Chelsea Fire Department Holds Successful Event at New Brown Jug Funds Will Go to New Firefighters Memorial

A large crowd attended the Chelsea Fire Department fundraiser Saturday night at the New Brown Jug.

Fire Captain Michael Thompson said the event helped the department reach its goal for the renovation project for the Chelsea Firefighters Memorial.

“We want to thank everybody for attending the fundraiser and making this event a big success,” said Thompson. “Many thanks to Michael Matrinko for being the gracious host that he was.”

Thompson also expressed his gratitude to Brian Greenhagen, owner of Mystic Brewery, for his generosity in hosting the April 6 CFD Chili-Off fundraiser at his establishment.

Event Organizer and CFD Captain Mike Thompson, New Brown Jug owner Mike Matrinko, and Event Chair and CFD Deputy Chief Mike Masucci at the Chelsea Fire Department fundraiser.

The Firefighters Memorial, located across the street from the Central Fire Station, was first erected in 1972. There had been no repairs at the site since that time.

Thompson served as a key organizer of the fundraiser. Deputy Fire Chief Mike Masucci was an organizer and a host of the event.

Read More

Workers at Everett/Chelsea Stop & Shop Store on Strike

Workers across the Greater Boston region took to the picket lines on Friday, April 12, to fight a continued contract battle against Stop & Shop – and workers were out in force at the Everett/Chelsea location as well.

Most workers at the local store asked shoppers to consider using another store, standing with strike signs to the side of the doors to the store.

Some 31,000 unionized grocery store employees were included in the strike, with many from the local store being Everett and Chelsea residents.

Long time Stop & Shop employee Mike Bruce strikes outside of his workplace in Everett.

The main contention of the demands by workers includes a fair wage, affordable/accessible health care and a reliable retirement plan.

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union said on Tuesday afternoon that they are still negotiating with the company but might have some news by the end of the week.

The struggle began earlier this year when the union contract was about to expire in February, with the Union threatening a strike. On Feb. 23, the contract did expire, and the Union authorized a strike. The union local representing Everett’s store is UFCW 1445.

“Stop & Shop has known for the past three years that our contract was set to expire on February 23,” read a statement from the union presidents in February. “But because of their continued corporate greed throughout these negotiations, Stop & Shop employees and customers now find themselves in a position where job actions may take place.”

While federal mediation was taking place in the time from that strike authorization to now, talks did break down recently – prompting the strike action.

Local officials made visits to the front lines over the weekend.

State Sen. Sal DiDomenico said Stop & Shop, and its parent company Royal Ahold, should treat the workers with dignity and respect.

“Once again, we have another corporate giant who refuses to treat it’s employees with dignity and respect,” said DiDomenico. “I have been a frequent shopper at Stop & Shop and I will no longer step foot in any of their stores until they come to a resolution with the union workers and provide them a fair contract. I am proud to support Stop & Shop workers in their fight for fair wages, affordable health care, and a dependable retirement, and I will continue to stand with them in this fight and urge everyone to respect their picket line.”

Stop & Shop officials said that negotiations are continuing with the UFCW union locals, again with the support of federal mediators.

The company has said they have been very generous in their contract offer to the UFCW union.

On health care, they indicated they have agreed to pay 92 percent of heath premiums for family coverage and 88 percent for individuals. Th company said that is much more than other large retailers – citing that the federal government pays 72 percent and other employers average between 70 and 80 percent. Additionally, the offer includes no changes to the deductibles, and small increases to co-pays.

The company said it is also offering a defined benefit pension plan that pays between $1,926 and $2,644 annually per associate. In the new contract, the company said it has agreed to increase contributions to pension funds.

Also, they added that the paid time off has not changed and continues to be 10 to 12 paid holidays per year.

Read More

City Looks to Introduce 3-1-1 Reporting System for Constituent Services

Have a problem?

Soon Chelsea – like other cities – can “3-1-1” it.

City Manager Tom Ambrosino said he hopes to proceed with introducing a 311 constituent services reporting platform to the City in the next fiscal year, which begins on July 1.

Already, Everett, Revere, Boston and others feature a telephone and online/app 311 system that residents can use to report anything from a pothole to graffiti to a rabid skunk.

“The goal is to provide better and more prompt responsiveness to constituent complaints,” read a letter from Ambrosino to the Council.

