Or at least a few stretches of the $5 million traffic project city officials have been working on for close to two years.
Monday night, the City Council delivered a split decision on the Reimagining Broadway downtown traffic proposal following a presentation by Alexander Train, the city’s assistant director of planning and director.
The most controversial aspect of the project, converting the section of Broadway from Bellingham Square to Chelsea Square from a one-way street to a two-way street with increased smart traffic signalization at several intersections, was sent back to the Traffic and Parking Commission for revision.
Councillors also opposed, by a narrow margin, the plans for the improvement of the Bellingham Square portion of the project. However, the Council did give its okay to two portions of the proposal tied to Fay and Chelsea Squares themselves.
The debate over Reimagining Broadway included several short recesses as Councillors debated in smaller groups the legality of how the vote was proceeding, and what a split vote would mean for the overall project. City officials kicked off Reimagining Broadway in the beginning of 2017 as a way to improve the downtown streets for motorists, pedestrians, and public transit.
During one of the breaks, a call was made to the City’s legal counsel to make sure the Council could legally split the vote on Reimagining Broadway into four sections, according to District 5 Councillor Judith Garcia. However, legal counsel drew the line at, and the majority of the councillors agreed, that amendments to the four sections beyond what was presented to the Council were not legally in order.
By the end of the evening, there was still some concern as to what the Council had accomplished.
“I just want to be clear on what the Council voted on,” said District 8 Councillor Calvin Brown as Council President Damali Vidot gaveled the two-hour meeting to a close.
“I’m not diminishing the hard work of the City staff, but I am asking that they go back to the drawing board and come back with options A, B, and C,” said Vidot, who voted ‘no’ on each section of the proposal.
Vidot also said she was uncomfortable passing the Reimagining Broadway plan through piecemeal without knowing what that would mean for the project as a whole.
“I don’t know what it means to approve one part and deny another,” she said.
Going back to the drawing board would provide a better opportunity to reach out to Chelsea’s citizens, Vidot said.
“Let’s reach out and do a better job,” she said. “We can do better, let’s go back to the drawing board.”
But Garcia said the time has come to put the plans in motion, especially when it comes to the safety of her constituents.
“I am excited to bring change to Broadway and hopeful of the possibilities it can create in the downtown,” said Garcia. “But one of the key messages we keep forgetting is safety.”
Garcia pointed to the addition of a traffic signal in front of a senior and handicapped housing building at 272 Broadway as one of the safety benefits of the project.
“That is a dangerous intersection,” she said. “When I ran for election in 2015, I promised to try to make is safer for them. Today, what we are being presented with is a concept. What we are voting on today is not set in stone.”
During his presentation, Train stressed that the Council was only giving its okay on conceptual plans.
“There will be more engineering and design details in preparation for construction,” he said. That process would also include more opportunity for public input, as well as plans on how the project would be phased over time to minimize construction impacts for local businesses and residents.
ONE WAY OR TWO?
The most heated debate on the nuts and bolts of Reimagining Broadway itself was easily the proposal to convert Broadway from a one-way to a two-way street from Bellingham Square to Chelsea Square.
Train presented two versions of the plan.
The one recommended to the Council called for 11-½ foot travel lanes in each direction with sidewalks and parking on each side of the street. The second proposal included just a single travel lane with the sidewalks and parking along with a dedicated bicycle lane.
Several councillors, including Vidot, said they were concerned that converting to a two-way street would make Broadway more, not less, dangerous for pedestrians and motorists.
There was also a difference of opinion among councillors, and long-time Chelsea residents, Leo Robinson and Giovanni Recupero, who couldn’t even come to a consensus on whether the road was safe when it was a two-way street in the 1960s.
Robinson, who supported the two-way proposal, said he grew up on Broadway and there was a good flow of traffic on the street at that time.
But Recupero said going back to the past would only make a bad situation worse.
“My constituents do not want it and say it is crazy with traffic already,” he said. “It didn’t work then and I don’t think it will work now.”
Some of the legal wrangling during the evening centered on Councillor-at-Large Roy Avellaneda attempting to strike out some of the language in the proposal, essentially keeping Broadway one-way, but including the traffic lights and other improvements for the road as presented by Train.
“I do not want to support a two-way Broadway, but the residents need and deserve the traffic lights,” said Avellaneda.
But after the call to the city solicitor, the Council voted that Avellaneda’s move to strike language from the initial proposal was the same as an amendment to the proposal.
The two sections of Reimagining Broadway will now go back to the Traffic and Parking Commission for revision before being brought back to the City Council.
