The Chelsea Black Community’s 2018 Black History Month Celebration continued Tuesday with an art exhibit opening at the City Hall Gallery. Pictured are some of the guests at the event, from left, Councillor-at-Large Calvin Brown, Beverly Martin-Ross, Sharon Caulfield, Councillor Luis Tejada, Yahiya Noor and son, Khasim Noor, Henry Wilson, Lisa Santagate, Councillor-at-Large Leo Robinson, CBC President Joan Cromwell, and Ronald Robinson. The next Black History Month event is a Taste of Culture Cook-Off Monday at 5 p.m. at La Luz de Cristo Church, 738 Broadway.
Chelsea Supt. Mary Bourque said just when urban educators plagued with a flawed funding formula thought they made some progress, the state yanked all that progress from under them recently.
Bourque, the past president of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents and the co-chair of the Urban Superintendents Network, has been working with the state for more than two years to fix a problem for Chelsea and many surrounding districts involving low income students – now called economically disadvantaged. The change has cost the Chelsea Schools millions of dollars per year in funding that they expected, but no longer qualified for.
“In the urban districts, we’re all on fragile ice right now,” she said. “Everything is coming at us at one time. It really begs the question about whether the allocation for education of students of poverty going to be the place where the state goes to make cuts and balance the budget every year. That’s not what the Foundation Formula budget is meant to do. It’s really almost immoral.”
Schools like Chelsea, Revere, Everett and Brockton – among others – have been hamstrung for the last two years due to major reductions in state funding due to the change in the formula. That change entailed making economically disadvantaged students qualify for that title only if their families were on some sort of public welfare benefit. Unfortunately, in communities like Chelsea, many families don’t qualify for those benefits due to their immigration status or because they haven’t been in the country legally for five years. Without that, the schools don’t receive nearly as much money to educate a very difficult and needy population.
This year, Bourque said, they added several new “qualifiers” for the economically disadvantaged tag – such as programs that students in Chelsea might qualify for despite immigration status.
However, as soon as that battle was won, Bourque said the state turned around and lowered the amount of money given for each student – making the gain a complete wash.
“We worked hard with the state to come up with solutions and they did add more students to qualify,” she said. “But as soon as we got more students, they reduced the amount of money given for each student.”
Bourque said the Chelsea Schools are likely going to be down another $1 million from where they feel they should be in the coming budget year. She said they will keep working on it, though.
It has been a real learning experience for the long-time administrator, though maybe not a positive one.
“To ignore systemic injustice and failure while children’s futures are compromised is morally and ethically, wrong,” she said. “It is not who we are as a Commonwealth nor is it who we want to be. The Grand Bargain of 1993 (for Education Reform) is not more and hasn’t been for many years. It is time for courage and time for action; our children and their futures are far too important.”
Wynn Boston Harbor officials are moving forward without a pause this week despite the news that dynamic Wynn CEO Steve Wynn has stepped down from leading the company, and the fact that the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) investigation is digging deeper into the actions of other executives in the company.
Wynn Boston Harbor has referred all media requests on the project to Las Vegas, and Wynn Resorts spokesman Michael Weaver had no comment on whether Wynn’s departure would affect the project.
Workers on the site and project leaders have said that the project in Everett is moving forward. A statement from the Wynn Board of Directors said, among other things, they are focused on opening Wynn Boston Harbor.
“The company will continue to fully focus on its operations at Wynn Macau, Wynn Palace and Wynn Las Vegas; the development and opening of the first phase of Wynn Paradise Park, currently under construction on the former Wynn golf course; as well as the construction of Wynn Boston Harbor, which will open in June 2019,” read the Board statement.
Wynn was accused of a pattern of sexual misconduct, including a $7.5 million out of court settlement, last month that quickly altered the gaming executive’s status.
Late last week, he announced that he would step down as the leader of the company – a company that bears his name and has built its brand on the strength of his name. It was a shocking move in a project that has had numerous shocks throughout its short life.
The Board of Directors of Wynn Resorts announced Wynn’s departure.
Current President Matt Maddox has been appointed as the new CEO, and Boone Wayson as Non-Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors.
In a statement, Wynn said he had suddenly found himself the focus of an “avalanche” of negative publicity. As it has grown, he said it has now begun to hurt the company he loves.
