Council President Says She Will Bring Back Non-citizen Voting Measure

Council President Says She Will Bring Back Non-citizen Voting Measure

A small order on the Feb. 25 Council agenda likely didn’t attract a lot of attention at the regular meeting, but Council President Damali Vidot said she had hoped it could have sparked a conversation.

That measure, which she introduced, revolved around looking at the possibility of allowing non-citizens that are here legally to vote in municipal elections.

Instead, she said, she was greeted with silence – and a ‘no’ vote.

“We have people invested in our community, who own homes, have kids in the schools and own businesses, but because they are citizens, they can’t vote in our elections,” she said. “Why not have a conversation about allowing them to vote? The fact my colleagues didn’t want to at least have a conversation is a travesty.”

The roll call consisted of a 5-6 defeated vote, with Vidot and Councillors Judith Garcia, Yamir Rodriguez, Enio Lopez and Giovanni Recupero agreeing to begin talking about it.

Those voting against were Councillor Roy Avellaneda, Calvin Brown, Joe Perlatonda, Luis Tejada, Leo Robinson and Bob Bishop.

Vidot said she fully intends to bring the matter back in 90 days.

“I don’t understand why we couldn’t entertain this, to allow people to be part of the civic process,” she said. “At the minimum, I thought we could have a conversation. If I had known there would be this reaction from my colleagues, I would have organized before. I have every intention of bringing it back again in 90 days. We can’t be in the habit of saying ‘no’ without talking about it.”

Other cities in Massachusetts have voted to allow non-citizens to vote, including Cambridge and Brookline. Such a petition by the Council would require a home rule petition by the State Legislature. It would also require legislative action by the State House as well.

The measure in Chelsea would not allow non-citizens to vote in state or federal elections.

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Appreciation – Remembering Joanne Tarason

Appreciation – Remembering Joanne Tarason

The city is mourning the loss of Joanne Tarason, a popular local business owner and highly respected community leader who touched the lives of many residents with her kindness and generosity.

Mrs. Tarason died on Tuesday. She was 77.

Joanne Tarason owned Coprico Printing (formerly Sir Speedy) at 40 Washington Ave., located across the street from Chelsea City Hall. She was also a long-time member of the Rotary Club and the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce.

Mrs. Tarason donated her services to many local organizations. Though she received numerous awards in appreciation of her generous contributions and volunteer services, she always deflected the praise to others and tried to stay out of the spotlight.

“Joanne helped out so many groups in a quiet and unassuming way,” said Councillor-at-Large Leo Robinson. “She never sought recognition for her many kind deeds and generous assistance. Chelsea has a lot a great woman, community leader and friend.”

Councillor-at-Large Calvin Brown said Mrs. Tarason was “one of Chelsea’s unsung heroes.”

“Joanne did so much for so many and was admired by all,” said Brown. “It was always a pleasure to see her at local social events. We have lost a great friend to Chelsea.”

Mrs. Tarason was a goodwill ambassador for the Chamber of Commerce and the Rotary Club, always lending her support at installation of officers dinners, community fundraisers, and the Chamber’s $10,000 Pot-O-Gold Dinners.

But her reign of kindness and premier platform of helpfulness was at her local business where residents would often stop in just to say hello. She was meticulous in her work and customers came from far and wide to have their printing jobs, large and small, done at her business.

Mrs. Tarason stayed ahead of the technological advances in the printing business, acquiring new skills and equipment to meet the requests of her large clientele.

The Chelsea City Council will pay tribute to Mrs. Tarason with a moment of silence at its Feb. 25 meeting.

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Appreciation:Remembering Frankie Bernard, Who Had a Gift for Art and a Gusto for Life

Appreciation:Remembering Frankie Bernard, Who Had a Gift for Art and a Gusto for Life

Frankie Bernard was an inspiration to all, a man who never let his physical challenges deter him from his pursuits in

Frankie Bernard was a noted newspaper cartoonist and caricaturist whose artwork was enjoyed by many people.

life. With the support of a loving family and friends who enjoyed being in his presence, Frankie lived each day to its fullest.

