The Neighborhood Developers (TND) announced this week in a release ahead of its 40th Anniversary celebration that long-time Executive Director Ann Houston will be departing to become the new CEO of a new, merged community development corporation.
“TND will honor outgoing Executive Director Ann Houston as she takes on the new role of CEO of Opportunity Communities, where she will continue to provide leadership and vision to TND through this exciting new partnership,” read the announcement.
Houston was not immediately available for comment on the move.
TND declined to comment on the matter as well this week.
The announcement indicated Houston would be the new CEO of Opportunity Communities.
That new collaboration is with Roxbury’s Nuestra Communidad Community Development Corporation (CDC), a partnership between that organization and TND that launched in April.
“In April 2018, we launched a company for back office operations known as Opportunity Communities (OppCo) with a sister organization, The Neighbor Developers (TND), based in Chelsea,” read the website for the new partnership. “This is our newest partnership, designed to achieve better results for the Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan neighborhoods we serve. There is no change to Nuestra’s board, staff, leadership, mission, office, programs, projects, agreements, relationships and commitments to neighbors and local stakeholders.
“This new company allows Nuestra and TND to combine our back office operations and staff,” it continued. “By centralizing our accounting, purchasing, data collection, HR, IT and other management functions, Nuestra can most efficiently deliver high-quality, effective services and programs for Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan.”
Houston has been the face of TND since it planted its flag in the Box District many years ago and built out several blocks of what used to be derelict industrial properties. Using a formula of creating civic awareness in a mixed-income development of subsidized and market-rate housing, TND created a successful model in the Box District.
Since that time, they have developed other properties in Chelsea, including the old American Legion Post that houses homeless veterans in supportive housing. They are currently developing the old French Club into affordable housing.
In year’s past, TND moved into Revere to develop affordable and senior housing there. It has just expanded to Everett, where a proposal is on the table for a large senior housing development there on the former site of St. Therese’s Church campus.
A heated discussion between the candidates for Suffolk County District Attorney took place in a packed room at Suffolk University Law School on Thursday, May 3.
The event was moderated by Meghan Irons, the social justice reporter at The Boston Globe, and was hosted by Boston Wards 3, 4, and 5 Democratic committees, Suffolk Law School, Boston NAACP, MassVOTE, and the Mass. Dems Latino Caucus.
Candidates Evandro Carvalho, Massachusetts state representative from Dorchester, Attorney Linda Champion, Greg Henning assistant district attorney, Shannon McAuliffe director at Roca, an organization that disrupts the cycle of poverty, and Rachel Rollins, Chief Legal Counsel to the Massachusetts Port Authority, were ready to answer questions during the forum.
“About 77 percent of DA races go un-contested across the U.S.,” said Rahsaan Hall, Director of the Racial Justice Program and “What a Difference a DA Makes” campaign for the ACLU of MA, to a crowded room. “There is a lack of opportunities for communities to engage but, this is what democracy looks like.”
Hall said that many folks don’t even know what goes on in a DA’s Office and most don’t even know that it is an elected position.
“We are working to make sure the country and residents of Suffolk County are engaged and active,” said Hall.
Candidates were allowed 90 seconds to answer questions and 30 seconds for rebuttal. Questions ranged from are you too much of an insider or outsider to change things, to how to stop cycle of repeat offenders to how will the candidates make the office more diverse?
Champion said she has three areas she will focus on as District Attorney beside safety: education, housing and jobs.
“When you have all of these things you can have an environment that everyone can feel safe,” she said. “I’m in this race to focus on what is the problem and that’s the lives of our residents.”
Henning said his goal as DA would to make sure that everyone is protected, and to re-connect the community with law enforcement.
“I will not only ensure community policing to keep the streets safe but to help people to not to engage and re-engage with the justice system.”
Rollins said that to make a real difference more people of color and women need to work in the justice system.
“To get fairness, equity and justice you need more diversity in the people that serves those decisions,” said Rollins.
McAuliffe distanced herself from the pack by focusing on her current work at Roca, a non-profit that takes young adults who have a high chance of repeat offense and steers them in a different path by providing job training and other opportunities.
