Jose Cruz is quiet at the first impression, but he is intentional about and committed to improving his community.
At 13-years old and a student at the Browne Middle School, “Josey” called by those who know him well, has been volunteering at the Chelsea Walk with artist Silvia Lopez Chavez since the beginning of the project. Throughout sweltering hot days, Josey has been on scene helping the artist prime and paint the transformative mural which will make everyone in Chelsea proud.
Josey is the president of the Explorer Post 109, a community service and leadership club for Chelsea adolescents, teens and young adults. He exemplifies all of the good in Chelsea youth Ð respectful, kind and committed to helping out. He has aspirations to become an aeronautical engineer. Every person who walks by says “hello” to Josey and remarks about what a “nice kid” he is.
Josey is just one of the dedicated people who are working to ensure this mural is led by and created for the community.
When the chips were down a few years ago and few were willing to stand up, rock the boat and call on President Barack Obama to slow down deportations from the country and places like Chelsea – Illinois Congressman Luis Gutiérrez told a crowd of people at Pan Y Café in Cary Square last Friday that one man stood with him.
That man was Congressman Michael Capuano, and the popular Latino congressman from Illinois appeared with Capuano Friday morning, July 20, in Chelsea to endorse Capuano and remind voters here how hard Capuano has been working – both in good times and bad times.
“Ten years ago I came to East Boston to tell President Obama to stop the deportations,” Gutierrez said. “There wasn’t a lot of Democrats who wanted to strongly tell our president to do that. Barack Obama was popular, we liked him and we wanted him to success, but the deportations were continuing. Not many wanted to do that. Mike didn’t hesitate. We met with immigrant groups together 10 years ago to deliver that message and we’ve been working together every since then on these issues.”
Gutierrez has become a very popular member of Congress in the last few years as immigration issues have come to the forefront and he has combined with others like Capuano to tell the stories of those caught up in the system. Capuano took him on a tour of two locations in Chelsea Friday and one in Boston – talking to Latino and immigrant groups throughout the City. It reinforced that battle ground nature that Chelsea has taken on within the congressional race between himself and challenger Ayanna Pressley.
On Friday, he also received the endorsement of Councillor Leo Robinson and Roy Avellaneda. State Rep. Dan Ryan, who previously endorsed him, was also in attendance – as were several local movers and shakers.
“I didn’t know a lot about Mike when I came on the City Council many years ago, but on the advice of a neighbor and other councillors, I met with him and he was a solid guy,” said Avellaneda. “I looked at his resume and I’ve never looked back and never regretted supporting him. I’ve called on Mike so many times over the years for an issue regarding Chelsea…He earned my vote back then and has for the last 20 years.”
Robinson reminded everyone that Capuano has always brought home important monies for Chelsea from the federal government, including money recently allocated for rebuilding Quigley Hospital at the Soldiers’ Home.
Capuano was gracious, and said he really appreciated the support from Chelsea and Gutierrez, his colleague in Washington, D.C.
“It’s nice when you’re under the gun to learn who stands with you,” he told the crowd, moving on to the immigration issue and the family separation he recently saw in a trip to the Texas/Mexico border. “It’s a simple question. Do you like people or don’t you? Do you want to be a country that’s welcoming or don’t you?…None of us would have said that we would live in a country where the official policy was to rip nursing infants from their mothers…It’s horrible and it’s not right. Infants and their mothers should be together…Unless Democrats get the House back, we won’t have any progress on these issues. If Democrats get the House back, I promise you we will deal with the TPS (Temporary Protective Status) issue. We will deal with the infants ripped from their mother’s arms. We will have honest discussions and debate about comprehensive immigrations reform. It will be difficult, but at least we will have a chance because we’ll be talking about it.”
About 20,000 students recently graduated from U.S. medical schools. Now, they’re beginning the next chapter of their training, as residents.
Yet less than 7,000 will be pursuing careers in primary care. America will be short up to 43,100 primary care physicians by 2030, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.
