Dipsy-Do

Dipsy-Do

Tom Thompson, Class of 2018, goes up for a dipsy-do layup against Josh Concepcion and Hamza Abdul (L) during the championship of the Battle of the Classes, which kicked off The Movement summer basketball league. Class of 2018 and the Class of 2008 battled it out at Chelsea High on Saturday, June 30. Despite having youth on their side, the Class of 2018 lost out to the champion Class of 2008.

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The Movement Kicks off Third Year of Low-Key, Summer Hoops

The Movement Kicks off Third Year of Low-Key, Summer Hoops

Historically, there’s been very little to do on a summer night in Chelsea, and that’s been the problem.

Now, in its third summer, The Movement has been the cure to hapless wandering for local youth.

Instead, they hoop it up.

Coordinated by Councilors Yamir Rodriguez and Damali Vidot, along with Isidra Quinonez and Danny Mojica, The Movement keeps Chelsea kids age 13-20 busy on Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings.

“I think it’s just a great environment because a lot of the younger kids play with the older kids and they can see them on the street outside of the league and say ‘hi,’” said Rodriguez. “A lot of friendships start because of The Movement. It develops kind of a mentor situation because a lot of these kids don’t have an older brother and this helps that too. It’s kind of an unintended consequence, but it’s one of the best things about it.

“The kids love hanging out and playing ball,” he continued.

Vidot said it helps to bring youth together in a relaxed, but supervised, environment.

“On Saturday morning, they don’t hand out, but they come to play,” she said. “After playing all day long, they will not want to go out to the streets when they get home. They’ll stay in and take it easy. On Friday night, they don’t want to stay out because they have to be here on Saturday morning. You have the 13-year-old playing with the 20-year-old, so it helps them become better players. It also builds community. It’s not like a lot of other youth leagues where you have to sign in and sign out. It’s street ball. They can be themselves.”

The Movement came out of a desperate situation, where the community was reeling in the spring of 2016 after the shooting death of Pablo Villeda during an early morning teen party on Washington Avenue. The shooting also injured numerous other young people, and it showed that the youth who are not “at-risk” needed some activities as well.

That’s when The Movement came together.

Now, the league has several hundred young people playing against one another all summer. Typically, the games are played at Highland Park, but a renovation project there may force them to move to the Williams School.

The Movement will begin play in early July, and it had its annual kick-off at Chelsea High last weekend – with the Battle of the Classes and Police vs. Fire basketball games.

“Basketball is the entertainment,” said Rodriguez, “but it’s the environment that has become very important.”

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Councilor Vidot Endorsed for At-Large City Council Seat by Mass Alliance

Councilor Vidot Endorsed for At-Large City Council Seat by Mass Alliance

Mass Alliance, a coalition of political organizations dedicated to making Massachusetts more progressive is proud to announce their endorsement for their Rising Stars Program of Damali Vidot for Chelsea City Council.

“We are proud to endorse for our Rising Stars Program, Damali Vidot for Chelsea City Council,” says Mass Alliance Executive Director Jordan Berg Powers.  “We know that Damali is going to continue to put the community first, focusing on what it will take to move Chelsea forward. We are excited to join Chelsea voters in supporting Damali.”

Damali Vidot, current City Council Vice President shared her message of One Chelsea, a vision of a more inclusive and participatory government. Committed to reinvigorating residents in local issues such as development without displacement, supporting Chelsea Youth and maintaining an authentic voice for all residents on the Council.

Councilor Vidot, ran a spirited campaign in the last Municipal Elections. She topped the ticket in the Preliminary and finished in the General with an impressive show of support in one of the highest voter turnouts in a municipal electoral race the city of Chelsea had seen in years.

“I am thankful to Mass Alliance and their members for their continued support. Mass Alliance has an endorsement process that holds candidates and elected officials to a high standard. Their renewed support for me in this second term means a lot, given that I am always working hard to learn more about local and state issues and they have been a rich resource for me and my leadership”. Vidot shared.

From re-establishing the Chelsea Youth Commission, kicking off The Movement with other Chelsea Leaders, as well as advocating against development that does not put residents first, she continues to be an emboldened and fierce advocate that is bringing many disengaged residents back into the many conversations that continue in building a city that is representative of all.

Although Damali is running unopposed, she did open a headquarters where she is making phone calls to voters, along with door knocking with supporters; continuing that same spirited campaign that she insists is essential in continuing to build community and engage with all residents as the general election nears on Tuesday, November 7th.

Mass Alliance is a coalition of political and advocacy groups that fights for a more progressive Massachusetts.  Their member organizations advocate on a wide variety of issues, including civic participation, civil rights, economic justice, education, environmental issues, healthcare, reproductive rights, and worker’s rights.

Mass Alliance provides clear leadership for the progressive community, cultivates and empowers progressive leaders, and assists them in ultimately winning their elections.

