Chelsea Supt. Mary Bourque said just when urban educators plagued with a flawed funding formula thought they made some progress, the state yanked all that progress from under them recently.
Bourque, the past president of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents and the co-chair of the Urban Superintendents Network, has been working with the state for more than two years to fix a problem for Chelsea and many surrounding districts involving low income students – now called economically disadvantaged. The change has cost the Chelsea Schools millions of dollars per year in funding that they expected, but no longer qualified for.
“In the urban districts, we’re all on fragile ice right now,” she said. “Everything is coming at us at one time. It really begs the question about whether the allocation for education of students of poverty going to be the place where the state goes to make cuts and balance the budget every year. That’s not what the Foundation Formula budget is meant to do. It’s really almost immoral.”
Schools like Chelsea, Revere, Everett and Brockton – among others – have been hamstrung for the last two years due to major reductions in state funding due to the change in the formula. That change entailed making economically disadvantaged students qualify for that title only if their families were on some sort of public welfare benefit. Unfortunately, in communities like Chelsea, many families don’t qualify for those benefits due to their immigration status or because they haven’t been in the country legally for five years. Without that, the schools don’t receive nearly as much money to educate a very difficult and needy population.
This year, Bourque said, they added several new “qualifiers” for the economically disadvantaged tag – such as programs that students in Chelsea might qualify for despite immigration status.
However, as soon as that battle was won, Bourque said the state turned around and lowered the amount of money given for each student – making the gain a complete wash.
“We worked hard with the state to come up with solutions and they did add more students to qualify,” she said. “But as soon as we got more students, they reduced the amount of money given for each student.”
Bourque said the Chelsea Schools are likely going to be down another $1 million from where they feel they should be in the coming budget year. She said they will keep working on it, though.
It has been a real learning experience for the long-time administrator, though maybe not a positive one.
“To ignore systemic injustice and failure while children’s futures are compromised is morally and ethically, wrong,” she said. “It is not who we are as a Commonwealth nor is it who we want to be. The Grand Bargain of 1993 (for Education Reform) is not more and hasn’t been for many years. It is time for courage and time for action; our children and their futures are far too important.”
Wynn Boston Harbor officials are moving forward without a pause this week despite the news that dynamic Wynn CEO Steve Wynn has stepped down from leading the company, and the fact that the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) investigation is digging deeper into the actions of other executives in the company.
Wynn Boston Harbor has referred all media requests on the project to Las Vegas, and Wynn Resorts spokesman Michael Weaver had no comment on whether Wynn’s departure would affect the project.
Workers on the site and project leaders have said that the project in Everett is moving forward. A statement from the Wynn Board of Directors said, among other things, they are focused on opening Wynn Boston Harbor.
“The company will continue to fully focus on its operations at Wynn Macau, Wynn Palace and Wynn Las Vegas; the development and opening of the first phase of Wynn Paradise Park, currently under construction on the former Wynn golf course; as well as the construction of Wynn Boston Harbor, which will open in June 2019,” read the Board statement.
Wynn was accused of a pattern of sexual misconduct, including a $7.5 million out of court settlement, last month that quickly altered the gaming executive’s status.
Late last week, he announced that he would step down as the leader of the company – a company that bears his name and has built its brand on the strength of his name. It was a shocking move in a project that has had numerous shocks throughout its short life.
The Board of Directors of Wynn Resorts announced Wynn’s departure.
Current President Matt Maddox has been appointed as the new CEO, and Boone Wayson as Non-Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors.
In a statement, Wynn said he had suddenly found himself the focus of an “avalanche” of negative publicity. As it has grown, he said it has now begun to hurt the company he loves.
“As I have reflected upon the environment this has created — one in which a rush to judgment takes precedence over everything else, including the facts — I have reached the conclusion I cannot continue to be effective in my current roles,” he said. “Therefore, effective immediately, I have decided to step down as CEO and Chairman of the Board of Wynn Resorts, a company I founded and that I love.
“The Wynn Resorts team and I have built houses of brick,” he continued. “Which is to say, the institution we created — a collection of the finest designers and architects ever assembled, as well as an operating philosophy now ingrained in the minds and hearts of our entire team — will remain standing for the long term. I am extremely proud of everything we have built at this company.”
