Monday night at the City Council meeting, the main item on the agenda was the new five-year Capital Improvement Program, detailing the maintenance and improvement of roadways, water, sewer and drainage systems, sidewalks, transportation, public buildings and facilities, parks and open space, public safety projects and general equipment. However, Councilor Robert Bishop did not sign the resolution that would have brought the order before the councilors since he had several questions about some of the proposed work outlined in the document. The matter was moved to unfinished business.
The Council still has until the end of the month to approve the recommendations and is expected to take the matter up at its next meeting.
With this main part of the agenda being put on hold, councilors started to address issues ranging from the new tax rate that could see a budget increase of 5 percent to providing more affordable housing in the city for residents.
While it may seem that both issues were not related, the councilors came to the same bottom line, which was having Chelsea families being able to afford to continue to reside in Chelsea.
Bishop questioned the proposed new fiscal 2019 tax rate that will go into effect on July 1. “I would like to see a zero tax rate increase,” he said pointing out that the new tax rate could increase as much as 5 percent. He pointed out that many Chelsea homeowners are struggling to pay their real estate bills.
In a similar vein, Councilor at-Large Leo Robinson introduced a motion to schedule a meeting with the Planning Board and the Affordable Housing Trust Fund to look into the possibility of purchasing homes that are foreclosed and keeping the affordable rental units for residents.
Council President Damali Vidot gave up the chair to speak on her motion on amending the existing Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance. “We need to look out for the community,” she said. “Developers have the discretion on whom to provide affordable housing units since we are put into the Boston average median income,” she added.
Vidot also noted the toll of decreasing affordable housing is taking on the most vulnerable in Chelsea, namely the young. She noted that many students in the local schools know of the strain that their parents are having of being able to afford to stay in Chelsea or are in fact homeless and as a result, these students are struggling in school. “We must be mindful of renters,” she reminded her colleagues.
In another measure, Vidot is seeking to have an attendance record started for all appointed members to city boards and commissions. “I have received complaints from residents about people not showing up to meetings. We appoint these people, we should know if they are there,” she said. Vidot also added that an attendance record for councilors would be in order.
Councilor Joe Perlatonda introduced an order to install temporary speed bumps on Clinton Street, one located at Washburn Ave. and the other at Lisa Lane off of Clinton Street . He noted that with the summer approaching and neighborhood children outdoors that these speed bumps would slow down drivers speeding.
The Chelsea City Council voted 9-1 on Monday night to call for City Solicitor Cheryl Fisher Watson to draw up a new ordinance requiring a five-year residency period for all new police and fire hires.
The controversial move was brought for the umpteenth time by Councillor Giovanni Recupero at Monday’s Council meeting, and it had been highly anticipated by the membership for several weeks.
Recupero’s plan calls for any new hire of the Police Department or Fire Department to live within the city for five years after being hired.
Currently, there are no such restrictions, but Recupero has been on a mission for more than five years to get something drafted and passed.
His order on Monday simply called for the Solicitor to draft up an ordinance and have it ready for Council consideration by the next meeting.
“For many, many years I’ve been trying to have people who work here live here,” he said. “Other cities do this. We should too. The residents like us love our city. It’s not to say they don’t love the City, but there’s a little extra care when you live here…Life is not what you want. Life is what it is. If you want to work here, you live here.”
Many had been interested to see what new Councillor Bob Bishop might think of the matter, as it was the first time it had been before him. And he made himself quite clear that he supports residency.
“I’m very upset on payday in Chelsea because three-fourths of our paychecks go to Saugus or Lynnfield. We don’t get an economic bang for that buck because that money of ours isn’t circulating in Chelsea. If you’re hired in Chelsea as a firefighter or police officer and you don’t want to live here, then don’t take the job. Someone else will. I think it’s a good thing to have police and fire live here.”
Councillor Roy Avellaneda was the lone lawmaker against the measure this time, and said he thinks the Council should focus on other things.
“I’d rather focus my energy on making Chelsea a better place to live than a place to be forced to live,” he said.
Councillor Judith Garcia didn’t vote on the matter as she was absent.
