Supt. Mary Bourque explaining CHS’s five-year vision during a panel discussion and visit from Gov. Charlie Baker and his administration last Weds., Sept. 5. Baker came to CHS to review and hear about Chelsea’s innovative college credit program in association with Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC).
A recent news article in The Boston Globe quoted a number of reportedly important RepubIican party members who asserted that they have been disappointed in the performance of Gov. Charlie Baker because he has been “too liberal.”
They are upset with his support both for social causes they deem “liberal” and for his assent to the recently-enacted, so-called “grand bargain” that will raise the minimum wage, among other items.
However, what they really seem to be upset about is that Charlie Baker rates as the most popular governor in the country among his own constituents. They would prefer a governor who is combative, negative, and insulting — in other words, they crave a Donald Trump at the governor’s desk, who is intent only on sowing seeds of hatred and discontent.
When you think about the disaster in Washington, as well as the bitterness that exists in many states among governors and their rivals, thank goodness we have Charlie Baker at the helm of our ship of state.
Massachusetts stands out among the the states in many measurable ways (such as our public schools’ performance), but chiefly we stand out because of the respect that our state’s leaders have for each other and the manner in which they work together.
They conduct our state’s business by the twin maxims that it is possible to disagree without being disagreeable and that politics is the art of compromise.
What these so-called Republicans are ignoring about Charlie Baker are four things:
First and foremost, he is as honest and straightforward as any governor who has served us;
Second, he campaigned in support of the issues he has signed into law. In short, he has kept his promises to the people who elected him — what a novel concept for a politician!;
Third, he is a Republican in Massachusetts — a True Blue state with veto-proof majorities in the Democratic-controlled legislature. Yet, Gov. Baker and the legislature have achieved as much for the people of our state in the past four years as ever have been accomplished by previous administrations — including Democratic ones; and
Finally, Charlie Baker has appointed people in his administration who actually know what they are doing and who are dedicated to public service, such as Jay Ash, the secretary of housing and economic development.
The bottom line is that the vast majority of the people in Massachusetts believe that our state is headed in the right direction and they attribute that to our governor, Charlie Baker.
Apparently, there are some who don’t agree and that certainly is their right to do so.
However, we are glad that Charlie Baker has failed to heed their calls for rancor and divisiveness. Massachusetts is moving forward — and the administration of Gov. Charlie Baker undeniably has played a large role in our success in the past four years.
Chelsea officials joined Governor Charlie Baker and Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash for the announcement of the plan for the modernization and new construction of new housing units at the corner of Central Avenue and Willow Street. Front row, from left, are City Councillors Matthew Frank, Enio Lopez, Leo Robinson, Damali Vidot, Dan Cortell, Roy Avellaneda, Judith Garcia, and Giovanni Recupero. Back row, from left, are Chelsea Police Chief Brian Kyes, State Undersecretary Chrystal Kornegay, Secretary Jay Ash, Gov. Charlie Baker, State Rep. Roselee Vincent, and City Manager Thomas Ambrosino.
While Jay Ash was city manager and leading the community to national All-America City award recognition, he initiated an idea for a new housing partnership to modernize the Innes Apartments on the corner of Central Avenue and Willow Street.
When he became the secretary of housing and economic development in the Gov. Charlie Baker administration, Ash brought his exciting concept to the Governor.
Yesterday, the two men, the 6-feet-6-inch Governor of the Commonwealth and the 6-feet-7-inch Cabinet Secretary stood side by side and joined Undersecretary of Housing and Community Development Chrystal Kornegay in announcing the new partnership to support modernization and new construction of housing units at the corner of Central Avenue and Willow Street, a block from the Jordan Boys and Girls Club.
The area, known warmly here as the “Central Avenue Projects” – where Chelsea kids like Elliot Katzman and Richard Band lived before going on to college and becoming successful in their careers – will in the next few years welcome a brand new development consisting of 320 new units of housing, 96 of which will serve a low-income demographic. Joseph Corcoran of Joseph J. Corcoran Company in Boston will lead the development team.
