Council President Damali Vidot and Councillor Roy Avellaneda have been battling over a campaign finance violation issued by the state to Vidot earlier this year, with both having radically different views on the matter.
This week, the Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF) released its fall report that contained the paperwork on the violation by Vidot, which was hammered out last June between OCPF and the Vidot Campaign.
Officially, the OCPF found that Vidot and her campaign did not initially report at least $1,341 during campaigns in 2016 and 2017, and received $180 in cash contributions without keeping appropriate records. Some of the cash contributions were received at a raffle, according to OCPF, and political committees are not allowed to hold raffles.
The resolution was that the Vidot Committee amended its reports and the candidate agreed to forgive $1,000 in loans that she made personally to her committee as punishment.
Vidot said it was simply oversight, and the fact that she is new to politics.
“Basically, I’m new at this whole politics thing and last year in the midst of the re-election, our campaign missed some deadlines,” said Vidot this week. “It’s not that we didn’t want to file it. My treasurer works a full-time job and I was buy and we didn’t get it done. When we did, we made an error and didn’t capture some items. It wasn’t a case of there being any money missing or anything like that. OCPF notified me in May of the problem and we worked it all out by June…The whole reason I got into politics is I don’t like the things that happened that weren’t transparent. I would never do something that was hiding money people gave me. I have cried at a $20 donation…Everything balanced out. There was not missing money. Every dollar donated to me went to mailers, phones, office space, and what it was supposed to go to.”
However, Avellaneda, who Vidot said reported the matter to OCPF, had a far different view of the matter. It was something he first brought up at a Council meeting a few weeks ago, but was not allowed to talk about due to being ruled out of order.
By his count, Vidot should have paid penalties of more than $8,000 had the law been enforced to the letter.
“The law was broken,” he wrote. “Actually, laws plural, were broken. Specifically, Mass General Laws pertaining to campaign finance… The City of Chelsea regularly fines its residents on any number of issues from not having an up-to-date resident parking sticker, trash bags overflowing, and not shoveling snow on sidewalks within 48 hours… Wait more than 30 days (to pay) and the City Clerk sends notice to the RMV to suspend your driver’s license and registration.
Yet here we had an elected official not being disciplined by the City Clerk for non-compliance of state finance laws deadlines, which when finally filed, showed unreported donations and expenses. One could argue that this is a show of favoritism towards an individual because of the position they hold. My call to have the City Council address this with the City Clerk was not only voted against, but Vidot’s supporters deflected and made personal attacks on me.
So much for transparency. So much for insuring the integrity of the electoral process in Chelsea.”
Vidot said that Avellaneda is incorrect about the City Clerk’s and City Solicitor’s role in the matter. She said they did contact her several times about filing the report, and that if she did not file, they would have to turn it over to the state for levying fines.
At that point, Vidot said they did file, but they filed it incorrectly.
“Roy puts at fault the state, the City Clerk, the City Solicitor and everyone else,” she said. “The City Clerk and City Solicitor reached out to me several times, and when I filed it was out of their hands. Roy needs to just back up. We could get so much done if he played nicely…The focus needs be on the 02150 where it should be…If there’s any fault, it’s with me.”
Avellaneda said he takes offense to not being allowed to discuss the matter in public at the Council.
“While President Vidot can use her powers as president to both impede motions and orders that she doesn’t agree with and stifle discussion on the floor of the City Council Chambers, she cannot stop my ability to reach out to the Citizens of Chelsea,” said Avellaneda.
Vidot said she is taking as a learning experience, and noting that it is a confusing process for a lot of candidates. She said will be calling for a joint City Council/School Committee subcommittee that would host an OCPF seminar on campaign finance.
The Top 100 City employee earners list (below) from 2017 was released this week and it showed that, as has become routine, that it is dominated by police and fire personnel.
A total of 41 of the top 100 came from the Police Department, though it should be noted that some of those earnings come from paid details which aren’t paid for in total by City funds. In the Fire department, 31 members were on the Top 100 list. That rounded out 72 police and fire earners in the Top 100.
