It reads like an off-color joke, but it wasn’t any joke on Monday night when a councillor, a reverend, a Republican and a clerk with a phobia of elevators got trapped for 45-minutes in the City Hall elevator.
“We were cool; no one freaked out,” said Rev. Sandra Whitley, who was stuck with Planning Board member Todd Taylor (the Republican), Councillor Leo Robinson and Council Administrative Assistant Ledia Koco. “These firefighters are amazing and they need all the credit. Stuck for almost 45 minutes, they kept asking if we were alright, plugging away until they had to almost blast the metal doors apart.”
The firefighters involved in the rescue were Capt. Paul Doherty, Mark Chiaradonna, Gary Poulin, Angel Arrieta, Kevin DeJesus and Lt. Andrew Cerratani.
The situation unfolded Monday after the Council let out for the night. Due to the fact that the stairs in City Hall were being replaced, most everyone had to take the elevator to get down. It gave the old lift quite a workout, and apparently, then those four got on and started going down – everything stopped.
It took some time before anyone realized they were trapped, but enough people were still around to hear them calling for help.
Chelsea Fire was alerted and City Manager Tom Ambrosino directed them to where it was believed the four were stuck.
Firefighters tried to pry open the elevator, but it wasn’t budging.
Firefighters then had to deploy other tools, including an inflatable air bag, to open the doors.
Finally, the job was done and the four emerged from the elevator.
“I was just glad those other three were with me, because these days, if it were just me, they might have left me in there,” joked Taylor.
In an Op-Ed that appeared in State News on Monday, Dec. 18, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren called House Republicans onto the carpet for halting federal funding to the nation’s Community Health Centers like East Boston Neighborhood Health Center (EBNHC) while working on cutting taxes for the ‘wealthy”.
“I love community health centers,” Warren wrote. “They do wonderful work and enjoy widespread support. But I’m worried because Republican leaders in Congress have held these centers hostage by halting federal funding while they focus on passing tax cuts for the wealthy. It’s past time to step up the fight for community health centers in my state of Massachusetts and across the country.”
Warren argued that community health centers, like EBNHC, are a big part of what’s working well in health care today — more coverage at lower cost.
“They are on the front lines of the opioid epidemic,” she wrote. “They provide preventive services and chronic disease management. They are taking the stigma out of mental health treatment. And they save money by promoting disease prevention, providing care coordination, and reducing the use of hospital emergency rooms.”
On Sept. 30, Warren said Congress blew past a major funding deadline for community health centers — a reauthorization of the Community Health Center Fund.
“This program provides more than 70 percent of all federal funding for health centers,” she wrote. “Reauthorizing this program should be a no-brainer, and many of my Republican colleagues agree with that. But Republican leadership has been so focused on stripping health care coverage from many of the people who walk through the doors of community health centers that they ran right past this deadline — and they’ve just kept on running.”
Community health centers across the country are feeling the impact.
“They are holding back on hiring new staff or deferring opportunities to make vital improvements to their programs. If they don’t get this funding soon, they’ll have to make even tougher decisions, like laying off staff members, cutting services, or reducing hours,” she wrote. “In East Boston, which is geographically isolated from the rest of the city, the community health center operates an emergency room that is open around the clock.People who work in community health centers know that health care is a basic human right. The dedicated doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals at these sites take incredible care of families from every background. And they’re always looking for ways they can better serve their patients and their community. But community health centers can’t do this much-needed work if the federal government doesn’t keep its promises.”
Warren said tax cuts for billionaires shouldn’t come ahead of making sure that children, pregnant women, people in need of addiction treatment, veterans, and other vulnerable populations have access to health care.
“I’ll keep fighting for community health centers and for all of these health care programs that have improved the lives of people in my state and every other state,” she wrote. “I believe everyone deserves access to affordable, high-quality health care. Community health centers excel at providing that care — and they deserve our support.”
EBNHC recently hosted Sen. Warren were she saw first hand the important work that the Health Center and its staff does on a daily basis.