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The Movement is Growing:Councillors Vidot, Rodriguez Lead Popular League

The Movement is Growing:Councillors Vidot, Rodriguez Lead Popular League

By Cary Shuman

Damali Vidot.

Damali Vidot.

Damali Vidot, popular councillor-at-large, knows from first hand experience the trouble that Chelsea youths can encounter in their formative years

“As someone who used to get in to trouble and who lost a friend a few days ago that I met when I used to get in to trouble, I know the importance of being there for these young people – just to have someone that they can count on to lead them in the right direction.”

That’s one of the reasons that the 39-year-old Vidot, along with City Councillor Yamir Rodriguez, Danny Mojica, and Isidra Quinones, founded The Movement, a summertime youth basketball league. The league held its playoffs and season-ending pizza party Saturday at Highland Park.

“The Movement was born out of some shootings that were happening in the community and we wanted to provide an outlet for kids 13-20 because I feel that’s an age that really doesn’t have enough supportive services that we wanted to engage them in during the summer,” said Vidot.

The Movement has grown to close to 100 youths who participate in the outdoor basketball league Wednesdays and Saturdays at Highland Park across from the Jordan Boys and Girls Club.

The mood was festive as the basketball players were united in spirit and celebrating the league’s second successful season. Police officers Keith Sweeney and David Batchelor Jr. were on hand to coach a team and affirm the support of Chelsea’s finest.

Vidot understands The Movement is only in touch with its players a few hours a week on the basketball court and that the players must take responsibility for their actions beyond the court.

“Even though we’re with them a limited number of hours during the week, I’m hoping it sets the tone for the rest of the week and they remember that there are grown-ups out there that actually care,” said Vidot.

Betsy Vicente, mother of 14-year-old, 6-foot-2-inch aspiring basketball player Christian Rios, said her son likes the competition and atmosphere of The Movement.

“He loves it. My son absolutely adores coming here. He looks forward to playing here every weekend and hanging out with his friends.”

Vicente said The Movement is like “a second family.”

“This is his neighborhood family,” said Vicente.  The kids feel safe and the league is bringing them together in a good environment.”

As for rising community leaders Damali Vidot, Jamir Rodriguez, Vicente said what many at the Highland Park basketball courts were thinking, “The leaders of The Movement are doing a phenomenal job. I like the new Chelsea.”

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Movement’s Championship

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Minerva Cruz sets the ball during The Movement’s championship women’s volleyball game on Saturday, Aug. 27, at Highland Park. The day long celebration featured the top basketball and volleyball teams from the season facing off against one another. Cruz’s team took first place, and the Red Team won the basketball championships. The Movement celebrated its first year of play Saturday, and plans on bigger and better things for next summer.

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City Conducts Flag Raising Ceremony in Coordination with Gay Pride Month

By Cary Shuman

City Councillor Matt Frank, Jimmy Dwyer, and John Valinch organized a ceremony celebrating June as National Gay Pride Month for the first time in the city’s history.

Dwyer presided over the ceremony that was held June 18 at City Hall. The day included a memorial to the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting, speakers, and culminated with the Gay Pride flag raising.

The Rev. Ellen Rohan Ball and the Rev. Edgar Gutierrez-Duarte honored the victims of the tragedy with the reading of the names and the beginning of the healing process.

Speakers for the flag-raising included John Valinch, who delivered a speech about the history of the Gay Pride Movement. Other speakers included State Rep. Dan Ryan and City Councillor Matt Frank.

“It was amazing to see so many people join us for this display of unity, celebration, and love,” said Frank. “This is the first time the city has ever raised the Gay Pride flag – it shows how far the city and the nation have come in regards to gay rights’ and equality.”

The rainbow-colored Gay Pride flag, flying for the first time in Chelsea’s history, is pictured following the ceremony and memorial held June 18 at City Hall.

The rainbow-colored Gay Pride flag, flying for the first time in Chelsea’s history, is pictured following the ceremony and memorial held June 18 at City Hall.

If anyone wants to be involved in the Chelsea LGBT Coalition, the email address is HYPERLINK “mailto:LGBTCoalition@gmail.com” LGBTCoalition@gmail.com.

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Support for Labor Unions is Growing As We Mark Labor Day

By Warren Tolman, president, AFL-CIO

Support for labor unions is on the rise, jumping five percentage points between 2014 and 2015. According to a Gallup poll conducted in August, a majority of Americans approve of unions, including a full two-thirds of young people aged 18-34. Americans approve of unions and most would like to see unions’ power maintained or strengthened.

But other recent data shows a disturbing trend – CEO pay has grown 90 times faster than typical worker pay since 1978. Many are being left behind as CEOs and executives earn more and more.

AFL-CIO President, Steven A. Tolman said:

As we celebrate Labor Day this year, we do so with the knowledge that the American people are recognizing labor’s important role in our economy. We also know that income inequality is at crisis levels and unions will help level the playing field. Unions are good for families, good for Massachusetts and good for the nation.

