans in need of both long term care and domiciliary / supportive services. Chelsea is surveyed annually by the Federal Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”). It is also fully accredited by The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (“Joint Commission”). Chelsea has a Board of Trustees appointed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services. The trustees and DVS share responsibility for the management of the home.
The swift and unequivocal announcement last Friday by Gov. Charlie Baker that Massachusetts will join in an initiative with other states to encourage alternative forms of energy in order to reduce carbon emissions is yet another example of the sort of straightforward decision-making that has become a hallmark of the Baker administration.
Gov. Baker’s announcement came on the heels of the pronouncement the day before by Pres. Donald Trump that he will withdraw the United States from the Paris climate change agreement. Unlike President Trump, Gov. Baker realizes that we must stay ahead of the curve in areas that are critical to our economy and also assert our moral leadership when necessary.
Gov. Baker’s policy recognizes first and foremost that global-warming is real and that man-made greenhouse gases are contributing to it — and therefore we need to do something about it.
Furthermore, it recognizes that protecting our environment is necessary not only from the moral imperative of saving the planet, but also because it makes sense from an economic point-of-view.
Solar, wind, and other passive forms of energy production clearly are the wave of the future, both in our country and globally. The governor understands that we must make a choice: We either can get with the program, so to speak, as every other nation is doing, or we will find ourselves stuck with a mid-20th century energy model for a 21st century economy.
This is not a political issue — Democrat vs. Republican or progressive vs. conservative — but rather, it is a matter that should unite all of us toward a common goal.
As Gov. Baker succinctly put it in his official statement, “Our administration looks forward to continued, bipartisan collaboration with other states to protect the environment, grow the economy, and deliver a brighter future to the next generation.”
We are proud to stand with Gov. Baker on this important initiative. We have no doubt that as Massachusetts becomes a leader in the realm of developing and implementing alternative forms of energy, the benefits to our economy — and our planet — will be enormous.
Gov. Charlie Baker signed into law a home rule petition forwarded by City Manager Tom Ambrosino and the City Council that allows owner-occupied homeowners a 35 percent reduction on their property taxes.
The measure has been discussed for several years by Councillor Giovanni Recupero with little success, but the idea hit a wave earlier this year when Ambrosino signaled he would support such a measure and Councillor Roy Avellaneda codified it in a Council order – an order that increased the savings from 30 percent to 35 percent.
“I have always advocated for this and now we have it,” said Recupero. “I’m glad the homeowner in Chelsea is getting a bigger break. I’ve been asking for that every since I got up here. They told me we could never do this and now we did it. What changed? I’m happy to see it.”
Councillor Avellaneda said he is happy that homeowners will get an even further break.
“I’m thrilled Governor Baker signed the home rule petition I sponsored that increases the tax exemption for Chelsea homeowners,” he said. “I want to thank my colleagues for supporting the measure, the City Manager for helping advocate for it on Beacon Hill and our state delegation, Senator Sal DiDiminico and Rep. Dan Ryan for pushing it through. I’m sure the homeowners of Chelsea will enjoy the reduction on their tax bill.”
The residential tax exemption works by shifting the tax burden to non-owner occupants and to some higher valued owner-occupied properties. The idea is to reward residents living in lower valued homes and give those residents a break on their property taxes. One consequence, though, is that if there aren’t enough non-owner occupants, then some owner occupants in high-value homes can be hurt by the measure.
In this case, Ambrosino said that cut off was the $625,000 number and only four homes fall into that category.
For a $300,000 home, a City analysis showed, a 30 percent exemption this year would have yielded $292 in savings on the tax bill this year. For a similar home, the 35 percent exemption would have yielded $451 in savings on the tax bill.
Right now, 13 communities in the state have a residential exemption, with the majority of those being at 20 percent. Chelsea’s exemption was also 20 percent until last week.
The measure passed last Thursday and is retroactive to July 1, 2016.
The name Powers has distinguished itself in so many aspects of Chelsea life over the past 50 years: in the Aldermanic Chambers at City Hall where Steven Powers Sr. served as a city official; on the baseball fields where he served as league president; and at the old Merritt Park where the Powers family’s Fourth of July party and races were second to none.
There is also another well-known venue in which the Powers family name has carried on a longtime and proud tradition in this city: the S & L Cold Cut Center on Eastern Avenue where a new era has begun.
Steven Powers Jr. has taken over the ownership of the popular sandwich shop in Mill Hill from his mother, Judy, and his aunt, Diane, who had been directing operations since 1996. Steven’s father, Steven Powers Sr., and grandfather, Larry Cesareo, first opened the shop in 1973.
“That what the ‘S’ and ‘L’ stand for: Steve and Larry,” related Powers. “I’m so proud of my father. He was a city leader with much integrity who loves Chelsea.”
