It is difficult to understate the impact upon the future of our country of the Republican tax bill proposals that have been passed by the House and Senate and await a reconciliation between the two versions for a final vote by both.
The most complex piece of tax legislation to be enacted in more than 30 years was devised and voted upon with little or no debate and in the middle of the night (after midnight, actually) in the Senate, with cross-outs and extended, hand-written notes in the margins such that no Senator really knows what he or she voted upon.
However, what is clear is that the tax bill will raise taxes on the middle class — some substantially so (especially here in Massachusetts) — and all but destroy the Affordable Care Act, while giving huge benefits to the ultra-rich in countless ways.
One of the most outrageous giveaways to the ultra-rich is that they can deduct the cost of maintenance of their private jets. Wouldn’t we all like to do that for our cars, the preferred mode of transportation for the rest of us?
In addition, this tax giveaway by the supposedly deficit-hawk, fiscally-conservative Republicans will be increasing the deficit by at least $1 trillion over the next 10 years, and most likely more than that.
All in all, this represents America’s move toward a real-life Hunger Games, in which most Americans barely will be able to scrape by with little or no prospect for economic mobility.
The American Century has been turned on its head — and we never will be the same again.
Senator Sal DiDomenico addressed a large crowd in attendance at his annual Fall Fundraiser on Wednesday, Oct. 25, at the Silver Fox. The sold out time attracted friends from near and far, including Senate President Stan Rosenberg.
Current Chelsea City Councilor at Large Roy Avellaneda has announced he will seek re-election to the City Council in the November 7th election.
Said Avellaneda, “It would be my privilege to continue to represent the people of Chelsea as Councilor at Large. I’ve never stopped fighting for Chelsea residents and stakeholders. But after a brief hiatus, two years ago, I decided to run again, and you gave me the honor of putting me back on the City Council.”
Roy is a lifelong Chelsea resident. His family moved here from Argentina in the 1970s and opened Tito’s Bakery on Broadway. He attended St Rose, Dom Savio High School, and Babson College.
“I was brought up in Chelsea, and I’ve lived here all of my life. So I not only understand its history, but also keenly aware of its challenges, and most pressing needs,” he said.
He has served Chelsea as a member of the Planning Board, and on the City Council for a total of 12 years, the first time beginning in 1998. He returned to the Council 2 years ago, and served on the Licensing Board in between.
Along the way, Roy has also worked as Legislative Assistant to State Senator Jarrett Barrios, and worked in the MA Department of Transportation during the administration of former Governor Deval Patrick.
“Twenty years in both local and state government, have given me a unique, and valuable experience. I know how the wheels of government turn, often slowly and painfully. So you have to get in there, roll up your sleeves, and keep pushing it along. You have to have patience, but always maintain a sense of urgency.”
Roy is also a successful real estate broker, and the top producing agent with Weichert, Realtors-Metropolitan Boston Real Estate. Roy also currently also owns and operates his own cafe, Pan y Cafe in Cary Square, which he opened about a year ago.
“From a very early age,” he said, “my parents taught me the importance of public service — of being involved in one’s community. But their story and their example also includes the business they founded. I’ve always been involved in this community, but at the same time, whether it’s the bakery, a cafe, being a real estate broker, I’ve also been in my own business here in different ways for a long time now. So I have the perspective, not only of someone who has worked in government, but also of a small business person. And in that sense, I’m doubling down on Chelsea because I believe in our bright future, and I always have. I’m doing everything I can to help bring it about and to make the lives of everyone in this community better. But I’ve also made my life here, and I think it’s important to be personally invested in your community, and have a stake in that future.”
Since re-joining the City Council in 2016, Roy has focused on a number issues confronting Chelsea residents and business owners, including tax relief, jobs and economic development, affordable housing, and environmental protection.
“Two years ago,” he said, “I made a commitment to do everything I could to make sure our homeowners and local businesses were not overburdened, to address the affordable housing crisis, to lobby for smart development that reduced negative impacts while increasing green space and support our youth. Today, I can point to achievements that improved those issues facing Chelsea.”
