City Council President Leo Robinson and the Chelsea community are fondly remembering retired Chelsea firefighter Darren Moore, who died on Saturday, Nov. 25 at the age of 52.
Many of Darren’s classmates and friends learned of his passing during the Chelsea High School Class of 1982 35th Reunion Saturday night at the Merritt Club. Reunion co-chair Allen Andrade called upon the gathering for a moment of silence in memory of their beloved classmate, teammate and friend.
Robinson remembered his cousin Darren Moore’s exploits while wearing the Chelsea High Red Devil uniform in three varsity sports. A handsome, personable young man with a warm smile, Darren Moore had confidence in his abilities and developed in to a team leader who conducted himself with sportsmanship and grace on the court and on the field.
“Darren played football, basketball, and baseball at Chelsea High when the Red Devils were a hoop powerhouse in the Greater Boston League,” said Robinson. “Darren was also a coach of the Chelsea Pop Warner ‘A’ football team that rallied to defeat the San Francisco Bombers, 18-14, to win the 2001 national championship.”
Robinson said that following Darren’s athletic career, he wanted to help young kids in Chelsea enjoy the benefits that he had gained from playing sports.
“Darren wanted to give back to the city that was so good to him as a kid,” said Robinson. “He really enjoyed his years as a coach and winning the national championship was a thrill for everyone involved in that historic season.”
Robinson recalled that he was a member of the Board of Aldermen when Darren Moore took the oath as Chelsea firefighter.
“Darren’s family and I were so proud to be at City Hall and see him become a Chelsea firefighter,” said Robinson. “He served in the department for 20 years.”
Robinson said that Darren enjoyed accompanying him, his brother, Ron Robinson, and family friend Dale Johnson on camping trips and excursions to Newport, R.I.
“Darren was a just a good, fun-loving to be around,” said Robinson.
Former CHS cheerleader Debbie Cronin, one of Darren’s childhood friends, remembered Darren’s friendly and congenial nature.
“Darren was a lifelong childhood friend and a genuinely good guy,” said Cronin. “His passing is a tough one. Over the last few years, I’d bump in to him at the most random of places and even though it was clear he had health issues, he always had a smile. Darren will be missed by all.”
Robinson said he will ask the City Council to join him in a moment of silence in memory of Darren Moore at their meeting Monday night at City Hall.
A memorial gathering and visitation for Darren Moore will be held on Friday, Dec. 1, from 3 to 7 p.m., at the Frank Welsh and Sons Funeral Home, 718 Broadway, Chelsea. A life tribute and service of remembrance will be held in the funeral home beginning at 7 p.m.
Councillor Roy Avellaneda made a stunning oration Monday night at the Council meeting regarding the accusations of ethics breaches that have been volleyed his way over the last few months – singling out a councillor, though not by name, and then calling for the councillor to be censured.
After the meeting, Avellaneda admitted that the councillor in question was Damali Vidot.
The shocking moment came when Council President Leo Robinson submitted an order calling for an Ethics workshop to be conducted for the Council, setting off Avellaneda on a defensive course.
Over the last few weeks, several allegations have been thrown towards Avellaneda in the course of a heated neighborhood discussion that involved his request to get eight two-hour parking spots near his coffee shop in Cary Square. Though Avellaneda recused himself from the parking issue – which was approved by the Parking Commission and then rescinded by the Council last week – and was out of the room for most of the debate and voting, many felt he had crossed a line by requesting zoning changes and parking changes as a sitting councillor for the benefit of his business.
On Monday, after Robinson’s order, Avellaneda castigated Vidot and one of her supporters, and called to the carpet Robinson as well for not preventing the allegations when he was out of the room.
Ironically, Vidot was not present at Monday’s meeting during the oration, but was out of the country on a leadership training trip.
“This is the second time that false charges of ethics violations have been made against myself,” he said, passionately. “At the last occurrence, someone associated with a certain councillor’s campaign made the allegations and then this councillor rose and made similar allegations. This is the second time a councillor has done this…This is false information being allowed adjacent one’s character. It’s the essence of the definition. I’m surprised that the person making charges is a fellow councillor at-large, some would say an adversary.
