The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) on Wednesday, Jan. 31, held a special hearing into the allegations against Wynn Resorts CEO Steve Wynn – a Massachusetts gaming licensee – and said they were not told of the 2005 private settlement, while at the same time urging fairness and speed in the investigation.
The one-hour hearing was unique in that it was one of about three government-level hearings now going on internationally, with others now underway in Nevada and Macau (China). Another is going on privately within the Wynn organizations by a Special Committee of the Board of Directors.
Chair Steve Crosby led off the meeting by saying that the MGC’s Investigations and Enforcement Bureau (IEB) would not rush to judgment or impugn anyone.
“Before we begin, I’d like to reiterate that we have a shared sense of urgency about this serious matter, but careful diligence must be a top priority,” he said. “The stakes are enormous and many lives are involved— from the lives of the women allegedly abused, to the lives of men and women in Everett now building the project, to the senior executives and board members of Wynn Resorts. We will get this right and we will get it right as quickly as we can.”
He finished the meeting by saying he wants a very open investigation so the people know what happened.
“The people of Massachusetts have the right to know what the hell happened here with no punches pulled,” he said. “Having to hold back things ifs something this Commissioner will not look favorably on.”
The MGC announced last Friday after the allegations surfaced that they would initiate an investigation in their IEB division. On Wednesday, the first volley of that investigation was launched.
Somewhat of a revelation was when IEB Director Karen Wells said Wynn Resorts or Steve Wynn never told anyone in 2013 about the $7.5 million settlement associated with the recent allegation of sexual harassment by a Wynn hotel manicurist in Las Vegas.
“I corroborated that information with counsel for Wynn Resorts who confirmed that there was in-fact a settlement and that it was not disclosed to investigators upon advice of counsel,” said Wells. “She also confirmed that the settlement itself was not part of any court action or litigation and that no lawsuit was filed at any time. There were no court documents filed that could have been identified in the course of the investigation. This was a private agreement and steps were taken to keep it from the public domain. The circumstances around this $7.5M settlement and the decision not to disclose it to investigators remain a critical element of this review.”
For the commissioners, there was a sense of seriousness, but also one of attentiveness. No one wanted to engage in something unfair to Wynn or anyone else.
“The single most important thing at this stage is to get control of the facts by figuring them out as quickly as possible,” said Commissioner Lloyd MacDonald. “I urge you to be scrupulously diligent and work with speed, thoroughness and objectivity. That will be key.”
Wells said she had no idea how long the investigation would take as they have just embarked on it.
“It’s hard to give a timeline because once you start conducting interviews, it could lead you in many different directions,” she said.
Chelsea resident Amy Schlegel’s dog, Fitzgerald, died after a vicious attack by an unleashed Pitbull on Lower Broadway Dec. 19. With her beloved family dog gone and facing $22,000 in vet bills, she said she learned there is very little recourse for victims of such attacks on public property. Now she’s hoping to change that before the dog park opens this spring.
A routine dog-walking trip on the afternoon of Dec. 19 in the waterfront neighborhood has completely upended Amy Schlegel’s life – leaving her coping with the death of the family dog at the jaws of a loose Pitbull and trying to figure out how to pay more than $20,000 in vet bills.
It’s been a hard lesson, she told the Record, but it’s a lesson that she hopes can enlighten dog owners around the city – especially before the dog park opens on the corner of Broadway and Admiral’s Hill, which is ironically where she and her dog was attacked.
“Our backs were turned and there was no warning,” she said. “We passed the Pitbull and its owner on the sidewalk and something must have tipped it off. It came running after us at full speed and lit into my dog’s neck. I had absolutely no warning. It was a surprise attack. I didn’t see it coming because our backs were turned. It seemed like forever, but it was probably five minutes in total. My dog Fitzgerald is now gone and I have $22,000 in veterinarian bills and very little legal recourse or help. The key is that it was on public property and so there isn’t much anyone can do, I’m told.”
According to the police report, around 3 p.m., police were on patrol in the Lower Broadway area when they encountered two women screaming and a Pitbull attacking a Dachshund.
“The Pitbull was repeatedly biting and eating the skin of the smaller Dachshund dog as the Dachshund was laying helplessly on the sidewalk bleeding profusely with the Pitbull on top of him viciously and continuously biting him,” read the report.
