Here Comes Herbie! : Chelsea Legend Celebrates His 80th Birthday

Happy 80th birthday, Herbie Kupersmith.

A huge crowd is expected to be on hand when Chelsea honors one of its most prominent and philanthropic individuals on July 27 at the Saul Nechtem Gymnasium.

And what they will be celebrating is not only Herbie Kupersmith’s milestone birthday but all the good deeds that Herbie has done in a life well lived.

Herbie’s proud family, his wife, Cookie, daughters, Karyn, Stacey, and Marci and grandchildren, Michael, Jackie, and Colin head the list of guests that will travel far and wide to be at the party.

Guidance From his Mother and Four Valuable Mentors

Herbie Kupersmith moved from Brooklyn to Chelsea with his mother, Sally, when he was two-and-half years old.

“We lived on 13 Michael’s Place, which was off Williams Street,” said Herbie, an only child. “We were 35 feet away from the Chelsea Dump.”

Four highly respected Chelsea men would become Herbie’s “mentors.”

“Hugh J. McLaughlin, the former mayor, Julius Zeff, teacher and basketball coach, Paul “Choc” Glazer, community leader and head of the YMHA, and Harry Coltun, legal counsel for the Mass. House of Representatives – those four people, along with my mother – made it possible for me to be the person I am today,” said Herbie.

Herbie began attending the Walnut Street Synagogue as a young boy and was bar mitzvahed there in 1952. It was the beginning of his lifelong connection and support of the shul. Through the years Herbie has been instrumental in fundraising and helping the historic shul remain in operation.

What Herbie remembers most about his bar mitzvah was the advice he received from his mother in the form of three letters she had handwritten to him.

“Never drink the cup dry – leave some for other people,” recalled Herbie. “No. 2 was, if you’re going to do something, do it because you want to do it, not because you want to get accolades. And No. 3, my mother wrote, ‘I want you to be a giver, not a taker.’”

Herbie developed a love of sports at a young age. He was the starting guard for the Williams Junior High School basketball team that won 27 games in a row. He later played basketball at Chelsea High School for Coach Saul Nechtem.

Success in the Business World

After high school Herbie took a job at Nunn Bush selling shoes at Kennedy’s and Filene’s.

He had other jobs in sales before taking a position at Bobbie Brooks, a junior sportswear company.

With his magnetic personality, charisma, style, street smarts, common sense, honesty and integrity, Herbie set sales records and took over the entire Boston territory. He remained at Bobbie Brooks for 25 years.

All About Family

He met his future wife, Cookie, on a blind date and they were married in May, 1965.

They began their life together in Malden and moved to Marblehead in December, 1965. They have lived in the town ever since.

The Kupersmiths have three children, Karyn, Stacey, and Marci, all of whom are college graduates. Two of the Kupersmith grandchildren, Michael Walsh and Jackie Walsh, are graduates of Brown University. A third grandchild, Colin Walsh, is a student at Elon College in North Carolina.

A Party for Herbie That is Also a Testimonial

The upcoming birthday party will be a testimonial in many ways, with so many people wanting to thank Herbie for the help and support he has given them in so many ways.

The student-athletes like former Marblehead and Stonehill College basketball standout David Siggers, the coaches like John DiBiaso, the members of the congregation at Walnut Street Synagogue, the business associates, the friends like lifelong buddy Lennie Nelson, the co-chairs of planning committees like the great Minna Karas-Marino, and the city officials like Leo Robinson – they’ll all be there to say “Thank you, Herbie,” for being such a positive, uplifting presence in my life.

Rita’s will cater the gala affair. Comedian Brad Mastrangelo will perform and DJ George Athas will provide the musical entertainment. Former City Manager Jay Ash will be one of the speakers during the program.

“It should be a nice evening,” said Herbie humbly.

True to Herbie’s giving nature, all donations from the birthday party will go toward a scholarship fund for Chelsea students.