“Personal attacks in this forum are not allowed,” he continued. “These are grounds for censure. As president you had an obligation to stop it and you didn’t…Quite frankly, I don’t expect this behavior to be allowed. We shouldn’t be allowing personal political attacks in this Chamber; they shouldn’t be allowed here. That’s what put the City into receivership.”
Vidot had stood and delivered an impassioned speech two weeks ago during the first hearing on rescinding the Cary Square parking program, a meeting that was very heavily attended by neighbors and residents. She indicated at the time that the proposal by a sitting councillor for business purposes was shady and didn’t sit well with her.
Others made similar statements from the general public.
Reached on Tuesday, Vidot said she was out of the country and found it ironic that Avellaneda would complain about being attacked while he was not present to defend himself – and then would move to attack her when she was not there.
“The irony that my Council decorum in holding one accountable bothers some more than the appearance of impropriety by another is very telling of the culture that existed prior to my election,” she said. “If speaking of a colleague while they’re out of the room is grounds for censure, what does it mean to talk about them when they’re out of the country? Or is this the ‘boys only’ club rules? I have and will continue to speak truths standing on either side of the dais on behalf of the residents. In fact, it may work in one’s favor to keep me close rather than to allow me to wander to the other side where it’s all fair game.”
Robinson said his order for an ethics workshop was not targeted at Avellaneda or any other councillor, but was in general to answer questions members had about ethics and the Open Meeting Law – especially as it relates to social media.
Chelsea City Council voted in a formal resolution on Monday night to take a stand in opposition to the statewide Question 2 charter school expansion ballot initiative.
The vote was 9-0, with Councillors Roy Avellaneda and Yamir Rodriguez not voting.
Rodriguez works for a Charter School in Boston and chose not to vote, and Avellaneda said he hasn’t made up his mind on the matter.
Other councillors, including Damali Vidot who has a child at Excel Charter School, were firmly against Question 2, citing that it would have very negative effects on the budget of the Chelsea Public Schools and other schools in the state.
“I haven’t made a decision on this; I’m still taking in the information,” Avellaneda said. “Chelsea is a little special because we’ve had a partnership with a charter school – Phoenix. The are kids who never would be able to graduate from our high school. I wonder if we’re going to take that same opportunity away from another community…I’m still struggling with the issue and haven’t made up my mind.”
Vidot said her daughter went to Chelsea schools and then she faced the decision to put her in middle school here or go to a charter. She chose a charter, but she said that didn’t mean she supports the expansion question.
“This isn’t an argument about charters versus public schools,” she said. “Question 2 is saying that in districts where schools are failing, they would be allowed to open up to 12 new charters each year. That would be a complete disaster for our public schools…I can’t sit here saying I am an advocate of the public and advocate something that would take away critical services from them.”
Councillor Judith Garcia said she believes in the teachers in the Chelsea Public Schools, where she attended school, and believes voting for Question 2 would be throwing them to the wind.
“I will vote ‘no’ for Question 2,” she said. “Not because I believe parents shouldn’t have options. It’s because I am not willing to give up on the teachers in our public schools.”
Councillor Leo Robinson said it was a matter of funding, and he said Chelsea School get a bad rap – which is undeserved.
He said statistics show that if more charters open up, more kids might choose the charters over the public schools. For one student leaving, that would be $12,000, and if 45 left, they would lose $306,000. For the most part, funding follows the student, but Robinson did indicate that the public schools get a payback for six years when a child leaves the public system for a charter. That includes 100 percent of the funding in the first year, and 25 percent of the funding for the remaining five years.
“That sounds great, but they’re not funding that at the state,” he said. “They only funded 63 percent of those costs this year. It’s an issue of dollars and sense. I think the school system here is doing an outstanding job.”
Added Council President Dan Cortell, “This isn’t an anti-charter school vote, but it is a pro-public school vote.”
