Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy

Lynn library gets a read on summer

ITEM PHOTO BY SPENSER HASAK
Dinah Nangozi, 4, of Lynn, reads through books with Kenneth Muyanja of Lynn at the Lynn Public Library Thursday.

By MATT DEMIRS

LYNN The city’s public library launches its summer reading program next week with prizes for bookworms and a big ambition: “Build a Better World” is the library’s theme through August 11.

Community groups are contributing to make the summer a success: The Grand Lodge Knights of Pythias of Massachusetts and the Friends of the Lynn Public Library donated 10 bicycles to be raffled off for students in grades 1-5 who read 5 to 10 books. Bikes will be given to one boy and one girl in each grade.

Teen Summer Reading program begins on June 26 and runs until August 24th. Teens in grades 6-12 are invited to participate.

For each book read this summer, students are asked to fill out a book review form.

Each review counts as a raffle toward an Amazon Tablet or $50 mall gift card.

Teens must fill out a review sheet which can be obtained at the library where students fill out the title author, a recommendation, and a star rating.

This is the second year bikes will be offered as prizes after the Knights took to the initiative and contacted Lindsey Robert, head of circulation, to provide the incentive.

To qualify, students must keep track of the title, author, and time spent reading, in a reading log.

When the diary is completed, students will receive a certificate of achievement and a prize, as well as free tickets to the Topsfield Fair.

After completing the program, students will be invited to an ice-cream party in Lynn City Hall hosted by Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy. The social is scheduled for August 22 at 5 p.m. for those who qualify.

Adults are encouraged by incentives to crack open a book, too.

“We figured since the kids are reading, we might as well provide an opportunity for parents and adults to read with them too,” said Paula Joyal, the library’s head of business.

Adults who participate in the program will receive a free “Build a Better World” lunch box. They will also have a chance to win restaurant gift cards. Rolly’s Tavern on the Square and the Porthole Restaurant are among the handful of restaurants providing the gift cards.

The library will also be host to a variety of events throughout the summer, including new additions to the calendar such as the “Music on the Lawn” concert series. The kick-off will be Tuesday, July 11 with MaryBeth Maes Band at 6:30 p.m.

Lynn’s library is not the only one providing summer fun.

Abbot Public Library in Marblehead will have incentives for readers ages 3-12 who read or listen to at least 10 books. The prizes include free admission to the U.S.S. Constitution Museum, discounted admission to Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park, Tree Top Adventures raffle prizes and discount participation bookmarks for kids 7 and older and free admission to the Topsfield Fair for children 8 and older.

The Swampscott Public Library will kick off its summer reading program on June 27 at 6 p.m. Open to children from preschool to Grade 5, students will receive a certificate for a free meal at Uno’s upon registration. The Topsfield Fair will also award free passes, including a hot dog, drink and two ride tickets to all children who complete the program.

Lynnfield Public Library is inviting all ages to participate in its program and proposing a competition across the ages: Who can read more hours this summer, kids or adults?

Roger Tincknell will perform on the Commons for the kick-off event starting at noon today. Children must register for this event while teens and adults do not.

All Saugus Public School students in grades K through 5 are encouraged to read 20 minutes each night and are required to produce written reports on three books. Students may submit three book reports to the Children’s desk at the Saugus Public Library by August 9th to be eligible for a Topsfield Fair ticket prize.

The Melrose Public Library will have a variety of scheduled programs to support summer reading throughout the summer for people of all ages, including adults. It  will also have a summer reading ice cream celebration for participants in the library’s Summer Reading Club, scheduled for Thursday, August 17th at 2 p.m.


Matt Demirs can be reached at mdemirs@itemlive.com

Lynnway location eyed by Newton MPF

ITEM FILE PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Newton-based Massachusetts Patient Foundation (MPF) is seeking a special permit to open a store at the Cooper-Lewis building on the Lynnway.

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN — The city’s first medical marijuana clinic will face its next hurdle in July at the City Council.

Newton-based Massachusetts Patient Foundation (MPF), which operates dispensaries in Oregon and Colorado, is seeking a special permit to open a store at the 4,631-square-foot Cooper-Lewis building on the Lynnway.

MPF was one of two companies given preference to launch in the city by the Council earlier this year. The other was Old World Remedies. The Marblehead company plans to operate a shop on Western Avenue.

But both companies must negotiate a host agreement with the mayor and get a special permit.

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy said she is negotiating with both companies and expects to reach an agreement soon.

James Lamanna, the city’s attorney, said the city has been in negotiation with MPF for an agreement that will provide the city  with 6 percent of gross revenues. He said they expect to have negotiations wrapped up by the end of August.

Ward 6 City Councilor Peter Capano, whose district includes the Lynnway, said he will not support the special permit until the host agreement is signed.

Daniel Ross Karten, MPF’s chief operating officer, did not return a call seeking comment.

Joseph Lekach, MPF’s cofounder, said one of the misunderstandings in the marijuana debate is the belief that recreational pot will be sold at medical marijuana facilities.

“One of the tactics being used to scare cities and towns is if you let in medical marijuana, you are automatically letting in recreational,” he said.  “We will do whatever the city of Lynn wants us to do, we want to be part of the community.”

In 2012, Bay State voters approved making marijuana legal for medical use and in 2016 pot for recreational use won at the polls.


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

A ferry fine commute

ITEM PHOTO BY SPENSER HASAK
James Connolly of Nahant braves the wind to enjoy the great views that the Lynn Ferry has to offer during its first trip of the year on Tuesday.

BY MATT DEMIRS

LYNN —  Mother Nature cleared the skies just in time for the ferry’s first trip to Boston in two years.

Commuters seeking alternatives to the MBTA and Lynnway traffic expressed gratitude Tuesday for the return of the shuttle after service was cancelled last summer.

About 60 passengers boarded Cetacea, the Boston Harbor Cruises boat, for its 2017 debut, many of them former ferry users.

“I’m so thrilled it is back in Lynn,” said Sheila Ercolini. “My favorite part about it is being on the water.”

She boarded the ferry, climbed to the second level, and took her seat, the same place she’s sat since the first ride three years ago.

Ercolini, who works just steps away from the dock in Boston, said she rides the ferry for its convenience and couldn’t have been happier to get back on board.

This season’s inaugural departure coincided with Sail Boston 2017, the largest fleet of tall ships in Boston Harbor since 2000, which brought out Lynn resident Linda Berg to catch the spectacle.

“Sometimes, you forget what goes on when you live so close to Boston,” said Berg. “Then you don’t usually end up doing these things.”

Nahant resident Michael Rauworth, who regularly rode the ferry to work during its two years of operation in 2014 and 2015, took to the seas with his binoculars to get a glimpse at the Tall Ships.
Carly Famulari, also of Nahant, said she boarded to avoid the traffic to Boston where she works.

“I’d rather do this than drive,” she said. “I plan on taking it at least once a week. At least I can avoid the traffic, especially coming home on Fridays when it takes almost double the amount of time to get home.”

Robin Ennis hopped on the ferry after spotting the traffic on the Lynnway from an accident on the General Edwards Bridge.

“When I hit the Lynnway this morning I said, ‘Thank God for the ferry,’” she said.

Some passengers who buy the monthly commuter rail pass from the MBTA were disappointed the ticket was not accepted as payment for the ferry.

Jacquelyn Goddard, a spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), said the ferry is not an MBTA service. It is operated by the city of Lynn through a MassDOT grant and the Boston Harbor Cruises, she said.

State Sen. Thomas M. McGee who has championed the ferry, said it’s unfortunate the T pass is not accepted.

“But the most important thing right now is to give people the access to the boat,” he said. “It’s great to have it back on the water in Lynn.”

Judy McManus took the ferry instead of her usual subway ride. The accountant in Boston calculated the price of riding the ferry compared to paying for parking at Wonderland Station and riding the Blue Line into Boston.

McManus discovered the ferry cost 92 cents more than the T, which, she said can’t be passed up when you have the chance to ride the waves to work.

Stefan Wuensch of Lynn used the ride to test an app called MotionX-GPS on his iPhone. He learned the maximum speed of the ferry was 32 miles per hour with an average speed of 19 and it travelled 14 miles, according to the app. It took about 40 minutes for the ferry to arrive in Boston.

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy said she was pleased Gov. Charlie Baker provided funding for the ferry to make one trip a day to Boston and back.

“While these stops will benefit only a small number of people during its three months of operation, I am hopeful it will ease traffic congestion caused by the Sumner Tunnel maintenance project,” the mayor said in a statement.

Prices have stayed the same at $7 per one-way ticket for an adult and $3.50 for seniors and children. The ferry departs from the Blossom Street Extension at 7:45 a.m., arriving in Long Wharf at 8:20 a.m., and one evening return from Boston at 6 p.m., arriving in Lynn at 6:35 p.m.

The ferry is scheduled to run Monday-Friday until September 22.


Thomas Grillo contributed to this report. Matt Demirs can be reached at mdemirs@itemlive.com.

Judge: Fund fire department

By THOMAS GRILLO

An Essex Superior Court Judge has ordered the city to fully fund the Lynn Fire Department contract.

The ruling by Judge Salim Tabit on Monday is in response to a suit filed last week by the Lynn Firefighters Union Local 739 against the city and Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy.

Tabit not only ruled in favor of the union, but he will oversee its implementation over the next year.

The 17-page complaint asked the court to compel the city to comply with the collective bargaining agreement that calls for 35 firefighters and officers on each shift.  

Last month, the union was informed that the mayor would submit a budget request for the next fiscal year to level fund the department. The union wrote to the mayor twice requesting an assurance the budget would be sufficient to meet the terms of the contract, according to court documents. The mayor did not respond and the union went to court.

“It is now clear that the mayor does not intend to submit an appropriation request to the City Council sufficient to the staffing clause of the contract,” the union said in court documents.  “A failure to provide appropriate staffing places firefighters and residents of Lynn at risk of irreparable harm…”

Attorneys for the city argued the mayor has always intended to meet the contract requirements. The mayor will recommend an appropriation of $618,000 for the department in fiscal year 2018, a sufficient amount to fully fund all staffing provisions, according to the city’s filing.

Still, that number is less than the 2017 budget of $628,000.

Kennedy and the union’s lawyer, Leah M. Barrault, declined to comment.

Union President Michael O’Connor and Fire Chief James McDonald did not return calls seeking comment.


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

Honoring Lynn Rotarian and humanitarian, T. Richard Cuffe Jr.

ITEM PHOTO BY SPENSER HASAK
Joyce Elliott presents T. Richard Cuffe Jr. with an award on behalf of the Rotary Club of Lynn at the Porthole Restaurant on Thursday.

By MATT DEMIRS

LYNN — Dedicated member, friend, and humanitarian T. Richard Cuffe Jr. was recognized by the Rotary Club of Lynn Thursday at their weekly meeting.

A valued member of the Rotary since November 1, 1990, Cuffe spent years taking lead roles with several programs sponsored by the Club.

Rotary Club president Ray Bastarache said the club received correspondence from Cuffe that he would be leaving.

Cuffe suffered from a stroke a few years ago while vacationing in Paris with his wife, he said, and hasn’t been able to stay as involved as he always liked, so he is stepping down from his responsibilities at the Rotary and other civic associations.

Cuffe served on numerous boards, including the original St. Mary’s High School Board of Trustees, the Boys and Girls Club of Lynn and the executive board of directors at the Rotary Club of Lynn.

He was also inducted to the St. Mary’s High School Hall of Fame in 2013.

With the help of fellow member, Joyce Elliott, who planned the event, the Rotary felt they needed to recognize his years of hard work, the president said.

“We can’t let this guy step off and not recognize him,” he said. “I don’t think there’s anybody in the Lynn club whose membership we value more than Rich Cuffe,” Bastarache said.

“Richie never said no to anybody,” said his longtime business partner, Webb Primason. “It’s not that he didn’t like to say no. It’s that he likes to say yes.”

“We are here to recognize T. Richard Cuffe Jr., long-time Rotarian, and long time humanitarian,” said Elliott, who was first welcomed by Cuffe when she joined the Club.

On behalf of the Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy, John Krol presented Cuffe with a citation for years of dedicated service to the City of Lynn, while Robert Douglas presented a certificate on behalf of the city council president Darren Cyr.

Elliott also awarded Cuffe with a plaque on behalf of the Lynn Rotary Club in addition to tender, heartfelt words paying tribute to the man who did it all.

“Rich was someone who took on and carried out any task you asked,” Elliott said. “This is an honor long overdue to someone who couldn’t be more deserving.”


Matt Demirs can be reached at mdemirs@itemlive.com.

Pot tax revamp sparks debate

By THOMAS GRILLO

 

LYNN — A proposal on Beacon Hill to give local officials the right to veto recreational marijuana clinics and boost the tax rate on pot is getting mixed reviews.

The measure, which is expected to go before the House of Representatives next week calls for a 28 percent tax rate on marijuana sales, up from the 12 percent prescribed by the ballot law. That includes the 6.25 percent sales tax, a 16.75 percent excise tax and a 5 percent tax to be returned to the community where pot was sold.

The bill would also allow the governing body in a municipality, such as a city council or the board of selectmen, to ban pot sales rather than require a referendum, as required under the ballot law.

“The way the city’s budget is now, I am open to anything,” said City Council President Darren Cyr. “I won’t say 28 percent is not ridiculous, but the city where it’s sold should benefit. As far as local control, I always feel the location of these shops should not be dictated by the state or anyone else.”

But City Councilor-at-Large Buzzy Barton disagrees. He said elected officials should respect the wishes of the voters.

“People voted for recreational marijuana and a specific tax rate, so how do you go against it,” he said.

City Councilor-at-Large Hong Net said he is split on the proposal. While he supports the higher tax rate as proposed by the House, he rejects local control.  

“The voters approved the measure to allow these stores to open where they choose,” he said.  “I don’t think we should go against the voters.”

City Councilor-at-Large Brian LaPierre said while he was supportive of medical marijuana, he is opposed to recreational pot and prefers local control.  

“I do like the higher tax rate, but Lynn does not need any more places to sell marijuana,” he said.

Last year, the City Council selected a pair of retailers to sell medical marijuana in the city. Newton-based Massachusetts Patient Foundation plans to operate a facility on the Lynnway and Old World Remedies of Marblehead is slated to open a shop at Western Avenue.

Phil Crawford, chairman of the Lynnfield Board of Selectmen, said voters in town have already voted thumbs-down on recreational pot. Last fall, voters rejected pot shops at the ballot box and later at Town Meeting. 

“We have already spoken on this so the tax rate is irrelevant to us,” he said. “It just goes to show how unprepared the state was to take this on.”

A spokesman for Peabody Mayor Edward A. Bettencourt Jr. said the mayor would like to see the final House version of the measure before offering an opinion.

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy could not be reached for comment.

State Rep. and City Councilor-at-Large Daniel Cahill declined comment.

The House proposal is expected to receive a chilly reception in the Senate.

Sen. Patricia Jehlen, (D-Somerville), told State House News Service that voters should be able to trust the Legislature not to more than double the tax rate that they voted for.  She also said a high tax rate would encourage buyers to seek pot from black market dealers.

Material from State House News Service was used in this report. Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

 

 

Mayor looks to close deficit with trash fee

By Thomas Grillo

One month after Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy vetoed a modest meals tax, the city’s chief executive is backing a trash fee that will cost taxpayers about $2 million annually.

