By AMAC Certified Social Security Advisor Russell Gloor
Association of Mature American Citizens
Dear Rusty: I will be turning 62 in 2018; birth date 9/24/1955. My husband is 77 and receiving Social Security. Longevity runs in my family. I have been self-employed all my life. I am still working and my husband collects a pension, Social Security and RMD from a traditional IRA, so there is no need for additional monies under my current circumstances. When should I start taking Social Security? Signed: Thinking about Retirement
Dear Thinking: The question of when to take Social Security normally gets an answer of “It depends on your health, your family history of longevity, and your need for the money”. You’ve already addressed those items so I’ll focus on your main question – when should you start taking Social Security?
Even though you’ll be eligible to collect Social Security when you turn 62, if you do so you will only get 74.17% of the retirement benefit you would be entitled to at your full retirement age (FRA). Whenever you apply, you will be deemed to be filing not only for your own retirement benefit but also any spousal benefit you may be entitled to from your husband’s work record. Similar to your SS retirement benefit, your spousal benefit would also be reduced because you took it early; instead of being 50% of your husband’s benefit at your FRA, you would only get 35% at age 62 (if that is larger than your own retirement benefit). The point I’m making is that by claiming SS early, any benefit you’re entitled to will be reduced from what you would get at your full retirement age.
Just as you are penalized for claiming before your full retirement age, you are rewarded for waiting beyond it to claim Social Security retirement benefits. In fact, for each year you wait beyond your full retirement age, your retirement benefit will be 8% higher than it would be at your FRA. That will continue up until you are 70 years old when your retirement benefit will be 30.67% higher than it would have been at your FRA. You stop earning additional credit at age 70, so there’s no reason to wait beyond that to apply. Let’s use an easy example to illustrate: If your FRA retirement benefit is $1000, by applying at age 62 you would only get $741 per month instead of $1000. But if you wait until you are 70 to claim benefits, you would get $1306 per month, nearly twice what you would get by applying at age 62.
There are two other factors you should incorporate into your thinking:
1) At your FRA, you will be entitled to ½ of your husband’s benefit at his FRA. If your spousal benefit at your FRA is substantially more than your own retirement benefit, then applying at your FRA may be a good strategy, as opposed to waiting and earning delayed retirement credits.
2) Once you have reached your FRA you will be entitled to 100% of your husband’s benefit amount if he should predecease you. If your eventual survivor’s benefit would be more than your own FRA benefit amount, you might be better served by claiming your retirement benefit earlier than age 70.
As you can see, most of the answer to your question depends upon whether your benefits as a spouse or a survivor will be more than your benefit based upon your own work record. If not, then waiting beyond your FRA up to age 70 will yield you the maximum retirement benefit. But if your spouse and/or survivor’s benefit will be more than your own retirement benefits, then applying at your full retirement age may be the best strategy. If you haven’t already done so, I suggest you go to www.ssa.gov and set up your personal “My Social Security” account which will give you access to your currently estimated retirement benefit. Comparing that to your potential spousal and survivor benefits should give you the answer you’re seeking.
The information presented in this article is intended for general information purposes only. The opinions and interpretations expressed are the viewpoints of the AMAC Foundation’s Social Security Advisory staff, trained and accredited under the National Social Security Advisors program of the National Social Security Association, LLC (NSSA). NSSA, the AMAC Foundation, and the Foundation’s Social Security Advisors are not affiliated with or endorsed by the United States Government, the Social Security Administration, or any other state government. Furthermore, the AMAC Foundation and its staff do not provide legal or accounting services. The Foundation welcomes questions from readers regarding Social Security issues. To submit a request, contact the Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is old age a disease? Dan Weber, president of the Association of Mature American Citizens [AMAC], says a significant amount of scientific research indicates that aging is, indeed, a disease. “More important there are many who believe it is a disease with a cure.”
Weber cites the work of Dr. Aubrey de Grey, a well-known biomedical gerontologist. His focus is on extending life spans by intervening at the cellular level, repairing damaged cells and in turn extending life.
Some call de Grey a “mad scientist” but there is lots of independent study being conducted by those in the scientific mainstream to indicate that he is on the right track.
