The cost of a traditional Thanksgiving meal has once-again decreased and is at its lowest cost since 2010, according to the 33rd annual American Farm Bureau Federation’s (AFBF) Thanksgiving dinner survey.
The AFBF reported late last week that it had found the average cost of a traditional Thanksgiving meal for 10 to be at $48.90 nationwide, which figures to be less than $5 per person. It was a 22-cent decrease from last year’s low of $49.12. This year’s new low has put the cost of the traditional meal at the lowest cost since 2010.
After adjusting for inflation, the cost of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner is $19.37, the most affordable in more than a decade.
“Since 2015, the average cost of Thanksgiving dinner has declined steadily and is now at the lowest level since 2010,” said AFBF Chief Economist Dr. John Newton.
A total of 166 volunteer shoppers checked prices at grocery stores in 37 states for this year’s survey. Farm Bureau volunteer shoppers are asked to look for the best possible prices, without taking advantage of special promotional coupons or purchase deals, such as spending $50 and receiving a free turkey. Shoppers with an eye for bargains in all areas of the country should be able to purchase individual menu items at prices comparable to the Farm Bureau survey averages.
The shopping list for Farm Bureau’s informal survey includes turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a veggie tray, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and coffee and milk, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10 with plenty for leftovers.
The chief driver of the lowering costs is the most common item – the turkey. AFBF research showed that retail turkey prices are at the lowest costs since 2014, mostly because they are in abundant supply.
The average cost for a 16-pound turkey this year is $21.71, which is down 3 percent per pound from last year.
“Thanks to an ample supply, turkey remains affordable for consumers, which helps keep the overall cost of the dinner reasonably priced as well,” Newton said.
AFBF also highlighted other foods that showed large decreases as well. They included:
Gallon of milk, $2.92;
3-pound bag of sweet potatoes, $3.39;
one-pound bag of green peas, $1.47;
one dozen rolls, $2.25.
Some items did show an increase, however, including Massachusetts’ own contribution to the Thanksgiving table – the cranberry. Other items on the increase included pumpkin pie mix and cubed bread, among other things.
Those increased prices were as follows:
12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries was $2.65;
30-ounce can of pumpkin pie mix was $3.33;
14-ounce package of cubed bread stuffing was $2.87;
two nine-inch pie shells came in at $2.47;
one-pound veggie tray was $.75.
A group of miscellaneous items including coffee and ingredients necessary to prepare the meal (butter, evaporated milk, onions, eggs, sugar and flour) was also up slightly, to $3.01.
There was no change in price for a half-pint of whipping cream at $2.08.
To provide information on the increasingly changing Thanksgiving meal, AFBF looked in at hams and other new additions. Adding a four-pound bone-in ham, five pounds of Russet potatoes, and one pound of frozen green beans added about $1 per person to the overall cost.
“Adding these foods to the classic Thanksgiving menu increased the overall cost slightly, to $61.72 or about $6 per person,” said Newton.
AFBF also surveyed the price of a traditional Thanksgiving meal available from popular food delivery services. This revealed that the convenience of food delivery does have a larger price tag.
A 16-pound turkey was nearly 50 percent more expensive at nearly $2 per pound when purchased from a food delivery service. Nearly every individual item was more expensive compared to the do-it-yourself average and the total cost of the dinner was about 60 percent higher at about $8 per person.
The AFBF Thanksgiving dinner survey was first conducted in 1986, and the menu has not changed since that time for reliable comparison year to year. While AFBF does not make any scientific claims about the data, it is an informal gauge of price trends around the nation.