Todd Taylor, a member of the Planning Board and a parent of kids in a charter school, said he didn’t think the vote was appropriate, and he was disappointed in the Council.
“The charter schools we have in this state give the best opportunity for disadvantaged kids in mostly minority community to lift themselves up,” he said. “The school my kids go to, the Brooke in East Boston, is successful at that. The whole thing just shows the need for more serious conversation about real issues and unfortunately they just wanted to do something to say ‘Rah Rah.’ We needed to engage in a real dialog about this issue.”
Question 2 will be on the statewide ballot for voters to choose in November.
Taking the gavel once again this January will be District 8 Councillor Dan Cortell, after he received unanimous support of his colleagues in their caucus Monday night.
The incoming Council met on Monday night for its annual caucus session to pick its officers, its seating position and its voting order for the 2016 session. Gone were many of the councillors that have served for decades and, in their place for the first time, were several new councillors who will take a place at the table next year.
Cortell was chosen as the president in a vote of 9-0. Missing from that vote was Councillor Giovanni Recupero, who has been tending to a family issue for a few weeks, and Councillor-elect Luis Tejada, who came in just after the vote.
Council President Leo Robinson – the dean of the Council – ran the meeting and kicked off the proceedings.
Councillor Paul Murphy nominated Cortell, and Councillor-elect Damali Vidot seconded that motion.
Then, Councillor-elect Yamir Rodriguez nominated Councillor-elect Roy Avellaneda for president.
Avellaneda, who has been running for the position over the last month, had apparently failed to secure the necessary votes and withdrew.
“I appreciate it, but I will withdraw,” he said.
He then threw his support behind Cortell, who was elected unanimously.
“I am honored to have been chosen to lead Council’s next session by both councillors I have worked with over the years and some who I’ve only recently gotten to know,” said Cortell. “From the many conversations that have taken place since, and even before elections were over, I’m most confident that all councillors put their name on a ballot, campaigned and ran to play their part in making Chelsea the best it can be. I have inherent respect for anyone who takes the leap from interested resident to elected official and am confident we’ll have an active and effective Council that, despite inevitable periodic disagreement, will work collectively and with City Manger Tom Ambrosino to better the City we have a shared passion to see reach its full potential.”
Following that, Vidot was chosen as vice president of the Council – a relative rarity that one who has yet to take a seat on the Council would have secured the votes needed to be second in the leadership chain.
“I’m excited to serve and am looking forward to working together with everyone to move Chelsea forward on a City Council that hears the needs of everybody,” she said.
She was chosen by a vote of 10-0, with Recupero absent.
Tapped to be the School Committee delegate was Councillor-elect Yamir Rodriguez of District 7.
Avellaneda returned the favor and nominated Rodriguez, which was seconded by Cortell.
The vote was a unanimous 10-0 with Recupero absent.
In other more mundane matters, the Council (using the same envelopes they’ve
Council Clerk Paul Casino spreads out the envelopes to help choose seating position as the Council caucused Monday night to choose a president for the 2016 session. In a unanimous vote, Councillor Dan Cortell was chosen for the position.
used since receivership, a nod to frugality) chose closed envelopes that contained numbers and determined where they would sit in the coming year.
Avellaneda chose number 1, meaning he will be on the far left, while Councillor Matt Frank chose number 10, which means he’ll be on the far right. In between, left to right, will be Paul Murphy, Enio Lopez, Recupero, Tejada, Vidot, Robinson, Judith Garcia, and Rodriguez. Cortell will be seated at the rostrum as the new president.
An official vote for officers will take place on inauguration night, Jan. 4, but the vote of the caucus most often stands
It’s tough to be an incumbent these days, and the national trend to oust those in office carried over to Chelsea Tuesday night when six new people out of 11 seats – creating a new majority – swept into office on a wave of voter excitement and candidate campaigning that hasn’t been seen here for a decade or more.
There were 2,832 ballots cast for a 21 percent voter turnout.
The most exciting race was the City Council at-Large race, but the most dramatic change came in the district seats, where every contested race resulted in the removal of the incumbent councillor.