“We are trying to address a budget deficit without layoffs,” the mayor said in a statement. “If we don’t impose this fee and are forced to lay off people, the impact in the loss of city services would be felt by all residents and businesses.”

Earlier this month, the council overrode the mayor’s veto to impose a .0075 percent tax on top of the state’s 6.25 percent sales tax on meals. The levy now adds 75 cents to a $100 dinner bill, about 19 cents to a $25 meal and is expected to raise $700,000 annually for the city.

Under the proposal that will be the subject of a public hearing on  Tuesday, June 27 at City Hall, a trash collection fee will be collected on any non owner-occupied unit.

Landlords who live in apartment buildings up to six families would pay the charge on the units they do not occupy, but at a lower rate than out-of-town landlords. Owners of a single-family home who live in the house would be exempt.

Kennedy did not say how much the fee would cost. But Peter Caron, the city’s chief financial officer, said it expected to be in the $150 to $220 range annually.    

Owners of buildings with more than six units are responsible for their own trash disposal.

Of the 27,000 units for which the city collects trash, 12,000 are single-family homes. About a third of all units would be subject to the fee.

In addition, under the ordinance, which would have to be approved by the City Council, there would be a $40 monthly fee for any business that has their trash picked up by the city.

Kennedy said if the budget deficit is not closed, at least 40 city workers could lose their jobs in city’s Police Department, the Department of Public Works and at City Hall.

The Fire Department would be exempt because of a minimum staffing clause in the contract and the library is required to spend a specific amount of money in order to receive state funds.


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

Lynn to launch program to raise recycling IQ

The Lynn DPW is launching the Recycling IQ Kit program Monday that will run through the end of September. The goal of the program is to raise the “Recycling IQ” of residents participating in the curbside trash and recycling program.

The Recycling IQ Kit program is funded through a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), which also provides technical assistance. Lynn, along with six other communities, received funding and technical assistance to run the program, which was piloted last year in Lowell and West Springfield with good results.

The Recycling IQ Kit combines an aggressive campaign of education and direct feedback curbside. Included in the education efforts are a direct mail piece to all residents, newspaper ads, social media ads, as well messaging on billboards, banners, store signs and sandwich boards that will be placed around the city. Using grant funds, a team of summer workers will be hired from June through the end of September to implement the curbside feedback program that will target more than 5,000 households on every recycling collection route in the city.

Julia Greene, Lynn’s recycling coordinator, said workers will be lifting the lids of more than 5,000 recycling carts daily on both green and blue recycling weeks as part of the program.

“If we find a large amount of plastic bags, trash or other things that don’t belong in the recycling cart, we will be tagging those carts with an ‘Oops’ tag, which will signal to Waste Management to not pick up the carts,” Greene said.

Residents whose carts get tagged will need to dispose of the ineligible material and put the carts out on the next recycling pick-up day.

“We will be checking those same carts eight times over a 16-week period, allowing enough time for the behavior modification of recycling right to take effect,” Green said, adding that in Lowell and West Springfield, the total contamination dropped by 30 percent on the targeted routes.

“Contamination” is a word used to describe items not belonging in the recycling cart.  Plastic bags are the biggest problem, causing a halt in operations at recycling processing plants. Other ineligible items include food waste, Styrofoam and construction debris. These items can contaminate an entire load, resulting in needing to trash the load, as well as endangering workers on the processing line. These problems can result in higher processing costs for the city and an increase in solid waste tonnage.

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy said the Waste Management automated trash and recycling program has saved the city thousands of dollars since it was implemented in December 2014.

Before the program was implemented, Lynn had virtually unlimited trash pickup, which gave no incentive for residents to recycle, resulting in one of the lowest recycling rates in the state at just under eight percent. The first year of the program saw the recycling rate increase to 21 percent, and a 25-percent decrease in solid waste.  The data for 2016 show continued improvement, although the numbers are not as dramatic.

Although the tonnage for recycling is up, and the recycling rate increased to 22 percent, there is a good amount of contamination, especially with plastic bags. Residents are encouraged to bring clean plastic bags back to grocery stores.

The challenge in the coming year is to get more households to recycle, and to recycle correctly.

“If we can do that,” said Kennedy, “our solid waste numbers will go down, recycling will go up, and we will continue to save money.”

Lynn council ponders trash fee

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN   It could cost more to toss your trash.

The city’s Ordinance and Rules Committee will consider a plan on Tuesday night that would charge property owners an annual trash disposal fee that could raise as much as $2 million annually.

Under the proposal, the fee would apply to any unit that is not owner-occupied. For example, owners of a single-family home who live in the dwelling would be exempt.

But landlords of two-, three-, four-, five- and six-family homes who live in the house would be charged for those units they do not live in. Out-of-town landlords would pay the most.

Owners of apartment buildings with more than six units are responsible for their own trash removal, so those commercial property owners would not be affected.

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy declined to comment.

City Council President Darren Cyr said he favors the measure.

“The city is in such a financial mess that I do believe we need to do something,” he said. “Consider that 90 percent of the communities around us have trash fees, including Swampscott, Salem, Nahant and Saugus. The reason is the cost of getting rid of trash is expensive.”

Peter Caron, the city’s chief financial officer, who floated the idea to help fix a budget deficit, said the fee has not been determined. But he said the discussion has been in the $150 to $220 range.  

“One of the provisions we are considering is Lynn residents who are landlords would pay a lower fee than out-of-town landlords,” he said.

For example, a two-family with the owner living on one floor would pay a discounted rate on the second unit. Out-of-town landlords would pay the full fee for both apartments.

The city picks up trash for 27,000 units. Of that number less than 10,000 units would pay the fee. There are about 12,000 single-family homes in Lynn.

Ward 1 City Councilor Wayne Lozzi, chairman of the Ordinance and Rules Committee, said while he is reluctant to approve raising another fee, he will support it.

“I would not support a citywide, all inclusive fee,” he said. “But  a limited trash fee makes sense given the financial climate. It’s so bad that we have to entertain some kind of a fee.”

Multi-families are not as quick to recycle and those units generate heavy waste and the costs are higher, Lozzi  said.

“Single-family owners seem to care more and do recycle more and that’s a good thing and that keeps costs down.”

The likely trash fee comes on the heels of a recent City Council vote to impose a .0075 percent tax on top of the state’s 6.25 percent sales tax on meals. The new levy would add 75 cents to a $100 dinner bill, about 19 cents to a $25 meal and raise $700,000 annually for the city.


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

 

 

 

English alumnus looks to return the favor

PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Brian Castellanos is a first-time candidate for Lynn School Committee and is a graduate of Lynn English High School.

By THOMAS GRILLO

For Brian Castellanos, it’s time to give back.  

Castellanos, 27, who works with children and families in Framingham, launched his campaign for the Lynn School Committee on Monday as a way to pay back the city’s school system for helping him through a tough time.

“I was homeless during my senior year at English High School,” he said. “I was at-risk and going through hard times and the school took me in and helped me be successful.”

Castellanos joins a dozen other candidates, including four incumbents, seeking a post on the seven-member panel that includes Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy as chair.

Earlier this month, two longstanding School Committee members said they will not seek reelection. Patricia Capano, the 55-year-old vice chairwoman who was first elected in 1997, and Maria Carrasco, a native of the Dominican Republic who has served since 2007, will not be on the ballot this fall.

If elected, the Framingham State University and Salem State University graduate, said he hopes to implement and expand programs that advance social and emotional learning skills.

“These skills foster resilience and help kids not only address core subjects but build character and manage emotions,” he said.

Castellanos also wants to make more mental health services available to students. He would like to see the Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative (CBHI), which is available in some schools, expanded. CBHI encompasses multiple service systems that include: Intensive Care Coordination, Family Support and Training, In-Home Therapy, Therapeutic Mentoring, Outpatient Therapy, and Mobile Crisis Intervention.  In all services, the youth and caregivers play a role in determining treatment options and supports that will highlight the family’s strengths, according to the service provider.

He’s not sure how much implementing such programs would cost, but will recommend the city apply for grants to pay for them.

Castellanos admits he did not vote in the special election in March on the controversial proposal to build a pair of middle schools. The measure failed by a lopsided margin.

“I would have voted for it,” he said. “Building new schools would have been helpful for the city.”


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

 

 

Ferry will float again this summer

ITEM FILE PHOTO
Limited ferry service to and from Boston is returning.

BY THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN — All aboard.

After rejecting ferry service for more than a year, Gov. Charlie Baker has reversed course and will fund a weekday excursion from the city’s terminal to Boston’s Long Wharf.

The boat is expected to launch on Tuesday, June 20, and run until Friday, Sept. 22. It will consist of one departure from the Blossom Street Extension at 7:45 a.m., arriving in Long Wharf at 8:20 a.m., and one evening return from Boston at 6 p.m., arriving in Lynn at 6:35 p.m.

The cost for the 35-minute trip is $7 each way, $3.50 for children and seniors.

“We are pleased to provide the needed additional resources for Lynn to once again offer this seasonal ferry service, which will give residents and visitors yet another transportation option,” said State Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack, in a statement.

This represents a change in direction for the Baker administration and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT).

Last summer, the governor said Lynn’s two-year demonstration project in 2014 and 2015 to launch the ferry on the state’s dime was an opportunity to examine whether the service made economic sense. He concluded it didn’t generate the ridership and the price tag per rider was too expensive.

On Thursday, a spokeswoman for Pollack said the state is providing a Highway Division grant of up to $200,000 for ferry service this summer to mitigate the impact of Route 1A and Sumner Tunnel construction projects.

“We don’t expect the city will need all of the $200,000 since the ferry generates fares,” said Jacquelyn Goddard.

During the 2014 season, the estimated total number of rides was 13,322 and during the 2015 season, the estimated number of rides taken totaled 14,577.

Nicholson seeks 2nd school committee term

But in 2016 the Baker administration halted service and blamed the city for failure to come up with the $700,000 in operating expenses needed to operate the ferry.

That disagreement appears to be over for now.

State Sen. Thomas McGee (D-Lynn), who has been a champion of the ferry and criticized Baker for failing to fund it last summer, praised Pollack for her leadership.

“Residents of Lynn and the North Shore will certainly benefit from an affordable and stress-free commute this summer,” McGee said in a statement.  “This significant momentum is not just beneficial for the continuation of service in Lynn this summer, but for advancing the long-term vision of water transportation, with Lynn as a key component, in the entire Massachusetts Bay.”

James Cowdell, executive director of the Economic Development and Industrial Corp., the city’s development bank said he’s excited that the ferry is back.

“The two year pilot program proved that there is a demand on the North Shore for a commuter ferry out of Lynn,” he said in a statement.

Last spring, in an effort led by U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) and in partnership with state and local leaders, the Federal Transit Administration awarded a $4.5 million dollar grant for Lynn to purchase a vessel to support ferry service.

“The ferry will provide access to higher-paying jobs, housing, and opportunity for Lynn,”Moulton said in a statement.

Additionally, MassDOT provided technical assistance resources last winter for the city to develop a long term sustainability plan for ferry operations, and is currently assisting with the purchase of the boat.  

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy could not be reached for comment.

Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com

 

An election year exodus

Lynn Ward 2 City Councilor William Trahant Jr. appears to have set in motion an exodus of veteran elected officials from the City Council and School Committee.

His decision not to run for reelection is sparking a potential return to politics for former committee member Rick Starbard. A popular citywide vote-getter, Starbard probably won’t have an easy walk into the Council Chamber, but he has to be viewed as a favorite to succeed Trahant.

On the committee side, dean of the committee Patricia Capano has decided not to run along with Maria Carrasco, the vocal opponent of Superintendent Dr. Catherine Latham, who leaves ally Donna Coppola on the committee.

A relatively small field of newcomers is vying, for now at least, to grab committee seats but the double exodus from the committee could see candidates teaming up to jointly campaign and ask voters to “bullet” their names on the ballot in the fall.

Asking voters to cast ballots for a pack of candidates instead of individuals running for elected office is risky in an era of clearly-stated voter discontent. Voters turned national electoral politics on its proverbial ear last year when they rejected a broad field of established Republican candidates for a political outsider and kept a firebrand upstart alive in the Democratic primaries even as the party’s favorite kept her rendezvous with the party nomination.

Extra Play produces a winner in Peabody

But national politics means little at the local level and the exodus in veterans from city service is a tribute to their collective commitment to serving the city in an age when people find plenty of reasons not to enter politics.

Trahant is better known for his family’s multi-generational roofing business than his council service. Most Ward 2 constituents would agree Billy Trahant readily shunned his Council Chamber seat for a chance to climb behind the wheel of a pickup and plow their driveways during a blizzard.

Finding a candidate to replace his type of hands-on, nuts-and-bolts service to local residents as a councilor isn’t a guarantee this election year.

Capano alternately guided and chided committee colleagues, including mayors serving as committee chairmen, to evaluate public school policies and tackle complicated issues like net spending and new school construction. Her frustration over school spending seemed to grow in the last several years but her commitment to improving local education will not end when she leaves the committee.

Lynn city elections have always been defined by dramatic wins and losses: Brian LaPierre’s resounding councilor at large win in 2015; Judy Kennedy’s razor-thin 2009 victory; the late Pat McManus’ giant-tumbling win in 1991. In that tradition, the exodus of veteran elected officials this year could usher in victories bent on redefining city politics.

Classical grads chart new course

PHOTO BY PAULA MULLER
The family of graduate Ruben Ruiz lend their very enthusiastic support.

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN In his commencement address to Lynn Classical High School graduates Friday, Boston Globe sports columnist Christopher Gasper said the start of a news story is not unlike the student’s start on their new life.

“I’ve written thousands of stories, but they all start the same way: with a blinking cursor and a blank screen,” said the 1997 Classical graduate. “That moment is exhilarating and terrifying…it’s a moment where anything is possible, but nothing is certain…As graduates, you face that same moment right now…your story is waiting to be written.”

Principal Gene Constantino praised the 349 graduates for almost always doing the right thing. Aside from Senior Skip Day, he said, the class has been very cooperative.

“You lead by example, by making good decisions, for the most part,” he said. “You never failed to help your fellow classmates or others when needed.”  

He encouraged graduates to find a career they love.

“That’s the key to happiness, find a vocation you enjoy and embrace that job,” he said. “I found that happiness, I love my job, find yours.”     

Superintendent Dr. Catherine Latham said more than 60 percent of employment opportunities are tied to a high school diploma.

“High school graduates are more likely to be employed, be financially secure, and have their children be at least as well educated, if not more. ”

She encouraged the 2017 class to keep an open mind as they make their way to the next phase of their lives.

“Take chances, continue to educate yourselves, pepper your professional and personal lives with acts of kindness, they are never forgotten,” Latham said. “Surround yourself with positive and encouraging people, it’s infectious.”

Plane route protest takes off in Nahant

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy said she was wearing two hats on this graduation day.

“The first is that of mayor and on behalf of the city of Lynn we offer our sincere congratulations to the parents and graduates,” she said. “The other hat I’m wearing is that of a Ram who graduated in 1980. I welcome you into the proud and close family of Lynn Classical alumni.”

Sen. Thomas McGee (D-Lynn) invoked the name of President John F. Kennedy who would have celebrated his 100th birthday in May.

