State Rep. Dan Ryan is being lauded after having received the Legislator of the Year award from the state’s Veterans’ Services Officer organization.
State Rep. Dan Ryan is pictured on Jan. 24 receiving the Legislator of the Year award from the Massachusetts Veterans’ Services Officers Association at a State House ceremony. House Speaker Bob DeLeo (left) remarked that Ryan’s dedication to veterans is outstanding, especially considering his family’s record of service.
Ryan received the award on Jan. 24 at a luncheon in the State House attended by family, friend, Gov. Charlie Baker and House Speaker Bob DeLeo.
In particular, DeLeo told the Record he was touched by the remarks given by Rep. Ryan upon receiving the award.
Ryan told the audience of his family’s service, including in World War II, and how that guides how he handles things on Beacon Hill – which likely led to his designation.
“Danny is acutely aware of the distinct challenges facing veterans and military personnel in Charlestown and Chelsea and has been a fierce advocate for his district,” said DeLeo. “I was particularly touched to learn about the legacy of service and heroism in the Ryan family. Danny’s father and many of his uncles served in World War II. He is named after two of his uncles – one of whom was wounded in the Pacific and one of whom died fighting in France. In his remarks at the Veterans’ Service event, Rep. Ryan spoke eloquently of how this legacy guides his work on Beacon Hill.”
Speaker DeLeo also praised Ryan for his tenure in the House working on the Joint Committee on Veterans and as vice-chair of the Committee on Mental Health and Substance Use
District 1 City Councilor Lydia Edwards said she appreciated Ryan’s dedication to the district and the veterans in the district.
“Rep. Ryan has proven himself to be a strong advocate for veterans and their families in his district,” she said. “His exemplary dedication is regarded in the State House and beyond as he is a reliable presence at all veteran sponsored events, including the Memorial Mass at St. Francis de Sales every year since becoming an elected official.”
The State Legislature has approved a major change aimed at helping those with minor criminal records from the past not be barred from getting casino jobs statewide, and particularly at the Wynn Boston Harbor resort.
Earlier this year, it became apparent that the Expanding Gaming Law was very stringent, and was likely going to bar people with minor offenses from the past from getting jobs at the casino – including jobs in restaurants or housekeeping.
Many spoke out in an effort to reform the statute, and Speaker Bob DeLeo took up the cause – including it in the Supplemental Budget last week that passed both the House and Senate.
“At its heart, the gaming law is about providing jobs and improving the economy,” said DeLeo. “I wouldn’t want to see people – particularly those who are underemployed or unemployed – barred from working in a hotel or a restaurant, for example. I’m pleased that we made the change and look forward to seeing the Gaming Commission’s work on this time-sensitive matter.”
Mayor Carlo DeMaria
“My top priority is to ensure that Everett residents have the opportunity to succeed, have a career and raise a family right here in Everett,” said DeMaria. “We all know people who have made some mistakes in their past, but now deserve the opportunity to lead productive lives. The best way to do that is to provide them with a job. I commend the legislature for passing criminal justice reform for service employees and the gaming commission for supporting this measure. Otherwise restaurant workers, hotel housekeepers, and parking lot attendants would be barred from working in a hotel because of a minor conviction.”
The Gaming Law currently has the “automatic disqualifier” provision that prevents a non-gaming employee from working in a casino – even in hotel work, restaurant work and physical plant work – if they have a felony conviction in the past 10 years. In Massachusetts now, it takes 10 years before a person can seal such a felony record and not have it count against them for things like employment in the casinos. Additionally, in Massachusetts, many felonies have a very low threshold – such as larceny over $250.
The changed language is not as specific and puts more power in the Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s (MGC) hands to vet potential employees. The language puts it at the MGC’s “discretion.”
“the Massachusetts Gaming Commission established pursuant to section 3 of said chapter 23K, may exempt certain gaming service employees by job position from the registration requirement at its discretion,” read the new language.
