Beacham, Robin, and Dexter in Everett to Basically Shut Down through October

Beacham, Robin, and Dexter in Everett to Basically Shut Down through October

Facing a do-or-die situation for the completion of major off-site roadwork this summer, and a slower-than-expected work schedule on an Eversource project, Encore Boston Harbor and the City of Everett have announced on Tuesday the areas of Beacham, Dexter and Robin Streets will basically be closed off from Aug. 8 through October.

The change will likely have much more dire consequences for Chelsea than for Everett, as the roadway in and out of the New England Produce Center will be shut down for all intents and purposes. Beyond that, cab traffic from the airport will also be diverted away from the normal route through Beacham Street.

City Manager Tom Ambrosino said they’ll have to take a wait and see approach in the coming weeks to figure out the proper response.

“It’s just hard to say what the impact will be,” he said. “Given the Second Street alternative (for the Produce Center), I’m hoping the impact is not too substantial. But, we will have to wait and see.”

Chief Brian Kyes said the Police Department would employ its message boards around the city to inform people of the sudden change.

Many had hoped that the work could get done side-by-side, and by making the Eversource transmission line project and the Encore traffic project a dual project Ð it could bring down the pain associated with so much construction work in one small location.

However, that ended up not happening, said Everett Planner Jay Monti, who indicated that Eversource moved too slow on their project. That, in turn, has put things in jeopardy for the casino to get its work done before the end of the outdoor construction season Ð which closes in early November when the asphalt plants shut down.

“Due to delays in permitting and obstructions on the road, Eversource has gotten behind schedule to the point it’s going to threaten Encore in getting its [off-site] roadwork done and without that work they can’t open the casino next year. We’re up against a wall and the only way to get it to work is to go 24 hours a day and essentially shut down the roadsÉThings got critical last week and Eversource was just not making progress. Encore came to us and said they can’t wait any longer. They can’t risk not opening up the casino on time because of the Eversource project running behind.”

The shut-down began Aug. 8, and will run for about 10 weeks into October so that Eversource can work around the clock, three shifts, to get their work in the area done and move on to Chelsea and East Boston. Following that, the shutdown will allow Encore to work around the clock to get the work done that has been held up due to Eversource running behind.

Monti said the corridor will be open to pedestrians and bicycles during the 10-week shutdown.  To be clear, though, the roads will be open for drivers, but it will be more than difficult to get through at all hours of the day. So, they are suggesting people use other ways to get places like the airport, the Produce Center and other areas. “For all intents and purposes, it’s closed because anyone who goes down there will sit in traffic for three hours,” he said. “We want to send a message to people who use that corridor. If you’re a cabbie going to or coming from the airport, you have to take the Tobin and pay the toll. If you’re a delivery driver for Amazon, we don’t want you in that area because this work needs to get done. If you’re a driver for the Produce Center, we encourage you to take Rt. 16 and Second Street into Chelsea.”

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Summertime — and the Livin’ Is Easy

Summertime — and the Livin’ Is Easy

With this past week’s high temperatures and high humidity, those of us who work and live in air conditioned buildings have had a lot to be thankful for.

Even a sojourn to the beach offers no relief from the heat, thanks to the prevailing southwest winds that blow hot air across the sand toward the ocean along our East-facing coastline of the Boston areaÊ

Still, as unbearable as this stretch has been for many people — and let’s not forget that hot weather kills more people than cold — does anyone doubt that in January, all of us will be pining for the heat of early August?

With just three weeks left until the Labor Day weekend, we do not have many more days of summer left. So let’s enjoy our Triple-H weather (hazy, hot, and humid) while we can. In the words of the early-’60s song by the great Nat King Cole:

Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer

Those days of soda and pretzels and beer

Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer

You’ll wish that summer could always be here  

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Chelsea Partnering with OpenGov to Further Increase Accountability

Chelsea Partnering with OpenGov to Further Increase Accountability

Chelsea announced this week that it’s partnering with  OpenGov – a leader in government performance management – to further increase its effectiveness and accountability.

“Our new open data portal is a valuable resource for residents and businesses interested in understanding how their taxpayer dollars are being spent and learning more about the various projects that the City is engaged in,” said City Manager Tom Ambrosino. “We hope it will also help City officials to make data-driven decisions by giving them access to information that was previously in silos.”