“This is actually a brainchild of Secretary Ash’s,” Korengay told the assemblage of city officials and other guests. “One of the first things he said was that he was trying to do this for years in Chelsea. So this is his baby.”
Baker, who enjoyed a warm reception from Chelsea officials, credited Ash for his vision of the project.
“One of the reasons it was important to us to find people who work in our administration who could bring feet-on-the-ground, local community knowledge to their jobs and responsibilities associated with state government is because they’re [local government and state government] not far apart,” said Baker.
Baker said he wanted people in his administration who could “build on some of the thoughts and ideas they had when they served in local government,” such as Ash who transformed the city and guided its resurgence during his universally hailed 17-year tenure as city manager.
According to Baker, the state’s goal with the new development in Chelsea is “to try to take advantage of both creative opportunities on the development side and an interest in our part in continuing to develop housing and work with Housing Authorities to help them renovate, upgrade, and replace some of their existing housing.”
Baker introduced Ash as “the guy who came up with this idea.”
“I may have had the idea but the idea wouldn’t be possible without the great leadership we have with the Governor, who takes great ideas and makes them happen,” said Ash.
The Clark University scholar-athlete said he was pleased to be working again on a local project with the Chelsea City Council and his successor, City Manager Thomas Ambrosino.
Ash said the new project is another positive step for the Chelsea Housing Authority. “We’re in a place now where the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is pleased to stand in front of everybody that wants to listen and say, ‘we have faith and confidence in what’s happening in the Chelsea Housing Authority.’’’ “We’re so pleased with the leadership that [CHA Executive Director] Al Ewing continues to provide and the board continues to offer.”
State Reps. Roselee Vincent and Dan Ryan thanked the team of Baker, Ash, and Kornegay for the state’s continued commitment to providing housing opportunities for gateway cities such as Chelsea.
Ambrosino told the assemblage that Chelsea “is really very excited” about the potential development.
“Talking with Al Ewing, we both feel that this could be a signature model for public/private partnerships between Housing Authorities and the private sector,” said Ambrosino. “This is going to bring 224 market-rate units which will not only substantially enhance this area but help to alleviate the housing crunch in this region.”
Corcoran said his company will be partnering with SunCal of Irvine, California in the development of the housing units. Corcoran said the current Innes Apartments will be torn down and an entirely new development will rise on the site.
“All the current residents have a right to come back to it,” said Corcoran, adding that there is a planning grant to study the plan’s logistics with the Chelsea Housing Authority.
“I expect in a month we’ll have a rough timetable of what we have to do to think it through and communicate with the residents,” said Corcoran. “We will communicate a lot with the residents and then out to the greater community. A good goal would be to start construction in 18 months.”
Perhaps it all started when Chelsea High School (CHS) sophomore Charlie Rustigian was only about eight years old and he encountered a boy at school who didn’t know what a birthday party was.
Charlie’s grandmother Peggy Foulco, who has raised him with her husband, Mike, said she had a $50 bill that she planned to give Charlie to put in his savings account, but it had mysteriously disappeared.
“I told him to tell me the truth and not to lie and he wouldn’t get in trouble,” said Peggy Foulco. “He told me it was a boy’s birthday and he had never had a gift before. He told me he wanted to give the $50 to the boy because he had more than the boy would ever have. He said he had been talking to the boy and he had never had a gift and didn’t even know what a birthday party was. Charlie could’t believe it and told him how great birthday parties are. Then, I guess he gave the boy his $50 bill so the boy could get a gift and have a birthday party. He wanted that boy to experience a birthday and that’s just how Charlie has always been.”
Charlie said he has always had a feeling that others were more important than he was.
“I tend to care about other people and am sensitive to them and want to know how they are doing,” he said at his Heard Street home, which was burned down in a large fire in September 2014. “When I find that someone isn’t doing as well as I am, I just have a sense of wanting to help them a little bit.”