The School Department came in third with 24 members on the Top 100 list, but most of them falling in the bottom one-third of that list.
The highest paid City employee in 2017 was Chief Brian Kyes, who said he was grateful for being able to serve as chief in his hometown. He made $219,752 in 2017 – the first year that he did not work details as the chief.
“My current salary is based on an employment contract that was negotiated between the City Manager and myself last year in an effort to allow me to finish my career here in Chelsea,” he said. “Based on the terms of the contract I have agreed to serve as the Police Chief for an additional five-year term and continue to do the job that I absolutely love. Although there are lucrative opportunities beyond the borders of our city whether in the legal world or public safety, my commitment remains here in the city of Chelsea.”
Kyes said his is now beginning his 32nd year with the Chelsea Police, with the last 11 as chief. He said others have recruited him from outside the city and state, but he has decided to stay here under his new contract.
“Over the past few years I have been recruited by other agencies both within Massachusetts and outside the state to either lead or compete to run their departments,” he said. “I have also had offers from the private sector as well. This all being said I honestly know that there is no police department like the one that we have here in Chelsea with the enduring partnerships that serve as the life-blood of our agency. This is in no small part to the dedication and commitment of the men and women, sworn and non-sworn who make up our department.”
City Manager Tom Ambrosino appeared at number eight on the list, making $180,209. He said the list is dominated by police and fire because they work hard for their money in Chelsea.
“Public safety officials are paid good money and in this city they earn it,” he said. “This a difficult city to be a police officer and a firefighter. They put their lives on the line all the time. I don’t begrudge the salaries they earn. They work hard for it here.”
Name Job Location Gross Pay
Kyes, Brian Chief of Police Police Department 219,752.46
Fern, Joseph Sergeant Police Department 205,227.09
Dunn, Thomas Captain Police Department Police Department 203,853.47
Batchelor, David Captain Police Department Police Department 196,668.15
Quatier, John T Deputy Chief Fire Department 194,200.46
Houghton, Keith E Captain Police Department Police Department 191,969.00
Dana, William J Captain Police Department Police Department 183,002.94
Ambrosino, Thomas G City Manager City Managers Office 180,209.33
Bourque, Mary Superintendent 225 Superintendent’s Office 178,697.92
Houghton, Robert Deputy Chief Fire Department 171,818.69
Delaney, Daniel Lieutenant Police Department Police Department 167,164.94
Moschella, Robert F Patrolman Police Department 166,551.53
Addonizio, Michael J Sergeant Police Department 165,570.61
Giancola, Paul R Deputy Chief Fire Department 159,609.20
Krasco, William N Patrolman Police Department 159,422.55
Eaves, Paul Deputy Chief Fire Department 157,387.51
Cameron, Robert T Deputy Chief Fire Department 157,286.42
McGarry, Edward J Deputy Chief Fire Department 157,039.03
Masucci, Michael F Deputy Chief Fire Department 155,518.72
Conley, Scott Patrolman Police Department 155,203.52
Purcell, Stephen M Lieutenant Fire Department Fire Department 153,053.03
Albanese, Leonard A Fire Chief Fire Department 152,062.60
Nelson, Edwin Lieutenant Police Department Police Department 151,547.85
McCue, Gerald A Director Exempt Business Office 149,881.45
Thompson, Michael Captain Fire Department Fire Department 147,058.30
Doherty, Paul W Captain Fire Department Fire Department 146,525.98
Abell, Lyle Robert Patrolman Police Department 146,403.33
Denning, Robert Captain Fire Department Fire Department 146,005.01
Gurska, Michael P Captain Fire Department Fire Department 145,917.85
Brizuela, William F Sergeant Police Department I45,799.72
Carroccino, Richard Captain Fire Department Fire Department 143,729.68
Noftle, John Sergeant Police Department 143,399.35
D’alba, Anthony F Sergeant Police Department 142,601.43
Rizzuto, David M Lieutenant Police Department Police Department 142,577.35
McLain, Thomas H Lieutenant Police Department Police Department 142,257.64
Dunn, Brlan A Lieutenant Police Department Police Department 142,075.70