The language will have to be vetted by several agencies and then will go to the MGC for potential implementation.
The MGC has been in favor of such changes in letters sent to the Legislature this year, but chose not to comment for this story.
The Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed legislation that updates the existing statute relative to English language education in public schools to encompass the latest and best practices serving English language learners (ELLs) and to recognize the value of bilingualism as a skill essential to improving career and college readiness and competiveness in the global economy.
An Act for Language Opportunity for Our Kids (S.2125), also known as the LOOK Bill, removes the current mandate requiring schools to use Sheltered English Immersion (SEI), or English-only programs, as the default ELL program model, thereby giving schools the flexibility to establish programs based on the unique needs of their students.
“By allowing parents and local school districts the flexibility to choose the most effective programs to cater to the specific needs of their students is not only good public policy, but also what is best for our students to be successful,” said Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst). “We live in a global community, and we must be able to adapt to the changing needs of our communities in a thoughtful and constructive way. This bill achieves that purpose.”
“To ensure that every child in the Commonwealth receives the high quality education that he or she deserves, we must rethink the way we approach educating our English language learners,” said Sen. Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett), the lead sponsor of the bill. “By allowing for flexibility to implement new English learning programs, increasing parental involvement, and recognizing that multilingualism is a valuable asset in today’s global economy, this bill takes crucial strides to guarantee that every student receives a fair opportunity at educational success.”
“Language should never be a barrier to a student’s academic success,” said Senate Committee on Ways and Means Chair Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “This bill empowers parents and schools to develop high quality educational opportunities for our English Language Learner students. It also encourages biliteracy, recognizing that knowledge of other languages and cultures is a true asset in our global economy.”
“The current one-size-fits-all model has proven a failure over the past decade plus at teaching education – period,” said Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz (D-Jamaica Plain), the Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Education. “For the sake of our ELL students, our school budgets, and our workforce, we need to do something different. S.2125 will empower parents and trust educators to make informed decisions about appropriate tactics for a 6-year-old with some English exposure versus a 12-year-old who has received little formal schooling. And in this precarious moment for our country, the bill recognizes that bilingualism is a strength—not a problem to be cured.”
For some children, moving into an English-only program too soon has proven to stunt academic growth and major implications on future educational success. This has become a growing problem as the number of ELL students in Massachusetts continues to rise. Since the year 2000, the number of ELL students in Massachusetts has doubled to over 90,204 students, or 9.5% of the student population. Last year, 90% of school districts had at least one ELL student and 19% of districts had 100 or more ELLs.
While overall graduation rates for students have risen in the past 10 years, the achievement gap between ELL students and their peers has not significantly changed. In 2016, the dropout rate for ELL students was 6.6 percent, the highest rate of any subgroup of students and three times higher than the rate for all students. Additionally, only 64% of ELL students graduated from high school, as compared to 87% of all Massachusetts students.
In an effort to reverse these trends, the LOOK bill removes the current mandate requiring Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) as the one-size-fits-all default ELL program model in order to better accommodate the diverse needs of the Commonwealth’s students. Under the bill, school districts may choose from any comprehensive, research-based instructional program that includes subject matter content and an English language acquisition component.
The bill also encourages a high level parental choice and involvement in selecting, advocating, and participating in English learner programs, and requires greater tracking of ELL students’ progress to better identify and assist English learners who do not meet benchmarks.
This legislation also seeks to recognize the value of bilingualism and biliteracy as a skill essential to improving career and college readiness and competitiveness in today’s global economy by permitting school districts to adopt the state seal of biliteracy to recognize high school graduates who have met academic benchmarks, as determined by DESE, in one or more languages in addition to English.
The bill will now move to a conference committee, where negotiators will reconcile the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bills.
The United States House of Representatives passed an immigration bill in June that includes harsh penalties for self-declared Sanctuary Cities like Chelsea, and even though it has a long way to go in passing the U.S. Senate to become law, City Manager Tom Ambrosino said he would be ready to go back to Federal Court to fight it.