And not to mention his family, including his uncle Paul Rustigian.
Both Paul and Charlie began Project Chelsea Opening Doors over three years ago, and around their kitchen table and with the help of Rev. Sandra Whitley, they have amassed a volunteer organization that is doing everything possible to eliminate student and veteran homelessness in Chelsea.
It all started when Charlie was at the Wright Middle School and, through a teacher, learned that there were more than 100 students in the schools that were homeless.
“There were students in our school who didn’t have anywhere to go after school was over,” said Charlie. “I was shocked to hear that, that I could be walking by kids who were homeless and didn’t have a place to go.”
He went home and summoned a family meeting – a staple of the Heard Street home – and they discussed the issue of homelessness in Charlie’s school. Then they set to work, collaborating with Rev. Whitley and starting the project to meet the needs of homeless children. But Charlie wasn’t interested in meeting their needs, he wanted to end the problem.
There had been 110 kids in the schools who were homeless, and by the end of the first year, when he had vowed to finish the problem, there were still homeless kids.
“Charlie didn’t understand why we hadn’t fixed the problem,” said Paul. “He said he’s always been taught to come to adults with problems and they would do their best to fix them, but this hadn’t been fixed. I tried to tell him that things like this are very complex and there’s a lot of bureaucracy and protocol in solving a big problem. He still didn’t understand why it was that so many smart people had been working on the problem and had the resources, but there were still homeless kids.”
It launched their current campaign whereby they take trips with volunteers regularly each month to Rosie’s Place in Boston to serve the homeless. They also compile a detailed list with the assistance of the schools of homeless kids and their needs.
Some ask for pillows, or crib sheets or shoes, and the needs are fulfilled by Open Doors – sometimes with Charlie himself spending his allowance to buy the items.
“We had identified the needs of an 11th grader and she needed a pillow,” said Paul. “She was so excited about that pillow and we didn’t understand why.”
Added Charlie, “She had been sleeping on a hoodie or jeans. She had never had a pillow before.”
The pillows cost $2.37 each at Wal-Mart, but they were out of reach for this young lady.
Paul said it’s those things that really push him forward.
“The thing that really energized me is that people have made up their mind about certain segments of the population,” he said. “A lot of people believe you’ve done something to deserve to be homeless. People often think it’s the 70-year-old drunk under the bridge, but it really isn’t that. When people learn that it’s children who are homeless and their families, it’s amazing how people were willing to open up because it’s a population that isn’t to blame. We have a need for little toddler shoes, and you often don’t see the face of the people who are homeless, but I hold those shoes in my hand and that’s a person. How can you blame that?”
Still, today, there is a significant number of kids in the schools who are homeless, with the latest count of 63 families and 90 kids in November. Still, Charlie continues to give presentations to groups and spread the word to his classmates and teachers.
“It’s the right thing to do and that’s why I do it,” he said. “Someone has to do it. This can happen to anyone.”
And it did – even to Charlie.
In September 2014, a horrendous fire on the street behind his house erupted and took with it several homes. Charlie’s grandparents’ house on Heard Street was totally burnt out. The family had to leave for 395 days, only just recently returning to their totally rebuilt home.
“Charlie realized that if it wasn’t for his support network and for insurance, he could be homeless now too,” said Paul. “It was a five-alarm fire and it took our home. You can become homeless because of a fire, losing a job, being unable to pay bills or getting sick. These are things that are beyond your control. We were fortunate to have insurance; others aren’t. I think we lose sight of that.”
Others might lose sight, but the Rustigian family has not and likely will not.
Charlie said he will continue his quest to end homelessness in the schools and has a new goal.
“I’d like to see it that by the time I graduate, there will be zero homel
Chelsea High sophomore Charlie Rustigian and his uncle, Paul Rustigian, are the backbone of a project to end homelessness amongst children in the schools called Project Chelsea Opening Doors. The three-year old effort started when Charlie learned kids in his school were homeless, and he wanted to put an end to that problem.
ess families,” the soft-spoken young man said. “I think if we keep going the route we are on, it can be done. As more people are informed, it gets pushed out. Sometimes I write a story about this and share it with the class. When I read it, every time I get the ‘ohhs’ and ‘ahhs’ from the students and the teachers because they don’t know.”