Most recently, researchers at the Universities of Exeter and Brighton in the UK released the results of a study that showed aging cells can be repaired. They used naturally occurring chemicals to treat aging human cells with remarkable results.
“When I saw some of the cells in the culture dish rejuvenating I couldn’t believe it. These old cells were looking like young cells. It was like magic. I repeated the experiments several times and in each case, the cells rejuvenated. I am very excited by the implications and potential for this research,” according to Exeter’s Dr. Eva Latorre, one the principal authors of the research report.
Meanwhile, notes Weber, the New York Times reports that the study of the human aging process has evolved to the point where the focus is now on what are called “supercentenarians,” individuals who live longest of all.
“It used to be that a person who reached the ripe old age of 100 was a rarity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, however, recently reported that the number of Americans over the age of 100 has grown by 44-percent since the year 2000. The U.S. today is home to more than 72,000 centenarians,” says the AMAC chief.
But the New England Centenarian Study at Boston University, a leading medical investigative group concentrating on how we grow old, believes healthy aging is all in the genes, particularly the genes of the very, very old. The study says on its Web site “the genetic influence becomes greater and greater with older and older ages, especially beyond 103 years of age.”
Whether the cellular approach or the genetic approach is ultimately successful in increasing the life span of more people in the future, Weber points out that living an extra long life can be fraught with financial danger. It will require a whole new way of thinking about retirement. Modern medicine has already extended longevity and that has resulted in fewer of us being able to retire. Many more people these days have given up on the notion of full retirement at the traditional age of 65. We stay in our jobs longer than we might like or we find ways of supplementing our incomes.
But for many elderly Americans, finding work to supplement their incomes is not an option. Social Security is what puts food on their tables. It’s their principal source of income, meager as it might be, and they would face cruel hardships if their monthly checks were cut. For them, the fact that Social Security faces major fiscal challenges in the coming years is a scary prospect.
“We need to focus, as a nation, on how the less fortunate of us will cope in the brave new world of centenarians and supercentenarians. How will they cope with their everyday lives? For them, it is not a benefit-it is a necessity and it is imperative that our lawmakers find and enact the fixes that will keep Social Security viable for the long term. For our part, AMAC remains relentless in its pursuit of solutions in our ongoing meetings with Congressional leaders. We’ve vowed never to give up and we won’t,” says Weber.
The Association of Mature American Citizens [http://www.amac.us] is a vibrant, vital senior advocacy organization that takes its marching orders from its members. We act and speak on their behalf, protecting their interests and offering a practical insight on how to best solve the problems they face today. Live long and make a difference by joining us today at http://amac.us/join-amac.
The Chelsea Fire Department announced this week that they have secured a major federal grant to pay for the hiring of eight new firefighters in this year’s budget – with Chief Len Albanese saying the new recruits could hit the streets by Thanksgiving.
The Homeland Security grant provides $1.4 million of federal funding over a three-year period, covering 75 percent of the salary and benefits for two years. The third year of the grant will cover 35 percent of the share of salaries and benefits.
In the fourth year of the grant, the City would be responsible for 100 percent of the costs associated with the new hires.
Albanese said that in the end, concerns about not getting the grant due to Chelsea’s Sanctuary City status did not factor into whether the City did or did not get the grant as the application was put in last year.
Overall, the big news is that the Fire Department will go over 100 members for the first time in decades.
The grant will put the contingent up to 102 member.
“We’ve had 92 members for quite a while,” said the chief. “Prior to my arrival and when I got here and that’s a situation I assume goes back to the 1990s – post-receivership. (Last year), we added two members to get up to 94 and with the intention to add more. With the SAFER grant now in place, we can add eight new members and that brings our staffing up to 102…Having 102 is what we consider to be a really good staffing level for the Fire Department.”
He said that Revere’s contingent is at 98 and Everett – which also has a SAFER grant- is at 111.
He said adding the new members won’t eliminate overtime, but he believes it will bring it down to a reasonable number – eliminating what has been many years of controversy surrounding overspending on overtime.
“The purpose is to not just decrease overtime,” he said. “There’s always overtime in a 24/7 business…This will control overtime and put boots on the ground. It will stabilize overtime and increase staffing.”
Already, Albanese said he has identified the eight recruits from Civil Service, having been confident of getting the grant and taking early action. That will mean they get in the Station very quickly.