“I’m hoping the Senate does not go ahead with that,” he said. “If the Senate does go ahead and it is signed by the president, I expect we’ll look at at filing another lawsuit for violation of the 10th Amendment. Hopefully, the Senate will be more reasonable. I’m going to worry about legislation that passes the House.”
The law that passed the House deals with many issues, but when it comes to Sanctuary Cities, it takes away all grant money from cities that self-declare as a Sanctuary City – as Chelsea does. That would likely mean steep losses for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), for public safety grants (police and fire) and for grants to the Public Schools.
Ambrosino said he doesn’t envision the law clearing the Senate and isn’t too worried about that happening, but did say if the Senate happened to approve the legislation, Chelsea would look at another lawsuit.
The City filed a lawsuit earlier this year with Lawrence when President Donald Trump issued his executive order penalizing Sanctuary Cities. That order was also challenged by several other municipalities, and a stay of the order was granted by a Federal Appeals Court in California. That stay also applied to Chelsea’s case, making the executive order moot.
However, the new legislation does take away one of the key arguments in Chelsea’s original case – that being the executive order actions weren’t authorized by legislation.
However, Ambrosino said he and the City’s lawyers still believe a 10th Amendment violation would be grounds for another suit if need be.
“Obviously, the fact that legislation exists would make that argument go away, but there are other arguments we made and one is that legislation would violate the separation of powers in the 10th Amendment.”
No new action has taken place on the House Bill since it passed in late June, but City officials are keeping close tabs on the Senate’s actions in relation to the Bill.
City Councillor Giovanni Recupero returned to the floor after being sick for some time, and entered the Chambers with a bang, proposing an order that those over 70 and owning a single-family home would get 100 percent reduction on taxes.
The matter was rebuffed substantially with a 1-9 vote, with Recupero being the lone ‘yes’ vote.
Recupero proposed giving a full abatement to owner-occupants of single-family homes who are over the age of 70. His proposal would have asked the State Legislature to allow the measure under a Home Rule Petition.
“There are other parts of our state that give 100 percent abatements,” he said. “Why not try this out? All we can do is try. This is for the little guy. Why can’t we give someone a break who spent their entire lives in their house? I say we should give them a break.”
However, his colleagues disagreed with the measure.
“This is something we’re simply not allowed to do,” said Councillor Dan Cortell. “We voted down a Home Rule Petition recently because it had no chance of passing at the state level…This will make a very good headline, but it’s not a good idea…This is a little too far. This goes in the category of election year agenda items. This has no legs.”
Councillor Matt Frank said he thinks others should qualify for the break also.
“My concern is we have all these other 71 year olds who don’t live in single-family homes,” he said. “If the goal is to help people over 70, this doesn’t even do that…You can’t always be the person who says, ‘Here, take everything.’…We’re robbing Peter to pay Paul.”
Council President Leo Robinson said he believed it might open the City up to a taxpayer lawsuit, which requires only 10 to sign a petition.
Afterward, Recupero said his investigation showed it would only affect about 25 to 30 homeowners, and wouldn’t be a drain on the City’s finances. He said he looked into other areas, including on Cape Cod, where homeowners are given 100 percent tax abatements during the part of the year when they aren’t living there (generally the winter months).
He said he did run it by a few state legislators and they thought it was an interesting concept.
“All I can do is try,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with trying to help elderly people with their taxes. Other places have done this in slightly different forms and we could be the first to do it this way.”
Residents of Gateway Cities throughout the Commonwealth have probably heard quite a bit about how their schools are facing dire budget gaps due to a change in the way the state counts low-income students. This has been an ongoing issue for over two years now, and I have received many questions from concerned parents and constituents who are confused as to how this problem began and what we can do to remedy the situation.
In 2015, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) began the process of changing how it calculated low-income or “economically disadvantaged” students. The number of economically disadvantaged students plays a key role in the Chapter 70 formula that determines the amount of funding school districts receive from the state.