Medical schools have a responsibility to help fix this shortfall. They can do so by making primary care more alluring to students.
Primary care physicians are our healthcare system’s first line of defense. They diagnose illnesses, help manage chronic conditions, and refer patients to specialists. Without them, patients would get lost in today’s byzantine health system.
The shortage of primary care doctors is partially due to concerns over money and status. Specialists are better paid and often involved in prestigious new research.
Between April 2016 and March 2017, physician recruitment firm Merritt Hawkins conducted nearly 3,300 searches for its clients. The average offered to recruit an orthopedic surgeon was $579,000. The average to recruit a family practitioner was less than half that.
The shortage also occurs because U.S. medical school’s faculty are mainly specialists. Surgery departments in U.S. medical schools boast over 15,000 faculty members. Family practice departments have just 5,700 members.
Professors serve as role models to students, many of whom seek to follow in the footsteps of these mentors. Overwhelmingly, that means pursuing a career as a specialist.
Aspiring doctors also train in settings that push them toward specialties, not primary care. Medical students generally train in large teaching hospitals that serve patients who have been referred from primary and secondary care providers. Few students train in small clinics and local doctor’s offices.
But most health care — and almost all primary care — is delivered outside of the hospital. Americans make 923 million trips to physician offices every year — and only 130 million to emergency departments. More than half of office visits are to primary care physicians.
So medical students rarely gain enough experience in primary care settings to decide if it’s the right career path for them.
These barriers are significant but not insurmountable.
To start, schools could promote primary care as a career. In 2015, the medical school at the University of California, Riverside, partnered with the Desert Regional Medical Center and Desert Healthcare District to launch a new primary care residency program in Palm Springs. UC Riverside also partners with Loma Linda University to offer the Pediatric Primary Care Residency Training Program, which prepares residents for careers in pediatrics and family medicine.
Second, schools could ensure students gain hands-on primary care experience by encouraging them to serve at community clinics. At the University of California, Davis, School of Medicine, for example, nearly nine in 10 students volunteer in clinics in underserved communities. As a result, half of UC Davis students picked a primary care residency in 2015.
Third, schools could subsidize tuition for students who commit to primary care careers. At St. George’s University, on the Caribbean island of Grenada, our CityDoctors Scholarship program provides grants to students from New York City who agree to return to practice in the city’s public hospital system after they graduate. This year, eight students received CityDoctors scholarships worth a total of $1.1 million.
Medical schools must make careers in primary care exciting and affordable for a new generation of physicians.
Richard Olds, M.D., is president of St. George’s University. He was founding dean of UC Riverside’s medical school.
Role model Umemba steps up for the kids of Chelsea
By Cary Shuman
Kyle Umemba has modeled on runways around the world, but his real work as a [role] model is here in Chelsea.
Umemba is one half of the co-founding team with Cesar Castro of the Let It Fly Basketball Tournament that will be held on Saturday, Aug. 11 at the Jordan Boys and Girls Boys Club on Willow Street. The fourth annual basketball extravaganza brings to Chelsea some of the best talent in the area.
Umemba, 25, was once one of those aspiring players who carved out an impressive basketball career at prestigious Buckingham Browne and Nichols in Cambridge. A product of the Chelsea Youth Basketball League (CYBL) and an AAU standout, the 6-foot-3-inch guard/forward caught the attention of college coaches.
He thought of walking on at Division 1 George Washington but chose to focus on academics. He graduated with a degree in finance and currently works as a consultant for Price Waterhouse Coopers – in addition to his celebrity appearances as a fashion model in New York, London and Milan for major designers.
“It’s a good balance,” said Kyle.
This month, Kyle is busy working with Cesar on the finishing touches for what has become the most anticipated summer youth tournament in the area.
What was the inspiration for Let It Fly?
“We saw that there was a lack of basketball leagues for the kids,” said Umemba. “We wanted to help out the players and also Chelsea graduates.”
And Umemba and Castro have done that in a big way, presenting $500 scholarships to 11 graduates of Chelsea High School and the Phoenix Charter School.
