State Rep. Dan Ryan said this week he is
pleased in what is considered a step up in becoming the vice chair of the Post
Audit Oversight Committee – a powerful committee that runs investigations of
government operations and actually has subpoena powers.
“I want to thank Speaker DeLeo for this
appointment, and my House colleagues for voting to affirm his trust in me,”
said Ryan. “I look forward to working with Chairman Linsky and other committee
members in continuing to bring solid, cost-effective government programs to the
Ryan said Post-Audit Oversight certainly
isn’t a household name for most people in the Town, but said it has a unique
mission and is a sought-after committee on Beacon Hill.
“The Post-Audit Oversight Committee is a select House committee that has a
unique mission,” he said. “Members of the committee are tasked with ensuring
that State agencies are abiding by legislative intent and the program
initiatives put forth, by the legislature, through the budget process. When
necessary, the committee will work with administrative agencies to
propose corrective actions to best serve citizens of the Commonwealth.”
One of the most visible investigations
conducted by the Committee came several years ago in the previous
administration when the Department of Children and Families (DCF) came under
fire for its handling and management of numerous cases involving children.
Ryan has also been assigned as a member of
the Mental Health, Substance Abuse and Recovery Committee, and as a member of
the Transportation Committee.
•Just across the North Washington Street
Bridge, State Rep. Aaron Michlewitz came away with one of the biggest scores
for the Boston delegation in getting assigned as chair of the powerful Ways
& Means Committee.
Rep. Ryan said that having such an important
chair nearby will be very good for Charlestown as well as the North End. That
will particularly be apparent with projects like the North Washington Street
Bridge, which affects the North End as much as Charlestown.
Michlewitz told the Patriot-Bridge that he
is humbled by the appointment, and that while he has to build consensus across
the state, he will keep his district and Boston in the forefront.
“I am honored
that Speaker DeLeo believes I can do the job,” he said. “The first order of
business is creating and debating a $42.7 billion budget. A lot of work has
been done in committee, but we have a short timeframe to get a lot done. The
thing I was to stress is my district is my number one priority.”
The city is mourning the loss of Joanne
Tarason, a popular local business owner and highly respected community leader
who touched the lives of many residents with her kindness and generosity.
Mrs. Tarason died on Tuesday. She was 77.
Joanne Tarason owned Coprico Printing
(formerly Sir Speedy) at 40 Washington Ave., located across the street from
Chelsea City Hall. She was also a long-time member of the Rotary Club and the
Chelsea Chamber of Commerce.
Mrs. Tarason donated her services to many
local organizations. Though she received numerous awards in appreciation of her
generous contributions and volunteer services, she always deflected the praise
to others and tried to stay out of the spotlight.
“Joanne helped out so many groups in a quiet
and unassuming way,” said Councillor-at-Large Leo Robinson. “She never sought
recognition for her many kind deeds and generous assistance. Chelsea has a lot
a great woman, community leader and friend.”
Councillor-at-Large Calvin Brown said Mrs.
Tarason was “one of Chelsea’s unsung heroes.”
“Joanne did so much for so many and was
admired by all,” said Brown. “It was always a pleasure to see her at local
social events. We have lost a great friend to Chelsea.”
Mrs. Tarason was a goodwill ambassador for
the Chamber of Commerce and the Rotary Club, always lending her support at
installation of officers dinners, community fundraisers, and the Chamber’s
$10,000 Pot-O-Gold Dinners.
But her reign of kindness and premier
platform of helpfulness was at her local business where residents would often
stop in just to say hello. She was meticulous in her work and customers came
from far and wide to have their printing jobs, large and small, done at her
Mrs. Tarason stayed ahead of the
technological advances in the printing business, acquiring new skills and
equipment to meet the requests of her large clientele.
The Chelsea City
Council will pay tribute to Mrs. Tarason with a moment of silence at its Feb.
The Licensing Commission has continued a
hearing on special additional rules for marijuana establishments to its March
The commission opened the public hearing at
its meeting on Thursday, Jan. 17.