Fisher Watson said there are concerns that any such ordinance would conflict with collective bargaining agreements, so she wasn’t sure she would be able to produce the new ordinance.
Recupero said that any such conflict does not exist and the ordinance can be written up and considered. He said after the Council passes the ordinance, it’s up to the City Manager to negotiate the collective bargaining to include the new requirement for new hires.
By a preliminary vote of 8-0, Councillor Damali Vidot received the support of her colleagues to become the new Council President in 2018 during a meeting on Monday.
The annual Conference Committee on leadership took place Monday with two possible candidates, current President Leo Robinson and Vidot. Both had been vying for the position behind the scenes, lobbying their colleagues for the position.
However, Robinson apparently had withdrawn his name before Monday’s conference, conceding the gavel to Vidot.
Those voting for Vidot to be president were Councillors Luis Tejada, Yamir Rodriguez, Giovanni Recupero, Calvin Brown, Bob Bishop, Enio Lopez, Robinson and Judith Garcia.
Vidot did not vote for herself, and Councillor Roy Avellaneda did not show up for the Conference. Councillor-elect Joe Perlatonda was absent during the president vote.
Vidot said she was honored to receive support from her colleagues, and will lean on the experience of long-time councillors to help her with the new role.
“I am honored to have received the support of my colleagues in serving as president of Chelsea City Council,” she said. “It is a responsibility I do not take lightly. I intend on leaning on the experience of longer-serving councillors while building on the passion and ideas of newer colleagues. We all have something different we bring to the table and I want to honor all of those voices while working cohesively on the concerns of our hard-working residents.
“More importantly, I want to ensure that we are always adhering to our City Charter and it’s ordinances and ensuring that the process is always fair and transparent,” she continued.
The vice president role was more hotly contested, with Councillor-elect Brown getting the nod over Recupero in a vote of 6-4.
Those voting for Brown were Vidot, Rodriguez, Brown, Bishop, Lopez, and Garcia. Those voting for Recupero were Tejada, Recupero, Robinson, and Perlatonda.
Avellaneda was not present for the vote.
Tejada was unanimously elected as the new School Committee liaison in a vote of 10-0, with Avellaneda absent.
The Council also participated in the annual drawing for Roll Call vote order and seating order.
Vidot will be the first vote next year in any roll call, with Recupero being the last vote.
In seating, there will be some interesting neighbors – with Councilors Recupero and Perlatonda sitting next to one another again. The old friends sat next to one another when Perlatonda was on the Council previously. Oddly enough, Perlatonda will also sit next to Garcia, who replaced him two years ago and whom he has criticized from time to time. Bishop will site on one end of the Council, while Calvin Brown will sit on the other end.
The City Council president race has been quietly going back and forth between Council President Leo Robinson and Council Vice President Damali Vidot for the last several weeks.
The showdown will likely continue as both court their fellow councillors for commitments and votes prior to a meeting that has been called to poll the members on Dec. 18. All that is needed is six votes, and the first candidate to achieve that commitment will emerge as the new president.
Vidot had an interest in pursuing the leadership spot last year, but put that on hold to become vice president and not take the post in her first term. Fresh off of a successful re-election effort, she said she wanted to pursue the position for the coming year.
“I’ve served as Vice President for two years and am prepared to facilitate conversations geared to community first and full adherence to the City Charter absent of personal attacks and status quo politics,” she said. “I believe it is my time, but if my colleagues determine that ‘it is not my time’ – as is typical in cases with women leaders – I will humbly continue to be a strong voice and advocate for the community. In all honesty, the title of president limits our ability to speak openly and so either way, it’s a win-win situation for myself and the residents of Chelsea.”
Meanwhile, Council President Leo Robinson has chosen to run again for the post and go for a second-straight year.
He said this week that he is a candidate and he’s running on a platform of experience.
He said the Council needs a proven leader at this moment in time, and he’s ready to continue his leadership into 2018.
As of now, it appears that both may have five committed votes, including themselves.