When Chelsea’s Bob Fortunato found a closed sign on the front of Wonderland Dog Track in 2010, it was a hard road ahead for he and his family, and the end of a career in the pari-mutuel industry.
Now, however, as one of students in the first class of the Greater Boston Casino Gaming Career Institute – a partnership between Cambridge College in Charlestown and Encore Boston Harbor – Fortunato might once again be joining the gaming and wagering industry.
On Monday, the first day of the so-called ‘Dealer School,’ Fortunato was one of 167 students who have enrolled in the first-ever session of classes to learn how to professionally deal Blackjack and poker games, potentially for the Encore casino that is only a short drive away from the school in Charlestown.
“It’s a new experience for me and a process that could lead to a good job,” he said. “I was at Wonderland Greyhound Park for a long time before it closed. Since then, I’ve worked several jobs doing a lot of different things. This is a great opportunity for me to start a new career.”
A new career is something he didn’t think he and his family, which operated Fortune Kennels, would ever have to do.
“It was tough,” he said. “At Wonderland, I had worked there for 12 years as a greyhound trainer. My family worked there and my family was in the business for 40 years. For me, it’s a great opportunity to be a dealer, and I’m very excited to be involved on the sports betting end of it if that comes to the state.”
Fortunato said he reached out to the Wynn organization from the start, and was in their network. He saw advertisements for the school and heard about it also in an e-mail and jumped on the opportunity.
“I looked into it and decided to go for it,” he said.
He was not alone on Monday, as 166 other students entered their first day of classes along with executives from Wynn and Cambridge College.
Wynn Resorts CEO Matt Maddox was on hand Monday with Cambridge College President Deborah Jackson to open the doors on the area’s inaugural class of prospective dealers for the Encore Boston Harbor casino.
“Today is the first day and we have more than 100 people kicking it off today,” said Maddox before cutting the ceremonial ribbon. “We believe in investing in the communities around us. That’s what makes a successful enterprise – when you invest in your community and the people that work for you.”
He was joined by state delegation members State Rep. Dan Ryan and State Sen. Sal DiDomenico, who gave their blessing to the new operation.
Fortunato joined about 50 members of the new class that chatted with Maddox and the media before starting their first day of class in the afternoon session of dealer school.
Cambridge College President Jackson said the Dealer School was a great addition to their curriculum and fell in line with the mission of helping adults find training for good-paying careers. Cambridge College recently moved its entire school into the Hood Park office complex, and was in a great place to be able to expand and utilize space for the Dealer School.
She said they had 1,900 applications for the school initially.
“This has been a long time in the making,” she said. “We have been working on it for about a year. As is the case with all good outcomes, it is the building of great relationships that gets you there.”
She also credited Cambridge College personnel Phil Page and Mark Rotondo with getting the school off the ground successfully.
Encore President Bob DeSalvio said it was the realization of a commitment to the people of Massachusetts – particularly those around the casino – to train and employ them in good-paying jobs.
“This is a big step towards our commitment to train those in the community to work at Encore Boston Harbor,” he said.
The Greater Boston Gaming Career Institute, as the Dealer School is officially known, welcomed more than 165 local students to its Bet On U program, which was created by Cambridge College in collaboration with Encore Boston Harbor. The institute was formed under the leadership of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.
The Bet On U program is designed to train qualified, employment-ready gaming professionals who are interested in starting exciting new careers as one of the more than 1,100 full- and part-time dealers at Encore Boston Harbor when the resort opens in June of 2019.
“The dealers who will be working at Encore Boston Harbor when we open our doors will have more than just jobs, they will have well-paying careers,” said Maddox. “Many of the top executives in our company started as dealers; we hope students from this course will progress the very same way. It’s always been our belief that true success comes from investing in your employees, and the communities where we live and work in.”
‘Mastering Blackjack’ and ‘Perfecting Poker’ are the first two games being taught at the institute. Students can prepare for a career as a blackjack dealer in nine weeks or a poker dealer in 14 weeks, with classes available at various times on weekdays and all day on weekends. Each class is taught by professional casino dealers using the latest tables and gaming equipment.
The cost for each game is $700 with 50 fully-funded scholarships from Encore Boston Harbor available for eligible local residents who require financial assistance. Half of the scholarships will be awarded to women. Students must be 18 years or older to apply to the Institute and work as a dealer in Massachusetts.