Member All Stars and October Members of the Month: Congratulations to the following members who were great role models for their peers, who were helpful, kind, and friendly last month and were selected to be the Jordan Boys & Girls Club’s Members of the Month! 1st grade: Cristian Chicas; 2nd grade: Arwa Ait-Chaib; 3rd grade: Jainaba Kamara; 4th grade: Elmer Flores; Pre-Teen: Susana Garcia; Teen: Gino Gillis. And also a big congrats to all of the Area All Stars who are recognized for being outstanding members in their favorite areas at the Club. Week of Oct. 8-12, 2018: Game Room: Allison Quinonez (3rd), Computer Club House: Elvis Rodriguez, Gym: LJ Bland (4th), Music: Susana Garcia (4th), Teen Center: Cameron Bourgea (teen), Membership: Sophia Sostre (2nd), Pool: Kevin Martinez (4th), Pre-Teen Lounge: Alison Lopez (5th), Life Skills: David Garcia Meza (3rd), Cadet Room: Aura Hernandez (1st). Week of Oct. 1-5, 2018: Education: Jesus Santiago (3rd grade), Game Room: Elmer Flores (4th), Art: Emely (2nd), Computer Club House: Thania Simon (4th), Gym: William Diaz (4th), Music: Laney Vargas (4th), Membership: Cristian Chicas, Pool: Kevin Martinez (4th), Pre-Teen Lounge: Luis Ajtum (“Danny”) (preteen), Life Skills: Valeria Ortiz (4th), Cadet Room: Alexi Rios (1st). Week of Sept 24-28, 2018: Education: Miguel Ramirez, grade 3, Game Room: Wilbur Chicas, Art: Sebastian, Computer Club House: Susana Garcia (preteen), Teen Center: Angel Del Valle Cardenas (teen), Membership: Arwa, Pool: Izabella, Wilbur Chicas, Pre-Teen Lounge: Troy Arnold (preteen), Life Skills: Santo Rivera (preteen), Cadet Room: Jyzelle Artica (1st grade)
Schedule Changes: This Friday, October 26th, the CLUB IS CLOSED! We will only be open for Haunted House- more info below under Special Events! (The Boys & Girls Club does not provide transportation on Friday, Oct. 26th either.)
On November 12th, the Club will be open from 9am-4pm (no school day due to Veteran’s Day); on Nov. 13th, the Club will be opening at 12noon, as it is a half day of school for CPS. On Wednesday, Nov. 21st, the Club is open 9am-4pm (no school day- day before Thanksgiving). And the Club will be closed on Thanksgiving, Nov. 22nd, as well as Friday, Nov. 23rd. And for those planning ahead, we want to remind Club members and families that we close during the winter holiday break, closed Dec. 24th- Jan 1st. The Club will re-open on Wednesday, Jan. 2nd.
Special Events: This Friday, Oct. 26th is Haunted House! Tickets are available now until 6pm on Oct. 26th. If you purchase tickets in advance, please be sure to arrive by 6pm that night, as doors close at 6pm with or without tickets. In order to attend the Haunted House, you have to be a Club member and attend with an adult. Thanks to those who joined us this past week at the annual Breast Cancer Awareness event, Popping in Pink Party! Lots of pink-filled games and activities, with music, food, and a celebration of survivors and families members who have experienced breast cancer. And earlier this month, we also celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month with the Club’s annual Celebrando Latino, sharing our stories of our families, flags for our countries, and lots of the food, games, and music of so many different cultures. Thank you Chili’s for once again provided chips and salsa for everyone!
CLUB FUNDRAISERS: The Club’s Annual Online Auction opens on Black Friday! If you or someone you know is interested in donating an item, it is greatly appreciated! We are seeking all kinds of gifts, such as sports memorabilia; unique items, such as dinner with a politician, ball boy/girl at Celtics; adventures, such as ski packages, timeshare weeks, or airline tickets; services provided- legal, such as a will; accounting, such as taxes; dinner prepared in the home; birthday party/event planning; music lessons; cleaning services; gift cards to stores, restaurants, online buying, movies, theater tickets. And once we are ready to launch the Auction, you can help by forwarding a link to anyone and everyone…you never know what someone may be looking for! Lastly, we will be selling raffle tickets as part of this event, which will be available next month at the Club. Every dollar and hour given helps the Club. If you would like to add your email to the mailing list, send to Lisa at LGillis@bgcb.org
Alexander “Lex” Mathews was seen enthusiastically welcoming Chelsea High School students on their first day of
Lex Mathews, new principal of Chelsea High School, is pictured in front of the school sign.
school this week. That personable approach is an indicator of the accessible manner he will bring to his new position of principal.