But first, the at-Large race was where most of the hard campaigning had been done since the Preliminary Election in September. Old political sidewalk politics such as sign holding, campaign rallies and door knocking efforts, unheard of in Chelsea politics for years, became the norm as voters saw more of the candidates than in many previous contests.
Topping the ticket in the race was returning councillor Roy Avellaneda, who had served previously on the Council and decided to make a run once again after two failed state representative bids last year. The vote tally reflected as follows, with Avellaneda, newcomer Damali Vidot and Council President Leo Robinson.
Robinson was the only Council incumbent in a contested race to be re-elected.
•Calvin Brown, 970
•Todd Taylor, 798
•Deborah Washington, 380
The most surprising news of the night was that long-time Councillor Calvin Brown got knocked out of his seat. He trailed Robinson by only 18 votes, and said afterward he didn’t know if he’d go for a recount.
“That’s something to think about and maybe sleep on,” he said. “You have to take your time with that decision, but it was close.”
Avellaneda said he was very humbled and encouraged by the excitement that the race generated.
“It’s humbling to be honest,” he said. “It’s very exciting to go out there an get the support of the community I grew up in…I’m looking forward to working with our new city manager, our councillors, some of the incumbents, on making Chelsea a better place to live and work. We had a lot of excitement about this race and we haven’t seen that in years. Between School Committee, the district seats and the at-large races, we saw a type of atmosphere we haven’t seen since the first City Council was elected after the Charter passed…We need that excitement now to roll over and keep those people engaged in civic activities.”
Vidot, who had not intentions of ever running for City Council last year at this time, said she was humbled and found it hard to believe she had walked the path she had over the last several months.
She said voters responded to her message loud and clear, that City Hall isn’t representing the people and that there is a disconnect between City Hall and the neighborhoods.
“People clearly want change,” she said. “We have an almost entirely new City Council. The people have spoken and it’s time for us to respond. Until January, I’m going to read up and educate myself on the job and the responsibilities. I’m going to also keep my supporters close by and engaged so we can keep our momentum. I’m really looking forward to working with everybody.”
The District Council races were the most shocking, and where the real wave of new faces will be seen.
In District 2, Chelsea native Luis Tejada beat incumbent Chris Cataldo 160-137.
In District 4, long-time Councillor Paul Barton was beaten decidedly by activist Enio Lopez, 139-59.
In District 5, incumbent Councillor Joe Perlatonda had been edged out already in the Preliminary Election, leaving two challengers. The heir apparent had been Henry Wilson, a long-time community activist and Planning Board member. However, up and coming candidate Judith Garcia, who has youth on her side being in her 20s, surged in the campaign and beat Wilson, 164-109.
In District 7, newcomer Yamir Rodriguez, also in his 20s, beat out incumbent Clifford Cunningham, 155-123.
District 1 Councillor Paul Murphy, District 3 Councillor Matt Frank, District 6 Councillor Giovanni Recupero, and District 8 Councillor Dan Cortell were all unopposed.
The results will give the Council, as stated above, six new faces in January.
In the School Committee race, Shawn O’Regan flexed some political muscle and cruised to an easy victory over write-in candidate Carolyn Vega, 1,449-390.
The two contested races on the School Committee showed former Chelsea High graduate Robert Pereira beating Kizzi Reyes in District 5, 147-85.
Also, in an open seat, Yessenia Alfaro-Alvarez barely edged out Elizabeth Shahinian, 188-177.
Newcomer Diana Maldonado was unopposed in Dis
Ticket topper Roy Avellaneda (right) – a new Council at-Large member – with Chelsea Cable Director Duke Bradley during a break in the Chelsea Cable live Election Night broadcast.
trict 4 and received 150 votes.
Newcomer Kelly Garcia won District 7 with 63 votes in District 7.
District 1 Rosemarie Carlisle, District 2 Jeanette Velez, District 3 Richard Maronski, and District 6 Ana Hernandez all won in unopposed races.