“In his inaugural address he talked about passing the torch to a new generation of leaders,” he said. “As you leave here today, you are becoming leaders as part of your future. President Kennedy said one person can make a difference and every person should try.”

Calvin Cheung, Classical’s salutatorian, thanked his family for their support and gave a shout out to his mother.

“Your love and endless support has always kept my spirits up whenever they are low and your kind and inspiring words brought light into moments where I felt disappointed,” he said.

Cheung, who was a member of the winning Northeast Conference Boys Tennis Team, quoted Mark Twain.

“The two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why,” he said. “Today, could be day number two.”

Valedictorian Emily Lao, soon to be a biochemistry major, said graduates should be very proud of their accomplishments.

“We did it,” she said. “We finally made it.”


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

 

English grads embark on new journey

ITEM PHOTO BY SPENSER HASAK
Soon-to-be Lynn English graduates cram into a selfie with state Rep. Daniel Cahill.

By ADAM SWIFT

LYNN — It was the end of one journey and the beginning of another for the graduates of Lynn English High School Friday.

Decades from now, it won’t be the speeches from the principals and politicians, or even ‘97 English graduate and state Rep. Dan Cahill’s (D-Lynn) first Instagram photo, that are remembered, but the bonds forged between students.

“When we talk about this ceremony, there are traditions that continue to live on,” said Christopher Cole, the senior class president and de facto host of the morning’s event. “But you will not be judged by your numbers, your GPA or your test scores, when you walk across this stage and your name is mentioned, that is the only thing that will be remembered … it’s you guys who will share the memories and keep them going.”

Cole told the 356 graduates that the road ahead would not be easy, but that he has seen what can happen when his fellow students have pulled together and that he expected them to continue to thrive in the years ahead.

Valedictorian Lily Vu and salutatorian Taylor Sullivan also offered up some words of wisdom for their fellow graduates.

“I can honestly say that I feel more prepared for college than I ever thought I would be, but I’m not prepared to leave Lynn English,” said Sullivan.

Vu said she would never stop showing her Bulldog pride.

“All of us have worked so hard,” she said. “I’m honored to be a part of the class of 2017.”

Classical grads chart new course

For their part, the school and city officials knew the value of playing it short and sweet as they talked about their pride in the students.

“The only thing standing between you and a diploma is the people on this stage,” said Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy. “I wish you all so much success and happiness in life, congratulations Bulldogs class of ‘17.”

State Sen. Thomas McGee (D-Lynn) noted that the one hundredth anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s birth recently passed.

“In his inaugural address, he talked about passing the torch to a new generation of leaders,” said McGee. “He also said that just one person can make a difference, but that everyone should try. You are the leaders for today. You can be the person who meets that challenge for a better world.”

Superintendent Dr. Catherine Latham spoke about the benefits of earning a high school diploma and encouraged the graduates to never stop learning.

“As you go through the next phase of life, be open to new ideas, take chances, and continue to educate yourselves,” she said.

Cahill was the keynote speaker, and during his commencement speech he spoke of the unique challenges and opportunities the students will face.

Before the students crossed the English stage to get their diplomas and enter into the next phases of their lives, Cahill had one last favor to ask.

“Apparently, I’m on Instagram, but I don’t know how to Instagram; I want this to be my first Instagram,” the state representative said as he snapped a shot on stage with the graduating class behind him. “We live in a wild time. Best of luck, and please go change the world.”

 

Tech students cap off high school careers

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Jennifer Lopez cheers on her fellow graduates as they parade into the field house at graduation.

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN Graduates of Lynn Vocational Technical Institute received a rousing send off Thursday as they grabbed their diplomas and headed into the next chapter of their lives.

“No one can tell us what lies ahead,” said graduate Ashley Pimentel. “But there is one thing I am sure of: high school graduation is just the beginning of the long journey that lies ahead.”

The class valedictorian was one of 179 graduates who took center stage before an excited audience in the school’s gym.

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy kicked off the afternoon with a congratulatory message of hope and inspiration.

“I wish everybody congratulations and much success on your future whether you are going on to higher education, joining the military, the workforce or taking time to figure out your next step,” she said. “I wish you much happiness on behalf of the city of Lynn.”

Superintendent Dr. Catherine Latham said high school graduates earn more than $500,000 more over a lifetime than those who fail to complete school.

She invoked the name of Canadian hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, who played 20 seasons in the National Hockey League.

“Gretzky was right when he said, ‘You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take,’ so take your shots and don’t be afraid to try,” she said.

A rapid endorsement

Principal Robert Buontempo Jr., gave graduates three pieces of advice: take chances; use your words to bless yourself and others; and wished they always be surrounded by people who love them.

“Don’t listen to doubting voices,” he said. “The saying is true that doubt has destroyed more dreams than failure.”

Salutatorian Taylor Seger said the day everyone has worked towards is here.   

“I’m still in shock graduation day has arrived,” she said. “Look at us now, four years gone in a blink of an eye. We are going our separate ways, whether attending college in the fall, joining the armed forces, or going straight into a trade. Some of us will become nurses, pharmacists, electricians and much more. No matter what we do, we can say Lynn Tech helped us in figuring it all out.”

Marissa Colon, class president, who received the loudest applause, said Tech students gave back to the community during their four years at the high school.

“We raised more than $9,000 for My Brother’s Table,” she said. “We also helped victims of the New Year’s Day fire on West Baltimore Street, and honored the first responders of 9/11.”

In his commencement address, state Rep. Brendan Crighton drew laughs at his acknowledgment that he is the least tech-savvy person of anyone at the ceremony.

The Lynn Democrat also drew a few tears when after introducing his parents and praising them for always being there for him, he asked graduates to rise and turn to the parents, grandparents, siblings, faculty, and friends and thank them for their encouragement.

“Their support has helped you get where you are today,” he said.


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

 

Fecteau-Leary class receives mayoral salute

ITEM PHOTO BY SPENSER HASAK
Cristian Delgado gets embraced by friends after graduation.

By MATT DEMIRS

LYNN — Cheers from proud families and guardians carried throughout City Hall Memorial Auditorium on Wednesday for the 24 students graduating from Fecteau-Leary Junior/Senior High School.

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy delivered the opening words to an eager audience.

“It’s always a very special day when Fecteau-Leary graduates,” she said. “We are happy and proud the city of Lynn has another arena for kids to be able to graduate and and earn their diploma.”

The alternative school serves students who struggled in a traditional school setting for a variety of reasons, such as chronic absences, behavior issues, or the need for smaller class sizes with specialized attention. Nonetheless, these students are moving forward with a degree that speaks volumes.

“High school graduates over their lifetime earn half a million dollars more than someone who doesn’t graduate,” Superintendent Dr. Catherine Latham said. “Sixty percent of job opportunities are tied to your high-school diploma.”

Latham offered advice for the Class of 2017.

“Take shots, dare to fail, and don’t be discouraged when things don’t turn out how you planned. Success is in each and every one of you.”

Fecteau-Leary alumna, Kiki Cromwell ’13, told of her personal experiences when she was in high school that showcased her ability to overcome adversity, something a lot of students could relate to.

Tech students cap off high school careers

“During part of my high school career I was homeless. I slept in the Lynn Commons and almost lost my brother in a shooting,” she said.

Like the students sitting in front of Cromwell, she graduated and earned her associate’s degree in fire science from Bunker Hill Community College. She attends Salem State University now, all while raising an 11-month-old child.

“Don’t let anyone dull your shine or tell you that you can’t do it,” she said.

Lucy Pecina, a proud member of the Class of 2017, shared a list of thank-yous on behalf of her class.

Pecina, along with almost every speaker, thanked the faculty at Fecteau-Leary for their unwavering support.

“Thank you for the teachers for believing in us and making us laugh to make the days a little less gray,” she said. “The memories I made here will never be forgotten.”

Soon after, the Class of 2017 moved their tassels and strode out of the auditorium to a song by The Script, “Hall of Fame,” which best fit the graduates’ futures.

“You can be the greatest. You can be the best. You can be the King Kong banging on your chest …”


Matt Demirs can be reached at mdemirs@itemlive.com

Council overrides mayor’s meal tax veto

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN — Days after Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy vetoed the local option meals tax, the City Council overrode the mayor’s action by a 10-1 vote.

In a special council meeting Tuesday, the panel quickly dispensed with the mayor’s veto saying the city needs the money and they need it now. By taking the action this week, it ensures the tax will go into effect on July 1.

“This is a necessity, this budget deficit is enormous,” said Brian LaPierre, city councilor-at-large, in an impassioned speech. “Statewide, $60 million has been raised by this commonwealth and I’m tired of these games where a few cents on a cup of coffee warranted a veto.”

City Councilor-at-Large Daniel Cahill said every Lynn resident pays this tax when they leave the city to eat out. He chided Kennedy for her willingness to raise fees and the cost of parking ticket, but not support a modest increase in buying a meal.

“The citizens of Lynn deserve proper public safety,” he said. “It’s a no brainer.”

In her veto letter to the council, the mayor said she is well aware the city is facing a structural deficit in the budget.

Learning a family affair in Lynn

“The council leadership and I are working diligently to craft a package of measures that will close this deficit at minimum cost to taxpayers with an aim to preserve jobs by everyone employed by the city,” she wrote. “But I do not support the creation of a meals tax as one of the remedies to the deficit.”   

Earlier this month, the council voted 10-1 to impose a .0075 percent tax on top of the state’s 6.25 percent sales tax on meals. The new levy would add 75 cents to a $100 dinner bill, about 19 cents to a $25 meal and raise $700,000 annually for the city.

The Legislature authorized communities to add the new fee on meals in 2009. While the sales tax goes to the general fund, the local option is given to the community to spend as it wishes. About half of the state’s cities and towns have adopted the change and have raised nearly $652 million.

Ward 1 Councilor Wayne Lozzi was the sole vote to uphold the veto. He had argued that the new revenue be designated toward public safety.

“But the city said they can’t do that and I can’t support it,” he said.


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

 

It’s fireworks time again

Summer is unofficially here and the push is on again to raise $30,000 to pay for the annual July 3 fireworks display. Seven fundraising events are planned with the first kicking off on Thursday at Old Tyme Italian Cuisine on Boston Street with the others scheduled through July 2.

The fireworks fundraising effort is sponsored Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy, but the effort to celebrate the Fourth of July locally is really a citywide event.

The July 3 spectacle is arguably the largest local community event organized every year. Lynn Shore Drive shuts down on July 3 with parking restricted and the seaside commuter road and sidewalk converted into a viewing area that draws Swampscott residents and people from all over Lynn.

The show takes place off Red Rock Park with fireworks rocketing from an offshore barge. In many ways, the show kicks off a host of fireworks displays running the July 4. It also brings together thousands of people for an almost always peaceful and trouble-free celebration of American freedom and heritage.

Only rain can delay the show to another day. But money is the ingredient that makes the July 3 fireworks a success. It is fitting that an event bringing people from all over the city together depends on the contributions and donations of people from all over Lynn and beyond.

City spending priorities are too numerous and serious to allow municipal officials to set aside money for fireworks. The opportunity to raise money to pay for the fireworks is also a chance to appreciate the effort that goes into making the display a success.

Two shootings over weekend in Lynn

Local businesses and organizations, including Old Tyme, LynnArts, Inc., Wendy’s, Lazy Dog Sports Bar, Gannon Municipal Golf Course, Rolly’s Tavern and White Rose Coffeehouse are participating in the firework fundraising effort with events ranging from theater production proceeds, donations to golf, music and a road race.

The effort to make the fireworks a success is as much a testament to Lynn’s generosity as the fireworks show is an evening aimed at unifying the city. The fundraising effort also showcases the contribution local businesses and organizations make to the city to support the fireworks and other local causes.

Fourth of July is that one of a handful of American celebrations that unites everyone with no regard to race, ethnicity, economic status or heritage. It’s a chance to contemplate the flag and what it stands for and the true meaning of freedom and its fruits.

The fireworks show doesn’t last long on July 3 but the oohs and ahhs from the crowd that serve as a counterpoint to bombs bursting in air offer a local opportunity to celebrate Lynn, to celebrate summer and to understand what it means to be an American.

To learn more about the The Fireworks Fund, call (781) 586-6850.

Community gathers to remember the fallen

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Kenneth J. Marrin, post commander 507 Lynn VFW 1993-1994 walks the parade.

By GAYLA CAWLEY

LYNN — A little rain isn’t going to keep the city of Lynn from honoring the fallen.

Those were the words of Michael Sweeney, director of Lynn veterans services, at the second of two Memorial Day services in the city on Monday. He spoke at a rain-soaked outdoor ceremony in the Pine Grove Cemetery Sunken Garden, following a parade that started at Market Street and ended at the cemetery on Boston Street.

Sweeney stood at a podium in front of a field of 605 flags, representing the fallen from Lynn.

“There’s a flag for every person we’ve lost since World War I,” Sweeney said. “There’s 605 flags, each representing a person, a family, and a story, and that is what Memorial Day is about. It is not about parties. It certainly isn’t about sales at the store … The boots you see in front of us remind us that we’re still a country at war.”

Five pairs of the boots in front he pointed out represented Lynn’s five fallen service members lost since 9/11 — SPC Antonio Syrakos, LCpl Walter O’Haire, PO2 Andrew Clement, SPC Gabriel Palacios, and SPC Justin DeArco.

“In a day like today, we remember the fallen, but we also need to remember that we’re a country at war, whether people want to believe it or not,” Sweeney said.  

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy said she was curious as to the number of flags that were set up, which she thought must have been done deliberately.

“Knowing Mike Sweeney as I do, I was quite sure he would give us an explanation, and the explanation is that 605 Lynners went off to serve their country and 605 Lynners never had a chance to come back and enjoy civilian life again, and 605 families were left to grieve,” Kennedy said.

“So, Mike, thank you for honoring them. Thank you for all you do for our veterans and to everybody who’s here today, I appreciate that you know and will recognize the true meaning of Memorial Day.”

State Sen. Thomas McGee (D-Lynn) said putting together the flags and boots to represent what has been lost in the city was really powerful. He said that veterans and those that have served reflect that “uncommon valor was a common virtue.

“That’s what it’s all about — putting your lives on the line to make sure that your friends and family continue to live in the greatest country in the world, and I want to thank you for your service, thank all of the veterans here for their service, and make sure everybody here understands that, that we never forgot the sacrifice and struggle and commitment that people that have served this country have done,” McGee said. “And Memorial Day is the day to remember it.”

City councilors eye EpiPen plan

Earlier in the day, the Polish Legion of American Veterans (P.L.A.V.), Post 56 & Auxiliary also hosted a Memorial Day ceremony, where names of the fallen from West Lynn who served in World War II and the Korean War were read. The remembrance was pushed inside from Breed Square, where the names appear on the monument, to the basement of St. Michael’s Hall.

“Everyone in this room knows war has a cost,” Sweeney said. “It hasn’t changed. In the last 100 years, the city of Lynn has given more than its share of blood and its young men and women. When we see that cost, it’s up to us to redouble our efforts to make sure that days like today are not forgotten, that we remember the fallen, that we remember their names, we say their names.”

Also honored at the ceremony was James DePhilippo, the event’s MC and former president of P.L.A.V. Post 56. Sweeney said for 30 years, DePhilippo has been a fixture of every event honoring veterans in Lynn.