“We have eight recruits identified and they preparing to attend the Brookline Fire Academy on Sept. 5,” he said. “That means if all goes well, we will have these additional firefighters on the street by Thanksgiving.”
Along with this grant and another recently received, the fire department has garnered $2 million of federal funding from the 2016 DHS/FEMA programs.
The Chelsea Fire Department union is calling on the City and Fire Chief Len Albanese to immediately outfit the members of its union with ballistic helmets recommended by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in the wake of the active shooter incident on Warren Avenue.
President Anthony Salvucci said the union, Fire Chief and City Manager Tom Ambrosino have been in discussions over the past several weeks to get funding for the new ballistic helmets, which would have protected the heads of firefighters as they moved in.
So far, Salvucci said the City has deferred on the expense, and want to include it in next year’s budget. According to Salvucci, that is no long acceptable.
“We sat down with Tom and the Chief and they said, ‘When will we ever use this,’” said Salvucci. “Well, here we are two weeks later. At the end of the day, we want what’s best for the community. We’re not looking to stop this or to stop any training or drills, but we want what is best practice. We want the equipment that is recommended by DHS. We’re not opposed to this. This is a very real thing. The world is changing and we want to change with it.”
Already, the City has invested recently in some active shooter training and in ballistic vests, which Chief Albanese said were actually put on the apparatus earlier this month.
The time for those vests was perfect.
“We trained with them through the month of April and put them on the apparatus May 5, and now here we are already using them,” he said, noting that grant money paid for the vests.
The training that was recently engaged in included tactical training to prevent hemorrhage, Warm Zone entry with force protection and command staff coordination.
He said all of those trainings were directly applicable on Monday night.
“Utilizing the training and preparation for Active Shooter incidents, we were able to adapt quickly to this dynamic scene,” he said. “Once the house was heavily involved in fire, our firefighters made a cautious exterior attack, with ballistic protection, under the cover provided by Police and SWAT. The communication between Police and Fire was excellent.”
Salvucci said they agree that the situation played out well, but they also believe that it was a red flag for making sure that the right equipment is in their hands.
He said it would cost about $7,000 to $15,000 to outfit the entire department with ballistic helmets. He pointed to a $34 million Free Cash fund and about $2 million available in the Stabilization Fund.
“When you’re standing next to a SWAT guy and you’re fighting a fire and he’s wearing that helmet, you want to have the same protections that he has in that situation,” he said. “We’re not talking about big money here so I don’t think we should have to wait until the next fiscal budget. You wouldn’t send a firefighter into a burning house with half of his or her equipment.”
Described in journals as a person’s “perceived social isolation,” i.e., a subjective belief that they are socially isolated, another way of summarizing this condition is simply “feeling lonely.”
The opposite feeling – that you have a network of supportive relationships – provides numerous psychological benefits, including a sense of belonging, an increased sense of self-worth, and a feeling of security.
Thankfully, there are actions people can take to reduce a sense of isolation (discussed below).
Causes of Isolation
Many circumstances can lead one to feel isolated, including: a job loss; a divorce; injury or illness; the death of a loved one; having a family member with an illness that requires extensive care; etc.
Implications of Feeling Isolated
Besides negatively affecting one’s mood, feeling isolated and lonely is a risk factor for many medical conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease, depression, and impaired executive functioning.
In fact, the influence of social relationships on the risk of death is comparable to well-established mortality risk factors such as smoking and alcohol consumption and exceeds the influence of other risk factors such as physical inactivity and obesity.
Ways to Reduce Isolation
Numerous authorities, including the Mayo Clinic, have suggestions for increasing one’s social network, such as:
Take a weekly class, whether at a gym, a local college, or as part of adult education, so that you will have regular contact with the same people and be more likely to establish friendships.
Join a lecture series.
Consider getting a roommate.
Change your housing situation to one where there are more opportunities to be a part of a community.
Go online (especially helpful for people who are homebound).
Options abound: join a chat room for people who share one of your interests, e.g., writing, cooking.
Keep in touch with out-of-state friends and family thru Skype, Facebook (or FaceTime on an iPhone).
Visit sites designed specifically for people going through stressful times, such as a divorce, or the arrival of a new baby. Expand your social sphere through social networking sites such as Facebook.