Mathews, 49, also brings elite academic credentials to the principal’s office, having graduated from prestigious prep school Milton Academy and earned an undergraduate degree from Columbia University, and advanced degrees from Harvard University, and Hunter College in New York City.
Mathews began officially on July 1, succeeding Priti Johari, who is now an assistant superintendent of Chelsea schools. His administrative team at CHS includes Assistant Principals Linda Barber, Kim Murphy, Mark Martineau, and Magali Oldander, ELL Coordinator Deidre Collins, and Special Education Coordinators Alan Beausoleil and Daymon Peykar.
Originally from Alaska and California, Mathews previously served in school principal and assistant principal positions in Somerville, South Boston, Somerville, and the Bronx in New York City. He has 23 years of experience in the field of education.
Mathews will be in charge of the day-to-day operations at Chelsea High which has approximately 1,500 students.
“I strongly believe in teamwork and the idea that every employee in the school matters tremendously to students,” said Mathews. “The principal may seem like a really important person, but to some students, there’s a paraprofessional that matters a lot more than the principal. To some families, there’s a teacher that matters a whole lot more.”
Mathews also believes that for Chelsea High School to be successful, “we have to be able to work together.”
He will expect administrators to be in the hallways “making connections, building community and raising expectations.”
Mathews organized a freshman class trip to Tufts University this summer. “The goal was to get them thinking about college in the ninth grade, instead of waiting for tenth, eleventh, or twelfth grade, because by that time, if you have a bad grade point average, it’s hard to recover,” said Mathews, who is married and has three children.
He is excited to be working with Supt. of Schools Dr. Mary Bourque and the faculty and staff at CHS.
“Dr. Bourque has been supportive, inspirational, accessible – just extremely helpful,” said Mathews. “The other employees have also been inspiring and helpful and all are seeking to make an improvement in the school. I also look forward to any opportunities to meet with members of the community.”
The Western Front company is proposing to locate a medical marijuana dispensary and a marijuana industry training program at the Parkway Plaza off of Webster Street.
A public meeting to hear and discuss the proposal will be held at City Hall tonight, Aug. 9, at 6 p.m.
Attorney Tim Flaherty said that Western Front is led by Marvin E. Gilmore Jr., a World War II veteran who has spent most of his life helping low-income people get into profitable industries so that they could move into the middle class.
Flaherty said the state Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) has already certified Western Front as an Economic Empowerment proposal, which makes it unique compared to traditional proposals. It also puts it somewhat on the fast-track in the state process. Chelsea is designated as a community where Economic Empowerment proposals are allowed due to what is termed an inequitable enforcement of drug laws regarding marijuana in the past.
Flaherty said to be certified, a proposal has to meet three of six criteria, and Western Front met all six.
“This is a very appropriate site we think for this use and complies with zoning in Chelsea,” said Flaherty. “What we will do with the space is we will operate a dispensary on one side and we will operate the other side as a workforce training space. Our business model is to have Chelsea residents and have people previously impacted by the War on Drugs benefitting from this proposal. There are certain types of offenses that disqualify people from being hired by Western Front, but a conviction for possession of marijuana would not prohibit them.”
The proposal at the moment is for a medical marijuana dispensary to operate, but Flaherty said they would like to become a recreational facility if they can get the financing and approvals. For now, though, they will be apply for medical.
The workforce training center will exist to educate Chelsea residents about how to get involved and qualified to work in the burgeoning marijuana industry.
The proposal, Flaherty stressed, is unique in that it is meant to benefit people in Chelsea that have been disproportionately harmed by the War on Drugs in the past.
He said they haven’t signed a Host Community Agreement with the City yet, but he said a standard condition is a 3 percent impact fee. Another 3 percent fee would be imposed as a local sales tax option. Other mitigation could come if the proposal is approved.
