Chelsea and Everett police drug control detectives executed simultaneous warrants at two Chelsea addresses this morning that resulted in multiple arrests and a sizable seizures of heroin, cocaine and US currency. Everett and Chelsea investigators had developed information that the two locations, 262 Maple Street and 79 Garland Street Apt#2 were covertly working together to funnel drugs into both Chelsea and Everett.
Police report that some of the six taken into custody had multiple identifications making it difficult to ascertain their true identities. That aspect of the investigation is on going.
The arrested individual’s will face charges in both Chelsea and Malden District Courts.
Chelsea Police remind the community they can report crimes or suspicious activity anonymously in various formats. Citizens can call the 24 hr “tips” line at 617-466-4880, email reports directly from the departments website at www.chelseapolice.com or download for free the MYPD App that is compatible with both Android and Apple smart phones. All three ways are monitored and totally anonymous.
Leader of MS-13 East Coast program pleads guilty
Defendant was recorded presiding over meeting of East Coast Program
Record Staff Report
The leader of the MS-13 East Coast Program pleaded guilty Nov. 27 in federal court in Boston to racketeering conspiracy.
Jose Adan Martinez Castro, a/k/a “Chucky,” 28, a Salvadoran national formerly residing in Richmond, Va., pleaded guilty to conspiracy to conduct enterprise affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity, more commonly referred to as RICO conspiracy.
U.S. District Court Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV scheduled sentencing for Feb. 26, 2018.
After a three-year investigation, Castro was one of 61 persons named in a superseding indictment targeting the criminal activities of alleged leaders, members, and associates of MS-13 in Massachusetts.
MS-13 leaders incarcerated in El Salvador oversee individual branches, or “cliques,” that are grouped into “programs” throughout the United States. During the investigation, Castro was identified as the leader of MS-13’s East Coast Program. On Dec. 13, 2015, Castro was recorded as he ran a meeting of East Coast Program clique leaders in Richmond, Va. During the meeting, Castro and others discussed sending money to El Salvador to support MS-13, the need to work together to increase the gang’s strength and control, and the need to violently retaliate against anyone who provided information against the gang.
Castro is the 25th defendant to be convicted.
Castro faces up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and will be subject to deportation upon the completion of his sentence.
State Trooper nabs two men with firearm, crack cocaine
Record Staff Report
A motor vehicle stop by an alert Massachusetts State Trooper last week on the Parkway resulted in the seizure of an illegally possessed gun, more than 100 rounds of illegally possessed ammunition, and illegal narcotics.
On the morning of November 21, Trooper Joseph Barteaux was patrolling Route 16 westbound in Chelsea when he observed a black Nissan Altima being operated in violation of motor vehicle laws and observed it almost strike another vehicle while abruptly changing lanes.
The vehicle, occupied by two brothers, pulled into a McDonald’s parking lot. Trooper Barteaux followed it into the lot and conducted a motor vehicle stop. Upon questioning, the driver, 22, stated he and his brother were coming from his girlfriend’s house in Lynn and were returning to their home in Randolph. The driver, however, could not name the street his girlfriend lived on.
After making further observations of both men being uncooperative and appearing nervous, Trooper Barteaux asked both men to exit the car. The 24-year-old passenger walked with an apparent limp and dragged his right leg. When asked, he denied being injured. Based on the Trooper’s training and experience, he believed the passenger was concealing something in his clothing and was walking strangely to hold it in place.
Despite the suspect’s attempt to resist the search, the Trooper located a cylinder concealed in the suspect’s pants. Trooper James Maloney arrived on scene and assisted Trooper Barteaux in controlling the suspect. The suspect became upset and attempted to break free, twisting his body with his elbows raised and striking the Troopers in the process. The Troopers physically placed the suspect on the ground. Trooper Barteaux drew his department-issued electronic control weapon and ordered the suspect to cease resisting; the suspect then complied with the Troopers’ orders, the weapon was not fired, and the suspect was taken into custody.
Trooper Barteaux then unscrewed the top of the cylinder the suspect had been concealing and observed inside it a large plastic bag containing a white rock substance believed to be crack cocaine.