Ambrosino said the system he has in mind would operate with two employees working out of the DPW building. They would field complaints from 311 by telephone, email, text message and web-based reporting. They would fall under the supervision of Public Works Commissioner Fidel Maltez.

Once having taken the complaint, the employees would then assign the complaint to the appropriate department.

That would open up a series of accountability measures on each complaint, he said.

“These employees will be responsible for assigning the issue to the appropriate department representative or directly accessing the relevant information in a City database, tracking progress on the issue providing information on the resolution of the issue to the individual who reported it,” he wrote. “We believe this will be a much more effective way of addressing constituent complaints and hopefully it will be well-received by our residents.”

Start-up costs would look to be $162,000 for employees and the computer software. He said there is already $27,000 set aside for the program, and $50,000 from a state grant received last year. The remainder of the first-year costs would have to come from a budget request.

“I hope the Council will see the benefits of this improved constituent services effort and approve the requested FY20 appropriations,” he wrote.

The new system would replace the old SeeClickFix reporting system, which never worked as advertised.

Read More

School Committee Chair Rich Maronski Resigns from His Seat Cites Frustrations with Committee Attendance

School Committee Chair Rich Maronski Resigns from His Seat Cites Frustrations with Committee Attendance

School Committee Chair Rich Maronski announced on Tuesday that he will be resigning from the Committee as of May 3 – citing that the frustrations with attendance at the meetings was getting in the way of his family life.

Maronski has been on the Committee for four years, and was appointed at the time. He previously served on the City Council, but said his experience on the School Committee was much more frustrating – leading him to decide it was time to move on.

“I believe the taxpayers aren’t getting their money’s worth and the kids are paying the penalty,” he said. “It needs to change. Our School Committee needs to go back the old way or they need to be appointed. It’s the only job I know where you don’t have to show up, don’t have to call in and don’t get fired. I hope our City leaders take a deep look at this and make some changes.”

Maronski was elected chair this year in his fourth year, and he was accompanied as vice chair by Julio Hernandez, who also resigned last week.

While Hernandez cited family and school complications, he also said he left frustrated by the sparse attendance of some members of the Committee.

“I loved working in the School Committee, but it also made me angry to see some members not show up to meetings, not ask questions, and not have thorough discussions regarding our students’ education,” he said in a statement last week. “…I now believe School Committee Members should be appointed, because our students’ education is no joke.”

Maronski said things started off bad from day one, when he showed up to take his appointed seat but not enough School Committee members showed up to form a quorum and have an official meeting.

“I had to come back another night when there were enough members there to have a meeting,” he said.

He also said he became severely frustrated two years ago when the Committee was faced with voting on a $1.1 million grant that would help save jobs for teachers that had been cut.

The Committee only had to show up in enough numbers for a formality vote that accepted the grant.

“We didn’t have enough members for a quorum and we couldn’t vote on a measure that was going to save teacher jobs,” he said. “There are no phone calls and people just don’t show up…It’s been going on for years.”

More recently, he said the Committee wasn’t able to get enough people to vote on the Superintendent’s Job Description, so the Search Committee had to work for a month with only an unapproved draft until they could get enough members at a meeting to vote.

“My well-being and my family’s well-being come first,” he said. “I was taking this home with me. I’m getting married soon and it wasn’t fair. The reason why I chose to resign is because maybe I could bring light to our City leaders that this situation has to change…We do have some very good School Committee members that give their time, but a lot don’t.”

He said the Committee also plays an important role for supporting the kids in the schools. He said he would love to see a Committee where members are active and involved, supporting the kids at reading events, sporting events and concerts.

“We live in a City where there are a lot of single parent homes and so it’s even more important the School Committee members show up to these kids’ events to support them,” he added.

Maronski said he had all the respect in the world for the Central Office, the principals, the teachers and the buildings/grounds crews.

He also said Supt. Mary Bourque has done a great job in a hard job.

“Mary Bourque has the toughest job in the city,” he said. “We had our differences, but 90 percent of the time we agreed and only 10 percent we didn’t.”

Read More

Pupusa Fiesta Highlights Latino Cuisine; Ready to Roll Out on April 7

Pupusa Fiesta Highlights  Latino Cuisine; Ready to Roll  Out on April 7

Several local restaurants and the City’s Chelsea Prospers program is stepping up to celebrate all things about the pupusa this Sunday, April 7, at Emiliana Fiesta as part of the first annual Pupusa Fiesta.