The unsung hero of the Let It Fly Basketball Tournament is none other than Joan Cromwell, Kyle’s mother and the president of the Chelsea Black Community (CBC).
“Without CBC and Joan Cromwell, this tournament would not be possible,” credited Castro.
Joan’s company, Brown Sugar Catering, is the official
caterer for the tournament.
Kyle Umemba was asked whether he considers himself a role model for Chelsea kids.
“I don’t really look for that – if my actions determine that, so be it, but I’d rather just have some type of positive effect on people,” said Umemba.
Former hoop star Castro mentors players as a coach at CHS
By Cary Shuman
Cesar Castro could dribble, drive, shoot, and pass – but what he did best in his four years on the basketball court for Chelsea High School was: score.
Twelve-hundred-and-fifty-two-points worth, which makes him the second-leading scorer for boys in school history behind the legendary Craig Walker. He was the Commonwealth Athletic Conference MVP and led Chelsea to the conference title in his senior year (2010).
The 6-foot-guard is still very much active in the game. He is an assistant coach on Judah Jackson’s staff at Chelsea High School. Interestingly, the Red Devils won the CAC championship this season.
“It feels good to win a championship as a coach and a player,” said Castro, who went on to become an All-Region player at Bunker Hill Community College.
He is a paraprofessional aide at the Wright Middle School in Chelsea and is close to receiving his bachelor’s degree from Salem State University.
Because of daily interaction with Chelsea students in the schools and in the CHS basketball program, Castro, 27, saw the need for a summer tournament that could unite the community and bring some excitement to young players.
And he’s not resting on the past success of the Let It Fly Tournament that filled the gym to capacity last year with a succession of exciting games. There are free refreshments, musical entertainment by DJ Max Max, and Raffles.
“We’re going to start something new this year with a middle school division with four teams,” said Castro. “And we still have an eight-team high school division. It should be another great tournament.”
Teams from Lynn, Boston, Cambridge, and Chelsea will compete in the older division. Some of the top prep school players in New England will be playing in the tournament.
“It’s a one-and-one format so they have to come ready to play,” said Castro. “There’s no time for feeling it out. The players were talking about this tournament on social media back in December so they’ll be ready to compete.”
Castro said he and Umemba were members of the Jordan Boys and Girls Club in Chelsea while growing up in the city.
“We want to thank [Executive Director] Gina Centrella, Jonathan Perez, and John Perez for all their cooperation and allowing us to hold our tournament there,” said Castro. “That’s our home and we thank them a lot.”
Castro also thanked Chelsea Police officers Sammy Mojica, David Batchelor Jr., and Keith Sweeney, and Chelsea firefighter Jonathan Morilli for their assistance at the event, along with City Councillors Damali Vidot and Jamir Rodriguez, who have been big supporters of Let It Fly.
The question of being a role model for Chelsea youths was posed to Castro.
“It’s not my intention to be a role model,” said Castro. “I just try to be genuine. And when I grew up, I truly appreciated someone pointing me in the right direction and that’s what I try to do in the schools and in the basketball program.”
The fight for the Congressional seat now held by Congressman Michael Capuano has taken center stage in Chelsea this week, and the Congressman and challenger Ayanna Pressley – a Boston city councilor – seem to be fighting hard for votes in the City.
Both candidates plan to hold major endorsements and campaign events late this week, with Pressley looking to the grass-roots and Capuano bringing in popular Latino Congressman Luis Gutierrez, of Illinois, to potentially endorse him and travel around Chelsea.
On Thursday at the Mystic Brewery, the Pressley campaign will hold a time and a rally.
Council President Damali Vidot, who was an early supporter of Pressley, said that elected councillors and School Committee members will be there to endorse Pressley in the campaign.
Pressley has made several stops in Chelsea along the campaign trail, and has gathered support from the local officials.
The same is true of Capuano.
