In a world where every threat to a school has to be taken seriously, that played out on Monday morning at Chelsea High when the schools were put on alert by a social media threat to “CHS” that turned out to be a month old and referring to a school in New Mexico.
Supt. Mary Bourque said around 7:15 a.m. Monday, Officer Dan Delaney was alerted to a threat observed on social media by a parent, a threat that indicated the person was “going to shoot up CHS.”
Bourque said it was unfortunate, but it was something that’s going to happen more often.
“It turns out it was a month old and was referring to a school in New Mexico,” she said. “Every threat has to be taken seriously. We can’t afford to not take threats seriously. At the same time, this is going to be what it’s like in the times we live in…It’s a sign of the times these weekly incidents for schools will be happening. It’s happening around the nation and we’re no different.”
The high school was functioning normally shortly after the threat was investigated.
‘BLAST’ THREAT GETS CHARGES
On June 3, at 7:02 p.m., a subject was placed into custody after he made threats over the phone to ‘blast’ and shoot employees at the T-Mobile store located at 158 Everett Ave. He was located at his residence on Grove Street and apprehended.
Jorge Castro, 37, of 84 Grove St., was charged with bomb/hijack threats.
ALMOST HIT A CRUISER
On May 31, at 9:50 p.m., officers were patrolling northbound on Eastern Avenue when they observed a vehicle driving in the southbound direction of Eastern Avenue. The vehicle was observed crossing over the yellow double lines and narrowly missed colliding into the Patrol vehicle. The operator was placed under arrest for OUI after a failing a field sobriety test.
Jose Arias-Munguia, 46, of East Boston, was charged with operating under the influence of liquor, marked lanes violation and possession of an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle.
On June 1, at 10:12 a.m., officers responded to an argument between two parties in front of 21 Lash St. Upon arrival, officers were flagged down by a female party, later identified the person who had called the police. The victim told officers that the female who was known to her attacked her by striking her in the face several times, and she was able to free herself to call police. The subject was located by Boston Police in East Boston and placed under arrest and turned over to CPD.
Luz Zapata, 42, of East Boston, was charged with assault and battery and intimidation of a witness.
It’s hard to believe, but the inevitable has arrived — Labor Day weekend is here.
For those of us in the Greater Boston area, this has been the most incredible summer that anyone can remember (and for some of us, that’s a lot longer than we’d like to admit). This has been the sunniest summer on record without the extreme heat or humidity that make us yearn for a break from the sun.
The downside of course, is that the great weather has meant that we are in the midst of a record-setting drought that soon may bring disaster to some areas of our state — but that’s a subject for another story.
With a forecast (as this is being written) for more superb weather throughout the entire week and through the weekend, we wish all of our readers a fun and entertaining Labor Day weekend, giving all of us one last chance to catch up with friends and family or perhaps just to take a long, easy break somewhere nice and quiet.
Regardless of how we spend this final summer weekend, we urge all of our readers to do so safely and to be sure not to drink & drive or drink & boat, and to ensure that those around us maintain their sobriety, and if not, we take their keys.
Too many tragic, life-changing circumstances occur all too often because somebody just drinks too much (think of the person whose arm got cut off by a boat propeller last summer). Alcohol still is Public Enemy #1 — far exceeding all other drugs, legal and illegal, in terms of the tragedy and havoc it wreaks upon individuals and families.
So let’s enjoy this Last Blast of Summer — but’s let do it safely, so that we and our loved ones always will have fond and happy memories of the amazing Summer of 2016.
Another Thanksgiving is upon us. It’s a day for schoolboy football, family gatherings, and not much else to do other than enjoy a great dinner with friends and family that reminds us how fortunate we truly are as a nation at a time when circumstances are so cruel for so many others in the world.
Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday, tracing its roots back almost 400 years to the Pilgrims, long before there was even a thought of a United States of America. Ever since then, in one form or another, Thanksgiving has become the ultimate national holiday. It’s a day of no pressure, a day when no one expects anything from us and we expect nothing from anyone else (other than from the person doing all the cooking!). It lacks the commercialism, religiosity, solemnity, and political overtones of all of our other national observances. It is the only day on the calendar when we have no obligation other than to spend the day with those who mean the most to us.
Thanksgiving is a day for relaxation, reflection, and inevitably — at least for some of us — a post-dinner nap or early night of sleep. In a time when so many of us are connected 24/7 to some instrument of communication, it truly is a relief to have a day when we can just shut it all off.
We wish all of our readers a happy — and restful — Thanksgiving.
The License Commission made an initial reading of an application for a new nude dancing club put in on Monday for the old King Arthur’s site – moving the submission to a public hearing for either May or June.
The new entity will be called the Phantom Club and is operated by a newly created company called Phantom Ventures LLC.
It is controlled by Konstantinos Georgeopoulos, Louis Tasiopoulos and Gregory Costa – all of Middleton.
License Commissioner Roy Avellaneda said there would be a public hearing.
“We have received that application and have read it into the record,” he said. “As with any other application we receive, we’ll hold a public hearing.”
The Club would be located on the former site of King Arthur’s Strip Club at 200 Beacham Street in the Produce Center. That club was shut down last summer by the License Commission when the owners failed to renew critical licenses. The property was sold at auction earlier this year, and purchased by a former produce dealer named Demetrios Vardakostas for $1.35 million. While he is associated with the Produce Center, those close to the situation said perhaps he planned to lease it to the owners of Centerfolds Strip Club in Boston. Another person associated with the proposal is an owner of The Rack – a pool hall near Fenway Park.
The application was likely seen as a setback for the City and the site. The City and the Commission trumpeted last summer’s decision to close down the club and there was widespread hope that it would never again be a strip club. However, it is believed that the use is grandfathered for two years, leaving the proposal well within the limits of that timeframe.
In a letter from their attorney, it was detailed that The Phantom would include totally nude dancing and would cater to an upscale crowd.
“The intent is to transform the space into a formal suit and tie clientele,” read the application.
It also indicated that an attorney in Boston is preparing to apply for a liquor license, though that application hasn’t been filed yet. The application said they would also be applying for a common victualler license to serve bar food like chicken wings and burgers.
The application indicated they plan to completely renovate the club and have it ready within six months of receiving any licenses.
JK Nicholas, president of Chelsea Clock, in his old office at the historic Chelsea Clock building.
Nicholas and the rest of the company wrapped up their last days of production in the 117-year-old headquarters this week and are full into the process of transferring over to a new headquarters on 2nd Street. “The phones go on at our new place on Monday,” said Nicholas.
For the first time in 117 years, when the phone rings at the Chelsea Clock factory, the person on the other end of the line won’t be on Everett Avenue.
Starting on Monday, the company will be mostly moved out of its 117-year-old headquarters and into a newly renovated older industrial building on 2nd Street.
Gone will be the quaint old brick industrial headquarters where celebrities, dignitaries and even presidents visited to get their precision, luxury timepieces.
This past week, production wrapped up in the old headquarters, as the last clocks to be assembled and shipped from the storied building were completed. Simultaneously, much of the old, specialized clockmaking machinery was being moved via flatbed trailer by Bormann Brothers of Pepperell.
The engraving department carved out its last name on a clock Tuesday morning.
Gear cutting machines were being washed down and unscrewed from the floor.
And, almost uniformly, the legendary Chelsea Clock company was putting away 100 years of history and heading a couple blocks east for what most believe will be an exciting next 100 years. The building, however, doesn’t have such a bright future and is slated to be torn down by its owner to make way for a large-scale apartment development.