Powers Jr. has put his own stamp on the business, overseeing a renovation project of the restaurant that has drawn raves reviews from old and new customers.
“I’m very excited about the new look and the changes we have made to the interior,” said Powers.
The menu, that has delighted regulars from Chelsea and area communities for years, remains mostly the same.
Large sandwiches are the S & L signature plate. “The most popular sandwich is the Italian how ever you’d like it – with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onions, and the hot stuff,” said Powers. “Our steak and cheese sandwich is also a favorite among our customers.”
Daily specials, such as Friday’s fried haddock dinner, also bring in the masses while barbecued steak tips are the newest addition to the dinner menu.
“Not that I think I can compete with the other two big boys in Chelsea – New Bridge and Floramo’s, but ours are really good, too,” said Powers.
A Chelsea High School Class of 1987 graduate, Steven Powers Jr. is now running the show at S & L in the neighborhood where he grew up and right down the street from the rink where played in the Chelsea Youth Hockey program. He also played in the Chelsea Little League and the Chelsea Youth Baseball League.
“My first 17 years of my life were in the four-decker which is 1 Carroll St,” said Powers. “We then moved to 17 Lewis St. which is a block away.”
It’s clear that Steven Powers Jr. has inherited his family’s love of Chelsea and that his customers are happy to see him back in the city.
“Just from growing up here, I get to see so many people I haven’t seen in years,” said Powers. “But none of this would have been possible for me without the people who came before me: my mother, my aunt, my grandfather, and my father. They laid the groundwork to step in to something that has a 40-year heritage.”
Steven Powers Jr. and his longtime companion, Fran Turco, live in Revere with five children, Anthony, Marguerita, Austin, Paul and Abby. Steven Jr. is also close to his sister, former CHS cheerleader Annie Powers Baker, and her husband, Chris Baker – arguably Chelsea High’s greatest ice hockey ever – sister, Kelly Powers, and brothers, Matthew Powers and Dennis Powers.
“We were all raised by great, positive role models,” said Powers. “They just showed me how to do everything.”
(S & L Cold Cut Center is open six days a week, Monday through Friday until 7 p.m., and Saturday until 3 p.m.)
Steve Powers Jr. and his son, Austin Powers, outside the newly renovated S and L Cold Cut Center at 462 Eastern Ave., Chelsea.
Governor Charlie Baker, Senator Sal DiDomenico, and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh joined together in song to entertain the crowd during the annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration hosted by Sen. DiDomenico in Charlestown. The popular event brought many from Chelsea and several state officials as well.
City Manager Tom Ambrosino shows Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito on a map and from his office window in City Hall where the new FBI Building will be located.
Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito signed a Community Compact agreement with Chelsea City Manager Thomas Ambrosino on Thursday afternoon.
“We are excited to announce our new partnership with the City of Chelsea,” said Polito. “The Commonwealth is looking forward to working with local officials to implement their chosen best practices in business continuity and job creation.”
Community Compacts are one tool the administration is utilizing to strengthen the partnership between cities and towns and the Commonwealth. By entering a Community Compact, a community agrees to implement self-selected best practices. As part of this partnership, the Commonwealth agrees to fulfill a set of commitments and works to provide assistance for a community based on their chosen best practice.
Chelsea was the 53rd community to sign onto the Compact with the Baker Administration. There have been 130 applications made and 112 have been approved. The round of funding opened up in May.
Through this Compact, the City of Chelsea pledges to adopt a best practice in business continuity by developing a disaster recovery plan for critical systems as well as a plan to electronically back up and securely store municipal data.
“The continuation of government operations plan will give us the opportunity to have a solid plan in effect should something happen that prohibits us from getting to City Hall,” said Allan Alpert, director of emergency management. “It will help us have a plan for paying bills, doing the payroll and making sure City government continues in the event of some emergency. If all our systems fail, things are done electronically now. Nothing is done on paper. We’ll be able to create a plan if we can’t get to our systems in City Hall or if our systems fail.”
In addition, city officials pledge to promote job creation and retention through an economic development plan which leverages Chelsea’s local strengths and regional assets while promoting entrepreneurship and collaboration with educational institutions.
The Community Compact is a voluntary, mutual agreement entered into between the Baker-Polito Administration and individual cities and towns of the Commonwealth. In a Community Compact, a community will agree to implement a best practice they select from across a variety of areas. The Compact also articulates the commitments the Commonwealth will make on behalf of all communities, including helping the community attain their chosen best practice.
Jay Ash took the oath of office from Governor Charlie Baker as the new Secretary of Housing and Economic Development at an impressive ceremony held Jan. 8 at the State House Library in Boston.
Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito personally congratulated Ash and the other Cabinet Secretaries following the swearing-in ceremony.
With his wife, Susan, looking on proudly from the the front row, Ash, the former city manager, talked about his new position and his decision to leave his hometown for a major role on Beacon Hill.