As a precursor to the coming Night Market events, and a nod to the City’s Latino and Central American heritage, the City and local business owners have combined efforts to put on a free festival to highlight the stuffed corn tortilla delicacy – as well as all the trimmings that go with it.

Downtown Coordinator Mimi Graney said that five businesses have signed up to participate in the free event, where they will have pupusa samples, forchata drinks, pupusa-making demos, curtido and mariachi music.

“It’s kind of flexing our muscles to see how well we get people together and I also wanted to have a celebration of a particular food that we have in Chelsea,” said Graney.

Julio Flores of El Santaneco Restaurant said they are very excited to participate and feel it is very important that a dish like the pupusa is being highlighted.

“We’re very excited because we opened the restaurant in 2000, and since then we’ve participated in different events like Taste of Chelsea and others,” he said. “However, this is the first time it’s going to be just about the Latino cuisine – particularly the pupusa. That’s a very huge thing.”

A pupusa is a thick corn tortilla stuffed with cheese and beans – sometimes meats as well. Curtido is a common side dish with the pupusa and it is a vinegar-based slaw made of cabbage and carrots – and a touch of spiciness.

“I think the city manager and Mimi and Chelsea Prospers are doing a great job because I’m not 100 percent sure, but I think it’s the first time there is an event just about Latino food. It also opens up the opportunity for this to happen again. I would love to see this as an opportunity to start a tradition and that it won’t be a one-time event.”

He also said it gives homage to the culture in Chelsea, but a culture that is changing.

“The City is changing,” he said. “The Latino community has been in Chelsea many years.”

The Pupusa Fiesta will take place on Sunday, April 7, from 2-5 p.m. at Emiliana Fiesta, 35 Fourth St. It is a free event.

Read More

Investigators Found a Culture of Secrecy, Failure to Follow Policies for Steve Wynn Complaints

Investigators Found a Culture of Secrecy, Failure to Follow Policies for Steve Wynn Complaints

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) unveiled its long-anticipated investigation of Wynn Resorts and Encore Boston Harbor and reported they found a company culture that did not follow policies when allegations were made against former CEO Steve Wynn, and also used extreme secrecy to hide allegations and settlements involving him in several cases.

That, however, was tempered also by a laundry list of changes that the company has made in the last 14 months, including ousting Steve Wynn and implementing a robust corporate governance structure.

“However,” said Karen Wells, MGC Investigations and Enforcement Bureau (IEB) director, “the past cannot be erased by these changes.”

That set the tone for the unveiling of what had been found over the last year by the IEB using thousands of pages of information, conducting hundreds of witness interviews, and traveling to six states to produce the report. That report had been held up with a lawsuit from Steve Wynn last November asserting attorney-client privilege, but that suit was recently settled and that allowed the unveiling to go forward Tuesday morning.

“In evaluating the IEB investigation, it showed a pattern of certain employees, including the Legal Division, disregarding policies when it came to allegations against Mr. Wynn,” she said. “It showed they made great efforts at secrecy so that it made it difficult if not impossible for gaming regulators to uncover these incidents.”

Earlier, she also said, “The investigation actually revealed a culture in the company where employees hesitated to report sexual misconduct allegations against Mr. Wynn. We found the company failed to safeguard the well-being and safety of its employees.”

At the outset of the investigation unveiling, Loretta Lillios, of the IEB, said what happened at the company mattered. She bookended the impending report with the idea that a gaming license is a privilege and not a right – noting that companies have to always keep proper policies and conduct in place or risk losing the license.

It was a warning that all things were on the table, including the loss of Encore’s license.

“The IEB’s investigation revealed the company’s adherence to these criteria has been called into question,” she said. “What happened at the company matters. It matters to the women who have been directly affected by the allegations of sexual misconduct. It matters to the workforce and employees here. It matters to the Commission. It matters to the people of Massachusetts… After all the evidence and testimony is presented, you will have ample information to apply the law and make a sound determination.”

Wells detailed for most of her presentation the allegations against Steve Wynn, using a timeline to go through the allegations and the response to them. She started in 2005 with the settlement paid to a manicurist at Wynn Las Vegas who claimed she had been raped by Steve Wynn and was now pregnant as a result of two such encounters. That allegation was detailed in the original Wall Street Journal article in January 2018 that opened the entire sexual misconduct situation.