Peter Capano, city councilor and chairman of the veterans committee, said the ceremony was about honoring those in Lynn “who have given their lives for our country so that all of us can enjoy the freedoms we have here today.

“I want to emphasize, as I do every year that it is because of the veterans that we enjoy so many of the freedoms in this country that others around the world just do not have — the right to vote, the freedom of assembly, religious freedom — all freedoms that are protected by the men and women of the armed forces, and today we honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice in protecting those freedoms,” Capano said.

State Rep. Daniel Cahill (D-Lynn) asked those present to join him in a challenge.

“Every time a name is spoken today, or you drive by a memorial and you see a name on it, think of what that person would think about this country and this community, and what you are doing to make it better, and whether or not their sacrifice was truly worth it,” Cahill said.

“And if you feel, if there’s any inkling that you think, well, you know what, I can do more, then we have to do more because those folks did the ultimate. So, that’s something to think about and carry with you all year.”

A prepared statement from U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass) was also read, who said he couldn’t attend because he is in Southeast Asia traveling with members of the House Armed Services Committee to study the nuclear threat from North Korea and the rise of China.

Moulton said he served in Iraq with some of the best Americans he would ever meet, those who put their lives on the line for a better Iraq and a safer America. As he travels through Southeast Asia, specifically Vietnam and Korea, he said he “can’t help but reflect on the brave men and women who sacrificed everything here on behalf of our freedom.”

He also acknowledged the men and women the country has lost in current conflicts — more than 6,700 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, including more than 130 from Massachusetts.

“The veterans and heroes that we remember today put serving their country — their countrymen, and our future — before themselves,” Moulton said in a statement. “They gave that last full measure of devotion so that we could have the rights and freedoms that we enjoy today.”


Gayla Cawley can be reached at gcawley@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley.

 

Marshalling a plan for former school building

By GAYLA CAWLEY

LYNN — City officials presented a plan to sell the former Thurgood Marshall Middle School on Porter Street on Thursday night, for a potential reuse that could include senior market-rate housing and a commercial component. But school officials opted to take no action.

City Council President Darren Cyr and James Lamanna, the city’s attorney, presented the option to the School Committee, requesting that the 19 Porter St. property be transferred to the Public Property Committee of the City Council to prepare a Request for Proposals (RFP) to solicit bids for its sale to a developer.

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy, chairwoman of the School Committee, said she was looking for the committee to make a motion to approve the transfer of the site, with a minimum asking price and timeline for when that sale could be complete. If those conditions weren’t met, the property would revert back to the School Committee.

School Committee members opted to set that minimum sales price at $4 million, and require the sale be completed within a year. The other condition set was that a School Committee member, John Ford, would sit on the RFP committee, the board responsible for preparing the document.

Ultimately, the School Committee opted to table a vote on the transfer of the property until their next meeting, upon a motion made by member Donna Coppola. Coppola said she wanted to take time to allow the committee’s attorney time to research the matter. Voting against the motion to table were Kennedy and Patricia Capano, vice-chair.

Cyr said the initial plan was to demolish the former Marshall Middle School, but a contractor reached out to city officials and wanted to buy it. His vision for the building wasn’t the vision the city had, but it let officials know there was interest in the property, Cyr said.

Lamanna said the cost to demolish the building is estimated at $2.2 million, which was part of the money bonded by the voters for the construction of the new Marshall Middle School, which opened last year on Brookline Street. If that money is not used for demolition, he said legally it could only be used for capital projects that could be bonded for 25 years, which would likely be for the construction of new buildings or additions on the school side. If the property is sold, he said the proceeds would go toward bondable projects more than five years. The proceeds would basically go into a reserve fund that would allow the city to plan ahead if, for example, a boiler in a building went.

Ford said he knows the issue is to sell the building and get some cash for the city in a cash drop situation, but he was hesitant about selling any more school property. He said there was some uncertainty about whether there would be any potential buyers, and he couldn’t see anybody paying big money for some place that’s going to cost lots of money to remediate.

Peabody lays off on initial job-cut fears

“We’re in a city where we’re land strapped,” Ford said. “We’re land poor. I don’t want to eliminate jobs on the city side. I don’t want to hurt anybody, but I really find myself in a position where it’s going to be hard for me to vote to give up any land.”

Kennedy was in favor of the transfer. For 25 years being in public life, she said she also disagreed with selling public land and felt that in most cases, it was better to bank that land.

“The reason why I’m capitulating on this particular piece of land, is that first of all it’s not big enough to build a new modern middle school, so that idea is right out,” Kennedy said. “So, it would only be usable for an elementary school or something of that size. It’s not appropriate for a police or a fire station or anything because it’s basically, it’s on a residential street.”

She said she was more comfortable letting go of this piece of land, because it wouldn’t even be appropriate for a new Cobbet or Tracy Elementary School, because it would be out of that general area of the city.

“And in light of the difficulties that we’re having making the budget come together in this year, it seems like a piece of land that may not be as valuable to the city as someplace that was located deeper into West Lynn,” Kennedy said.

Cyr said an RFP would potentially be to solicit bids for a mixed use, which would include senior market-rate apartments, as well as some commercial use, such as doctors’ offices that would cater to seniors. A small portion of those units, because of federal funding, could be allocated as affordable, he added. He said there is a true need for senior housing at marketable rate in Lynn.

Lamanna said the building was last assessed at $8 million. He said the Massachusetts School Building Authority funded the new Marshall Middle School because the assessment was that the old school on Porter Street was beyond repair. Cyr said it would cost upwards of $50 million to bring the former school up to today’s standards, for it to be restructured for a school use.

Cyr said he was a lot more hopeful after Thursday’s meeting that the transfer would be approved by the School Committee.


Gayla Cawley can be reached at gcawley@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley.

Baker: I like Tom — but I’m with Judy

By THOMAS GRILLO

SALEM — Popular Gov. Charlie Baker could make the difference in re-electing Republican Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy in what could be a close race in November.

“I have known the mayor for quite a while and I will certainly support her re-election,” the Republican governor told The Item on Wednesday. “That said, I have a good working relationship with Sen. McGee … they are two fine people and that’s good for the city of Lynn.”

Last week, state Sen. Thomas McGee (D-Lynn) kicked off his bid for mayor at the Knights of Columbus. The senator told the crowd he was running because he loves the city and the values Lynn represents. Kennedy launched her bid for a third term last month and pointed to dozens of accomplishments.

The race comes amid financial troubles for the cash-strapped city. The 2017 and 2018 budgets continue to pose challenges for Kennedy’s administration. She has asked department heads to make cuts. Some managers may have to trim up to 8.5 percent in their personnel budgets, a request that could lead to layoffs.

I am the best person for the job, McGee says

Kennedy and McGee were behind the failed measure in March to build a pair of middle schools. Voters overwhelmingly rejected increasing their real estate taxes by $200 or more annually for the next 25 years to pay for them.

But they are on opposing sides of an added meals tax that would go into the city’s general fund. McGee supports the idea of adding .0075 to the state’s 6.5 percent meals tax, while Kennedy vetoed the plan last week.

Baker is the most popular governor in America, according to a poll by Morning Consult, a Washington, D.C. research firm. The survey ranked him No. 1 with a 75 percent approval rating. The governor’s disapproval rating is a modest 17 percent, the survey said.

When asked how he would help Kennedy win, Baker declined to be specific.

Consider the progress we’ve made, Kennedy says

“I have a day job, which is pretty busy and chews up lot of my time,” he said. “But if Mayor Kennedy would like me to support and help her, we will do what we can. As I said, I have a lot of respect for Sen.  McGee and those two folks bring a lot to the table for the city.”

While Baker and McGee are native sons of the North Shore, the governor acknowledged he and the senator do not have the same close relationship shared with Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh.   

“Mayor Walsh and I talked every day for more than a month during those snowstorms shortly after I took office,” he said. “That cemented the relationship, it’s just different.”


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

 

Public hearing requested on future of Union ER

FILE PHOTO
View of Union Hospital.

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN Six community organizations and unions have asked the panel deciding the fate of emergency care after Union Hospital closes to make their deliberations public.

In a letter to the Urgent/Emergent Care Planning Group, which includes hospital executives and public officials, the groups suggested a hearing be held at an accessible location in the evening, and publicized in advance, with notices in English and Spanish.

“We want our voices and concerns about care to be heard,” said Pamela Edwards, an organizer at the Massachusetts Senior Action Council, a grassroots organization that encourages its members to address policy issues that affect their health. “Many seniors believe Partners HealthCare is not listening to them and don’t care about us.”

The New Lynn Coalition, North Shore Labor Council, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, Neighbor to Neighbor, Massachusetts Education Fund, and the Senior Action Council are in agreement that the panel has lacked transparency. They said it’s been very hard to get information about the discussions since the sessions are closed to the public.  

“We are writing because it is critical that the Urgent/Emergent Care Planning Group share its findings and recommendations with Lynn as soon as possible by way of a public forum,” the letter said.

Last year, the state Department of Public Health approved a $180 million expansion of North Shore Medical Center (NSMC) that will close Union and move the beds to the new Salem campus in 2019. The medical facilities in Lynn and Salem are a part of Partners.

Dr. David J. Roberts, NSMC’s president, said the city’s only hospital will be shuttered in the fall of 2019 and sold. The sale could be sooner if the need for service continues to dwindle, he said.

While Roberts has pledged to maintain ER services in Lynn, it’s unclear where they would be housed.

“It would seem that events are accelerating faster than originally anticipated. Union Hospital patients, as well as 1199SEIU members and the Lynn community deserve to know what is being planned to provide for their emergent healthcare needs, on how emergency care will provided once Union Hospital closes,” according to the letter.

At its most recent meeting last month, the public and the press were barred from the working session at City Hall. At the time, Laura Fleming, a hospital spokeswoman, could not explain why the public was excluded.

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy did not respond to a request for comment. State Sen. Thomas McGee (D-Lynn) declined comment.

Fleming declined to be interviewed. In a statement, she defended the Urgent/Emergent Care Planning Group’s private  meetings.

Once the planning group has completed its preliminary review,  it will bring forward data and options for broader discussion and community input,” she wrote in an email.   Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

I am the best person for the job, McGee says

PHOTO BY BOB ROCHE
State Sen. Thomas McGee stands with his brother, Shawn, and former babysitter Mae DeLuca.

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN — State Sen. Thomas McGee (D-Lynn) launched his bid for mayor Friday night before more than 300 enthusiastic supporters at the Knights of Columbus.

“My name is Tom McGee and tonight I proudly kick off my campaign for mayor of Lynn,” he said. “I am running because I love our city and the values the city of Lynn represents.”

The 61-year-old senator will face incumbent Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy, a Republican, who kicked off her campaign for a third term last month.

Consider the progress we’ve made, Kennedy says

McGee’s daughter, Katherine, 19, introduced her father.

“He never missed a softball game, a dance recital, a golf match or a swim meet and I know if I really needed him he would jump in his car and make the six-hour drive to Villanova,” she said. “One of the things I admire most about my dad is his love for Lynn. He has lived here his whole life and always showed Thomas and me all the wonderful qualities Lynn has. I don’t think it’s possible for his heart to hold more love for this city.”

McGee was elected to Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1994 to represent West Lynn and Nahant. After four terms, he won a seat in the Senate in 2002 in a district that includes Lynn, Lynnfield, Marblehead, Nahant, Saugus and Swampscott.

Lynn teacher joins the march

Michael O’Connor, a Lynn firefighter for 22 years, said he is a strong McGee backer.

“He’s been a lifelong friend,” he said.  “I think he’ll move the city in the right direction.”

Janet Dolan, a Nahant resident, said McGee has always represented the district, including Nahant, very well.

“He’s very visible, very open to help, if anyone is in difficulty I think he’s very reliable,” she said.

David Condon, chairman of the Massachusetts Motorcycle Association, said his group has been a longtime supporter of McGee.

“We’ve had a very good working relationship over the years and he will make a difference as mayor of Lynn,” he said.

McGee said this is a critical time for the city as it faces an enormous budget challenge.

“Our city is at a crossroads and the next four years will be critical in determining Lynn’s future,” he said. “Under current leadership, our city is faced with an emerging fiscal crisis that threatens public safety and erodes people’s confidence in Lynn’s ability to manage its own affairs and jeopardizes our potential for attracting new families and businesses. We need to harness all that Lynn has to offer.”

McGee said he’s the right person for the job.

“I believe I am the best person to lead our city at such a critical time,” he said. “I ask you to join me in working for the betterment of this city.”

In the race for cash, McGee is way ahead. In the most recent filing with the Massachusetts Office of Campaign Finance. McGee reported a balance of $69,170 while Kennedy had less than $13,000.


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

Entertainment, education at ‘Harrington Reads’

ITEM PHOTO BY SPENSER HASAK
Amanda Kennedy’s K-2 class looks on as Lynn Museum Executive Director Drew Russo reads “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle.

By STEVE KRAUSE

LYNN — There’s something unnerving and empowering standing in front of a room full of fifth-graders telling them about the joys of reading.

That would seem to be a conflict of emotions, but it’s true. It’s unnerving because you see all these faces, and all these people of different shapes and sizes and nationalities just waiting to hear the pearls of wisdom coming out of the mouth of a man upon whom they’ve never laid eyes. You can only hope you don’t disappoint.

And it’s empowering because children from one generation to the next don’t change very much. Their minds are like sponges. They absorb a tremendous amount and they retain it. They may all look at you with blank faces, but the wheels are turning inside.

It was into this maelstrom of humanity I walked Friday morning at the Harrington School. It was “Harrington Reads” day, in which people with a certain degree of visibility go into the classrooms and read to the students. The idea is to reinforce to them the value of reading, not only as entertainment but for education as well.

I got a fifth-grade class — a great age. And before we got down to it, I wanted to give them my view of why I think it’s so important to develop good reading habits. It’s because beyond entertainment or education, books provide a portal into the hearts and minds of their characters much better than television and movies. I asked how many of the fifth-graders understood what “portal” meant, and no one answered. Rather than tell them, I had them write it down and then told them to look it up in the dictionary. Perhaps I should have told them to Google it, but the subject of the day was books, not computers!

I was able to read them three books. The first was called “Horn for Louis,” and it was about legendary jazz trumpet player Louis Armstrong. In the book, young Louis, who hung around dance halls so he could listen to jazz, pines for a cornet hanging in a pawnshop window. He dreams of nothing more in life than to play that cornet.

Louis scrimps and saves to raise the $5 he needs to buy it, but just when he’s finally earned the money, his mother comes to him looking for some of it so she can give his sister a proper birthday party. Crushed, and almost certain he’ll never get that cornet, he gives his mother the money she needs.

In return, she gives him enough money to buy the cornet.

What was nice about reading this story to the kids in the class is that quite a few of them knew that Louis Armstrong sang the ever-popular “What a Wonderful World,” which means that could relate to the story a lot better.

I think it also resonated with them that I told them I was old enough to remember seeing Louis Armstrong on TV.

Haitian flag raised outside City Hall

Next, we tackled the moon landing in “The Moon over Star.” A little girl on a farm pretends she and her cousins are the ones speeding toward the moon in July 1969, and then watches the landing on TV with interest while her cynical, hardened grandfather scoffs at the notion of a space program in a time when so many people on this planet are needy.