Born with Spina Bifida, Frankie graduated from Chelsea High School in 1986 and attended the Massachusetts College of Art. He became an accomplished cartoonist and caricaturist, delighting readers on the pages of the Chelsea Record and its sister publications with his creativity and keen sense of humor.

He brought joy to visitors to Faneuil Hall Marketplace with his caricatures and taught others the craft of art and to appreciate it while serving as an instructor at Bunker Hill College and in school programs in Chelsea. Through social media, he developed friendships with other artists all over the country.

Francis J. ‘Frankie’ Bernard Jr., son of Mary L. (Manning) Bernard and the late Francis J. Bernard Sr., died on Dec. 18 after a brief illness. Frankie was 51.

“The most important thing I would want people to know is how strong he was, what he endured, and he just took it with a grain of salt,” said his sister, Maureen Bernard Jurgelewicz. “The hospitalizations, the procedures, and the tests, things most people couldn’t endure, Frankie met them head on as a fact of life.

“Interestingly enough, they told my mother that Frankie would live to be about 2 years old, so he defied that by a lot,” said Maureen. “He surprised the doctors with surviving and flourishing.”

And he did flourish, demonstrating an early gift of proficiency in art and caricatures. “That came out pretty much when he was a toddler – he was able to draw and he could pick up any song and play it on the keyboards, even though he never had lessons,” said Maureen. “You could see he had that gift at a young age. He was very artistic.”

Maureen recalled how Frankie would engage in recreational activities with the other children on Gardner Street and in the neighborhood, participating regularly in games like kickball and kick the can.

“He would try to keep up with us and he could,” said Maureen.

She describes her mother, Mary Bernard, as “an angel,” who devoted her whole life to Frankie with her care, her uplifting manner, and her kindness.

“Frankie and I had a good relationship, sometimes I was like a second mom to him, though he didn’t always like that too much,” said Maureen. “We did a lot together,  the past two years especially.”

Maureen said her brother loved Chelsea. “I tried to get him to move closer to me, but he wouldn’t budge – he loved everything about Chelsea. He loved his Chelsea friends.”

Sean Richards was one of Frankie’s closest friends, according to Maureen.

It was Maureen who wrote the beautiful eulogy that was delivered by Frankie’s nephew, Michael Bernard Jr., at the funeral Mass Dec. 22 at Our Lady of Grace Church.

Following is the eulogy:

Eulogy for Frankie

Love can cure your problems/You’re so lucky I’m around/Let my love open the door.

These are the lyrics to one of Frankie’s favorite songs from one of his favorite bands. They seem so fitting today as we pay tribute to our beloved friend, uncle, brother and son Frankie.

We love your strength and hope Frankie. Your Chelsea-strong fighting spirit. You showed us that strength means never giving up in the face of another hospital stay, another surgery or another social rejection. Your hope was for a better new day, each day, and that never waivered.

Frankie, we love that God blessed you with the gift of art. You loved to draw your caricatures and cartoons. It was your passion and profession. Other than a big tip or paycheck, you liked nothing more than to make people smile with your caricatures.

We loved your gusto for life. It was there as a kid playing kick-the-can on Gardner and Parker. Always keeping up with the neighborhood kids. It was there for concerts and karaoke as an adult. For attending your beloved Celtics and Red Sox games.  You were always ready, willing and able to pursue a good time.

Frankie we love that you were a great friend. You loved nothing more than spending time with your friends.  From your friends awakening you from hospice care in the ICU to meeting you at the PPC or the Brown Jug, you cherished each and every moment with them.

We love your love for family. As an Uncle, Brother and Son you have taught us so much. You gifted us with the lessons of patience and perseverance. You were a living example of never sweating the small stuff. You and Mom were a living example of dedication and truly unconditional love.  This love was truly the best medicine of all.

We were so lucky you were around.

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Council Passes Plastic Bag Ban, to Go into Effect December 2019

Council Passes Plastic Bag Ban, to Go into Effect December 2019

When Chelsea residents go shopping for the holidays next year, they will have to either bring their own bags or pay a dime for a heavy-duty plastic bag.