Certainly if they knew Charlie Rustigian or his family, they would know.
Governor Charlie Baker and Chelsea Clock CEO JK Nicholas cut the ribbon at the dedication ceremony for the Chelsea company’s new headquarters and factory on Second Street. Baker praised the company for its outstanding 118-year tradition and heritage of producing the finest quality clocks in the United States. Participating in the ribbon-cutting ceremony are, from left, State Rep. Dan Ryan, City Councilor Dan Cortell, State Sen. Sal DiDomenico, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash, Chelsea Clock CEO JK Nicholas, Chelsea Clock COO Anthony LaChapelle, City Council President Leo Robinson, City Manager Tom Ambrosino, and Chelsea developer Anthony Simboli.
Governor Charlie Baker joined executives, employees, and guests of the Chelsea Clock Company to dedicate the company’s new headquarters and factory in Chelsea, Massachusetts. The historic company, which handcrafts the finest quality clocks in America, has been crafting, selling, repairing, and restoring clocks and nautical instruments for the past 118 years.
The company’s recent move from its original location, a building it occupied since its founding in 1897, took more than one month. The complicated effort included tracking, organizing, and moving more than 100,000 parts – some minuscule – which are used in restoring and assembling clocks and nautical instruments as well as 55 pieces of manufacturing equipment–some state-of-the-art and some historical equipment still in use.
Each Chelsea product is a timeless, handcrafted work of art, produced to the company’s exacting standards, and often passed down from generation to generation. Every American President since Theodore Roosevelt has owned a Chelsea.
“Chelsea Clock holds the living memory of Massachusetts’ history and is truly a national treasure,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Generations have marked the passage of time by the hands made here in Chelsea, and I’m honored to join the company as a new chapter in its own history begins.”
“We are proud that Chelsea Clock has been making the finest clocks in America right here in Chelsea for the past 118 years,” said JK Nicholas, CEO of Chelsea Clock. “With this move, we have recommitted to the City of Chelsea, MA, and we are thrilled that our new home will enable us to continue this tradition and continue manufacturing in Chelsea for decades to come.”
The company’s heritage is rooted in the tradition of keeping time at sea and in handcrafting the authentic nautical timepieces that have been used on some of the world’s finest ships and sailing vessels for more than one hundred years.
Chelsea clocks can be purchased at fine retailers, including Shreve Crump & Low, Tiffany & Co., and Ralph Lauren, as well as on the company’s website chelseaclock.com.
It’s now official that there will be no Summer Olympics in 2004 in the City of Boston. Perhaps things could have been different with a better strategy of rolling out the plan, but the proposal never garnered a clear-cut majority, either of residents or the politicians, who wanted to see the Olympics held in Boston. We were anxiously awaiting whether Governor Charlie Baker — who has been doing a great job, in our opinion, in taking command of our state — favored having the Olympics here or was going to say he didn’t want Boston to host the Games — but all that does not matter now with the USOC pulling Boston’s bid. (The Governor was waiting for the results of a $250,000 study before speaking for or against Boston hosting the Games.)
Governor Charlie Baker, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash, Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian, and Senator Sal DiDomenico pose for a picture during last Friday night’s annual DiDomenico St. Patrick’s Day Celebration and Roast in Charlestown. While the lineup of elected officials behind him could have starred as the Celtics front line (all over 6’6”), DiDomenico stole the show as the host of the popular event.
Opioid and prescription drug abuse is on the rise in Massachusetts and has been for awhile. In the month of January, there were several overdoses in this area. Fortunately first responders arrived to assist many of these individuals by administering Narcan.