City councillors unanimously passed an order Monday night proposed by Council President Leo Robinson calling for an entire Master Planning process for Chelsea.
The call comes on the heels of the 692-unit, two-building apartment complex being approved on Everett Avenue in the space where Chelsea Clock once existed. Developer William Thibeault was approved for a special permit at the Zoning Board last week, though he still needs to get a Site Plan approval from the Planning Board.
“The last Master Plan to my knowledge was done in 1971,” said Robinson. “I feel we have a lot of different development and we need to get a handle on what is progress and what is not progress. We need to decide as a community what residents want and the City wants in terms of development. I disagree entirely with the 692-unit proposal across from Chelsea High School. The fact that we’re going to allow the Chelsea Clock building – part of Chelsea’s history – to be bulldozed down instead of being re-used for retail space is a travesty…If we have a plan, these things may not happen to us.”
Councillor Paula Barton also agreed.
“I am frequently disappointed when I attend planning or zoning meetings,” she said. “Everything passes with conditions. They’re coming to us because they don’t meet our guidelines and yet everything passes. The first one I’ve seen in a long time that didn’t pass was the cabaret club on Beacham Street. That’s the only one.”
Councillor Matt Frank said he also agreed that it was time to think about planning for development – something he experienced first-hand last year during the proposal for affordable housing on the old French Club site.
“I agree with the call for a Master Plan,” he said. “I would emphasize we need more communication. It’s not that we need more development or less development, but that we need to all be on board.”
Councillor Calvin Brown said part of the Master Plan should be early community involvement.
“We need to know what’s going on in the early stages so we can all have input,” he said. “If we sit down and figure out priorities and target spots to develop, that could really help…I also hope we look at the large amount of three-families that are being bought and converted to condos. That’s another thing we have to look at within this.”
Councillor Giovanni Recupero said he believes a plan can be done.
“You can’t put 12 ounces in an eight ounce can,” he said. “We’re a 1.8 square mile community and how much more can we squeeze in. We need to also make sure these developments coming in have affordable housing. We don’t have a say. They just shove it down our throats and we have to vote on it.”
Councillor Joe Perlatonda also indicated he supported the call for a Master Plan.
City Manager Tom Ambrosino said earlier in the summer that he believes a Master Plan might be a worthy pursuit and he plans to act on Robinson’s call.
Former Revere Mayor Tom Ambrosino has crossed the Chelsea line and become the new Chelsea City Manager – winning out Monday night in an 8-3 vote of the City Council during the first round of voting.
He faced former Portland (ME) City Manager Mark Rees, who garnered quite a bit of respect from the Council and managed three votes.
Ambrosino will be the third City Manager since Chelsea came out of receivership and accepted a new City Charter in the 1990s.
“I’m very excited,” said Ambrosino. “Since leaving Revere, I have come to miss the daily interactions with the public. I got a lot of satisfaction from that. I miss the feeling you go when you can make a difference in people’s lives. You got that chance as a mayor, and you get it as a city manager…I’m really looking forward to the challenge and will do my very best to show the people that I was a good choice.”
Ambrosino, who is now the executive director of the state Supreme Judicial Court, said he never would have guessed that he would one day lead the City next door to where he was mayor.
“I never would have guessed that and never gave it a whole lot of thought until I was approached and asked to think about it,” he said. “I thought about it and felt it would be a good opportunity. It had all the things I loved about being a mayor and it is missing many of the things that drove me crazy as a mayor – the fundraising and worrying about re-elections. I can immerse myself in urban policy, serve people and leave the politics aside. I’d have a contract and work under that contract.”
Ambrosino, however, won’t be moving to Chelsea – saying his circumstances don’t allow it right now.
“My personal circumstances are such that I’m not in a position where I can move, but I’m not far away,” he said, noting that he lives nearby in Revere. “People should expect to see me in Chelsea day and night. I don’t think anyone has to worry that I’m going to be a 9 to 5-er and then leave the city. That’s not the history of how I work in my jobs.”