The second semester of the Greater Boston Gaming Career Institute will start in January of 2019, with applications being accepted now. The institute is located at HYPERLINK “https://maps.google.com/?q=510+Rutherford+Avenue&entry=gmail&source=g” 510 Rutherford Avenue in Charlestown at the Hood Executive Park, less than two miles from the Encore Boston Harbor Resort and easily accessible via the MBTA’s Orange Line.
Boston City Councillor Ayanna Pressley enjoyed tremendous support in Chelsea from a wide array of residents and City officials in the Seventh Congressional District race.
Chelsea’s Saritin Rizzuto is shown on Sept. 4 at Ayanna Pressley’s campaign watch party shortly after it was announced that Pressley won.
Pressley recorded one of the biggest upsets in Massachusetts political history when she defeated Congressman Mike Capuano in the Democratic Primary on Sept. 3, and nowhere did she find a warmer welcome than from supports in Chelsea. Here supporters here, in fact, were some of the earliest to join her campaign this year.
One of Pressley’s most visible supporters in Chelsea throughout the campaign was Saritin Rizzuto, a well-known community organizer.
Rizzuto organized the largest local fundraiser of the campaign when more than 180 supporters came to the Tu Casa Restaurant on Broadway for a meet-and-greet with the candidate.
Pressley, who was introduced by Rizzuto at the event, did not disappoint her supporters, delivering a rousing, inspirational address that had the crowd on its feet cheering.
Rizzuto and Pressley have been friends for 15 years. They have worked together on various issues through the years. Rizzuto served as a board member at Casa Myrna and Pressley was very supportive of the organization that seeks solutions to end domestic and dating violence.
“Because I knew her background, I had seen her in action, and I had seen her be a fierce advocate for people, I wanted to be involved in her campaign for Congress,” said Rizzuto. “Ayanna asked for my help and I said, ‘I’m with you, 100 percent.’’’
Council President Damali Vidot was one of the first elected officials to endorse Pressley many months ago, and campaigned vigorously for her in Chelsea and beyond.
“I stood proudly with Ayanna as gatekeepers questioned her viability and intentions, from the beginning,” said Vidot. “It wasn’t just her impassioned speeches about real issues affecting us locally that drew me to her. It was the depth of understanding in which she spoke about Immigration, transit justice, and other inequities in the district. It didn’t take much convincing for people to join the A-Team. Our local grassroots efforts proved to be successful in drawing out more people than the last similar Congressional race in 2014, despite going up against establishment politicians and organizations.”
Marisol Santiago was also a major force for Pressley in Chelsea, having worked on many campaigns in the past. She said Pressley gave everyone a choice, and also caused her to think about her community.
“Ayanna Pressley gave us a choice,” she said “This campaign was an opportunity to look closely at our shared values and ask ourselves what we could accomplish if we were to push ourselves further. Being complacent has never been an option, nor being a good vote was ever enough. Ayanna spoke to these truths and her campaign for Congress brought to the surface the deep differences between what people were used to and the push for more. Her voice amplified our resolve. Our organizing required us to ask these questions of ourselves and our communities.”
Rizzuto said Pressley’s experience as a councillor-at-large in Boston, coupled with the personal challenges she has confronted in her life, set a strong foundation for her run for the congressional seat.
“Ayanna can relate to the situation of people who have struggled, who have been homeless, who have victims of sexual assault,” said Rizzuto.
Rizzuto said the campaign event at Tu Casa in Chelsea drew a substantial crowd even though there was a last-minute change in venue. “There was an issue with a local venue that wasn’t unionized, so we moved the event to another location,” said Rizzuto. “We pulled it together with her team on 24-hour notice.”
Pressley’s speech that night rallied the troops and kept the campaign momentum going in Chelsea.
“With Ayanna, when you hear her speak, that’s when you know you’re going to vote for her,” said Rizzuto. “I knew she was powerful in communicating with the voters. The voters understood that Ayanna was someone who would fight for her constituents every day. I’m confident that she will be a great congresswoman.”
Facing many critics from the public that showed up to speak against two-way Broadway, the City Council on Monday decided to defer any vote and, instead, hold a Committee on Conference to review the matter.
In August, the Traffic Commission voted 5-1 to approve the two-way plan, as well as a spate of many other non-controversial changes to Fay Square, Chelsea Square, Bellingham Square and City Hall Avenue.
Council President Damali Vidot called for the committee, and the Council approved the move. She said they had until Oct. 6 to hold the meeting and to have a vote of the full Council. The City Council must approve all actions of the Traffic Commission, but if they do not do so by Oct. 6, the Commission’s approval will become law.