While the hearing did not generate much
controversy, commissioners did agree that they wanted more time to consider
several issues, including language limiting where retail marijuana shops can be
concentrated, and the amount the city will charge for application fees.
“I’d like to see more research and see what
nearby cities have done and what their challenges are,” said commission member
Currently, there are three applications in
the works for retail marijuana shops in the city. The city will allow a maximum
of four retail licenses.
According to the proposed regulation, the
Licensing Commission will not issue a license to anyone who has violated
Licensing Commission rules and regulations in the past five years. All licenses
are subject to zoning approval and state Cannabis Control Commission approval.
The operating hours for retail shops will be
limited to 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and all signage will have to be approved by the
city, according to City Solicitor Cheryl Watson Fisher.
“We are trying to be a little more
restrictive now so we don’t have to clean up after the fact, like with liquor
licenses,” said Fisher.
The section of the proposed regulations that
garnered the most discussion among commission members was one which would limit
the concentration of where retail marijuana shops can be located.
Fisher noted that the language included in
the draft regulations, limiting retail shops to one per voting district and not
within 500 feet of another retail marijuana store, was not included by the
legal department. She said it was included because it was a request made during
a past public hearing on marijuana regulations.
“We already have a very small area in
Chelsea, and retail shops are already restricted to three zones and can’t be
within 500 feet of schools,” said Fisher. “It is already quite restrictive of
where you can put a facility.”
The city will allow marijuana establishments
in the Industrial, Shopping Center, and Business Highway zone.
Licensing Commission Chairman Mark Rossi
said he’d like the commission to have more discretion over where facilities can
“Our job is to factor in the input from the
community and the licensees,” said Rossi.
Much like it does with liquor licenses,
Rossi said the Licensing Commission will be getting input from the community,
police and fire departments, and other city officials when it comes to making a
final determination on issuing a marijuana license.
“This committee is uniquely situated to make
that determination,” he said.
Commission member James Guido said he would
like more information on limiting concentration in voting districts before
making a final decision on the proposed regulation.
Rossi also said he had questions about the
$5,000 application and annual renewal fee for marijuana establishments, stating
he would like to see a higher number.
Rossi said the application fees and
concentration of locations will be discussed when the hearing is continued at
its March 7 meeting.
“This is a big issue that affects everyone,”
•In other business, the Licensing Commission
adjusted its penalty for Rincon Latinos restaurant at 373 Washington Ave. In
December, the commission suspended the restaurant’s liquor license for eight
days spread over four weekends for repeated instances of exceeding its
Last week, the commission agreed to suspend
the license for two weekends in January, as well as for a five-day stretch
during the week when a new handicap bathroom will be installed by the
The new bathroom will allow Rincons Latinos
to increase its capacity from 17 to 28 people, according to John Dodge, the
attorney representing the owners.
The Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA), and their partner GreenRoots successfully made the case in
MyRWA Director Patrick Herron and GreenRoots Director Roseann Bongiovanni celebrating their successful argument in Washington, D.C., to return funds to the area.
front of the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) Council to give Mystic communities a chance at $1.3 million in restoration funds.
“This is an opportunity to repair part of the Mystic River watershed by directing funds that resulted from the spill back to the area where the spill occurred,” said Patrick Herron, executive director. “We are excited that our Mystic communities have another shot at this funding.”
In January of 2006, approximately 15,200 gallons of petroleum product was spilled into the Lower Mystic River through an ExxonMobil Pipeline Co. terminal located in Everett. Accordingly, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) charged ExxonMobil with violating the Clean Water Act through negligence at the facility. ExxonMobil signed a plea agreement in 2009 that included a fine, the cost of cleanup, and a community service payment (CSP) that ultimately totaled $1 million to the Massachusetts Environmental Trust and $4.6 million to the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) fund. This plea agreement states that the funds should be used exclusively for qualified coastal wetland restoration projects in Massachusetts, with preference to projects within the Mystic River Watershed. During plea proceedings, the NAWCA Council and U.S. Fish and Wildlife staff assured the U.S. Attorney’s office and Judge Saris that a process would be put in place to ensure the CSP funds would be awarded in a manner consistent to the intent of the plea agreement.