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Police Briefs 07-18-2019

Vandalized Chelsea Walk Pub

On June 18 at 4:39 a.m., officers were dispatched to 411 Broadway for a report of a disturbance. The calling party who resides at that address stated they heard a loud bang and an alarm going off. Upon arrival, Officers heard an alarm sounding from The Chelsea Walk Pub located at 416 Broadway. Officers observed the front door glass had been shattered. The door was open and Officers entered the building and located a brick on the ground. Officers searched the building, but did not locate anyone inside. Officers reviewed the city cameras and that information led them to place the female suspect under arrest. The female also had outstanding warrants out of the state of Florida.

Guillermina Montanez, 49, of 439 Broadway, was charged with breaking and entering a building in the night, possession of burglarious tools, being a fugitive from justice and one warrant.

Assaulted at the Basket

On June 25, at 6:02 p.m., CPD officers responded to the Market Basket on a report of a shoplifter who assaulted an employee. Officers were told that a manager attempted to stop a female accused of shoplifting $43 worth of items when he was attacked. The manager stated he was struck in the face with a set of keys from the shoplifter. A description was broadcast to officers in the area and the female subject was taken into custody.

Rosa Lawson, 42, of 827 Broadway, was charged with armed robbery, assault and battery, threatening to commit a crime and two counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.

Wrong Way

On June 25, at 11:40 p.m., CPD officers observed a Red Ford Focus traveling in the wrong direction on Broadway. Upon speaking with the operator, it was determined he did not have a license to operate a motor vehicle. And he was arrested.

Ever Gutierrez Vargas, 23, of Cambridge, was charged with unlicensed operation and one way violation.

Car Break

On July 2, at 10:10 a.m., officers were dispatched to 73 Pearl St. for a report of a male party checking the door handles to motor vehicles who was now sitting inside a grey motor vehicle. Upon officers’ arrival, an unknown male party was observed in the rear seat of a grey motor vehicle. The motor vehicle was parked on private property with no license plates attached. A vehicle VIN number was located and given to Chelsea Control for owner information. It was determined by the owner that the person inside was known to him. He was placed under arrest.

Melvy Amaya, 21, of 106 Williams St., was charged with breaking and entering a vehicle in the day for a felony.

Stole Items From Car

On July 6, at 10;10 a.m., a CPD officer was dispatched to 793 Broadway for a report of malicious damage to a motor vehicle. The officer observed a Honda CR-V with the back passenger side window smashed. The owner of the vehicle stated that she discovered the vehicle damaged around 10 a.m. Officers were able to review security footage and identify a male subject smash window and remove items from the car. A short time later officers observed a male matching the description on Shawmut Street. He was placed under arrest on scene. Albin Hernandez, 37, of 466 Broadway, was charged with breaking and entering a vehicle in the day for a felony and possession of burglarious tools.

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Island End River in the Midst of Major Flood Protection Project

Few places in the food supply chain for Greater Boston and beyond are more vulnerable than the New England Produce Center.

That huge food resource for the region, along with other industries, are very close to sea level and, as discovered a few years ago, very prone to flooding and sea level surges.

Now, the City of Chelsea is poised to begin a major project at the Island End River that will help to protect the industrial areas along Beacham Street and enhance the environment around the improving Island End River.

“That area is about six or seven feet above sea level now, and experts expect sea level and storm surges at 14 feet above sea level by the end of the century,” said Alex Train, of the Chelsea Planning Department. “This project is in concert with Everett and it’s gathered a lot of momentum. It’s a priority of the City Manager and our department because we understand how much is at risk. It’s a gamble otherwise and we don’t like to gamble in the planning industry.”

Such a gamble was clearly seen two winters ago when huge coastal surge storms lifted the water levels into the industrial areas along the Island End, nearly causing major disruptions and opening a lot of eyes to the vulnerability of the situation.

The project has been supported by a grant from the Coastal Zone Management Office, as well as the Chelsea and Everett City Councils.

The project includes gray infrastructure, such as flood walls and berms by the Island End River. It also includes green infrastructure with the restoration of the salt marshes abutting the Island End. At the same time, they will also be able to add some amenities for the public like a Boardwalk to connect to the Admiral’s Hill Marina area.

“It’s going to be a sizeable project, but in the context of the surrounding industrial businesses and the produce center, it’s easily a worthwhile initiative on our end,” said Train.

Right now, in Chelsea, they are at 60 percent engineering design on the project. Everett is a little bit further behind as they are in the Designated Port Area (DPA) and require many more steps. Everett is currently in a schematic design phase.