“We were obviously so pleased to host Senator Warren on her visit tour to the Health Center and we are glad she is fighting hard for Community Health Centers like ours across the country,” said Snyder.
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.
The swift and unequivocal announcement last Friday by Gov. Charlie Baker that Massachusetts will join in an initiative with other states to encourage alternative forms of energy in order to reduce carbon emissions is yet another example of the sort of straightforward decision-making that has become a hallmark of the Baker administration.
Gov. Baker’s announcement came on the heels of the pronouncement the day before by Pres. Donald Trump that he will withdraw the United States from the Paris climate change agreement. Unlike President Trump, Gov. Baker realizes that we must stay ahead of the curve in areas that are critical to our economy and also assert our moral leadership when necessary.
Gov. Baker’s policy recognizes first and foremost that global-warming is real and that man-made greenhouse gases are contributing to it — and therefore we need to do something about it.
Furthermore, it recognizes that protecting our environment is necessary not only from the moral imperative of saving the planet, but also because it makes sense from an economic point-of-view.
Solar, wind, and other passive forms of energy production clearly are the wave of the future, both in our country and globally. The governor understands that we must make a choice: We either can get with the program, so to speak, as every other nation is doing, or we will find ourselves stuck with a mid-20th century energy model for a 21st century economy.
This is not a political issue — Democrat vs. Republican or progressive vs. conservative — but rather, it is a matter that should unite all of us toward a common goal.
As Gov. Baker succinctly put it in his official statement, “Our administration looks forward to continued, bipartisan collaboration with other states to protect the environment, grow the economy, and deliver a brighter future to the next generation.”
We are proud to stand with Gov. Baker on this important initiative. We have no doubt that as Massachusetts becomes a leader in the realm of developing and implementing alternative forms of energy, the benefits to our economy — and our planet — will be enormous.
Other than for anyone who has been living under the proverbial rock for the past few months, it is fair to say that the 2016 Presidential primary election campaign has drawn the most controversy and the most attention in our nation’s history.
There are many reasons for this, chief among them being the candidacies of billionaire businessman Donald Trump on the Republican side and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders on the Democratic side, both of whom have expressed views considered outside of the mainstream of their respective parties and who have energized voting blocs that traditionally do not participate in elections.
Both Trump and Sanders have channeled the anger shared by a large segment of our populace who are frustrated with the current state of affairs in our nation. Though Trump and Sanders come from opposite ends of the political spectrum, their candidacies have demonstrated in stark and clear terms that the great Middle American body politic that has held our nation together for the past four generations has snapped like a rubber band and has recoiled to the far left and to the far right.
Americans of all ages and all education levels (other than the very wealthy) have not seen their standard of living rise in decades, and many have fallen far behind economically. Both Trump and Sanders have promised to restore the American Dream, though by vastly different means of attaining that end.
Furthermore, both Sanders and Trump are benefiting from the overall polarization of our political discourse, which has become a two-edged sword for all of the candidates in both parties.
In addition, this is the first time in eight years that there is not an incumbent President seeking re-election, a factor that enhances interest on both sides of the political spectrum.
So we urge every resident to go to the polls to cast their vote for the candidate of their choice. For the first time in a while, our votes in Massachusetts really will matter in the contests for delegates for both the Democrats and Republicans.
We would note that voters who are unenrolled in either party (Massachusetts uses the term unenrolled for independent) are eligible to vote Tuesday. An unenrolled voter declares a party at the check-in table at the polling location and will be given the ballot for the party requested. Unenrolled voters automatically will revert to unenrolled status for future elections.
There is a lot at stake in this year’s Presidential election. We urge every citizen to exercise their right to vote for the candidate of their choosing.
Anyone who has lived in Chelsea for a long time knows what a politically active community it has been throughout its history.
There were mayoral, board of aldermen, and school committee elections in the 1960, 1970s, and 1980s where voter turnouts would be very high and people would wait in the old Aldermanic Chambers at City Hall after the polls closed to hear the final vote tallies announced.