We urge Governor Charlie Baker not to debate the word “cuts” and let the $5 million be added to the budget to increase the number of substance abuse counselors in the state. The funding of Narcan and the training programs for individuals who administer Narcan must be increased.
In our region we know of deaths that are occurring due to opiate overdoses. Substance abuse is a very serious problem facing numerous families.
The $5 million the Governor is looking to save is miniscule in relation to the $32 billion state budget. Certainly opioid abuse is an issue that can’t wait until tomorrow to be addressed. The Governor said that this issue would be a top priority in his administration. Attorney General Maura Healey is leading an effort to address opioid and prescription drug abuse. We hope these two newly elected state officials can work together – with the right amount of funding – to fully combat the problem.
Mahatmi Gandhi once said, “A nation’s greatness is measure by how it treats its weakest members.”
And this issue is an example of the message that Gandhi was trying to convey.
Pictured at the ICBA Hall of Fame Banquet are, from left, Charlie Anderson, Barbara Bambery, Hall of Fame inductee Richie Halas, Linda Halas, Courtney Halas, Colby Halas O’Connor, and Michael O’Connor.
By the time Richie “Hawk” Halas was a senior at Chelsea High School, he had already made appearances on Jim Britt’s “Winning Pins” and Don Gillis’ “Candlepin Bowling” television shows.
Halas, who grew up bowling at George Michelson’s Broadway Lanes atop Slaton’s, was just beginning a majestic career in the popular sport that drew consistently high ratings each week on Channel 5.
Halas rose to the top echelon of bowling, becoming a regular on television and a popular competitor and respected sportsman on the professional tour.
Halas was formally recognized as one of the all-time greats in October, earning induction in to the International Candlepin Hall of Fame at an awards banquet held at DiBurro’s Function Facility in Haverhill.
With his wife, Linda, and his daughters, Colby and Courtney, in attendance, Halas accepted the beautiful plaque that is given to each bowling legend at the banquet.
Halas was typically humble in his acceptance speech, telling the capacity crowd, “When I started bowling 55 years ago, I never envisioned that one day I would become a part of this esteemed Hall of Fame group. I am truly honored to be joining the candlepin bowling elite.”
He mentioned some of the other greats with whom he competed in the sport, including Joe Donovan, Pete Ianuzzo, Fran Onorato, Charlie Jutras, Mike Morgan, and his brother, the late Tom Morgan.
Mike Morgan, one of Halas’s opponents on the Don Gillis show, said he was touched by the speech.
“That was awesome,” said Morgan. “I’m so grateful to Richie that he mentioned my brother, Tom, in his remarks.”
Halas also thanked Chucky Vozzella, proprietor of Central Park Lanes in East Boston, for his efforts in “keeping the sport going strong.” Halas competes for the Central Park team in the Friday Night Pro League.
Halas saved his best for last, noting that “I would not be standing here today accepting this award without the support, understanding, and love of my family, my wife, Linda, my two daughters, Colby and Courtney, and my mother, Phyllis. Thank you.
Jonathan Boudreau, one of the up and coming stars in the sport, said he considers Hawk Halas a role model for young bowlers like himself.
“I look up to Hawk Halas – he’s a great guy, a class act, and one of better bowlers the game has ever seen,” said Boudreau. “I hope I can achieve all he has in this game and leave the lasting impression on others as he has in his incredible career as a professional bowler.”
City Manager Jay Ash in front of his door at City Hall on Wednesday, a door that he will be exiting from before the end of the year in order to take a state cabinet post with the Charlie Baker administration.
City Manager Jay Ash announced officially on Tuesday evening that he will be leaving City government by the end of the year to take a state cabinet post as Secretary of the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development (EOHED).
Ash, who just turned 53, said he was offered a vague opportunity last Wednesday, and was able to sit down with Gov.-Elect Charlie Baker on Sunday evening. By Monday, it was official.
The secretary of EOHED oversees everything from economic development policies to professional licensure to housing.