All funds managed by the Massachusetts Environmental Trust (MET) were immediately put to work on stewardship and water quality improvements in the Mystic River Watershed.
In contrast, no NAWCA funds have come to the Mystic River Watershed. To date, $3 million of the ExxonMobil CSP given to NAWCA have been spent on other projects in the Commonwealth. The NAWCA Council was considering spending the remainder of the money ($1.36 million) on yet another project not in the Mystic. This would bring the amount spent on the Mystic to zero.
Herron and Roseann Bongiovanni, executive director of GreenRoots, made the trip to Washington, D.C., on Dec. 12, to argue that money should be given to the Mystic. Prior to the meeting, David Barlow, Gene Benson and friends at GreenRoots and Conservation Law Foundation developed and submitted formal comment letters to the Council that outlined the history of these funds and the context for preference for the Mystic.
“It was our communities and our waterbodies that were impacted by the spill on that cold January morning and now almost 10 years later, our communities are deserving of the penalty dollars to restore our ecological habitat and bring about environmental justice” said Bongiovanni.
Rincons Latinos Restaurant on Washington Avenue has been no stranger to appearing before the Licensing Commission over the past several months.
At the Thursday, Dec. 6 meeting, it was a case of enough was enough for the licensing commissioners, as they voted to suspend the 373 Washington Ave. restaurant’s liquor license for eight days. The suspension, largely leveled for repeated instances of exceeding the posted capacity of the establishment, will be served during four weekends over December and January.
A police inspection in October found 42 people in the restaurant, well above the posted occupancy limit of 17. Police officials also claimed there was missing signage and insufficient lighting in the restaurant.
Attorney John Dodge, representing Orlando Pineda of Rincons Latinos, argued that his client is planning to install a second handicap accessible bathroom in the restaurant. That move would double the occupancy limit of Rincons Latinos from 17 to 34, he said.
“That is the only thing that has been reducing the occupancy level in the restaurant,” said Dodge. “It isn’t a safety concern in regard to (the number of people) in the restaurant.”
“It’s just breaking the law and not following rules,” countered Mark Rossi, the Licensing Commission chairman.
Dodge said Pineda is doing his best to run a business and will spend upwards of $7,500 to install the new bathroom to comply with regulations.
“Mr. Pineda has put his life and soul into the place, and he lives right upstairs,” Dodge said.
Dodge also noted that the police withdrew a previous charge against the restaurant from the fall that people were illegally bringing cases of beer into and out of the restaurant.
“Mr. Pineda and his brother Ricardo are trying to do the right thing,” Dodge said. “They are doing their best to increase the occupancy. I question the fundamental fairness (of the charges).”
Commission member James Guido took exception to Dodge’s accusation of unfairness.
“They have had plenty of chances,” he said. “The biggest complaint now is the occupancy and we are going to try to deal with that.”
Commission member and Inspectional Services Director Mike McAteer said he has been dealing with the occupancy issue and plans for an additional bathroom since July with no movement on the issue from the Pinedas.
Rossi said Dodge was basically taking a “no harm, no foul” approach to the occupancy violations and that the Pinedas have not made enough effort to address them over the past six months.
“The explanation has been, ehhhhh, it’s a big enough place and nobody got hurt,” Rossi said. “They have not taken the proper steps to alleviate the matter. Now, you are saying give me more time so I can try to make this right.”
The commission members batted around several possible punishments, from a 30-day license suspension to outright revocation, before deciding on the eight-day suspension meted out over four weekends.
Rossi said if the establishment violates the 17-person occupancy limit before approval for expanding to 34 people, it will be subject to license revocation proceedings.
In other business, the commission took its annual vote to allow extended New Year’s Eve hours to 2 a.m.
The commission also approved giving a six-month extension to Samir, Inc. to find a new location to use a wine and malt beverage license.