Flaherty said they will have 24/7 video and audio surveillance, with steel doors and a security guard on site.
After the community meeting, if there is not major opposition, the proposal would move to a full application with the state. If approved there, the application would come back to the Chelsea Planning Board for a Special Permit.
A leader of MS-13’s Enfermos Criminales Salvatrucha clique was sentenced today in federal court in Boston.
Rafael Leoner Aguirre, a/k/a “Tremendo,” 22, a Salvadoran national, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV to 19 years in prison and three years of supervised release, which he will begin serving after completion of the state prison sentence for which he is currently incarcerated. Leoner Aguirre will also be subject to deportation upon the completion of his federal sentence. In November 2017, Leoner Aguirre was convicted by a federal jury after a multi-week trial of conspiracy to conduct enterprise affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity, more commonly referred to as RICO conspiracy.
Leoner Aguirre was the leader of MS-13’s Enfermos Criminales Salvatrucha clique. In 2013, Leoner Aguirre entered the United States illegally from El Salvador and initially moved to Michigan. From there, he began recruiting and planning MS-13 activities impacting Massachusetts. Among other things, Leoner Aguirre created recruitment videos for MS-13 and posted them on YouTube. This enabled younger gang members and associates to view these videos, including one witness who testified that he first saw these videos while at a local high school in Massachusetts.
In March 2014, Leoner Aguirre moved to the Chelsea area and immediately began activating, organizing, and supervising the Enfermos clique. As part of that activity, Leoner Aguirre encouraged members of the clique to attack and kill rival gang members, in addition to committing other racketeering acts such as robberies. Leoner Aguirre himself committed a number of racketeering acts, including an attempted murder in Chelsea where Leoner Aguirre struck a victim in the head with a machete. Leoner Aguirre also committed an attempted murder involving a shooting, which is the incident for which he is currently serving a four-to-five year state prison sentence. Leoner Aguirre committed both of these attempted murders in daylight on busy public streets in Chelsea.
The other members and associates of the Enfermos clique were Hector Ramires, a/k/a “Cuervo;” Bryan Galicia Barillas, a/k/a “Chucky;” David Lopez, a/k/a “Cilindro,” a/k/a “Villano;” Daniel Menjivar, a/k/a “Roca,” a/k/a “Sitiko;” Angel Pineda, a/k/a “Bravo;” and Kevin Ayala, a/k/a “Gallito.” Each of these defendants has pleaded guilty and will be subject to deportation upon the completion of their sentences.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; Michael Shea, Acting Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston; Colonel Kerry A. Gilpin, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police; Commissioner Thomas Turco of the Massachusetts Department of Corrections; Essex County Sheriff Kevin F. Coppinger; Suffolk County Sheriff Steven W. Thompkins; Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley; Middlesex County District Attorney Marian T. Ryan; Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett; Boston Police Commissioner William Evans; Chelsea Police Chief Brian A. Kyes; Everett Police Chief Steven A. Mazzie; Lynn Police Chief Michael Mageary; Revere Police Chief James Guido; and Somerville Police Chief David Fallon made the announcement.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) said they would proceed as normal with plans for the Wynn Boston Harbor resort casino, but described the situation as “awkward” and said that Wynn was moving forward with the project “at its own risk” – meaning that losing the Region A gaming license is a possibility.
The situation came at the MGC’s monthly meeting on March 29 in Boston, where Wynn appeared for their first quarterly update since CEO Steve Wynn resigned under sexual misconduct allegations in February. The dual nature of the program for Wynn – and the reason for the awkwardness – is that the MGC is running a no holds barred investigation into the company right now, while at the same time proceeding with matters as if nothing has happened.
It is the reason for the ‘at risk’ designation now given to the project.
Wynn Boston Harbor president Bob DeSalvio said they made the decision to proceed at their own risk and they are not worried about it at all.
“It doesn’t (worry us) whatsoever,” he said. “We certainly understand we are always under review with regards to licensing with the Gaming Commission. As far as the local workforce goes, we are moving forward – all systems go.”