“For the most part, the last eight years have been spent re-building Chelsea Clock,” said President JK Nicholas. “This is one of the centerpieces for us to fulfill the overall objectives in rebuilding and putting Chelsea Clock in a new place for the next 100 years. We like it’s new location near the office park. This is a wonderful old building here and has a lot of spirit in it, but it is tired. It’s sad it will be torn down, but on the other hand you have to roll with the times and create and innovate. You can’t be the same old thing forever. Our newer place will be more efficient and have better working conditions overall for the people who work here. That is very important.”
Nicholas said he and the company are grateful to the City for its support and its desire to keep them in Chelsea.
“The company is really incredibly grateful for the support we’ve seen from so many different corners of Chelsea itself,” he said. “It was really our desire to stay in Chelsea and we’re really grateful we were able to do that. It wasn’t clear at one point. We looked in Everett and Somerville, not because we wanted to, but because we couldn’t find anything. Then the new place opened up and it worked. That was fortunate. It wouldn’t have been so good to have to say, ‘Here’s your Chelsea Clock made in some other city.’ It would have been a sad day for Chelsea.”
The company began as early as 1884, but became Chelsea Clock in 1897 when Charles Pearson bought it and moved the headquarters to Everett Avenue in Chelsea. It was in that building that the patent for the first Ship’s Bell mechanism was designed, and where the company came up with the idea of offering products in a catalog. Over the years, it became well known for its marine clocks (used by ships and vessels worldwide) and its luxury, precision mantel clocks. The history is voluminous, and probably worth the effort for a full-scale book if one hasn’t already been written.
However, to get a great history of the place one needs only to talk with the employees, who finished up their work in bittersweet fashion this week in the building they have called their workplace for decades.
“This building has survived everything,” said 59-year employee John McCarthy. “I started in here in 1956. This building has survived so many fires. The bar next door used to be a three-decker and it caught fire and I don’t know how this place didn’t catch. There was a big lumberyard next door that burnt completely, but this building was untouched. Of course, we survived the large fire in the 1980s somehow. Everything else around us was burnt down. The alarms were going off and the sprinklers activated and we had no water pressure, but the building stood.”
He said there is a sadness to leaving the place, but a great hope for the future.
“It is tragic and sad, but the important thing is the talent is going with us and the specialized machinery is going with us,” he said. “This new place is going to be much better because the building is better. We’ve been on three floors here. It’s hard to be efficient like that. We’ll be much more efficient. This new owner has a vision and it will take us to the next 100 years. We’re moving a few blocks after being here a long time, but we’re staying in Chelsea.”
Efficiency is a key.
Last Tuesday, a small dumbwaiter elevator bringing clock parts up from the basement to the first floor assembly room got stuck between floors. It’s a common problem, and one of the things they’ve grown accustomed to dealing with. To fix it, one has to go to the first floor and hit a button to release it. That won’t happen any longer, and neither will the cold, drafty days in the winter, nor the unbearably hot days in the summer.
Master Clock Maker Jean Yeo said she has spent 53 years assembling clocks in the old building – nowadays being a specialist in the famous Ship’s Bell clock.
“I don’t know what I’ll miss,” she said. “I guess about the only thing I’ll miss is coming over Carter Street and seeing the big Chelsea Clock sign…It’s going to be quite a transformation for me. Old is better in some respects. We had a lot of good times here. I’ve learned how to do quite a lot of things here. We’ve had dignitaries, celebrities and even kings come through this building to meet us and see what we do. I have the time ingrained in me. I can hear a clock chime and know if its two or three seconds off. I can’t deal with it if it’s more than five seconds off. When I go up Rt. 1, I always know what time it is before I see it on the placards. And I never, never ever had an alarm clock in my house. I just get up automatically. The thing is, I learned all of that here in this building.”
The feelings are mutual for Bhupat Patel – a master clock repairman who was brought to Chelsea Clock from England for his expertise in repairing Chelsea Clocks.
That was 33 years ago.
“I’ve been here since 1981 and I’m used to this building,” he said. “We know so much about this building because all these years we’ve spent walking around and getting things. We’ll have new floors and a better place to work, but you have to kind of miss a place like this.”