Trooper Barteaux returned to the front driver side of the Altima and observed, in a compartment in the open front door, a black ski mask. The Trooper also noticed that a plastic panel behind the front right passenger seat was loose, exposing a void inside the seat. Knowing from his training and experience that a void like that is a common hiding place for illegal contraband, Trooper Barteaux reached into it and retrieved a plastic bag containing 116 nine-millimeter rounds of ammunition and a black and silver Smith & Wesson 9mm firearm. Trooper Maloney additionally located a large roll of duct tape.
The suspects were transported to the State Police Barracks in Revere. There, during a search of the passenger’s person, Troopers located several additional bags containing a white rock substance believed to be cocaine, a brown powder believed to be heroin, and 21 purple pills believed to be Class B oxycodone. More than $1,000 cash, believed to be the proceeds from drug transactions, was also found in the passenger’s possession.
The driver was charged with illegal possession of a firearm, illegal possession of ammunition, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, and making an unsafe lane change. His brother and passenger was charged with illegal possession of a firearm, illegal possession of ammunition, possession of a Class A substance with intent to distribute, possession of a Class B substance with intent to distribute, trafficking a Class B substance over 18 grams, and assault and battery on a police officer. The brothers were subsequently arraigned in Chelsea District Court.
CHS boys soccer drops 2-1 heartbreaker to Boston Latin in tourney
The Chelsea High boys soccer team dropped a 2-1 decision in as excruciating a fashion as possible in the first round of the Division 1 North Sectional of the MIAA State Soccer Tournament this past Saturday evening under the lights at Chelsea Stadium.
After spotting Latin a 1-0 lead in the first 15 minutes, the Red Devils, who entered the contest as the No. 7 seed in the D-1 North, settled down and soon came to control the play for most of the remainder of the contest.
However, it would not be until there were seven minutes left to play that Chelsea would bring the score back to level when Red Devil senior Jephte Marcellus found the back of the Latin net. Fellow senior Kevin Vasquez set up the goal with a superb crossing pass from his defensive position into the top of the box, where Marcellus settled the ball and drilled a powerful shot past the Latin keeper.
The teams then battled fiercely for the remainder of regulation and through both of the 10-minute overtime periods. After a total of 100 minutes of play, the contest came down to penalty kicks, with each side getting five.
Chelsea went first and the teams alternated, with the first four attempts by both teams finding the back of the net. However, the Latin keeper guessed correctly on Chelsea’s fifth shot, making the save, and the fifth Latin shooter made good on his attempt to end the game.
“This by far was our best game of the season,” said CHS assistant coach Evan Protasowicki of the Red Devils, whose last regular-season contest was a 5-0 rout of a tourney-qualifying Salem squad. “We had an early case of the jitters, but then played our style of ball and controlled the tempo. We were sharp at both ends of the field. It was just a tough way to lose.”
Milutinovic Coach of Year; Umanzor-Torres league MVP; four others named all-stars
Post-season accolades poured in for the Chelsea High boys soccer team at the meeting of the Commonwealth Athletic Conference coaches this past week.
Long-time CHS head coach Mick Milutinovic, who guided a young Red Devil squad to a CAC Large Division title after a slow start, was named the CAC Large’s Coach of the Year.
Red Devil senior captain Kevin Umanzo-Torres was named the Most Valuable Player of the CAC Large. Fellow captain Bryan Armas, the CHS keeper, and teammates Jephte Marcellus, Carlos Arevalo-Garcia, and Delmer Romero were named all-stars.
High finish for CHS star LeClerc in coaches’ meet
Last Saturday the CHS boys and girls cross-country teams traveled to Wrentham for the Frank Mooney State Coaches Invitational.
The Red Devils were led by senior captain Jose Leclerc who ran a personal best of 16:38 for the 3.1 mile course and was sixth out of 529 runners. Jose earned a medal for his extraordinary performance.
“Jose ran a smart race and moved up as the race wore on,” said CHS head coach Don Fay. “This Saturday is the Eastern Massachusetts Division 2 championship, and Jose has a very good chance of qualifying for all-states, which is the top seven individuals who are not on an all-state qualifying team.”