While Chelsea no longer has mayoral elections like the ones next door in Everett and Revere – and by the way – City Manager Tom Ambrosino was undefeated in Revere mayoral elections, having been re-elected each time for a period of 12 consecutive years – Chelsea still has important positions to be filled on the City Council and School Committee.
And that is why it so important for Chelsea residents to exercise their right to vote and get out and cast their ballots this Tuesday, Sept. 22, in the preliminary election.
The individuals that are running for seats on the Chelsea City Council are working hard in their campaigns and truly want to serve in city government and improve the quality of life here.
When we consider the political dynasties that existed in Chelsea for years – the Quigley, McLaughlin, Slater, Voke, and Donovan families come to mind – we realize how fortunate we were to have public officials who served our city so well and made Election Days such an exciting time.
The names of our political leaders have changed but we sense that the interest in the local and national political process is still quite significant – as the television ratings for the Republican Presidential debates suggest.
We encourage you to get out and vote in Tuesday’s election and make your voice heard. Our candidates are deserving of your support and participation.
Back in March, State Rep. Dan Ryan easily toppled the competition during a special election for the Second Suffolk District State Representative seat and Tuesday night was no different for the Charlestown native and incumbent.
Though Avellaneda bested Ryan in Chelsea by several hundred votes, Ryan’s strong showing and the larger voting block in Charlestown led him to a comfortable victory overall of more than 1,000 votes.
The final tally for the entire district was Ryan with 2,541 and Avellaneda 1,273.
Ryan officially won the Democratic Nomination for the seat during Tuesday’s special election over Avellaneda, who challenged Ryan during the March special election also. With no Republican challenger, Ryan will head into the General Election unopposed and will win reelection to continue serving Charlestown and Chelsea at the State House.
In Charlestown, Ryan grabbed 84 percent of the vote or 2,172 votes. Avellaneda ended up with only 447 votes in Charlestown.
In Chelsea, Ryan got 31 percent of the vote or 369 votes and Avellaneda got 69 percent with 826 votes. For Avellaneda, that was fewer votes than he got in the cold-weather Special Election earlier this year, which was highly unexpected. He scored more than 1,000 votes in Chelsea back then.
Chelsea’s official turnout number for the Primary was 14.5 percent.
“I want to thank all the hard work of all the volunteers over these past six months,” said Ryan at his victory party at the Warren Tavern in Charlestown. “We never stopped working and we will continue to work for the people of Charlestown and Chelsea.”
Ryan energized the crowd when he talked about the contentious casino topic.
“This reelection means that Charlestown has a seat at the negotiating table and I will be there because my next campaign stop will be to the casino commission,” said Ryan to thunderous applause. “If they decide to approve a casino in Everett, you can rest assure Wynn will have to pay and there will be a new Sullivan Square.”
On his growing support in Chelsea with elected officials like City Council President Matt Frank from Chelsea backing him, Ryan said he plans to do the same for Chelsea.
“The bridge from Charlestown to Chelsea is two ways,” said Ryan. “That means that Chelsea came here to support me and Charlestown will be in Chelsea any time they need support.”
Ryan’s victory back in March brought the seat back to Charlestown for the first time since the late 1970s. Jimmy Collins won the seat back in 1977. In 1978 the seat was redistricted and Chelsea’s Richie Voke ousted Collins. The seat has been held by Chelsea residents ever since.
Prior to working for U.S. Congressman Michael Capuano as his chief aide, Ryan spent 10 years working at the Charlestown Boys and Girls Club where he served as director of the Teen Center and program coordinator for the Healthy Charlestown Coalition.
Ryan and his wife, Kara Segal-Ryan, are raising their three children.
In other election action on the state level, Chelsea pretty much reflected the overall statewide returns, picking just about every candidate on the Democratic side that won.
Gubernatorial Nominee Martha Coakley got 964 votes (58 percent) in Chelsea, and won statewide with 42 percent. Steve Grossman had 479 votes (29 percent) locally and 36 percent of the vote statewide. Don Berwick gained 21 percent of the vote statewide and 13 percent in Chelsea.