Specifically Roy sponsored, and along with with City Manager Tom Ambrosino, successfully lobbied for state legislative passage of the Home Rule Petition to Increase the Homeowner Residential Exemption from 20% to 35%, saving homeowners hundreds of dollars per year.
He also worked hard to get legislation passed to help small businesses with equipment or inventory of less than $10,000 in value pay less in taxes, resulting in an increase in investment and jobs by local Chelsea merchants.
Roy co-sponsored the Community Preservation Act ballot initiative and campaigned for its approval by voters. Chelsea approved it overwhelmingly (70%) creating a funding mechanism for affordable housing, green space and historic preservation.
Roy also supported and lobbied for the adoption of two key affordable housing measures. The first, The Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance, now requires 15% of housing built by developers to be affordable. The second, The Condo Conversion Ordinance, limits multi-family owners from evicting tenants without just cause pursuant to condominium conversion.
Roy introduced and successfully lobbied for the passage Anti-Wage Theft Ordinance which now protects workers in Chelsea from unscrupulous employers who attempt to withhold rightfully earned wages and overtime.
Roy’s advocacy was also instrumental in obtaining more funding for Chelsea’s Summer Jobs Employment program, which provides summer jobs and the opportunity for for Chelsea teens to gain work experience and life skills.
“I am particularly proud to have the endorsements of the Greater Boston Labor Council, SEIU 888, SEIU 32BJ, Ironworkers Local 7 and New England Region of Carpenters,” he said, “because I have worked and fought hard for working people of all ages in Chelsea.”
“Two years ago, he said, “I asked Chelsea voters then to give me the opportunity to be their voice and to work for them. They did, and for that, I’m very grateful. We’ve accomplished a lot since. But, we have so much more work to do in Chelsea. We need improved access to affordable transportation. We need a permanent bike sharing program. We need to keep pressure on MassPort to mitigate Logan Airport’s impact on our community. We need more balanced and smart new development that doesn’t negatively impact our quality of life. We need to focus on and properly mitigate the impact of the Wynn Casino. We have to increase economic opportunities for working families so they can afford to take care of themselves and their children and not be priced out of Chelsea. There’s so much to do. So I am once again asking for your vote on Nov 7th to continue to be your Councilor At Large. Please support me on Tuesday, November 7th. Thank you and God bless.”
Last week, the Massachusetts Legislature passed the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which guarantees reasonable accommodations and safety measures for pregnant workers. Senator Sal DiDomenico and Representative Joseph McGonagle both voted in support of this legislation that makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate against, refuse to employ, or terminate an individual due to pregnancy or a condition related to pregnancy.
“No woman should have to choose between keeping her job and maintaining healthy and safe pregnancy,” said Senator Sal DiDomenico, a co-sponsor of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. “I am proud to support this important piece of legislation, which will undoubtedly make workplaces fairer and safer for all.”
“Massachusetts is moving in a forward with this legislation,” said Representative Joseph McGonagle. “Women should have a safe and happy pregnancy and not be concerned with any negative impacts regarding their workplace. This legislation ensures that pregnant workers can continue to work and not worry about their health or their baby’s health.”
Reasonable accommodations may include time off to recover from childbirth; more frequent, longer paid or unpaid breaks; procuring or modifying equipment or seating; obtaining temporary transfer, job restructuring, or lighter duty; and private non-bathroom space for expressing breast milk, among others.
The law prohibits employers from taking the following actions against an employee who is pregnant or has a condition related to the employee’s pregnancy:
Taking adverse action against an employee who requests or uses a reasonable accommodation;
Denying an employment opportunity to an employee based on the need of the employer to make a reasonable accommodation;
Requiring an employee to accept an accommodation if the accommodation is unnecessary to enable the employee to perform the essential functions of the job;
Requiring an employee to take a leave of absence if another reasonable accommodation may be provided without undue hardship to the employer;
Refusing to hire a person who is pregnant because of the pregnancy or because of a condition related to the person’s pregnancy if that person can perform the essential functions of the job with a reasonable accommodation that does not impose an undue hardship on the employer.