Flibotte, David A Sergeant Police Department 139,282.59
Breau, Linda Deputy/Asst. Superintendent Curriculum & Instruction 138,723.52
Johari, Priti Principal 220 Chelsea High School 137,504.49
Betz, David K Lieutenant Police Department Police Department 136,752.02
Merritt, Philips Captain Fire Department Fire Department 135,078.38
Bevere Maloney, Jacqueline Principal 220 Early Learning Center 134,399.98
Gonzalez, Hector L Sergeant Police Department 134,150.63
Tarraza, Luis 0 Patrolman Police Department 132,435.96
Keefe, Edward P Deputy City Manager City Managers Office 131,692.35
Ulwick, Wayne Deputy Chief Fire Department 131,310.43
Lubarsky, Adele Principal 220 Edgar Hooks School 130,524.94
Ramirez, Emilio Patrolman Police Department 130,435.94
Wilcox, Richard J Lieutenant Fire Department Fire Department 129,511.67
Nee, Michaela Sergeant Police Department 129,262.60
Tiro, Anthony J Lieutenant Fire Department Fire Department 127,929.36
Lee, Michael W Captain Fire Department Fire Department 127,554.60
Gobin, Rony R Captain Fire Department Fire Department 126,838.72
Rogers, Philip R Captain Fire Department Fire Department 126,715.84
Rosenberg, Cindy D Director/Sped Special Education Office 126,704.50
Bower, John C Lieutenant Police Department Police Department 126,621.69
Lam,Longt Patrolman Police Department 126,017.51
Torres, Jose Firefighter Fire Department 126,016.67
Grajal, Randy A Teacher Edgar Hooks School 125,460.58
O’Brien, Joanne M Patrolman Police Department 122.517.49
Bellomo, Richard R Patrolman Police Department 122,434.05
Barber. Linda Assistant Principal 220 Days Chelsea High School 122,340.06
Andreottola, Miguel Director- Admin Union Information Technology 122,263.17
Martinello, Michelle Principal 220 Eugene Wright School 121,300.01
Schmidt, Ronald L Assistant Principal 220 Days Chelsea High School 120,863.05
Bevere, Joseph Sergeant Police Department 120,723.24
DeleiDi, Adam M Principal 220 William A Berkowitz School 119,725.05
Sanchez-Gleason, Magdalena Principal 220 George Kelly School 119,725.05
Chung, Starn Patrolman Police Department 119,622.05
Fisher, Cheryl W City Solicitor Law Department 118,212.79
Kent, Sarah A Assistant Super 220 Superintendent’s Office 118,180.01
Casucci, Augustus M Patrolman Police Department 118,042.21
Talbot, Michael Principal 220 Clark Avenue School 117,799.89
Noone, Michael J Patrolman Police Department 117,652.42
Sanchez, Miguel Lieutenant Police Department Police Department 117,208.79
Crowley, Kevin M Lieutenant Fire Department Fire Department 116,736.44
Griffin, Robert E Lieutenant Police Department Police Department 116,607.77
Perisie, Rjchard Captain Fire Department Fire Department 116,068.89
Almquist-Cevallos, Kristen L Assistant Principal 220 Days Chelsea High School 115,766.02
Cooney, Joseph F Director Of Buildings & Grounds Buildings & Grounds 115,378.83
Maldonado, Jonathan Patrolman Police Department 114,386.68
Valdes, Reinaldo Firefighter Fire Department 113,953.54
Dent, Sarah E Assistant Principal 220 Days Chelsea High School 113,563.97
Rodriguez, Luis R Patrolman Police Department 113,325.68
Vazquez, Sylvia E Teacher George Kelly School 113,032.18
Ostler, Ryan P Patrolman Police Department 112,945.35
Glass, Carter R Lieutenant Fire Department Fire Department 112,886.11
Conlon, Joseph Lieutenant Fire Department Fire Department 112,711.04
Stutto, Joseph C Patrolman Police Department 112,582.33
Peters, Albert W Lieutenant Fire Department Fire Department 112,509.80
Griffin, Kevin M Assistant Principal 205 Days Joseph A. Browne School 112,400.07
Shea. Julie C Principal 220 Joseph A. Browne School 112,196.08
Davis, Cove J Assistant Super 200 Superintendents Office 112,086.00
Meyers, Nathaniel S Principal 220 Frank M. Sokolowski School 111,946.05
Caissie, Arthur J Lieutenant Fire Department Fire Department 111,895.39
Taverna. Bertram Director Of Public Works Admin dpw 111,811.66
Vega. Carlos J Patrolman Police Department 111,585.26
Aliberti, Mark A Lieutenant Fire Department Fire Department 111,494.68
Lawlor, John W Lieutenant Fire Department Fire Department 111,374.27
Garcia, Stephen Patrolman Police Department 111,132.25
The Chelsea Public Schools are making some big moves at the end of this school year, with the biggest news being Chelsea High Principal Priti Johari moving to the Central Office from CHS to an assistant superintendent position.