On the Chelsea side, Train said they will culminate design this summer, and then look for further grants this winter. Then they will engage in the final engineering, permitting and construction phases.

The project will also be tied into the large Beacham Street roadway, sidewalk and bike path improvements that are also coming soon.

A report in 2015 by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) showed that the Produce Center generates $2.3 billion of economic activity per year, and the entire industrial district generates $7 billion per year. There are 5,000 direct jobs there and 10,000 supportive jobs there.

“Many of that activity and those jobs benefit Chelsea and Everett residents and they are solid middle-class jobs and we’re committed to protecting them for our residents,” said Train.

Other Development Activity

•The City has received a PARC grant for rehabilitation of the O’Neil Playground on the hill up from Williams Street. The new design will encourage water features and tree canopies. The restoration will look to prevent heat islands and provide a cool place during the summer. The project is currently under construction and should be substantially completed by the fall. It came in at a cost of $884,000.

•The Eden Street playground is currently in design. The new design will also feature a robust tree canopy and more permeable surfaces. The project will be bid out in September, with a fall start. Construction will start up again in the spring for a substantial completion by summer 2020. That project was supported by a $400,000 PARC grant.

•Voke Park is another area that will soon receive more attention. The Bocce Court and fields were done over two years ago, but now it’s time for some attention to be paid to the playground. Already, they have had one public meeting to get input on the park, and they are working on conceptual designs now.

“We’ll apply for a grant in July to secure funding,” said Train.

Design will be done in June 2020 and construction on that is likely to be 2021.

•The City is preparing to modernize the traffic signals and intersections at Williams/Chestnut and Williams/Broadway this summer. That upgrade will include new Smart Traffic Signals that are able to read the traffic flow and adjust signal timing on the fly. One of those lights has already been installed on Broadway and Webster earlier this year. Sidewalks will also be touched up as well.

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Ambrosino Asks to Renegotiate Casino Agreement to Shift Money to Workforce Development

Money the city is set to receive from Encore Boston Harbor could be going toward job training for Chelsea residents.

Monday night, the City Council voted 8-3 to allow City Manager Thomas Ambrosino to renegotiate the city’s Surrounding Community Agreement (SCA) with Encore to set aside $100,000 of the $225,000 earmarked for roadway repairs in the agreement for workforce development.

“I still believe that workforce development is an important and unmet need in the City,” Ambrosino stated in a letter to the council. “This casino mitigation agreement provides an opportunity to set aside a modest annual amount for that purpose. The source would be a portion of the funds set aside in the existing Agreement for roadway improvements, a program which the City already adequately supports through other available revenues.”

Although the council approved Ambrosino’s renegotiation with Encore, several councillors opposed moving funds away from road improvements to workforce development.

“Why take the money from where it was intended to go and put it somewhere else?” District 6 Councillor Giovanni Recupero asked.

Councillor-At-Large Roy Avellaneda countered that there are numerous mechanisms in the budget for roadway improvements, but revenue streams for workforce development are nonexistent.

“This is a good use, in my view, of that $100,000,” he said, adding the training would benefit Chelsea residents.

But District 1 Councillor Robert Bishop said the workforce development money would be used mainly for casino and other hospitality trades.

“That is something the casino should be spending money on, not us,” said Bishop. “Why should we pay to train people at the casino?”

District 3 Councillor Joe Perlatonda cast the third vote against the measure, agreeing with Bishop that the wording of the proposal focused too heavily on training for jobs in the casino industry.

•In other business, the Council approved the Community Preservation Act Budget for Fiscal Year 2020, and approved Community Preservation Act funds for six projects, including renovating the Civil War Monument, the Marlborough Street Community Garden, Bellingham-Cary House building repairs, the Garden Cemetery project, Congregation Agudath Sholom repairs, and money for an affordable housing trust fund specialist.

•District 4 Councillor Enio Lopez also asked Ambrosino to look into the city installing removable speed bumps at Marlborough and Shawmut streets for the summer.

Lopez also asked the City Manager to provide the Council with a list of all City cars being taken home by City employees, and to provide the Council with a list of overtime hours worked by the Inspectional Services Department.