Sentiment aside, the down and dirty business of moving from a place that has been stationary for 117 years has not been easy, said Spokesman Patrick Capozzi.
The process started last year with a color-coding system and a plan for moving one department at a time.
“We stopped manufacturing last week,” he said. “We made sure to have enough product ready to go so when we shut down the machinery, we have enough product to ship out. It’s important in retail products to keep shipping to our clients. So, we built up inventory to keep things going.”
However, the clean out has been a little more difficult.
What to do with an industrial molding for a clock that hasn’t been manufactured for decades?
Do you save it, or toss it?
“There are gears and molds and things that we haven’t produced for years that were on a shelf in storage here in the building in case we ever decided to bring it back or something,” he said. “The question with all those things is what do we do with it?”
Anyone who has been in the building knows that there are beautiful photographs that not only tell the story of Chelsea Clock, but also the story of Chelsea and the United States. Wall after wall of photos contain presidents, authors, former Chelsea mayors, generals and royalty figures posing with their Chelsea Clocks. Those things, along with all the press clippings so diligently saved over the years, have no question marks about their future. Those, Capozzi said, will be saved in a very special archive at the new building.
“We’ve been talking about the move for quite a while, and now it’s here and almost done,” he said. “We like to say around here that we hope the moving process goes like clockwork.”
It was somewhere between struggling to find parking in front of her Highland Street home, getting fed up with what she believed to be growing crime, property tax increases and a less-than-welcoming desire at City Hall to help her, that Dimali Vidot decided that maybe it was time to bring back a mayor to the City.
Such talk is tantamount to treason in Chelsea, but Vidot said she is pushing forward with the idea after hearing a groundswell of support, and hopes to gather enough signatures to get the measure on the November ballot.
She affectionately calls the momentum, and the accompanying pushback by those who disagree, the Chelsea Revolution.
“I know the residents are frustrated and they’re upset,” she said. “There seems to be a disconnect with what is happening in Chelsea and what is happening at City Hall. What’s a way maybe to get control again? Why not have a mayor where the people can elect a person who is accountable and responsive. At least with a mayor, the person has to show his or her face. If you want another term, you have to show face. He or she has to come out and show their face to the people and live in the city with the people. I don’t know if it’s the right thing or the magic bullet, but I think the people should have an opportunity to decide for themselves.”
The idea of bringing back a mayoral form of government sends many long-time residents into a tizzy – most of whom can remember the massive corruption brought about by a group of mayors in the 1980s that were indicted in succession for municipal corruption misdeeds and widely believed to be in cahoots with organized crime.
And that’s just part of the story.
So it goes that the word “mayor” in Chelsea brings about a sense of anxiety in more than a few people.
Vidot absolutely gets that, she said.
Vidot grew up in Chelsea and saw the bad years, was educated in low-quality schools and then in schools run by Boston University where she said she “was just an educational experiment.” So, she said she is certainly no a newcomer who doesn’t understand the recent history of Chelsea and its aversion to that dirty word “mayor.”
However, she said that she and her husband – and a growing number of folks who have stuck it out in Chelsea over the decades and invested here – see a new kind of Chelsea forming where the government could possibly be turned back more to the voters, and where there could possibly be a more human leader and less of a professional manager.
Councillor Brian Hatleberg said he has talked with Vidot and appreciates her energy, but is dead set against the idea of having a mayor.
“If you look at cities around the Commonwealth, you’re seeing more of them moving towards the idea that professional management is a good thing for them,” he said. “Cities are complex and require professional management. We have a city manager and it’s good and we’ve seen the rewards. What we have here is a desire for more engagement that is legitimate, valuable and important. It’s very easy to take something to the extreme and not look at the consequences of those decisions.”