The bill directs companies to engage in a collaborative, good faith process with employees and prospective employees to determine effective and reasonable accommodations. In specific instances, employers may require documentation pertaining to the need of accommodation from appropriate health care or rehabilitation professional. This does not apply to accommodations for more frequent restroom, food or water breaks, seating, and limits on lifting over 20 pounds.
The bill has an effective date of April 1, 2018. It now goes to the governor’s desk for his signature.
We wish to take this opportunity to congratulate our State Senator, Sal DiDomenico, for his recent appointment by Senate President Stan Rosenberg as the Senate Chair of the newly-created Italian Caucus of the Massachusetts legislature.
The establishment of the Italian Caucus comes at the urging of the Italian Consul General to Massachusetts, Nicola de Santis, who foresees the caucus as an instrument for fostering cultural and trade relations between Massachusetts and Italy.
In this era of increasing globalization, the Italian Caucus can serve an important purpose, especially in Massachusetts, where 14 percent of our residents confirm that they are of Italian heritage. Further, Massachusetts is one of the leading states for trade with Italy, and the Italian Caucus clearly can play a key role in enhancing economic development and opportunity among businesses here and in Italy.
For Senator DiDomenico, we are sure the appointment brings enormous personal satisfaction because of the pride he takes in his Italian-American heritage. Given Senator DiDomenico’s unique background and yearning to improve ties between Italy and America, his appointment by Senate President Stan Rosenberg as a chair of this committee is an outstanding one in every respect.
Party organizer Artie Ells, attired in his traditional red, white and blue costume, speaks to the many guests at the annual July Fourth celebration.
When it comes to Fourth of July parties in Chelsea, Artie Ells in a class by himself.
For the past 40 Independence Days, ever since the nation’s bicentennial celebration in 1976, Artie Ells has welcomed hundreds of friends and neighbors to his home on Palmer Street on the holiday.
This year City Manager Tom Ambrosino personally delivered a proclamation to Ells in recognition of his patriotism and lifelong contributions to Chelsea. Ambrosino joins a long list of dignitaries including U.S. Presidents Reagan, Bush (41 and 43), Clinton, and Trump who have honored Ells for his civic and patriotic endeavors with official letters of acknowledgement.
The party is officially known as “Artie’s July 4tH Celebration.” On that day (rain has only forced one postponement until July 5), Artie turns his backyard into a “Party with Artie” extravaganza, with guests young and old enjoying a barbecue of hot dogs, hamburgers, sausages, and steak to go along with musical entertainment, swimming in the Ells pool, and games for the kids.
A large, 24-by-30-foot American flag is on display to complement “God Bless America” signs and red, white, and blue bunting.
Artie, his wife, Tish, and their son, Matt, who is assistant director of athletic operations at Northeastern University, presented blue “Party With Artie” t-shirts to the many guests. Artie, who wears a red, white, and blue costume, personally led the gathering in the singing of “God Bless of America.”
What was the inspiration for launching 40 years of a special observance of America’s birthday?
Ells said he had received an American flag that was flown on July 4, 1976 at the U.S. Capitol Building. That flag has been displayed at the party each year.
“I wanted to hold a celebration to provide a nice day for people and honor our country and salute American patriotism,” said Ells. “I don’t want people to forget the great country we live in and what America stands for. It never hurts to be patriotic and believe in the country that you live in.”
The list of guests has included Major League Baseball players such as Wade Boggs, Danny Darwin, and John Henry Johnson. Former Mass. Governor Edward King attended one of the celebrations. Former state senator Francis Doris was a big supporter.
“It’s just a great event where a bunch of people can get together and have a good time and love each and show their patriotism,” said Frank Mahoney, who has known Ells since his childhood.