Many on the Council have not made their opinions known yet, but some have, and ultimately the fate of two-way Broadway will fall on the votes of 11 members of the Council.
Council President Vidot has been critical of the idea, and has particularly disagreed with the planning process that has unfolded over the past two years. In the past, she has been against the change.
Councillor Leo Robinson, however, said this week he is in favor of two-way Broadway.
“I’m a two-way Broadway guy,” he said.
Councillor Joe Perlatonda has also spoke in favor of the plan, and said the one-way plan is dangerous because it calls for cars to park outside of the protected bike lane. He said that would leave those exiting their cars in a dangerous position with oncoming traffic and with oncoming bicyclists.
Meanwhile, Councillor Bob Bishop said he doesn’t buy the idea of two-way Broadway. To this point, he said he isn’t convinced it’s a good change.
City Manager Tom Ambrosino and Chief Brian Kyes are some of the biggest advocates, and though they don’t have a vote, they have strongly called for the change for months.
Resident Sharleen McLain, however, was one of several residents who said the plan is flawed and has been forced upon the public.
“From the very first it was clear the City Manager and the planners have been pretty bent on getting two-way Broadway,” she said. “They’ve been pretty manipulative in moving forward on this two-way plan. None of these meetings have allowed for meaningful input. It wasn’t until the July Traffic Commission meeting that members of the public were able to speak directly to the plans.”
Said Barbara Richard, “I think two-way Broadway is spot-on dead wrong. Businesses will go under. I also think it hasn’t been a good enough outreach to the community.”
Ambrosino said he is in favor of the two-way plan, but he implored the Council to consider the plan is much more than just the two-way Broadway situation. He said there are many, many more non-controversial changes in the package that people do want universally.
“Much of what is before you is non-controversial,” he said. “Whether it’s Fay Square, Bellingham Square or City Hall Avenue, these provisions have no opposition to the changes.”
The Council will meet next on Monday, Sept. 24, and the Conference Committee will likely take place next week.
The Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation awarded $2.4 million to Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC) to establish the Early College program at BHCC, marking the largest private grant awarded in the College’s history.
The announcement was made in Chelsea Wednesday afternoon at an event celebrating the early college designation to Chelsea High School’s Early College program by the Baker-Polito Administration. Board Members from the Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation joined Governor Charlie Baker to see firsthand the impact of Early College. At the event, Governor Baker and the legislators in attendance heard from four Chelsea High School students who shared how their experiences in the program influenced their decision to pursue a college-level program.
Transformation to a Consolidated Early College Model
The funding from the Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation allows BHCC to consolidate its Early College efforts into a core model that anticipates growth in scale and performance, as well as distillation and dissemination of its promising practices to the field. The $2.4 million grant covers a three-year project horizon, and will serve more than 500 high school students, coming from a portfolio of partnerships with high school and community-based organizations in Greater Boston.
“We are so thankful to the Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation for this extraordinary grant. It allows us to consolidate and scale our early work, to gather data and evidence of success and to make a strong case to the leaders of the Commonwealth that Early College is a viable and scalable solution to talent and economic development,” said BHCC President Pam Eddinger.
An early adopter of Early College, BHCC currently collaborates with seven high schools and community-based organizations, serving nearly 500 early college students in addition to almost 400 participants in dual enrollment. Increasing demand and initial successes with traditionally underserved students and the potential for greater educational equity and student achievement pressed the College to consolidate the Early College efforts into a core model and make it central to the College’s Mission. The grant supports the Early College effort exactly at this important inflection point and gives the College the financial and structural lift to reach the next level of success.
“The Foundation’s Board of Trustees is pleased to be partnering with one of the Commonwealth’s leading community colleges to bring a transformative model proven in other states to Greater Boston. By bridging high school and college experiences, Early College will help many students graduate from high school ready to succeed in college and enjoy the benefits of the Commonwealth’s strong economy,” said Lynne Doblin, Executive Director of The Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation.
Early College: A Cross-Segment Convergence in Education Strategy
This important work signals a convergence of new thinking from education leaders and policymakers around the State.
“An important goal of the Early College program is exposing students to college-level work while they are still in high school so they can envision themselves on a track toward a college degree,” said Governor Baker at Wednesday’s event. “The college-level experience, combined with the credits they earn in the courses, sets many students up for success by the time they arrive on a campus.”
The Secretary of Education, the Board of Higher Education and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education all support the effort to recognize Early College work by awarding designations to strong partnerships around the Commonwealth, with the promise of sustainable funding in the near future. These designations, of which BHCC is a part, will stimulate experimentation, document effective practice and demonstrate impact.