Wynn said he endorsed the succession plan and fully supported Maddox as the new CEO.
“He and his team are well positioned to carry on the plans and vision for the company I created,” he said.
He added that he was most proud of the employees in the company. He said it was the employees of Wynn Resorts that made it the most admired company in the world.
The Board said they accepted the resignation with a heavy heart, and pointed out more than 40 percent of their employees are women.
“Steve Wynn is an industry giant,” said Wayson. “He is a philanthropist and a beloved leader and visionary. He played the pivotal role in transforming Las Vegas into the entertainment destination it is today. He also assembled a world-class team of executives that will continue to meet the high standards of excellence that Steve Wynn created and the Wynn brand has come to represent. Steve Wynn created modern Las Vegas. He transformed the city into an economic powerhouse by making it a world-wide tourist destination.”
The MGC did meet last week, and addressed their investigation once again, noting that they are looking into what Maddox and Wynn Attorney Kim Sinatra knew during the background check of the company in 2013.
A commercial laundry that uses bicycles to pick up and deliver linens is looking to locate in the commercial/industrial property on Willow and Congress Streets.
Wash Cycle Laundry, a company founded in Philadelphia that has delivered millions of pounds of laundry and pioneered the bicycle laundry, wants to locate its Boston area operations in Chelsea. They were before the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) on Tuesday night, and will go before the Planning Board later in the month. In April, the City changed the zoning regulations in the Willow Street area to allow them to consider the property.
Gabriel Mandujano, the founder of the company, said they are coming right now to service the hotels exclusively in Chelsea, and would be using a new, advanced style of tricycle to pick up and deliver laundry throughout the city.
“We leased a portion of the building and are concentrating our efforts on the hotel market,” he said. “Colwen Hotels signed an agreement to bring us to Chelsea. We’re going to be their laundry contractor. The idea is they have a lot of properties in Chelsea, but they have a large portfolio all over Boston too. This will bring those jobs to Chelsea.”
He said they hope to run two shifts seven days a week, and would employ a total of 75 people.
“We are a sustainable company,” he said. “We do a lot of environmental and energy savings in the plant. We are founded in Philadelphia and pioneered bicycle delivery laundry. We delivered millions and millions of pounds of laundry in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. We are though practically sustainable and not religiously sustainable, so the chiefly concerned about safety.”
He said that would mean that they would deliver by bike in the Chelsea area, but use vans and trucks to get to Boston and other far off areas.
He said after they get their feet under them, if approved to come, they hoped to begin doing work for other businesses in Chelsea that have a need for a commercial laundry.
He said they would be using a special tricycle cargo bike in Chelsea that has been piloted by the UPS delivery company in Portland. He said they took a trip recently to Portland to test it out and liked what they saw.
“We’re fairly confident that would be the vehicle we would use if we come to Chelsea,” he said. “Philadelphia is completely flat, so we need something here with a little more power.”
He added they are a second chance company, and hope to partner with non-profits in the area to employ at-risk and court-involved residents who need a break. Many of their current employees have a history of homelessness or incarceration, he said.
“That’s one of the main reasons I founded the company,” he said.
If allowed to locate on Willow Street, Mandujano said they could have the build out done in about 30 days.
A Brazilian national was sentenced Feb. 8 in federal court in Boston for conspiring to launder approximately $20 million in proceeds from the TelexFree pyramid scheme – a scheme that affected hundreds of Chelsea residents.
Authorities reported finding the money hidden in a mattress.
Cleber Rene Rizerio Rocha, 28, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Leo T. Sorokin to 33 months in prison and one year of supervised release. In October 2017, Rocha pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to commit money laundering and one count of money laundering.
In April 2014, a search warrant was executed at the headquarters of TelexFree Inc., a massive pyramid scheme based in Marlborough that caused billions of dollars in losses to nearly two million victims worldwide. Later that same day, Carlos Wanzeler, one of the founders of the company, fled first to Canada and then to Brazil, his native country. In his haste to flee the United States, however, Wanzeler left millions of dollars hidden in the greater Boston area.