Ambrosino served as mayor of Revere from 2000 to 2011, and previously served as a School Committee and City Council member in Revere. He is an attorney who graduated from Harvard Law School, and his father was a police officer in Revere.
One of his policies as mayor of Revere was to have an ultra-open door policy in which he would see anyone who walked through the door on nearly any issue. In Chelsea, despite not having to get elected, he said that would continue.
“I don’t plan on changing that,” he said. “I’ve had that approach at every job I’ve had, whether in the mayor’s office or at the Supreme Judicial Court.”
Ambrosino said he does not speak Spanish, and wishes he did, but didn’t believe any language barrier would prevent him from being able to address issues, big or small, that come his way.
“I’ve always had success working with individuals and people regardless of any language barriers,” he said. “I certainly wish I spoke another language, but I don’t. However, it will not prevent me in the least from providing the services that people need.”
Right off the bat, former City Manager Jay Ash – now the state Secretary of Housing and Economic Development – said he was glad to see his former municipal colleague become his successor.
“He is among a handful of the best public sector managers I know,” said Ash. “He is admired by many both for his work in Revere, where he distinguished himself as a great mayor, and then his work around the region, both for the Metropolitan Area Planning Council and the Metropolitan Mayor’s Coalition. He has the great combination of outstanding public policy credentials while being able to also be effective operations guy. During his time in Revere, I would often seek advice from him. I appreciated the way he thinks through issues and I admired him for his vision about how government should be responsive to its residents.. I believe he is going to fit into Chelsea well, as he is a champion of urban communities and a great people person as well.”
Current Revere Mayor Dan Rizzo also said he was happy to see that his former city government colleague would be next door working as a municipal official.
“I’m thrilled for Tom and the city of Chelsea,” said Rizzo. “His experience and leadership is just what the city of Chelsea needs to fill the void left by Secretary Jay Ash who had literally transformed the city of Chelsea during his tenure as manager. I look forward to working with him as I had with Jay in the past on initiatives and toward solutions regarding issues that face our respective cities and our region.”
Councilors arrived at City Hall on Monday with a decision imminently on their minds. That only came after a whirlwind of activity last Saturday where interviews, public comment sessions and other discussion were had from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Last Saturday, both men went through a grueling interview process at Chelsea City Hall, where Ambrosino came out the most impressive to the majority of the Council.
The winning candidate needed seven votes as spelled out in the City Charter to secure the position, and upon arrival at City Hall on Monday, it was said that there were seven secure votes in place for Ambrosino. By the time the first ballot was called, he had picked up another vote to finish with eight.
None of those councillors who voted against him, including Clifford Cunningham, Matt Frank and Chris Cataldo, changed their votes to make it unanimous, but have pledged to work well with Ambrosino and are happy with him as the choice.
Council President Leo Robinson said he felt both men were qualified, but only one had the edge he was looking for.
“We had two good candidates,” said Robinson. “For me, I think I had to weigh the issue of him working in a community that close to Chelsea. He’s been part of the Mayor’s Coalition. He will come in and hit the ground running. We have a lot of momentum here, but we need someone to continue the path we’re going on. The other guy, Rees, was just as qualified, but to me, Tom Ambrosino had the edge.”
Councillor Joe Perlatonda it was a good choice and a solid decision.
“Both men brought different things to the table, but I think Tom Ambrosino had more of what the City was looking for than Rees,” he said. “I was happy we were able to choose him…Now, it’s time to get Tom in here and draft his contract and get things cleaned up.”
Said Councillor Paula Barton, “He’ll be more in tune to the needs of Chelsea because Revere is in such close proximity. It doesn’t have as many Latinos as we do, but Revere does have a Latino population too. He’s more like one of us in Chelsea.”
Councillor Calvin Brown said he was impressed with Ambrosino and noted he was well-respected on the state level.
“One thing that resonated with me is he said he missed the day-to-day work in City Hall,” said Brown. “He’ll be able to concentrate on building relationships. I think we did the right thing. Other councillors had a different opinion and they preferred their candidate.”