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Ambrosino, Walsh Wary of 4 A.M. Encore Liquor License

Everett might be all-in on the 4 a.m. extending liquor license for Encore Boston Harbor, but surrounding cities like Chelsea aren’t so excited.

In comments this week, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh and Chelsea City Manager Tom Ambrosino said they weren’t in favor of Encore’s request for a limited 4 a.m. liquor license from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC). The request is currently under review and in a public comment period. It would only apply to those actively engaged in gaming, and the last call would be 3:30 a.m. Most other liquor licenses have a 2 a.m. cutoff.

Chelsea City Manager Tom Ambrosino said he doesn’t support the idea, seeing no advantage to Chelsea in having a luxury casino open late just a few hundred yards from the Chelsea city line.

“That would have no positive benefit to the City of Chelsea, so it would not be something I would favor,” he said.

Mayor Martin Walsh agreed with those sentiments as well.

“When the Legislature wrote the bill to have casino gaming, it was a 2 a.m. liquor license, which I voted on,” said Mayor Walsh. “I think that at this point in time, we should get the casino open, and see how the 2 a.m. license works. If there is a need, if there is a desire, or if there is a concern that it hampers the business, then I think we should explore the opportunity of maybe going until 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. But right now, at opening, closing at 2 a.m. – let’s see what it looks like. You can’t say there are concerns there until it’s open. I would request we wait and then have a full vetting. Right now it needs to be opened and see how it all works with a 2 a.m. closing.”

Meanwhile, Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria said the later closing hour is critical to the casino being an international destination, as no such 2 a.m. rules apply in other locales where Wynn Resorts operates.

“The City of Everett is committed to supporting the success of the Encore Boston Harbor Resort,” he said. “In order for it to be a destination for an international clientele, the resort needs to be able to offer these clients a cocktail during the time they play. At 2 a.m., all the bars and restaurants will be closed, and drinks will only be served to those on the casino floor by a trained and certified server. Over-serving and irresponsible behavior will not be tolerated.”

He added that State Police, Everett Police and Encore security would be on site during the late hours and transportation services would be available for guests.

Walsh said he realizes that the Springfield casino already has a 4 a.m. license, but he also added that the circumstances are different in Everett. He said there are a lot of other cities and towns in the immediate area without such licenses. He said there has to be a dialog with everyone after the first six months.

“I’m not going to assume they’ll do 4 a.m.,” he said. “I’ll ask the Gaming Commission to be respectful of the surrounding cities and towns and see how the process works and see how the casino does in its first six months. Then we’ll revisit it and have a conversation and dialog at this point.

“We filed legislation (in Boston) a few years ago to open some of the bars and clubs later,” he continued. “So, that’s why I think you need a six-month vetting. Let’s assume for a moment the Gaming Commission grants the 4 a.m. license, that puts a lot of businesses in surrounding cities and town, including Boston, at a serious disadvantage. I think let’s wait and see what the 2 a.m. does…It’s not simply opening the casino until 4 a.m. It’s about having a conversation about other cities and towns and their licenses and what would happen in their establishments.”

The MGC is expected to talk more about the 4 a.m. license application at its next meeting on May 22.

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City Budget Request Submitted and Sits at $181.5 Million

City Manager Thomas Ambrosino presented a city budget just short of $181,500,000 for Fiscal Year 2020 to the City Council Monday night.

The proposed budget funds city expenditures at $86,095,981 and the schools at $95,391,784 for a total budget of $181,487,765. This budget is about $6.5 million more than the FY19 budget, an increase of 3.71 percent.

“The FY20 budget continues support for many programs we have implemented over the past few years,” Ambrosino stated in a letter to the City Council.

The City Manager is proposing full funding for social services programs in the downtown, including the Navigators and Youth Navigator program. The Health and Human Services budget also includes a new social services contract to support the ISD housing program.

The budget does include new positions in three city departments — E-911, DPW, and Elder Services — and an increase from a part-time to a full-time position in the Licensing Department. The E-911 increase, a total of three new full-time positions, follows a personnel review by the department’s new director.

Increases in the DPW include personnel for a new 311 system as well as a group of new hires required for the city to operate its own Water and Sewer Department.