The portal, which can be accessed at chelseama.ogopendata.com/ already features showcases on property values, demographics, crime and Narcan information, and expenditures.

The OpenGov Cloud™ is an easy-to-use, cloud-based solution for budgeting, operational performance, and citizen engagement. OpenGov’s open data portal aggregates, organizes, and visualizes various data sets (like budgets, permits, and citizen requests). It’s powered by CKAN – the open-source standard that the U.S. federal government, the European Union, and hundreds of other agencies around the world use for open data. It also includes tools like APIs that developers can use to build applications.

“Our open data portal is a win-win for Chelsea and the community,” said OpenGov CEO Zac Bookman. “On average, governments receive 20 percent less requests for information after they launch their OpenGov open data portals. That means citizens are getting the information they need, and it saves governments time and energy that can be spent elsewhere.”

Chelsea joins over 1,900 city, county, and state governments, special districts and schools that rely on OpenGov to be more effective and accountable, including the City of Boston.

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Healthy Chelsea, Residents Looking to Start Bicycle Safety Committee

Healthy Chelsea, Residents Looking to Start Bicycle Safety Committee

To promote safety and bike laws in urban areas, as well as introduce an emerging biking and pedestrian committee, the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition led an Urban Biking Workshop at the Chelsea Public Library on July 31.

Vivian Ortiz, a League of American Bicyclists, certified instructor, focused on the importance of safety in areas that don’t necessarily offer bike-protected paths, such as Chelsea.

Jennifer Kelly, director of the Healthy Chelsea Coalition, is seeking members to form a biking and pedestrian committee to address the issues and concerns in the community. The committee, funded by the statewide movement to work toward healthy and active lifestyles – dubbed Mass in Motion – will work toward funding programs.

One such program is an outreach effort to give free helmets to bicyclists to increase safety.

“I work as a teacher in Chelsea, and have taken a bike to school. In the mornings when I thought I would feel safe because there wasn’t a lot of traffic, I actually had a couple of problems because I think people at that hour weren’t expecting to see someone on a bike,” Lisa Santagate said. “It was actually scarier than I thought it would be, so I don’t do it all that much, but I really want to.”

Ortiz addressed the importance of understanding that, according to state law, bicycles are considered vehicles, and should be treated as such with traffic laws, traffic flow and signaling. Although Chelsea doesn’t have much in terms of bicycle infrastructure, the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) implemented a bike-sharing system to promote bicycle use and offer cheaper travel alternatives.

Residents do have the opportunity to ride on the new shared-use path along the Silver Line, and plans are in the works to include protected bike lanes on the reconstruction of Beacham Street – the only access point into Boston by bike.

LimeBike and Spin’s dockless bike program, introduced in May, opened the dialogue for bike safety in Chelsea, and created an app-based bike rental system that charges riders $1 per hour. Since there are no additions to the city for docking, the city was able to implement the program at no extra cost.

Although there is no added cost, the main concerns brought up by citizens are the bright green bikes being left in places that create a less aesthetically pleasing environment, or in places that can be dangerous, such as pedestrian walkways.

“Riding in an urban area that doesn’t have any bike infrastructure is really, really scary,” Ortiz said. “A lot of my fear in the beginning was folks were just not used to seeing people on bikes in my neighborhood. So that’s one tip that I would give folks, if you’re not comfortable riding by yourself, find a group of people. It’s much easier riding with a group to be on the street because there’s more power in numbers.”

The workshop introduced a variety of group rides that take place throughout the greater Boston area, including Hub on Wheels Sept. 16, as well as general safety tips for riders.

Ortiz’s final tips for riders: ride with traffic, not against it; choose your line and maintain it without swerving or lane splitting; avoid the “right hook” and check to make sure a car isn’t going to turn right in front of you; and always signal turns using the arm signals.

Anyone looking to become more involved in the biking and pedestrian committee can reach out directly to Kelly at jkelly14@partners.org.

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Chelsea Man Pleads Guilty to Illegal Firearm Possession

Chelsea Man Pleads Guilty to Illegal Firearm Possession

A Chelsea man pleaded guilty last week in federal court in Boston to being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Cesar Alicea, 22, pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. U.S. District Court Judge Richard G. Stearns scheduled sentencing for Nov. 7, 2018.