Officers approached the scene and found Schlegel and the Pitbull’s owner trying to separate the dogs. Both women had injuries to their hands as the dog had bitten them too.
The officer quickly moved to shoot the Pitbull because it was clearly killing the Dachshund, but the owner of the Pitbull got in front of the officer and prevented him from shooting the dog. Even after he ordered her numerous times to move, she refused and her dog continued to rip at the innards of Fitzgerald. Finally, the officer pushed her out of the way and shot the Pitbull, stopping the attack. The Pitbull was rushed to Angell Animal Hospital, where it died later. Fitzgerald was rushed to another animal hospital, and after 11 days and many procedures, he died too.
“That additional time she stood there in front of the officer I’m convinced is what killed Fitzgerald,” she said. “The bites that happened to his stomach during that time are what really injured him to where he couldn’t recover.”
As horrible as the attack was, and the loss of her dog, it is the aftermath that has opened Schlegel’s eyes – and she now believes that the community needs to be starkly aware of what she is convinced will happen once the dog park opens.
Police follow up investigations yielded little cooperation from the other dog owner, and she never brought any information on the dog to police or answered her door – despite police indicating that they could observe her inside the apartment several times.
Nonetheless, Schlegel found that there are probably many, many more such attacks that go unreported or undocumented. She said when an attack happens on private property, insurance covers any losses. However, on public property, if the offending owner doesn’t cooperate, not much can happen.
“This is the kind of thing that could really change somebody’s life in an instant,” she said. “That dog park is going to be a nexus and I think attacks there are going to be inevitable. Something serious is going to happen there. It needs to be addressed beforehand. They say they’re going to have a big dog area and a small dog area, but I don’t know if people are going to abide by that. And how many people are going to volunteer information at the dog park that they own a vicious dog?”
Schlegel hopes that there might be a way to enhance the current laws to help police to initiate criminal charges against owners involved in attacks on public property. Right now, that is nearly impossible, she said.
Meanwhile, one idea she believes might help to bolster the cause is to start a record keeping system outside of the police. She said she would like to see the City create a dog attack hotline for statistical purposes.
She said she hopes it all points to some sort of reforms that Chelsea might be able to lead on.
“Bigger cities have tried things like bans and lost,” she said. “Chelsea is relatively small compared to Boston and you can get things done. There isn’t a lot of gridlock. Maybe this is a place where we can get something done that can be a model for other places. There is a huge hole here and it is attacks on public property. I’m hoping this will help the general public. It can change someone’s life forever. I’m a perfect example of that.”
During 2017, CAPIC celebrated its 50th year as a community action agency. Since 1967, CAPIC has served as the federal and state designated Community Action Agency for the communities of Chelsea, Revere, and Winthrop although in 1965 the City of Chelsea received its first grant from the Office of Economic Opportunity to establish the Chelsea Community Action Council and Community Action Programs Revere Initiative.
Throughout five decades, CAPIC has been both the first stop for people in need, as well as the last stop when other resources have failed. We are problem solvers, always going beyond what is ordinarily expected and achieving the not so possible. As a multi-service community-based organization, CAPIC has provided comprehensive, one-stop anti-poverty services to thousands of individuals and families who seek help. The unique composition of the Board of Directors representing public, private and low-income sectors of the three communities has been our mainstay that ensures consistency and oversight; safeguarding that the basic mission of the organization was always preserved.
Locally, CAPIC has been the front line of defense for persons in need, especially during times of family crises, and natural disaster as first seen in October 1973 when CAPIC was commissioned by FEMA to relocate 200 displaced families from housing after the great conflagration that devastated over a 20 block area of Chelsea and again in February 1978, when during the blizzard, CAPIC provided housing, clothing, food and emergency oil to hundreds of Revere families displaced by flood waters and those who were snow bound. Most recently, on July 28, 2014, CAPIC placed Revere families who were displaced by a tornado in emergency housing and again on June 13, 2017 when a four alarm fire on Taft Street, Revere caused many to be without shelter. Resources were immediately mobilized and together with Revere officials, families were placed in temporary shelters.