Primer on Building and Nurturing Friendships
Respond and Reciprocate. Answer phone calls, return emails, and reciprocate invitations in order to let people know you care.
Don’t compete. Be happy (not jealous) when your friends succeed.
Be a good listener. When someone is talking, really listen to what they’re saying (as opposed to formulating in your mind your next response).
Don’t overdo it. Be careful not to overwhelm friends and family with phone calls and emails. In addition, be wary of “oversharing” with new or casual acquaintances and on social networking sites.
Taking the time to build a social support network is a wise investment in your mental well-being and physical health. Research also shows that those who enjoy high levels of social support live longer. Whether you make more friends or improve the quality of relationships you already have, you’ll reap a plethora of rewards.
By Sheldon Bycoff is President, Mental Health Programs, Inc.
Carrying the fire helmet of late Firefighter Peter Kannler, Firefighter Janine Romano led the procession of firefighters and police officers to Woodlawn Cemetery.
The death of Chelsea Firefighter Peter Kannler, which happened way too fast and way too young, while on active duty and from a cancer that is recognized to be a result of his work as a firefighter, has been a wake up call for the Chelsea Fire Department – as union leaders and management leaders in the Department are calling for a change in the way the job is done nationwide.
Kannler, 37, who left two young children and a wife, fought a battle with stomach and esophageal and liver cancer for about one year before passing away on Saturday, Sept. 3. Before his death though, firefighters in Chelsea said he participated in research studies to help prevent ‘active duty’ firefighter deaths from cancer, and like in his life, he wasn’t quiet about what was happening to him.
“He wanted people to know about his cancer and the way it’s affecting our firefighters in Chelsea and beyond,” said Lt. Brian Capistran, president of the local union. “He wanted to prevent as many as possible, no matter what age or gender, from dying of this disease. The way we’re going to honor Peter is our members are going to take a careful look at our operations. Our safety is going to come first. We are going to make a point of decontaminating our equipment after a fire. The days of the macho old firefighter coming out of a burning building covered in soot are over. We have to think differently. A house fire nowadays is a hazardous material situation.
“Pete is going to be missed,” he continued. “I greatly respected him. He and I were built the same way – telling it like it is and dealing with things later. It’s going to take a while for all of us to get over this.”
Added Firefighter Dave Asci, who served for years on Engine 2 with Kannler, “He really put himself out there to do those studies. It was important to him that people know what firefighters are risking.”
Remembering Kannler has brought on a lot of great memories in the firehouse, especially on Engine 2 – likely the busiest engine in the nation per capita, where Kannler worked. He wore a mohawk all the time and was covered with tattoos, including a tattoo of a mustache on his finger that he used to hold on his upper lip – another example of his constant practical joking nature.
He was famous for elaborate practical jokes, including wallpapering the mechanic’s office and repair manuals one night with hundreds of pictures of Justin Bieber.
Asci said Kannler was the type of firefighter that didn’t seek the spotlight and shunned away from commendations or awards, but certainly was a guy you wanted next to you in a dangerous situation. Beyond that, Asci said that despite Kannler’s rough look and “tell it like it is at all costs” personality, he was a caring man – a family man – who was ready to drop everything for his wife and kids and brothers in the fire service.
“I had a rough year last year and in the middle of it, as sick as Peter was, before I could tell him fully what was happening, he wanted to know what he could do to help me,” said Asci. “He was so sick and he just wanted to help other people. That’s the kind of guy he was.”
But there was a serious firefighter side to Kannler as well, and as an instructor at the Mass Fire Academy and a firefighter with great interest in getting equipment and training from Homeland Security, Kannler brought Chelsea Fire into a new era by advocating for resources the Department had never concentrated on. He attended numerous regional meetings and was responsible for securing grants for safety equipment and training.
With that spirit, Deputy Chief John Quatieri and Chief Leonard Albanese have pledged to change their operations and the culture within the firehouse – particularly around safety and decontaminating equipment upon returning from an incident.
“From a command perspective, we need to rotate our firefighters in and out more often and be thinking about their safety,” said Quatieri. “We can’t leave them in a burning building as long as we’ve been doing. They’re getting beat up and exposed to too many of the carcinogens in a modern house fire. We’ve been making do too long and that needs to change.”