The standard-setting work of BHCC’s Early College will be a powerful proof point, and the data to be gathered over the next three years will provide strong evidence as to the efficacy of Early College as a way to increase high school graduation and college completion and broaden career exploration.
The world was turned on its nose Tuesday night in the Congressional District 7 race when Boston City Councilor
Council President Damali Vidot joined Ayanna Pressley and Chelsea residents outside the polls on Tuesday afternoon. She is also joined by School Committeeman Julio Hernandez.
Ayanna Pressley surprised everyone with a solid victory, ousting Congressman Michael Capuano from the seat he has held for 20 years.
Capuano conceded the race around 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday after a long day of campaigning that included prominent stops in Charlestown with Mayor Martin Walsh at his side rallying voters with State Rep. Dan Ryan and State Sen. Sal DiDomenico late in the day.
Pressley did visit Chelsea on Tuesday, where she enjoyed great support at a rally in front of the Williams School.
Both candidates had campaigned heavily in Chelsea over the last six months, with many seeing the city as a battle ground for what ended up being only a very small number of votes – with the election seeing only a 15 percent turnout and 2,106 votes cast in the race.
Pressley and Capuano also had major elected official support in Chelsea, with Councilors such as Leo Robinson, Roy Avellaneda and State Rep. Dan Ryan with Capuano. Meanwhile, Council President Damali Vidot, Councilor Enio Lopez and School Committeeman Julio Hernandez.
Districtwide, Pressley took the race by 18 percent, winning 59 percent to 41 percent. Pressley enjoyed great support south of Boston and in Dorchester and Mattapan – where voter turnout was heavy and she took many precincts in a 70-30 percent split.
In Chelsea, Capuano won with 1,138 votes (54 percent) to Pressley’s
Citywide in Boston, Pressley beat Capuano 64 percent (40,452 votes) to 36 percent (22,831 votes).
In places like Charlestown, Somerville and East Boston, voting was light, and even though Capuano won Chelsea and Everett, it wasn’t enough votes to counter the surge on the other side of downtown Boston.
In her victory speech Tuesday night, the Boston councilor repeated the phrase that “Change can’t wait.”
“You, your families and friends expected more and these times needed more from our leaders and our party,” she said from her watch party at Dorchester’s IBEW hall. “These times demanded a party that was bold, uncompromising and unafraid…It isn’t enough to see the Democrats back in power, but…it mattered who those Democrats are. And, while our president is a racist, misogynistic, truly empathetically bankrupt man, the area that makes the 7th Congressional District one of the most unequal was cemented through policies drawn up long before he ever descended the escalator at Trump Tower. In fact, some of those policies were put in place with Democrats in the White House and in control of our Congress. They are policies so ingrained in our daily lives that we’ve almost convinced ourselves that there wasn’t anything we could do about them. As we know, change can’t wait.”
In his concession speech, Capuano noted that many established legislators within the 7th district were also ousted, including state representatives in the South End of Boston and Jamaica Plain.
“Clearly the district wanted a lot of change,” he said. “Apparently the district is upset with a lot that’s going on. I don’t blame them. I’m just as upset. So be it. This is the way life goes…The last eight months most of you have worked very hard for us. I’m sorry it didn’t work out, but that’s life and this is ok. America is going to be ok. Ayanna Pressley is going to be a great congresswoman and Massachusetts will be well represented.”
For Chelsea leaders like Rep. Ryan and Sen. DiDomenico – who both worked for Capuano and counted him as a mentor – the news was hard to digest and seemed to come out of nowhere due to the Congressman’s great support in the Chelsea for two decades.
“It’s too early to digest the results from across the entire 7th district,” said Ryan on Tuesday night. “But early indications tell me that the voters of Charlestown and Chelsea chose to reward Congressman Capuano’s years of dedicated service with votes. He opened doors of opportunity that have allowed me to serve and he continues to teach by example. I congratulate Congresswomen-elect Pressley. I’ll look forward to working with her as we continue to move our district in a positive direction.”
With the win, Pressley scored one of the biggest upsets in Massachusetts politics in a long time, and she also becomes the first African American woman to represent Massachusetts in Congress.
Candidate Rachael Rollins takes open
seat in District Attorney Race
Rachael Rollins upended the candidacy of four other opponents Tuesday night to take a very crowded district attorney race – coming to victory with an overwhelming vote in Boston citywide.