Here we are today, a vibrant organization that provides a myriad of life sustaining services to over 15,000 area residents annually. During 2017, CAPIC provided nearly 2,000 at-risk, low-income individuals and families with access to food and basic needs; prevented 33 families from becoming homeless through the utilization of United Way EFSP funds; prevented an additional 23 families from becoming homeless through EOHHS Flex funds for rental assistance; distributed 1,500 winter coats to needy adults and children through a partnership with Anton’s Cleaners Coats for Kids program; distributed donated Christmas/holiday toys to 450 low-income children; provided 50 victims of domestic violence with comprehensive case management, advocacy, and counseling services; and provided 100 street-involved individuals in Chelsea with substance/alcohol related issues with direct comprehensive support service. In addition, CAPIC’s Mobile Outreach Team conducted intensive street outreach in Chelsea to identify and refer street-involved homeless individuals experiencing alcohol/opioid addiction for services which included 50 sober living placements and 40 medical interventions with a volunteer licensed physician.
CAPIC also partnered with MGH on the Merck Foundation: Alliance to Advance Patient-Centered Cancer Care Grant. This is a two-year grant program that works to improve equity by advancing cancer patient-centered care for underserved populations. In May 2017, CAPIC was designated by the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) as the official Continuum of Care -Balance of State Homeless Provider for Chelsea and Revere. Given this official designation, CAPIC is commissioned to assume responsibility to coordinate homelessness prevention activities for Chelsea and Revere and also coordinate the Annual Point-In-Time Count (in conjunction with DHCD), and organize volunteer efforts for counting unsheltered persons in Chelsea and Revere. CAPIC also received an FY’17 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) from the City of Chelsea to enhance access to health care for low-income populations in Chelsea.
In addition, CAPIC helped 3,431 low-income households keep warm during the winter months through the Fuel Assistance Program, as well as provided weatherization and heating efficiency services to 80 households, and replaced and/or repaired a total of 435 inefficient heating systems; provided 400 individuals referred by the Social Security Administration with responsible payee support services; filed tax returns for 192 individuals; and provided over 500 low-income children 0-13 years with Head Start/educational support, child care, after school, and summer camp programming, as well as over 400 families with parenting skills and healthy family development through the Chelsea/Revere Family Network program. CAPIC Real Estate, Inc. in partnership with CAPIC purchased a 13-unit lodging house at 72 Dehon Street, Revere, in an effort to preserve tenancies through affordable housing.
Our ability to accomplish this work, past and present, is a direct result of those people who have chosen public service as a career and the dedicated members of the Board of Directors and Policy Council. They strive to have a better community, with employment opportunity, safe housing, education, food, clothing and healthcare for everyone. We express our gratitude to our elected and appointed delegation that without their support we could not succeed. There are also the compassionate partners at DHCD and HHS that understand the plight of the poor; there are those in sister organizations whose collaboration and cooperation make our work more effective. Perhaps the greatest asset that we have and sometimes overlook, is our clergy, whose spiritual guidance and prayers have given us the courage and motivation to persevere in an environment where it isn’t popular to be poor.
We have also forged strong alliances with the local police and fire departments and greatly appreciate the support and assistance we receive from the city and town Community Development and Health Departments. Over the years we have relied on our historic alliance with local school departments that have provided us with space for Head Start and After School/Summer Camp programming. Special thanks to former State Representative Kathi-Anne Reinstein, Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo, Representatives RoseLee Vincent and Dan Ryan; and Senators Sal DiDomenico and Joe Boncore for their untiring support for CAPIC throughout the years.
A quote from CAPIC’s third Executive Director: “Progress has not been easy- there have been crises, cutbacks, quarrels, opposition. Yet, when it was most important, we have always closed ranks and worked together, and so accomplished much. Perhaps even more important are our less tangible accomplishments. Because of CAPIC, thousands of Chelsea, Revere and Winthrop residents, especially low-income people, have become aware of their rights and responsibilities, and the value of working together to improve opportunities for all.”
Revolutionary Clinic Product Consultant Sarah-Jaana Nodell displays two strains of marijuana buds that are dispensed at the clinic’s Somerville/Sullivan Square location. The two types are grown at their Fitchburg farm, and are among several products – from chocolates to tinctures to salves – that the clinic sells to state-registered patients.