Previously, parents completed a form to determine whether their child was eligible for free or reduced lunch, and DESE used that information to calculate how many students were considered economically disadvantaged. Now, only students who are registered for social welfare programs like SNAP and Medicaid are categorized as economically disadvantaged. This new methodology from the Baker Administration misses thousands of additional low-income students, because it fails to take into account the economically disadvantaged students who are not accessing social services. These students are often immigrants, homeless children, or students who are simply not enrolled in social programs.
As a result, many of the communities who need the most help from the state are faced with significant financial gaps. My communities of Everett and Chelsea are two of the school districts that have been hit the hardest, and this issue has been at the forefront of my priorities since the counting change was first proposed over two years ago.
As soon as my office was made aware of the situation, we began working directly with DESE to reach a solution. Long before the Governor submitted last year’s budget proposal, my office was leading the charge in the Legislature to reach a compromise with DESE to ensure that all low-income students would be counted by the state. I met personally with administration officials and convened a meeting with several superintendents and DESE at the State House to stress this serious issue. Despite the many assurances we received from them, the promises made by the Administration went unfulfilled, and DESE chose to move forward with their formula change.
In response, as Vice Chair of Senate Ways & Means, I brought the Joint Committee on Ways & Means Education Hearing to Everett High School last year, where I made it clear to Administration officials that their methodology change was crushing our most financially challenged school districts with massive budget cuts and was harming the education of thousands of the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable students. I worked tirelessly last budget cycle to secure additional funding that would hold the negatively impacted municipalities harmless and helped to reach a one-year stopgap that allowed school districts to choose whichever method of counting low-income students worked best for their community.
As a result of this temporary solution, many schools districts were saved from imminent teacher layoffs and cuts to major programs, and we were able to buy ourselves additional time to reach a permanent solution. Over the course of the past year, I have continued to be a staunch advocate for not just Everett and Chelsea, but all of the negatively impacted communities, and I have been fighting to reach a long-term solution that benefits every school district in the Commonwealth. However, even with this additional time, DESE still has not been able to reach a long-term solution.
During this year’s budget process, I have worked with the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents (M.A.S.S.) and the Administration to find another temporary fix to our problem. Ultimately, a compromise was reached with the support of M.A.S.S. and DESE which provided for an additional $12.5 million for the school districts who were harmed by the Administration’s formula change. This will allow us to mitigate some of the damage, but it is by no means a long-term solution. Both the State Senate and House of Representatives included the $12.5 million in our budgets this year. I will be very disappointed if we are once again in this position next fiscal year, and I call on DESE to provide a permanent solution to this problem that their formula change created.
I continue to believe that the answer to this problem is very simple. We should allow communities to choose their preferred method of counting low income students – either by using the original method of self-reporting or by adopting the Administration’s new formula. This is the solution I have been fighting for since the very beginning, and it is the solution that I will continue pursuing until a long-term resolution that adequately funds all of our schools is reached.
This is not a fight that I am willing to give up on. Our teachers and school officials do an incredible job at educating all of their students, regardless of income or background, and it is up to the state to ensure they have the necessary funding to continue doing so. As the father of two boys in the Everett Public Schools, I am not just advocating as a State Senator, but also as a concerned parent. This issue is deeply personal for me, and it is my hope that my constituents and city officials know that I hear their concerns, and I am working every day to ensure that our schools receive the funding they are entitled to and deserve.
The 48th Annual South End House Tour has been set for Saturday, Oct. 15, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Lauren Prescott of the South End Historical Society told the Eight Streets Neighborhood Association on Tuesday, Sept. 13.
The tour this year will feature six homes in the Pembroke Street area that will showcase a variety of styles in the South End, from three-story condos to majestic Brownstones to historic notables.
The South End Historical Society is located at 532 Mass Ave. and is interested in getting volunteers to help as “sitters” during the home tour.