“As I have reflected upon the environment this has created — one in which a rush to judgment takes precedence over everything else, including the facts — I have reached the conclusion I cannot continue to be effective in my current roles,” he said. “Therefore, effective immediately, I have decided to step down as CEO and Chairman of the Board of Wynn Resorts, a company I founded and that I love.
“The Wynn Resorts team and I have built houses of brick,” he continued. “Which is to say, the institution we created — a collection of the finest designers and architects ever assembled, as well as an operating philosophy now ingrained in the minds and hearts of our entire team — will remain standing for the long term. I am extremely proud of everything we have built at this company.”
Wynn said he endorsed the succession plan and fully supported Maddox as the new CEO.
“He and his team are well positioned to carry on the plans and vision for the company I created,” he said.
He added that he was most proud of the employees in the company. He said it was the employees of Wynn Resorts that made it the most admired company in the world.
The Board said they accepted the resignation with a heavy heart, and pointed out more than 40 percent of their employees are women.
“Steve Wynn is an industry giant,” said Wayson. “He is a philanthropist and a beloved leader and visionary. He played the pivotal role in transforming Las Vegas into the entertainment destination it is today. He also assembled a world-class team of executives that will continue to meet the high standards of excellence that Steve Wynn created and the Wynn brand has come to represent. Steve Wynn created modern Las Vegas. He transformed the city into an economic powerhouse by making it a world-wide tourist destination.”
The MGC did meet last week, and addressed their investigation once again, noting that they are looking into what Maddox and Wynn Attorney Kim Sinatra knew during the background check of the company in 2013.
East Boston Savings Bank’s President and CEO, Richard Gavegnano invited seventh grader, Ashley Reardon to the bank’s Peabody Headquarters where he presented her with a community scholarship of $1,000 for retrieving an American flag she found entangled high in a tree. Reardon, a Saugus resident and 7th grader at St. Mary’s School in Melrose, noticed the American flag in a tree while riding in the car with her mother after a snowstorm. She knew that it was wrong for the flag to be tangled in the tree instead of on the flag pole showing the highest honor of respect.
When asked, “What does the flag symbolize to you”? Ashley responded, “There are people out there in the army and in the navy risking their lives every single day for us, our country, so we can sleep safely at night knowing that we are safe and sound. We take it so much for granted; I feel like we need to show how thankful we are and it really shows respect for our country and flag and for those who have fought and died; and put their lives on the line everyday”.
“I am always impressed to see the younger generation support the troops and show their patriotism. After seeing Ashley on the news for climbing a tree to retrieve the American flag made me want to meet her and present her with a special scholarship”, said Gavegnano.
To watch Ashley’s full interview with Fox News, click here: https://youtu.be/vvqBgC2VVx4
Founded in 1848, EBSB is a proven community bank that offers products and services that meet the deposit and financing needs of both consumers and businesses. East Boston Savings Bank currently operates 35 full-service branches and operates a Mobile Banking Unit in the greater Boston metropolitan area and offers a variety of deposit and loan products to individuals and businesses located in its primary market, which consists of Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk and Suffolk counties.
Gertrude (Florence) Bial of Delray Beach, Florida, formerly of Chelsea, entered into rest on Jan. 30, 2018. She was 94 years old.
Gertrude (Florence) Bial.
Born in Chelsea, Mrs. Bial was the daughter of the late Myer Israel and the late Fannie (Raisman) Florence.
She graduated from Chelsea High School Class of 1941 and later attended Fisher College and Secretarial School.
During WWII, she worked as a volunteer at the Naval Ship Yard.
She was president of B’nai Brith in Chelsea, executive secretary at American Biltrite Corporation and co-owner of the Bial Upholstery Company in Boston, with her late husband, Norman Bial.
She is the devoted mother of Louis C. Bial and his late wife Deborah, Roberta Pinta and her late husband Howard, and Scott N. Bial and his wife Lisa, the cherished grandmother of Dr. Erica Bial and her husband Todd Chapin, Lauren Bial Schneider and her husband Eric, Matthew Bial and his wife Dr. Wendy Glaberson, Jennifer Pinta, Natalie Pinta and her husband Kevin Gonsalves, Adam J. Bial, Jason R. Bial, Jack F. Bial and Julia A. Bial, and great grandmother of Jacob, Nehemiah and Dayne Schneider and Jordan Bial. Loving sister of David Florence, Rosalie Cohen and the late Sylvia Sazinsky, Bernard Florence, Dr. Lewis Florence, Dr. Hyman Florence and Leonard Florence.