The congressman has been very visible over the past several weeks in Chelsea, appearing at the Chelsea Village summer party earlier this month for a campaign stop.
On Friday, he will be endorsed by Councillor Roy Avellaneda, and it is expected that Congressman Gutierrez will also endorse him at Avellaneda’s coffee shop, Pan Y Café.
Following that, Congressman Capuano and Congressman Gutierrez will attend an event at the Chelsea Collaborative to talk about family reunification and the trip that Capuano recently took to the Texas/Mexico border.
It will be a busy week for Congressional politics in Chelsea.
When Kim Sinatra appeared beside Matt Maddox for Wynn Resorts’ high-stakes meeting before the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) in early May, many thought her to be on shaky ground with the company – though that
Wynn general Counsel Kim Sinatra speaks to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) during license hearings in 2014. She is flanked by former Gov. Bill Weld and current Encore President Bob DeSalvio. Sinatra will resign from Wynn Resorts on July 15, and is remembered here as being a key negotiator in helping Wynn make the final push to secure the Greater Boston region gaming license.
day she appeared to be every-bit in control and ingrained in the company.
It is no longer the case.
In a quiet announcement buried within a federal Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) document, the company announced that Sinatra would be leaving her general counsel post on July 15.
Wynn Resorts did not respond to the Independent for comment on the shake-up, and hasn’t issued any statements or talked to any other media. There has been no reason given for her departure.
Las Vegas media reported that Sinatra would have a severance package of up to $9.5 million.
Wynn Shareholder Elaine Wynn – now the company’s largest single shareholder – has disputed that severance package in media statements.
Sinatra was a powerful force in the early days of Wynn’s entrance into the Boston market via the Everett site. She was front and center during many of the licensing hearings, in particular a very intense deliberating process at the Boston Teacher’s Union Hall in Dorchester in 2014.
During that meeting, Sinatra talked for many nervous moments on the phone with Steve Wynn about whether or not he would commit to additional mitigation measures – that happening in front of the entire room and in front of the competitor, Mohegan Sun.
After brokering that deal, Sinatra emerged from the phone with a ‘yes’ to the commitments, virtually sealing the license for Wynn at the time.
Since those early days, however, Sinatra has not been at the Encore site too often – only during a few permitting meetings and the major Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) meetings.
Sen. Sal DiDomenico and his colleagues in the Massachusetts Senate recently voted to pass legislation that aims to create safer streets for all road users. Developed in collaboration with a coalition of bicycle, pedestrian and transportation advocates, S.2570, An Act to reduce traffic fatalities, includes several measures to improve road safety, lessen the severity of crashes, and standardize the collection and analysis of crash data.
“This bill is an important next step in our efforts to create safer streets for all road users, especially cyclists and pedestrians,” said Sen. Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett), Assistant Majority Leader of the Massachusetts Senate. “We must ensure that our roadways are safe and accessible for everyone, and I am confident that this legislation will go a long way towards achieving that goal and reducing traffic fatalities in the Commonwealth.”
“We need to keep working year after year to achieve a future in which traffic fatalities get as close as possible to zero,” said Sen. William N. Brownsberger (D-Belmont), lead sponsor of the bill in the Senate. “This bill will help us move in the right direction.”
“This legislation updates basic protections for pedestrians, cyclists and others who may be on the road, and is a common-sense policy to ensure safer roadways for pedestrians and drivers alike” said Senate President Harriette L. Chandler (D-Worcester). “I am very happy the Senate has passed this legislation.”
“This bill takes an important step in encouraging the use of multimodal transportation to relieve the congestion and reduce our state’s carbon footprint,” said Sen. Joseph A. Boncore (D-Winthrop), who serves as the Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Transportation, which advanced the legislative measure forward with a favorable recommendation earlier this year. “Ensuring that pedestrians and cyclists have more protections on shared roads is vital to that end.”