“I’m the only one here that hasn’t worked for a job opening,” said McAuliffe who took on the current DA during the last election. “Reform needs a reformer, and that’s who I am.”
Carvalho said that in order to seek justice you need to look at who is making the decisions. He pointed out that the people making the decisions are largely white and those going in and out of the DA’s office are largely people of color.
“I live in Dorchester and my constituents deal with it every day,” he said. “They are trapped without help every day, and that has to change. As DA I will be sure to change things.”
Current DA Dan Conley announced earlier this year that he will not be seeking re-election. Conley has held the office since February 2002.
This will be the second open candidate forum of the year. The primary for the Suffolk Country District Attorney race will be on Tuesday, Sept. 4. The general election will be Tuesday, Nov. 6.
The MBTA is gearing up for the big rollout of its Silver Line SL-3 expansion on Saturday, April 21, as operations on the expansion of the bus rapid transit look to change the landscape, and the commute, of the City.
For the first time ever, “can’t get there from here” territory like South Station will be only 27 minutes from the Mystic Mall on the new SL-3 buses, according to information from the MBTA.
“SL3 will make commuting to the Airport, Seaport, or South Station better for anyone who rides bus routes 111, 112, 114, 116, 117, anyone travelling on the Blue Line, or anyone who is driving,” read information materials from the T. “Right now, your commute might be pretty complicated. If you’re going to the South Station area, you probably start out on a bus, and then make a few transfers to get to the Red Line. If you drive, you deal with a lot of traffic, and pay for tolls, and parking.”
On Wednesday, MBTA General Manager Luis Ramirez was out to Chelsea to get a sneak peek of the new service, taking the SL-3 from Airport Station through to the new Chelsea Station. Deputy City Manager Ned Keefe accompanied him, as well as several MBTA officials.
The new SL-3 service will operate in Chelsea between the hours of
5 a.m. (Monday through Friday) to 12:55 a.m. On Saturdays, it opens at 5:30 a.m. and Sundays at 6:30 a.m.
Service will run every 10 minutes at peak periods, which are between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., and 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Service runs every 12 to 15 minutes in off-peak and weekend times.
It will operate in Chelsea out of three brand new, heated stations – complete with covered bike racks at each. The stations are:
Chelsea Station – 174 Everett Ave.
Bellingham Station – 225 Arlington St.
Box District Station – 200 Highland St.
Eastern Avenue Station – 40 Eastern Ave.
As part of the project as well, the 111 bus will be enhanced.
It is expected that of the 11,700 riders of the 111 bus, some 2,000 will switch to the SL-3 service, reducing the crowds on the 111 somewhat.
Additionally, the MBTA plans to work with the City of Chelsea to improve the 111 bus with potential dedicated bus lanes and signal optimization.
On Tuesday, April 10, at Chelsea District Court, the courtroom was filled with people who had arrest records as long as the Declaration of Independence. They sat at the tables where defendants usually sit.
They’d all been there before numerous times due to their addiction, drug use and petty crimes. This time, though, they were there to graduate – to acknowledge that they’d completed a program at least 18 months long with the courts that helped them turn their lives around.
The program is Drug Court, and it was innovated in Chelsea in 2000 and continues strong through the support of judges, probation officers, recovery coaches and other resources. It is a last stop, last chance for many people who have been in and out of jail for their entire lives.
“It saved my life,” said Erin Eckert, cradling her young toddler girl and noting that she was at the lowest one can get while on the streets of Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass in Boston’s South End – known as Methadone Mile. “It took me a long time to do this and make the decision. When I did, it literally saved my life.”
On Tuesday, seven people graduated from the program. Most had been in jail several times, had years or decades of court involvement. This time, though, they changed that trajectory. Most had been clean for more than a year, and most were employed. Families and supporters came to celebrate.
SJC Justice David Lowy was the keynote speaker, sharing how he had lost a cousin last year to opiate overdose. Almost all of the big players in the state’s judiciary were in attendance.
Everyone cried, but they were tears of celebration and relief.
Chelsea started and innovated the program years ago, and now there are drug courts in many of the urban District Courts that are built on that same model. It is a strike against the opiate epidemic, and one that works for many people.