In mid-2015, an intermediary working on Wanzeler’s behalf contacted an associate for help transferring the money from the United States to Brazil. The associate, who later cooperated with federal authorities, arranged with Wanzeler’s representative in Brazil to launder cash through Hong Kong, convert it to Brazilian Reals, and then transfer it to Brazilian accounts. In January 2017, Rocha, working as a courier for Wanzeler’s representative in Brazil, flew from Brazil to New York City. Rocha later met the cooperating witness in Hudson, Mass., where Rocha gave him a suitcase containing $2.2 million of Wanzeler’s hidden TelexFree money, intending that the cooperating witness help launder the cash out of the United States. After the meeting, agents followed Rocha to an apartment in Westborough, Mass., and he was later arrested. A search of the apartment resulted in the seizure of approximately $20 million in cash found hidden in a mattress box spring.
Wanzeler and TelexFree co-founder James Merrill were indicted in July 2014 on charges that they operated TelexFree as a massive pyramid scheme. Merrill pleaded guilty to those charges and was sentenced in HYPERLINK “https://www.justice.gov/usao-ma/pr/former-president-telexfree-sentenced-billion-dollar-pyramid-scheme” March 2017 to six years in prison. Wanzeler remains a fugitive.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling and Michael Shea, Acting Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston, made the announcement today. U.S. Attorney Lelling and Assistant U.S. Attorney Neil J. Gallagher Jr. of the Economic Crimes Unit prosecuted the case.
Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA), an academic community health-system serving Everett and Boston’s metro-north region, is teaming up with the North Suffolk Mental Health Association (NSMHA) to help get individuals struggling with addiction connected to treatment by piloting a new recovery-coach program at CHA Everett Hospital. Two coaches from NSMHA are now available to patients who struggle with addiction or present with mental health issues in the Emergency Department, inpatient psychiatry and CHA’s med-surg units.
The total number of estimated and confirmed opioid-related deaths in Massachusetts, through the first nine months of 2017, was over 1,400 – a 10-percent reduction from the same period in 2016. At the same time, from 2012 – 2016, over 70 people in Everett died from opioid misuse.
The pilot program places recovery coaches in direct contact with patients, on a voluntary basis, following an overdose reversal with naloxone, the lifesaving anti-opioid medication. The aim is to link individuals to treatment and recovery services locally. Other patients may present with medical conditions related to substance use and the recovery coach can use this opportunity to engage the patient in treatment.
“A recovery coach is a person who helps remove personal and environmental obstacles to recovery, noted Kim Hanton, director of addiction services at the North Suffolk Mental Health Association.”
“Coaches serve as personal guides and mentors supporting individual and family recovery where support networks are limited. NSMHA has incorporated this model throughout the addiction division since 2013. We are thrilled to partner with CHA sharing each of our expertise to build a continuum of support which begins at the most vulnerable time – entrance into the emergency department”
CHA’s chief of emergency medicine, Benjamin Milligan, MD, and a group of providers in the Emergency Department, including Josh Mularella, DO, Emily Adams, PA, and Christine Trotta, PA, ran the Boston Marathon last year and dollars raised through their efforts helped to fund the pilot initiative.
NSMHA’s recovery coaches are trained and certified professionals who guide or mentor patients seeking recovery support from alcohol and other drug addictions. Recovery coaches do not provide clinical services, instead they offer the critical support or link to the services and resources that a person needs to achieve and sustain recovery.
“We are excited to have recovery coaches embedded at CHA Everett Hospital and believe they will strengthen the hospital’s role as a link in patient’s long-term ‘chain of recovery,’” commented Melisa Lai- Becker, MD, site chief of emergency medicine at CHA Everett Hospital. “The ability to partner a patient immediately with a peer who is able to help them navigate to the next link in the chain is invaluable. We are optimistic that the program will have a lasting impact and we may expand the initiative in the future providing a model for a potential statewide network of peer recovery coaches.”
Immediate support when a crisis occurs is vital for effective engagement in recovery and treatment. When a patient arrives at the CHA Everett Hospital Emergency Department he/she is offered a NSMHA recovery coach during peak hours (Friday, Saturday and Sunday).