Funeral services will be held at Stanetsky Memorial Chapel, Canton, on Friday, February 2, 2018.
Expressions of sympathy in her memory may be donated to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, www.themmrf.org, or Autism Speaks, www.autismspeaks.org/site/donation.
Mrs. Bial was a homemaker, a wonderful friend, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. She will be greatly missed.
A major first jab at banning plastic shopping bags took place at City Hall on Tuesday night, Jan. 23, and many believe that momentum is gathering for the ban.
Council President Damali Vidot and Councillor Enio Lopez are leading the initiative, along with environmental organizations like GreenRoots. The turnout for the Tuesday meeting was very large, and Vidot said she got the sense that public opinion is on the side of a ban.
She said, however, nothing has been decided, but that only they would take the discussion to the next step.
“We will continue the conference to a later date and propose a rough draft of an ordinance to get the ball rolling,” she said.
Councillor Luis Tejada said he also got the sense that the City is moving in the direction of a ban – which Boston has already passed last year, with implementation coming this year.
“At the moment it appears as though we are moving in the direction of banning the plastic bags, but of course there is still a lot of work to be done,” he said.
Tejada said trying to figure out which types of plastic bags to keep and get rid of will be a key part of the conversation that is often overlooked. He said he would really like to understand the impact on businesses.
Already, in a story in last week’s Record, Compare Supermarket owner Al Calvo said he felt it was just another tax on small business – noting it will cost him tens of thousands more to invest in the thicker bags.
Tejada said he wants to hear from more businesses before he makes a decision.
It is important to know what is the impact on our local small businesses that literally have thousands of bags with their logo on them,” he said. “This would impact them significantly if the measure was approved and enacted too swiftly. What I would like to do is put the small and large businesses on notice that it looks as though the city is moving towards a more environmentally conscious lifestyle, and they should begin to look at and enact whatever measure they are considering when this goes into effect. If they do it sooner rather than later, it can minimize any potential burden and or loss when the measure does take effect.”
Councillor Joe Perlatonda said he is very interested in eliminating litter, and plastic bags are just one piece of a bigger problem in Chelsea. He said he doesn’t feel like they should come down hard on plastic bags, while leaving out other litter items like lottery tickets and dog poop.
He also said some residents have told him they don’t like the idea.
“I had one resident tell me this is just another tax being imposed on residents of Chelsea, which many of us can’t afford,” he said. “With everything going on, I’m concerned that the top priority is plastic bags. It was a great turnout, but I wish more people would turn out for other issues. There are other issues that need to be addressed that should take precedent over a plastic bag ban.”
Vidot said the next meeting has not been set, but should be on the docket soon.
City leaders, business owners and members of the community are preparing for what might be the first big debate of the year – whether or not to ban plastic shopping bags in Chelsea.
Already, several municipalities have taken the step to ban the common, thin plastic shopping bag given out at almost every store in the City. Boston banned bags late last year, and their new ordinance will start later this year. In Chelsea, some of the larger supermarkets and businesses are ready to debate with environmental leaders about something that comes down to evaluating the cost vs. benefit.
Council President Damali Vidot and Councillor Enio Lopez have initiated the conversation with a Committee on Conference that will meet on Tuesday, Jan. 23, to have an initial discussion.
“It’s a topic Councillor Lopez and I have been entertaining for a few months,” said Vidot. “Seeing as though we are an Environmental Justice community, I think we should be doing everything in our power to support our environment. We have plastic bags everywhere in the city – on the ground, stuck in trees, flying into our waters, and posing a threat to animals. If we minimized their usage and/or charged per bag, we can hopefully get people to ‘think differently’ about our dependency on plastic.
“However, it isn’t something I want to change overnight,” she continued. “I want residents and business owners to bring their voices to the table and share their concerns and be a part of the conversation so that people aren’t impacted from one day to the other, if it does pass.”
Vidot said she hopes that a side conversation amidst the debate can be how to take more ownership of the City by littering less.
On the business side of things, Al Calvo of Compare Supermarkets said his market uses about 140,000 plastic bags per month, which is about 1.7 million plastic bags per year. They cost about 2 cents each, and his store pays about $34,000 per year for plastic bags.