He also explained that there are two investigations going on right now, the MGC one and one from the Wynn Board of Directors. He said they need to let both play out right now.
“The best thing we can do now is let those play out,” he said, noting that they won’t put any timelines on it. “They have significant work to do. They will be thorough.”
Further questioned by members of the media about Wynn’s suitability to hold a license in Massachusetts, DeSalvio said he believed they were suitable.
“We are an excellent gaming company operating at a very high level in Las Vegas and Macau. Next June, we’ll be operating in the Commonwealth,” he said. “Our 25,000 team members do an outstanding job every day…We feel we are very much suitable.”
MGC Chair Steve Crosby said Wynn has made the decision to proceed, and right now their license is still viable – but he said there are investigations that are ongoing.
“We’re simply awaiting the outcome; that’s where it now stands,” he said.
“There are two things happening here,” he continued. “This is the biggest single-phased development in the history of Massachusetts. It’s a $2.4 billion project in Everett. It’s critical for Everett and communities around it…From a workforce perspective, we need to remember this can hurt a lot of people’s lives and lots of money that’s been invested. In parallel, we have to do a thorough no holds barred investigation…We will bring the results of that forward and talk about it in front of everyone.”
He also stated the Wynn project is at its own risk.
“Wynn is making the decision to proceed,” he said. “There is an investigation going on and they will be doing this at their risk. That the decision they made and that’s fine with us.”
The discussion of being ‘at risk’ came at the outset of Thursday’s meeting, when MGC Executive Director Ed Bedrosian Jr. set the tone and addressed the awkwardness of the situation.
He said the investigation is ongoing and that he hopes they can have the results to the MGC by summer. He said that right now there are MGC investigators in Las Vegas making inquiries.
“It’s an awkward situation, but the matter from now on must continue on parallel tracks,” he said.
“As a practical matter, Wynn Resorts is proceeding on the project on an at-risk basis,” he said.
Crosby chastises Wynn on sexual harassment
MGC Chair Steve Crosby had a word of warning for the Wynn group during and after the meeting on Thursday as the company discussed hiring and employee matters, but skirted by any discussion of sexual harassment training.
“To not bring attention to sexual harassment and women in the workplace during that discussion seemed to be a fairly substantial missing piece for the protection of employees,” he said. “It seemed to be a pretty big missing piece, particularly for people from Wynn Resorts.”
The discussion came during the report on employment, diversity employment goals and the new employment practices being put in place in preparation for a “mass hire” in early 2019.
Wynn officials said they are in the process of modifying their policies and will report back soon.
New commissioner to come soon
Commissioner Lloyd MacDonald has left the MGC as a commissioner, and Attorney General Maura Healey has appointed Eileen O’Brien to the vacant post.
O’Brien will begin her seating on the MGC this week.
O’Brien, a Newton resident, served in various positions within the Special Investigations and Narcotics Division at the AG’s Office, including chief of the division from April 2004 to July 2008.
The Chelsea Public Schools has hit a major shortfall in its budgeting for next year, and reported at recent meeting that it is in deficit $3.1 million, and has been underfunded by as much as $17.2 million by the state funding formula.
It has now become a major call to action for the school community and for activists in Chelsea, including the Chelsea Collaborative – whose Director, Gladys Vega, called on the City Council to support joining a lawsuit against the state for underfunding schools.
That suit was filed by Brockton and Worcester last week due to what they believe is chronic underfunding of urban schools through the 1993 Education Reform School Budget Formula.
“This reimbursement problem in the formula needs to be solved and I think we need to address the formula and I urge the City and the City Council to join with Brockton on this lawsuit against the state,” said Vega at Monday’s Council meeting.
She was right on the same page with Supt. Mary Bourque, who on Monday morning said they are seriously considering making that move.
“We have not officially joined, but we are seriously exploring the need to join this lawsuit,” she said.