We are building a voice for all workers in Massachusetts – for the organized and the not-yet organized. We will fight privatization and income inequality and defend decent pay for an honest day’s work.

CEO pay is out of hand. When the CEO of McDonald’s makes well over $7million a year and the average McDonald’s worker makes so little that even working full time she can’t afford basic shelter and food for her family, something is deeply wrong. Many hardworking people are frustrated because, despite our sweat, our sacrifice and our innovation, too many of us struggle to support our families.

In the next year, the Massachusetts AFL-CIO will focus on eradicating wage theft in Massachusetts. Wage theft is a crime that is common across many industries. Billions of dollars are stolen from workers in this country each year when unscrupulous employers try to cheat the system. Examples of wage theft include: employers paying under the minimum wage, forcing workers to work off the clock, denying overtime pay, falsely misclassifying workers, stealing tips or flat-out failing to pay workers their earned wage. Wage theft victims are not just the workers, but also ethical businesses and tax payers. We need smart legislation to put an end to this crisis.

Over the past year working people have celebrated many victories in the Commonwealth and those victories have given our movement new energy. From minimum wage to the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights to earned sick time, workers are winning.

The fact is, across the country this past year, every time voters were asked to vote on their values, including wages, equal pay, education and paid sick leave, they voted for union values. This Labor Day we celebrate working families, because we are ready to speak up together, change the rules and bring lasting justice so that every family can pursue the American Dream and work for a better life.

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Tenants at CHA Up in Arms over McLaughlin Plea Agreement

Tenants at CHA Up in Arms over McLaughlin Plea Agreement

A very, very powerful movement of Chelsea Housing Authority (CHA) tenants has begun to organize over the past several weeks aimed at the outrages that are coming to light about former Executive Director Michael McLaughlin – and the breaking point in the explosion of the movement has apparently been what is seen by most residents as a sweetheart plea deal given to McLaughlin by U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz.

“The tenants are going to be submitting something to the U.S. Attorney, but with an eye on sending something to the judge as well,” said Jay Rose, the managing attorney for the housing unit of Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS). “This is a very new, but powerful movement, and details are still being worked out. The tenants realize they need to stand up for their rights. They believe they are victims and McLaughlin is getting off too easy. They’re organizing around that emotion right now…The movement here just started. It’s very, very powerful and tenants are outraged, energized and heading in a definite direction.

“Basically, they don’t want him to get away with pointing fingers at other politicians, and if he does that, he possibly gets no jail time and there is no restitution to the CHA,” he continued. “They just won’t accept that.”

Apparently, tenants have been talking quietly about all of the recent revelations, and were outraged, but things began to gain steam when McLaughlin pleaded guilty last month and his plea deal became public.

Tenants started calling one another and started talking more and more about it. Eventually, they reached out to Rose at GBLS and to the Chelsea Collaborative. Rose said he is handling the legal end of things and the Collaborative is handling the grass-roots organizing of the movement.

Two meetings have been held to date, one with 45 people and the second with 75 people. CHA residents came from all developments, some who were elected to resident boards and some who came as individuals.

One of the key elements in the movement is to demand that the judge require McLaughlin to pay back the CHA for money he misused and diverted to his own salary and to raises for his favored employees. Rose said that residents want to see McLaughlin have to pay back the money he did not use to improve their living conditions.

“They want to tell the U.S. Attorney that they believe they are victims of this crime – this crime of stealing money and diverting money salaries instead of repairs that the residents didn’t get,” Rose said. “They lived in unsanitary conditions and deplorable conditions for years and he used the money meant to improve those conditions for himself and to give out raises. Now, they want restitution.”

However, the residents are not asking for money for themselves – though Rose said a case for that could be made. Instead, they’re asking that McLaughlin have to pay the CHA the money, that they money go into a special fund for immediate improvements to conditions in the developments.

“Whether that means McLaughlin has to sell assets or one of his homes or his cars or convert the money he took, that’s up to the judge,” said Rose.

For now, residents and Collaborative organizers are out knocking on doors, making phone calls and circulating petitions. The tenor, Rose said, is one of outrage at every development they go to. Some are fearful to sign petitions or get active – still scared from the decades-long reign of terror they say McLaughlin put them through. However, they have been assured that they will be protected from retaliation and retribution. With that assurance, many are signing on and the numbers are only expected to increase as the movement’s message gets sharpened.

“People say McLaughlin was a snake, but we believe that is probably offensive to the actual slithering creatures that bear such a name,” said Rose. “McLaughlin treated the residents during his reign of terror as second-class citizens. He viewed the landlord-tenant relationship as if he was back in the feudal days. He really thought he was the lord in landlord and ran it like a fiefdom. Residents are talking about making sure this never happens again, taking a very active role in the housing authority. They blame HUD and [the state] for not policing this. They’ve learned and realize they have to take matters into their own hands. I think that’s what you’re seeing here.”

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