“This is a tremendous honor – my heart is heavy thinking about Chelsea,” said Ash. “But the opportunity that’s been presented to lead the Commonwealth, along with better economic development and joining a great team with Lt. Governor Polito and Governor Baker – it’s really one that I relish and I’m excited to get to work.”
State officials in attendance said they were well aware of Ash’s sterling record as city manager over the past 14 years. Many felt that Chelsea’s selection in June as an All-America City by the National Civic League – the lone city in New England to receive the prestigious award – affirmed Ash’s excellent leadership and the lasting impact he has had on daily life in the community in which he grew up and attended school.
Those who traveled to Denver with the Chelsea delegation will remember mayors and city manager from coast to coast approaching Ash at the national conference to talk about his work in making the city of Chelsea a national model for urban renewal and neighborhood development, and his assistance to highly regarded, community-based agencies such as ROCA, the Chelsea Collaborative, and The Neighborhood Developers.
Others praised the 6-foot-7-inch former Clark University basketball star for his efforts in completing several development projects in the city. The rise of Wyndham and Marriott Residence Inn hotels in the Everett Avenue district and the plans for four additional hotels being built in the city – along with the construction of the new FBI project – are considered crowning achievements in the Ash Administration.
Chelsea High Athletic Director Frank DePatto has followed Ash’s career from Chelsea to Clark and back to Chelsea where Ash made his mark as city manager.
“This is a great day for the state of Massachusetts but a big loss to Chelsea, but a big gain for the state,” said DePatto, one of Ash’s mentors. “I wish Jay everything he wishes for himself and I know he’ll be very successful in this new endeavor.”
Chelsea Police Chief Brian Kyes, who worked closely with Ash in making the city a safe community, said, “This is a proud moment for Chelsea and for all of his friends to see Jay elevated to this position. I’m looking forward to the great things he’s going to be doing for the city and the state. It’s bittersweet, though. I shook his hand and said, ‘I miss you already.’’’
City Council President Leo Robinson said that Governor Baker “has hit a home run” with his appointment of Jay Ash to this position.
“Jay is going to have a perspective about all the urban communities and I see a lot of development that’s going to take place throughout the state,” said Robinson.
Chief Secretary Carlo Basile, former state representative from East Boston, is looking forward to working with Ash in the Baker Administration.
“I have known Jay Ash for a number of years,” said Basile. “He is a very smart, intellectual, and hard-working person. I look forward to doing good things with him. Jay Ash was a great selection on behalf of Governor Baker.”
Suffolk County Sheriff Steve Tomkins also lauded Ash’s elevation to Cabinet Secretary.
“I think Jay Ash’s appointment is awesome,” said Tomkins. “Jay really has his finger on the pulse when you talk about housing and economic development – how you swing that pendulum from not being productive to being very productive. Jay is the apt man to get that done.”
“I think Jay Ash is going to be just amazing for the state,” said former Senate president Therese Murray, who attended the ceremony. “He gets it. He was in the building [State House] so he knows how it works. He’s been outside the building knowing what the needs are, so he going to hit the ground running – I’m very excited.”
Asked if he will return to Chelsea on occasion, Ash said, “I will be back often. And even when I’m not in Chelsea, a piece of my heart will still be there.”
We congratulate our city manager, Jay Ash, on his appointment as secretary of housing and economic development in Governor-elect Charlie Baker’s Cabinet.
We’re fully confident that Jay will be an outstanding asset in the Governor Baker Administration. His work in the areas of economic development and housing in Chelsea has been superb. One only has to travel through the city and view the new developments that have sprung up here to understand the tremendous impact Jay has has on our city’s growth and prosperity and the optimism that abounds here for our future.
Like one of his mentors said this week, we have mixed emotions about Jay’s departure. For Jay Ash will take his place alongside some of the monumental figures in our city’s history. The 6-foot-7-inch Ash, who attended Shurtleff School and Chelsea High School and starred on the basketball court here before heading to Clark University, will always have a special place in the hearts and minds of our residents. We’re sure it was an honor for Jay to return to the city he loved as a kid and become the leader of it.
Jay never gave less than 100 percent every day on the job. He never rested on his past accomplishments and was always seeking ways to make Chelsea a better place. And he succeeded in that quest.
Yes, our city is losing the inspirational leader who took us on a journey to greatness that some thought wasn’t possible. The National Civic League said it all in June when it awarded Jay Ash and the City of Chelsea’s its most prestigious All-America City Award.
Jay Ash has worked hard for all Chelsea residents as our city manager and we know the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will benefit from his superior skills and leadership in this most esteemed statewide position.
Thank you, Jay Ash, for all you accomplished as our city manager and for how you transformed our city, making it a model for other cities across our nation to aspire to.
To use a sports analogy, Jay Ash is Chelsea’s MVP in this century.