A paper bag, he said, is about 9 cents per bag – resulting in an increased yearly cost to him of $85,000 for bags. The reusable heavy plastic bags, he said, cost a whopping 15 cents per bag. Many times, he said, customers forget to bring it back for re-use – and often substitute paper bags for the forgotten reusable.
The bottom line is this is an additional cost for the store owner, in addition to taxes, health care costs, minimum wage, and other costs,” he said. “In a very price competitive environment which our company faces, such as competition from that little corner store a mile away called Market Basket, we will either absorb the cost, which impacts profitability or raise prices to absorb the additional cost. Raising prices risks losing customers to Market Basket. Although we have other competitive advantages, price is still paramount in the eyes of the customer. It’s another potential death blow to the small business.”
Calvo said the discussion should focus on the tradeoffs between the environmental benefits and the added costs to business and/or customers.
Sergio Jaramillo, interim president of the Chelsea Chamber, said his personal view is that he supports anything to get rid of the plastic bags that litter the city and dirty up the business districts.
“I have seen the effects of plastic bags floating everywhere, and this is in particularly true in our own neighborhoods, where uniformed individuals leave them on unassigned places,” he said. “I understand that one of the consequences will be a higher cost to the merchant as it needs to provide an alternative to bags and may be passed on to the consumer and reflected in higher merchandise prices. It could be said this is the ‘cost of doing business.’”
Jaramillo said he thinks the solution is more global, with the plastics industry needing to come up with a better alternative.
“The industry as a whole needs to retool plastics and come up with cost efficient alternatives, such as fast-biodegradable materials that will minimize the impact on our ecosystem,” he said.
GreenRoots Director Roseann Bongiovanni said she also agrees that the ban is the right way to go.
“We have been talking to the City Council and other leaders in the community about this,” she said. “We really want to see the City go in that direction to ban these bags. We’ve received concerns from people who carry these bags from Market Basket and the supermarkets – especially people who are transit-dependent – but I think those concerns can be overcome.”
Bongiovanni said she is in favor of the thicker reusable bags, and allowing merchants to charge for them. She said a slow rollout would be best if such a ban passes.
“I think it will be like the trans-fat ban,” she said. “There really has to be a time when there is an education piece that starts it out.”
Joe Mahoney, a resident of Admiral’s Hill and member of the Chamber, said he tends to have a ‘green’ opinion and he would support eliminating the bags.
“I see the bags flying around all the time,” he said. “If you can recycle them or get a reusable plastic bag, I think it would be better for the city. When it comes to plastic vs. paper, I have to put myself more on the paper side. Unfortunately, plastic is a lot less expensive though.”
Chelsea Police Chief Brian Kyes leads the procession of City Council members to begin the Inauguration ceremonies on Tuesday night, Jan. 2, in the Council Chambers at City Hall. Meanwhile, outgoing Council President Leo Robinson is given a gavel by incoming Council President Damali Vidot. Vidot was sworn in as the first female Council President
since charter reform.
The Tobin Bridge Chabad of Everett, Temple Emmanuel and the Walnut Street Synagogue will host a Hanukkah menorah lighting ceremony Sunday in Chelsea Square.
Hanukkah, also known as the Jewish Festival of Lights, began Tuesday night and continues for eight days.
Rabbi Yisroel “Sruli” Baron said the City of Chelsea was very welcoming to holding the event in the city.
“We reached out to City Manager Tom Ambrosino and he was very helpful and encouraging in setting up this ceremony,” said Rabbi Baron, who is the spiritual leader of the new Tobin Bridge Chabad that is housed in the former Congregration Tifereth Israel on Malden Street in Everett, just over the Chelsea border. Tobin Bridge Chabad is an affiliate of Chabad of the North Shore.
Ambrosino will deliver the city greetings at the event that was an initiative of Tobin Bridge Chabad. The city manager and former Revere mayor will also have the honor of lighting the shamash candle, which is the ninth branch of the menorah.
Rabbi Oksana Chapman of Temple Emmanuel and Rabbi Lila Kagedan of Congegration Agudas Shalom (Walnut Street) will join Rabbi Baron in leading the ceremony. The two local congregations are co-hosting the holiday gathering.
City Council President Leo Robinson will lead a delegation of Chelsea officials expected to be in attendance.