If District 1 City Councillor Robert Bishop gets his way, he’ll be taking $6,000 per year out of his own pockets, and those of his fellow city councillors.
Monday night, Bishop introduced an ordinance asking that the Council salary be cut from $14,000 to $8,000 per year beginning in 2020. The councillor said he was unhappy when the salary increased from $8,000 to $14,000 several years ago, and wants to see it cut back.
The ordinance was moved to a second reading at a future council meeting before there was any discussion on the proposal, but Council President DamaliVidot said there will be an opportunity for debate and discussion during the second reading.
The council voted for the pay raise to $14,000 in 2013 and it went into effect on Jan. 1, 2014.
In other business, the council heard a legal opinion from City Solicitor Cheryl Watson Fisher that stated that the Council’s subcommittee on finance violated the open meeting law when it discussed a $20,000 appropriation for legal services that was not properly placed on the subcommittee’s agenda. Bishop, who heads the finance subcommittee, countered that the matter was properly posted and fell under the heading of financial requests.
“I felt it would be appropriate to discuss,” Bishop said. “I see nothing in Rule 26 that says we could not speak about it. … To me, this is kind of petty and picayune.”
But Councillor-At-Large Leo Robinson said he didn’t understand how the matter had gotten to the finance subcommittee without coming before the full Council first.
Vidot said there will be a subcommittee discussion about how to best move forward with financial matters on the Council.
Bishop also asked for a meeting to discuss traffic flow issues at Revere Beach Parkway and Washington Avenue, Revere Beach Parkway and Webster Avenue, and Spruce Street and Everett Avenue. The councillor noted that motorists are faced with an especially dangerous intersection at Revere Beach Parkway and Washington.
“It’s a wonder that there are not more accidents than there already are,” Bishop said.
The District 1 Councillor is also requesting a subcommittee meeting to discuss issues with the city and the Chelsea Housing Authority’s rodent baiting programs. Bishop said he has concerns that the programs are ineffective and dangerous for the workers implementing them.
District 6 Councillor Giovanni Recupero introduced an order asking the public works director provide the Council with an accurate account of how the City sets water and sewer rates and how those rates could be stabilized.
In contrast to the past several meetings, when discussion over water and sewer rates brought a steady stream of residents to the microphone, it was a more subdued public speaking session at Monday’s meeting.
Chelsea High School senior Manuel Teshe advocated for fundraising efforts that would allow the senior class to graduate outside at the school’s football field. Teshe estimated the total cost of covering the field to keep it safe for a graduation ceremony would be about $30,000.
“We are passionate about this and want to graduate from the school in the best way possible,” said Teshe.
Teshe’s classmate, senior class president Jocelyn Poste, was also on hand at the meeting to promote the Red Devil Turkey Trot race on Saturday, Nov. 17 to benefit the school’s track and cross country programs.
Anyone interested in finding out more about the race can visit HYPERLINK “http://chelseahightrack.com” t “_blank” chelseahightrack.com. The event begins at 10 a.m. at Admiral’s Hill.
The golden arches on Revere Beach Parkway are going to shine a little brighter.
Tuesday night, the Planning Board approved a special permit allowing for the demolition and rebuild of the McDonald’s at 170 Revere Beach Parkway.
The updated fast food restaurant will be larger than the current building and will feature a double drive-through lane, according to project engineer William Lucas. There will also be fewer parking spots and more green space on the property.
“McDonald’s is going through a nationwide rebranding program at all its restaurants,” said Lucas.
In many locations, that means major renovations. But in Chelsea, Lucas said the demolition and rebuild of the restaurant will help improve accessibility inside and outside the restaurant.
“This will bring the restaurant into compliance and improve operations,” he said. “They are implementing a side-by-side drive-through instead of the single file line.”
The current drive-through lane is parallel to Washington Avenue, while the new window will face Revere Beach Parkway. The size of the building itself is slated to increase from 3,500 to 4,400 square feet, and the number of parking spaces will decrease from 65 to 32.