In December 2017, Alicea was indicted along with Andres Perez, of Chelsea, who was charged with possessing cocaine base and heroin with intent to distribute. It is alleged that Alicea and Perez are members of the East Side Money Gang.

On Oct. 31, 2017, Alicea was in a car that was stopped by law enforcement officers. As Alicea ran from the police, he was observed throwing an item. Shortly thereafter, Alicea was apprehended by police and arrested. The item was recovered and determined to be a .25 caliber Raven Arms pistol.

The charge of being felon in possession of a firearm provides for a sentence of no greater than 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

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Battleground Chelsea:Capuano Draws Local, National Endorsements

Battleground Chelsea:Capuano Draws Local, National Endorsements

When the chips were down a few years ago and few were willing to stand up, rock the boat and call on President Barack Obama to slow down deportations from the country and places like Chelsea – Illinois Congressman Luis Gutiérrez told a crowd of people at Pan Y Café in Cary Square last Friday that one man stood with him.

That man was Congressman Michael Capuano, and the popular Latino congressman from Illinois appeared with Capuano Friday morning, July 20, in Chelsea to endorse Capuano and remind voters here how hard Capuano has been working – both in good times and bad times.

“Ten years ago I came to East Boston to tell President Obama to stop the deportations,” Gutierrez said. “There wasn’t a lot of Democrats who wanted to strongly tell our president to do that. Barack Obama was popular, we liked him and we wanted him to success, but the deportations were continuing. Not many wanted to do that. Mike didn’t hesitate. We met with immigrant groups together 10 years ago to deliver that message and we’ve been working together every since then on these issues.”

Gutierrez has become a very popular member of Congress in the last few years as immigration issues have come to the forefront and he has combined with others like Capuano to tell the stories of those caught up in the system. Capuano took him on a tour of two locations in Chelsea Friday and one in Boston – talking to Latino and immigrant groups throughout the City. It reinforced that battle ground nature that Chelsea has taken on within the congressional race between himself and challenger Ayanna Pressley.

On Friday, he also received the endorsement of Councillor Leo Robinson and Roy Avellaneda. State Rep. Dan Ryan, who previously endorsed him, was also in attendance – as were several local movers and shakers.

“I didn’t know a lot about Mike when I came on the City Council many years ago, but on the advice of a neighbor and other councillors, I met with him and he was a solid guy,” said Avellaneda. “I looked at his resume and I’ve never looked back and never regretted supporting him. I’ve called on Mike so many times over the years for an issue regarding Chelsea…He earned my vote back then and has for the last 20 years.”

Robinson reminded everyone that Capuano has always brought home important monies for Chelsea from the federal government, including money recently allocated for rebuilding Quigley Hospital at the Soldiers’ Home.

Capuano was gracious, and said he really appreciated the support from Chelsea and Gutierrez, his colleague in Washington, D.C.

“It’s nice when you’re under the gun to learn who stands with you,” he told the crowd, moving on to the immigration issue and the family separation he recently saw in a trip to the Texas/Mexico border. “It’s a simple question. Do you like people or don’t you? Do you want to be a country that’s welcoming or don’t you?…None of us would have said that we would live in a country where the official policy was to rip nursing infants from their mothers…It’s horrible and it’s not right. Infants and their mothers should be together…Unless Democrats get the House back, we won’t have any progress on these issues. If Democrats get the House back, I promise you we will deal with the TPS (Temporary Protective Status) issue. We will deal with the infants ripped from their mother’s arms. We will have honest discussions and debate about comprehensive immigrations reform. It will be difficult, but at least we will have a chance because we’ll be talking about it.”

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Chelsea Officials Endorse Pressley Ayanna Pressley

Chelsea Officials Endorse Pressley Ayanna Pressley

Six Chelsea city officials endorsed Boston City Councillor Ayanna Pressley’s candidacy for U.S. Congress at a campaign event last Thursday night at the Mystic Brewery.

City Councillors Damali Vidot, Jamir Rodriguez, and Enio Lopez and School Committee members Lucia Henriquez, Kelly Garcia, and Julio Hernandez each praised Pressley in separate speeches stating their endorsement.

Vidot, who has been a force in Chelsea politics since being elected as a councillor-at-large in her first run for citywide office, said she embraced Pressley’s candidacy from the beginning.

“From the moment I found out Ayanna was running, I was on board,” said Vidot. “The reason I’m supporting her is because I follow politics very closely and I have seen the work she’s done on the Boston City Council advocating for families and for girls. The way she has been able to lead, so authentically and gracefully and not allow anything to interfere with the work she has been able to get accomplished, it’s just magical for me.”

Vidot said people in Chelsea are enthusiastic about Pressley and welcome her positive energy. “The people are loving her. They love her message. She’s real. There’s a whole different energy. We have such a diverse group of people that are supporting her.”

The endorsement event followed a second campaign reception earlier that drew a large crowd at Tu Casa Restaurant on Broadway. Saritin Rizzuto organized the gathering and was pleased with the sizable turnout of supporters.

“My friend, your advocate, and our candidate for the Seventh District congressional seat ,” said Rizzuto in an enthusiastic introduction of Pressley.

Pressley thanked her many supporters at Tu Casa.

“As I look out at all of you, I’m overwhelmed – and my heart is so full,” said Pressley. “Chelsea from the very beginning – you have been so very good to me.”

Pressley is challenging incumbent Michael Capuano in the Sept. 4 Democratic primary in the Seventh Congressional District.

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MCU Awards Scholarships to Local Students

MCU Awards Scholarships to Local Students

Metro Credit Union recently awarded $16,000 in scholarships to college-bound high school seniors.

Metro’s Scholarship Program encourages high school seniors who are members of Metro Credit Union, or who have a parent or guardian who is a member, to apply for the chance to receive $1,000 towards tuition.

Thirteen scholarships were awarded to graduating high school seniors who have been accepted to an accredited undergraduate program. Scholarship recipients were selected on the basis of academic record, demonstrated leadership and participation in school and community activities, honors, work experience, statement of goals and aspirations, unique personal or family circumstances, and an outside appraisal.

“We’re proud to help students advance their education and their future prospects with scholarship funding,” said Robert Cashman, president and CEO of Metro Credit Union. “We hope that students who benefit from our scholarships will achieve personal and professional success.”

Students honored with Metro Credit Union Scholarships are: Leslie Rallis of Peabody, Brianna Bardales, Thomas Mirbel, and Lilian Guerrero of Lynn, Marie Jeanty of Burlington, Rhaida Shephard of Lawrence, Danielle More, Cara Madarese, Crystal Atchison, and Vincent Rocchio of Boston, Roberto Martinez of Framingham, and May Lam and Tina Nguyen of Chelsea.

Metro also awarded $3,000 in scholarships to Peabody and Chelsea High School students who participated in the High School Branch Banking program throughout the school year. The Financial Literacy Scholarship was designed to honor students who showed exemplary skills in their Finance and Business coursework during their internships at Metro’s high school branches.

Metro Credit Union is the largest state-chartered credit union in Massachusetts, approaching $1.8 billion in assets. Metro provides a full range of financial products to more than 200,000 members in Essex, Middlesex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Plymouth, Barnstable, Bristol and Worcester counties, as well as to over 1,200 companies throughout the Commonwealth.

Founded in 1926, Metro currently operates 15 branch offices in Boston, Burlington, Chelsea, Framingham, Lawrence, Lynn, Melrose, Newton, Peabody, Salem, and Tewksbury. Learn more at MetroCU.org.

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MS-13’s East Coast Leader Gets More than 19 Years in Prison

MS-13’s East Coast Leader Gets More than 19 Years in Prison

The leader of the MS-13 East Coast Program was sentenced July 18 in federal court in Boston for racketeering conspiracy.

Jose Adan Martinez Castro, a/k/a “Chucky,” 29, a Salvadoran national formerly residing in Richmond, Va., was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV to 235 months in prison, the top of the sentencing range recommended by the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines. Castro will be subject to deportation upon completion of his sentence. In November 2017, Castro pleaded guilty to conspiracy to conduct enterprise affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity, more commonly referred to as RICO or racketeering conspiracy.

After a multi-year investigation, Castro was one of dozens of leaders, members, and associates of MS-13 named in a superseding indictment unsealed in January 2016 that targeted MS-13’s criminal activities in Massachusetts. According to court documents, MS-13 members engaged in a variety of racketeering acts and crimes of violence, including six different murders committed by MS-13 members in Massachusetts between October 2014 and January 2016.

Castro was one of 49 defendants to be convicted as part of this case. All nine defendants who went to trial were convicted and 40 others pleaded guilty.

During the investigation, Castro was identified as the leader of MS-13’s East Coast Program. Most of the cliques in Massachusetts fall under the East Coast Program, which also has cliques in Maryland, Virginia, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Texas, and Ohio.

On Dec. 13, 2015, using a cooperating witness, law enforcement recorded a meeting of the East Coast Program leadership at Castro’s home in Richmond. The recorded meeting provided evidence about the organizational structure, leadership structure, and recruitment system of MS-13 as well as the means, methods, objectives, and operating principles of the gang.  Leaders of the East Coast Program cliques from Massachusetts, Ohio, Texas, and Virginia attended the meeting.

During the meeting, Castro and others discussed how there was enough space in the East Coast Program for the all of the assembled MS-13 cliques to work cooperatively. Castro and others also discussed the need for the cliques to be better at planning and coordinating hits (i.e., murders) and Castro confirmed that murders generally had to be approved by MS-13 leaders before the local members could carry them out. The group also discussed sending money to El Salvador to support MS-13, the need to work together to increase the gang’s strength and control, and the need to kill anyone who provided information against the gang. An El Salvadoran-based leader of MS-13 also participated in the meeting via the phone and provided direction to the assembled leaders.

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Church Needs to Take Swift Action on Sexual Abuse

Church Needs to Take Swift Action on Sexual Abuse

For the past several days, articles in the national media have reported accusations of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s sexual improprieties with several adults and his criminal violations of the sexual abuse of minors.  These alleged actions, when committed by any person, are morally unacceptable and incompatible with the role of a priest, bishop or cardinal.

I am deeply troubled by these reports that have traumatized many Catholics and members of the wider community. In one case involving a minor the Archdiocese of New York, after investigation, has found the accusation to be credible and substantiated. While another accusation concerning a minor is yet to be investigated, the reports are devastating for the victims, their families and for the Church itself. Each new report of clerical abuse at any level creates doubt in the minds of many that we are effectively addressing this catastrophe in the Church.

These cases and others require more than apologies. They raise up the fact that when charges are brought regarding a bishop or a cardinal, a major gap still exists in the Church’s policies on sexual conduct and sexual abuse. While the Church in the United States has adopted a zero tolerance policy regarding the sexual abuse of minors by priests we must have clearer procedures for cases involving bishops. Transparent and consistent protocols are needed to provide justice for the victims and to adequately respond to the legitimate indignation of the community. The Church needs a strong and comprehensive policy to address bishops’ violations of the vows of celibacy in cases of the criminal abuse of minors and in cases involving adults.

My experience in several dioceses and my work with the members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors have brought me to this conclusion. The Church needs to swiftly and decisively take action regarding these matters of critical importance. In every instance of claims made by victims of sexual abuse, whether criminal violations or the abuse of power, the primary concern must be for the victim, their family and their loved ones. The victims are to be commended for bringing to light their tragic experience and must be treated with respect and dignity. Recent media reports also have referenced a letter sent to me from Rev. Boniface Ramsey, O.P. in June of 2015, which I did not personally receive. In keeping with the practice for matters concerning the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, at the staff level the letter was reviewed and determined that the matters presented did not fall under the purview of the Commission or the Archdiocese of Boston, which was shared with Fr. Ramsey in reply.

These accusations are understandably a source of great disappointment and anger for many. These cases, involving a cardinal, must be viewed in light of the last two decades of the Church’s experience with clerical sexual abuse. It is my conviction that three specific actions are required at this time. First, a fair and rapid adjudication of these accusations; second, an assessment of the adequacy of our standards and policies in the Church at every level, and especially in the case of bishops; and third, communicating more clearly to the Catholic faithful and to all victims the process for reporting allegations against bishops and cardinals. Failure to take these actions will threaten and endanger the already weakened moral authority of the Church and can destroy the trust required for the Church to minister to Catholics and have a meaningful role in the wider civil society. In this moment there is no greater imperative for the Church than to hold itself accountable to address these matters, which I will bring to my upcoming meetings with the Holy See with great urgency and concern.

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