Already, the Department has invested in four hydrogen cyanide meters to measure air quality inside a fire, and they will have one member of the crew responsible for monitoring those meters during a fire. If conditions inside are toxic enough, they will remove firefighters from those dangerous conditions – something that many departments are not yet thinking about.
“It’s affecting every department,” said Quatieri. “You just don’t hear about it as much. When firefighters die in a fire, that gets a lot of publicity, as it should, but with the cancer, it happens every day and doesn’t get much publicity.”
Capistran said firefighters are 60 percent more at risk for certain cancers like Kannler had than the normal civilian. That is a little known fact outside the fire service, but even within the fire service the reality of that has been slow to sink in as old habits die hard.
Chief Albanese shared statistics about firefighter deaths, noting that, since 2000, a majority of firefighter deaths have been due to occupational cancers. In 2014, nationwide, nearly 70 percent of deaths were due to those types of cancers rather than direct firefighting work.
“Today’s fire, a lot of what burns is plastics and foams and flame retardants,” said Capistran. “It burns faster and hotter and it’s a silent killer. A lot of what burned back in the day, when firefighters like my dad were on, was wood. We may not have as many fires as back then, but these fires are deadlier and the conditions are more toxic.”
All four Chelsea Fire members said they plan to take Kannler’s message not only to their own crews, but also to the departments around them and those as far as their message can reach.
“Pete left enough information to help the researchers find a cure,” said Capistran. “His message was that he wanted to protect us more, to smarten us up, prevent exposure, decontaminate our gear and, importantly, he wanted it to be a wake up call for everyone.”
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. — The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution
The issue of what, if any, gun control laws are appropriate in a civilized society once again is in the forefront of the news after the tragic shooting in Orlando two weeks ago.
There is no question that among all of the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution, known collectively as the Bill of Rights, the Second Amendment is the most archaic, both in terms of its language and its intent.
The amendment appears contradictory on its face. It contains the phrase “well-regulated,” implying that the government has the right to make rules and regulations, but then concludes with the verb phrase, “shall not be infringed,” which suggests that there should not be any governmental rules or regulations.
In terms of the substance of the Second Amendment, the notion of a militia has no practical meaning today relative to what that term meant in the late 18th century. We are long past the days when farmers left the fields to become de facto soldiers, or when posses were rounded up to chase outlaws, or when settlers were on their own in a hostile environment.
But some pretend that a lifestyle that no longer exists still has meaning in the America of the 21st century.
However, it was only a few years ago that a majority of the U.S. Supreme Court resolved some of the ambiguity in the Second Amendment when the court declared that the right to bear arms applied to individual citizens, not merely to a government-organized militia.
But tellingly, the same majority acknowledged that the local, state, and federal governments have the authority to make regulations pertaining to that right. As is the case with all of our rights as Americans, none of them, including freedom of speech, is absolute, and the right to bear arms is no exception.
Some, led chiefly by the National Rifle Association, are opposed to gun regulation and registration laws of any kind because of their belief that even the mildest regulations will lead us down the proverbial slippery slope and ultimately will result in confiscatory gun laws.
However, that position of absolutism, while convenient for the NRA, simply is not the way our country works.
Henry Clay said it best, “Politics is the art of compromise.” Compromise is what our American system of government is all about. The Founders created a system of checks and balances among the three branches of government to ensure that compromise must take place.
No gun law will be a silver bullet (no pun intended) that forever will prevent every shooting, of which there are tens of thousands every year in this country that murder and maim us in numbers of epidemic proportions. Although ISIS-inspired terrorism has grabbed the focus of our attention, more Americans are killed and wounded every few days by our own citizenry in incidents of gun-related violence than have been killed by terrorists in all of the past 15 years combined.
To sum it up succinctly, we have met the enemy — and it is us.
Senator Ed Markey and others have proposed sensible gun regulations that will not deprive or unduly burden any law-abiding citizen of his or her Second Amendment rights, but which will greatly reduce the carnage that occurs in our nation on a daily basis.
We urge all of our lawmakers to undertake the work necessary to enact the laws we need to make America as safe as possible from those whose hearts and minds are filled with hate and criminal intent.