A main issue, Wells said, was to not decide whether the allegations were true, but whether the company responded correctly and whether it should have divulged information to the MGC in 2013.

“The Commission is not evaluating whether the allegations are true or false, but it is evaluating the company’s response to the allegations,” she said. “A key question for the Commission to consider is whether the company’s failure to divulge derogatory information may have a role in suitability or the suitability of a qualifier…We now know in 2013 at least three Massachusetts qualifiers had knowledge of these allegations. They were Steve Wynn, Elaine Wynn and Kim Sinatra…A key question for the Commission is whether this relevant information should have been divulged on the front end rather than us having to investigate this now.”

The IEB also indicated that they tried to interview Steve Wynn several times, and he declined. However, he did release a statement that was read by Wells to the Commission.

“I had multiple sexual relationships during my tenure at Wynn Resorts and made no attempt to document them,” the statement read. “I do not believe any of the specific details of these relationships are material to the issues I understand are being reviewed by the special committee. I recognize some of the names obtained in the witness questions, but have no memory of ever meeting or having relationships with the women whose names are in your questions. I deny having any relationship that was not consensual. During the time I was employed by Wynn I was aware of a code of conduct and other policies. I was not however familiar with the details of those policies.”

Many of the key questions in the investigation included information garnered during discovery in the case of Elaine Wynn vs. Steve Wynn, as well as in a case known as the Okada case. Much of what was brought out in regard to the allegations and the response to them came from that case.

For Sinatra, who left the company in July 2018 with a multi-million dollar severance package, it became clear she knew of the allegations against Wynn during the 2013 suitability hearings. Yet, she did not divulge them, and the investigation seemed to suggest she wasn’t clear as to what she remembered knowing.

One such exchange involved an e-mail chain where a letter detailing a hostile working environment was described. That letter in that e-mail was up for dispute as to whether Sinatra read it, read all of it, or if she even really knew about it.

Much of her responses, according to the report, were that she didn’t recall a lot of information.

“I don’t recall if I knew in `14,” she had responded when asked if she knew the original 2005 case included a rape allegation of the manicurist.

Also in question was how the company responded after the Wall Street Journal article, including putting out an immediate statement of support letter for Steve Wynn to employees. That statement also included a reference to the article as being the latest strategy in Elaine Wynn’s legal case against the company.

Wells said that was put out before any investigation into the matter and without consideration to employees that may have been affected by Steve Wynn’s alleged behavior.

Wynn Communications Director Michael Weaver said he would not do that again if he were to do it over.

“Mr. Weaver stated to investigators that if he was to do it over again, he would do it differently,” Wells testified.

Maddox also told investigators that he simply believed Steve Wynn.

“As ridiculous as it looks now, we believed it,” Wells summarized. “We believed it. I know it’s tone deaf.”

The letter to employees went out with the input of Steve Wynn and others in the organization, but was under the signature of Wynn Las Vegas President Maurice Wooden – who indicated he was uncomfortable with the letter in his name but felt he had no choice in the matter.

That letter was followed up by what turned out to be an ill-advised Town Hall style employee meeting tour by Steve Wynn and other company officials. It had been reported in media accounts that employees at the Town Halls were asked to raise their hands if Steve Wynn had assaulted or abused them. That had not been confirmed before, but the IEB investigation revealed that Wynn Attorney Stacy Michaels told investigators that she was present and that did happen.

• • • •

The remainder of the first day of hearings focused on the new Board members and the new members of the corporate hierarchy.

The MGC listened to detailed presentations about each new Board member and each new employee. Each told the story of how they had been recruited – some by Matt Maddox – to serve on the Board in the aftermath of the crisis at the company.

All of them were being reviewed by the MGC for suitability, and if they were qualified to serve on the Board or work in their positions.

The testimony by Wynn attorneys was to begin on Wednesday, where they would present their case and ask questions regarding the IEB report.

• • • •

The MGC did remind everyone that there would be no vote at the end of the proceedings, nor would there be any sort of discussion of the report or testimony.

Instead, when all of the information had been gathered, the MGC would deliberate in private – with the option of asking for more or additional information.