“This last time I was up and down with it,” said Kristen Barnett, who entered the Drug Court in February 2015. “All I know is I changed my life this time. I don’t know what to say why I did it this time, but I did. I’m happy to be here today.”
A leader of MS-13’s Enfermos Criminales Salvatrucha clique was sentenced today in federal court in Boston.
Rafael Leoner Aguirre, a/k/a “Tremendo,” 22, a Salvadoran national, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV to 19 years in prison and three years of supervised release, which he will begin serving after completion of the state prison sentence for which he is currently incarcerated. Leoner Aguirre will also be subject to deportation upon the completion of his federal sentence. In November 2017, Leoner Aguirre was convicted by a federal jury after a multi-week trial of conspiracy to conduct enterprise affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity, more commonly referred to as RICO conspiracy.
Leoner Aguirre was the leader of MS-13’s Enfermos Criminales Salvatrucha clique. In 2013, Leoner Aguirre entered the United States illegally from El Salvador and initially moved to Michigan. From there, he began recruiting and planning MS-13 activities impacting Massachusetts. Among other things, Leoner Aguirre created recruitment videos for MS-13 and posted them on YouTube. This enabled younger gang members and associates to view these videos, including one witness who testified that he first saw these videos while at a local high school in Massachusetts.
In March 2014, Leoner Aguirre moved to the Chelsea area and immediately began activating, organizing, and supervising the Enfermos clique. As part of that activity, Leoner Aguirre encouraged members of the clique to attack and kill rival gang members, in addition to committing other racketeering acts such as robberies. Leoner Aguirre himself committed a number of racketeering acts, including an attempted murder in Chelsea where Leoner Aguirre struck a victim in the head with a machete. Leoner Aguirre also committed an attempted murder involving a shooting, which is the incident for which he is currently serving a four-to-five year state prison sentence. Leoner Aguirre committed both of these attempted murders in daylight on busy public streets in Chelsea.
The other members and associates of the Enfermos clique were Hector Ramires, a/k/a “Cuervo;” Bryan Galicia Barillas, a/k/a “Chucky;” David Lopez, a/k/a “Cilindro,” a/k/a “Villano;” Daniel Menjivar, a/k/a “Roca,” a/k/a “Sitiko;” Angel Pineda, a/k/a “Bravo;” and Kevin Ayala, a/k/a “Gallito.” Each of these defendants has pleaded guilty and will be subject to deportation upon the completion of their sentences.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; Michael Shea, Acting Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston; Colonel Kerry A. Gilpin, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police; Commissioner Thomas Turco of the Massachusetts Department of Corrections; Essex County Sheriff Kevin F. Coppinger; Suffolk County Sheriff Steven W. Thompkins; Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley; Middlesex County District Attorney Marian T. Ryan; Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett; Boston Police Commissioner William Evans; Chelsea Police Chief Brian A. Kyes; Everett Police Chief Steven A. Mazzie; Lynn Police Chief Michael Mageary; Revere Police Chief James Guido; and Somerville Police Chief David Fallon made the announcement.
The U.S. Congressional race has heated up this week as both candidates, incumbent Congressman Michael Capuano and challenger Ayanna Pressley, have touted their fundraising efforts, and one local Chelsea official gives the first endorsement – but for the challenger.
City Council President Damali Vidot announced Wednesday that she would be backing and supporting Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley in her Congressional run. The shot across the bow comes in territory that has firmly been in the Capuano camp for many years, but perhaps could be a key battleground community in the race.
As has become a common criticism of Capuano, Vidot said it’s not enough to simply vote against attacks.
“Attacks on our community are nothing new, but, in light of Donald Trump and the Republican Congress, we need a new generation of leaders who are willing to intentionally advocate for solutions that address our most challenging issues,” said Vidot. “For that, and so many other reasons, I emphatically support Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley’s candidacy for the 7th Congressional District… Leadership like Ayanna’s is what our country is missing at this critical moment in history. It is not enough for our elected officials to vote against the attacks on our communities. We need representatives that will lead with us, for us, and alongside us to help build the communities we deserve.”