The FY20 budget includes funds in salary reserve to cover the anticipated costs of ongoing union negotiations with City Hall employees. With the exception of the police and fire union contracts, all municipal union contracts expire on June 30 of this year.

•In other business, the Council approved an order proposed by councillors Giovanni Recupero, Enio Lopez, Luis Tejada, and Damali Vidot requiring that all street cleanings should be limited to the same amount of time in every street. Lopez and Recupero both noted that residents who live in areas where they have to move their cars for five hours for street cleaning face greater hardship than those where street cleaning is limited to two hours.

•The council also held a public hearing on zoning amendments that will allow for outdoor dining and improved signage and facades in the city.

Several local business owners and city officials spoke in support of the zoning amendments, noting it would improve the look of the downtown and make for a livelier, safer city.

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In Contentious Vote, Council Votes to Allow Change to Insurance

Current and former municipal employees crowded into Monday night’s City Council meeting as the council took up a vote to allow City Manager Thomas Ambrosino to negotiate changes to the city’s group health insurance policies.

Most of those employees did not leave happily or quietly as the council voted 8-2 to grant Ambrosino that authority to negotiate the changes. Councillors Roy Avellaneda and Yamir Rodriguez voted against the order, while Councillor Calvin T. Brown was not present at the meeting.

The city’s current group health plan is governed by a three-year agreement with the Public Employee Committee (PEC) that expires on June 30 of this year.

“During the months of November through March, I did attempt to negotiate with the PEC a new multi-year agreement that would provide some cost savings to the group health plan,” Ambrosino stated in a letter to the council. “Unfortunately, I have not been able to reach agreement with the unions.”

Under Massachusetts General Laws, Ambrosino stated, in the absence of a new agreement, the old PEC agreement will remain in effect indefinitely. Without City Council action, Ambrosino said he cannot put any health care cost savings in place.

The action approved by the City Council allows the city to take advantage of recent state legislation that allows municipalities to implement cost saving plan design changes on its own if no agreement can be reached with the PEC as long as the city agrees to share a percentage of its first year cost savings with the unions.

With the newly granted authority by the council, the City Manager said he will negotiate reasonable design changes to the city’s group health policies, likely by imposing deductibles in line with deductibles paid for health insurance by state employees.

Ambrosino said even with any changes, Chelsea will always have health insurance at least as good as that provided to Massachusetts public employees.

However, a letter to the City Council submitted by the Chelsea Public Employees Committee outlined over two dozen reasons why members believe the adoption of the changes to the group health insurance should not be adopted.

“The PEC strongly believes that the adoption of Sections 21-23 is inappropriate and premature for multiple reasons: the Self-Insurance Trust Fund is running about a $2 million surplus; the PEC has agreed to apply any surplus to reduce future health insurance costs; City Manager Thomas Ambrosino wants the sickest families among City employees and retirees to pay $1 million more on an annual basis currently paid by the City; the PEC and City Manager Thomas Ambrosino agree that no changes to employee/retiree health insurance are needed until FY2022; Ambrosino has failed to bargain in good faith for a successor PEC agreement; a grievance, including an alleged unfair labor practice, are pending at this time; and Sections 21-23 will effectively disable bargaining on health insurance,” the letter summarizes.

City Council President Damali Vidot noted that her husband works for the Department of Public Works and that any changes in health insurance would directly affect her. However, she said the changes are necessary to allow Ambrosino to negotiate with city unions.

“We hire the Town Manager to negotiate with the unions, and I’m not comfortable when he does not have all the tools needed for the negotiations,” said Vidot.

Vidot she said she hopes Ambrosino can go back to the unions with the new negotiating tools and find common ground with the unions. In addition to wanting the best for city employees, Vidot said the council has a fiscal responsibility for the entire community.

The council president also said that there has been some miscommunication on the issue, especially when it comes to retirees. Vidot said changes to group health insurance plans would only affect a very few retirees who do not qualify for Medicare.

District 1 Councillor Robert Bishop said he agreed that the City Manager should have all the tools available as he negotiates with the city’s union.

As the vote took place, many in the audience shouted and voiced their displeasure, with several people stating the council should be ashamed of their vote. The meeting came to a brief halt as the crowd noisily filed out of the council meeting, with several audience members individually appealing to councillors.