On Jan. 31, at 4:43 a.m., officers were dispatched to the area of Bellingham Square for an erratic operator. The caller stated that it was a black Lexus swerving on Hawthorne Street heading towards Bellingham Square. Officers noticed a black Lexus operating on Broadway without the lights on. The vehicle took a left turn into Cross Street where it was stopped. Officers performed a field sobriety test and based on that exam placed the party under arrest for OUI.
Helen Correa, 47, of Ashland, was charged with OUI Liquor, motor vehicle lights violation and possession of an open container of alcohol.
GESTURES IN COURT
On Feb. 1, at 9:45 a.m., officers responded to Chelsea District Court for a report of Witness Intimidation. Officers were met by the reporting party who stated while awaiting a hearing for an ongoing case, the subject of that case made gestures and remarks while awaiting the proceeding to begin. The subject was placed under arrest.
Wayne Giangregorio, 55, of East Boston, was charged with intimidation of a witness.
ASLEEP BEHIND THE WHEEL
On Feb. 2 at 5:48 p.m., Chelsea Police responded to a report of motor vehicles being struck by a white box truck traveling down Washington Avenue towards Fay Square. The white box truck was observed by officers parked in the area of 63 Washington Ave. The operator was observed asleep behind the wheel. After further investigation, the male was placed into custody for OUI. During the booking process, five baggies of Heroin were located on his person.
John Williamson, 59, of Malden, was charged with operating under the influence of drugs, leaving the scene of property damage, failing to wear a seatbelt and possession of a Class A drug.
UNDER THE INFLUENCE
On Feb. 5, at 2:16 a.m., a Chelsea Police officer observed an oncoming vehicle without his headlights on. The officer tried to get the operator’s attention and proceeded to follow the vehicle. The officer observed erratic operation and pulled the vehicle over. After a conversation with the operator, the officer formed the opinion that the driver was operating under the influence of alcohol and placed him under arrest.
It was the driver’s fifth offense for drunk driving.
Manrique Martinez, 47, of 250 Clark Ave., was charged with operating under the influence of alcohol (5th offense) and reckless endangerment to children.
Jose Rivera, 32, 11 Congress Ave., Chelsea, was arrested on a warrant.
Alberto Garcia, 50, 303 Carter St., Chelsea, was arrested on a warrant.
Helen Correa, 47, 280 Main ST., Ashland, MA, was arrested for lights violation, possessing open container in motor vehicle.
Wayne Giangregorio, 55, 12 A Seaver St., East Boston, was arrested for witness intimidation.
Glenn Kerivan, 58, 171 Old Cambridge Rd., Woburn, was arrested for shoplifting.
Lawrence Polidor, 20, 41 Woodville St., Everett, was arrested for unlicensed operation of motor vehicle.
John Williamson, 59, 33 Maple St., Malden, was arrested for operating under the influence of drugs, leaving scene of property damage, failure to wear seat belt and Possessing Class A drug.
Santos Ventura, 47, 24 Malden ST., Everett, was arrested for incapacitated person and on a warrant.
Manuel Escobar, 20, 45 Addision St., Chelsea, was arrested on warrants and not in possession of license after accident.
Manrique Martinez, 47, 250 Clark Ave., Chelsea, was arrested for operating under the influence of liquor (5th offense) and Reckless endangerment to Children.
On Jan. 22, 2018, City Council unanimously adopted an order introduced by Councilor Leo Robinson requesting a Sub-Committee meeting. The meeting was to discuss a proposal by John Ruiz requesting a grant of $475,000 from the city to establish a youth center at the CCC (Old YMCA building). The three-year pilot proposal suggested project activities included boxing, basketball, volleyball, dance/aerobics, STEM-Focused Lewis Latimer Society Exhibitions, and drop-in programs as necessary.
The process of selecting non-profit recipients for grants is a function of the City Manager’s office. When a need in the community arises that the City is unable to meet, the City Manager’s office solicits proposals from non-profits and makes a final decision. Once a grantee is chosen, the City Manager requests funds from the City Council to cover the cost. This is otherwise known as the RFP process (Request for Proposal).