Her departure from CHS follows the departure of Assistant Principal Ron Schmidt – who now will lead the new alternative high school within CHS.
“I am announcing that effective July 1, 2018, Chelsea High School Principal, Priti Johari, will be promoted to the position of Assistant Superintendent for Strategic Programs and Accountability,” wrote Supt. Mary Bourque. “To replace Ms. Johari, we will be posting for principal candidates as soon as possible. We are also convening a ‘Selection Committee’ to do the first round of interviews. The job of the Selection Committee will be to narrow the field of possible candidates to the top 2-3 highest qualified for me to interview. I will choose from the 2-3 finalists.”
Bourque told the Record that right now the Committee is looking at five or six semi-finalists. She said they would forward two names to her soon, and she expected that an announcement could come as soon as Friday.
She said with two key leaders at CHS leaving, the thought of a slip-back is on some people’s minds, but she said they are prepared not to let that happen.
“One of the good things we’ve put into the CPS is we build the system so that we collaborate very well,” she said. “One of the things about Chelsea is because of our turnover, we have gotten very good at picking things up quick and making sure they don’t go back…As superintendent, that’s why you always build a deep bench.”
Another piece of big news is that Principal Maggie Sanchez Gleason is leaving the Kelly School as her husband has received a promotion that requires them to move to London.
That opened up the position for Assistant Principal Lisa Lineweaver, who is a former School Committee member and a Chelsea resident. Lineweaver has two children in the schools and came to Chelsea last year after teaching in Boston for many years.
In the realm of retirements, the biggest news is that long time Director of Administration and Finance Gerry McCue will be retiring.
Bourque said she is still looking for a replacement for him, and will be engaging the Collins Center from UMass Boston to help locate and choose replacements. The Collins Center was engaged by the City Council a few years ago to help choose a city manager.
Other notable retirements include:
The six Central Office and district wide administrators retiring are:
- Tina Sullivan, Director of Human Resources
- Linda Breau, Deputy Superintendent (who will be moving to Human Resources for one year before retiring).
- Linda Alioto Robinson, Director of REACH
- Miguel Andreottola, Director of Technology
- AnnMarie LaPuma, Director of Assessment and Planning
For Andreottola, Bourque announced this week that long-time resident Rich Pilcher has been promoted to director of technology. Pilcher is also a Chelsea High graduate.
Just when it appeared that Councillor Giovanni Recupero might finally get a version of his long-sought-after residency ordinance passed on Monday, the votes quickly disappeared – causing him to have to pull the measure before the vote and send it to a Committee on Conference.
“Why are these councillors so opposed to it?” he asked. “Everett has it. Boston has it. Revere has it. Everyone has it, but we don’t because some councilors say we’re wasting our energy and wasting our money. In the end, the people want this. Everett is 2.4 sq. miles and they have it. That’s only a little bigger than we are. If it’s good enough for me to live here, it should be good enough for the police…It’s good enough for these councilors to ask for the people’s vote and say they will represent the people, but then they do this and don’t represent the people right. I speak to my constituents all the time. This is what the constituents want.”