Vidot said Pressley’s advocacy on DACA and TPS recipients within the immigration debate in Boston, as well as her leadership for women and people of color, were reasons for her endorsement.
Meanwhile, in a press release battle of fundraising prowess, Capuano got the upper hand on Pressley this week, noting he has raised more money and has more money in his campaign fund. That coming shortly after Pressley sent out a news release about her “surprising” fundraising efforts.
On Tuesday morning, Pressley put out a news release saying the campaign had raised $364,368 in the first two months of the race.
“I am humbled by the outpouring of love and encouragement I have received from so many individuals who share our vision for our district, our Commonwealth, and our country,” said Pressley. “I am also deeply moved by those who tell me that they are contributing or volunteering for the first time ever, and have chosen this unique and challenging moment in our nation’s history to stand alongside our campaign and fight for a better future.”
A few hours later, the Capuano campaign put out a similar press release showing far greater fundraising in the first quarter of the year.
Capuano touted raising more than $500,000 in the first quarter and having $1.1 million in cash at the moment.
“I am truly grateful for the support I am receiving in this campaign,” said Capuano. “We face real challenges from a Trump presidency threatening working families, seniors, women, immigrants, and young people all across our district. I’m on the front lines of these fights and will keep standing up to Donald Trump to keep making a difference for the people who count on me to protect and advance their interests.”
Campaign Manager Sam Raymond said campaign volunteers gathering nomination signatures across the district are finding enthusiastic supporters. “During caucuses and in coffee shops, at farmer’s markets and community meetings – our volunteers are finding and growing the strong support Mike has throughout the district because his record of strong advocacy and real results on issues that impact their lives is substantial,” he said.
“From protecting vital programs like Social Security and Medicare, to advancing legislation that supports job creation and economic growth, Mike is standing up to President Trump and his dangerous policies and he’s making a difference. The people of our district know it,” Raymond added.
The Pressley campaign touted its grass-roots efforts on the ground, including in places like Chelsea
They indicated a strong presence at 30 Massachusetts Democratic Party caucuses in every city and town across the district. This past weekend, the campaign’s first “Day of Action” brought out over 40 volunteers who participated in signature gathering efforts in Somerville, Cambridge, Chelsea, and Boston, they said.
The campaign said it has activated more than 300 volunteers across the district, including Councillor Vidot.
An MS-13 member was sentenced on March 22 in federal court in Boston to racketeering conspiracy involving murder, attempted murder, and conspiracy to commit murder.
Bryan Galicia Barillas, a/k/a “Chucky,” 21, a Guatemalan national who resided in Chelsea, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV to 22 years in prison and five years of supervised release. Galicia Barillas will be subject to deportation upon completion of this sentence. In October 2017, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to conduct enterprise affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity, more commonly referred to as RICO conspiracy.
The racketeering activity by Galicia Barillas, a member of MS-13’s Enfermos Criminales Salvatrucha (ECS) clique, included his involvement in the death of an innocent bystander in Chelsea. On Oct. 18, 2014, Galicia Barillas and Hector Ramires, a/k/a “Cuervo,” another member of the ECS clique, encountered a group of individuals in Chelsea suspected of belonging to a rival gang. Ramires, who was armed with a weapon that Galicia Barillas had provided on an earlier occasion, shot at one of the suspected gang rivals and missed, killing an innocent bystander who was looking out a nearby window of a room she shared with her three children. Galicia Barillas was a juvenile at the time of the murder.
Galicia Barillas also accepted responsibility for his role in a Sept. 8, 2014, stabbing and attempted murder of an individual in Chelsea, which Galicia Barillas also committed when he was a juvenile. Shortly after he turned 18, Galicia Barillas was involved in an April 2015 conspiracy to kill an MS-13 member that the gang believed was cooperating with law enforcement, and a May 26, 2015 stabbing and attempted murder of a suspected rival gang member in Chelsea.
Ramires pleaded guilty in October 2017 to RICO conspiracy involving murder and is scheduled to be sentenced on April 11, 2018.