The first medical marijuana dispensary in the Lower Mystic region has opened its doors in Sullivan Square on Broadway, Somerville, and operators of the clinic, Revolutionary Clinics, said last week at an open house they are seeing many new patients and believe people in the area with chronic pain are turning away from the black market to get a medicine that helps them deal with their illnesses.
Last Friday, Revolution – which sees itself as a regional dispensary serving the entire Lower Mystic region – said that it has been open every day since November (except Thanksgiving and Christmas) and the business has been ramping up every week – with an average of 38 new state-approved patients per week.
“The company is growing here and the patients are returning on a regular basis,” said Keith Cooper, CEO of the company, which is based in Colorado. “We are very, very excited about this location and obviously disturbed and concerned about what is being said at the national level. We hope that it will be just posturing and not hurt the patients taking advantage of this incredible plant.”
The open house at the dispensary was a chance for the media and for state legislators, including Somerville Sen. Patricia Jehlen, to see one of the area’s first functioning clinics in progress.
At a small panel discussion afterwards, the topic of the black market for marijuana came up.
Revolutionary Managing Director Meg Sanders said they don’t inquire, but they assume people in the area were getting marijuana somehow before there was a place like Revolutionary that is regulated and legal.
“We don’t ask that, but people who need the medicine were going to get it if they needed it,” she said. “There are a lot of black market operators out there. That’s the last place we would want patients to have to go because its unregulated and you don’t know what’s really in it. All of our products are tested and we know what’s in them.”
The clinic is only for those approved by the state for medical marijuana – though there is a desire to convert to recreational sales if permitted later this year. The system is set up with many security checks, from the parking lot to the entrance to the point of sale and delivery of the product.
After going through the procedures, one can work with a clerk to discuss the products available and options. There is an education area and an area for private consultation.
The clinic dispenses everything from traditional marijuana “flowers” or “buds” to salves, vaping cartridges, tinctures, oils, waxes, cookies, biscuits and chocolates.
The actual “buds” are produced in Massachusetts, and right now Revolutionary has a farm in Fitchburg that is producing two varieties now sold in the clinic.
The many different products, said clerk Sarah-Jaana Nodell, are only a matter of preference. Some people come in with arthritis and only want a salve. Some people have lung problems and cannot smoke buds, so they need a tincture or an edible product.
Others just need very low doses for their ailments, while others need to smoke strong buds to relieve chronic pain.
“The flower is really just the delivery mechanism for the oils,” she said. “The primary element is the concentration of oils and there are other ways to deliver it. If someone comes in with lung disease, the last thing we’ll do is give them something to smoke. I’m not going to give you edibles if you can’t digest things. That’s when a patient might be a better fit for a tincture.
“We have so many people saying they don’t want to get high,” she continued. “You don’t have to. You don’t have to get high. We’re here to help patients find the product that is going to make them feel better in any way we can. Many of our products are non-hallucinogenic so they will not get anyone high.”
However, for others, the hallucinogenic effect is precisely the medicine they need in smoking the flower – and the side effects, such as giggling, can be helpful too.
“We have some strains that make you giggly and happy,” she said. “Some people say they want something that will make them giggle. We can do that. For a lot of people with chronic pain, giggling is an easy thing to do.”
Nodell said she can relate to such pain, as she and many of the product consultants are medical marijuana users who have survived and coped with chronic pain for years.
“I lived with chronic pain and was allergic to most pain medications,” she said. “I was 15 when I discovered medical marijuana and never turned back. Six surgeries later and no morphine for me. Chronic pain is a hard thing. That 1-10 scale gets mixed up and it’s hard when 10 is all the time.”
Bringing the 10 down to a manageable level – whether dealing with cancer, Crohn’s Disease or arthritis – is what Revolutionary said they are all about.
“These products really help and provide relief,” said Sanders. “I have seen so many Crohn’s patients find great relief with these products after so many steroid treatments.”
After one finds the product they need and pays for it, the product is picked up in a secure dispensing area – much like a traditional pharmacy counter. After that, a patient can leave, and they do so with a great deal of security in the parking lot and with a network of cameras to prevent theft or assault.