By the numbers, the state Chapter 70 School Budget has underfunded the Chelsea Schools in five categories, according to the schools. One of the key pieces comes from the new definition of economically disadvantaged students (formerly low-income), which has caused an underfunding of $1.077 million in the coming year. Other areas included things where full reimbursements are promised, but only partially delivered – such as with Charter School reimbursements.
Those numbers include:
Fringe Benefits, $5.78 million
Charter School Reimbursement, $2.014 million
Special Education Tuition, $7.98 million
Homeless Student Transportation, $373,059
This came on the heels of a very lively and contentious meeting at City Hall by the School Committee on March 15, where the School Budget process was rolled out to a standing-room only crowd.
Bourque led off the meeting saying it is time to stand up for public education, and pressure legislators to take up the cause – a cause she said was the Civil Rights struggle of our time.
“Sadly, we find ourselves in a time and place where we are not willing as a society to invest in public education,” she said. “Each year I come to you with a budget that is failing each year to meet the complex needs of our students. Each year I come to you with a budget that fails to provide an equitable education compared to public school children in wealthier communities. Each year these educators…are being asked to do more with less and less. Providing our schools with the funding that’s needed to educate the next generation is the Civil Rights struggle of our time. I ask you: Will you join me in this Civil Rights struggle and our quest for social justice? We need to have the courage to standup now and today for public education.”
The Chelsea Teacher’s Union called for the same kind of advocacy, but also called on the City and the City Council to use its $34 million in Free Cash to shore up the School Budget.
“For the short term, the City of Chelsea has made some significant investment in the schools and we appreciate that. However, we need more,” said Sam Baker, vice president of the union. “The City has $34 million in Free Cash and the City is seeing significant real estate development. What is the purpose of all this this development and progress if the proceeds aren’t going to support the education of the kids in Chelsea? The CTU welcomes the opportunity to advocate for changes at the state level. That’s a long term solution. I’m asking the School Committee and the school community to lobby the City Council to release more funds to the School Department here in order to prevent the cuts to this proposed budget.”
Catherine Ellison, a special education teacher at the Browne Middle School, said many of her students have suffered because of budgets last year. She said last year the middle school Special Education budget was slashed, and after hearing of the impacts, the budget still wasn’t restored.
“Caseloads have soared while resources have severely declined,” she said. “Children have been forced to struggle in mainstream classes while funds were cut…Our staff and our students have been aggressive in addressing the increasing and complex needs of our brilliant, resilient and magnificent children. It’s time for the school district to do the same.”
Chelsea is not alone in the struggles, which is why the lawsuit is such a tempting option for urban schools like Chelsea.
Already, in Everett, mid-year cuts to the tune of $6 million were avoided by an infusion of cash by the City, and it is expected that the Everett Schools could need as much as $8 million to plug holes next year.
Revere has a similar circumstance and isn’t as far in its budgeting process as Chelsea and Everett, but it is expected they will have a sharp deficit as well.
A Tibetan social organization has purchased the former Irish Club on Clinton Street, and several City officials would like to know more about what the new club would like to do with the property.
The matter was first breeched by Councillor Leo Robinson last month at a Council meeting, when he said he had heard there was a new owner and they had an extensive membership.
Robinson was worried, in particular, about the nature of the Club’s activities and their parking plan – as the former Irish Club hadn’t seen a large membership in many years.
On Monday night, City Manager Tom Ambrosino reported that the Tibetan Association of Boston had recently purchased the Irish Club property. He said the club has a permit for the use of the first floor only as a social club.
“That use will be allowed as a matter of right by the new owner,” he said. “I understand the new owner is currently working with ISD to secure the required occupancy permit for that permitted use.”
He said ISD recently conducted an inspection of the property and identified some violations that need to be corrected.
That said, the new owner has expressed to the City a desire to permit the basement for a social club as well. That could only be done by a Special Permit, requiring the new club to make a date with the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) for expanding a non-conforming use.
It might also require some parking relief too, Ambrosino said.
“Thus far, the owner has started the Special Permit application process, but it has not yet supplied ISD with all the necessary documentation for a full review,” he said.
