Condo Owners Organize in Protest of ‘Exclusive’ Water Discount Program

Condo Owners Organize in Protest of ‘Exclusive’ Water Discount Program

A new and irate constituency of condo owners has arisen in response to the Water Discount program championed by Councilor Giovanni Recupero and voted on by the City Council Sept. 24 – a proposal that excludes condo owners from the owner-occupied water bill discount.

Recupero proposed the measure in September, after many years of discussing it and proposing it in other forms, to find that it had support and the votes to pass. After a challenge by Councilor Roy Avellaneda last week, the measure stood.

It is to go into effect on July 1, 2019 with the new water rates.

But what it might have lacked in votes on the Council has not deterred the momentum that has grown among those in the City who own condos. Because condo owners don’t have separate water meters in their units, they are excluded from participating in the program along with absentee landlords.

That has ignited a base that continues to protest the move, and has spoken out this week in letters to the newspaper that decry the program and, potentially, others like it that could come down the road.

“Chelsea water and sewer rates are increasing significantly, and the Council’s vote means that those renters, businesses, and 1,861 condos are going to subsidize a discount for 625 owner-occupied, single-family households and 1,149 two- and three-family households,” read a letter written by Sharlene McLean and signed by numerous condo and homeowners. “This decision is blatantly discriminatory as it creates separate classes of homeownership in Chelsea, and privileges residents who have the financial capital to buy and own single or multi-family homes – all at the expense of, among others, condo owners who are also stakeholders in the community, and deserve the same consideration as other homeowners.”

The condo owners wrote that the policy will hurt the entire community. For example, they said houses of worship are not allowed to participate, and neither are businesses.

“Simply put, this is a poorly conceived and exclusionary policy that was rushed to a vote without any meaningful discussion or community input, and that benefits the few at the expense of the many,” they wrote.

The new constituency of condo owners asked that the Council repeal its vote before the new rates go into effect.

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Good Samaritans Help Injured Dog in Everett

Good Samaritans Help Injured Dog in Everett

Jamie-Lee Hersey, of Wakefield, was driving along Revere Beach Parkway at approximately 11 p.m. on Tuesday night when she came across a severely injured dog in the middle of the road alongside Simoniz Car Wash.  Instinctively, she immediately pulled over to help the dog, and was joined by another good Samaritan, Chris Desrochers, of Revere, who stopped to assist.

Together, Hersey and Desrochers barricaded the small dog between barrels at the car wash in order to shield it from further injury as they contacted the Everett Police Department.

Within minutes, Everett Animal Control Officer Stacia Gorgone was on scene to assist, despite being off duty at the time.  Gorgone described the scene as gruesome.

“The bottom half of his body was mutilated” she said about the small dog, and she suspected that he would need a leg amputation if he managed to survive.

A video reveals the dog was idle in the middle of the road, but the injuries are more consistent with a fall as opposed to being struck by a vehicle.  After the story circulated on social media,  Animal Control received an anonymous tip that someone had witnessed what they believed was a sweatshirt, thrown from a vehicle window at the same location within the same time range.  The Everett Police Department are currently investigating whether these injuries were a case of abuse or an unintentional accident.  Nobody has come forward to claim the dog as their own.

“It’s not clear if it’s intentional or an accident,” Gorgone explained, concerned after hearing the witness account.

While vets originally tried to save the dog’s leg, Gorgone shared the dog has since had his leg amputated, but is under great care.

“He is doing amazing,” she shared.  “He got his leg amputated as to not prolong suffering.”

The dog is currently under care with the DogMother LLC, a local holding facility for animals.  Due to high medical bills, a GoFundMe has been set up to alleviate expenses.  Already, over $9,000 has been accumulated, but volunteers are working relentlessly to raise more funding.

Since the incident, Hersey and Desrochers have already been in the process of adopting rescue dogs of their own.  Gorgone, who is an advocate for animal rescue, explained this is the silver lining to the injured pup’s story:  “Not only did they save this dog, but they were inspired to rescue other dogs, too.”

Donations can be made at and anyone with further information about the indecent is encouraged to contact the Everett Police Department at 617-387-1212.

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Enjoy the Weekend — Safely

We saw a statistic the other day that seemed baffling: The death toll on our nation’s roads and highways once again is on the rise. Last year, there were 38,000 highway fatalities in America. That’s about 100 Americans killed every day in motor vehicle-related crashes and accidents.

In addition, there are hundreds of thousands of Americans who receive serious injuries in motor vehicle crashes, especially brain injuries, that can have devastating effects on victims.

The reason that we say this statistic is baffling is because motor vehicles never have been safer. Air bags, anti-lock brakes, and other technological innovations have made surviving a high-speed car crash far more likely than at any other time in the history of the automobile.

But we venture to guess that there are a lot of reasons why the carnage on our nation’s highways is increasing: We have an aging population; distracted driving is epidemic, thanks to cell phones and radios with 100 channels that require more hand-eye coordination than the old push-button radios; motor vehicles with all of those high tech featurers not only make speeding more attainable, but also lull us into a false sense of safety; our roads are in terrible shape and constitute a safety hazard; and our national epidemic of sleep deprivation that results in more people than ever falling asleep at the wheel.

But whatever the reason, those factors multiply during holiday weekends, when the roadways are filled and drunk driving becomes a huge factor in public safety. It is predicted that more Americans will be on the road than ever for this Memorial Day weekend.