But when she tells him she, too, wants to be an astronaut, he switches gears and tells her that it would really be a great honor to the family if she could achieve that dream.

Finally, it was time to learn about Ted Williams and the year he hit .406.

The book went into great detail about how Williams was his own taskmaster when it came to practicing hitting. He wanted to be known as the greatest hitter who ever lived, and knew hard work was the only way that was going to happen.

But the crux of the book is that going into the doubleheader on the last day of the season against the Philadelphia Athletics, Williams’ average stood at .39955. He could have sat out and technically been recognized as a .400 hitter (a little math exercise in the midst of all the reading).

Williams wanted none of that. He played the games, went 6-for-8, and ended up with his .406 average.

It was probably not intentional on the part of Carole Shutzer, the wonderful Harrington librarian who organizes this day, to have the three books present a unified theme. But they did. All three speak to dreams and how important they are to children; and of how important it is to work hard to achieve your dream. And in the case of the Armstrong book, there was the added attraction of being faced with a real difficult choice, and despite every inclination to make the wrong one, Louis made the right one.

There is always a large contingent of city officials who take part in “Harrington Reads” day, including Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy, Sen. Thomas McGee, Reps. Brendan Crighton and Dan Cahill, City Councilor Brian LaPierre, Joe Gill of Cahill’s staff and North Shore Navigators, funeral director David J. Solimine, Item CEO Beth Bresnahan, Taso Nikolakopoulos of John’s Roast Beef, District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett, former Lynn mayor Thomas Costin, Drew Russo of the Lynn Museum, Lynn attorney Charlie Gallo and Lynn Teachers Union official Brant Duncan.

Fox Channel 25 reporter Kerry Kavanaugh read to an assembly of children, and reinforced the theme — accidental or not — that it’s important to have dreams, to go after them, and, especially in her case, embrace all assignments even if it means moving around (a Medford native, she’s been in Montana, Iowa, Florida and Atlanta before coming to Boston).  

Best of all from my perspective, my son Andrew is a Boy Scout troop leader in Lynn, and Eagle Scout, and someone Carole Shutzer felt was worthy of joining us. So along with everything else, it was a father-son bonding experience. Not to mention the perfect way of giving back to all the people who made our lives what they are.


Steve Krause can be reached at skrause@itemlive.com.

Haitian flag raised outside City Hall

ITEM PHOTO BY SPENSER HASAK
The Haitian flag flies at Lynn City Hall.

By MATT DEMIRS

Spenser Hasak

Lynn Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy addresses the crowd.

LYNN The red and blue Haitian flag soared at City Hall on Friday as Haitians celebrated Flag Day.

About 100 people marched through the Lynn Commons onto the gazebo, where the flag was hung and festivities continued, including music and feasting on a variety of homemade foods.

“We will never be ashamed of being Haitian,” said Fré William, pastor at St. Mary’s Chapel in his opening prayer.

William Joseph, executive director of the Senior Action Center and organizer of the celebration, spoke of Lynn’s support for the Haitian community.

“We are a group of very active people who take part in the development of Lynn and enjoy the community,” he said. “I can see and feel the progress in Lynn.”

Joseph, who has lived in the city for 17 years, said Lynn residents stepped up when Haiti suffered a catastrophic earthquake in 2010 which killed more than 200,000 people.

“Lynn did everything to help Haiti, from medical supplies to wheelchairs and money, a $251,000 value,” he said.

Joseph thanked Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy for providing much needed assistance to his people during a difficult time.

“We are proud to be under your leadership,” he said. “Mayor Kennedy is one of Haiti’s best friends.”

Haitians from every generation attended the celebration.

Sagine St. Paulin came with members of St. Mary’s Church. The 20-year-old said Haitian Flag Day strengthens the Haitian presence in the city.

Spenser Hasak

Kimberly Felix, left, and Astrid Walsh attend the ceremony.

“Lynn carries a large Haitian community although we are not really connected,” she said. “This holiday brings the different groups together to celebrate our background.”

Ann Romelus, 14, told the crowd of the history of the Haitian flag, which has undergone numerous changes in the past 200 years that reflect the country’s social and political divide. Adopted in 1986, the two colors on the flag symbolize the unity of black and mulatto Haitians. The blue stripe is dedicated to black Haitians while mulatto Haitians are represented by the red stripe.

Ginette Louis was born in Haiti and became a U.S. citizen in the 1980s and has come to the celebration every year.

“Ever since I was a young girl, Flag Day has always been my favorite holiday,” she said

Three Haitian students from the Lynn English High School’s Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps joined the procession and helped raise the flag at City Hall.

Vanessa Volny, a Lynn English senior, said she was happy to celebrate with her people, far away from her country.

“In Haiti, everybody goes where the flag is,” she said. “It is nice to be able to join together and do that here.”


Matt Demirs can be reached at mdemirs@itemlive.com.

Beyond Walls neon art lighting on Wednesday

ITEM PHOTO BY JIM WILSON 
Lighting technician Brian Bourgeois completes wiring on one of the many neon art pieces that will be lit downtown.

LYNN — Wednesday night will be bright.

Outside the Prime Manufacturing Co. building, 545 Washington St., pieces of neon art will be lit as part of the Beyond Walls project.

Beyond Walls founder and executive director Al Wilson, speaking Tuesday with The Item, said this is an important step in the fundraising efforts.

Wednesday’s lighting will show that this is not just vision and a plan; it will show the vision is being implemented, he said.

“We are excited for this aspect of the project to be seen,” Wilson said “The vintage neon will illuminate the neighborhood at night, increase the walkability of downtown Lynn and help improve downtown for residents, businesses and visitors.”

Since March, the project has raised about $181,000 of its $255,000 goal. Reaching $50,000 on April 6 put Beyond Walls on track to receive a matching grant from Commonwealth Places, an effort between MassDevelopment and Patronicity.

Lynn police warn of latest phone scam

This leaves about $74,000. Wilson wants to see that amount raised by June 15; “Timing-wise, now’s the time (to donate),” he said.

Three pieces of neon art are already placed. It has yet to be determined where nine others will go.

The lighting on Washington Street will be attended by Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy and state Sen. Thomas M. McGee. The art will be lit at 8 p.m., Wilson said.

Other elements of the Beyond Walls project include LED underpass lighting connecting Central Square and Washington Street; 10 murals reflecting the cultural makeup of Lynn; and a sculpture paying homage to the city’s industrial history.

On Saturday, Bent Water Brewery will host its second annual “Bent Water Blast Off.” It’s a free event, but a $5 donation is suggested to benefit the “totally awesome” project, their Facebook page says.

The Bent Water Blast Off will take place from 3-10 p.m. at its location, 180 Commercial St.

Visit https://www.beyond-walls.org/ to learn more about the project. Visit https://www.patronicity.com/lynn to donate.

McGee: Every morning I’ll wake up determined

ITEM FILE PHOTO
Maria McGee listens to her husband, state Sen. Thomas M. McGee, speak as he signs his papers March 27.

By BRIDGET TURCOTTE

LYNN — State Sen. Thomas M. McGee (D-Lynn) will kick off his campaign for mayor from 6-9 p.m. Friday at the Knights of Columbus on Lynnfield Street.

“I will be a mayor who works hard, always listens, and wakes up every morning determined to create a better future for all Lynners,” McGee said in a statement.

McGee announced he would run for the position about two months ago. A lifelong Lynn resident, he has represented the Third Essex District in the Massachusetts State Senate since 2002. The district encompasses Lynn, Lynnfield, Marblehead, Nahant, Saugus and Swampscott.

“Lynn is on the cusp of something big,” McGee said in a statement. “We have always had the assets: talented, hardworking, diverse citizens; amazing natural resources like the woods and the waterfront; a downtown that’s coming alive with the arts and culture; neighborhoods that reflect the best of America. This race is about who can best bring our city together and realize our incredible potential at this pivotal moment in Lynn’s history.”

I think I can make a difference, McGee says

McGee is running against Republican Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy, who kicked off her campaign for a third term last month at the Porthole Restaurant. Kennedy was elected mayor in 2009 when she beat Mayor Edward “Chip” Clancy by 27 votes. In 2013, she beat Timothy Phelan by a 59 to 41 margin.

As senate chair of the Joint Committee on Transportation, McGee has been an advocate for improving the state’s transportation system and fighting for regional equality. He also advocates for quality education and extended learning opportunities for children, ensuring accessible and affordable childcare and health care for working families, and expanding workforce training and development.

Before his election to the senate, McGee served four terms in the Massachusetts House of Representatives representing West Lynn and Nahant. Prior to holding office, he practiced law as an assistant district attorney for Essex County. He was elected to the Democratic State Committee in 1976 and served as chairman of the Massachusetts Democratic Party for three years from 2013 to 2016.

A taxing decision for Lynn council

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN — Five surrounding communities have raised nearly $20 million since 2009 by adopting the local option meals tax and the City Council wants a share of it to keep layoffs at bay.

Some restaurant owners say they favor the tax because it will fund services at a time when the city is cash-strapped, while others are not so sure and some won’t say.

In a lopsided 10-1 vote last week, the panel opted to impose a .0075 percent tax on top of the state’s 6.25 percent sales tax on meals. The new levy would add 75 cents to a $100 dinner bill, about 19 cents to a $25 meal and raise $700,000 annually for the city.

In 2009, the Legislature authorized communities to add the new fee on meals. While the sales tax goes to the general fund, the local option is given to the community to spend as it wishes. About half of the state’s cities and towns have adopted the change and have raised nearly $652 million.

Like other Massachusetts cities, Lynn has struggled to pay for schools and public safety. The Council said the time has come for the small increase that could do so much good.

“We are hurting financially, this will bring in some good revenue and the measure is long overdue,” said City Councilor-at-Large Buzzy Barton. “If I have breakfast at Brothers’ Deli, my $10 meal will only cost me another 8 cents.”

Robert Stilian, owner of the Old Tyme Italian Cuisine, said while no one is wild about a new tax, the amount is so small that it shouldn’t discourage anyone from eating out.

“At first I was quite upset, but I don’t think most people will even notice and I doubt it will have much of an impact on people’s decision to dine out,” he said.

Stilian noted that many other communities have adopted the tax.

“If it’s something that will benefit the city I understand why they’ve proposed it,” he said.  “For restaurant owners, unfortunately we have to pass on the cost to customers.”

Meals tax could set table for a Planner

Taso Nikolakopoulos, owner of John’s Roast Beef & Seafood and a candidate for an at-large seat on the City Council, said he’s for it.

“Given the city’s financial crisis, I favor it,” he said.

George Markos, owner of Brothers’ Deli, said if the city adopts the new tax, he hopes they will use the money for public safety and schools.

“I will contribute to anything that is good for the city,” he said.  “But I would rather see the money spent on police, fire and schools because nothing is more important than safety and education.”

Peter Caron, the city’s chief financial officer, said the added revenue will reduce the chances of layoffs among city employees amid a budget crunch. He said Lynn is the only city in Essex County that has not opted to impose the additional tax.

Ward 6 Councilor Peter Capano said he favors the hike, and the sooner the better, as a way to restore cuts to the police and fire departments.

“We heard testimony from public safety officials at the last meeting of the necessity to fund police and fire,” he said. “I favor this.”

Councilor-at-Large Daniel Cahill said Lynn residents are already paying the tax when they eat out of town.

“Every other surrounding community has levied this tax upon us and we are just catching up,” he said. “We are under significant time constraints to implement this program to stave off layoffs in our police and fire departments.”

Blueprint could help close ‘achievement gap’

But Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy is expected to veto the plan, setting the stage for an override.

“I can’t in good conscience agree to impose a new tax on Lynn residents less than two months after voters resoundingly rejected a proposed tax increase for two new schools,” she said.  “I heard them loud and clear. To approve it is being tone deaf and not listening to what the voters clearly told us.”

Kennedy is not moved by the fact that the amount of the increase is so small.

“A tax is a tax,” she said. “We have to show the people of Lynn we are trying to live within our means as much as possible,”

Ward 1 Councilor Wayne Lozzi agreed and was the sole vote against the new tax.

“I am not inclined to support any tax,” he said. “In this instance, I was willing to support it if they designated the money towards public safety. But the city said they can’t do that and I can’t support it.

James Roumeliotis, owner of Superior Roast Beef, agrees. He  said while the city may be hurting for cash, he’s not sure diners should be asked to pay more.

“I’d rather not have it, people are already being taxed enough,” he said.

Not everyone was willing to discuss the possible change. Thomas Dill, owner of the Lazy Dog Sports Bar, did not return a call seeking comment. Chris Rossetti of the Rossetti Restaurant declined comment and chef Matt O’Neil of the Blue Ox did not respond to multiple requests for comment.


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

 

Meals tax could set table for a Planner

We wholeheartedly endorse the Lynn City Council’s decision to approve a .0075 percent local option meal tax.

The 10-1 vote on May 9 for the tax adds 75 cents to a $100 meal, and about 19 cents to a $25 meal. It would generate an annual estimated $700,000 in new revenue for the city.

Those additional tax dollars, in our view, should be dedicated and directed to supporting a new city Planning Department. Lynn desperately needs a creative, autonomous city planner who identifies opportunities to enhance the city and who can set a vision for the city.

Success stories in Salem and Somerville and, more recently, Saugus, where Town Manager Scott Crabtree spurred the creation of a two-person planning department, point to the need for independent planning in Lynn.

Dedicating meal tax revenue to the Planning Department will ensure the individual hired to serve as planner can act independently and hire competent assistants.

To their credit, City Councilors used common sense in discussing the meal tax against the backdrop of city financial problems. Councilor and state Rep. Dan Cahill pointed out Lynn residents already pay a meal tax when they dine in communities surrounding Lynn. Buzzy Barton and Peter Capano called the meals tax a way to avoid city layoffs and ensure public safety is funded. We invite them and Ward 1 Councilor Wayne Lozzi, the only councilor to vote against the meals tax, to evaluate the merits of using money generated by the tax to pay for a Planning Department.

Lynn’s time is now. The city has the tools and opportunities to help make development a reality downtown and on the city’s waterfront. Those tools include the local, state and federal resources making up the Lynn Economic Advancement Development Team and the expertise of MassDevelopment Fellow Joe Mulligan and downtown visionary Al Wilson, whose project is Beyond Walls.

Not having a planner doesn’t simply leave the city without a vision, it also leaves Lynn shortchanged when it comes to assigning a city point person who can engage residents in discussions on the direction Lynn should be going in.

Civic engagement is important. But a planner can also help the city stay the course as it sets planning priorities and takes stock periodically to assess progress in achieving those goals.

To her credit, Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy has acknowledged the need for a planner. But Kennedy has structured a job under the title of planner that is defined within the city’s existing economic development structure. That structure denies a planner the critical ingredient of  independence with a budget on par with other city departments.

We encourage Kennedy to not veto the council vote on the meals tax. She is quoted as saying a new tax is a bad idea in the wake of the voters’ March rejection of a debt exclusion to pay for new schools.

“To approve it is being tone deaf and not listening to what the voters clearly told us,” Kennedy said.

It is important, the mayor added, to show residents the city can live within its means. That is a sound and sober viewpoint and no one can fault the mayor for prudently managing the city. But we urge Kennedy to act boldly on hiring a planner. She should state in no uncertain terms that a planner can set a course for the city.

Kennedy will deserve applause if she declares her support for an autonomous planner and backs that support by dedicating the meals tax to a new Lynn Planning Department.