The key vote will likely boil down to Councillor Giovanni Recupero once again. Recupero is a supporter of both candidates, and will have a tough decision to make.
Meanwhile, there are also a number of wild cards in the race with three new councillors, including Bob Bishop, Calvin Brown and Joe Perlatonda. Their sentiments and leanings are completely unknown at the moment – though there are many assumptions as to where they might land.
All will be better known after the organizational meeting on Dec. 18, and then on inauguration night, Jan. 8, when the matter becomes official.
Councillor-elect Bob Bishop said it feels good to return to City Hall to represent Prattville on the Council. He will be taking office in January, but has been attending meetings to get up to speed on matters.
The halls of City Hall haven’t changed tremendously since former City Clerk and former Alderman Bob Bishop retired, but things have changed a bit and now Bishop will rejoin the team as a member of the City Council.
On Nov. 7, Bishop one a heavily contested race Prattville’s District 1 over Planning Board member Todd Taylor, gaining the right to represent the district on the Council come January.
“I worked very hard and had a lot of support,” he said after attending Monday’s Council meeting. “Many of my voters came out and I’m grateful for that. My opponent worked very hard too and is a good man. I can’t say one bad thing about him.”
Bishop was an Alderman in the old form of government prior to the receivership era, and also served as City Clerk for 25 years, retiring as the Purchasing Agent in 2010.
“It feels really good to be back up here,” he said. “I was first elected when I was 27 and that was some time ago. I have a good idea of what I’m doing and what I need to do to represent District 1.
Bishop said the district has changed, and that’s something he saw when he went out frequently during the campaign. Many of his long-time voters are gone, he said, and many new people have moved in. He said he did his best to meet as many as he could.
In doing that, he said he learned the biggest concern in the district is rats.
“I have to say the number one concern out there is rats – that’s all across District 1,” he said. “That will be at the top of my list. We’re going to really see what the City offers to help with this and then see if we can’t do more.”
He also said a concern is the dangerous crossing at Revere Beach Parkway, as well as the traffic pattern and configuration at the Parkway and Washington Avenue.
Another thing he wants to do is to find out ways to help the City’s code inspectors – whom he believes are overwhelmed.
The City Election is fast approaching and several races are heating up in the City.
In the district City Council races, at least five seats are contested.
The most active race at the moment is in Prattville, where the District 1 seat has been vacated by Paul Murphy. There, former City Clerk Bob Bishop and Planning Board member Todd Taylor have been out and active since the summer in reaching the voters.
Bishop showed great strength in winning the Preliminary Election with 45 percent of the vote in September, but Taylor has balanced that with several key endorsements this week.
Councillor Murphy has made a recommendation, and that came in the form of an endorsement of Taylor.
Likewise, Taylor has also received an endorsement from popular Governor Charlie Baker.
It will be a battle of great wills on Election Night in Prattville.
Another race to highlight comes in District 7, where Councillor Yamir Rodriguez faces a tough challenge in License Commissioner Mark Rossi.
Both are very qualified and both are very popular.
Rodriguez has great report with the youth in the district and has made a focal point of his tenure in reaching out to young people, organizing youth events and helping residents with quality of life issues like parking.
Meanwhile, Rossi is an attorney who, like Rodriguez, is also bi-lingual and has focused his campaign on immigration issues and streamlining City government. In recent days, though not official, Rossi has seemed to get help from some incumbents and organizational leaders in Chelsea.
Rodriguez, however, seems to have a great command of what is needed in the district, being a key part of some of the newest resident-led initiatives like the Chelsea Hills Community Group.
In District 6, first-term Councillor Judith Garcia faces a re-match with challenger Henry Wilson. There was no preliminary, but the two had a close race two years ago when Garcia won.
Garcia has been hitting the streets throughout the summer, knocking on doors and attending most all community events. She has shown initiative in her first term as well, filing orders to lower the speed limit to 25 mph and also looking for solutions to the parking situation.
Wilson, for his part, has shown much better organization this time around, getting support of several incumbent councillors and community leaders.
