Neighbor to Neighbor

An emergency meeting in Lynn

The future of Union Hospital will be discussed this Thursday at 6 p.m.


Correction: Due to incorrect information provided to The Item, a previous version of this story listed the wrong location for the Thursday night meeting. It will be held at the Franco American War Veterans Hall at  535 Western Ave. at 6 p.m.

LYNN — Residents who want an update on the future of Union Hospital will get a chance to hear from hospital executives and public officials this week.

At the urging of activists and unions, the Urgent/Emergent Care Planning Group will hold a public hearing at the Franco American War Veterans Post on Western Avenue Thursday at 6 p.m.

The session was organized after the New Lynn Coalition, North Shore Labor Council, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, Neighbor to Neighbor, and the Massachusetts Senior Action Council complained about the panel’s lack of transparency. They argued that it’s been difficult for the public to get information about the hospital’s future since the sessions are closed to the public.  

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

Tyrék Lee, executive vice president of 1199SEIU, said the public will expect to hear how the group plans to address what will happen next and the future of emergency care in Lynn.

“The community will call for clear and concrete next steps,” he said.  “They may not have all the answers in this forum, but there has to be a transparent way to get information going forward.”

Earlier this year, Dr. David J. Roberts, NSMC’s president, told The Item the city’s only hospital will be shuttered in 2019 and sold. The sale could be sooner if the need for service continues to dwindle, he said. While he pledged to maintain ER services in Lynn, it’s unclear where they would be housed.

But State Sen. Thomas M. McGee, a member of the panel who testified at the Department of Public Health to halt the closing, said he’s not convinced the entire campus will close.

“His (Dr. Roberts) discussion about the hospital’s closing was premature,” he said.  “That’s what this meeting is all about. I hope that with these ongoing discussions with the new president at NSMC, as well as with this working group, we find a way to preserve urgent and emergency service that is good for the community moving forward.”

Laura Fleming, a NSMC spokeswoman, said there’s no question Partners will consolidate most of its services in Salem in 2019 and 2020.

But in contrast to Roberts’ statement, Fleming said “no decision has been made about what will happen to the campus.”

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy, a member of the group, did not respond to a request for comment.

Thomas Grillo can be reached at

Public hearing requested on future of Union ER

View of Union Hospital.


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

ICE rumors send chill through North Shore

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House.


LYNN President Donald Trump’s high stakes effort to target millions of undocumented immigrants has frayed the nerves of many North Shore residents.

“There’s tremendous fear, uncertainty and confusion over what is happening with the administration’s crackdown and it’s not just people from Muslim countries,” said Denzil Mohammed, a director at the Immigrant Learning Center, a Malden nonprofit that educates the public on the contributions of immigrants.

During the campaign, Trump promised to end immigration as we know it. This week, the president equipped the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a division of the Department of Homeland Security, with the tools to potentially remove millions of undocumented residents from the country. The administration said serious criminals will be a top priority, but some are not so sure.

“People are worried and many of us are trying to figure out how to protect our families,” said Jose Palma, a Lynn resident who immigrated to the U.S. from El Salvador nearly 20 years ago and works as an organizer at Neighbor To Neighbor, a local advocacy group. “Everyone is talking about what we should do if immigration enforcement officers show up at our homes and what kind of documents we must have to keep us safe.”

Day without immigrants hits Lynn

Juan Gonzalez, a Guatemalan native and founder of the American Latino Committee, said rumors are rampant about raids that may have been held in Lynn.

“The chief of police has assured me that this is not true, but people are still on edge,” he said.

Through a spokesman, Deputy Chief  Michael Mageary said no ICE raids have been made in the city.

Typically, ICE agents notify the Lynn Police Department before coming to the city and inform them about any actions they intend to take, according to Lt. Rick Donnelly.  

If an arrest is to be made, a Lynn police officer would accompany the ICE agent and the suspect would be taken to the police station for documentation before being sent to a federal facility, he said.