Also running well for Chelsea were junior Justin Turner, who ran a 66-second personal record (PR) of 18:44. Yosef Rubin ran 18:57, which was a PR by 14 seconds.
Jazmany Reyes had a PR by 38 seconds, running 18:58. Limilson Tavares and Ronny Gomez each ran PR times, 19:07 and 19:08 respectively.
“We could have all of our top seven this week break 19:00, which has never happened before,” said Fay. “We have a lot of depth and one of the better runners in the state this year.”
For the Lady Red Devils, Yarid Deras medaled (top 50) with a 44th place performance among the 327 girls who were on the starting line. Yarid’s time of 21:24 was her second-best clocking on the Wrentham course.
Jocelyn Poste broke 22 minutes for the first time (21:58) and finished 65th. Amanda Dias finished in 106th place in 22:33 and Cynthia Mancia came across in 120th position.
Both the girls and boys teams will be returning Saturday to the state training facility in Wrentham to compete in the Division 2 Eastern Mass. championship race.
by Bob Morello
Bruins fighting the injuries
The month of November has started out pretty well for the Bruins, that is, when one considers the current extensive injury list of Boston. At press time the team had listed: Brad Marchand (upper body), Anton Khudobin (lower body), David Krejci (upper body), Ryan Spooner (abductor tear), Noel Acciari (fractured finger), David Backes (colon surgery), and Adam McQuaid (lower body). With a M.A.S.H.-like roster it is surprising that the Bs have been able to put up numbers that reflect their competitiveness and team depth. Coming into last night’s matchup with the New York Rangers, their stats show that with 13 games played, they are just three points behind second-place Toronto Maple Leafs in the Atlantic Division, with three games in hand, and five points behind second-place Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference with Boston holding four games in hand.
On the Bruins’ radar, following their trip to New York, will be a home-and-home series with Toronto this weekend. Friday (7 p.m.) the Leafs will host Boston, and the team returns home to Garden ice for the back end on Saturday. A good chance for the locals to move up the standings, both in the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference. Their schedule has the Bs right back on the road for a three-game road trip to the West Coast, that will have them visiting the Anaheim Ducks (Wednesday, Nov. 15 at 10 p.m.), the Los Angeles Kings (Thursday, Nov. 16 at 10:30 p.m.), and end their trip to the West with the San Jose Sharks (Saturday, Nov. 18 at 10:30 p.m.), before returning to the East Coast to be hosted by the New Jersey Devils (Wednesday, Nov. 22 at 7 p.m.).
Boston’s upcoming five-game schedule will have a huge impact on the team’s standings, and gives them a chance to recover their position, with many of the injured hopefully ready to return to the lineup. The return of Marchand was not expected for last night’s game with the Rangers, but he will likely be a game-day decision for both the Friday and Saturday Toronto games this weekend. Krejci has found his way to practice ice earlier this week, but is not penciled in for any of this week’s games. In goal last night (Wednesday) versus the Rangers, Khudobin was expected to be backing up Tuukka Rask, and if he continues to progress, he should be getting a start for Boston in the Toronto home-and-home series, Friday or Saturday. Noel Acciari is also expected to return for the Toronto series.
If there is a silver lining to the Bruins’ extensive injury report, it would be the fact that Boston has had an ample amount of time to test several of their youngsters toiling for the Providence Bruins. Several Baby B’s players have had impressive showings, and all have definitely enjoyed their stay with the big club, using the opportunity to show their NHL ability. It certainly has given the Bruins the potential of a ‘bright future!’
The Housing Court in Boston has been a refuge since the 1970s for mediation, litigation and resolution of all sorts of housing issues, but throughout all of that time, it has been closed off to Chelsea landlords, tenants and City officials.
Instead, they had to file cases in Chelsea District Court with court officials who were more adept at understanding criminal statutes rather than housing codes and laws. It was a constant point of contention, as many in the city wished for the professional expertise of those in the Housing Court division.