Those that preferred their candidate, Rees, said they weren’t disappointed, but just had a different opinion.
“I think the City Council was fortunate in having two exceptionally qualified candidates to choose from,” said Councillor Clifford Cunningham. “While I felt that Mark Rees’ extensive managerial experience and apolitical background were better suited to the position of an apolitical city manager, I am not disappointed because Tom Ambrosino is also exceptionally qualified to be city manager. I look forward to working with Tom Ambrosino as he works to lead Chelsea forward.”
Councillor Chris Cataldo had similar sentiments.
“It was a difficult decision, but in in the end I felt that Mr Rees was more of a professional manager than Mr. Ambrosino, and I felt that was key,” said Cataldo. “That’s not to say Mr. Ambrosino is not capable. I believe he will provide sound management; as I said, this decision was very close.”
Councillor Matt Frank said he was aware that his opinion probably didn’t have majority support, but he respected Rees and the interview he gave impressed him the most.
“I really liked his resume,” said Frank. “I think we’ve been selling the City so much that we now need to focus on building the city – building the community. I think Rees had good ideas. I was hoping Ambrosino could have been more up front about transparency issues…On the positive side, I think Tom Ambrosino will do a very good job and has great qualifications. I just thought ti would have been good to have a different path.”
For the record, those councillors voting for Ambrosino were Barton, Giovanni Recupero, Perlatonda, Robinson, Dan Cortell, Paul Murphy, Brian Hatleberg and Brown. Those voting for Rees were Cataldo, Cunningham and Frank.
The Chelsea City Manager process began last December when Ash announced he was taking a job with Gov. Charlie Baker as the new Secretary of Housing and Economic Development. The Chelsea City Council contracted with the Collins Center from UMass-Boston to run a search process, which started in late January.
By March 31, some 30 applications had been turned in, including one from Ambrosino. Names were whittled down to about 15 candidates, then seven, and a special Screening Committee chose four names to submit to the Chelsea Council for a decision.
However, two people dropped out of the process before the decision could be made, leaving only Ambrosino and Rees.
President Robinson said the next step is to negotiate a successful contract, and he has assigned that task to Councillors Hatleberg, Cortell
Council Clerk Paul Casino turns the page on the City Manager process Monday night as Council President Leo Robinson officially announces Tom Ambrosino as the next Chelsea City Manager. Ambrosino won by a vote of 8-3 on the first ballot.
, Frank and himself.
It is estimated Ambrosino could begin work in mid-July, and he told the Record he has a lot to learn about Chelsea, and that’s what he would spend his first few months doing.
“I feel like I do know a lot of the stakeholders there, but I have a lot of learning to do,” he said. “My first few months will be spent listening and going around and learning from the constituents, the business community, the organizations and so many others. I have a lot to learn about Chelsea and have no illusions that I know it like I know Revere. Having dealt with a lot of similar issues will give me a leg up, but my learning curve will be great.”
Interim City Manager Ned Keefe submitted his City Budget proposal on Monday night to the City Council in a late communication that was entered into the record.
Council President Leo Robinson said the Council will begin deliberations on that budget May 18, 19 and 20.
The budget is up 7.6 percent, Keefe said, to $148.9 million, from last year. He said in order to meet spending goals, the City would have to infuse $1.809 million in Free Cash to fill the gap. That is higher than expected, but he said “but the City maintains reserves that can fill in the gap associated with higher than anticipated spending requirements.”
Most of the increase to the budget is related to school spending, Keefe said.
“The budget increase of $10.5 million is attributable, in part, to the $6.3 million increase in the School Department/Vocational School budget which is the result of additional state school aid,” he said. “Charter schools represent another significant cost to the…budget, at an increase of $2.7 million. Combined, the overall education costs represent the greater share of overall increase in the budget.”
Some of the highlights of the budget, according to Keefe, are:
Hiring five new uniformed officers, a 25 percent match by the City to get a federal grant.