Meanwhile, former Councillor Roy Avellaneda said he neither supports nor refutes the idea of having a mayor, but he has encouraged Vidot’s activism for the sake of drumming up more interest in the political system. He said there has been a groundswell of talk lately about the idea of going back to a mayoral form of government, especially once the city manager selection process started and voters realized they had no say in the matter.
“I guess there is a sense of more responsiveness if there was a mayor,” he said. “I’ve heard it before and it’s been discussed a lot. I guess the whole city manager search has re-invigorated the whole city manager versus mayor discussion. I understand how some people in the community feel as they look at Revere, Everett and Boston and see that they get to choose a mayor…Whether I agree with having a city manager or not is irrelevant. I’m happy to see this new energy and I’ve never been one to discourage having a discussion. Maybe it’s time to have a discussion again. We haven’t talked about it in 16 years. Maybe it could be a good litmus test. If there’s support, maybe when the City reviews the Charter in 2020, that should be seriously considered.”
Meanwhile, on the streets and sidewalks and in the social media landscape, Vidot said that her Chelsea Revolution is but one week old, and she’s had several people try to discourage her from continuing, several apathetic friends and relatives tell her she’s wasting her time trying to change Chelsea, and several folks like herself who are embracing the same idea.
“The biggest support I have is my willingness to go door-to-door and my desire not to back down,” she said. “I’ve lived her all my life and I have a lot of friends. I’m bi-lingual in English and Spanish. I’ll go to DeMoulas, Compare, Save-A-Lot and wherever I have to go. There are a lot of people who are just fed up.”
To get her question on the ballot, Vidot said she has been informed by the City Solicitor that she will need to collect signatures from 15 percent of the 14,464 registered voters in Chelsea – which works out to be about 2,270 people. If she does that in time, she would have a chance of getting the measure on the November ballot for the voters to consider.
City Manager Jay Ash and Anti-Casino Advocate John Ribeiro – of Winthrop – squared off on casinos Sunday morning, July 27, on Channel 5’s popular ‘On the Record’ news magazine show.
Hosted by Ed Harding and Janet Wu of Channel 5, the show typically focuses on two issues for 30-minutes apiece. Last Sunday, Ash stood in as the person advocating for casinos, and Ribeiro held sway with the anti-casino voice.
There was no winner, but Ash said he didn’t agree with Ribeiro’s facts and didn’t feel he could back them up.
“I have a lot of facts on my side,” he said. “I admire John for being in the fight and think our society would be much better if more people became involved in issues as he has done. However, the facts just didn’t bear out in the stories he was telling. He kept talking about budget deficits in other states and that was a reason we shouldn’t have gaming in Massachusetts. I don’t know how that correlates here. There was a Great Recession and that hit every state’s budget in a very negative way. No one has ever suggested Massachusetts’ budget issues would be fully solved by introducing casinos. It’s always been suggested as one part of the solution.”
In one of the more popular segments of the show, the hosts give a five question quiz to the guests. That has been a source of embarrassment for some guests that didn’t do so well on the quiz. However, both Ash and Ribeiro got a perfect score.
Ash also reiterated his stance on casinos and that he believes there is too much money going to gaming facilities in Connecticut and Rhode Island that should be staying in Massachusetts to ease budget pains and create gaming jobs.
“There are seven million trips per year to Connecticut and Rhode Island casinos from Massachusetts,” he said. “That tells me there is a huge market here and many people who would stay local and leave their tax dollars and fund jobs here in Massachusetts and the local community. That’s why we should be continuing to pursue casinos in Massachusetts.”
All in all, Ash said it was a great discussion and there were no winners, but just a good conversation on the issue.
“I disagree with his facts, but there were no mistakes made,” said Ash. “There was no smoking gun revealed. It was more of a conversation than a debate.”
A Quincy attorney was arraigned on drug charges last week for allegedly bringing a controlled substance to a person at Chelsea District Court.