During the Sub-Committee meeting last week, I referenced the process of soliciting proposals, as the involvement of City Council so early was uncommon. If there was a pool of money available to grant for a potential teen center, then all non-profits should be allowed the opportunity to apply. Procedurally, the only time the Council has a say is when it is time to appropriate the funds for the chosen non-profit, after the City Manager has concluded his decision. With the understanding that the burden of decision-making rested with the City Manager, I saw no point as to why this was before us.
However, for the sake of open and honest debate around investments in our youth, I welcomed the dialogue.
Mr. John Ruiz gave an impassioned speech about wanting to give back to the community and councilors did their due diligence in asking questions to gain clarity around this proposed project. Balancing the needs of our youth and where to invest taxpayer dollars is a delicate situation. Yet, as representatives of the community, it is our duty to ask the proper questions to settle concerns.
My personal comments commended the former heavyweight-boxing champ in wanting to give back to the city. I made clear that all proposals were subject to a formal RFP process and encouraged Mr. Ruiz to have conversations with stakeholders (youth, youth organizations) to familiarize himself with the community again and better assess the popularity of boxing. I also suggested that if the champ wanted to give back to the community, he should consider investing in the Explorer Post 109 (which is currently housed in the CCC building). Ruiz’s contribution as a former member of the Post 109 could go a long way for the struggling, 62-year-old youth organization.
Let’s be clear that the City Council does not decide whether we grant Mr. Ruiz funds for his proposal.
That decision-making process rests solely with the City Manager.
The City Council as a body then votes on the appropriation of requested funds in which I am one out of 11 votes. Unfortunately, following the meeting, Mr. Ruiz allegedly chose to turn to social media and misrepresent my comments. At that moment it became clear to me that residents deserved more clarity around the facts as to how things transpired.
As a longtime boxing fan of Puerto Rican roots, I was ecstatic to meet the first Latino heavyweight boxer of the world. However, my fandom doesn’t equate to disregarding my role as a public servant. It is imperative that we continue to secure a fair and transparent process in the allocation of taxpayer dollars. As a longtime youth worker, I am appalled that someone who is proposing to manage a youth center would not look for better ways to demonstrate leadership. I cannot take responsibility for the advice given to Mr. Ruiz prior to the meeting; I did however encourage dialogue and identified ways in which Mr. Ruiz could seek out community input.
Moving forward, I have made it clear to the City Manager that future efforts must remain in his office as it is outside of the scope of Council’s responsibilities. As representatives of our community, we are always available to provide input. However, before anything comes before the City Council a system of checks and balances must be well outlined (budget, zoning, permitting and/or compliancy).
As I look back at where we are, I am proud to see the amazing work we’ve accomplished in the past couple of years. Reestablishing the Youth Commission, reviving our Recreational Dept., increase in youth programming across the city, and creating mentorship for our youth is a testament of our commitment to our future leaders.
This is what’s right about Chelsea.
The mere fact that we are discussing the empowerment of our youth and their need for services speaks volumes as to how far we’ve come. There will be minor setbacks as we strive toward a government that is transparent and inclusive of all. The true test is in how we learn from these experiences and rise above it all. I have the utmost faith in this community and feel confident that we will stand stronger as a result of these conversations.
On Feb. 1, Bill Zanparelli examines an abandoned car, found during Homeless Census Canvas “Project Opening Door” in Parking lot in Chelsea, MA. The car has broken windows and all windows are cardboarded with 2 flat tires. The volunteers suspect that it must have been used as a shelter by someone who does not have a permanent home.
When the Chelsea Youth Baseball League, more widely known as the Pony League, was at its height of popularity from the late 1960s through the 1980s, when large crowds made their way to Merritt and Voke Parks for nightly games, James “Bear” Burke was one of the true coaching legends.
Mr. Burke, a Chelsea baseball coaching force and former employee of the Chelsea DPW, died on Jan. 24, 2018. He was 75.
The managers in the Pony League were giants in the eyes of their players. Pony League was huge in those days and you had to tryout and be selected in a player draft.