 

Work continues for Market Basket access

ITEM FILE PHOTO
Construction continues on the new Market Basket on Western Avenue.

LYNN — Work is underway to improve access around the new Market Basket under construction at the General Electric Factory of the Future site.

The $2 million project, funded by DeMoulas Super Markets Inc., the Tewksbury-based chain store, will reconstruct and upgrade Boston and Federal streets and Western Avenue.

It is intended to support the city’s Market Square revitalization, which includes the redevelopment of the 22-acre former GE site. Market Square will feature an 84,000 square foot state-of-the-art supermarket and 50,000 square feet of retail and office space.

Contaminated factory site up for sale

“We have been working on this project for three years and are excited that we are on schedule to open Aug. 1,” said James Cowdell, executive director of the city’s Economic Development and Industrial Corp., the city’s development bank.

The $25 million store is expected to employ 75 full-time employees and 400 part timers. Market Basket will join Shaw’s, Stop & Shop and PriceRite in the city.

Shuttered since 1988, the once state-of-the-art factory sat empty until Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy met with high-level GE executives to discuss redeveloping the parcel.

Charles Patsios, a Swampscott developer, bought the property from GE in 2013 for $4 million.


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

Push for 2nd charter school renewed in Lynn

ITEM FILE PHOTO
Frank DeVito still has to raise about $250,000 for the school to launch.

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN — The prospect of the city’s second charter school gained traction this week thanks to funding from some big name donors.

While the Equity Lab Charter School has yet to receive state approval, the proposed alternative school received a $215,000 grant from the NewSchools Venture Fund. The California-based foundation boasts a group of wealthy benefactors, including Bill and Melinda Gates, known for Microsoft Corp., and Facebook’s Mark and Chan Zuckerberg, who vowed to fund educators who launch innovative public schools.

“I’m ecstatic,” said Frank DeVito, the school’s founder. “The money will make a huge difference in making this a full time effort, and help pay for staff and consultants to get the school up and running next year.”

The 5-12 school, which would start with 160 fifth and sixth graders, will eventually have 640 students. So far, there’s a waiting list of more than 150 families, DeVito said.

DeVito is a member of Waltham-based Education Development Center’s National Center on Scaling Up Effective Schools team, where he develops, implements and tests new ways to boost effective practices in high schools.

Last year, DeVito and his 22-member team of local educators was one of 50 finalists to win $10 million toward opening the new school in the XQ: Super School Project. Emerson Collective, chaired by Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple Inc. founder Steve Jobs, sponsored the $50 million competition.

While DeVito and Equity were chosen among 700 teams from 45 states that submitted applications for new or redesigned high schools, the Lynn proposal lost.

But that hasn’t slowed DeVito. He said the NewSchools cash revitalized the effort to bring another charter school to the city.

Drug charges for Lynn man who ran

DeVito, a 52-year-old Lynn homeowner and father of two, said he is focused on finding space for the school. He has looked at the former St. Michael’s Church, school and rectory on Summer Street, but can’t ink a deal until his school receives approval from the state Department of Education (DOE). A decision is expected to be made in February. If he gets the green light, the school is expected to open in the fall of 2018.

If his proposal for a new school is accepted by the state, they will provide $800 per student or $128,000 to lease or purchase space. In addition, they would receive $2.1 million from the state or $13,223 per student who switch from the Lynn Public Schools to the charter.

DeVito, a former teacher at Chelsea High School, said he would still have to raise about $250,000 for the school to launch.

“The state really wants the school to open in Lynn,” he said. “They have been very supportive and have offered coaching in order for us to succeed.”

If it does get the go-ahead from DOE, there will be no welcome mat from the city.

While Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy and the City Council have sparred over a number of issues this year, they are united in their fight against any new charter schools. They argue such schools take much needed cash from the public schools.

While proponents insist charter schools are public schools, Lynn’s elected officials say they don’t like the formula for funding because it takes more than $1 million from the regular school budget.

If Equity Lab wins approval, they will face competition from the only other charter school in the city, KIPP Academy.


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

 

Local reps vow to fight cuts to vets

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
“There are uncertain times,” state Rep. Daniel Cahill (D-Lynn) said.

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN — As the Trump administration cuts health and transportation programs to local veterans, the region’s elected officials said they are ready to combat the White House.

“This came out of nowhere,” said Dennis Magnasco, U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton’s veterans liaison. “We plan to fight it.”

In a recent email from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to adult day health care providers, the memo said the budget for these services has been exceeded this year and services must be trimmed.  

At the annual legislative event at the Pondview Lodge, lawmakers stressed the importance of adult day health services.

Elders are provided transportation, a hot meal, therapeutic activities, nursing care and a chance to socialize with friends.

“It’s much more cost effective than having to go to a nursing home,” said Frank Romano, president of the Essex Group Management Corp., the Rowley-based firm whose family business provides elder care. “No one wants to go to a nursing home.”

Adult day care costs an average of $25,000 annually compared to nearly $86,000 for nursing home care, according to the National Adult Day Services Association.

Providing for elders is essential given that 10,000 people turn 65 daily in the U.S, Romano said.  

State Sen. Thomas McGee (D-Lynn) said the service provides needed relief for families. He noted that lawmakers are working on the state budget services for elders and adult day care.

Land of A Thousand Hills hosts fun night

State Rep. Daniel Cahill (D-Lynn) noted that lawmakers everywhere are facing tough choices.

“These are uncertain times,” he said. “But in Massachusetts we seem to be staying the course in making wise investments in our elders and hopefully our partners in the federal government will see this is money wisely spent.”

State Rep. Donald Wong (R-Saugus) said his mother is 89 and his siblings take turns caring for her.

“Seniors are the invisible people,” he said. “But we must have the insight to assist them. They looked after us and now it’s our turn to look after them.”

State Rep. Brendan Crighton said his grandmother suffered from Alzheimer’s, but at the time his family didn’t look to the option of adult day help.

“Having that support system would have made it a lot easier,” he said.

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy said the city’s senior center has been able to add a part-time social worker that has made a difference.

“My 85-year-old mother lives alone in the house where I grew up,” she said. “She gave up her license to drive a few weeks ago. I was happy she did that on her own, so I didn’t have to have that talk with her. She recognized there was something wrong when I pointed out she missed a red light. The services offered here are of great benefit to elders.”

Ward 1 Councilor Wayne Lozzi said he has spoken to families that have benefited from the adult day program.

“We need to work with our legislators to see these good programs continue,” he said.


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

 

       

 

City Council has new businesses on tap Tuesday

Tuesday’s City Council meeting in the Council Chamber includes a public hearing on a request by Rachel Bennett for Lightning Coffee Roasters, 271 Western Ave., to sell coffee beans and drinks on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Ward 1 Councilor Wayne Lozzi brought the request before the council for a public hearing.

Businesses requesting public hearings include Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen seeking a sign permit at 180 Boston St., and Pie and Pint at 23 Central Ave. requesting a sign permit. Ward 5 Councilor Dianna Chakoutis is bringing the hearing requests before the council.

Koula Kamarinos is requesting a public hearing on a request to replace an existing two-car garage at 84 Moulton St. with a three-car garage. Ward 6 Councilor Peter Capano is bringing the request before the council.

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy is nominating Harry Janice to be assistant harbormaster with a term expiring in December, 2020.

There is a Verizon petition before the council Tuesday seeking to place approximately 150 feet of underground conduit in the vicinity of Greystone Park and Ocean Street. The request is forwarded to the council by Council President Darren Cyr.

New business requests before the council this week include a request for a public hearing on a home rule petition transferring custodial and maintenance employees to the School Department.

There is also a request by city Chief Financial Officer Peter Caron to discuss a meal tax with the council.

The meeting begins at 8 p.m., on the top floor of City Hall.

Signs of the times in May Day march

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Marchers move down Andrew Street.

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN — In what was described as the city’s biggest May Day rally in years, more than 200 protesters lined City Hall Square on Monday to support immigrant and workers rights.

As Marvin Gaye’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” blared over speakers, activists held signs that read: “Everybody is an Immigrant,” “Nobody is Illegal,” “Housing is a Human Right,” and “No to Gentrification.”

“We have an administration in Washington who does not treat us with respect,” said Maria Carrasco, a Lynn School Committeewoman. “Silence is not an option. We must demand respect with dignity. We are human beings who are here and we are staying here.”

The annual May Day celebration had its roots in Chicago in the late 19th century, as unions lobbied for fair working conditions, better wages, and the eight-hour work day with strikes and demonstrations nationwide. People from all backgrounds celebrated Lynn’s history as a home for immigrants and as a leader in the fight for dignity, respect and a living wage for workers.

Carrasco said without immigrants, many service industry jobs would go unfilled.

“Nobody will do the jobs that we do,” she said. “Nobody will clean hotels or work in restaurants if we don’t do it. At the same time, we must demand that employers respect us with good pay.”

Jeff Crosby, president of the North Shore Labor Council, told the crowd that today’s worker challenges are about fair wages and embracing immigrants.

“In Chicago in 1886 workers dreamed of justice and eight-hour day so they could have time for their families and church,” he said. “Today, workers dream of a $15 minimum wage and a city without hatred where everyone is welcome regardless of where they’re from. We dream of fair pay for our teachers who educate our kids. They should not have to compete with police and firefighters for crumbs.”

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Among the marchers were dozens of Lynn teachers who protested the lack of a contract.

The three-year deal, which expired last summer, called for a two percent raise annually for the last three school years.

“We are celebrating our students and protesting the lack of progress in the negotiations,” said Brant Duncan, president of the Lynn Teachers Union.

He acknowledged that these are tough times for the city as Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy has asked department heads to trim their budgets.

“Unfortunately, we are seeing different organizations in the city being pitted against each other,” Duncan said. “The city is obligated under law to meet the minimum spending requirements and we are very mindful that the city has reached agreement with other unions this year with raises of between 2 and 2½ percent.”

In February, the firefighters reached a $2.5 million deal that provides a retroactive 2 percent raise for each of fiscal years 2015 and 2016, a 2.5 percent hike for 2017, another 2 percent for 2018 and on June 30, 2018 they will collect another 1 percent.

Last year, the $2.2 million four-year police contract called for an 8 percent retroactive pay, a 1 percent boost for 2014, a 2 percent increase for 2015, 2016 and 2017 and a 1 percent raise for 2018.


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

‘Bullied’ ISD retiree seeks cash from city

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN —  A former Inspectional Services Department (ISD) employee is seeking $150,000 from the city, alleging she was forced into early retirement after being bullied by management, The Item has learned.

In a letter to Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy last month, Jane Webber wants her monthly retirement benefits increased from $1,031 to $2,030, or the one-time cash settlement. She retired last year as head clerk after nearly 15 years as a city employee.

“After being berated, mentally beaten down, harassed and bullied by ISD supervisors for many years, my client was forced to retire last summer at age 58,” according to the letter from MariElizabeth McKeon, a Clinton attorney representing Webber.

McKeon said that if Webber had been allowed to work until age 65, her monthly retirement payout would have been nearly $1,000 per month more.  If the mayor approves the request, it will cost the city about $300,000.

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In the letter, McKeon said the final straw in her client’s retirement came last August when Webber suffered a “severe anxiety attack.”

“In the midst of the attack, one of her supervisors, Michele Desmarais, informed Ms. Webber that if she left, she would be fired … Desmarais told Ms. Webber that she should go sit in her car for an hour and she would be fine.”

Absent a settlement, Webber said she may take her case to the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination and assert her rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act because of alleged discrimination toward her age and hearing disability, the letter said.

McKeon said she has not received a response from the city and declined further comment. Webber did not return a call seeking comment.

Kennedy, ISD and James Lamanna, the city’s attorney declined comment.


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

 

Future of ER care at Union uncertain

ITEM FILE PHOTO 
The future of emergency care remains uncertain at the soon-to-close Union Hospital.

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN — No decisions have been made about the future of emergency care at Union Hospital after it closes in 2019.

Members of the Emergent/Urgent Care Planning Group, which includes hospital executives, public officials, and residents, met at City Hall on Monday in a two-hour meeting that was closed to the press and public.

Dr. David J. Roberts, president of the North Shore Medical Center (NSMC), said the meeting was one of many to determine the scope of emergency room services NSMC will provide in Lynn after Union shutters its campus.

“Our goal is to keep some form of emergency care, hopefully at the Union campus, but that will depend on who buys it,” he said.

It could be located in another Lynn location, he said.

Last year, the state Department of Public Health unanimously approved a $180 million expansion of NSMC that will close Union and move the beds to the new Salem campus in 2019. The medical facilities in Lynn and Salem are a part of Partners HealthCare. They recently posted the biggest annual operating loss in its 22-year history when it reported $108 million in losses on operations in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2016.

Lynn lays down the law for students

The panel has been discussing whether to provide full emergency room services or urgent care, Roberts said.

A complete ER accepts ambulances and all comers no matter how sick, embedded into a hospital that provides other services, such as surgery, he said. Urgent care is where patients go when they are not desperately ill, but have an acute condition that must be dealt with immediately.

“Having an emergency room absent all of the support services may not be the way to go,” Roberts said. “But this committee is evaluating all of this and no decision has been made.”

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy, a member of the panel, said they are making progress toward consensus about what the future of health care in Lynn will look like.  

State Sen. Thomas McGee (D-Lynn), who also serves on the committee, said these are ongoing meetings that discuss options for when the hospital closes.

When Roberts was asked why the meeting excluded the public, he referred the question to Laura Fleming, a hospital spokeswoman.

“These sessions have always been closed to the public,” she said. “I don’t know why and I don’t have a well thought out answer. No one has ever asked me that question before.”


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

 

Lynn lays down the law for students

ITEM PHOTO BY THOR JOURGENSEN
Juvenile Court Chief Justice Amy L. Nechtem welcomes more than 50 students and educators.

By THOR JOURGENSEN

LYNN — Students from three Lynn schools got a detailed look at the judicial system Monday during annual Law Day events held in several locations.

Founded nationally by President Eisenhower in 1958 and marked annually in Lynn Juvenile Court for 15 years, Law Day shows students how the courts work and engages them in discussions on the law and what it means in their lives.

“Hopefully, they walk out of Juvenile Court saying, ‘This is somewhere I might want to work,’” said Associate Justice Garrett J. McManus.

Juvenile Court Chief Justice Amy L. Nechtem welcomed students from three local high schools — English, St. Mary’s and Fecteau-Leary — to the Essex County Juvenile Court session on Sutton Street and urged them to contemplate the liberties protected by laws in the United States.

“These liberties must be guarded,” Nechtem reminded the students.

Law Day’s value

Retired Chief Justice Michael F. Edgerton focused his remarks on Law Day 2017’s topic — The 14th Amendment and how it transformed American democracy.

With its roots in post-Civil War years, the amendment laid out legal standards of due process and equal protection that became the battleground for landmark cases initially institutionalizing and, later, striking down segregation and laws upholding separate but equal racial barriers.

“The Supreme Court has relied on the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment. It provides tangible protection against state and local laws that discriminate,” Edgerton said.

Lectures on the law were only part of Law Day. Students submitted essays and Fecteau-Leary students presented Law Day organizers with the seventh Law Day mural they created featuring a three-dimensional design.