Michael Lustig, 45, was arraigned on charges of possession of a Class B substance with intent to distribute and conspiracy to violate the state’s drug laws for allegedly bringing Suboxone tablets – prescribed for opiate addiction but also sold and used illicitly – to court today with the alleged intention of delivering them to Alicia DeMarco, 27. DeMarco is not Lustig’s client.
Based in part on defaults in a 2008 case charging Lustig with receiving stolen property and conspiracy, Assistant District Attorney Christopher Henry recommended that Lustig be held on $20,000 cash bail and, if he posts that amount, an order to stay away from DeMarco.
Judge Matthew Nestor imposed $300 and the stay-away order.
Based on information that Lustig would be attempting this delivery, State Police narcotics detectives assigned to the Suffolk DA’s office obtained an anticipatory order for search and seizure from a Suffolk Superior Court judge. The order allowed a search of his person in the event that he arrived at or in the vicinity of Chelsea court, which he did at about 10:30 a.m. last Wednesday, Nov. 13.
State Police confronted Lustig after he used his identification to bypass security. When asked his business, Lustig allegedly said he was there to visit “a friend.” When provided with a copy of the judge’s order, he allegedly asked, “If I give them to you, will you let me go?”
They did not let him go.
Lustig provided Troopers with an envelope bearing DeMarco’s name. To protect any potential privilege, troopers did not open the envelope but instead provided it to the judge who issued the order. Lustig allegedly made several unsolicited statements including “She made me do it” and “She set the whole thing up.”
DeMarco, a resident of Reading, was in court today on a case charging distribution of a Class B substance. She was not taken into custody but detectives plan to seek a complaint charging her with conspiracy to violate the state’s drug laws.
The ballot has been set this week for the November City Election and four legitimate races have emerged – one in the at-large category and three at the district seat level.
First and foremost was the surprising entrance into the race of Bob Bishop in the District 1 race. Bishop, the former City Clerk, will make a run against District 1 Councillor Paul Murphy.
Those on the inside circles are already starting to handicap this race, which will feature a veteran of Chelsea politics and an established sitting councillor in the Prattville area – which is the most active and outspoken area of the City.
Bishop is a former alderman and his daughter recently held the District 1 seat. Meanwhile, Murphy is the son of ever-popular Chelsea District Court Magistrate Kevin Murphy. Many believe Bishop will give Murphy a run for his money, but there is a strong contention among the know-it-alls that Murphy might be too strong in the district right now.
Time will tell as the campaigns begin to materialize.
Another surprise race came in District 2, where newcomer Todd Nordstrom – a family man who lives on Washington Avenue with his wife and kids – has jumped into the race against Chris Cataldo.
Nordstrom was involved and outspoken during the prolonged rehabilitation of Washington Avenue and apparently is taking that momentum and applying it to politics.
There’s no telling how this race might pan out.
Cataldo has not been a councillor who has been everywhere all the time, and neither has he been a councillor that makes a lot of noise at City Hall. Nevertheless, he has represented the district well, and it will be the person who works the hardest to meet voters that wins this one.
The final district race has already been well-publicized as challenger Henry Wilson has come out strong very early against District 5 incumbent Joe Perlatonda.
The two have already had their differences, and the campaign in that district has already begun in earnest.
The final race for the ballot will be the at-large race, where four candidates are vying for three seats.
The lone challenger is political veteran Deborah Washington – who has indicated she will be out working hard in this election cycle and competing for one of the three seats.
Her battle will be uphill, though.
Sitting incumbents in the at-large race have shown to have a good deal of popularity and political muscle in the City – including Leo Robinson, Calvin Brown and Brian Hatleberg. All three incumbents have been very active over the last several years, and have contributed routinely at Council meetings.
Once again, a consistent and strong effort makes this one too close to call. However, a minimal campaign will make winning an uphill battle.
Those qualifying for the ballot, but having no challenger are:
•Matt Frank, District 3
•Paula Barton, District 4
•Giovanni Recupero, District 6
•Clifford Cunningham, District 7
•Dan Cortell, District 8