That wish came true on July 1, and Housing Court Chief Justice Timothy Sullivan and Department Administrator Paul J. Burke told the Record they are busy rolling out the court right now to the rest of the state – including Chelsea. That comes after it was approved in the State Budget this year, an appropriation and direction from the Legislature and Gov. Charlie Baker to bring housing court to everyone.
“Over the years we grew to have five divisions in Housing Court, but there were still 84 communities underserved or unserved by the court,” said Judge Sullivan. “In July, the State Budget authorized us to expand and absorb those communities. Previously, for example, in Chelsea and Revere, one had no access to Housing Court. They could litigate disputes, but it had to be in district court.”
Housing Court began in the 1970s to address substandard housing conditions in Boston, and gradually grew to other areas of the state. However, that specialized court never go the go-ahead to expand everywhere to offer their unique services.
Judges and staff in Housing Court are specially trained and have tremendous expertise in housing issues – particularly when it comes to mediating landlord-tenant disputes or evictions, which make up about 66 percent of the 41,000 cases filed annually. Another 15 percent come from municipalities looking to enforce the sanitary code or code violations on problem properties.
The call is nothing new for Chelsea to be absorbed into Housing Court, and even Supreme Judicial Court Justice Ralph Gants has been a strong advocate for the creating of a statewide Housing Court – not to mention numerous local housing organizations.
However, it wasn’t until this year that the call was answered, and Sullivan said they were ready and continue to ramp things up.
Already, he said, many cases that had previously been filed in Chelsea District Court for Revere and Chelsea have been transferred to the new Eastern Division in Boston’s Edward Brooke Courthouse.
Revere, Chelsea and Winthrop will now be included in the jurisdiction of that Eastern Division. The Legislation also creates a new, Sixth Division, on the South Shore – currently being rolled out in Brockton. It will be known as Metro South.
The Western Division has no change, but the other divisions throughout the state will also be absorbing the communities like Chelsea who have had no access to the specialized services of the Housing Court.
“As we build our new Sixth Division in Norfolk County, we’ll also be absorbing probably 52 to 54 communities in other parts of the state – for example Chelsea and Revere – in four of our five existing divisions,” said Sullivan.
“We have really hit the ground running,” he continued. “Fortunately, with Paul Burke’s expertise, this had been talked about for some time and he had a plan on the shelf ready to go. This idea to expand had been kicking around for a bit in the State House, probably for about four years or more. Paul did a magnificent job preparing for that.”
One of the major services that will now be offered to Chelsea resident through Housing Court is access to a Housing Specialist to help mediate cases before the come to a judge.
“The Housing Specialists are very skilled at bringing people together, both sides, to work out an agreeable resolution to landlord/tenant disputes,” said Sullivan.
Burke said 80 percent of the cases mediated by a Housing Specialist resulted in an Agreement for Judgment, and presumably meaning that all parties left the courthouse satisfied and that the judge never had to engage with the parties.
Last Thursday, which is known as Summary Judgment Day, the Edward Brooke Courthouse was teeming with people coming to resolve housing cases – most of them landlords and tenants trying to work out disputes.
At the first of the day, their cases are called in a large courtroom to make sure everyone on both sides has appeared. If everyone is present, they usually move the case to a Housing Specialist. After a brief wait, the parties mediate the case with the Specialist.
If an agreement is worked out, an Assistant Clerk Magistrate can resolve the case with a short hearing. Then all parties are free to go and are to follow the new agreement – whether it be repairs or rent payments.
Anyone not satisfied, however, can ask to see the judge and, later in the day, go before the judge to discuss the matter.
Another program is related to the Housing Specialist program, but deals with anyone who might have a disability. It is called the Tennessee Preservation Project (TPP).
Clinicians who specialize in disabilities of all kinds are immediately called in to consult with court staff if anyone on a case is eligible for the services. They can consult and help to also resolve the case.
“They can help come up with a plan to accommodate the disabled individual and try to prevent homelessness, and at the same time alleviate the landlord’s problem as a result of the disability,” said Sullivan.