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MBTA Board Awards Contract for New Commuter Rail Station

The MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board approved a $32.3 million contract that will result in the relocation and construction of a new, fully-accessible Chelsea Commuter Rail Station.

When complete, the new Chelsea Station will be an intermodal facility that connects the Newburyport/Rockport Commuter Rail Lines to the Silver Line 3-Chelsea service, which began operating in April 2018.

“This is a key investment in our Commuter Rail infrastructure that will allow for faster boarding and improved accessibility for people of all abilities,” said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak. “Once complete, the new station will serve as a multimodal connection that will give our customers the choice of traveling to North Station on the Commuter Rail or South Station on SL3 from a single point.”

Featuring high-level platforms, canopies, benches, and windscreens, the brand new station will also include new sidewalks, landscaping, stairways, lighting, communications systems, and structures for maintenance and bus operations personnel. The project also includes the demolition of the existing Chelsea Station, upgrades to railroad signal systems, and new traffic signal system installations at local intersections.

The project to construct and relocate Chelsea Station aims to relieve traffic congestion and overcrowding on existing area bus routes in Chelsea while also providing better transit options to environmental justice populations through improved accessibility to employment opportunities in downtown Boston and the Seaport district.

The project also includes the installation of transit signal priority improvements for the SL3-Chelsea along with improved operational efficiency and the incorporation of green operations elements at the new Chelsea Station. Greenhouse gas emissions will also be reduced by increasing the transit mode share and decreasing the idle time of commuter rail and BRT vehicles.

The Chelsea Commuter Rail Station Project was advertised in February 2019 with bids open in April 2019. After six bids were received, the Chelsea Commuter Rail Station contract was awarded to A.A. Will Corporation for $32,367,200.

Construction could start as early as this summer, with project completion estimated for late 2021.

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Chelsea Walk Pub Hit With Long Suspension

After viewing multiple surveillance videos of patrons falling off stools, being overserved, urinating in public, getting groped, and laid out on the sidewalk by the front door after closing time, the Licensing Commission last week suspended the Chelsea Walk Pub’s liquor license for 10 weeks.

The attorney for the Pub argued that the Broadway bar has avoided violations in the past. But for Commission members, the multiple incidents brought before it at its April 3 meeting were serious enough to warrant the harsh judgment.

The Licensing Commission found the Chelsea Walk Pub violated City ordinances by overserving patrons, selling liquor to an intoxicated person, creating a noise or disorderly disturbance, and failing to provide video surveillance. The majority of the violations resulted from incidents responded to by the Police Department late last November.

In a letter to the Licensing Commission, City Manager Thomas Ambrosino urged the commission not to take the reported violations lightly.

“A liquor license is a privilege and not a right,” the City Manager stated.

The majority of the April 3 hearing revolved around the showing of video surveillance footage from a number of the incidents.

Police highlighted one patron at the end of the bar who had three drinks in front of him before stashing an unopened beer in his jacket while the bartender wasn’t looking.

Meanwhile, police pointed out that at the other end of the bar, a woman sat with two pitchers of beer in front of her with no one else drinking from the mugs. In addition, the video showed the woman encouraging another patron to put his hand down her shirt and grope her breast.

Police Captain Keith Houghton said both incidents violated the city alcohol serving ordinances.

Attorney Jeffrey Rosario Turco, representing the Pub, put up a defense to the evidence, noting several times that the patrons who were alleged to have been overserved seemed steady on their feet and not intoxicated.

“With all due respect, that woman allowed a man to go down her shirt with two pitchers of beer in front of her,” said City Solicitor Cheryl Watson Fisher. “There are implications all over the place.”

Additional video and evidence showed a patron leaving the bar and urinating outside on the sidewalk and a patron weaving into the street before being spotted by a police officer.

Licensing Commission member Roseann Bongiovanni was unmoved by Turco’s “not swaying” defense when it came to video of one patron who left the bar then went back in after being allegedly overserved.

“He’s leaning up against the way, that’s why he’s not swaying,” said Bongiovanni. “That’s some good evidence you have there.”