Law Day participants, including Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy, state Sen. Thomas M. McGee, state Rep. Dan Cahill and School Superintendent Dr. Catherine Latham,  participated in other Law Day events Monday scheduled at Classical High School and Connery Elementary School.

Hands-on education at Connery tree planting

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Hoda Britel is framed by one of the two new trees.

By GAYLA CAWLEY

LYNN — Arbor Day tree planting at Connery Elementary School kicked off Lynn’s participation in the Greening the Gateway Cities Program.

The program is administered by the state Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). The program targets the state’s gateway cities, including Lynn, or more specifically a section of the downtown and West Lynn, by providing free trees to residents and other partners.

Two dogwood trees were planted during the Arbor Day celebration at Connery School on Thursday, helped along by eager students. The school is within the area benefited by the program.

Fifth grader Ariana Camilo said she was looking forward to the trees growing nice and strong.

“I like it because it helps me breathe,” Camilo said.

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy joined in the tree planting.

“What this means to me is it’s a great chance to show these kids the importance that trees play in our lives, in all of our lives,” Kennedy said. “It gives them a chance to really care for and nurture a growing, living thing, and it gives them pride to be able to look back in many years from now and say: I helped to make that tree the beautiful thing that it has become.”

School deputy superintendent Patrick Tutwiler said the excitement the planting generated underscores how hands-on environmental studies is every bit as important as reading, writing and arithmetic.

“Arbor Day is about 140 year tradition,” Tutwiler said. “They’re taking part in history.”

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The grant Lynn received through the Department of Conservation and Recreation for the program totals $1.5 million over three years, according to Andrew Hall, city Department of Public Works commissioner. During that time frame, he said 2,400 trees will be planted during fall and spring.

“The whole point of this is to increase tree canopy in areas where there is a marked lack of tree canopy,” said Hall.

The environmental and energy-efficiency initiative is designed to reduce household energy by planting trees ranging from six to 10-feet tall with the goal of adding 5 to 10 percent of tree canopy cover in targeted neighborhoods. Trees are planted by local crews and those from DCR.

The additional tree canopy is meant to have a larger benefit over an entire neighborhood by lowering wind speeds and temperature, in addition to providing direct shading.

The majority of trees planted through the program will be on private property. Those living in the targeted area can request trees through the DCR. A property visit will be scheduled by the agency to determine the best location for the trees. Residents and other partners must agree to a two-year watering program to ensure the trees’ survival.

The area in Lynn that will be part of the program includes Washington Street from the Lynnway to Western Avenue; Boston Street from Western Avenue to Summer Street; Summer Street from Boston to Western Avenue; Minot Street from Western to Bennett Street; Bennett Street to Commercial Street; and the Lynnway from Commercial to Washington.

The program targets areas with a small tree canopy, older housing stock, higher wind speeds and a larger rental population.

“We are very excited to be part of the Greening the Gateway Cities Program,” Kennedy said in a separate statement. “To be able to save energy while beautifying neighborhoods in the city is a win-win.”


Gayla Cawley can be reached at gcawley@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley

 

City seeking student sanctuary

By BRIDGET TURCOTTE

LYNN — The School Committee adopted a policy to protect students from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

“It would be bad if we turned our backs on these kids,” said Oscar Ross, who has a daughter in Lynn Public Schools who dreams of being both a police officer and a cook. “If we don’t give them the chance to be what they want to be.”

Mary Sweeney, a retired teacher, said that during her career, students had to worry about getting their homework done.

“I never faced situations of kids being deeply afraid,” said Sweeney. “I think with the issues of immigration and ICE — it’s a reality.”

The panel voted unanimously to adopt a policy that affirms the schools are safe and welcoming sanctuaries for all students, regardless of their immigration status. The document said the resolutions are intended to ensure that all Lynn Public Schools students have the same right to a free, public education and will be treated equally.

“The mission of Lynn Public Schools is to maintain a multicultural school community dedicated to the realization of the full intellectual, physical, social and emotional potential of its students,” reads the resolution. “The city is enriched and strengthened by its diverse cultural heritage, multinational population, and welcoming attitude toward newcomers.”

Committee member John Ford pointed out that while he agreed with where the resolutions were coming from, he believed they were only reaffirming what the district already does. Superintendent Dr. Catherine Latham agreed.

“I believe we have welcoming schools and that our teachers are wonderful and welcoming,” said Latham. “We have not had a case where ICE has come into our schools.”

She added that she believes ICE is restricted from taking immigrants into custody at schools and churches.

“Rather than us saying we already do that, we’ll be able to say that we have a policy for that,” said committee member Donna Coppola. “I think it would be a huge reassurance to our students. Let’s be upfront and be what we are — a proud community — and show others that we care.”

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Latham and committee members expressed concerns about a resolution included in the original draft that prohibited federal immigration law enforcement officers, or personnel assisting them, from entering a school building.

“I worry about training teachers not to allow law enforcement to come into the building,” she said.

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy added that she was “very uncomfortable” with the section of the resolution because it should be recognized that federal law supersedes local law.

“It seems to me that it’s not a valid exercise of a city’s rights in the presence of federal government,” she said.

The panel amended the resolution to state that law enforcement can enter the building, but must remain in the main office until his or her credentials are verified and the superintendent is notified. The vote will be subject to final approval of the language.

Under the policy, the district will not inquire about, record, or request information intended to reveal the immigration status of a student or their family members. They will not disclose private information without parental consent, and staff will refuse to share all voluntary information with immigration agencies to the fullest extent permissible by the law.

All requests for information from a student’s education record will be immediately forwarded to the School Department’s attorney. The motion also noted that the district does not ask for immigration status when families register children for school.

A letter will be sent to parents and staff summarizing the resolutions in simple language. A list of all available resources, including community-based organizations and legal service organizations, will be provided to each student and made available at each school. It will be translated when necessary. Teachers will be trained on the policy before the start of the school year, when they become familiarized with all other policies.

In the next 90 days, Latham will be expected to develop a plan for training teachers, administrators and other staff on the new policy and best practices for ensuring the wellbeing of students, who may be affected by immigration enforcement actions. The plan will be implemented within five months.Legis

A copy of the resolution will be submitted to the Massachusetts Attorney General and to Lynn’s federal, state, and local legislative representatives.


Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte.

 

Child-abuse scars not always visible

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN  —  Michael Satterwhite was never physically abused by his mother, but he still bears the scars from his childhood.

“Child abuse is not always visible,” he said. “My mother never laid a hand on me, but she was one of the biggest drug dealers in Lynn and was a user as well. I didn’t get hit, but I was put in positions a child should never be in.”

Satterwhite spoke Wednesday at the Lynn Community Connections Coalition’s (LCCC) 16th annual Child Abuse Prevention Community Breakfast. The nonprofit’s mission is to strengthen families and prevent child abuse and neglect.

In 2014, the most recent data available, Massachusetts reported the highest rate of abused and neglected children in the nation. There were 31,863 victimized children in the Bay State, or 23 victims per 1,000 children statewide, making it the highest per capita rate in the country, according to  the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Nationally, 702,208 children were reported to have been abused and neglected during 2014, or 9 victims per 1,000 children, less than half the Massachusetts rate, the report said. The rise in cases has been spurred by the opioid epidemic and human trafficking, experts say.

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy welcomed the four dozen attendees by quoting David Pelzer, author, activist and a survivor of childhood abuse.

“Childhood should be carefree, playing in the sun; not living in the darkness of the soul,” she said. “It’s up to all of us to break away the clouds and bring that sunshine to the children of Lynn.”

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Kate MacDougall, who heads the Family Crimes Unit of the Essex County District Attorney’s Office, said she is grateful for the programs offered in the county that offer hope to families.

“Thank you for the work you do,” she said.

State Sen. Thomas McGee (D-Lynn) praised LCCC for its efforts to end child abuse. He said the challenges faced in different neighborhoods are bringing the community together. “Child abuse starts with parents who haven’t had a shot, who are struggling to put food on the table, with substance abuse, with finding a job or getting an education,” he said. “We have to recognize that parents are really struggling to make ends meet, particularly in communities like Lynn.”

Daniel Richards, a member of LCCC’s Father’s Nurturing Program and a Colombian native, said he was born to a single mother who put him up for adoption.

“That one decision changed my life forever,” he said.

He was adopted by French Canadian Irish parents in Lynn and lived near two Colombian families who taught him about his culture.

Choking back tears, Richards said he struggled with his identity as a child.

“Being from a different country was tough growing up and I started to feel lost,” he said. “But having those Colombian families nearby showed me life was better in the U.S. I started to realize I was in this country for a purpose.”


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

 

Time to prioritize in Lynn

It’s been a tough two months for city Police Chief Michael Mageary who has seen his officers and detectives respond to four homicides, including two deadly daylight shootings. To be sure, the four incidents were unrelated and some arrests have been made, with the suspect in the Central Square shooting on Easter still at large.

With recent violence in mind, City Councilors invited Mageary and Fire Chief James McDonald to council committee meetings on Tuesday to discuss “recent public safety issues.” It is not surprising the exchange between the elected officials and the public safety leaders focused on spending.

Mageary said the Police Department has 181 officers today compared to 193 in 2010. McDonald, a career public safety officer like Mageary, said Lynn’s eight aging fire stations need to be replaced.

In a perfect world, public safety gets top priority and somehow tax dollars pay to put a police officer on every corner and a firehouse in every neighborhood. That is not reality and Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy made it clear she is struggling to make sure the city complies with burdensome state school spending formulas even as she tries to spend more money on police and fire departments.

There was a time 25 years ago when the federal government opened the spending spigot and sent a flood of money into Lynn and other cities. The money paid for police officers and firefighters and innovative policing programs that put cops on bicycles and on foot in neighborhoods.

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In the last 15 years, public safety departments in communities across the state have turned to grant money to hire new officers and firefighters. The problem with grants is that communities eventually have to incorporate the hires into their salary budgets once the grant money runs out.

Putting a cop on every corner could not have guaranteed a murder-free March and April in Lynn. But a heightened sense of police protection helps residents feel they are safe and gives them more opportunities to work with police to point out potential problems, including properties where drug dealing might be taking place, or playgrounds where gangs may be trying to stake out turf.

Mageary knows all about police work and he has seen budget shortfalls come and go during his career. He knows that some of the most effective police work often takes place behind the scenes and out of public view. Coordinated efforts to crack down on drug dealers and gangs can take months to plan with multiple law enforcement agencies involved.

Efforts to pull guns off streets and reduce violence also involve agencies working in many different communities and, sometimes, across state lines to get results.

It is often said that spending less means working smarter. Kennedy, Mageary, McDonald and the council should meet often during the next several months and develop a city budget for the spending year that starts on July 1 filled with strategies for addressing Lynn’s public safety priorities.

Mother to mayor: Your comment was hurtful

ITEM FILE PHOTO
Muriel Clement enters Zion Baptist Church for a remembrance ceremony April 19.

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN — The mother of a shooting victim wants an apology from Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy.

The mayor recently said the recent rash of violence in the city was committed by people who knew each other.

“Her comment was so hurtful,” said Muriel Clement. “My son has never been arrested or involved in gangs or drugs; he has always been an outstanding citizen. He was sheltered and protected by his family and his church community; he didn’t know the person who pulled the trigger.”

Lenardo “Lenny” Clement, 46, was fatally shot Easter Sunday on Exchange Street. His friend, Prince Belin, 41, was struck by bullets moments later.

The two men and Belin’s fiancee were walking downtown following services at the Zion Baptist Church when they were approached by a man driving a Chrysler. The alleged shooter, later identified by police as William A. Cash, had stopped in the crosswalk and threatened them before shots rang out. Belin is recovering from bullet wounds. Police are still hunting for Cash.

In an interview with The Item about the five homicides so far this year — there were four in all of 2016 —  Kennedy said, “It’s been terrible, but these are not random acts of violence … people in our community should not worry about their safety because these victims and perpetrators are known to one another.”

Davin Clement, Lenny’s brother, said the mayor has yet to reach out to the family to offer condolences or apologize for her remarks.

The Clements say the controversy has been a distraction from letting people know who Lenny was.

“My brother never saw the bad in people,” Davin Clement said. “He took people in even when I didn’t agree with the people he let into his life.”

Violent acts terrible but not random, mayor says

Blind since the age of 2, Lenny was not supposed to live, his doctors told the family.

“But he continued to grow, got stronger, confident and more hopeful about the future,” Muriel Clement said. “Len truly was a miracle child.”

Trevor Clement, Lenny’s father, said he’s brokenhearted over the loss of his son.

“I will miss his love,” he said.  

Muriel Clement said despite his lack of vision, Lenny managed to roller skate and ride his bike all over Lynn.

“He fought against his many challenges and obstacles and finally reached an independent place,” she said. “And on Easter, it was all taken away from him.”

Kennedy stood behind her words that the violence was not random.

“I wanted to reassure the public that the city of Lynn is safe; this is not some random criminal going around,” she said. “I have written a letter to Muriel and we are reaching out to get an appointment to see the family.”

The family has launched a $20,000 GoFundMe campaign to help pay for Lenny’s final arrangements. So far, the effort has raised $900. To donate go to: https://www.gofundme.com/clementvictimfund.


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

Police and fire chiefs ask for more resources

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN —  The city’s police and fire chiefs sounded the alarm Tuesday night about the budget crunch that is impacting public safety.

“The police and fire departments have been ignored money-wise for years,” said Fire Chief James McDonald.

“The schools are not the only city department experiencing growth, what about us? We are doing what we can with less, but it’s not safe.”

Police Chief Michael Mageary said his department is operating with 181 officers, down from the peak of about 193 in 2010. Based on next’s year’s budget that include contractual obligations for raises, he said they will continue to move in that direction.

“We’ve already had to absorb $1 million worth of cuts, reduced many of our preventive programs, cut our investigative services to the bone and reduced patrol officers to maintain our budget,” he said. “There’s no money to be found. Given retirements coming up this year, we could be down 24 officers and that’s significant.”

The chiefs appeared before the City Council’s Public Safety and Public Health Committee.

McDonald said the cuts are not just impacting firefighters. He said Lynn’s eight fire stations need work and some must be replaced. The most recent fire station was built in 1968 and the oldest was constructed in 1898, he said.

“Any repairs or improvements that have been made in the stations, like fixing leaky roofs, have been done by the firefighters on their own dime,” he said.

Mother to mayor: Your comment was hurtful

McDonald said he has sent letters to Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy and Peter Caron, the city’s chief financial officer, about the state of the fire stations, and has not received a response.  

“It’s time for them to get off their ass and do the right thing,” McDonald said. “Someone has to say we can’t fix the city’s financial troubles by taking from public safety.”

In response, Kennedy said she has been urging lawmakers to change the rules on Beacon Hill about school spending to allow more money to go to police and fire.

“Every department head in the city has know for years that I have been asking for support to put an effort together to get the net school spending formula changes because it’s inequitable in the way it impacts cities like Lynn that have a growing school population,” she said. “This year, I am required by law to commit another $3.4 million to the schools. I can’t spend it on any other department. It is beyond my ability to give more money to public safety.”


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com

 

A city of two tales

PHOTO BY PAULA MULLER
Hoana Cortez and Robert Miller stand April 17 at a vigil for the two men shot on Exchange Street.

To paraphrase Dickens, it was the best of times and the worst of times in Lynn this week.