One example where that could apply is in a situation where there is a problem with Hoarding – or the gathering of things to the point where it violates the Sanitary Code. Any agreement made in consult with TPP can be rolled into an Agreement for Judgment with the Housing Specialist – meaning both parties are accountable to the agreement and it can be brought back before a judge is one party does not uphold it.
One of the final benefits now offered is the Lawyer for a Day program, where lawyers from the community volunteer their time and talent to assist those coming in without representation.
In a place like Housing Court, that is crucial, Sullivan said, because many don’t bring a lawyer.
Burke said more than 70 percent of litigants come without a lawyer, and the program helps people understand what is a very complex section of the law dealing with housing.
“The Lawyer for a Day program is of tremendous value to litigants,” said Sullivan.
For cities and towns, the entry into Housing Court is also a major boon, and they were likely the voices that finally pushed the effort over the top legislatively.
With so many foreclosures coming after the 2008 housing crisis hit, many cities and towns underserved by Housing Court found themselves in a difficult situation when trying to enforce the building and sanitary code on vacant homes tied up in foreclosure.
Municipalities had to get a court-appointed receiver to take over the home, which is something Housing Court is accustomed to, but District Court is not.
Many times, housing law expertise was needed, but cases had to be filed in the District Court.
“Our staff is trained and skilled in all aspects related to building codes, fire codes and we’re equipped to deal with the Housing Statutes in a very efficient way,” Sullivan said.
The rollout of the court is still in progress, and includes adding five new judges to the existing 10 judges now serving on Housing Court. There will also be one new Clerk Magistrate for Norfolk County’s new division.
Burke said the hope is to be fully up and running in all divisions by the end of the next fiscal year, which is June 30, 2018. That will include getting new staff aboard next spring to help absorb the cases that are coming in from places like Revere and Chelsea.
A key resource for those who have a case in the new Housing Court is the Access Centers that are in each division, including the Edward Brooke Courthouse.
The Center is available and staffed to help litigants file forms and get information on an upcoming case. It’s not a resource for the day-of, but can be invaluable for those who check it out ahead of time.
“That’s a resource people need to affirmatively reach out for,” said Burke. “You don’t wait for your day in court to use it. You have to seek it out ahead of time and then you can really be prepared for your court date.”
Catarina Andrade is one of several Housing Specialists in the newly expanded Housing Court that are prepared to help landlords and tenants resolve cases before going to a judge. Some 80 percent of cases that go before a specialist are resolved agreeably without seeing a judge.
Assistant Clerk Magistrate Tom Trilla conducts a hearing on a case that was successfully mediated by a Housing Specialist last Thursday in the Edward Brooke Courthouse –which houses the newly expanded Eastern Division of Housing Court. Such access to mediators and hearings were previously not available to residents of Revere, Chelsea and Winthrop. They had to go through the District Court for housing disputes.
Attorney Patricio Rossi – a Winthrop resident – is one of the many attorneys that volunteer their time to help those without representation in Housing Court. The Lawyer for a Day Program is another amenity of Housing Court previously not available to those in Revere, Chelsea and Winthrop who had to filing housing cases in District Court.
Dredging the channels last Friday. Materials from the floor of the Harbor will be buried in closed containers off the coast of Charlestown.
As global commerce shifts increasing to larger and larger ship, places like Boston Harbor and the Chelsea Creek need to get deeper.
That’s exactly what is happening right now after state, federal and local officials announced the $350 million project on Friday, Sept. 15, that will dredge the Harbor for the first time in nearly 20 years, and also deepen parts of the Harbor. The project will stretch from the outer Harbor to the Mystic River and up the Chelsea Creek.
At a ceremony in the AutoPort, just on the other side of the Mystic/Tobin Bridge in Charlestown, the announcement was made to kick off the project.
“Investments we make today into the Port of Boston and the Conley Container Terminal are essential for New England to remain an important player in the global economy for years to come,” said Massport CEO Thomas P. Glynn. “We are grateful to our state and federal partners, under the strong leadership of Governor Charlie Baker, Senators Warren and Markey and Congressman Lynch, for continuing to support the Port, help modernize Conley’s facilities and allow the Harbor to handle even larger ships.”