In District 8, former Councillor Calvin Brown looks to be gaining momentum over challenger Jermaine Williams. Brown easily carried the Preliminary over Williams with 73 percent of the vote, and Williams has seemingly been nowhere in the last month.
Incumbent Councillor Dan Cortell is leaving the seat, and has not endorsed anyone.
In District 2, Councillor Luis Tejada is facing Attorney Olivia Walsh. Both are very popular in the District and around the City.
Councillor Giovanni Recupero is basically running unopposed, as challenger Kris Haight suspended his campaign a month ago. However, his name will still appear on the ballot next week – even though he is no longer running.
Councillor Enio Lopez is unopposed, and Councillor Matt Frank is not running in District 3. Former Councillor Joe Perlatonda is the lone candidate running for that seat.
In the at-large race, there are three incumbents on the ballot and no challengers.
Council President Leo Robinson and Councillors Roy Avellaneda and Damali Vidot are running for re-election. Though all are assured a seat, there is a fair amount of jockeying for position to see just who tops the ticket.
That likely has less to do with the City Election, and more to do with who will be the next Council President. Robinson is already the president, but would love to make a good showing at the top of the ticket.
Meanwhile, Vidot and Avellaneda are both likely candidates for the presidency come December. A strong finish would give one the edge over the other.
In the School Committee, there is little intrigue aside from the at-large seat. Incumbent Shawn O’Regan ran in the Preliminary for the District 1 Council seat, which opened up the at-large seat on School Committee.
Former Chelsea High Athletic Director Frank DePatto put his papers in and got his name on the ballot unopposed.
However, in recent weeks, O’Regan – who lost in the Preliminary Council election – has announced he is running a write-in sticker campaign to try to reclaim his seat on the School Committee.
Councillor Matt Frank has announced he will not seek re-election in District 3, leaving former Councillor Joe Perlatonda without an opponent.
As the City Election ballot is getting confirmed this week, with Nomination Papers having come due on Tuesday, District 3 Councillor Matt Frank announced that he would not run for re-election.
Nomination Papers were due to the City Clerk by 5 p.m. on Tuesday and the office was still working on certifying everyone’s signatures, but as of Wednesday afternoon it appeared there would be contested races in District 1, District 2, District 5, District 6, District 7, and District 8.
Surprisingly though, there will be no contested race in District 3 as expected, with Councillor Matt Frank bowing out and leaving former Councillor Joe Perlatonda alone in the race.
Frank said it was a recent decision based upon his work, which is in Dorchester. Having to get back to meetings on Mondays, and to attend community events was becoming difficult to balance with his work, he said.
“After dealing with the Council job and my regular job simultaneously for awhile now, I haven’t really been able to balance the two,” he said. “I had to make a decision and I had to go with the one that pays the bills…The biggest thing is getting back and forth to Chelsea from my work.”
With his exit, it leaves former District 5 Councillor Joe Perlatonda without an opponent. Many had been eyeing the race between the two, as they were not allies when serving on the Council together a few years ago. Since leaving the Council two years ago, Perlatonda moved to Clinton Street, where he now lives.
The races in District 1 and District 8 seem to be the ones now that are pegged for heavy competition.
Those turning in nomination papers in District 1 include former City Clerk Bob Bishop, Collaborative organizer Sylvia Ramirez, Planning Board member Todd Taylor and School Committeeman Shawn O’Regan.
Only Bishop and Ramirez had been certified as of press time though, but the others were expected to make the cut.
District 1 is an open seat as Councillor Paul Murphy announced earlier this year he would not seek re-election.
In District 8, political newcomer Zaida Ismatul Oliva, former At-Large Councillor Calvin Brown and Jermaine Williams have all qualified for the ballot and will be in the running for that open seat as well. Councillor Dan Cortell announced he would not seek re-election earlier this summer.
In District 2, Soldiers’ Home resident and attorney Olivia Anne Walsh will face incumbent Councillor Luis Tejada – both of who are certified and on the ballot.
In District 5, Councillor Judith Garcia will enter into a rematch with challenger Henry Wilson. Both are certified for the ballot and ran against one another last City Election.