The district attorney represents all of Boston, and Chelsea, Revere and Winthrop.
Rollins captured the victory by winning the large Boston citywide vote with 40 percent, or 33,656 votes.
In Chelsea Rollins carried the vote with 600 votes, or 32 percent. Evandro Carvalho brought in 434 votes (23 percent), followed by Greg Henning with 303 votes (16 percent). Shannon McAuliffe, who worked in Chelsea for many years, did not turn that fact into votes, slipping down to fourth place with 273 votes (15 percent). Linda Champion got 239 votes (13 percent).
Rollins had found a great niche of support in Chelsea as well, with many City Councillors Leo Robinson and the Ward 4 Democratic Committee, among others.
Rollins will be the first female-candidate of color to hold the position in the history of the Commonwealth.
“I am honored and humbled,” she said. “But I also need to say – for all of us – that this is earned. As a 47-year-old black woman, I have earned this. We have earned this. This is the time for us to claim our power and make good on our promises to make true criminal justice reform for the people in Suffolk County. Reform that is progressive – that decriminalizes poverty, substance use disorder, and mental illness. This is the time to create a system that puts fairness and equity first as a model for the Commonwealth and the nation.”
The City of Chelsea dedicated the Washington Avenue bridge at Heard Street in memory of Chelsea Police officer
The Bruttaniti family, standing beneath the John P. Bruttaniti Memorial Bridge sign that is displayed at the structure on Washington Avenue. From left, are Nicole Correa, Karen Bruttaniti, Gemeisha James, Karen Bruttaniti, Festus Odigie, and Gus Correa.
John Bruttaniti during an unveiling ceremony on Wednesday, Aug. 29.
Councillor-at-Large Leo Robinson served as master of ceremonies for the program during which City Manager Tom Ambrosino and Council President Damali Vidot and other dignitaries paid tribute to Mr. Bruttaniti, who died in an accident on May 12, 2016 at the age of 41.
Vidot said she personally understood the importance of having a mentor like Mr. Bruttaniti during one’s years of personal development. Other speakers at the ceremony echoed the belief that a bridge dedication was the perfect way to honor a man who was “a bridge” from Chelsea’s dedicated public servants in the Police Department to the city’s youth.
Several of Mr. Bruttaniti’s colleagues in the Police Department and the Fire Department attended the ceremony. (Mr. Bruttaniti worked for three years in the CFD before joining the Police Department in 2008). The Fire and Police Color Guards added an impressive touch to the program. Mr. Bruttaniti’s fellow veterans in the U.S. Army, who served with him in Iraq, were also in attendance for the tribute.
Police Chief Brian Kyes praised Mr. Bruttaniti’s outstanding record as a police officer and read the police report that Mr. Bruttaniti wrote after saving a toddler from choking by dislodging a penny stuck in her throat and resuscitating her. For his heroic actions in that June, 2015 incident, Mr. Bruttaniti received the Chelsea Police Life Saving Award.
Mr. Bruttaniti’s instantaneous response to the situation and his training in the emergency medical field caused some to say that he was placed as “an angel” in that situation to save a baby’s life.
Mr. Bruttaniti’s sister, Karen, delivered touching remarks on behalf of the family.
“John lived with a real zest for life,” said Karen Bruttaniti. “He loved riding his motorcycle and truly enjoying his life. John was a man of deep character. He never judged, never held a grudge, and always believed in forgiving others, no matter what.”
Karen recalled the warm and inspiring correspondences she received while her brother was serving in Iraq. “The letters always ended, saying, ‘Sister, I love my family.”
“I still read his letters and my eyes still fill with tears,” she said.
Karen added thoughtfully, “But let me be clear. John was dedicated to his entire family, and he counted all of you, the people of Chelsea, as family. Serving for and with the people of Chelsea, John loved being a firefighter, police officer, investigator, mentor, volunteering anywhere and in an any way to help his Chelsea family. That was our brother.”
Karen said her brother would have been humbled by having a bridge named in his honor.
“I know he would hope that his memory would serve as an example of community and service to one another in love,” she said.
The souvenir program included photos of Mr. Bruttaniti with Chief Brian Kyes, Capt. David Batchelor, and Sgt. David Flibotte in their CPD uniforms at an awards ceremony in Boston, and of Mr. Bruttaniti with youths he had mentored in the Chelsea REACH Program, and it aptly concluded with the following memorial tribute to the beloved police officer: “John will forever be remembered for his kindness, bravery, and service to our country and to the City of Chelsea.”