Artie grew up on Hancock Street and graduated from Chelsea High in 1963. He later played for the talented and colorful New Bridge Café softball team in the local fast pitch league. Ells joined softball legends Eddie McCarthy, Homer Norton, Danny Cronin, Bobby Gallo, Mike Kearney, Rollie DeSimone and others on the New Bridge team that would pack the old Carter Park on game nights.
He holds a lifelong love for the city and has a respectful knowledge of its history, noting the since demolished Pratt House on Washington Avenue where President George Washington once stayed during a visit.
Whether the “Party With Artie” tradition continues next year is a question being debated in the Ells household. The day takes considerable planning and preparation, not to mention the extensive cleanup afterwards.
But Artie Ells will always have a place of fondness in his heart for his friends, his city, and his country.
“I’ve been blessed with so many great friends and family,” said Artie. “To me, Chelsea is my home and it’s always been my home. And without a doubt we live in the greatest country in the world.”
Gov. Charlie Baker signed into law a home rule petition forwarded by City Manager Tom Ambrosino and the City Council that allows owner-occupied homeowners a 35 percent reduction on their property taxes.
The measure has been discussed for several years by Councillor Giovanni Recupero with little success, but the idea hit a wave earlier this year when Ambrosino signaled he would support such a measure and Councillor Roy Avellaneda codified it in a Council order – an order that increased the savings from 30 percent to 35 percent.
“I have always advocated for this and now we have it,” said Recupero. “I’m glad the homeowner in Chelsea is getting a bigger break. I’ve been asking for that every since I got up here. They told me we could never do this and now we did it. What changed? I’m happy to see it.”
Councillor Avellaneda said he is happy that homeowners will get an even further break.
“I’m thrilled Governor Baker signed the home rule petition I sponsored that increases the tax exemption for Chelsea homeowners,” he said. “I want to thank my colleagues for supporting the measure, the City Manager for helping advocate for it on Beacon Hill and our state delegation, Senator Sal DiDiminico and Rep. Dan Ryan for pushing it through. I’m sure the homeowners of Chelsea will enjoy the reduction on their tax bill.”
The residential tax exemption works by shifting the tax burden to non-owner occupants and to some higher valued owner-occupied properties. The idea is to reward residents living in lower valued homes and give those residents a break on their property taxes. One consequence, though, is that if there aren’t enough non-owner occupants, then some owner occupants in high-value homes can be hurt by the measure.
In this case, Ambrosino said that cut off was the $625,000 number and only four homes fall into that category.
For a $300,000 home, a City analysis showed, a 30 percent exemption this year would have yielded $292 in savings on the tax bill this year. For a similar home, the 35 percent exemption would have yielded $451 in savings on the tax bill.
Right now, 13 communities in the state have a residential exemption, with the majority of those being at 20 percent. Chelsea’s exemption was also 20 percent until last week.
The measure passed last Thursday and is retroactive to July 1, 2016.
Frank DePatto and the position of Chelsea High School director of athletics were a perfect fit for 28 years.
DePatto was a Chelsea guy, the CHS class of 1957 president and a student-athlete. He had been a lifelong advocate for Chelsea sports, from the time he had sponsored and coached a team in the local summer basketball league to the countless Chelsea High School games he had attended as a fan.
DePatto succeeded Saul Nechtem as head of the entire CHS athletic program in 1988. No one had to tell DePatto how prestigious it was to be at the helm of a high school athletic program in the vaunted Greater Boston League. And no one had to tell DePatto about the legendary figure he was succeeding as director of athletics.
In fact, it was Frank DePatto who recommended that the gymnasium inside the new Chelsea High School be named the “Saul Nechtem Gymnasium,” which it was.
DePatto’s superb reign as the leader of Chelsea High boys and girls sports ended on July 1 when he retired from the position.
“After 28 years as the AD at my alma mater, there are many people to thank, especially State Senator and School Committee member, the late Andrew P. Quigley and School Committee member, the late Morris Seigal – they were my mentors,” said DePatto. I also want to thank the many superintendents and principals who supported me along the way.