Monday night, the City Council approved an anticipated single-use plastic bag ban in the city. The ban goes into effect one year from the Dec. 17 vote.

The proposal has been discussed in committee and meetings on the ban have been held with local businesses, but the issue was not listed on Monday night’s agenda.

District 4 Councillor Enio Lopez made the motion to take the ban out of conference committee and have it voted on by the full Council. Lopez noted that single-use plastic bags are bad for the environment and are also a constant source of litter around the city.

“This is a great idea and it is in our power to do it,” said Council President Damali Vidot. “I think small businesses will be able to adjust to the change.”

District 1 Councillor Robert Bishop said he initially had some mixed feelings about the proposed ban, but said he was swayed by Sunday night’s ‘60 Minutes’ segment on the environmental dangers of plastic.

“I think plastic will kill us all if we keep going the way we are going,” said Bishop. While Bishop said plastic bags are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the dangers of plastic, banning plastic bags is a start.

District 3 Councillor Joe Perlatonda voted for the ban, but said he did have some concerns about the cost to consumers and businesses. While single-use plastic bags will be banned, consumers will be able to purchase sturdier, multi-use plastic bags for 10 cents.

Councillor-At-Large Leo Robinson shared some of Perlatonda’s concerns and recommended the proposal be kept in committee, giving local businesses more time for input.

But the majority of the Council favored taking action Monday night.

“There have been other cities that have implemented this, and you can see a huge difference in the streets,” said District 2 Councillor Luis Tejada.

The one year time-frame before the ban goes into effect will give the City time to do outreach to local businesses, and give the businesses time to go through any existing stock of plastic bags.

The ban passed with a 10-1 vote, with District 8 Councillor Calvin Brown casting the lone vote against it.

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Chelsea Man Arrested for Defacing Newly Painted Chelsea Walk Mural

Chelsea Man Arrested for Defacing Newly Painted Chelsea Walk Mural

One bad apple hasn’t spoiled a whole bunch at the Chelsea Walk, where a man was arrested last week for defacing the newly painted mural on the reclaimed Walk.

On Aug. 20, at 2:52 p.m., a CPD officer was flagged down in the area of Luther Place by a male party who stated someone destroyed their property and defaced City property.

The reporting party was a painter hired by the City to paint a mural on the Chelsea Walk. The Walk has been a no-go area for decades, and community members and GreenRoots have staked a claim to the Walk this summer in an effort to make it more inviting.

That has included painting a mural and hosting events there, and some people who have frequented the Walk for nefarious reasons haven’t appreciated the effort.

The officer reviewed a city camera in the area and was able to identify the male subject who committed the vandalism.

The male was located and placed under arrest.

Winston Brown, 51, of 4 Washington Ave., was charged with vandalizing property.

 

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Controversial Parking Plan Gets Tabled at Council, Still a Victory for Vidot

Controversial Parking Plan Gets Tabled at Council, Still a Victory for Vidot

After many hours of meetings and dozens of discussions, a parking plan putting put forth by Council President Damali Vidot has been tabled by a vote of 6-4.

But within that vote was the promise by City Manager Tom Ambrosino to do a comprehensive parking study that would focus on resident needs and be done by this fall.

“Sometimes, you put things forth knowing you won’t get support; but as an opportunity to allow councilors to show where they stand to their constituency for when Election season comes,” said Vidot after the vote Monday night. “The parking ordinance served its purpose by initiating conversation and the City finally getting a comprehensive parking study going. It’s a win-win for the people of Chelsea.”

Vidot’s plan would have applied to developers who asked to waive more than 10 percent of the required parking under the zoning ordinances. Those that do ask for such relief would then be required to put in apartment leases that residents of the development could not apply for or receive City residential parking stickers.

One of the main problems with many developments, it has been explained, is that they waive the parking requirements with the assumption that residents won’t utilize cars. However, Vidot and other councillors have said that it isn’t the case, and resident parking is being taken up by those in new developments with nowhere to park.

By precluding the parking stickers for those who have sought relief for more than 10 percent of parking, Vidot hoped to open up spaces for existing residents.