Ten Chelsea firefighters completed trench rescue training last week at the Boston Fire Academy on Moon Island. The trench rescue training was sponsored by the Metro-Boston Homeland Security Region and is part of Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) Search and Rescue Unit training. This training prepares firefighters to operate safely and effectively during rescue operations of entrapped persons by using specialized equipment, emergency shoring systems and rescuer constructed retrieval systems.
“This training is beneficial to the department, especially with the numerous construction projects ongoing throughout the city” said Deputy Chief John Quatieri. “There are construction crews working in trenches all over the city, the fire department would be responsible for rescuing those workers should something go wrong.”
IMPERSONATING A POLICE OFFICER IN DOG JAM
On Saturday July 25, shortly after 6 p.m., officers responded to corner Broadway and Parker Street and spoke to a male victim who was walking his dog. He told officers he just had an altercation with a male who was also walking a dog. Apparently, their dogs got tangled up in the leashes and it infuriated the suspect.
During the time of trying get the dogs separated, the victim stated that the male, later identified as Glen Turczyn, 45, of 64 Parker St. became irate and lifted his shirt up exposing to the victim what he believed to be a black firearm. The victim also noticed what looked like a police “walkie talkie.”
He alleges Turczyn to have stated that he was a Chelsea Police Officer and Turczyn gave the victim a made up badge number. The victim states that the subject then threated to do harm to his dog with the firearm. Fearing for his safety, he left the area and was able to observe a partial license plate of the subject. Chelsea Dispatch Center was able to do a query of the partial plate, which led to the subject’s address.
Officers then placed Turczyn under arrest without incident.
No firearm was recovered.
SIGNIFICANT ARREST ON WASHINGTON AVE.
Chelsea Police and federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) officials made a significant drug and weapons arrest on Wednesday, July 22, at a home on Washington Avenue.
The long-term investigation was the result of a cooperative effort and led to the arrest of one man, Roberto Jimenez.
Roberto Cristian Jimenez-Heyer, 18, of 102 Washington Ave., was charged with trafficking in cocaine and felony firearms charges.
He is being held in federal custody.
CHARGES IN CRASH JULY 19
Police have filed charges against a 58 year old motorist who turned over his car on the Parkway near Webster Avenue on July 19.
There were two injuries in the crash, but non were life threatening.
The crash happened around 8:45 a.m.
David Pezzulo, 58, was charged with operating with a suspended license, failure to stop and operating an unregistered vehicle.
One Arraigned, Another in Custody, in Deaths of Two Dogs
A Swampscott man was arraigned Tuesday in Chelsea District Court in the killing of two dogs whose bodies were found behind a Revere gas station late last year, while a second man in New York has been taken into custody on a warrant issued in connection with the case.
Jason Gentry, 35, of Swampscott, was arraigned in Chelsea District Court on two counts each of malicious killing of an animal and animal cruelty. At the request of Assistant District Attorney Vincent DeMore, Gentry’s bail was set at $1,000.
A second man, Dominick Donovan, 51, of Long Beach, New York, has been taken into custody in New York and faces arraignment at a later date.
DeMore told the court that the bodies of two dogs were discovered in a trash bag behind a Revere gas station on Nov. 22. A necropsy performed by the Animal Rescue League of Boston determined that the dogs – one female and one male – were both approximately 20 weeks old and had been in good bodily condition when they were killed.
The dogs were determined to be Donovan Pinschers – a breed created by Donovan.During the course of their investigation, Revere Police detectives learned that at the time of their deaths, both dogs had been in Gentry’s care at the training facility he operated, Alpha Canine Performance of Lynn. Donovan arrived at the location in November to transport the animals back to New York. In a post-Miranda interview with police, Gentry made statements indicating that on Nov. 2, the dogs were hung at the facility until they stopped breathing because each failed to meet the standards for the breed, prosecutors said.
Gentry was represented by Eric Stone. He returns to court Sept. 3.
SAFETY SERVICE FOR ELDERLY RESIDENTS
A new service for elderly residents called SafetyNew Service is being debuted by police.
The service helps police find and rescue people who wander and get lost in the city. SafetyNew by Lojack aims to protect residents with autism and Alzheimer’s Disease. The CPD has been trained and certified on the SafetyNet service. Officers are equipped with search and rescue equipment so they are able to locate anyone who signs up for the program and goes missing.