In District 6, Councillor Giovanni Recupero will face newcomer Kristofer Haight – who appears to be concerned with issues like public transportation but is not well-known in the community as of now. Haight is not yet certified for the ballot, though Recupero is.
In District 7, Councillor Yamir Rodriguez will face License Board member Mark Rossi.
In District 4, Councillor Enio Lopez will run unopposed.
All three at-large candidates, Roy Avellaneda, Leo Robinson and Damali Vidot, will also not have any challengers in the election. All three have been certified for the ballot.
Bobby Pereira will not seek re-election
In yet another shocking move, up and coming School Committeeman Bobby Pereira announced on Tuesday that he would not seek re-election.
One of the few dedicated members on a School Committee that has trouble showing up and simply achieving a quorum, Pereira was expected to cruise to re-election.
Pereira, who represents District 5 on the Committee, said his decision revolved around the fact that he and his wife, Shirley, are expecting their first child.
“I must withdraw myself from the race because I will be given the greatest gift of all in about six months,” he said. “I found out very recently that my wife is nearly three months pregnant with our first child. I will be moving from district 5, and do not want to be elected to serve a district I am not going to live in for much longer… As for now, I need to focus on my child and their needs. I was gearing up for election season but last week when we were given the news I was faced with a choice. All my life I wanted to be a Dad and now I have my chance.”
The coaches in the Catholic Central League affirmed what high school softball fans have known for a long time: Mia Nowicki can pitch with the best of them.
Nowicki, a 15-year-old sophomore flame throwing righthander for the St. Mary’s High School softball team, was the unanimous choice as the CCL Most Valuable Player following a regular season in which she averaged 12 strikeouts a game and led the Spartans to a 16-4 record.
And Nowicki is not done yet with her exploits on the mound this season. The daughter of former Matignon All-Scholastic athlete Paul Nowicki and Chelsea High softball star Tracy Constantino Nowicki was at Martin Field in Lowell Wednesday night hoping to advance St. Mary’s a step closer to the state championship game.
A state title would be the family’s third. Her father – arguably one of the greatest athletes in Chelsea city history – won one crown as a hockey player for the Matignon Warriors and teammate of future Bruin Shawn McEachern. Mia was a freshman on the 2014 state champion St. Mary’s girls basketball team.
And it’s the team that counts most for Mia. Even after striking out the side in Monday’s 4-1 win over Latin Academy and recording the save, Mia was talking up her teammates.
“I think [starting pitcher] Michaela [Hamill] and the team had a great performance and came up big,” said Nowicki. “We got this win and now we’re going to Lowell.”
Asked about her three-up-three down gem, Mia replied, “I just wanted to get my team out of the jam and win the game for the team and the coaches.”
Nowicki added to an already awesome repertoire of pitches with some new installations this season. “My two-seam fastball and my screwball have been working really well this year. I have a rise ball that I developed that works well on some days and a drop pitch.”
Nowicki said she is honored to be the league’s Most Valuable Player, an award her father received during his career in the CCL. “I am honored but I couldn’t have done it without my coaches and my teammates. My softball catcher has been awesome. She has a great attitude. And coach [Colleen] Newbury is an awesome coach who makes great decisions. She’s the best.”
Newbury, a softball legend in her own right who holds seven state titles including four as a player at Bishop Fenwick, used one word to describe Mia’s performance this season: dominating.
“She goes out there and makes a lot of plays to help herself,” said Newbury. “She gets a strikeout when she needs it in a big spot. She was clutch and very poised [versus Latin Academy]. She’s an athlete. She competes. I think she ranks up there with some of the great pitchers that I played with at Fenwick.”
Paul Nowicki said it’s been enjoyable for him and his wife, Tracy, director of the Chelsea Senior Center, to watch their daughter become one of the best pitchers in Massachusetts at a school she loves.
“It’s been a fun experience to be a part of – watching Mia grow and mature as a young lady as well as a softball player,” said Paul Nowicki. “She gets a lot of good support from the coaching staff and her teammates. They’re absolutely spectacular. It’s fun to come watch these games and watch her compete.”