So please be sure to be safe this Memorial Day weekend — especially when driving — and most especially, do not drink and drive and make sure that you do not allow anyone you know to drink and drive.

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Distracted to Death: Texting Law Hard To Enforce Despite Increasing Dangers

As the state’s texting and driving law hits its five-year anniversary, texting and driving – or phone distractions of any type – are a sight more common than ever on streets and highways.

More often than not, at any busy intersection, one can observe driver after driver passing by with one eye on the road and the other eye on a cell phone.

Meanwhile, local police departments report that the law on the books is virtually impossible to enforce, and if successfully enforced, requires heavy homework and records requests – all for a simple citation.

Chelsea Police Chief Brian Kyes said he puts the problem of distracted driving on par with driving while intoxicated (OUI). He said those that text and drive can be more hazardous to the public than drunk drivers.

“Is it a problem? Absolutely,” he said. “It’s getting to the point that we know people getting an OUI are distracted at the same level as those texting and driving. This is so prevalent that I think it’s probably – due to the frequency of occurrence – it is just as great a risk as people who get behind the wheel and drink and drive. If I’m texting for two or three seconds, in that same time a kid can run in front of your car while you’re looking down. You can go head on into another car in that time. It’s a huge problem. Law enforcement is in the middle because it’s a difficult law to enforce at this point.”

State Police statistics for crash data show that, for those accidents that were pinpointed to distracted driving, the numbers are on the rise. Though the crashes pinpointed to distracted driving or cell phone use are probably miniscule compared to the actual problem, the existing numbers have doubled since 2010.

In 2010, the State Police pinpointed 194 crashes attributed to the two categories. That increased to 226 in 2011, 229 in 2012, and eventually 317 in 2014.

At the same time, State Police have gone from issuing 893 citations in 2012 to 3,105 in 2014, though part of that increase was due to a Pilot program in the Merrimack Valley area in 2013 and 2014.

That Pilot program, however, might be expanded in coming years and could be one way to target the growing problem of using Smart phones for texting, e-mail, Internet, etc. while driving.

“During [the Pilot] we used some different tactics, including spotters and unmarked trucks and SUVs, which allowed troopers a better vantage point to spot texters,” said State Police spokesman David Procopio. “This was funded with a grant and we were very pleased with the results. I am sure we will consider seeking grant funding to expand on that pilot program.”

Meanwhile, in local police departments, they are finding more frustration with the law and some said they would be in favor of taking stronger measures – such as moving to hands-free only use of cell phones in vehicles.

Kyes said it is very difficult for law enforcement to prove their case under normal circumstances – such as where there is no accident, but where officers definitely detect impaired driving.

“We see it all the time,” he said. “I’ve stopped cars and stopped individuals and you just have these grey areas. They say they weren’t texting. They say they were just talking. They say they were using GPS…At the end of the day, I am a big fan of hands-free. If that’s a law, it eliminates the guessing games for law enforcement.”

Such a plan has been floated recently by Gov. Charlie Baker, who indicated he would be favorable to passing a hand-free cell phone law. Such a law exists in Connecticut, as has been reported in several media outlets such as Fox 25 news, and it has allowed law enforcement there to come down hard on texters. That state writes about as many citations in one year as Massachusetts has written in five years.

Revere Police (RPD) said they try to pinpoint cases that they can prove and making the effort in court for those who fight the citation.

Early on, during implementation of the law in 2010, Revere Police told the newspaper they were skeptical about how it would be enforced. Leaders in the department at that time said they saw problems with proving a case and, from the beginning, took a practical approach to enforcement.

“We do write a couple of citations a week from our patrols in regard to texting and driving,” said Lt. Amy O’Hara of the RPD. “There have been times when we have subpoenaed phone records from an operator that were useful in a case, such as in a car accident. The cell phone records have been useful to us in cases like that…Our officers, if they see it, they’re going to make a motor vehicle stop. We get a couple a week.”

O’Hara said one thing that officers often suggest to drivers – and even themselves – is to pull over and send a text or e-mail if it’s extremely important. Otherwise, just wait.

“When I first started, if I wanted to communicate with someone, I had to wait until I got to the station or pull over and use a pay phone,” she said. “The thing you have to realize is just how important or unimportant that text is. It is extremely dangerous to text and drive.”

Everett Police Chief Steven Mazzie said he didn’t have specific numbers as to how many people Everett Police cite for distracted driving or texting. However, he said they concentrate on educating people rather than trying to win a disputed citation or prove something in court.

“There are probably not a lot of violations in terms of people getting written up for it,” he said. “It appears we probably stop people, try to talk to them, and try to educate them. Some have been cited. Some have been given warnings. The numbers, though, are extremely low. Overall, the whole issue of distracted driving no doubt is a problem. I think people are distracted in general – not just when they’re driving but really people are distracted overall in daily life. That carries over into their vehicles.”

Until a time when the law is changed, however, Kyes said in Chelsea they plan to mount a campaign similar to the State Police pilot program to use new techniques to catch texters – including using video in unmarked cars.

“Because it is so prevalent we do have plans to address it and we’re going to put one of our traffic units in an unmarked motor vehicle with one observer and one driver,” he said. “They’ll drive around certain high-traffic areas at key times of the day. We’ll make observations and when we see texting and driving – people punching keys – we’ll stop them and do some traffic enforcement…We would probably also go a step further where the observing police officer would utilize a video. It’s not just what we say, but what we see, in case someone disputes it.”

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