Next Thursday (September 8th), the Boston Bruins will officially cut the ribbon on their new practice facility, the Warrior Ice Arena (80 Guest Street, Brighton) at 7:00pm. Currently a handful of B’s players have been participating in ‘Captain’s Practice.’ The grand opening will have, from the Bruins organization, Owner Jeremy Jacobs, Bruins CEO Charlie Jacobs, President Cam Neely, General Manager Don Sweeney and a few current Bruins players. Political attendees will include Governor Charlie Baker, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, and Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo.
Following the formal portion of the event, Warrior Ice Arena will host the “Boston Youth All-Star Game featuring Bruins Alumni” with local squirt players from the Boston communities of Allston-Brighton, Charlestown, Dorchester, Hyde Park, South Boston, West Roxbury. The Youth All-Stars will team up with Bruins alumni and together they will play the first official game on the Warrior Ice Arena surface. Doors will open at 6:00pm with festivities set to begin at 7:00pm.
On the business end, general manager Don Sweeney continues to be a ‘busy man,’ announcing that the Bruins have signed four players to one-year deals. Amongst those signing were former Harvard University star, Dominic Moore, to a one-year, two-way contract. The 36-year old Moore has a lengthy travel history, having already made appearances with nine NHL teams prior to signing with Boston, the Pittsburgh Penguins, Minnesota Wild, Toronto Maple Leafs, Buffalo Sabres, Florida Panthers, Montreal Canadiens, Tampa Bay Lightning, and the San Jose Sharks. His most recent stay was last season with the New York Rangers who originally drafted Moore in 2000. The Bill Masterton Trophy winner in 2013-14, Moore was honored for exemplifying the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.
In addition, Sweeney also announced the recent signings of defenseman Chris Casto, three year Providence Bruins, forward Brian Ferlin, two-year Providence Bruin, and defenseman Alex Grant, previously with the Arizona Coyotes organization, all signing one-year, two-way contracts. July signings had: defensemen Colin Miller and Joe Morrow, defenseman Tommy Cross, former Bruins goaltender Anton Khudobin, defenseman John-Michael Liles, forwards Riley Nash, Tyler Randell and Tim Schaller. Not to be lost in the mix is the July 1 signing of free agent, winger David Backes, who spent ten seasons with the St. Louis Blues before agreeing to a five-year, $30 million deal with the Bruins. Backes’ five seasons as Captain of the Blues, should put him in a good position of a leadership role with the Bruins.
The Powers family has done much to make Chelsea a better city. Steve Powers and his younger brother, Matty Powers, are now spreading their kindness to other communities, notably the city of Lynn.
The Mass. Department of Health (DPH) presented an award to the Powers brothers July 8, certifying the sober house facility that the Powers family had built in Lynn. DPH Commissioner Dr. Monica Bharel presented the certificate, making it one of the first certified sober houses in the history of Massachusetts.
Sober houses allow residents to transition from a residential recovery setting to living independently in a supportive group setting.
“It’s nice to receive the certification,” said Matty Powers, himself a recovering addict who is now drug free. “For a long time you felt like you were going unnoticed doing the right thing and now the state has recognized our efforts.”
Bharel praised the brothers’ work, saying their facility meets the state’s highest standards for sober houses and is an example for others to follow.
Steve Powers opened the first Chelsea’s House recovery program (sober house) in Lynn in 2010. He said Chelsea’s House is named after former Chelsea High football player, the late Robert Hinckley Jr.
“We named it Chelsea’s House in honor of Chelsea’s Bob Hinckley, because he helped my brother get clean,” said Steve Powers.
“Bob was a part of a lot of younger guys in Chelsea getting clean,” said Matty.
Matty, president of the Chelsea’s House facilities, said they currently have 65 men living in their five sober houses in Lynn and Chelsea.
The two brothers started their venture with assistance from their well-known father, former Alderman Steve Powers and their brother, Dennis Powers, who help with the construction and renovation of the facilities.