“It has a been a pleasure to serve the youth of the city of Chelsea, a city I truly love.”
One of DePatto’s closest friends and supporters through the years was former city manager Jay Ash, who played college basketball at Clark University. Ash is the State Secretary of Housing and Economic Development.
“I’m proud that I’ve been one of Jay Ash’s mentors,” he said.
DePatto said his first immersion in to the fabric of the Chelsea sports community came when he organized and sponsored a very successful men’s and women’s summer basketball league. He coached the Chelsea Record and Salon 312 teams in the men’s league that drew sizable crowds to the old Merritt Park courts. One of the opposing teams, Charles Lee Disposal, featured none other than Councillor-at-Large Leo Robinson, a former CHS hoop player, at point guard.
DePatto also coached semi-professional basketball with many college stars on the roster including Jay Ash, Rudy Williams, Jerry Scott, Stu Primus, Danny O’Callaghan, John Miller, and Eddie Thurman.
From summer basketball, DePatto made the jump to the Chelsea High athletic program as its director in 1988.
“Replacing the great Saul Nechtem upon his retirement – it was a job made from heaven,” said DePatto.
Very early in his tenure DePatto made a monumental decision: he recommended that the Chelsea-Everett Thanksgiving football series be discontinued after the 1989 contest in which Everett prevailed by a dominating 32-0 score. Chelsea hasn’t played Everett in football since that blowout.
“Everett was always just too good with many more skilled players than Chelsea and the score mostly always favored Everett,” related DePatto about his decision to end the century-old rivalry. “As someone who played in the Chelsea-Everett game in the mid-1950s, it was a hard decision to make, especially when we drew 10,000-12,000 fans for some of the Thanksgiving games. Times were changing and it was time to move on.”
DePatto hired Joe Gaff as head football coach in 1993 and two years later he led the Red Devils to their only Super Bowl championship, defeating Old Colony for the title.
Around the same time DePatto brought Ramona Foster on board as the new Chelsea High girls basketball coach and Foster “turned the program around.”
DePatto made it a point during his directorship to recognize those individuals who contributed much to CHS athletics. It was DePatto who recommended that the press box at Chelsea Memorial Stadium be named in memory of the late Arnold Goodman, a beloved teacher, player and coach.
DePatto helped launch the Stop & Shop High School Basketball Tournament, bringing the best teams in New England to Chelsea. Teaming up with Leo Papile of the BABC and philanthropist Herbie Kupersmith, DePatto raised more than $55,000 for Chelsea scholarships. Teams from as far away as Hawaii and Florida played in the tournament “and we were the talk of the basketball universe for 15 years.”
When Boston hosted the NBA Summer League, the Philadelphia (76ers) and Indiana (Pacers) teams held their practices at Chelsea High.
DePatto said his proudest accomplishment was sending many CHS athletes on to compete at the college level. DePatto was instrumental in former soccer star Michael Bustamante’s matriculation at Boston University. Bustamante later continued his career for the New York Red Bulls in Major League Soccer (MLS), a professional league in the United States.
DePatto always stood up for Chelsea High athletes, once packing the Aldermanic Chambers for a School Committee meeting at City Hall to help change a rule that brought Chelsea’s academic eligibility requirements for athletes in line with MIAA requirements.
He re-instituted the indoor and outdoor track programs that are now producing championship teams. He organized the first Chelsea High Annual Awards Assembly 26 years ago. He also launched the girls soccer program.
During his time as AD, DePatto returned to the sidelines as an assistant coach on Jack Niven’s boys basketball staff. He served as the head coach for three seasons before Jay Seigal succeeded him.
Last year, DePatto was selected to represent the Commonwealth Athletic Conference at the National Athletic Directors Conference. He received numerous awards in recognition of his outstanding service at Chelsea High.