After a three-year investigation, Galicia Barillas and Ramires were two of 61 persons named in a fifth superseding indictment targeting the criminal activities of alleged leaders, members, and associates of MS-13 in Massachusetts. MS-13 is one of the largest criminal organizations in the United States with thousands of members across the country, including a sizeable presence in Massachusetts. MS-13 members are required to commit acts of violence, including murder, against suspected gang rivals and those suspected of cooperating with law enforcement. The fifth superseding indictment alleges that, from approximately 2014 to 2016, MS-13 cliques in Massachusetts were responsible for, among other things, six murders and approximately 20 attempted murders, as well as robberies and drug trafficking.
Nathan Smolensky, a non-profit manager from Somerville, has announced that he will be running as an Independent for Massachusetts’s 7th District Congressional seat.
“We need Independent voices to speak up,” says Smolensky, “now more than ever. The parties are becoming increasingly polarized, and that means more strong-arming and undermining in our politics, and somehow even less getting done. The Democrats and Republicans are locked in this endless tug-of-war, and the American people are paying the price. But we can break the partisan stranglehold by demonstrating a formula for Independent success, and if we do that we can really change things.”
Smolensky’s own brand of non-partisan politics is focused on themes of empowering local solutions by making the federal government more symbiotic with local efforts, improving government efficiency by addressing wasteful and unsustainable spending programs, and making long-term policy possible by creating a blueprint for Independent success that can pave the way for a shift of the political landscape away from the volatile pendulum swings of the current paradigm.
The 27-year-old Somerville resident is currently best known for his work with the non-profit Massachusetts Chess Association, where he has served as president since 2013. In that role, he has spearheaded the organization’s educational initiative, Chess for Early Educators, which currently has pilots for curricular programs run by regular schoolteachers in several Somerville public schools.
Massachusetts’s 7th Congressional District is comprised of the municipalities of Somerville, Everett, Chelsea, and Randolph, roughly 70 percent of the city of Boston, and about half of the city of Cambridge and the town of Milton. Since taking its current shape in 2013, it has been won by incumbent Democrat Michael E. Capuano, also of Somerville, without a general election challenge. Its lopsided nature, however, can be a boon for independents, argues Smolensky:
“That’s the beauty of running in a district like this one. There’s no third-party or spoiler stigma. You’re not asking anyone to throw their vote away. You don’t have that bogeyman of the greater evil to scare people away from voting Independent. This is the kind of environment we [Independents] can thrive in, and, thanks in part to gerrymandering, there are a lot of places we can find it.”
Currently, Capuano is facing a primary challenge in Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley. No other candidates have announced intentions to run.
The state Department of Transportation (MassDOT) and the MBTA have pegged April 21 as the first day of operations for the new Silver Line Gateway (SL-3) in Chelsea and East Boston – connecting residents of Chelsea to the airport, the Seaport in Boston and South Station in what is expected to be a 30-minute ride from the Mystic Mall Station to South Station.
“Silver Line 3-Chelsea relates well to the Baker-Polito Administration’s economic development goals,” said Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack. “Silver Line 3-Chelsea is consistent with the notion that if the MBTA can offer an efficient, fully accessible, one-seat ride between key destinations then more people will use mass transit and the service will spur transit-oriented development.”
MBTA General Manager Luis Manuel Ramirez said it will simplify thousands of commutes to and from Boston.
“The MBTA is excited to bring this new service to Chelsea, East Boston, and the surrounding communities,” said Ramírez. “We believe the SL3-Chelsea will simplify the commutes of many of our customers in these neighborhoods.”
City Manager Tom Ambrosino said it will likely make the City much more desirable for those who live here and those looking to live in Chelsea.
“The City is very excited about the opening of the new Silver Line,” he said. “It has been a long time in the making. We feel it will substantially improve transportation options for our residents and make Chelsea and even more desirable place to live and work.”
Maria Belen Power of GreenRoots, an organization in Chelsea that advocates for better public transit, said it will be helpful to residents as Chelsea is highly dependent on public transit and has no subway stop.
“We are excited for service on the silver line to start in Chelsea, as it will provide another line of access from Chelsea to Boston,” she said. “As a community highly dependent on public transit with no subway stop, bus services, including bus rapid transit, are key for our community to thrive. While this is a great and necessary improvement in service, Chelsea still has the three busiest bus lines in the entire MBTA system. We will continue to hold the MBTA accountable to improve public transit in Chelsea for all of our residents.”