Lojack provides emergency support 24-hours a day.
The service uses bracelets for the wrist or ankle that emit a signal. Chelsea Police can detect the signal from the bracelet within a one-mile radius during searches.
To sign someone up, called the CPD at (617) 466-4855.
After some nine hours or more of deliberations, testimony and video evidence presented over the course of two meetings this month, the Chelsea License Commission voted Tuesday night to suspend the liquor license of Plaza Mexico and roll back the restaurant’s hours – stopping short of shutting the establishment down as many believed might happen.
The License Commission agreed at the end of the evening Tuesday to suspend the liquor license for one week and to roll back Plaza Mexico’s hours to 11 p.m. indefinitely. Other licenses for TV, radio, juke box and pool table were left as is.
The Commission, however, did not agree to shut the restaurant down and strip it of its liquor license – as was done late last month with Palmas Restaurant and Lounge.
“The final decision was fair,” said Commissioner Roy Avellaneda. “One thing that came into play was they had a good camera system. To their credit, they did not hinder the investigations of the police department. That played a role. If they had not cooperated and the camera was not available, it would be a different scenario. But we still felt like there was a serious problem, specifically with the way the security company handled unruly patrons. The lack of calls to the police department was a concern. We definitely don’t want security put themselves in harm’s way or to harm the patrons.”
At issue was a lengthy investigation and numerous police reports – though several serious reports from 2015 were not included in the discussion – detailing drug dealing observed on video by patrons in the establishment. Those video recordings did end up being the basis for charges against one patron for drug dealing and a conviction against another.
Also at issue was an incident where an unruly customer who was intoxicated was physically thrown out of the bar by security, and then allegedly beaten in the street with what police believe was a collapsible baton. The security officer who allegedly used the baton was charged by police for a felony assault in 2014, but the status of the case was not immediately available – though an attorney from Plaza Mexico said it had been dismissed.
Police officials said they were happy with the decision, and indicated that this isn’t the first time Plaza Mexico has had suspensions or its hours rolled back.
“I would like to thank all of the members of the Licensing Commission for their continued commitment and dedication to the residents of Chelsea in imposing what they deemed to be fair and reasonable disciplinary sanctions based on the gravity of the infractions as sustained,” said Chief Brian Kyes. “We stand firmly committed to ensuring that any and all violations in any licensed establishment will be thoroughly documented, investigated and bought before the appropriate entity in order to ensure the continuing safety of our residents and other community members.”
Several Chelsea City Councillors, including Clifford Cunningham who represents the area and lives only seconds away from the bar, spoke for the closing of the establishment. Others who registered comments were Councillors Matt Frank and Councillor Dan Cortell.
“While it was not the result I had hoped for, I am grateful the Licensing Commission took action to punish Plaza Mexico’s management for their unacceptable lack of vigilance and unwillingness to cooperate with law enforcement,” Cunningham said after the decision. “As there were two other incidents that were not able to be discussed at this hearing, I strongly suspect this will not be the last time we see Plaza Mexico before the Licensing Commission to discuss disciplinary action.”
The two incidents referred to by Cunningham happened earlier this year, with one being that of a juvenile stabbed inside the restaurant. Police contend that Plaza Mexico was uncooperative in informing them of the incident, delaying needed treatment of the victim. Those incidents were pulled out of the discussion early on, but could come back at a later date.
At Tuesday’s continued hearing, most of the night was dedicated to Attorney Sam Vitali questioning Chelsea Police officers, questioning witnesses of the two major events, and also allowing the public to speak.
Vitali questioned Capt. Keith Houghton about a central piece of his defense, which was why the department was only now bringing up events from 2013 and 2014 despite continued renewals of licenses.
“Because I wanted a conviction on both (drug dealing cases) and the second suspect had defaulted several times in his case,” said Houghton. “I wanted an iron clad case against the bar. It’s not uncommon. We do investigations that take years.”
Unlike in the Las Palmas case, the general public was very much in support of the establishment, including residents of the elderly home 14 Bloomingdale, and direct abutters as well. There were no neighbors who came to speak against Plaza Mexico, and at least 20 neighbors and patrons spoke in favor of the establishment.