State Sen. Sal DiDomenico said the three year project is critical for the safe passage of larger ships that will be able to make Boston their port of call. This project will continue to make Boston one of the most important ports on the eastern seaboard and protect and increase jobs for our workers as well as increase the economic activity at our docks.
“This project will allow Boston to continue it’s leadership position on the east coast for containers ships visiting our ports,” said DiDomenico. “Every part of my district is impacted by the economic success of our ports and dredging the Boston Harbor will allow us to continue our competitive advantage on the eastern seaboard.”
The $350 million state and federally funded multi-phase project also will support continued growth at South Boston’s Conley Container Terminal, which has achieved three consecutive record breaking years for volume.
“Deepening Boston Harbor and supporting infrastructure investments at Conley Container Terminal are crucial to Massachusetts and New England’s competitiveness in the global marketplace,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “We are proud to work with our state and federal partners toward these improvements, supporting billions in economic activity and over 1,600 businesses creating thousands of local jobs.”
Project plans include maintaining the inner harbor, and deepening the outer harbor, main shipping channel and reserved channel to allow for larger container ships already calling Conley Container Terminal following the expansion of the Panama Canal. States up and down the East Coast are investing in their ports to accommodate bigger ships. The dredging in the inner harbor preserves vessels’ capability to deliver home heating oil, automobiles, jet fuel, and salt to terminals along the Chelsea Creek and Mystic Rivers.
The overall project to deepen Boston Harbor will cost approximately $350 million, including $130 million from Massport and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and $220 million in federal funding, including $18.2 million allocated in the USACE’s FY 2017 workplan and $58 million included in the President’s FY’18 budget. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has contracted with Great Lakes Dredge and Dock to perform the work.
The first phase of the project consists of maintenance dredging, including the construction of a Confined Aquatic Disposal (CAD) Cell just off the shore of the AutoPort in Charlestown, which will safely hold tons of sediment from the floor of the harbor. This work is expected to continue through the end of the year.
The second phase of the project, scheduled to begin in mid-2018, will deepen the Outer Harbor Channel, from 40 to 51 feet; the Main Shipping Channel, from 40 to 47 feet; and the Reserve Channel, where Conley Container Terminal is located, from 40 to 47 feet. Currently, Conley is able to handle 8,500 TEU ships – this project will allow it to handle up to 12,000 TEU vessels.
Supt. Mary Bourque called on faculty and staff from around the district at her annual breakfast on Monday, Aug. 28, to lead students, families and the district to social justice.
“We are a district committed to ongoing improvement on behalf of our students and as such we have four schools implementing Turnaround Plans this year and five schools implementing Accelerated Improvement Plans,” she said. “We believe we can do better for our students and these plans are a reflection of where we will work to do a better job in the coming year. This is social justice… Our profession of education is one of leadership and service—service to young people and service to the next generation. Our work is about building the future. Our profession of ‘urban’ education is one of social justice. We open the doors of opportunity for our students.”
Her comments come one year after unveiling a new five-year plan for the district at last year’s breakfast.
A good part of her speech detailed some of the goals that have been met.
One major accomplishment laid out last year was the ability to get computers in the hands of students and to use them to focus on the new trend of student-centered learning. This year, she said a major part of that goal of getting computers – or one-to-one technology – has been accomplished.
“We expanded our technology initiative and proudly boast that we now have one-to-one devices in grades 2-12,” said Bourque.
Other initiatives achieved and pointed out in the plan included:
We expanded our Caminos dual enrollment program at the ELC and will continue to expand annually.
We continue to build the internal and external pipelines and career ladders for future teachers and administrators with our partnerships with Lesley, Endicott, and Harvard Colleges to name a few.
At Chelsea High School (CHS) the district successfully initiated the biliteracy credential and 11 graduating seniors received the award upon graduation in June.
At CHS, Advance Placement scores show a 4 percent increase in qualifying scores of 3, 4, or 5 from 32 percent last year to 36 percent of AP tests administered this year.
Another major achievement she pointed out was the growth in the dual enrollment program with Bunker Hill Community College.