At some point in the near future, they would issue their findings and their remedies – including the possibility of stripping the license – in a written report.

Read More

Appreciation – Remembering Trina Wilkerson

Appreciation –  Remembering Trina  Wilkerson

Hundreds of friends, family, former high school classmates, and co-workers paid their respects to Trina Louise Wilkerson during memorial observances at the Emmanuel Baptist Church in Malden.

Trina passed away unexpectedly on March 6. She was 45 years old.

Reggie Wilkerson, her older brother and one of Chelsea High’s greatest quarterbacks, said he appreciated the many people who came out to pay tribute to his sister’s beautiful life.

Trina was a lifelong supporter of Reggie’s and the caretaker of the well-known Wilkerson family.

“Trina was a great little sister, the best,” said Reggie. “She was always there for me. She took care of our family, and that was so important. She took so much care of everybody in our family.”

Reggie and Trina participated in Chelsea Pop Warner together, he as a football player, she as a cheerleader.

Trina was an amazing party organizer and loved being around people. She uplifted others with her smile and kind words.

When Irena Wilkerson, Reggie and Trina’s beloved mother, passed away, Trina decided to organize a party to honor her and donate the proceeds to the American Cancer Society. Reggie helped out, to be sure, but Trina was the planner who took care of the details to insure the success of the event, making sure that everyone had a good time.

Reggie said he will carry on with the fifth annual fundraiser – in memory of Irena Wilkerson and Trina Wilkerson – and host the benefit this Saturday, March 30, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Merritt Club.

Paying their respects

One of the many friends who turned out for the tribute to Trina Wilkerson was Phunk Phenomenon Dance Studio owner Reia Briggs Connor.

“Reia was one of my sister’s best friends,” said Reggie. “Reia, my sister, and I used to take dance lessons together at Genevieve’s. I was a dancer, too. We used to wear our little costumes.”

City Councillors Leo Robinson and Calvin Brown joined other local dignitaries in paying their respects to Trina.

“Just a great young lady,” said Calvin Brown. “I’m so fortunate to having gotten to know Trina and her beautiful family. We have lost a great person, someone who loved Chelsea and gave back to her community.”

Also turning out for the memorial observances in Malden were Trina’s co-workers at Hyde Park Community Center.

“My sister was a youth counselor in Boston, so there were a lot of youths whom my sister mentored during their childhood – they spoke at the services,” said Reggie. “It was very touching to hear their stories and how much they loved my sister and what she did to help them succeed in their lives. I was like, ‘wow, for real?’

Reggie said during the observances a gentleman approached him and said, “Your sister (Trina) helped my daughter so much. She suffered from low self-esteem, her confidence level was low and she didn’t believe in her artwork. He said to me, ‘your sister mentored her and she raised her confidence level and she got my daughter to believe in her work.

“And Reggie, I want to tell you that because of Trina, my daughter was accepted to the school of her choice – and we owe this all to your sister.”

Heartwarming stories like that about Trina – a 2017 recipient of the CBC’s prestigious Chelsea Trailblazer Award – have helped Reggie and the family during this difficult time.

“Trina did so much for kids and the community in general,” said Reggie proudly. “I want to carry on her legacy of caring and kindness and her generosity of spirit.”

Read More

School Committeeman Julio Hernandez Resigns

School Committeeman Julio Hernandez Resigns

By Adam Swift and Seth Daniel

In a sudden move, District 5 School Committee member Julio Hernandez has resigned – one of the City’s up-and-coming political figures that many thought had a big future on the Committee.

Hernandez, a Chelsea High graduate, told the Record this week that it was with a heavy heart that he resigned, and he felt it was necessary as he had to work more hours and attend college at the same time.

“When I ran for office, I had more support from my family,” he said. “As rent started getting higher, I knew that I needed more income, and while still being in college, I decided to look at other jobs.

“I loved working in the School Committee, but it also made me angry to see some members not show up to meetings, not ask questions, and not have thorough discussions regarding our students’ education,” he continued. “Student advocacy has always been my platform, to serve all students the right way. From starting the policy of an outdoor graduation, to having the opportunity to work with many teachers who really care about this community. I now believe School Committee Members should be appointed, because our student’s education is no joke.”

Hernandez, 20, said college, family and financial constraints hit all at once this year, and he couldn’t in good conscience serve on the Committee while not being able to show up.