“I am on the Governor-elect’s transition team and I will be taking the post as secretary,” said Ash on Wednesday morning in his City Hall office. “I’m trying to think about transitions here in Chelsea too. I’ve talked with each city councillor and the council president. My last official act will be to make sure everything is in order and explained out to the political leadership and the next City Manager so they can hit the ground and run with it. The good news is the City is in great financial shape.”
Ash said he supported Baker early on in the election, and not because he expected a job. He said he has known Baker since the 1990s as Baker was serving in state government and was tasked with overseeing Chelsea’s receivership. Ash became familiar with Baker then and the two have known each other for quite some time.
He said he is excited about Baker’s administration and saw it as an opportunity to really affect change on a greater level. In fact, he said, it’s not the first time a “big job” from the state has presented itself. In those instances, he has turned down comparable positions to stay in Chelsea.
This time, however, something was different.
“Our meeting on Sunday went great and his grasp for what’s happening in Chelsea and his vision for the Commonwealth is something I like,” said Ash. “There are still some things we have to work out, but it was as close to looking into a mirror, both literally and figuratively, as you could get.
“Timing is everything in the world,” he continued. “There have been other opportunities to serve in the past, but at the time, I really wanted to see the FBI project get in the ground. I think it’s the most significant project Chelsea has seen or will see in years…I felt in those times that I hadn’t completed the work I wanted to complete here. There’s still a lot of work to be done here, but the momentum now is such that I feel I can walk away…and the things I have touched here will be built upon.”
Ash said he will have to have a statewide focus – spending as much time outside of Greater Boston as inside Greater Boston. He’ll be the secretary for the whole state, and so that means he’ll have to become as familiar with western Massachusetts as he is with Broadway Chelsea. He said he would have particular focus on job creation and using the development models he created here in Chelsea.
“I hope what I’ve been able to do here will transfer statewide and I’m excited to get started on that,” he said. “The Federal Reserve Bank just reported that we have created the most jobs of any Gateway City in the state over the last 12 years. Job creation such as that will be a big focus I believe.”
Ash was unique for a City Manager in that he grew up in Chelsea and graduated from Chelsea High School – using every bit of his 6’7″ frame to become a star basketball player in high school and in college at Clark University.
After college, he did a “short and unsuccessful” stint as a packaging machine salesman. When that didn’t pan out, he came back home to Chelsea and found a spot getting coffee for the staff in former State Rep. Richie Voke’s office. After Ash worked his way up to chief of staff in the office, Voke lost a contentious battle for House Speaker to Dorchester’s Tom Finneran – thus forcing Ash to make a decision about his career.
At the time, former Chelsea City Manager Guy Santagate was leading the charge to form a new city government out of the embers and ashes of the dreaded receivership era.
He was looking for great, local talent; Ash was all in.
“When it became known that I was leaving the State House, the first call that came to me was from Guy Santagate,” said Ash. “He offered me the job as Planning Director and I took it.”
That was 1996.
On Sept. 6, 2000, Santagate left office and the City Council took a chance on the dashing Planning Director who was bent on redeveloping Everett Avenue as an Urban Renewal District.
“The City Council took a chance on me any number of times,” he said. “The role that the City Council has played in getting things to happen here is very much under appreciated.”
Said Councillor Leo Robinson – who is only one of two councillors left that appointed Ash, “As they say in baseball, we hit a home run. Jay is well liked all through state government and he’s still going to be in a position to help Chelsea. That said, it’s a sad day for the City, but a new day for the City.”
Some 14 years after taking the helm of City Manager, Ash has a list of accomplishments that are literally one mile long, but the one accomplishment he takes most seriously is the fact that he and others have changed Chelsea from a laughing stock to a statewide model.
“Leaving here is the true essence of bittersweet,” he said. “Chelsea is my hometown. I bleed red and black just like the Chelsea High colors. We’ve had a really great run here. There’s been a tremendous amount of support here from everyone. The thing I leave with that means the most is that people look at Chelsea differently than they did when I first came here under Guy Santagate in 1996. That makes me truly happy.”