Ambrosino told the Record that his understanding is the new club has a membership of around 200.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) on Wednesday, Jan. 31, held a special hearing into the allegations against Wynn Resorts CEO Steve Wynn – a Massachusetts gaming licensee – and said they were not told of the 2005 private settlement, while at the same time urging fairness and speed in the investigation.
The one-hour hearing was unique in that it was one of about three government-level hearings now going on internationally, with others now underway in Nevada and Macau (China). Another is going on privately within the Wynn organizations by a Special Committee of the Board of Directors.
Chair Steve Crosby led off the meeting by saying that the MGC’s Investigations and Enforcement Bureau (IEB) would not rush to judgment or impugn anyone.
“Before we begin, I’d like to reiterate that we have a shared sense of urgency about this serious matter, but careful diligence must be a top priority,” he said. “The stakes are enormous and many lives are involved— from the lives of the women allegedly abused, to the lives of men and women in Everett now building the project, to the senior executives and board members of Wynn Resorts. We will get this right and we will get it right as quickly as we can.”
He finished the meeting by saying he wants a very open investigation so the people know what happened.
“The people of Massachusetts have the right to know what the hell happened here with no punches pulled,” he said. “Having to hold back things ifs something this Commissioner will not look favorably on.”
The MGC announced last Friday after the allegations surfaced that they would initiate an investigation in their IEB division. On Wednesday, the first volley of that investigation was launched.
Somewhat of a revelation was when IEB Director Karen Wells said Wynn Resorts or Steve Wynn never told anyone in 2013 about the $7.5 million settlement associated with the recent allegation of sexual harassment by a Wynn hotel manicurist in Las Vegas.
“I corroborated that information with counsel for Wynn Resorts who confirmed that there was in-fact a settlement and that it was not disclosed to investigators upon advice of counsel,” said Wells. “She also confirmed that the settlement itself was not part of any court action or litigation and that no lawsuit was filed at any time. There were no court documents filed that could have been identified in the course of the investigation. This was a private agreement and steps were taken to keep it from the public domain. The circumstances around this $7.5M settlement and the decision not to disclose it to investigators remain a critical element of this review.”
For the commissioners, there was a sense of seriousness, but also one of attentiveness. No one wanted to engage in something unfair to Wynn or anyone else.
“The single most important thing at this stage is to get control of the facts by figuring them out as quickly as possible,” said Commissioner Lloyd MacDonald. “I urge you to be scrupulously diligent and work with speed, thoroughness and objectivity. That will be key.”
Wells said she had no idea how long the investigation would take as they have just embarked on it.
“It’s hard to give a timeline because once you start conducting interviews, it could lead you in many different directions,” she said.
The Phantom Ventures strip club has re-applied for permits from the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) to open their controversial club where the old King Arthur’s Club stood previously.
“Based on a letter from Inspectional Services Director Michael McAteer dated Sept. 13, 2017, it is clear that Phantom Ventures would be operating a nude cabaret/sports bar as a permissible under the August 21, 2017 communication stating that adult entertainment for the purpose of this case is to be classified in the ‘theatres, concert halls, and cinemas’ category,” read the application.
That came after a meeting this year – which followed a Federal Court ruling declaring the City’s adult entertainment ordinance Unconstitutional – where the ZBA said any nude dancing application had to be fit under the theatre use.
So, now Phantom Ventures will be a theatre.
That said, the club also lacks the adequate amount of parking. They need 97 and have 66.
Phantom Ventures said they have a plan to use a lot nearby via a valet service. They will need a parking variance to accompany the Special Permit.
The ZBA will hear the special permit and variance at its Nov. 14 meeting at 6 p.m. in City Hall.
City Manager Tom Ambrosino said he couldn’t predict the actions of the ZBA, but he expects the board would likely deny the Special Permit. That, also likely, would trigger another appeal by the company.
In the end, the matter will likely land back in Federal Court with the same judge, who will end up making the decision.
Owners of Phantom Ventures have indicated they plan to invest a significant amount of money in the new club, making it a high class venue for sports and nude dancing entertainment.