“I know once I’m done with college, I’ll be back to serve the community I love and cherish,” he said. “I want to thank all the people who supported me, and are still supporting me in my time of sorrow.”

At Monday night’s City Council meeting, Council President Damali Vidot said Hernandez had given notice to the City Clerk that he would be stepping down as of April.

Because his resignation is more than 180 days from a City Election, Vidot said the City Charter calls for a joint meeting of the Council and the School Committee within 30 days to appoint a replacement. That replacement would serve through the city election in November, when the position will be on the ballot.

“Julio was an incredible leader during his tenure,” said District 5 City Councillor Judith Garcia. “He did an incredible job while on the School Committee and was a great representative for District 5.”

Garcia encouraged anyone from District 5 who is interested to apply for the open seat.

However, Councillor-At-Large Roy Avellaneda said the Council and the School Committee may want to leave the position open until the municipal election.

“I may have some reservations about filling the post,” said Avellaneda. “There’s only one more month until (candidates can) pull papers, and then the election is in November. I feel it may be best to leave the seat unfilled.”

Appointing someone to a short-term on the School Committee would give that person a leg up on other candidates who run for the seat in the general election, Avellaneda said.

Read More

Cocinas Program Looks to Promote Healthy Eating with Traditional Foods

Cocinas Program Looks to Promote Healthy Eating with Traditional Foods

When Jose Barriga was working as a translator at an area hospital, he routinely saw a cycle of poor health from his Latino patients that seemed to be caused by the food they ate.

Jose Barriga (center) discusses the Malanga with Bessie Pacheco and Alicia Castillo on Monday during the Cocinas Saludables Seminar program in Chelsea this March. Participants in the two-week class meet at the Chelsea Collaborative and travel to Stop & Compare Supermarket in Bellingham Square to discuss healthier alternatives in cooking traditional Latino dishes. The class continues on April 1 where participants will cook a traditional
meal using the new techniques and ingredients.

Many of them new to the country, or having come as adults, food and cooking and daily life was far different than in their native countries. Yet many still cooked and ate in the same ways that they did when they lived at home.

Doctors suggesting that patients give up their traditional food was a non-starter, even if they agreed to it at the hospital.

Above, Grisalda Valesquez examines a package of garlic.
Below, Leslie Garcia examining Goya brown rice with Grisalda Valesquez.

At the same time, Barriga saw that something did need to change, but maybe not altogether.

That’s what bore the idea of the Cocinas Saludables program in Chelsea, which is in its second year and is a partnership with the Cambridge Food Lab, Chelsea Collaborative, and Healthy Chelsea.

“What I realized when I was interpreting is there is a big problem in communication between health care providers and the Latino community,” he said. “A doctor will say you need to change how you eat, usually suggesting to cook brown rice or eat other foods. They have the best interests, but the language is not effective. I was seeing a cycle. I saw mothers with diabetes bringing children who were overweight. The issues they were having in large part was due to the foods they were eating or their cooking techniques. This is a huge, huge problem from a public health perspective in the Latino community.”

What Barriga and the other partners are trying to do is create the best of both worlds.

They’re looking to have their arroz con habichuelas, and eat them too.

Anais Caraballo of the Collaborative said they are excited to host the class for a second year, and said she sees a great value in educating people on how to cook traditional foods in a more healthy manner.

“I think it’s very important coming from a Puerto Rican background,” she said. “It’s a great program to have the community become more aware of healthier ways to eat and cook, but at the same time still be able to enjoy cultural foods that are an ingrained part of their lives.”

On Monday, Barriga and a class of 10 people met in the Collaborative to talk about foods and cooking and how people thought about food. That was followed up with a trip to Stop & Compare – a loyal partner to the program. There, those in the class walked through the aisles with Barriga to look at ingredients in their traditional foods.

Armed with materials from their class, and the advice of Barriga, they looked at the ingredients they usually buy, and considered alternatives that were healthier. In that sense, they didn’t have to give up the foods that meant so much to them, and they could also ensure they were eating healthy.

Barriga said he customizes the class according to the culture. If there are a lot of Caribbean cultures in the class – such as Puerto Ricans – he will discuss different ways of cooking aside from frying – as well as using healthier oils when cooking the food.