Most damning was an incident that showed several patrons and a bartender struggling for nearly 10 minutes to carry an alleged intoxicated patron out the door after closing time. Once the man was laid on the sidewalk, the bartender went back inside and locked the front door of the bar.

“The bartender quickly closed the door and leaves him out flat, leaving him pretty much to us,” said Houghton.

Turco did not dispute the evidence in that incident, but said that the bartender in the video had been fired.

Chelsea Walk Pub owner Angela Palmieri said the main problem has been that her staff has not stepped up.

“They don’t listen to what I tell them to do,” she said.

While the Pub hasn’t come before the Licensing Commission in recent memory for violation, Bongiovanni said it has largely been because there weren’t City resources to police the establishment before. She said the Chelsea Walk Pub has a long history of shenanigans.

“There have been so many instances at the Chelsea Walk Pub,” she said. “These are just the ones you got caught for; it is a disgrace to the city.”

In addition to the 10-week liquor license suspension, the Licensing Commission also voted to reduce the bar’s operating hours from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. to noon to 10 p.m.

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School Committee Passes Budget Without Majority

School Committee Passes Budget Without Majority

The School Committee passed a $95.4 million School Budget last week, but it was passed with less than a majority of the total number of nine committee seats.

The budget, which passed with a $1.9 million funding gap that led to the elimination of 10 teaching positions, was approved by a 4-2 vote.

School Committee members Rosemarie Carlisle and Frank DePatto voted against the budget, while board member Jeanette Velez and Chair Richard Maronski recused themselves from the vote, citing relatives who work for the School Department. Last week, Julio Hernandez resigned from the Committee and his seat has yet to be filled.

School Committee members and administrators said it has been a long struggle to present a budget that attempts to meet the needs of the Chelsea schools.

Supt. Mary Bourque and City Manager Thomas Ambrosino were among those who noted that falling enrollments in the Chelsea schools, as well as an antiquated state funding formula that underfunds urban communities such as Chelsea, were the main culprits in the budget cuts.

“I’ve spent a lot of the time with the superintendent trying to provide city support for the budget,” said Ambrosino. “The City is really trying to do its fair share.”

That included the City providing an additional $1.5 million to the schools to address budget shortfalls.

“Every new tax dollar I can raise in Fiscal Year 2020 is going to the School Department,” said the city manager.

Regardless of how the School Committee ended up voting on the budget, Ambrosino said the $95.5 million figure is the figure he would present to the City Council as the school share of the overall City Budget.

“The budget (Bourque) presented is fair and reasonable,” said Ambrosino.

Once the budget is approved, Ambrosino said attention should be turned towards advocating for change to the Chapter 70 state education funding formula on Beacon Hill.

Bourque said she agreed that the time is now to fix the state funding formula, noting that Chelsea schools will be underfunded $17 million by the state.

The other factor leading to cuts in the budget is falling enrollment, Bourque said. Between January of 2018 and January of this year, she said Chelsea schools have lost 217 students. That is part of a larger trend of falling enrollment over nearly a decade, according to the superintendent.

Carlisle voted against the proposed budget, but said the problem with the $95.4 million figure laid not with the City, but with the state.

“The problem is with the state,” said Carlisle. “They are not doing the right thing, and we have to send them a message.”

School Committee member Ana Hernandez backed the budget, but said it wasn’t a decision made lightly.

“The votes we make are very hard,” she said. “This budget is what we dread every year. We have to make a decision for the best of the entire school system.”

But for DePatto, further cuts to teaching positions was a bridge too far to support the FY ‘20 budget. He said the schools laid off seven teachers in 2017, 20 in 2018, 10 in 2019, and have projected another 10 for 2020.

“Forty seven teachers and 25 paraprofessionals,” he said. “When is it going to stop? I can’t vote for this budget (when) I don’t support these cuts.”

School Committee member Yessenia Alfaro-Alvarez voted in support of the budget, stating that it was in the best interest of the City’s students to pass the budget, and also noting that Chelsea is hamstrung by declining enrollments and inequities in the state funding formula.

•In other business, the Committee voted to forgo School Choice for the 2019-20 school year.

•The School Committee also approved a field trip to New York City for high school and middle school REACH students to participate in the Andover Bread Loaf Writing Conference in May.

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