“We haven’t had an incident since we opened,” said Sanders. “It is as secure or more secure than any bank or jewelry store you might enter…With all the cameras around here, we actually end up helping to solve crimes in our experience. In a store we have in Colorado, the police frequently ask us for footage from our cameras to catch things that happen around us. We are actually solving crimes.”
The clinic is open Monday, Weds., and Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, they are open 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. On Sundays, they are open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
They are located at 67 Broadway in Somerville, just two blocks from Sullivan Square.
Meridian Bancorp, Inc. (the “Company” or “Meridian”) (NASDAQ: EBSB), the holding company for East Boston Savings Bank (the “Bank”), following the new tax law being passed by Congress and signed by the President on December 22, 2017, announced the following enhanced commitments to the Bank’s employees, infrastructure investment and charitable giving which will benefit its customers and the communities it serves:
The minimum wage for all employees will increase to $15 per hour
An additional 20% will be added to the 2017 bonus as part of the Bank’s Incentive Compensation Plan that will be paid to the Bank’s 500+ employees in January 2018
An increase to the Capital Spending Budget as a result of plans to build six new branch locations in 2018
An increase in charitable giving by targeting $1 million in donations to community and non-profit organizations in 2018
Richard J. Gavegnano, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, said, “While our wage policy has consistently been higher than the state mandate of $11.00, the passing of the new tax law has provided the Bank the opportunity to boost its planned minimum wage hike and share those benefits with many of the employees our customers see every day. As a result, our Board of Directors voted to increase the Bank’s minimum wage to $15 per hour as well as increase the 2017 bonus that all employees are eligible to receive by 20%. It is our hope that this hourly wage increase and additional bonus commitment will attract and maintain employees and demonstrate the Bank’s commitment to invest in our workforce.”
According to Gavegnano, while the Bank continues to study the provisions of the new tax law, the Bank believes it is clear that this law supports the Bank’s long-term growth prospects and goals. “Our plan is to continue to branch out to areas in our marketplace that are not being serviced by a community bank. East Boston Savings Bank added two branch offices from our acquisition of Meetinghouse Bank in Dorchester and Roslindale, and in 2018 we will be adding branch locations in the Boston neighborhoods of Cleveland Circle and Brigham Circle as well as locations in West Peabody and Lynnfield. We will continue to research new branch opportunities and stimulate economic growth by providing local jobs and loans to help businesses and individuals thrive.”
Beyond banking, East Boston Savings Bank is committed to being a good neighbor by giving back to the communities we serve. “Each year the Bank makes contributions and/or donates a variety of items supporting community and local civic groups. Our employees volunteer their time for many meaningful causes. In 2018, the Bank and the East Boston Savings Bank Charitable Foundation are committing to make contributions of at least $1 million to well-deserving not-for-profit organizations.”
It is due to East Boston Savings Bank’s commitment to its employees and communities that the Bank was recognized by The Boston Globe as one of Massachusetts’ “Top Places to Work” in 2017. “In my experience, top workplaces are where people work well together while understanding that what they do is worthwhile. There is no substitute for the hard work and great customer service that our employees consistently provide. Our employees understand what it means to go the extra mile for their customers. I’m proud of our employees and what we accomplish together,” said Gavegnano.
Meridian Bancorp, Inc. is the holding company for East Boston Savings Bank. East Boston Savings Bank, a Massachusetts- chartered stock savings bank founded in 1848, operates 33 full-service locations and one mobile location in the greater Boston metropolitan area. We offer a variety of deposit and loan products to individuals and businesses located in our primary market, which consists of Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk and Suffolk Counties, Massachusetts. For additional information, visit www.ebsb.com.
Forward Looking Statements
Certain statements herein constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such statements may be identified by words such as “believes,” “will,” “expects,” “project,” “may,” “could,” “developments,” “strategic,” “launching,” “opportunities,” “anticipates,” “estimates,” “intends,” “plans,” “targets” and similar expressions. These statements are based upon the current beliefs and expectations of Meridian Bancorp, Inc.’s management and are subject to significant risks and uncertainties. Actual results may differ materially from those set forth in the forward-looking statements as a result of numerous factors. Factors that could cause such differences to exist include, but are not limited to, general economic conditions, changes in interest rates, regulatory considerations, and competition and the risk factors described in the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K and Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q as filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Should one or more of these risks materialize or should underlying beliefs or assumptions prove incorrect, Meridian Bancorp, Inc.’s actual results could differ materially from those discussed. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date of this release.