The bill classifies several groups, including pedestrians, utility workers, first responders and cyclists, as “vulnerable road users,” and requires motor vehicles to apply a “safe passing distance” of at least three feet when traveling 30 miles per hour or less with an additional foot of clearance required for every 10 miles per hour over 30 miles per hour. Current law only requires motor vehicle operators to pass at “a safe distance and at a reasonable and proper speed.” The bill would further require a vehicle that is overtaking a vulnerable road user to use all or part of the adjacent lane, crossing the center line if necessary, when it cannot pass at a safe distance in the same lane and only when it is safe to do so.
The bill would also require certain large vehicles newly purchased, leased or operated pursuant to a contract with the Commonwealth to be equipped with lateral protective devices to eliminate a vehicle’s high ground clearance and the extraordinary risk posed to vulnerable road users, who are susceptible to slipping underneath large vehicles during accidents. Such large vehicles would also be required to utilize convex and cross-over mirrors to increase a driver’s ability to see around their vehicle. These provisions would apply to vehicles purchased or leased by the Commonwealth after January 1, 2019 and to vehicles operating pursuant to leases entered into January 1, 2020.
The Executive Office of Public Safety and Security would be required to develop a standardized analysis tool to report crashes and incidents involving a vulnerable road user and maintain a publicly accessible database of such reports to help inform further efforts to reduce traffic fatalities.
The bill would establish a 25 mile per hour speed limit on an unposted area of state highway or parkway inside a thickly settled or business district within a city or town that has accepted the 25 mile per hour local option, as lower vehicle speeds reduce the severity of crashes. While current law requires persons riding bicycles at night to use a front white light, this bill would also require use of both a red rear light and a red rear reflector when riding at night to improve the visibility of bicyclists.
The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration
The Healthy Chelsea Coalition has just launched a new website.
Heathy Chelsea was founded in 2010 when obesity was identified as the city’s top health concern through a community health needs assessment (CHNA) conducted by Mass General’s Center for Community Health Improvement.
Two years later, the coalition voted to expand its focus as residents and community partners identified substance use and its effects, including violence and public safety, as the city’s top health concern. From its inception, Healthy Chelsea has enjoyed substantial support from City leadership including the City Manager, Director of Health and Human Services, the School Department, Chelsea Police Dept. and others.
Through the new website, Jennifer Kelly, Director of Healthy Chelsea, is “excited to showcase all the great work that we are doing with our community partners. We also hope to educate residents about our programs and to encourage their participation in these important efforts.”
Coalition priorities featured on the site center around healthy eating and living strategies in both the schools and larger community; the Youth Food Movement (YFM) internship program, which allows high school and middle school students to advocate for higher-quality food in their school; promoting a trauma sensitive city; increasing community connection; and, a relatively new initiative focused on early childhood development.
Kelly is especially happy to talk about the recently funded youth substance use prevention work. Through a federal Drug Free Communities (DFC) grant and state Substance Abuse Prevention Collaborative (SAPC) initiative, the coalition has hired two new staff members who are engaging youth and parents while also working with various community partners to implement proven strategies to reduce substance use disorders.
Healthy Chelsea is supported by the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Community Health Improvement (CCHI).
Mass General’s Vice President of Community Health, Joan Quinlan, said, “We are so proud of the work that Healthy Chelsea is doing and of our strong partnership with the Chelsea community. Now, with the launch of their new website, everyone can learn more about their programs and the significant impact they are making.”
Kelly added, “It’s wonderful to be able to promote what can happen when residents and community partners come together for the health and well-being of their community.”
Visit http://www.healthychelsea.org to learn more about their focus areas and programs; staff profiles; community partners; news and upcoming events; and, much more.
Maureen Foley was installed as the 91st president of the Rotary Club of Chelsea at the organization’s Installation of Officers Receptions June 21 at the Homewood Suites Event Center.
Rotary Club President David Mindlin (right) and President-Elect Maureen Foley congratulate Paul Harris Fellow honoree Ledia Koco after she received the prestigious award.
Foley was on her home turf. She is the director of community relations for Colwen Hotel Management which operates three hotels in Chelsea, with a fourth, brand new hotel on the Chelsea-Revere line set to open soon.