Down in the Back Bay’s Park Plaza, hundreds of National Grid gas workers – now locked out of work for 11 weeks – took center stage on what many said was the truest example of what Labor Day should actually mean.
The politics of the matter shone through clearly on Monday morning during the rally in the street with the state’s political elite, but another piece of the puzzle is the day-to-day reality of having lost health insurance, paychecks and having to stage labor’s most ardent fight of the past decade.
For Everett’s Rocky Leo, who appeared with about a dozen locked-out Chelsea workers recently at a Chelsea City Council meeting, the lockout has a human angle – and standing tall in the Back Bay on Monday, he said that is exactly what the company is trying to exploit.
“They’re banking on us not getting by – we workers going under and losing our health care and defaulting on our mortgages so we have to get in,” he said. “It’s a struggle. It’s been 11 weeks since we were locked out. It’s really hard on many of us and that’s their strategy. They figure we’ll give in.
“Five days in they took our health care away,” he continued. “We had a guy who had just had his leg amputated, and people with diabetes who needed care and children who are being treated for cancer. That’s what we have here.”
The lock out started earlier this summer during contract negotiations with two unions in the National Grid gas operations division. The unions are represented by the United Steelworkers and talks have been ongoing, but nothing has been fruitful and labor leaders seemingly – on Labor Day – had seen enough.
“This is unacceptable on Labor Day and any day,” said state AFL-CIO President Steve Tolman. “The fight you’ve been waging the last three months is the most important fight you’ll ever have. Brothers and sisters, you are standing up to a corporate environment that has been scraping away for the last 20 years at our health care and pensions. Where are the elected officials asking National Grid to step up to the table and negotiate and get an agreement? Public safety should be first.”
Joe Buonopane, a president of one of the locked out unions, said on Monday that he wanted Governor Baker to stand up for the workers.
“Gov. Baker hasn’t said a word about National Grid workers being locked out for 11 weeks,” he said. “National Grid is a foreign company, based in the United Kingdom. We are Massachusetts workers locked out of our jobs and Gov. Baker hasn’t said (anything) about it. That shouldn’t happen in Massachusetts.”
On Sept. 4, National Grid and the two unions were to come back to the bargaining table. The results of those meetings were not reported by press time, but National Grid said they wanted to resolve the lock out.
“To end the lockout, which is a goal we share with our union employees, we need to have serious, productive conversations about reaching an agreement,” read a statement by National Grid sent to the Independent on Tuesday, Sept. 4. “Since June 25, National Grid has communicated to the unions that we remain willing to meet seven days a week to reach an agreement on all outstanding issues. Through a federal mediator, they have so far provided eight dates for meetings that have occurred and we are meeting with them again today, September 4.”
National Grid said they wanted to have a fair contract, but that also meant being responsible to the ratepayers. They said what the union characterize as a drive for company profits at employee expense is actually an effort to preserve reasonable rates for customers in Chelsea and beyond.
National Grid said the major sticking point is the company’s proposed benefit package that includes a new defined contribution 401(k) retirement plan. That new plan would apply only to new employees hired on or after June 25, 2018.
National Grid said they had negotiated away from pension plans to 401(k) plans with at least 16 other unions representing 84 percent of the company’s employees. National Grid also said the package is consistent with proposals that the Steelworkers have accepted in Massachusetts with all other public utilities.
National Grid said it doesn’t believe customers should have to pay for outdated benefits when most of those customers don’t enjoy such benefits themselves.
Leo said the idea is to preserve what they have and have had for years. He stressed that the workers only want the same thing they’ve always had.
“It’s frustrating because we’re not asking for everything and anything,” he said. “We just want what we have. We have completed more work than we have been asked to do and they’re profits are up. We exceeded 20 to 50 percent of our work in all categories. We’re doing more than what we are asked and they are profiting, so it’s hard to see why we have to make concessions. There’s no bargaining or discussion. It’s concession or nothing. It’s like talking to a 4-year-old and when they ask why, you only get ‘because.’”
Minna Karas Marino helped coordinate the Chelsea High School Class of 1959’s terrific 59th reunion in May at the Homewood Suites Hotel. The well-known Chelsea resident received much praise from her appreciative classmates, including Class President Robert Tiro.
Councillor-at-Large Leo Robinson has been a community organizer and leader of Chelsea events that have helped both adults and youths, most recently the Latimer Society’s Science Carnival last month at Port Park.
The two long-time friends are now planning for an unprecedented event in the city’s history: a major outdoor concert by a Chelsea native, Grammy-winning jazz pianist and composer Chick Corea.