“We’re totally self-sufficient with Chelsea’s House,” said Steve. “We started this with our own money and the money [clients pay $170 per week for rent] that is raised in those houses pay to keep them going.”
Steve Powers said after visiting some of the sober houses [in which his brother stayed] and seeing that they were in poor condition, he decided to open his own sober house. The Powers are meeting the demands of their clients.
“We give them a healthy, clean, sober, drug-free environment to recover,” said Steve. “A professional drug testing company comes in twice a week. We go the extra mile to make these houses like the houses our clients grew up in when they were kids living with their parents.”
Matty Powers travels daily to the sober houses to meet with the house managers and to oversee the recovery processes. Matty also arranges group meetings for clients so they can work together in their recovery.
“I visit the houses every day,” said Matty. “Our goal is to help our clients stay clean.”
Steve said there is a tremendous need for sober houses as the state battles an opioid crisis. Steve said he feels “blessed” that his brother overcame adversity to become clean and he’s proud that his brother is now helping others in their recoveries.
Dr. Monica Bharel (far left), Commissioner of the Mass. Department of Health, and Richard Winant, President of Massachusetts Association for Sober Housing, present an award to Matt Powers and Steve Powers, granting certification to the sober house that the Powers brothers own and operate in the city of Lynn.
Firefighters from all over the area joined Chelsea Fire on Monday afternoon in fighting a stubborn and dangerous four-alarm fire at 57 Bellingham St.
Three Revere firefighters were hurt, one seriously, and five Chelsea firefighters were treated for minor injuries and released.
No one in the home was injured, but nine adults and three children were displaced. The fire started around 3:47 p.m. and progressed quickly to a four alarm fire by 5:10 p.m. Heavy black smoke poured over City Hall and the quick burning fire – located in the back of the house on the porches pushed smoke throughout the City all the way to Cary Square and beyond.
On arrival, heavy fire was on all three floors in the rear of a three-story wood frame 6-family dwelling. The fire spread quickly to the loft area. Firefighters made an aggressive interior attack under extremely adverse condition. Firefighters were ordered out of the building due to collapse hazards on the third floor.
At one point, a “May Day” was called for a collapse of a structural component which injured three firefighters from Revere in the rear of the building. The May Day was cleared and those members were transported to MGH. A May Day call is the most serious call to be made in firefighting.
Interim Revere Fire Chief Chris Bright reported that Lt. Bob DeMauro, leader of the Ladder 2 Revere crew, was the most seriously injured of the three injured firefighters.
“Bob is going to be out of commission for months and not weeks,” said Bright. “Thankfully they didn’t get killed. Bob was in acute care and Mass General and he is now in a room. He’ll probably have to go to a rehab facility.”
DeMauro suffered a head injury, a concussion, a broken left hand, three chipped vertebrae, and compressed vertebrae in his lower back.
Revere Firefighter Charlie Fusco was also admitted to the MGH with shoulder injuries and bruising.
Revere Firefighter Paul Calsimitto was transported to the Whidden Hospital after taking a blow to the head and was released Monday night.
“What happened was they were operating in the rear of the house down in the backyard,” said Bright. “They pulled everyone out of the house to fight the fire from the outside because there was too much smoke…At some point a transom on top of the roof collapsed and fell on them as they were in the rear yard. There was so much smoke they never saw it coming.”
The fire was knocked down and damage was kept to the structure of origin.
The four-alarm fire raged through 57 Bellingham St.
“This was a very difficult and fast moving fire, where members of Chelsea Fire and our mutual aid worked tirelessly and aggressively to bring under control,” said Chelsea Chief Leonard Albanese. “Chelsea Fire thanks Revere, Everett, Boston, Medford, Saugus, Somerville, Winthrop, Malden, Lynn, Melrose and Cambridge who assisted us through the MetroFire mutual aid system.”
The fire cause was determined to be accidental originating from an electrical issue on the rear porch, first floor.