State Rep. RoseLee Vincent said she hopes the Silver Line introduction will help relieve the bus congestion.
“This new and expanded public transportation route will help to reduce overcrowding on MBTA buses that serve Chelsea, as well as provide residents of Chelsea an alternative and more direct route to subway routes and downtown Boston,” she said.
Fares on the SL-3 will be $2.25 per ride with CharlieCard, and a Linkpass costing $84.50 per month. Student and senior citizen passes cost $30. Children under 12 are free.
There are free transfers offered at:
Blue Line at Airport Station.
Red Line at South Station.
Bus Rapid Transit lines SL-1 (Logan to South Station), SL-2 (South Boston Design Center to South Station), SL-4 (Dudley Square to South Station).
Local Bus Routes 111, 112, 116 and 117.
MBTA officials predicted bus customers from Revere and Chelsea who tend to experience crowding issues on Bus Routes 111, 112, 114, 116, and 117 will benefit from the SL3-Chelsea. As an additional travel option, they said the SL3-Chelsea will make enhanced, new, or simplified connections to the Blue Line – at Airport Station – as well as the South Boston Waterfront and the Red Line at South Station.
Nearly 7,000 daily bus customers on these area routes take trips that can require several transfers in order to travel from Chelsea and East Boston to downtown areas. This commute is now simple and direct by using the SL3-Chelsea, filling a critical gap in access between these residents to the employment opportunities in the Seaport District and downtown.
Each of the Routes 111, 112, 114, 116, and 117 will also connect directly to or very close to brand new SL3-Chelsea stations, making hopping off a customer’s regular route to board the SL3-Chelsea easy and convenient. Route 111 connects at Bellingham Square Station, Route 112 utilizes a stop approximately 50 yards from Bellingham Square Station, Route 114’s City Hall Avenue bus stop is just three to five blocks from both Bellingham Square and Box District Stations, and Routes 116 and 117 connect at Box District Station.
The SL3-Chelsea route will operate 60-foot, high-capacity buses serving four new stations through dedicated, bus-only lanes in Chelsea and via the Coughlin Bypass in East Boston.
SL3-Chelsea buses will operate approximately every 10 minutes with the time between Chelsea and South Stations anticipated to be between 20 and 30 minutes.
This new service is the first brand new service to be introduced to the MBTA system since the MBTA Greenbush Commuter Rail Line began in 2007. Construction of the SL3-Chelsea route began in March 2015 with construction of dedicated busways and four new stations. Construction of this $49-million investment was managed by MassDOT’s Highway Division and jointly funded by the MBTA (approximately $42.1 million) and MassDOT ($7.6 million).
MBTA officials will present an overview of the new SL3-Chelsea service, discussing schedules, routes, and stops at the following two public meetings this month. Both meetings will provide Spanish language interpreters.
The owners of the old Forbes Lithograph campus on Mill Hill will likely propose a new project to the City in the coming months, like this summer, said City Manager Tom Ambrosino.
The Chinese company once proposed a gigantic campus development with skyscrapers, a hotel and more than 1,000 apartment units in a multi-phase development with one small entrance coming in through the neighborhood. It was vociferously opposed by most every resident and elected official in the City.
That was a couple of years ago, and since that time the company has been laying low and preparing to propose something a little more modest.
“My guess is perhaps they’ll be in front of us this summer,” said Ambrosino.
He said the development could likely be by right, meaning there might not be any reviews or public hearings necessary for the project to go forward.
He said the numbers of units would be far smaller than previously proposed and much less dense.
However, parking requirements for the district are two spots per unit, which might be hard for the developer to achieve by right. That would mean a parking variance would be required, triggering reviews and public hearings.
The issue of accessing the site still hasn’t been resolved.
Previously, Ambrosino had made a point of requiring that the company look into providing access via a bridge over the Chelsea Creek to the site from Revere. In the previous proposal, he had said he or the City would not support any proposal that didn’t include that access point.
It is uncertain at this point if that’s still the case with the smaller project that is believed to be coming.