The concert would be held at Chelsea Memorial Stadium in the summer of 2019.
Marino, a classmate of the legendary entertainer, and Robinson, a long-time friend, have reached out to Corea and he is reportedly on board with performing at a concert in his old hometown. They plan to meet with Corea at his upcoming shows at Sculler’s Jazz Club this month.
Robinson said the goal is use the proceeds from the Chelsea concert and establish a scholarship in Chick Corea’s name.
The concert plans are already in motion, according to Karas Marino and Robinson.
“We’ve inquired about the staging, sound system, field covering, and a tent, just in case it rains,” said Robinson.
Chelsea native Lenny Nelson, who was the Corea band’s original drummer, will join Corea on stage for a few songs at the stadium concert.
Karas Marino said Corea has always been kind and hospitable to his friends from Chelsea. “I was at his concert at the Wilbur and it was my birthday,” recalled Karas Marino. “Chick had everyone in the audience, about 1,000 people, sing “Happy Birthday” to me. He’s the most gracious person. I once brought 14 people backstage to see him and he was so nice to everyone.”
Corea, who real name is Armando Anthony Corea, has enjoyed a phenomenal music career. He has won more than 20 Grammy Awards and been nominated more than 60 times. He has been married to jazz musician Gayle Moran since 1972.
Karas Marino and Corea go back to their days as classmates at the Williams School. She said Corea would often entertain classmates and friends with his playing of the piano, trumpet, and drums. Corea was a member of the choral club under the direction of the late Alvin Toltz.
“Chick was always a fabulous musician,” recalled Karas Marino. “You could see his tremendous talent. Everyone knew he was headed for greatness. His father [Armando] and his band performed at some socials when we were ninth graders at the Williams School.”
“His father was a great musician, too,” said Robinson.
Corea, whose real name is Armando Anthony Corea, has enjoyed a phenomenal music career. He has received 22 Grammy Awards and been nominated more than 60 times.
The two concert coordinators are expecting thousands of fans to attend the event and welcome Corea home. There may be a pre-concert dinner or barbecue held at one of the local hotels.
“This will be a coming-home celebration for one of the greatest jazz artists in music history,” said Robinson. “We know that everyone in Chelsea will want to be a part of this once-in-a-lifetime event.”
(There will be a special Chick Corea Trio event for Chelsea residents at the 9 p.m. show on Sunday, Sept. 23 at Sculler’s Jazz Club. Residents interested in attending the event should mention the Robinson/Karas Marino table when ordering tickets).
Rotary members from Chelsea will join the Winter Hill Yacht Club on September 16 to cohost their 7th Annual Veteran’s Cruise.
As Chelsea Rotary Past President and Winter Hill Yacht Club member, Ken Webber says, “It is important to recognize and pay tribute to the men and women in our community who have served our country and this is our way of doing just that”
Since they began working with the Winter Hill Yacht Club, Rotary members have helped organize the day’s events beginning with transportation for local veterans and residents of the Chelsea Soldiers Home, which is generously provided by Paul Revere Bus, to breakfast at the yacht club before boarding member’s boats and heading out through the locks, past the USS Constitution and into Boston Harbor. Upon return to the yacht club, everyone gets to mingle with old and new friends and enjoy an old fashion BBQ prepared and served by yacht club members.
Rotary members from Chelsea have long supported the community through a range of service projects. Members of Chelsea Rotary raise money for student scholarships, provision a “Pantry of Necessities” for homeless students, raise awareness and funds to prevent domestic violence and support its victims, and participates in a water project for the indigenous people of Colombia.
Rotary members throughout the world take action to make communities better. They contribute their time, energy, and passion to carry out meaningful and sustainable projects that promote peace, fight disease, provide clean water, help mothers and children, support education, and grow local economies.
Rotary’s top priority is the global eradication of polio. Rotary launched its polio immunization program, PolioPlus, in 1985 and in 1988 became a leading partner in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.
Rotary brings together a global network of community leaders dedicated to tackling the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges. We connect 1.2 million members from more than 35,000 Rotary clubs in almost every country in the world. Their service improves lives both locally and internationally, from helping those in need in their own communities to working toward a polio-free world.
Visit Rotary.org and endpolio.org for more about Rotary and its efforts to eradicate polio.
About the Rotary Club of Chelsea
Through our service projects, peace fellowships, and scholarships, our members are taking action to address the underlying causes of conflict, including poverty,
inequality, ethnic tension, lack of access to education, and unequal distribution of resources