There were more than a few big news items in Chelsea this year.
In fact, there were too many to include in a review of the year in news as the city began to move faster and faster throughout the year.
Here is a sprinkling of some of the top news items from the Chelsea Record in 2017:
• Chelsea High students returned in January to a fly-free building. Student had missed a substantial amount of school in December due to a fly epidemic in Chelsea High. Work crews used the Winter Break to fix the problem.
• Chelsea the Sanctuary City was upended and scared for what the future might hold when new President Donald Trump issues an executive order in January to defund Sanctuary Cities. Chelsea and Lawrence quickly file a lawsuit to prevent the order from being acted upon. The order was later ruled unconstitutional by an Appeals Court on the West Coast.
• On Feb. 16, more than 41 businesses in the Broadway area close down for the day and more than 2,000 students are absent from Chelsea Public Schools during the national Day Without an Immigrant protest. The streets are eerily quiet in the normally bustling Broadway business district.
• The new FBI Boston headquarters holds its official ribbon cutting ceremony after having been open four months on March 7. Former FBI Director James Comey – then the director – was on hand to welcome Chelsea officials and regional law enforcement to the ceremony.
• The Homewood Suites Hotel and Function Room opens in March to the public and its owner, Colwen Hotels, pulls a building permit in the same month to begin construction on a new hotel on Broadway at the Revere/Chelsea line. The hotel continues to be under construction.
• A Chelsea Housing Authority (CHA) plan to redevelop the Central Avenue housing development with private developer Corcoran is shot down by a vote of the City Council on April 24 due to Corcoran asking to be permitted to use some non-union workers on the job. An amended plan for the development is expected in 2018.
• The Chelsea Police and community/business leaders launch a new Downtown Task Force on May 1. Four beat officers have been assigned to the Broadway corridor and will meet with residents, City departments and business owners once a week.
• Scores of MS-13 members from Chelsea and surrounding areas – including multiple admitted murderers – begin to plead guilty to charges against them in Boston Federal Court. By year’s end, 27 of 61 individuals indicted in the three-year investigation have plead guilty.
• A huge debate breaks out over the summer in the midst of the Re-Imagining Broadway initiative about whether Broadway should become a two-way street in the business district. The matter has not been settled as of yet. It has been one-way for more than 50 years.
• Gov. Charlie Baker commits to funding a new $199 million Quigley Hospital at the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home during a press conference in May. Later in the summer, the plan draws major controversy when it is revealed that the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home water tower must come down to make way for the new hospital. The water tower is seen as a symbol of the City for many.
• In another blow to tradition, the historic Chelsea Clock building on Everett Avenue comes down in October to make way for more than 700 units of apartment dwellings.
• Chelsea High School graduates 309 students on June 11 at commencement. It is the largest class in more than 15 years.
• Three incumbent councillors announce before summer recess that they will not run for re-election. They include Dan Cortell, Matt Frank and Paul Murphy.
• Chelsea Jewish Nursing Home on Lafayette Street celebrates a $16 million renovation project on June 21 with a huge ribbon cutting celebration.
• The Chelsea Fire Department gets a federal SAFER grant to add eight new members to the Fire Department. It adds to two new positions already committed to by the City. The 10 new firefighters are sworn in on Nov. 20. It is the largest expansion of the Fire Department contingent since receivership in the 1990s.
• Outdoor seating on Broadway is approved for area establishments. The new Ciao Market leads the way by putting a seating area on the sidewalk in Chelsea Square – a pioneering move for the City.
• The MassDOT Board approves a plan for major, multi-year rehabilitation work on the Mystic/Tobin Bridge and the Chelsea Viaduct. A vigorous debate over construction impacts and the scope of the project ensues between MassDOT and City officials.