For Lt. Gov., Stephen Kerrigan won locally with 44 percent of the Chelsea vote, but got 51 percent statewide. Leland Cheung garnered 30 percent of the vote in Chelsea and statewide.
Attorney General nominee Maura Healy soared to victory in Chelsea (61 percent) and statewide (62 percent) over Warren Tolman (38 percent in Chelsea and statewide).
For Treasurer, Deb Goldberg secured the nomination statewide with 43 percent of the vote, while also getting 43 percent of the Chelsea vote. Barry Finegold had 33 percent locally and 32 percent statewide. Tom Conroy scored 23 percent of the Chelsea vote.
State Sen. Sal DiDomenico cruised to victory with 1,266 votes, though running unopposed.
On the Republican side, Gubernatorial nominee Charlie Baker won easily in Chelsea with 76 percent of the GOP vote and similar results statewide.
In the county races, most notably Suffolk County Sheriff Steve Tompkins bested Revere’s Jeremiah Goodwin in Chelsea and county-wide. Goodwin finished second in Chelsea, but third county-wide behind perennial candidate Doug Bennett – whose only splash in the race was his homemade, crudely painted green signs that were virtually everywhere.
Felix Arroyo took the race for Register of Probate, getting 641 votes in Chelsea (44 percent) along the way. He unseats Patty Campatelli, who got 341 Chelsea votes.
District Attorney Dan Conley took in another victory, though unopposed, and in Prattville, State Rep. RoseLee Vincent won an unopposed race for the district that represents that neighborhood and half of Revere.
With all of the candidates running for so many offices in the upcoming Primary Election next Tuesday, Sept. 9, things have gotten more than a little confusing for voters – especially on the Democratic side. Below is a listing of the races and those running.
City Manager Jay Ash gave the good word to Gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker Wednesday morning after accompanying the Republican on a friendly tour of The Neighborhood Developers’ Box District development and its CONNECT educational facility.
Ash told reporters he looked forward to seeing Baker become governor.
“I’m not allowed as a City Manager to endorse,” he said. “However, I have known Charlie [Baker] for 20 years and greatly respect his work and everything he’s done. I’m looking forward to Governor Baker and seeing what great things he can do for the Commonwealth.”
Prior that that, Baker spent about 45 minutes taking a guided tour through the Box District – learning about the mix of affordable units with market-rate units from TND Executive Director Ann Houston.
Also on the tour and speaking about the market rate portion was Tanya Hahnel of Mitchell Properties, which has developed the market rate portion of the Box District.
Mollie Baldwin, a resident of the Box District and executive director of ROCA, also was on the tour.
All were amenable to Baker and answered his questions about how it was that the community came together to make the Box District a success.
Baker asked questions about whether land banking was a problem in the early days of the development, whether parking restrictions were adequate, and how well the state process worked in delivering resources to the affordable housing developments.
He was also keenly interested in the clean up process, particularly how the environmental/contamination issues were solved.
He said he was interested in that because he recognizes that most of the vacant land in cities like Chelsea are polluted sites near mass transit.
“This is a great example of multi-use affordable housing programs that I think we should be doing even more of,” he said. “There are a lot of places like the Box District all over the state and we need to do more of this…We need more market-based affordable housing. Boston, Cambridge, Somerville and Chelsea – they all have huge tracts of properties near public transit that is often owned by the state or local government. That’s the best chance for this that these communities are going to find.”
Baker said he wanted to see a good example of affordable and market rate housing in Chelsea, and Ash put together the tour of the Box District.
Ash said he wanted to showcase the district for Baker because it destroyed the notion among developers that too much affordable housing ruins a market-rate development. Sitting at about 50-50, Ash said, the District remains in harmony.
“A real misnomer we had to deal with in the developer community was the belief that you couldn’t develop a large amount of affordable housing with a large amount of market rate,” he said. “Some 25 percent was the most they would consider before and they thought anything above that would begin to have a negative impact on the market rate development. This development is 51 percent versus 49 percent. It reversed that notion.”