“I made many friends as athletic director – a job that I loved,” said DePatto. “I am a former player, a former coach, and now a former AD, and I will always be –a No. 1 fan of the Red Devils. I’m proud to have followed Saul Nechtem and a great line of coaches and athletic directors.”
DePatto made it a point to wish new director of athletics Amanda Alpert “success in her endeavors.”
“I’m going to miss Chelsea greatly,” said DePatto, who finished out the 2015-16 school year at the request of Supt. of Schools Dr. Mary Bourque, who wanted him to be part of the transition process. “There will be a void in my life. This job truly has been a labor of love.”
Massachusetts has long been a leader in education, public health, and innovation. However, when it comes to ensuring that all our children have a chance to succeed, we still have much work to do.
To start with, it’s time that Massachusetts gets serious about guaranteeing that every child has a right to a high quality early education. Experts agree that quality early education is a vital indicator of a child’s future success and a key component to closing the achievement gap between high and low income students. Yet, here in the Commonwealth, and an estimated forty percent of 3 and 4-year-olds are not enrolled in any formal preschool program.
Furthermore, far too many children show up for pre-Kindergarten already behind, and many of them are never able to catch up. More than 40% of third graders are unable to read proficiently and, among students from low income families, that statistic is at a disturbing 61%. Reading coaches, specialized literacy programs, and summer programs, for example, have all shown great promise in helping to close the achievement gap among students, but specialized help often never reaches the children who need it most.
Additionally, when discussing how we can support our children, we tend to overlook how important it is to also support their parents and families as a whole. Programs such as home visits, prenatal support groups, fatherhood initiatives, and pediatrician outreach have all been shown to have a beneficial impact on a child’s future outcome; yet, once again, too many parents do not have access to such programs, or are unaware of how to utilize them.
There is no greater investment we can make than one for our children, and it is time that we commit our actions today to developing a brighter future for them.
My colleagues and I in the Senate are well aware that the future success of our Commonwealth depends on the success of our children, which is why we have kicked off 2016 with the launch of a new initiative to help identify proven policies and strategies, and to strive toward best outcomes for each and every child across our state.
Kids First, which I am honored to lead, will take a comprehensive and interdisciplinary look at a wide variety of policy areas relating to supporting children, with a strong focus on early childhood development from prenatal through the fourth grade. By creating an open dialogue among experts, policymakers, and stakeholders alike, we can develop a holistic approach to supporting strong, resilient children and families. This initiative will not only explore and identify the best practices and investments we can make for our children today, it will also pinpoint the long-term actions we can take that will put future generations on the path to productive adulthood.
With these goals in mind, we also recognize that every child is different; they come from varying backgrounds with unique needs, and we must take all of those factors into consideration. There is no single path to success for every child, nor is there a single answer to the various challenges we face.
Fortunately, we will not have to look far for help. We have an abundance of local organizations doing incredible work for the children of Massachusetts, and we are very fortunate to have the opportunity to tap them for their expertise on the many different areas we must consider and address.
The goal of Kids First is ambitious, and there is a lot of ground to cover. I have often been asked how we can afford the many different policy proposals that have been offered over the years to support kids across the Commonwealth. My answer to them: how can we not afford to invest in our children?
Senator Sal DiDomenico is Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means and he has represented the Middlesex and Suffolk District since 2010..
Senator Sal DiDomenico has been appointed by Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst) to serve as Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. This powerful Committee is responsible for putting together the Senate Fiscal Budget each year, and for vetting legislation concerning many key subjects. The position also gives Senator DiDomenico a seat on the Conference Committee that will negotiate the Legislature’s final budget.
“I am honored to have been appointed to this key leadership role,” said Senator Sal DiDomenico. “I look forward to working with Senate President Rosenberg, Chairwoman Spilka, and Committee members on many issues that are not only important to my constituents, but to the residents of the Commonwealth as a whole.”
His new leadership post represents a step up for the Senator from last session, when he served as Assistant Vice Chair of the Ways and Means Committee. He will also serve on the Joint Committee on Election Laws and on the Committee on Ethics.