The worst was first. An Easter Sunday shooting in Central Square that left one dead and another hospitalized.

Then came the best. Bookended by a Monday night vigil at the shooting site and Thursday night’s gathering at Zion Baptist Church to show solidarity for Prince Belin and remember the late Leonardo Clement, four unrelated events took place simultaneously Tuesday:

Friends of the late Wendy Meninno Hayes gathered to remember a woman who defined her life with charity and friendship; the city Humans Rights Commission hosted a City Hall forum entitled, “Focus on Asian Americans;” the committee behind the successful April 6 kickoff of “Beyond Walls” met to plan the next steps for a downtown revitalization effort that envisions murals and classic neon signs lighting up the city’s center by July; while experts who make a living out of reimagining cities converged on the Lynn Museum and let their imaginations roam free in the “Visions for Lynn” discussion.

One night in Lynn.

Perhaps the most startling was the Visions discussion. Designers and academics let their minds wander on a long leash and imagined the city’s waterfront becoming a sort of futuristic Venice with canals. They conceived a pedestrian-friendly wastewater treatment plant, the Lynnway Learning Lab — a futuristic high school with rooftop gardens — and a public safety facility doubling as a community gathering place.

Visions and Beyond Walls demonstrate the imagination that is the fuel propelling a new vision for downtown.

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All of this might sound like so much idle speculation by academics and hopeful residents — until state Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash’s perspective is factored into the equation.

Commenting in the Boston Globe’s Sunday Magazine on April 16, Ash called Lynn one of those “gritty blue-collar North Shore communities that are poised to move up a notch or two or three.”

Ash’s comments merit close examination, especially when they are spotlighted against the backdrop of Beyond Walls and Visions.

Lynn could be one of the ‘top spots to live’

The former Chelsea city manager knows what it takes to revive a city. As the state’s top development chief, Ash joined Gov. Charlie Baker, U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, Mayor Judy Flanagan Kennedy, Lynn’s state delegation and city development officials in creating the LEAD (Lynn Economic Advancement Development) team in November, 2015, to bring federal, state, and local resources to bear on revitalizing Lynn.

His remarks to the Globe are proof positive he feels that commitment is ready to pay off.

By accenting all that is positive about their city, Lynn residents are drawing a map for success and they are narrowing the focus on the city’s problems. Lighting downtown and adorning it with murals and sculpture offers an opportunity to step back and ask, “OK, what needs to get fixed downtown?”

The answer may come in the form of public safety proposals, revamped zoning ideas or other innovations rivaling the ideas offered by the academics who gathered on Tuesday at the Lynn Museum.

During her life, Wendy Hayes helped provide the answer through the selfless charity she showed Lynn residents. A Saugus native with a brilliant smile who died last August, her legacy and memory lives on with friends who knew her as the co-owner with her husband, Rolly, of Rolly’s Tavern on the Square.  

Lynn’s diversity can also provide the answer. More than 10 percent of people who live in the city are of Vietnamese, Khmer and Laotian descent. They built businesses, bought homes and Tuesday’s commission meeting is a first step to giving them the chance to contribute positive ideas.

The great news about positive ideas is that they spur imaginations and generate additional ideas. The energy that filled downtown and the city this week is proof that only imagination defines the realm of possibility for Lynn.

Violent acts terrible but not random, mayor says

ITEM FILE PHOTO
Lynn police close off Exchange Street while they investigate the scene of a double shooting April 16.

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN — Despite the recent rash of violence in the city, Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy said Lynn is safe.

“It’s been terrible,” she said. “But these are not random acts of violence.”

Kennedy assured residents that police are working to solve these crimes and city dwellers should not be fearful.

“People in our community should not worry about their safety because these victims and perpetrators are known to one another. One may be attributed to road rage.”

The most recent incident occurred on Easter Sunday when two men were shot in front of the LynnArts building, leaving one dead and the second hospitalized.  The man killed in Sunday afternoon’s double shooting in Central Square has been identified as Leonardo Clement, 46, of Lynn.

Rev. to shooter: You came to the wrong place

Also this month, two men were charged with raping and beating a man, leaving the victim critically injured. The Lynn resident underwent surgery for his injuries at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Lynn residents Darrin Stephens, 50, and John Michelin, 31, were charged with aggravated rape and assault and battery with a baseball bat in a Chase Street apartment, police said.

Documents detail scene of sexual attack

Last month, a New Hampshire man was charged with murder in the fatal shooting of a 24-year-old pizza deliveryman. Brian Brito, 21, of Manchester, N.H., pleaded not guilty to murder during his arraignment at Lynn District Court. Brito is accused of killing Mohammadreza Sina Zangiband, an employee of Atha’s Famous Roast Beef.

Police say road rage may have spurred shooting

Also in March, Tomas Barillas, 20, of Lynn, was held without bail following his arraignment on a murder charge in connection a stabbing death of Jason Arias-Amador, 20, of Boston.

Evidence seized from murder suspect’s phone

On Monday night, a community vigil was organized by Lynn Museum/LynnArts where residents lit candles for the victims and stood against violence.


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

 

Consider the progress we’ve made, Kennedy says

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Donna Coppola, left, and Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy have a word during Kennedy’s re-election kickoff.

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN — Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy kicked off her campaign for a third term Wednesday night at a crowded fundraiser in the Porthole Restaurant.

Kennedy, a Republican, will face state Sen. Thomas McGee in what is expected to be a hotly contested race.  Last month the Lynn Democrat, who has served in the state Senate since 2002, announced his intention to seek the corner office.  

In mentioning McGee in her remarks, Kennedy said the two of them have been in public life for more than two decades and each of them have records that should be scrutinized.

“I hope all of you will base your vote in this election, not on personalities, not on political parties, not on family connections, but on who has done the most to bring improvements to our great city,” she said.

Kennedy became mayor in 2009 when she beat Mayor Edward “Chip” Clancy by 27 votes of the more than 16,000 ballots cast. In 2013, she bested Timothy Phelan by a 59 to 41 percent margin.

The mayor reminded the crowd what Lynn was like in 2010, the year she took office. She said Sluice, Flax and Goldfish ponds were infested with invasive weeds, several parks lacked lights for night games, there were few options for seniors to save on their real estate taxes, the General Electric Factory of the Future site had been vacant for more than 10 years, the Thurgood Marshall Middle School was in need of replacing, the Lynn Auditorium had just three shows a year, the downtown was filled with litter, and if teens wanted a summer job, they needed help from an elected official.

“Today, the ponds are clean, Barry Park and Wyoma Baseball Field have lights, there’s a nightly street sweeping schedule in the downtown, we implemented a way for income-eligible seniors to work off $600 from their property tax bills, there’s a lottery for summer jobs, the Lynn Auditorium is air conditioned and booked, the Factory of the Future is the new home for Market Basket, and we built a new middle school,” she said. “I ask for your support as we continue this progress for the next four years.”

I think I can make a difference, McGee says

The event attracted many of the city’s elected officials and candidates for office, as well as supporters.

Elaine Letowski, an insurance writer who moved to Lynn in 2003, said she attended the event because she strongly backs Kennedy.

“She’s good for our city, she says no when you have to say no,” she said. “We don’t have enough money for everything. She’s working on the budget, makes good decisions, keeps our taxes down, and is making Lynn a better place to live.”

Eileen Spencer, a real estate broker at Annmarie Jonah Realtors, said Kennedy has helped revitalize the downtown.

“Judy has done a phenomenal job for the city,” she said. “What I like most of all is what’s she’s done to improve the Lynn Auditorium and that is bringing business to the downtown.”

The mayor’s fundraiser comes one day after a team of consultants told officials that without corrective action, the city’s budget is projected to have an $8.6 million deficit in 2017 and in each of the next five years.

The PFM Group, based out of Philadelphia, provided a grim prescription to City Hall: No raises for city employees, freeze hiring, contract EMS services to a private company, and eliminate 35 city jobs.

Kennedy did not ignore the city’s financial troubles in her speech.

“I want to be real, not everything is rosy and, of course, we have some difficulties, such as balancing the budget,” she said. “But I’ve been quietly looking to officials at the federal level … and I expect to return to Washington in the coming months to meet with the new Trump administration to see what I can do for my city.”


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

 

Survey: Lynn should confront finance issues

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN — A team of consultants told the city what they already knew: Confronting Lynn’s fiscal challenges will hurt.

In a stark report presented to the City Council Tuesday, a Philadelphia financial advisory services firm that specializes in advising municipalities, said the city should not issue raises after union contracts expire, freeze hiring, contract EMS services to a private company, and eliminate 35 city jobs.  

“Lynn now faces a critical moment,” said The PFM Group in the 18-page survey. “Absent corrective action, the city’s general fund is projected to have an $8.6 million deficit in 2017 and in each of the next five years … the longer it takes Lynn to confront its fiscal challenges, the harder and more painful it will become to implement viable solutions.”

Vieen Leung, a PFM senior managing consultant and one of the study’s authors, said to close the gap the city should consider increasing fees annually, raise taxes and implement a local meals tax.

“The deficits are real and they are daunting,” she told the Council.

Leung also said the city lacks long-term planning for capital improvements. Lynn must figure out a way to determine a city building’s life expectancy and how to fund new construction.

“The city has underinvested in its infrastructure over the last decade,” she said.

The team also recommended the city control employee pay and benefits and increase the amount city workers pay for health insurance.      

A day for optimism

Last winter, the state Department of Revenue provided Lynn with a $75,000 grant to hire PFM and help City Hall create a five-year plan toward better fiscal responsibility.

A team of three municipal finance experts combed through the city’s books over the last few months and presented the council with an outline of how to get the city back on track.

PFM said while revenues are projected to grow at an annual rate of 2.9 percent annually driven largely by property taxes and state aid, operating expenditures are expected to swell by 3.2 percent.

In at least one exception to the no-new-hire rule, PFM recommends the city hire a full-time chief financial officer (CFO) and potentially a city manager.

Today, Peter Caron, the city’s CFO, spends half of his time managing the city’s finances and the other half as head of assessing.

“While this arrangement has allowed the city to save salary costs, CFO duties should not be held by an employee who already leads one or more other departments,” the report said.

In a brief interview on Tuesday, Lynn Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy said she questioned some of the recommendations on how to close the budget gap.

“Some of the assumptions they used are completely unrealistic to implement, such as no wage increases through 2022,” she said.


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

 

‘No one deserves to be sexually assaulted’

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN — Every 98 seconds someone is sexually assaulted in the United States.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Now in its 15th year,  it is held to educate the public about sexual violence and how to prevent it.

At City Hall on Friday, Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy called attention to sexual violence as a critical public health issue.

“I am a mother of an 18-year-old daughter and a 21-year-old son,” she said. “It’s important for them to understand what a healthy relationship is.”

Lt. Marie Hanlon, a 31-year veteran of the Lynn Police Department, encourages victims to report the crime and seek medical attention immediately.

“No one deserves to be sexually assaulted,” she said. “With the variety of services offered in our community, we should promote safety and encourage everyone to speak out against sexual violence.”

High school students sample life at NSCC

Brittny Maravelias, a 23-year-old teen health adviser at Girls Inc. of Lynn, knows more about this issue than most. As an eighth-grader at Pickering Middle School, she dated someone who became her abuser.

“It took me nearly two years to leave and another two years to figure out what happened to me was actually abuse,” she said. “It was the beginning of a long and and difficult journey to healing.” While she is encouraged that youngsters are more aware of sexual violence, it is often not a conversion between youth and adults.

“These conversations need to be started at an early age,” she said. “As much as we’d like to think these cases are rare, unfortunately they are not.”


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

Kennedy expected to announce third run

ITEM FILE PHOTO
Mayor Judith Flanagan is pictured in this March file photo.

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN — Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy, who is expected to announce her candidacy for a third term next Wednesday night, can expect a spirited campaign this year with the entry of state Sen. Thomas McGee.

The 61-year-old Lynn Democrat declared his intention last month. Without mentioning the Republican mayor by name, McGee said he will make a difference for the city.

James Smith, a Boston attorney who served as a Lynn state representative, said it will be a close race.

“She is not perceived as a big spender and taxes are relatively affordable,” he said. “But the mayor has a very strong challenger in McGee. He’s not your average opponent. He has built up lots of loyalty. This is a very good race.”

If the election were held today, Smith said it would be a toss-up.

“The shelf life of a Lynn mayor can be very short, but I’m not sure hers is over,” he said. “She doesn’t have huge negatives, which mayors tend to build up because it’s the nature of the job. You can’t please everybody and sometimes you can’t please anybody. It’s a very tough job.”

Weighing in on possible Kennedy v. McGee race

Former Mayor Edward J. “Chip” Clancy Jr., who lost to Kennedy in 2009 by fewer than three dozen votes out of more than 16,000 cast, said he’d put his money on McGee.

“I think McGee, the Democrat wins,” he said. “Look at the referendum on building two new schools that lost; all the no-voters will turn out against her.”

Former Mayor Albert DiVirgilio said it’s too soon to handicap the race.  

“Competition is great and that’s what’s missing in this country,” he said.


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

 

Protect-Preserve needs to produce

ITEM FILE PHOTO
Don Castle motions at the “no-vote” victory party in this March file photo.

The founder of the “no new schools” movement pledged following the March 21 referendum vote to reach out and work with school officials.

Almost three weeks have passed and that conversation between Donald Castle and the officials he wants to speak with has yet to take place.

Mr. Castle and his Protect Our Reservoir — Preserve Pine Grove campaign defeated the city’s request to fund an $188.5 million plan for a middle school on Parkland Avenue and a second one on McManus Field.

Give Mr. Castle credit; he tapped into voter anger over taxes and tallied a 64 percent to 36 percent win.

He told The Item’s editorial board before the March 21 special election that he opposed construction of the Parkland Avenue school because the city’s forefathers wanted the 44-acre site to be reserved to expand the Pine Grove Cemetery.

He argued that the parcel is too close to Breeds Pond Reservoir, the buildings were too expensive, and the process failed to be inclusive.

Insisting his group is not anti-education or anti-new schools, Mr. Castle said he would reach out to city officials after the school vote and say, “We want to work with you.”

He kept up that refrain the day after the election, saying, “I extended an olive branch to the mayor and the committee to pick another site.”

Schools out in Lynn

Mr. Castle and Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy, a school construction supporter, each say they made post-election efforts to reach out and meet, but missed each other’s post-election calls. Castle got a chance to state his case last week during the Pickering Middle School Building Committee meeting. Kennedy made a motion to suspend the rules and allow Mr. Castle to speak.

He declined.

“It was a bag job,” he said following the meeting, “They wanted to pick a fight with me, I’m not going to get into an argument with the superintendent that would make me look dumb. The proponents never sat down with us or called us once. I feel bad for the kids, but now they want to talk to us in the 11th hour. No thanks.”

Sorry, Mr. Castle, you can’t have it both ways. Protect-Preserve won a stunning election victory. But the middle-school enrollment tidal wave threat still looms.

Maybe Mr. Castle wants to hold on to that no new-schools anger and see if it converts into a possible City Council bid.

Maybe he got tongue tied when the opportunity came to actually present city decision makers with his school construction suggestions.

Or maybe it’s time for Mr. Castle and Protect-Preserve to make good on his pre-election statement and offer specific and positive ideas for solving the city’s school space crunch.

Unless they never had any ideas to begin with.