• A group of Chelsea stakeholders and City officials announce that the City has won the Robert Wood Johnson Culture of Health Prize at a Sept. 20 Chamber of Commerce meeting. The victory comes after nearly a year of planning, submissions and site visits. It comes with a $25,000 cash prize and a substantial amount of cache.
• CAPIC human services celebrates 50 years as a service provider in Chelsea, Winthrop and Revere. The Chelsea-based organization celebrates with a grand gala that united new and old members of the organization.
• The community rallies around families, friends and strangers facing catastrophe in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria hits the island in the fall. Many residents flock to the Chelsea Collaborative to work in the relief efforts as a way of coping with the stress of not hearing from relatives.
• Three new councillors are elected to the City Council in the Nov. 7 City Election, including Calvin Brown, Bob Bishop and Joe Perlatonda. All three, however, have served previously on the City Council or former Board of Aldermen.
• The MBTA announces in December that most Silver Line Stations are nearing completion and service on the new Bus Rapid Transit line could begin as soon as April 2018. The new line will be known a SL3 and will go from the Market Basket Mall to the Seaport, via Logan Airport.
The group is shown on the steps of the Shawmut Street residence.
The Chelsea Collaborative joined with two other human service agencies this month to begin several “actions” to put employers engaging in wage theft on notice that they will not let it go – even if employers manipulate a so-called loophole in the City’s pioneering Wage Theft Ordinance.
On Nov. 30, about 20 activists and one man who said he was owed nearly $3,000 in unpaid wages from a flooring company, marched up Shawmut Street to the home address of the owner – who has registered the construction business from his home.
“This is something we are doing to let employers know we will not stand by and watch the struggle of workers due to non-payment of wages,” said Yessenia Alfaro-Alvarez, of the Collaborative, while standing on the stoop of the purported wage violator. “At this time, we want to send a message and that’s why we’ve come out here. This is one of the parts of the law where we believe there is a loophole. That is with businesses that register from their homes. It’s very hard to track them.”
Jose Becerra was one of three workers owned money from the construction company. In total, all three are suspected to be owned $9,000 from the Chelsea company.
He was there with about 19 other activists who were prepared to deliver a letter directly to the owner of the company. The owner didn’t answer the door, and activists yelled up to he and his wife to no avail.
“Right now, it’s the loophole that is the problem,” said Sylvia Ramirez of the Collaborative. “Businesses don’t register. They are not in compliance, but the City isn’t aware of them. They have to find a way to investigate and cure this condition.”
The action is part of an overall effort to fight for workers rights, which was bolstered this week on Tuesday when the Collaborative launched its new ‘Journaleros’ project at its existing Workers Center. That Center has been around for 15 years, but now graduates from the Center are looking to empower other workers – primarily day laborers on the fringes who frequently have wages stolen.
Those workers are often recognized by the fact that they wait on certain corners in Chelsea, where construction companies will drive by and pick them up to work for the day.
Many of those corners are in the Shawmut Street and Central Avenue areas, while another major place is at the Home Depot in the Parkway Plaza.
“The project consists in organizing workers in the corners,” read a release from the Collaborative. “This project will allow us to educate these workers to prevent wage theft. The workers will acquire the right tools to defend and protect their rights as day labor workers.”
The project kick-off included canvassing many local businesses and also going to the major “corners” where workers are picked up.
As for the loophole, City Manager Tom Ambrosino said he isn’t clear about what the City could do. He said the City is only able to penalize someone for wage theft by not giving them a City contract or not giving them a municipally-required license.
He said the only fix would be to deny business certificates to those violating the Wage Ordinance. However, he said what would likely happen is small companies operating out of homes would simply not get a certificate, which is required only every four years.
“I suppose we could add a section that says the City Clerk can’t issue a Business Certificate…if a company has similar wage violations,” he said. “But, honestly, that statute is impossible to enforce, and we generally rely upon the goodwill of folks to come in and register. It is not as though this municipality or any municipality has a way of keeping track of every business operating from a home address.”
He said if there are licenses, such as liquor licenses, issued by the License Commission, they could have a better handle on it, but for private companies not needing such a license, it would be difficult.
“What is likely to happen if we added such a provision to our Wage Theft Ordinance is that someone who couldn’t secure a Business Certificate from the City Clerk because of Wage Violations would simply avoid getting one,” he said.