“We will assist ICE if they have a warrant, but we are not immigration officers and we don’t knock on doors asking residents if they are here legally,” Donnelly said.

An ICE spokesman confirmed the agency is not conducting any operations in Massachusetts.

Still, as part of its work, ICE officers target and arrest criminal aliens and other individuals who are in violation of the country’s immigration laws, the spokesman said.

Gov. Charlie Baker said Massachusetts is part of a global community and he has no plans to change enforcement measures when it comes to immigrants.

“We benefit enormously from the presence, the intelligence and vitality of foreign-born people in the commonwealth and we are going to work hard to remain a welcoming place for everyone,” Baker told The Item. “We have no intention of changing any of our policies.”

Mohammed said there’s confusion among newcomers over Trump’s aggressive immigration policies.

“Everything is happening so fast,” he said. “Many immigrants are questioning their futures in this country. Think of how damaging it would be for local economies of big cities where immigrants have moved in and are helping to sustain and rebuild them.”

A report by the Partnership for a New American Economy, a coalition of mayors and business leaders who support immigration reforms, found that Massachusetts immigrants play a key role in the state as taxpayers and consumers.

In 2014, immigrant-led households in the Bay State earned $36.8 billion, 15 percent of all income earned by Massachusetts residents that year, the survey said. With those earnings, the state’s foreign-born households contributed more than one in every seven dollars paid by residents in state and local tax revenues, payments that support schools, police and fire protection, the study found.

Through their individual wage contributions, immigrants also paid about $4.6 billion into the Social Security and Medicare programs that year, researchers found. By spending the money they earn at businesses such as hair salons, grocery stores and coffee shops, the study said immigrants also support small business owners and job creation in the communities where they live.

The White House press office did not respond to a request for comment.

Thomas Grillo can be reached at

Lynn forum showcases sheriff candidates

Lynn Police Chief Kevin Coppinger speaks during a forum for Essex County Sheriff candidates as St. Stephen’s Memorial Episcopal Church on Thursday. (Photo by Bob Roche)

By Leah Dearborn

LYNN — A packed room welcomed some fiery banter between Essex County Sheriff candidates at St. Stephen’s Memorial Episcopal Church on Thursday night.

The Essex County Community Organization (ECCO) and Neighbor to Neighbor (N2N) hosted a forum at the church for candidates to answer questions posed by community leaders.

The participating candidates included Mark Archer and Kevin Leach, both running as Independent candidates; Lynn Police Chief Kevin Coppinger, winner of the September Democratic primary, and Republican primary winner Anne Manning-Martin.

Discussions on high-tension issues related to race and transparency punctuated the forum, including comments on perceived lack of reporting of ethnicity statistics in the county jail system.

Coppinger emphasized creating connections between jail and outside community programs to prevent recidivism while Manning-Martin and Leach spoke about the importance of plans that are tailored to the individual inmate.

When asked about diversifying the police force based on race, gender and language, Archer spoke to the difficulties he has experienced as an African American in law enforcement, receiving applause from the audience.

“It’s wrong,” said Archer about the lack of diversity in criminal justice. “It’s wrong and I’m going to change it in a nondiscriminatory way.”

Manning-Martin brought up the importance of data-driven hiring to ensure a balance in staffing based on community demographics. The career state corrections professional focused on statistics and analysis in law enforcement multiple times over the course of the night.  

Coppinger said that physical contact can create a safety issue by opening a window for smuggling.

“The problem with physical contact is contraband swaps,” said Coppinger. “It could be as simple as sharing a kiss with a loved one and then drugs get in.”    

Other questions concerned how the candidates would improve re-entry programs to prevent recidivism, deal with the privatization of inmate medical services in prisons and handle policies on physical contact between inmates and visitors.

Leach caused a stir in the crowd when he said that in the state of Massachusetts, it is difficult to become incarcerated. He said that inmates should earn physical contact with visitors through good behavior.