Rabbi Baron invites Chelsea residents to attend the candle lighting ceremony that will begin at 5:30 p.m.
As the U.S. Supreme Court weighs the merits of legalizing sports betting nationwide, eyes in the region and at the state Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) can’t help but focus on that decision as well.
Were the court to side with those pushing to legalize sports betting nationwide – as it currently only exists legally as a grandfathered provision in Las Vegas – it could mean billions of dollars in added gaming revenues to the Wynn Boston Harbor casino when it opens in 2019.
While plans are already in place for the typical table games and slot machines at the casino, expanding it to include sports betting would mean an opportunity for the City, state and Wynn to capitalize on an even larger gaming market.
The American Gaming Association (AGA), a trade organization that represents all gaming entities, estimates that $150 billion is wagered on sports illegally every year, and often postulates that such illegal betting on the Super Bowl and NCAA Final Four events have become commonplace – making the prohibition almost a joke in their opinion.
Last summer, the AGA estimated that Massachusetts could gain $682 million in economic output, $133 million in added tax revenue and an additional 3,261 new jobs if sports betting were allowed as part of the expanded gaming act.
For Wynn, it would simply mean an expansion of their existing, and very popular, sports and racing book in Las Vegas.
After oral arguments on Dec. 4 at the high court in Washington, D.C., Wynn officials said they remain interested in the case.
“We at Wynn Boston Harbor are watching the court case with interest,” said Bob DeSalvio, president of Wynn Boston Harbor. “Our industry supports legalized and regulated sports betting but the ultimate decision rests with the courts, state and federal lawmakers and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.”
The MGC will deliberated precisely on the matter last week at their monthly meeting Thursday, Dec. 7. Spokesperson Elaine Driscoll said there hasn’t been much discussion of the issue by the Commission aside from a short mention in a paper drafted last year on Daily Fantasy Sports. The Supreme Court case, however, is expected to have discussion before the Commission this week.
“We are following any developments closely,” said Driscoll. “The Commission has not taken an official position on this topic. I do anticipate it will be raised at the Commission meeting on Thursday. Part of that conversation will be a report on the arguments before the Supreme Court, as the Commission decides next steps.”
Following the meeting, the MGC did call for a White Paper to be researched and drafted on the possibility of legalized sports betting in the Commonwealth.
For the AGA, President Geoff Freeman said after the arguments that he was encouraged by the questions and will await to see the courts ruling in the months to come.
“It was a positive day for the millions of Americans seeking to legally wager on sporting events,” he said on the afternoon of Dec. 4. “While we can’t predict the intentions of Supreme Court Justices, we can accurately predict the demise of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection of 1992 (PASPA). The justices of the Court expressed deep interest in the role of the federal government – a role that we believe has created a thriving illegal market that has driven trillions of dollars to offshore websites and corner bookies. States and tribal sovereign nations have proven to be effective regulators of gaming and today’s oral arguments before the Supreme Court moved them one giant step closer to offering a new product that Americans demand.”
At issue in the case is the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, which has come up through the case Christie (as in New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie) vs. NCAA. The state of New Jersey pushed the boundaries of sports betting in 2012 and tried to institute it within their state – only to be stopped by lawsuits from five sports leagues, including Major League Baseball. That case has wound itself through several federal jurisdictions until landing at the high court earlier this year.
The act was put in place following the fallout from the Pete Rose baseball betting scandal, which is often forgotten nowadays. At the time, it was a popular sentiment and seen as a necessary protection. However, as time has gone on, the public has clamored to the trend of betting on sports of all kinds – and most all of it done illegally.
When the act passed, both New Jersey and Nevada – the only jurisdictions that qualified for grandfathering – had the ability to continue with sports betting. Only Nevada proceeded, which is why today the only legal sports bets in the United States are in Nevada.
That is where Wynn keeps its blockbuster Race & Sports Book, an actual area of its casino in Las Vegas that the company has just renovated at great expense.
The new area at the Wynn Las Vegas resort offers 1,600 sw. ft. of wraparound LED televisions for viewing events, food, a bar, and personal viewing areas with all the comforts one demands. A smaller Race & Sports Book venue at Wynn Encore also exists there.
The Wynn Race & Sports Book also offers a mobile app for placing a wager in that jurisdiction on any horse race or sports contest without ever having to leave one’s seat if in the state of Nevada in the City of Las Vegas.