It is difficult to understate the impact upon the future of our country of the Republican tax bill proposals that have been passed by the House and Senate and await a reconciliation between the two versions for a final vote by both.
The most complex piece of tax legislation to be enacted in more than 30 years was devised and voted upon with little or no debate and in the middle of the night (after midnight, actually) in the Senate, with cross-outs and extended, hand-written notes in the margins such that no Senator really knows what he or she voted upon.
However, what is clear is that the tax bill will raise taxes on the middle class — some substantially so (especially here in Massachusetts) — and all but destroy the Affordable Care Act, while giving huge benefits to the ultra-rich in countless ways.
One of the most outrageous giveaways to the ultra-rich is that they can deduct the cost of maintenance of their private jets. Wouldn’t we all like to do that for our cars, the preferred mode of transportation for the rest of us?
In addition, this tax giveaway by the supposedly deficit-hawk, fiscally-conservative Republicans will be increasing the deficit by at least $1 trillion over the next 10 years, and most likely more than that.
All in all, this represents America’s move toward a real-life Hunger Games, in which most Americans barely will be able to scrape by with little or no prospect for economic mobility.
The American Century has been turned on its head — and we never will be the same again.
Members of GreenRoots and the community enjoyed kayaking on the Chelsea Creek for the first time in decades this past summer – another partnership between the City, private donors and the non-profit community.
State officials made their first presentation of the proposed Community Living Center at the Soldiers’ Home, a project that will replace the Quigley Hospital and require the removal of the iconic Soldiers’ Home water tower.
The $199 million project, some 66 percent of which could be federally funded, has the makings of improving the living conditions of those in the long-term care portion of the Home – taking them from open wards that are no longer permissible to private rooms with social areas arranged in “houses.” However, to date, and through a large part of the meeting Thursday night, Aug. 3, the overall project has been overshadowed by the potential loss of the water tower.
Some residents have voiced approval for the project, but want those building it to see if they can save the tower or come up with a similar iconic structure. Other residents have started a very popular online petition to ‘Save the Chelsea Water Tower,’ and it has caught on.
On Thursday night, many of the voices of the veterans, who have yet to be heard, resonated.
“I guarantee you a few years after it’s gone…we’ll barely remember it,” said Daniel Heagan. “You’ll say, ‘I know there was a water tower there, but I don’t even remember what color it is.’ Please accept this change. It’s for the best of the veterans. Please go along with it. This is a positive change for the men and women who represented you in combat. You won’t know it’s gone in a few years.”
Tom Miller, who has lived at the Home for 11 years and is a member of the Honor Guard, said the priority is now the veterans.
“The water tower provided some great memories,” he said. “Right now the priority is to build a new Quigley Hospital. That needs to be the focus. We can always have those memories. The Historical Society will have wonderful photographs. We can have a party when it comes down to celebrate what it meant. But it has to come down.”
However, many long-time Chelsea residents said they hoped there could be a compromise.
“When I come over the Tobin Bridge and have people in the car I point to the tower and tell people that is where I live,” said School Committeeman Rich Maronski. “You can see the tower from East Boston. That’s where I live. The residents really wish if you could preserve it or move it, that would be great. The veterans health care comes first, but we wonder if there is a chance to do something.”
Councillor Matt Frank said he loves the Soldiers’ Home and all that it represents. He said he believes its time to support the veterans to get the new home, but he also said he hopes there can be some accommodation for the tower.
“Sometimes emotions do matter and I think it’s for the best of the veterans community to be visible to everyone around like they are with the tower,” he said. “You see it every day. If you lose something that’s such a visual reminder, people would drive by without knowing what this place is…My biggest fear is the Solders’ Home could be lost in the shuffle. I think we need to take (resident) emotions into account.”
Some in the audience suggested replacing it with a “ginormous” flag that could be seen from downtown Boston, as the tower is.
Francisco Urena, secretary of Veterans Affairs, led the meeting and said that they are listening to the public and the residents. Both he and Supt. Cheryl Poppe said the status quo with open wards must be replaced, as they get marked deficient frequently and could lose crucial funding.
To weigh in, the state has established an e-mail to submit comments. It is firstname.lastname@example.org.