“We have a serious problem with parking,” she said. “That’s one reason I became a city councilor…I’m not sure if this is the best thing personally. I speak to residents and they say it is, but I speak to businesses and non-profits who are in the development world and they say not to do it. I was elected by the residents, so I say yes to this.”

Many, however, had grave concerns that it would squash new development.

“I do speak in opposition to the amendment as proposed,” said City Manager Tom Ambrosino. “I understand the sentiment, but the 10 percent figure will surely hamper out ability to improve the downtown and do one thing this Council is intent on doing and that’s building more affordable housing. I ask that you consider deferring action until we finish any parking study.”

Councillor Leo Robinson said he could not support the matter.

“I have concerns about how we’re going about this,” he said. “We’re in the process of finishing a parking study. At this point, I think we should be able to work on a study first.”

Those voting for the parking plan were Vidot, Enio Lopez, Bob Bishop, and Giovanni Recupero.

Those voting to table the matter were Yamir Rodriguez, Calvin Brown, Luis Tejada, Leo Robinson, Joe Perlatonda, and Judith Garcia.

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Residency Ordinance for Police, Fire Hires Holds Firm at Council

Residency Ordinance for Police, Fire Hires Holds Firm at Council

A last ditch effort by Councillor Roy Avellaneda to reverse the new police and fire residency ordinance successfully passed by Councillor Giovanni Recupero failed on Monday night, June 4, in a close vote.

It represented seven years of twists and turns for Recupero’s number one issue and one that has been before the Council in several forms about a dozen times.

On Monday, the victory came in a narrow defeat of Avellaneda’s proposal, 5-6, which allowed the proposal to become the new law.

Those voting to keep the residency ordinance were Councillors Damali Vidot, Enio Lopez, Bob Bishop, Luis Tejada, Joe Perlatonda and Recupero – a one vote margin of victory.

Those voting to reconsider and repeal the ordinance were Councillors Yamir Rodriguez, Calvin Brown, Avellaneda, Leo Robinson and Judith Garcia.

“This is a good thing,” said Recupero. “It’s something the citizens of Chelsea wanted and I’ve fought for it for seven years solid. Now the councillors wanted it too. I think it’s good for the City and for the people. The police and fire can live in the neighborhood and understand the people and the people can understand them and respect them. The young men and women of the city will relate to them because they live in the same community.”

The matter will apply to anyone hired in the Police or Fire Department after July 31, 2018. It will require them to live in Chelsea for five years after starting on the job. After five years, they can move out of the city if they choose.

The negative came in that to get the measure, it had to become a collective bargaining issue. That meant that the entire Police and Fire Departments would get a raise in order to include the new condition in their contracts. Even those for whom the measure doesn’t apply will get additional pay to accept the new condition.

“Hey, it’s good for those on the department too,” said Recupero. “They’re all going to get a raise, but we’re going to get new officers that want to live in Chelsea.”

Councillor Leo Robinson said he was against the measure because of the cost. He said he was once in favor of residency, but that changed when he learned about the collective bargaining costs.

“The bottom line is you have 40 police living in the city and 26 firefighters right now,” he said. “ When we have to go and negotiate with the union that means 110 police and 96 firefighters get raises. That’s $200,000 we’ll have to give them. I think it’s foolish to do. They think it’s a great thing. You have Bob Bishop voting against the budget because he says it out of control and then he votes for this without knowing what it costs.”

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On the Books:Council Votes to Limit Recreational Marijuana with Zoning Ordinance

On the Books:Council Votes to Limit Recreational Marijuana with Zoning Ordinance

The City Council voted in favor of a proposal put forward by City Manager Tom Ambrosino to limit the siting of recreational marijuana retail stores and cultivation facilities.

The vote came on an 8-2 majority after an amendment by Councillor Roy Avellaneda failed to get the eight votes needed for passage. Avellaneda and Councillor Calvin Brown voted against the City Manager’s proposal. Councillor Luis Tejada was absent from the meeting.

City Manager Tom Ambrosino said they have limited zoning areas for retail establishments to the Industrial Zone and the Highway Business zone. Marijuana cultivation and lab facilities would be limited to the Industrial Zone only.