Modification of the crime watch position to a Community Engagement Specialist for the police, as well as continued funding for contracts to pay for the two drug outreach navigators and the prostitution task force coordinator.
18 new positions in the School Department.
Two new City Hall positions, including for economic development in the Planning Office and for housing inspections in the ISD.
Keefe did note that the budget will require a 2.5 percent increase in taxes, but not a Proposition 2 1/2 vote.
He also stressed that the budget makes continued reductions to the City’s debt service payments.
Leo and Ron Robinson are shown at the Chelsea Public Library in the Lewis Latimer Museum last week after announcing that they will hold a local remembrance of the famed inventor on April 9, and then will travel to Connecticut on April 11 to accept an award for their work in STEM.
The Lewis Latimer Society of Chelsea will be holding a local commemoration of National Engineers Month this coming week at the Chelsea Public Library, and then taking that show on the road to Connecticut, where an organization there will honor the Chelsea group for its work with kids and its groundbreaking research into the prominent, African American inventor.
The first event will take place on Thursday, April 9 at the Library from 4-7 p.m. and is titled ‘Recognizing a Hometown Hero: Lewis Howard Quincy Latimer.’ Latimer was born in Chelsea and was a prominent inventor working for folks such as Thomas Edison. He was the inventor of the carbon filament used in the lightbulb, among many other things.
Leo and Ron Robinson – who head up the Chelsea society – said they are holding the local celebration to highlight National Engineers Month and to remind everyone in Chelsea about the contribution of its hometown “hero.”
The local celebration will give way to an awards ceremony in Trumbull, CT where the Juneteenth of Fairfield County organization will hold a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) gala.
The black-tie affair will feature an appearance by Hugh Price, the great grand nephew of Latimer and also the former president of the National Urban League.
In conjunction with his presentation will be an award ceremony on April 11 honoring the Chelsea society’s historic work and STEM work.
“We hope that Thursday will be a time to celebrate the Lewis Latimer society and a time to celebrate of a man from Chelsea who was a prominent inventor and engineer,” said Ron Robinson. “This is a man whose inventions still have an effect on the lives of many people worldwide. We plan to recognize that, in particular the carbon filament. At the same time, we’ll be going to Connecticut to accept an award for working with kids in STEM…This award recognizes our activities with STEM that we’ve done.”
Leo Robinson said a big part of the celebration of Latimer in Connecticut is that many down there have just realized that Latimer lived and worked in the area.
“It’s going to be a big weekend down there on Lewis Latimer,” he said. “They’re naming a street after him. He did live in Bridgeport and he had a few inventions patented when he was there…This is big and a huge honor. You don’t get a lot of honors, but you really don’t do it for the honors. They’re just now realizing that Lewis Latimer lived there and just how important he was. We hope to be able to share what we’ve learned with them.”
The Robinsons were in a similar boat as those in Fairfield County back in 1996.
They said they had always worked with kids, trying to keep them in school and trying to stress the importance of academics. In the course of that, they were looking for a black man from Chelsea that they could point to as successful in the area of mathematics and engineering.
“We wanted a role model who was from Chelsea for when we worked with the kids,” Ron said. “We wanted to be able to point to someone who had accomplished something great so that we could keep kids in high school. We also wanted to stress black history with the youth as well. We had some descendants of Latimer at that time still living in Chelsea. They relayed the story to us. Little did we know, when we began looking into the man, that he was so prominent and there were all these societies dedicated to his work. They all wanted to know more about the man and his beginnings in Chelsea. Yet, we had nothing at the time recognizing that he was even from here.”
Cobbling together science materials and introducing young people to the every-day science around the City, the Robinsons put together a program that taught about the history of Latimer – even visiting the sites where he lived – and stressed the importance of his inventions.
“A big thing we had was we took kids to college campuses to speak to them,” he said. “They hd to understand that to get there, to get to a place like Latimer got in his career, they had to open their books. They had to study to have a better future. Many of the kids had never talked about college until they experienced the campus on a visit. They would often come home and talk to their parents for the first time about their plans to attend college.”