“When it comes to the Caribbean community, it’s talking about fried foods, which is a constant in the Caribbean diet,” he said. “My proposal isn’t to be 100 percent healthy options. If you come and say you have to change everything you eat, people won’t do it. I give them a couple of changes that will help their overall health in the long run. I try to be realistic. For the Caribbean cultures, I tell them to avoid fried foods sometimes, and try to sauté a little more so they use less oil.”

Another issue is that many people who have just come from outside the United States arrive and find food cheaper and more accessible. For example, a family in El Salvador may only have had meat one time a week. However, in the U.S. they find they can have it seven days a week, and they do that.

“If you grow up poor and food was a problem, then you come to the U.S. and food is plentiful,” he said.

That is also true when it comes to activity.

Many people had a similar diet in their home countries, but they often had to walk or bicycle many miles each day just to do simple tasks. That active lifestyle and different climate helped to regulate their diet.

Once here in Chelsea, they find themselves far less active and in a climate that is inhospitable to them six months of the year.

“I call that the food-culture clash,” he said. “They have no cars in many Latin American countries. They walk or they bike. People come here and they get overweight because it’s very comfortable. They drive and there is a lack of physical activity, which is a major symptom of being overweight.”

Next Monday, students in the Cocinas class will gather the remainder of their ingredients and cook up traditional foods with a healthy twist.

Read More

A Lot of Noise but Little Action on Planes at Council

A Lot of Noise but Little Action on Planes at Council

For as long as jets have rumbled over Chelsea as they land at and depart from Logan Airport, City officials have struggled with getting state and federal officials to help mitigate the noise from that air traffic.

Monday night, District 6 City Councillor Giovanni Recupero introduced an order asking City Manager Tom Ambrosino to look at renegotiating a deal with Massport to bring back the window and soundproofing program to the city.

“People deserve a little more consideration than they have been given,” said Recupero.

The Councillor said he would like to see Massport provide soundproof windows for residents suffering excessive noise from plane traffic, as it has done in the past.

“I’d like to get them back to the table and figure out a way to help with the problem,” Recupero said.

Councillor-At-Large Roy Avellaneda said he appreciated Recupero’s efforts to get Massport back to the table to discuss sound mitigation, but that he didn’t have high hopes that it would be successful.

“Whenever the City Manager has approached Massport, the answer has been that it is a nonstarter; they have done their program,” said Avellaneda.

Avellaneda said he has been working with City Manager Tom Ambrosino to find a company to undertake an independent sound study of noise from the airport. But, he said it has been very difficult to find a company qualified to do that study.

If a company is found that can perform an independent sound study, Avellaneda said he hopes it has the support of his fellow councillors.

On the positive side, Avellaneda said he attended a recent Massport meeting with airport communities in which officials stated that a new Massport sound study is underway. He said this study will take into account items that a study released in 2017 did not take into account, such as the impact of hills on sound and the resonating sound of airplanes.

The 2017 study was conducted by the Center for Research on Environmental and Social Stressors in Housing Across the Life Course (CRESSH), which is a division of the BU School of Public Health.

That report showed that flights over Chelsea have nearly doubled between 2011 and 2015, and that certain health effects associated with airplane noise are very high in Chelsea.

But getting Massport to kick in for additional noise mitigation efforts has been an uphill battle.

“Confronted with the increase in air traffic, their response has been, ‘But our planes are quieter,’” said Avellaneda.

The Councillor has been pushing for the independent noise study since at least the time the 2017 airport noise study was unveiled.

“We (can) do a real noise study with proper equipment and prepare to say we have proof that our community is impacted and possibly prepare to embark on a lawsuit against MassPort and the FAA,” he said at the time.

•In other business, the Council unanimously approved sending a home rule petition to the state legislature that will allow for the construction of the new Innes Housing Development.

•Recupero introduced an order asking the City Manager look into hiring another animal control officer for the purpose of issuing fines to people that don’t clean up after their dogs.

•Councillor-At-Large Leo Robinson introduced orders asking the City Manager for updates on the City’s master plan and the status of the Salvation Army building on Broadway. The Council approved taking the building by eminent domain in 2017.

•District 1 Councillor Robert Bishop was absent from Monday night’s meeting, but with good reason. He was celebrating his 35th anniversary with his wife. Happy anniversary to the Bishops.

Read More