Archer rebuffed this statement, saying, “sometimes you just have to look the wrong way” to be incarcerated.  

The race to replace retiring Sheriff Frank Cousins will end when voters go to the polls on Nov. 8.

Sheriff hopefuls spar in Lynn

Republican sheriff candidate Anne Manning-Martin answers questions from the audience at St. Stephen’s Church on Thursday.


LYNN — Candidates hoping to replace Essex County Sheriff Frank Cousins touted their plans to reduce recidivism and improve prison conditions on Thursday night.

Three Republicans and one independent candidate attended a forum at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church hosted by the Essex County Community Organization and Neighbor to Neighbor.

“Contact with the family is the most important element in reducing recidivism and keeping families intact,” said Anne Manning-Martin, a Peabody city councilor and a deputy superintendent for the Department of Corrections.

Manning-Martin said female prisoners are especially vulnerable to being separated from their families since the majority are either detained or held while awaiting trial in Framingham.

“They do not belong there,” she said. “They need to be closer to their families and they should be doing misdemeanor time in Essex County.”

Her top priority if elected is to make sure that women who are doing time or awaiting bail are incarcerated in the same county in which they and their families live, she said.

James Jajuga Jr., a Methuen police lieutenant and attorney, said keeping families together is important. But he said that issues in jails and prisons are a microcosm of the outside world and that issues related to the breakdown of families must be addressed.

Craig Lane, a sergeant in the sheriff’s department, said while there is no facility for sentenced female prisoners in Essex County, the region does have a detox center for women.

“At least if we can keep the substance abuse (cases) out of Framingham, it’s a step in the right direction,” he said.

Mark Archer, an attorney and former state trooper, said the prison population, especially for women, can be reduced by expanding the electronic bracelet monitoring program.

All of the candidates also spoke of the need to fix substance abuse and mental health problems by working with community groups to help people before they need to be locked up.

Republican candidates who did not attend Thursday night’s forum included Kenneth Berg, a law enforcement officer from Danvers, and Jeffrey Gallo, a lieutenant in the Essex County Sheriff’s Department.

The six Democratic candidates on the ballot include William Castro of Methuen, a sergeant in the Essex County Sheriff’s Department; Lynn Police Chief Kevin Coppinger; Michael Marks of Lynn, Middleton Jail superintendent; Edward J. O’Reilly of Wenham, a defense attorney and former firefighter; retired Middleton Jail deputy superintendent Jerry Robito; and Paul Russell Jr. of Andover, a former Drug Enforcement Administration agent.

The state primaries will be held on Thursday, Sept. 8.

The Republican and Democratic nominees will be joined on the Tuesday, Nov. 8 general election ballot by Archer, who is running as an independent, and unenrolled candidate Kevin Leach of Manchester-by-the-Sea.

Cousins decided not to run for re-election this year after two decades on the job.

A forum for Democratic candidates will be held next Thursday night.

Adam Swift can be reached at

Protest hits home with Baker

Shari Caplan and her father, Greg, protest Sunday in front of Gov. Baker’s house.


SWAMPSCOTT — Protesters camped outside Gov. Charlie Baker’s home Sunday to demand that he protect youth with clean and safe energy.

About 30 activists from organizations, including 350 Massachusetts for a Better Future and Neighbor to Neighbor, went to Baker’s Monument Avenue home with signs and megaphones. They wanted to present him with a Father’s Day card and ask that he support clean energy rather than gas pipelines and the taxes needed to build them.

“We really wanted to highlight the nature of Charlie Baker as a father,” said Craig Altemose, 350 Mass senior advisor. “This is an opportunity for him to show himself as a caretaker for the Commonwealth.”

Prior to making their way to Swampscott, the activists also staged a rally outside House Speaker Robert DeLeo’s Winthrop home.

Police directed the protesters away from Baker’s home to the gazebo park area down the road, where their permit for the event was valid.