Another stop on the tour was the CONNECT center – which focuses on job training, education and household skills like budgeting/saving.
The CONNECT is a combination of organizations in Chelsea and out of Chelsea that have combined efforts in a wing of TND’s headquarters to help residents attain self-sufficiency through job training and life skills. It is supported primarily by the Federal Reserve Bank in Boston and a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor – among others.
Baker was particularly interested int he fact that CONNECT works with people who have less than a high school education, often having dropped out in middle school or before. Houston said there often are no resources for them, but CONNECT has allowed those folks to access education and job training services all in one location.
She told him that those who bundle services, meaning they use one or more services at CONNECT, are moving on a pathway to success around 75 percent of the time.
Ash told Baker that the model of housing and job training in one development tract is what truly makes the Box District much different than any other place.
“What I particularly like about this model and about how TND does things is that they focus on housing people and making them self-sufficient,” he said. “A lot of times we stop everything after we house people. With this, we are getting people housing and continuing with getting them job-ready and being able to provide for their families in the housing that has been provided.”
The tour ended congenially, with Ash telling reporters that – short of endorsing Baker – he encourages its victory.
It was supposed to be a friendly tour of a successful housing development in Chelsea for Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Charlie Baker, but headlines in the newspapers Wednesday morning concerning his stance on public housing for illegal immigrants got him an earful prior to the tour from Collaborative Director Gladys Vega.
Baker took the heated rebuke from Vega gracefully, calmly telling a cabal of reporters that he simply disagreed with Vega.
The confrontation took place just as the tour was about to begin, with Vega standing directly in front of Baker and telling him he wasn’t welcome in Chelsea.
“The audacity of him to come here to Chelsea, an immigrant city, after proposing that is incredible and insulting,” Vega told reporters – along with a few other choice phrases to boot.
“Your visit to Chelsea is demeaning to everything we stand for,” Vega told Baker as they stood face-to-face. “Your stance, your visit is not welcome. You should think about smart development of affordable housing that is for everyone in Massachusetts.”
There was no doubt, Vega was as riled as most had ever seen her, and perhaps as much as she was last summer after succeeding in the fight for extended sentencing of former Chelsea Housing Authority Director Michael McLaughlin.
Others from the Collaborative who were there also peppered Baker with questions, such as Maria Belen Powers asking him what he would do about families with mixed status such as children who are born here with parents who are here illegally.
No one got in the way of the confrontation, and Baker’s campaign staff appeared comfortable in letting it all run its course.
After Vega had said her piece, Baker told the small crowd and reporters that he just disagreed with Vega.
“We disagree,” he said. “It’s that simple. “Public housing should be available first and foremost for legal residents who have paid into the system, who have lived in the community and who are part of their community. That could be veterans and the elderly too.”
Prior to the confrontation, reporters from Boston had questions for Baker on this ideas.
One of those ideas, obviously, is giving preference on the waiting lists for public housing to legal residents and citizens, meaning that illegal immigrants would not have preference on the wait lists.
Another proposal Baker had floated Tuesday morning was to give priority on public housing wait lists to people who volunteer to sign up for self-sufficiency programs or continuing education programs – creating a pathway for them out of public housing.
“It’s about prioritizing the waiting lists for public housing and saying you don’t have to volunteer or participate in the programs, but we will give priority to those who sign up for self-sufficiency programs in the housing authorities. It’s been effective already in places like Worcester. This is already working in several areas.”
Baker in particular proposed the idea of moving back to the federal standard, which does give such preferences already.
“We need to move to the federal standard on this issue and across the board,” he said.
He also said he believed that the Legislature agrees with him and that there is an appetite for such change amongst lawmakers – but perhaps not in the current governor’s office.
“The House and Senate overwhelmingly passes legislation in both houses that would move to the federal standard and it suddenly disappeared in Conference Committee and no one knows what happened to it,” he said. “The public housing should be first for people who paid into the system, have been in the community and are part of the community.”