“I don’t know everything that’s going on, but there’s never been any trouble when I went there,” said Marie Lowsky of 14 Bloomingdale. “I’ve taken my girlfriends there and my church group in there. We go in there and it’s a very nice place. I wouldn’t take a church group there if there was that kind of trouble. All I know is I see nice people there. I don’t see any drug dealing going on and I feel safe in there.”
Many others spoke of how the ownership allows neighbors to park their vehicles in the parking lot, and how the ownership provides community parties and discounted breakfasts to the elderly.
Avellaneda said he believed the Commission felt it was a message to all establishments that they needed to be more watchful and more vigilant about what is going on in their places.
“On the drug transactions, we felt the owners had some responsibility,” he said. “Whether outside in the parking lot or in the establishment, they have to be more aware. It is their jurisdiction. It’s a head’s up to all establishments that you have to be aware and vigilant to what’s happening in your establishment and not just throw your hands up.”
A Chelsea man was indicted Wednesday, March 18, for the murder 29-year-old Javier Ortiz and the non-fatal shooting of another man last year.
A Suffolk County grand jury returned indictments charging Hector Enamorado, 36, with first-degree murder, armed assault with intent to murder, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and unlawful possession of a firearm.
He has been held without bail since his arrest days after the Dec. 14 shooting. Wednesday’s indictments move the case from Chelsea District Court to Suffolk Superior Court, where it will be adjudicated.
Chelsea Police responded to a report of a person shot on Chester Avenue address at about 3:05 a.m. on the morning of Dec. 14 and located the 34-year-old surviving victim outside suffering from a gunshot wound to the chest. That man directed police to an apartment inside where Ortiz was found suffering from gunshot wounds.
Both men were transported to Massachusetts General Hospital, where Ortiz died.
Chelsea Police detectives and members of the Suffolk County State Police Detective Unit gathered evidence at the scene, witness statements, and additional evidence and sought a warrant for Enamorado’s arrest later that day. He was located on Dec. 16 and placed under arrest.
The grand jury proceedings leading to indictments were led by Assistant District Attorney Amy Galatis of the DA’s Homicide Unit. Enamorado is represented by James Cipoletta. A date has not been set for Enamorado’s arraignment in Superior Court.
Police investigating Saturday night shooting
On March 14, at approximately 11 p.m., Chelsea officers were dispatched to Cottage Street for reports of shots fired and a victim of a gunshot wound. Upon arrival Officer’s observed a male victim sitting on the porch with a gunshot wound to the right leg, below the knee on the shin. The victim was alert and stated that he had been shot while walking on Cottage Street in front of 58 Cottage St. The victim was transported to Massachusetts General Hospital and was treated for non-life-threatening injuries. Chelsea Detectives are actively working the case. If anyone has any information on this incident they are asked to call Chelsea Police at 617-466-4800
Authorities raid sophisticated retail shoplifting ring: Confiscate $100,000 in merchandise
On Friday March 13, authorities raided an apartment set up to mimic a storefront and confiscated shoplifted merchandise valued at approximately $100,000, according to Peabody Police. Police also confiscated $10,000 in cash. The interior of the residential dwelling at 140 Chestnut St. was set up to mimic a storefront where prospective “shoppers” could view the alleged stolen merchandise, according to Peabody Police.
Organized retail shoplifting rings are supplied by boosters who frequent area retail establishments with the goal of shoplifting specified items requested by the ring leader(s). Shoplifting rings often resell items by different means, including online sales and overseas shipments. The merchandise confiscated was primarily clothing and perfume. In recent reports, retail losses attributed to such organizations are potentially in excess of $30 billion a year, police said. Officers from Peabody, Chelsea and Revere Police Departments, in conjunction with officials from Northshore Mall, Homeland Security, and corporate loss prevention agencies from Sephora, Victoria’s Secret, Gap, Abercrombie & Fitch and Hollister assisted with operation. The search warrant was the direct result of a lengthy and extensive Organized Retail Shoplifting Ring investigation led by Peabody Police. Three persons were arrested and taken into custody by the Chelsea Police Department.
Miguel Lopez, 32; Pedro Vasquez, 48; and Juventina Ramirez, 50; all of 140 Chestnut St. #3 in Chelsea.