She said in 2017, CHS graduates earned 1,162 college credits equaling 385 courses during their years at CHS and while working on their high school diploma.
“That was a savings of over $200,000 on college tuition and fees and over $50,000 on books,” she said. “Does anyone doubt that we will be offering a pathway for students to complete their Associate’s Degree at the same time they are receiving their high school diploma from Chelsea High by June 30, 2021? Let us be the first high school in the State to offer this pathway.”
Going back to her theme of social justice, Bourque said the times are very uncertain, and with teachers and staff in the Chelsea Schools leading on a social justice mission, they are also leading in accordance with the district’s mission.
“Our foundational beliefs center around our mission statement: ‘We welcome and educate ALL students,’” she said. “This is social justice in action, to welcome and educate– inclusive of all– to seek equity in educational opportunities for career and college success for each and every student…
“As a school system, our goal remains to ensure all of our students graduate with the skills, confidence, and habits of mind they need to be successful in college, career, and life,” she continued. “We have no misplaced compassion for our students. We hold them to the same standards of excellence as all other students in our State of Massachusetts are held to. This is Chelsea Public Schools’ social justice.”
Senator Sal DiDomenico recently joined State Senators and Representatives from throughout the United States during the 2017 National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) Summit held in Boston. Each year elected officials meet to share information and best practices at this conference held in different part of the country. This year’s summit was the largest in several years with over 6,000 legislators convening in our Capitol. Senator DiDomenico is a member of several NCSL committees, including Student Centered Learning, and he participated in several sessions on topics such as redistricting, education, intergovernmental affairs, media relations, and manufacturing. This summit was also attended by associations, foundations, and governmental agencies and DiDomenico met with many of these organizations including the Nellie Mae Foundation to speak about their work funding educational initiatives throughout New England. “It was great to join colleagues from throughout the country, and gather information that we can use in our own districts and throughout the Commonwealth,” said DiDomenico. “Having this summit in Boston also allowed us to showcase our collaborative approach to governing that has moved our state forward.”
Since 1975, NCSL has been the champion of state legislatures. They have helped states remain strong and independent by giving them the tools, information and resources to craft the best solutions to difficult problems. They fought against unwarranted actions in Congress and saved states more than $1 billion. They strive to improve the quality and effectiveness of the state legislatures, promote policy innovation and communication, and ensure states have a strong cohesive voice.
State officials made their first presentation of the proposed Community Living Center at the Soldiers’ Home, a project that will replace the Quigley Hospital and require the removal of the iconic Soldiers’ Home water tower.
The $199 million project, some 66 percent of which could be federally funded, has the makings of improving the living conditions of those in the long-term care portion of the Home – taking them from open wards that are no longer permissible to private rooms with social areas arranged in “houses.” However, to date, and through a large part of the meeting Thursday night, Aug. 3, the overall project has been overshadowed by the potential loss of the water tower.
Some residents have voiced approval for the project, but want those building it to see if they can save the tower or come up with a similar iconic structure. Other residents have started a very popular online petition to ‘Save the Chelsea Water Tower,’ and it has caught on.
On Thursday night, many of the voices of the veterans, who have yet to be heard, resonated.
“I guarantee you a few years after it’s gone…we’ll barely remember it,” said Daniel Heagan. “You’ll say, ‘I know there was a water tower there, but I don’t even remember what color it is.’ Please accept this change. It’s for the best of the veterans. Please go along with it. This is a positive change for the men and women who represented you in combat. You won’t know it’s gone in a few years.”
Tom Miller, who has lived at the Home for 11 years and is a member of the Honor Guard, said the priority is now the veterans.
“The water tower provided some great memories,” he said. “Right now the priority is to build a new Quigley Hospital. That needs to be the focus. We can always have those memories. The Historical Society will have wonderful photographs. We can have a party when it comes down to celebrate what it meant. But it has to come down.”
However, many long-time Chelsea residents said they hoped there could be a compromise.