The groups held a public meeting at Lynn City Hall last month to express fear that the suspended $3.3 million Kinder Morgan pipeline, which would have run from New York through Lynnfield, West Peabody and Danvers to Dracut, would resume and threaten the city’s drinking water.

The rally focused on Texas-based Spectra Energy Partners’ Access Northeast, and its plans to expand its pipeline in southern Massachusetts. Plans include a natural gas compressor station in Weymouth and a metering and regulation station in West Roxbury.

While the project won’t reach the North Shore, activists urged Baker to oppose taxes that would appear on utility bills to finance construction of the pipeline expansion, Altemose said.

“We’re calling on the governor not to go forward with the pipeline tax,” Altemose said.

Attorney General Maura Healey has opposed the pipeline tariff and Baker hasn’t clearly stated if he thinks the tax is necessary, he added.

Former Gloucester City Councilor Jay Gustaferro said the public shouldn’t pay for a pipeline to export gas from Pennsylvania to Massachusetts.

Turner Bledsoe, co-founder of Fore River Residents Against the Compressor Station, said methane from fracking is driving climate change and is 100 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.

“If we’re going to save this planet, we need to stop the expansion,” Bledsoe said.

It was unclear whether Baker was home at the time. He did not come outside to talk with the protesters.

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

Workers have their May Day

Protesters begin to congregate at the Corner of Greene Street and Union Street in Lynn for the International Workers May Day March.


LYNN — More than 100 protesters took to the streets of Lynn on Sunday to support worldwide International Workers May Day.

The peaceful group marched a mile from the intersection of Union and Green streets to Lynn Commons, ending with a short rally.

Jack Damas, 14, of Lynn, said while his family is from Haiti, he was born in the U.S. May Day is his first protest and he came with friends.

“I want everyone to be equal and for everyone to have fair rights,” he said.

David Gass, director of the Highlands Coalition, a group that endorsed the event, said the marchers included immigrants and-low income workers. He said the goal of the march is make people aware of the inequality and discrimination immigrants face.

Gass, 71, of Lynn, said many people in the city spend about half of their income on rent. One of the purposes of the rally was to lobby for a $15 an hour minimum wage, which, he said, would help people keep pace with the cost of living.

Angela Arce, vice-president of the Essex County Community Organization (ECCO), said through an interpreter that she immigrated from Paraguay 17 years ago. The 42-year-old Salem resident said she came in search of opportunities and has two children, both U.S. citizens.

“I started a company,” she said through an interpreter. “We employ people. We’re fighting so immigrants can live and work in better conditions for just wages and so that undocumented immigrants can get drivers licenses so that everybody can drive in safety.”

Alexandra Pineros-Shields, ECCO’s executive director, said she’s from Spain, but has been in the U.S. for 47 years. The 52-year-old Salem resident said she came over when she was 4, after her parents decided to move.

Shields said ECCO, a network of congregations on the North Shore, is concerned about the rights of workers, particularly immigrants.

“All of the fights we fought for over the last century are slowly slipping away,” she said. “Our faith traditions tell us that everyone has dignity.”

Mother and daughter Mary Rosales, 50, and Tatiana Iraheta, 13, of Lynn, are facing foreclosure. Rosales is from El Salvador and came to the U.S. to escape the hardships faced during the country’s civil war. She said one of her brothers was killed. The two are working with Lynn United for Change to keep their home.

“It’s a human right to have a roof over your head,” Rosales said.

Jeff Crosby, president of the North Shore Labor Council and executive director of New Lynn Coalition, said support for workers is needed.

“This is a time when they’re trying to tear down the last few good jobs in America,” Crosby said. “That’s why we stopped at the Verizon offices to support their strike. We need union rights for immigrant workers.”

The local march, an annual event for about a decade, was organized by the ECCO, Lynn United for Change, Neighbor to Neighbor, New Lynn Coalition and Worker’s Center of Lynn.

Gayla Cawley can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley