“Come on out for this year’s Chelsea Chase 5k, starting at 10am on May 10th at the Dockside. Here are some of last year’s runners who supported the Jordan Boys & Girls Club and the Chelsea Police Relief Association at this event in 2013.”
The Jordan Boys & Girls Club will once again be collaborating with the Chelsea Police Relief Association to host the 3rd Annual Chelsea Chase 5K, which takes place on Saturday, May 10th with a 10am start. The start and finish will be outside of the Dockside in Chelsea, one of our sponsors who will be serving a pasta dinner post-race to all the runners and volunteers. To register to run, go to Racewire.com and search “Chelsea Chase”. You can also get a link to this site or get a paper application from Lisa at Lgillis@bgcb.org or stop by the Club anytime to get more info. You can also connect with Lt. Ed Conley at Chelsea Police for more info. Thank you to the companies who have committed to sponsoring this event as of this writing: State Garden & Olivia’s Organics, Eastern Salt, Eastern Express Car Wash, The Architectural Team, Performance Physical Therapy, Allen’s Perfumers, Broadway Family Dental, Chelsea Bank, Marriot Hotel, Susan Gallant, Mystic Brewery, Aquafina, TD Bank, and many more who will be coming out to volunteer and support the event. This has become a fantastic community gathering and if you are interested in volunteering, sponsoring, or running, please reach out to Lisa at the email above or call the Boys & Girls Club at 617-884-9435 x5472. All proceeds support both the Jordan Club and the Chelsea Police Relief Association.
Rain fell and the snow continued to melt earlier this week, including on this steel support
under the Tobin Bridge on Broadway. However, the relief of spring-like weather was
squashed by the return of winter weather mid-week. Not to fear, more drips appear to be
on tap for the coming week.
The mother of a Revere woman, Michelle Dauwer, murdered in Chelsea and District Attorney Dan Conley are renewing a call for witnesses to come forward and help in solving the brutal Dec. 10 crime.
“My daughter was murdered,” said June Dauwer. “I want justice for Michelle, but I believe that justice will be served in a court of law. I have the utmost faith in the judicial system and I know that they will bring peace and justice for Michelle when they arrest the person who took her so tragically from me and my family. But that won’t happen on its own. Right now, someone out there knows who hurt Michelle and took her life. That person has a chance to do the right thing: Call Chelsea Police. Speak up and tell the truth for the wonderful girl we lost.”
DA Conley said authorities believe there are people in Chelsea who know what happened to Dauwer on Dec. 10 and could help break open the case.
“In almost every case we investigate, someone knows what happened and who’s responsible,” he said. “We believe the same is true in Michelle’s case. The person with this knowledge has a chance to do the right thing. They can help police identify Michelle’s killer and help bring her mother some peace of mind. There might also be someone out there who saw or heard something unusual near Broadway, Everett Avenue, or Third Street on the night of Dec. 9 into the morning of Dec. 10. They might not recognize the importance of these observations and might not have thought to share it with police. If you have this sort of information, no matter how small or peripheral it might seem, we’re asking you to share it with Chelsea or State police. Every piece of evidence counts.”
On Dec. 10, Chelsea Police responded to the area of Broadway and Congress Avenue just after 1 a.m. for a report of a woman lying in the street. Civilian witnesses told police that the woman had been walking from the direction of nearby Everett Avenue when she fell to the ground.
Emergency medical technicians rushed her to Massachusetts General Hospital, where she died later that morning.
June Dauwer said her daughter deserves justice and should remembered as a caring and loving individual. She took offense at comments in the Record last month made by other family members and friends who June believes mischaracterized her daughter.
“Michelle was a wonderful, caring and loving mother, daughter, sister, niece, cousin and friend,” she said. “She was always ready with a smile for everyone and her infectious laugh touched friends and strangers. She was full of love. She was generous and kind, even to a fault. It was deeply painful to read what some people said about Michelle while the rest of our family is still grieving her loss. Those of us who knew and loved her are still distraught over her murder. We don’t have time for gossip, innuendo, and petty remarks. Michelle was above those things and she would want us to be above them, too. We knew the beautiful girl and wonderful woman she was. Anyone who would speak badly about her must never have known her at all.”
As always, tipsters can contact Chelsea Police detectives at 617-466-4843. Those who wish to remain anonymous may also call the Chelsea Police CrimeStoppers tip line at 617-466-4880, text the word CHELSEA and their information to TIP411 (847411), or submit information online atwww.ChelseaPolice.com. If for any reason they don’t want to speak with Chelsea Police, they can also call the State Police Detective Unit at 617-727-8817.
A working fire at the base of the Beacon Street off-ramp on Feb. 21 stalled out traffic in all directions, including on the Tobin Bridge. A faulty electrical connection in an exhaust fan caused the small fire
On Friday afternoon, Feb. 21, the Chelsea Fire Department responded to 66 Beacon St. for the report of a building fire. Engine 2, Tower 1 and the Deputy Chief responded from Central Fire Station along with Engine 1 from the Prattville Station and Ladder 2 from the Mill Hill Station.
The companies responding from Central Station reported heavy traffic congestion on Broadway, which delayed their response to the fire. This was the third time on Friday the fire department was delayed trying to get through Bellingham Square while responding to an emergency incident.
As the fire department arrived, the owner of the first floor unit at 66 Beacon St. stated his bathroom exhaust fan was on fire but he believed it was extinguished. The building is a 3-story structure with one condominium unit on each floor.
Crews pulled down the exhaust fan and found fire in the ceiling extending to the floor above through an open pipe chase. Engine 2′s crew advanced a hose line into the first floor while the crew from Ladder 2 searched the upper floors to evacuate the occupants.
A working fire assignment was ordered by Deputy Chief John Quatieri, which brought an addition engine to the fire along with an ALS ambulance unit to stand by.
Additional hose lines were brought into the building to extinguish the fire on floors 2 and 3 as Engine 1 and Engine 3 arrived.
Crews worked for approximately 90 minutes to extinguish the fire and to ensure the fire had not extended further. Ladder 2 positioned their truck across the Beacon Street off ramp in order to access the roof of the building. The ramp was ordered closed which caused major traffic problems on Rt. 1 North over the Tobin Bridge.
“The property owner certainly did the right thing by calling 9-1-1,” stated Deputy Chief Quatieri. “He used baking powder to extinguish the fire and noticed some burning embers around the exhaust fan housing so he call the fire department just to make sure the fire was out. If the owner had not called 9-1-1 when he did, the extent of the fire would have obviously been much worse.”
The department’s Fire investigation Unit determined a faulty electrical connection as the cause of the fire and estimated the damage at $75,000. The fire displaced four residents.
Though he couldn’t give an exact location, City Manager Jay Ash confirmed this week that a fifth hotel has reached a tentative agreement to build on a former industrial site near Broadway at the City Line of Chelsea and Revere.
“I can confirmed that a fifth hotel has a tentative agreement to be developed here,” Ash said. “The Wyndham Hotel and Residence Inn are already open, the TownePlace Suites is under construction on Central Avenue, and the Holiday Inn will break ground if and when the snow melts. Hotel number five will build on the strength of Chelsea’s now emerged lodging market, providing more great jobs, tremendous tax growth and further momentum for even further community investment and revitalization down the road.”
The announcement is a coup for Chelsea and keeps the ball rolling on what has been a prolific expansion in hotel development in the City. While the Wyndham opened a little over 10 years ago, the other hotels have just recently opened or are currently under construction. If built, the fifth hotel would be the fourth hotel to locate in Chelsea over a two-year period.
Ash would not confirm the exact location of the 5th hotel, but he did say that it was on a former industrial site along the city’s border with Revere. Speculation is that the site is on Broadway and, if so, will serve as another powerful “Welcome to Chelsea” statement like the hotel cluster off of the Rt. 1 South exit and the TownePlace just over the Chelsea Street Bridge do.
The previous four hotels will employ 40 or more people, and contribute more than $500,000 a year in tax revenues. Ash is said to be looking at hotel five to help finance approximately $50 million in capital improvements he had identified as necessary in the coming years, including a new school to replace the Clark Avenue School and the badly-needed reconstruction of Broadway.
“We’re not going to borrow ourselves into fiscal troubles, and will, instead, be entrepreneurial in our approach to raise new dollars to support the continued rebuilding and growth of our city,” said Ash. “In some places, officials would just ask for more property taxes from existing taxpayers through a Proposition 2 1/2 override. That’s not our approach here, and, instead, we’re working our economic development and other approaches hard and effective to produce the new tax revenue necessary to support the investments we want to make and our city critically needs.”
Ash said there is no need to worry that Chelsea has too many hotels to support each of them.
“We’re in a regional market and we are thinking regionally,” said Ash, who is a recognized leader in promoting regional approaches to economic vitality. “We’ve figured out something very special here in Chelsea: we’re closer to Downtown Boston and Logan Airport than most of Boston. Add a casino into the mix and I truly believe we can support even more than five hotels, and to that end and with that belief I’m continuing to work.”
Albert J. LaFauci of East Boston, formerly of Chelsea, passed away on January 29 at the Chelsea Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center on Broadway in Chelsea where he had been receiving supportive care for the past few weeks. He was 85 years old.
Born in Boston, he grew up in Somerville and received his formal education there. Albert worked in the electronics field in quality control as a circuit board tester and trouble shooter for BLH Electronics, Inc. Waltham and Teledyne Technologies in Boston. He retired at age 65.
He resided in Chelsea for most of his life and was a resident of East Boston for the past few years. Albert enjoyed working out and was an amateur body builder who enjoyed time at Revere Beach and watching old movies.
He is survived by his beloved wife Valerie (Dalton) LaFauci of Chelsea. He was the devoted father of Diana Ligocki and her husband, Henry of Chelsea, John LaFauci of Arlington and Albert V. LaFauci and his wife, Arlene of Salem NH; dear brother of the late Nicholas LaFauci, Barbara Gibbo, and Hugo LaFauci; cherished grandfather of Henry Ligocki, Matthew Ligocki and his wife, Carrie, Albert J. LaFauci, Christina LaFauci, Anthony LaFauci and Ryan LaFauci. Funeral arrangements were entrusted to the Anthony Memorial/ Frank A. Welsh & Sons Funeral Homes. Interment was at Wildwood Cemetery in Winchester. To send expressions of sympathy, please visit www.WelshFuneralHome.com.
Member of Chelsea and East Boston Knights of Columbus; Retired Professional Floor Installer and Chelsea Soldiers Home Carpenter
Joseph Bruno, a former longtime resident of Chelsea, passed away in his Malden home after a long battle with mesothelioma. He was 86 years old.
Born and raised in Chelsea, the beloved son of the late Giuseppe and Grace Bruno, he attended local schools and graduated from Chelsea High School, class of 1945. He served in the US Army during the Korean Conflict and was honorably discharged at the rank of Corporal. He returned to Chelsea and was married to Barbara Ann Higgins and together they raised their family of eight sons and five daughters in Chelsea.
A professional floor installer since 1946, he was a member of the Carpenters and Joiners Union Local 67 & 2168. In 1971, he began working as a carpenter at the Chelsea Soldiers Home. He retired from the Home in 1989 and that same year he was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Barbara Ann. For the next 14 years, he worked as an independent floor installer and Joseph also held various second and third jobs during his career to support his family.
He was a late member of the Knights of Columbus in both Chelsea and East Boston.
He was the beloved husband of the late Barbara Ann (Higgins) Bruno; devoted father of Stephen Bruno of Melrose, Francis Bruno of Gloucester and his late wife Cheryl, Mark Bruno and his wife, Andrea of Westfield, Joseph Bruno and his companion, Karen O’Connell of Bedford NH, Linda Simko and her husband, David of Melrose, Catherine Bruno of Chelsea, David Bruno of Arlington VA, Mary Bruno and her companion, Paul Sheehan of Danvers, Elizabeth Kramer and her husband, Robert of Lawrence, Grace Kurtz and her husband, Christopher of Devils Lake, ND, Thomas Bruno of Malden, Gregory Bruno and his wife, Hilary of Wilmington DE and the late Andrew Bruno; dear brother of Jennie Gulizia of Chelsea and the late Albert Bruno, Paul Bruno, Carmelo Bruno and Marie Casey. He is also survived by 18 grandchildren.
A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at St. Rose Church on January 28. Services concluded with Interment at Holy Cross Cemetery in Malden. Should friends desire, contributions in Joseph’s memory may be made to St. Michael the Archangel Chapel, 91 Crest Ave., Chelsea MA or a charity of your choice. To send expressions of sympathy, please visit: www.WelshFuneralHome.com. Funeral Arrangements were entrusted to the care and direction of the Anthony Memorial / Frank A. Welsh and Sons Funeral Homes.
John Spada, Sr.
Member of Everett High School Basketball Hall of Fame
John was a US Army veteran who served from 1964 to 1967 during the Vietnam crisis. He was an outstanding athlete at Everett High School and is in the Everett High School Basketball Hall of Fame as well as having played football in the Orange Bowl. After graduating Everett High he went back to coach for many years.
He was the father of John A., Jr and his wife, Cher and their children: Zachary, Jake and Fallon, formerly of Everett. The loving son of the late Anthony and Loretta (Busteed) Spada, he was the beloved companion for over 20 years of Roxy Zucchori; dear brother of June Chiarello and her husband, Peter and Roseanne Grassa, all of Everett.
A Funeral Mass in celebration of John”s life will be held today, Thursday, February 13 in Our Lady of Grace Church, Nichols Street at the Chelsea /Everett Line at 10:30 a.m. Visiting prior to the Mass starting at 8:30 a.m. in the church. Relatives and friends are respectfully invited. Services will conclude with John being buried with military honors with his military family in the National Cemetery, Bourne. Arrangements are under the personal care of the Ruggiero Family Memorial Home. For more information: www.ruggieromh.com.
Retired Payroll Clerk, Lifelong Chelsea Resident
Frances Cimino, a lifelong Chelsea resident, passed away on February 4 at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston after being suddenly stricken in her home on Saturday. She was 59 years
Born and raised in Chelsea, she was the beloved daughter of Dorothy (Ducey) Cimino of Chelsea and the late Arnold Cimino. She attended local schools and graduated from Chelsea High School, Class of 1972.
She began her career as a Payroll Clerk working for various companies such as Cabot Paint, HP Hood and Polarizer and was employed by Gulf Oil working at the Chelsea Terminal and Newton Office for 12 years. She retired five years ago for medical reasons and failing health.
Frances was a well-loved, lively and high spirited individual who always brightened the lives of all to whom she was endeared. She enjoyed arts and crafts, home cooking and baking but most of all she loved time shared with her beloved nieces, nephews, grand nieces and nephews.
She was loving sister of Arnold Cimino and his wife, Carol of Revere, Catherine Terry of Everett, Dottie Lombardi and her husband, Tony of Peabody, Donna Marie Cimino of Roslindale and Susan Tanaglia and her husband, Robert of Lynn; cherished aunt of Sal Lombardi, Cindy Sambartaro, Anthony Lombardi and Christina Hebert and adored great aunt of Nino, Nicholas and Jack Sambartaro, Emma and Ava Lombardi and Rose-Marie Hebert.
A Funeral Mass was celebrated at St. Rose Church. Services concluded with Interment at Holy Cross Cemetery, Malden. To send expressions of sympathy, please visit www.WelshFuneralHome.com. Funeral Arrangements were entrusted to the care and direction of the Anthony Memorial / Frank A. Welsh and Sons Funeral Homes.
In between calls last Monday, the crew on Engine 2 – one of the busiest engines in the state and, probably, the country – stopped for a quick photo. Pictured (left to right) are Lt. Rony Gobin, Firefighter David Asci and Firefighter Rob Better.
Those working on the Chelsea Fire Department’s Engine 2 shouldn’t invest in chairs.
The engine gets so many calls and goes on so many runs, that if firefighters manning the apparatus did have chairs, they’d never be used.
“I know we do more runs on this engine in one year than a lot of fire departments do in a year with their entire contingent,” said Rob Better, one member of the company that man’s the engine. “I transferred in several years ago from Marblehead and this engine does like 1,000 more calls a year than the entire Marblehead department does. It’s like you get done with one call and then it’s on to another. A quiet night can be like 25 calls in 24 hours. It’s a busy engine for sure.”
Better and the other two firefighters on Engine 2 this past Monday stopped for a quick interview in between successive calls to Admiral’s Hill and then lower Broadway. They rarely stray too far from the Engine or take off their equipment when on duty because they will likely be called out before they can even get upstairs from the Central Fire Station’s garage.
Such was the case on Monday.
Just as they got back from Admiral’s Hill and visited for a few minutes with a reporter, they were called off for a medical call on Broadway. It was barely past noon and already they had made 12 runs since midnight.
And statistics bear that out annually, with Engine 2 being in the top 20 busiest engines in the U.S. by sheer call volume, and being in the top five busiest engines per capita in the nation.
According to Fire Department statistics, in 2007, Engine 2 responded to 3,339 calls. Since that time, the calls have increased dramatically as the City has developed. Last year, conservative estimates had them responding to 4,099 calls, though that number will probably be revised up to more than 4,200 when the books are finalized. By contrast, in 2011, Engine 2 had 4,269 call responses, making it easily one of the busiest engines in the state.
Per capita, another busy engine in the U.S. is located in Washington, D.C. and had 250 calls per 1,000 residents. Last year, Engine 2 reached 267 calls per 1,000 residents.
In comparison to others nearby:
•Boston Engine 33 – 3,546 calls (49th in the U.S.)
•Cambridge Engine 2 - 3,002 calls (79th in the U.S.)
•Brockton Engine 5 – 2,902 calls (86th in the U.S.)
•Somerville Engine 3 – 2,491 calls (107th in the U.S.)
Deputy Chief John Quatieri said most of the firefighters who choose to work on Engine 2 know what they’re getting into.
“Everything here is done with a bid process and they bid to work on that engine,” he said. “The guys on that piece know when they bid on that truck they have bid onto a busy company and they’ll be going most of the time.”
And not only are they busy, they also have to be ready for anything. While most calls are medical calls, and some calls don’t pan out, others are of the most serious of situations. Just last week, on Jan. 13, Engine 2 responded to a home on Bloomingdale Street and found a woman who was 8-months pregnant and in cardiac arrest. She was treated by the company at the scene and sent to Mass General Hospital, where she and the baby did recover.
“You really have to be ready for anything at any time,” said Engine 2 firefighter David Asci. “You’re always going on this engine and you could encounter anything. You could be responding to everything from a malfunctioning button on a fire alarm panel to a routine medical aid call to a plane crash or even a life and death situation. There are so many things that can happen in Chelsea and we would likely be the first on the scene for any number of emergencies.”
Part of the reason the engine finds itself so busy, Quatieri said, goes back to receivership in the 1980s. When the City was reorganized by the receiver, several stations were closed down and operations were consolidated into Central Fire. That was fine for quite some time, when the City was still in the dregs and new development was unheard of. Now, however, things are on the upswing and more people are in Chelsea, which in turn means more calls to the Fire Department.
“A big part of the reason they are so busy is that there used to be three stations in this part of the City and now there is just one,” he said. “They cover a lot of ground now. That engine covers a pretty large area of the city, even though Chelsea is only two square miles. They pick up the responses that were handled by three fire stations back in the 1980s.”
This situation – as well as the overtaxed Engine 2 – was a primary concern of the Matrix Report, a top to bottom review of the Fire Department unveiled in the Spring of 2013. While nearly two-thirds of the recommendations now have been address, the tough decisions in that report still remain – including whether or not to add another engine to reduce the call volumes being handled by Engine 2.
“We have had discussions with the City Manager and he is listening to us and we’re trying to find solutions,” said Quatieri. “We’ll see where that goes.”
For now, “go” is the key word, and as the members on Engine 2 laughed about not ever being able to watch a New England Patriots football game all the way through, an alarm sounded and once again they had to go.
Just where they were going next, and what they would actually find when they got there, was anybody’s guess – and part of a normal day on Engine 2.
The spirit of the season was quite evident, even though Chelsea Winter Fest moved indoors this past Saturday.
“As much as I would have loved to be out in the cold and the snow, celebrating our community in the warmth of the Mary C. Burke Complex cafetorium was certainly the way to go,” said City Manager Jay Ash, who coordinated the Chelsea Winter Fest this past Saturday.
“It was much warmer and still as festive,” said City Councillor Leo Robinson, who was one of numerous volunteers who helped more than 400 attendees enjoy games, entertainment, goodies, raffles and being together during the holiday season.
The third annual event was scheduled to return to Washington Park in Prattville after a second year move to the field outside of the Burke Complex. Washington Park was and is still lit up in lights, including the new pergola, for the event. However, with temperatures predicted to be in the low 20s and snow projected to start at the same time that festivities were set to begin, Ash made the call and inside the party went.
“Big thanks to Superintendent Mary Bourque and her terrific staff for helping us to move everything indoors in what was a wild 48 hours,” said Ash. “We cancelled some stuff, added others, and started decorating Saturday morning, all in advance of welcoming a great crowd for a fun time.”
As the first snow of the season covered Washington Park, jacketless revelers sipped hot chocolate provided by the Salvation Army and Munchkins from Dunkin’ Donuts on Everett Avenue. Kids played games like Frosty Toss and Bowling Over Santa. Families paused to watch performances by the Off Broadway dancers and students from the Chelsea High School Tri-M honor society. Pictures were taken with Frosty the Snowman and the Grinch. The toy drive table was full, as were arts and crafts tables staffed by the Chelsea Collaborative and the Chelsea Girls Scouts.
And then there were the raffles.
“Yes, we gave away a lot of great prizes, thanks to our great community supporters,” said Ash.
Among those donating sports tickets, gift certificates, toys and other prizes were: State Garden, One North of Boston, Market Basket, Chief Brian and Today’s Auto Body Kevin Kyes, Blue Man Group, Kiwanis, Representatives Eugene O’Flaherty and Kathi-Anne Reinstein, Senator Sal DiDomenico, McDonald’s, Docksides, Burger King, Fusion Foods, the Gold Mine, Tedischi’s in Cary Square, the City Café, Plaza Mexico, Madelyn Garcia Real Estate, the Residence Inn, Bella Island, Mystic Brewery, Sabor Especial and Chelsea’s newest business, King of Wings in Cary Square.
On the way out the door, everyone was treated to take home sweets by Muffin Town.
In terms of next year, Ash is already at work thinking about making the event even more special.
That according to leaders of the Chelsea Collaborative on Broadway – who have successfully led the charge this summer on several community organizing victories.
At the top of that extensive list of recent accomplishments are defeating the plan by Global Petroleum to bring Ethanol trains through Chelsea at least two times a week on the commuter rail, and secondly, organizing tenants of the Chelsea Housing Authority (CHA) in order to push for a harsher sentence for former Director Michael McLaughlin – as well as restitution for his misdeeds and a chance to address the court during his sentencing.
And of course, that’s just the top of the list.
There are, of course, still irons in the fire that include scoring thousands of dollars in withheld wages for Chelsea workers who were exploited by a local company, and procuring a major award that still cannot be completely disclosed to the public.
With all that’s going on right now at the busy community organizing office (which includes several members being out or ready to go out on maternity leave), directors find it hard to sit down for a minute and reflect on what just about any non-profit in the world would consider a “resume topping summer.”
“Both of these big victories this summer are examples of how powerful community organizing is when everyone comes together,” said Collaborative organizer Roseanne Bongiovanni – who led the charge against Global’s Ethanol train proposal. “I think we always felt we were going to win the fight against Global, but that quickly and in that way was not anticipated. When their attorney called us to say they were pulling their application, he said ‘We surrender.’ That was powerful.”
Executive Director Gladys Vega, who helped oversee the Ethanol fight and spearheaded the grass-roots organizing of CHA tenants, said Chelsea residents cannot be pushed over. She said – in Spanish terms that cannot be printed in English – that residents here are not scared to stand up.
“Chelsea has been incredible in terms of victories over the years for the community,” she said. “This summer has been particularly incredible. For me, people in Chelsea; they have guts. That’s what’s amazing about this small, poor community. They aren’t scared. You give them a few tools and they run with it and they don’t give up. They win.”
One of the most notable victories for the Collaborative’s organizing efforts this summer was uniting tenants from the CHA, who were outraged at the plea deal given to McLaughlin by federal prosecutors – a plea deal that indicated he might not get any jail time for his crimes. Given the conditions of many of the housing projects, conditions that tenants today still blame on years of neglect brought about by McLaughlin’s management, there was measurable outrage.
That outrage resulted in a visit to the Collaborative, where some outspoken tenants came through the door of the office after remembering past efforts by the organization to help them.
“The whole McLaughlin thing was being thrown under the rug and we had to do something, but we weren’t sure what,” said Vega. “I heard tenants were getting together, and they remembered we had been doing community organizing in the housing projects in the past. They remembered that and they remembered where we were and they came to us for help. Before we knew it, they came through the door and we gave them the help they needed to get action.”
And action they got.
In fact, perhaps for the first time ever, a federal judge allowed victims of government corruption to address the court as victims. It was a very rare move for a judge, but one that the Collaborative and tenants pushed for. So, July 17th, CHA tenants Mildred Valentin and Jean Fusco stood up in Boston Federal Court and told the world what they endured, and what they still endure, as a result of McLaughlin’s actions.
“The icing on the cake for this summer was when we took 300-plus signatures on a petition to (U.S. Attorney) Carmen Ortiz,” said Vega. “She put in a motion to the judge for us to speak and we were able to give the tenants a voice at the sentencing…For the judge to eventually completely ignore what Carmen Ortiz had proposed for McLaughlin’s sentence and to up his sentence to three years – that was incredible for me. That, along with the tenants speaking, that was historic, and many have told me it’s never been done.”
She credited Valentin for taking the tools given to her by the Collaborative and pounding the pavement throughout the spring – going door-to-door at the Clark Avenue and 14 Bloomingdale St. housing developments.
“Much of this would not be happening if it wasn’t for her courage to stand up with us,” said Vega.
Vega said, for her, that victory was accompanied by a record number of youth being able to participate in the Collaborative’s youth program.
“This was the year I felt that if we had 100 youth participating, that would be a lot,” she said. “We ended up with 225 in the summer youth program. That was even more incredible.”
Bongiovanni – who recently gave birth to a baby girl – said she admired the perseverance of the folks in Revere, East Boston and Chelsea – including City Manager Jay Ash and many elected officials – who persevered over a period of two years to oppose the trains.
“We fully showed Global that the power of community organizing was strong enough to cross City lines and to make them withdraw the proposal, which was especially fulfilling because they were so arrogant in the process…They were arrogant and wanted to push these trains down people’s throats,” said Bongiovanni.
There is no doubt that such accomplishments do display some measure of strength in the power of the community to rally around issues that threaten the City’s quality of life, but whether or not this summer will send a message that will ward off future noxious proposals – Bongiovanni isn’t so sure.
She harkened back to the successful victory over a Boston company that wanted to site a power plant on the banks of the Chelsea Creek next door to the Burke School Complex. The Collaborative met that head on with many outraged residents, eventually defeating the proposal.
“It’s hard to say if this summer will make a lasting statement because I thought we made that point with the power plant years ago, letting corporations know that they couldn’t come in and walk all over Chelsea,” she said. “Then waltzed in Global Oil. I think we’re going to have to continue to send this message out until environmental justice is achieved in Chelsea, Revere and East Boston…The hard part is we would have been doing so many positive things, like getting parks and other things, if we didn’t have to spend two years fighting an oil company again. We’ll continue to fight if we have to, but hopefully the message has been received.”