Planning Board Chairman Tuck Willis asked how long the demolition and rebuild will take once work gets underway.
“Generally, it gets done in less than 60 days,” said Lucas.
Board member Todd Taylor said he did have some concerns about the project if the construction affects Washington Avenue.
“The traffic there is such a bad problem,” said Taylor. “That is the main way out of Prattville, and in the mornings, there is a huge backup and people cannot get out of the neighborhood.”
Other than the McDonald’s vote, it was a fairly low-key evening for the Planning Board, as it approved special permits to convert several single-family homes to multi-family units.
The massive, 630-unit Forbes Street project was continued to the board’s Nov. 27 meeting.
The most excitement during the meeting came during a thunderstorm, when several board members were startled during an especially close and loud boomer.
Two years ago, Massachusetts joined 17 states and Washington, D.C., by enacting protections for transgender individuals in public accommodations that serve the general public. As I sat in the House of Representatives gallery on the day the vote was taken, I could not help to be overjoyed by the ongoing effort to make Massachusetts an inclusive and welcoming state.
On the November 6 ballot, Massachusetts’s voters make a simple decision: to uphold commonsense public accommodations protection for these individuals by voting YES or get back equal rights by voting NO.
I urge people to vote YES on question 3. Without those legal protections, transgender people would face a multitude of discriminatory challenge on a daily basis. The sky has not fallen since the 2016 vote and we are better as a society for it.
For the past two years transgender people have enjoyed the same rights and protections as everyone else in the Commonwealth, that was not the case before hand. To lose these rights now would be a terrible reversal in efforts to give all people equal protections under the law.
It’s the case of the cases of Corona going in and out of Rincon Latino Restaurant.
Following a histrionic licensing commission hearing on Tuesday, Sept. 25 that saw the lawyer for the restaurant’s owners compare the proceedings to those in Russia and referred to the hearing to “a lynching,” the commission continued the hearing until its next meeting next month.
As the last hearing on a busy commission agenda, everything started calmly enough, as the commission heard a police report from officer Augustus Cassuci detailing two incidents he witnessed just outside the Washington Avenue Restaurant on June 22 and 23.
The officer stated that on Friday, June 22, he was passing by 373 Washington Avenue when he saw about 10 people crossing the street, with one carrying a case of Corona beer. The next day, Cassuci said he saw a customer carrying a case of Corona into the restaurant.
Where the hearing raised the ire of attorney John Dodge, who was representing the restaurant, was when Cassuci raised a number of issues at Rincon Latino Restaurant that were not included in the two-paragraph police report.
“On several occasions, there have appeared to be intoxicated patrons in front of the laundromat next door blocking the sidewalk,” said the officer. “Male parties have also been seen urinating on the sidewalk.”
Additionally, police Captain Keith Houghton said the restaurant often appears to surpass its occupancy limit of 17 customers and the curtains of the establishment have been closed, in violation of the law.
Police officials also showed the commission a photo taken from the restaurant’s security camera that they said showed the establishment as being over capacity.
“How am I supposed to represent (the restaurant) when all I have is a two-paragraph police report?” asked Dodge, who asked that the hearing be continued to the commission’s next meeting since evidence was introduced that he had not previously seen.
Dodge said the allegations leveled by the police had nothing to do with the original report of customers taking out or bringing in cases of beer.
“I don’t know what evidence is being presented,” he said. “We were not provided with any photos or any video, and Officer Cassuci is now testifying to public intoxication, urinating on the sidewalks, and closed curtains.”
Licensing Commission Chairman James Guido said a public hearing does not follow the same process as a court hearing and that the information being provided during the hearing was due process.
“Maybe due process in Russia, in America we are given the evidence before a hearing,” said Dodge.
Commission member Roseann Bongiovanni asked for calm, and suggested the commission continue the hearing for one month. The commission approved the continuance, as well as a request that the restaurant provide video of peak hours during the past several weekends to help determine if there has been overcrowding or other issues at the restaurant.