The state Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) has issued regulations regarding the numbers of facilities allowed in each municipality and Chelsea could have up to four retail licensees. The CCC will begin accepting application on April 2 and will potentially begin issuing them on July 1 – though the July 1 date is still very much in the air at the state level right now.

Ambrosino said it was imperative for the City to get something on the books now to limit the locations for these establishments.

“I have proposed an ordinance to try to accommodate this new industry in a way I think is reasonable,” he said. “You do need to pass some ordinance to regulate this new industry to ensure the entire city isn’t open to establishments in this new industry.”

There was a great deal of discussion, though, before the vote was logged to pass Ambrosino’s proposal.

Avellaneda had an amendment that would have eliminated the Industrial Zones as an area for retail, and would have included the Shopping Center district instead – which is in places like the Mystic Mall/DeMoula’s and the Parkway Plaza.

He said siting cultivation facilities in the Industrial Zone is a no-brainer, but he said retail of any kind, even marijuana, doesn’t belong in an industrial area.

“This will be a storefront,” he said. “You don’t picture this in the middle of some warehouse where there are no stairs and a loading dock and lifts for pallets in front. When you think about the retail, we think of this, we should think of it like a jewelry store…You have no public transportation in the Industrial Zone. You’re not taking the bus down Marginal Street or Eastern Avenue…This proposal is drawn up by individuals thinking about this like it was 20 years ago and not today.”

Avellaneda had some measured support for his amendment, but it did eventually fail, getting only six of the eight votes needed.

Those voting for his amendment included Councillors Enio Lopez, Yamir Rodriguez, Bob Bishop, Giovanni Recupero, and Judith Garcia. Those voting against it were Councillors Damali Vidot, Calvin Brown, Leo Robinson, and Joe Perlatonda.

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2018 Black History Month

2018 Black History Month

CHEL_20180215_A1

The Chelsea Black Community’s 2018 Black History Month Celebration continued Tuesday with an art exhibit opening at the City Hall Gallery. Pictured are some of the guests at the event, from left, Councillor-at-Large Calvin Brown, Beverly Martin-Ross, Sharon Caulfield, Councillor Luis Tejada, Yahiya Noor and son, Khasim Noor, Henry Wilson, Lisa Santagate, Councillor-at-Large Leo Robinson, CBC President Joan Cromwell, and Ronald Robinson. The next Black History Month event is a Taste of Culture Cook-Off Monday at 5 p.m. at La Luz de Cristo Church, 738 Broadway.

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Council Continues to Push for Appointed Board Reforms

Council Continues to Push for Appointed Board Reforms

By Seth Daniel

By most accounts, the order put in by Councillor Giovanni Recupero on Monday night to effectively put term limits on members of appointed boards and commissions in the city would have been voted down in year’s past.

But the new Council has a new outlook, and the order was approved and pushed to a Committee on Conference by a vote of 7-4 on Monday night.

The measure calls for the Council to adopt a policy that would require the Council not to be able to re-appoint any member of a Board or Commission if they have served two consecutive terms already. The provision would only take effect if someone else in Chelsea is willing to serve on the Board. If no one else is interested, then the re-appointment could go through.

“I’m not for anyone serving over and over and over,” said Recupero. “They need fresh ideas. Some of these people on the boards have been there 20 years. Nothing changes with that. It’s all just the status quo. I’m even for term limits on the Council. I don’t think anyone should serve more than 10 years. It should be 10 years and then you’re out. Same for the Boards and Commissions.”

Recupero’s order did get some pushback, with opposing votes from Councillors Roy Avellaneda, Leo Robinson, Yamir Rodriguez and Calvin Brown.

However, seven other councillors were behind Recupero’s idea.

It continued a hot debate that began last year when Councillor Roy Avellaneda attempted to not re-appoint License Commission member Ken Umemba. That political skirmish led to Councillors Vidot and Enio Lopez presenting an order last fall that called for an effort to have more diversity on the City’s boards.

That was followed up by Vidot unearthing in the Charter that the City had not been advertising the open positions in the paper due to an oversight. That has now begun on a quarterly basis.

Vidot said the matter is now moved to a Committee on Conference.

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