Foley has become the face of the busy and beautiful hotels since their openings. She is visible at community events and has been a goodwill ambassador for Colwen with her numerous philanthropic and community-spirited endeavors.
And now she’s ready to lead one of the city’s most prominent service organizations that has been here for close to a century. She succeeds outgoing president, Attorney David C. Mindlin.
“When I came to Chelsea and Saritin [Rizzuto] invited me to my first meeting, I had no idea what Rotary was,” said Foley. “I came to make business connections because my company was building a hotel here, but it didn’t take very long before it wasn’t about the business connections any more, it was about a feeling – that I was part of something special and I wanted to stay.”
Foley, who is the eighth woman to serve as Rotary Club of Chelsea president, called it “a great honor” to be the new leader of the club. She noted that Rotary International approved a new vision statement last years.
“It says, together we see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change – across the globe, in our communities, and in ourselves,” Foley told the gathering.
“Preparing for tonight and the year ahead,” Foley continued, “I thought about that statement and this year’s ‘Be the Inspiration.’
“Inspiration comes from the Latin word, meaning to breathe into; to put life into. I realize before inspiring passion, energy, enthusiasm, or excitement into our club, all of us must work to create change within ourselves, to first inspire ourselves to bring new attitudes, ideas, and passions to Rotary.”
Concluding her remarks, she said, “I am sure the Chelsea Rotary Club can be the inspiration for each other, for our community, and for all those who will follow us in the next 91 years.”
As proud as Maureen Foley was to take office as Rotary president, you could sense the equal feeling of joy and proudness in her daughter, Marika, son, Peter, and 5-year-old granddaughter, Aria, who sat together at a table closest to the podium.
After many hours of meetings and dozens of discussions, a parking plan putting put forth by Council President Damali Vidot has been tabled by a vote of 6-4.
But within that vote was the promise by City Manager Tom Ambrosino to do a comprehensive parking study that would focus on resident needs and be done by this fall.
“Sometimes, you put things forth knowing you won’t get support; but as an opportunity to allow councilors to show where they stand to their constituency for when Election season comes,” said Vidot after the vote Monday night. “The parking ordinance served its purpose by initiating conversation and the City finally getting a comprehensive parking study going. It’s a win-win for the people of Chelsea.”
Vidot’s plan would have applied to developers who asked to waive more than 10 percent of the required parking under the zoning ordinances. Those that do ask for such relief would then be required to put in apartment leases that residents of the development could not apply for or receive City residential parking stickers.
One of the main problems with many developments, it has been explained, is that they waive the parking requirements with the assumption that residents won’t utilize cars. However, Vidot and other councillors have said that it isn’t the case, and resident parking is being taken up by those in new developments with nowhere to park.
By precluding the parking stickers for those who have sought relief for more than 10 percent of parking, Vidot hoped to open up spaces for existing residents.
“We have a serious problem with parking,” she said. “That’s one reason I became a city councilor…I’m not sure if this is the best thing personally. I speak to residents and they say it is, but I speak to businesses and non-profits who are in the development world and they say not to do it. I was elected by the residents, so I say yes to this.”
Many, however, had grave concerns that it would squash new development.
“I do speak in opposition to the amendment as proposed,” said City Manager Tom Ambrosino. “I understand the sentiment, but the 10 percent figure will surely hamper out ability to improve the downtown and do one thing this Council is intent on doing and that’s building more affordable housing. I ask that you consider deferring action until we finish any parking study.”
Councillor Leo Robinson said he could not support the matter.
“I have concerns about how we’re going about this,” he said. “We’re in the process of finishing a parking study. At this point, I think we should be able to work on a study first.”
Those voting for the parking plan were Vidot, Enio Lopez, Bob Bishop, and Giovanni Recupero.
Those voting to table the matter were Yamir Rodriguez, Calvin Brown, Luis Tejada, Leo Robinson, Joe Perlatonda, and Judith Garcia.