Recupero had ordered two weeks ago that the City Solicitor’s Office draft a residency ordinance that would go into effect on April 1 and would be for only new hires of the Police and Fire Departments. Any new hire would have to live in Chelsea for five years after being hired. Currently, any new police officer or firefighter gets preference in hiring if they’ve lived in Chelsea one year before applying.
There is, however, no residency requirement.
Recupero has been pushing some form of a residency requirement for about four or five years. On Monday, he seemed to be at the brink of getting something passed.
With only eight councilors in attendance, the votes seemed like they might line up. However, as discussion went on, he lost some key votes and was going to only end up with three or four in the affirmative.
That’s when he decided to pull his request for a roll call and send the matter to a Committee on Conference.
Part of the problem was that many were confused by what the new ordinance would cost – as it would require the City Manager to collective bargain the new provision with the Police and Fire Unions. That would mean to get the new work condition – meaning the residency requirement for new hires – exisiting police and fire would have to be paid more money contractually.
“I think the situation deserves a little more attention and discussion,” said Councillor Luis Tejada, who has supported the idea in the past.
Councillor Calvin Brown, who filled in as Council president on Monday due to President Damali Vidot being ill, spoke on the matter and said he couldn’t support it.
“I don’t think I’m ready to vote on this or have enough information from the unions,” he said.
Councillor Judith Garcia said she believed that focusing energy and money on residency was a waste of time.
“If our main focus is to have some of our own in the Police Department and Fire Department, the we should focus our attention on recruitment,” she said.
The matter was sent to a Committee on Conference.
By John A. Cassara and Nathan Proctor
The president will now declare what many of us experience first hand, the opioid epidemic is a national emergency.
Frankly, with as many as 59,000 deaths in 2016, there doesn’t seem to be any other possible description.
So many dedicated people in cities and towns, faith communities and schools, families and hospitals are fighting to save lives and help people escape addiction.
But there are also a lot of people working to keep illegal opioids on the streets.
With 2.6 million opioid addicts in the United States, the scale of drug-running operations is immense, as are the profits. It’s not a mystery why the cartels build these operations, they do it for the money — and there is a lot of money to be had.
The Office of National Drug Control policy estimates that of the $65 billion spent on illegal drugs each year, about $1 billion, or 1.5 percent, is seized by all federal agencies combined. That means some 98.5 percent of the profits from trafficking remain in the hands of the cartels and other narco traffickers.
We can and must stop that free flow of money, which, besides flooding our communities with cheap heroin, helps strengthen these criminal enterprises.
As the bipartisan Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control wrote in 2013: ““[W]e have become convinced that we cannot stop the drug trade without first cutting off the money that flows to drug trafficking organizations.”
There are simple steps we can take now that go after that money. For starters, we must get rid of anonymous shell companies — companies formed with no way of knowing who owns or controls them (known as the “beneficial owner”).
As documented in the report “Anonymity Overdose,” traffickers can hide and move drug proceeds through anonymous shell companies because starting such companies requires zero personal information.
One of the most dangerous chemicals associated with the opioid crisis is fentanyl — some 50 times more potent than heroin. Deaths from fentanyl overdoses are up 540 percent in the last three years.
Law enforcement agents have cataloged how fentanyl is often shipped to the U.S. from China. Sometimes the drugs or drug making supplies are sent from, and addressed to, a set of anonymous companies.
These companies, which are not connected to the real owner (and sometimes not even connected to a real person), can open bank accounts, transfer money, and buy real estate. Law enforcement does not have access to who is behind these entities.
Requiring all companies formed in the United States disclose their beneficial owners would enable law enforcement to more effectively follow the money trail to the top. Bipartisan legislation has been introduced in both chambers of Congress which would do just that, and we believe this is something Congress should enact as soon as possible.
As we ask ourselves what else can we do to stand against this epidemic, it’s follow the money.
John A. Cassara is a former U.S. Treasury special agent, who spent much of his career investigating money laundering and terrorist financing. His latest book is titled “Trade-Based Money Laundering: The Next Frontier in International Money Laundering Enforcement.”
Nathan Proctor is a co-author of “Anonymity Overdose,” and a National Campaign Director with Fair Share.