You begin with manager Larry Notkin, whose eye for talent was second to none and whose Red Sox, Cubs, and Royals teams were always a title contender. Al Palladino was the knowledgeable and nervous manager of the Twins (and then the Yankees), perpetually dispensing words of baseball wisdom to his players.
Paul Casino, clerk to the Chelsea City Council, was so popular and respected as the manager of the Angels. He was elected easily to the Chelsea School Committee and Board of Aldermen and served this city well. Casino coached some of the league’s all-time greats including Bobby Spinney, Paul Spracklin, and Eric Shuman.
Richie Pezzuto was the highly energetic manager of the Astros, taking Dennis “Hawk” Murray as the No. 1 pick in one of the drafts and building a powerhouse.
George Triant managed the Orioles, who with a lineup of Mike Lush, Jerry Dion, Bobby Ham, Larry Skara, Wayne Morris, Paul Halas, and other big-time players, became the only team in league history to go undefeated.
Steve Socha took over the Red Sox and had all-time Little League All-Star southpaw Paul Wheeler, a terrific hockey and baseball player, on his roster.
And then there was Jimmy “Bear” Burke, the beloved manager of the Pirates who exuded his enthusiasm for the game of baseball every time he stepped on the field. The “Bear,” as he was affectionately known, knew his baseball well. His in-game exchanges with the other managers, especially Notkin, were of a competitive nature. All the managers were friendly rivals trying hard and devoting countless hours of practice time to their teams with the hope of claiming the coveted playoff championship.
Al Palladino remembers tangling with “Bear” as an opposing coach and then having him as his assistant coach. He has fond memories of his longtime friend.
“I feel so bad that Bear has passed away,” said Palladino. “He was such a good guy. He had a kind heart. I coached against him when he had the Pirates and he came back and coached with me when I had Paul Nowicki on my team.”
Palladino recalled a humorous interaction that the Bear had with another local sports legend, the late Arnold Goodman, during a league meeting. “They were on opposites of an issue but the Bear stood up and said, ‘I make a motion because Arnie Goodman says so,’ “and everyone in the room just broke out in laughter because Jimmy and Arnie had finally agreed to agree on the matter.”
Bucky Cole, one of the Pony League’s greatest ballplayers, was a member of Bear’s Pirates team in the mid-1960s. Cole joined the Pirates after a sensational career in the Chelsea Little League where he was that era’s Mike Lush.
“I was a proud member of his Pirates team and we played Larry Notkin’s Red Sox team in the finals and we lost to them,” recalled Cole. “The Bear put his heart and soul in to coaching. He really loved coaching. He and Larry were good friends but they were always rivals to the final game. It was like the Yankees and the Red Sox going at it. He was a great guy.”
Cole said he also worked with James “Bear” Burke in the Chelsea Park Department.
“What’s interesting is that my son, Tommy, also had the Bear as a coach when he was 16 years old,” said Cole. “That’s how long he coached.”
And that’s how long the Bear was a positive influence on Chelsea youths – for a lifetime.
The city of Chelsea has lost another widely revered personality in its sports history.
Chelsea City Councilor Judith Garcia announced that she has been selected as a political surrogate on Senator Elizabeth Warren’s reelection campaign, chosen from a sprawling list of notable political figures in the state.
Councilor Judith Garcia.
The 26-year-old, now in her second term, kicked off her efforts to reelect Sen. Warren at the Chelsea Public Library during this past Saturday’s caucus, where Garcia served as a spokesperson for the campaign.
“Senator Warren has remained committed to protecting the most vulnerable in our community, rebuilding economic security for our working families, and making a difference in our state,” Garcia said.
“During the last six years, Elizabeth has been a devoted leader who remains connected to our residents and the issues that affect us,” continued Garcia. “She pushed for the permanent extension of Earned Income and Child Tax Credits helping to keep 250,000 Massachusetts residents and more than 100,000 children out of poverty. Her values and morals are where they need to be.”
Councilor Garcia is a native of Chelsea, who grew up in a proud Spanish-speaking household. As the City Councilor of District 5, she is the first Honduran American woman to serve on the Chelsea City Council, as well as the youngest current member. Now, Judith dedicates her time to creating government that truly represents and works for its people.