“When I come over the Tobin Bridge and have people in the car I point to the tower and tell people that is where I live,” said School Committeeman Rich Maronski. “You can see the tower from East Boston. That’s where I live. The residents really wish if you could preserve it or move it, that would be great. The veterans health care comes first, but we wonder if there is a chance to do something.”
Councillor Matt Frank said he loves the Soldiers’ Home and all that it represents. He said he believes its time to support the veterans to get the new home, but he also said he hopes there can be some accommodation for the tower.
“Sometimes emotions do matter and I think it’s for the best of the veterans community to be visible to everyone around like they are with the tower,” he said. “You see it every day. If you lose something that’s such a visual reminder, people would drive by without knowing what this place is…My biggest fear is the Solders’ Home could be lost in the shuffle. I think we need to take (resident) emotions into account.”
Some in the audience suggested replacing it with a “ginormous” flag that could be seen from downtown Boston, as the tower is.
Francisco Urena, secretary of Veterans Affairs, led the meeting and said that they are listening to the public and the residents. Both he and Supt. Cheryl Poppe said the status quo with open wards must be replaced, as they get marked deficient frequently and could lose crucial funding.
To weigh in, the state has established an e-mail to submit comments. It is email@example.com.
Last fall, when Chelsea’s Edma Ortiz began to get increasingly concerned about the presidential election and what was at stake for immigrants and the Latino community, she finally found the time to get to Chelsea City Hall to register to vote in the election.
However, an irregular work schedule that required her to work odd hours during weekdays, and the death of her mother that took her to Puerto Rico for nearly a month in October, delayed her trip to City Hall.
Getting on a plane Oct. 19 to go back to Boston, she remembered thinking that she needed to go register for the election.
On Oct. 20, she went to the Chelsea Collaborative to get the details on how to fill out the documents.
However, she found out she was one day late – the cutoff for registrations was on Oct. 19, many weeks before the Nov. 6 election.
With that news, the life-long U.S. Citizen was disqualified to cast her vote in what was one of the most important elections in modern history.
That and many other similar stories led the Collaborative to file a lawsuit last year challenging the voter registration cutoff – and this week the Supreme Judicial Court ruled in their favor.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) ruled this week that the voter registration law in Massachusetts – which calls for a cutoff for voting registration several weeks before any election – infringes on the rights of voters and should be reconsidered.
The case was brought by the Chelsea Collaborative and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) against the Secretary of the Commonwealth.
“We are extremely happy with the outcome on this case,” said Gladys Vega of the Collaborative. “We strongly feel that this law has to change and we are not saying this should have anything to do with same-day voter registration. What it should have everything to do with is U.S. Citizens being able to have their vote.”
The ACLU said it was a victory for democracy in the state.
“This is a major victory for democracy in Massachusetts, as the court agreed that the arbitrary 20-day voter registration cutoff law is unconstitutional and disenfranchises thousands of potential voters throughout the Commonwealth every election,” said Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU Massachusetts. “As the Trump administration is seeking to limit access to the ballot, Massachusetts should lead nationwide efforts to ensure that everyone has a right to vote. As champions for freedom, the ACLU of Massachusetts is committed to working together with other advocates and the Massachusetts Legislature to protect and expand access to the ballot.”
Vega said the cutoff limits force people to focus on the election in October and September – times when people aren’t paying as much attention.
However, she said when people really want to vote, they find that they no longer can do so.
“I’ve had people come down with the card to register well before the election and we had to turn them away,” she said. “It was too late. One man tore the card up in front of me and said, ‘Why do I even bother.’ That shouldn’t happen…We have to register voters at a time when no one cares about it rather that at a peak time when people start caring about voting and can no longer participate.”
She said one witness in their case before the SJC testified that more than 6,500 voters had been turned away after the cutoff.
She also said technology has come to a point where a cutoff so many days ahead of time is not needed.
“Enough was enough,” she said. “We felt that this was against the Constitutional right to vote. They don’t need the processing time and documentation time any more. Things are done so much quicker that shouldn’t be a problem now.”
The Court has instructed the Secretary of the Commonwealth, Bill Galvin, to craft a law that will be more accommodating.
It will then have to be passed by the State Legislature.
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.