New Lynn Coalition

An emergency meeting in Lynn

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

By THOMAS GRILLO

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 tgrillo@itemlive.com.

7th annual reading of Frederick Douglass’ Speech

FILE PHOTO
Pedro Diaz shows his son Michael  the view of the city at sunset from High Rock Tower.

By MARIANNE SALZA

Frederick Douglass’ speech on the meaning of Independence Day for the slave, will be read Monday July 3, at 6 p.m., on High Rock Tower.

The Parks Department of Lynn and the New Lynn Coalition, sponsored by Mass Humanities, will sponsor the seventh annual reading.

The annual event has become a pre-holiday celebration for families, blending the historical event with a chance to admire the panoramic view of Lynn, the ocean and the Boston skyline.

Participants, accompanied by youth from the Zion Baptist Church, will read excerpts from the famous speech by the 19th century African-American abolitionist and social reformer.

“It discusses what Independence Day means to the slave, and the version we have is 45 paragraphs, of approximately one minute each,” said Wendy Joseph, emcee for the reading. “People come down to the podium and take turns reading a paragraph that Frederick Douglass wrote. I’ve done it for seven years and it still inspires.”

Beginning at 6 p.m., there will be entertainment at the base of the tower stairs. There will be readings of poems by Langston Hughes and Maya Angelou, a Latin dance performance, and live music by local artists, including Al Nesser, an acoustic folk musician.

Local businesses and food vendors will provide refreshments and information about community programs and other offerings. Children can have their faces painted, receive balloon animals, and go on free pony rides. Following the conclusion of Douglass’ speech, at 9 p.m., a fireworks display can be viewed from atop the Highlands of the Lynn Shore Drive.

“I open High Rock Tower and people run up and see beautiful views of the fireworks from Lynn Shore Drive and also from the surrounding towns,” said Joseph.

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.

In Lynn, the emphasis is on the waterfront

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
This shot of the master plan was on display during the first of four public hearings.

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN — Picture this along the city’s waterfront: A drive-in movie theater, soccer fields, playgrounds, a bike path, kayak and roller skate rentals, and locally owned boutique shops.

These were among the suggestions that came from more than 100 residents who filled the City Council chamber Tuesday night to make their voices heard in the first of four public meetings designed to complete a waterfront Open Space Master Plan.

Hosted by the Lynn Economic Development & Industrial Corp., the city’s development bank, and Brown, Richardson + Rowe, the Boston landscape architect firm, it was an opportunity for the team to hear ideas for locating potential new parks, public spaces and a promenade along the waterfront.

Kathy Wrynn encouraged a pedestrian overpass to link the non-waterside of the Lynnway to the waterfront.   

“Connection to the waterfront is key,” she said.

Rolf Flor said art must be an essential part of whatever is done along the water.

“We don’t just need green space,” he said. “Just look at the artwork that was done in the downtown. It’s lasted a long time and it’s become part of the city’s fabric.”

Joan LeBlanc, executive director of the Saugus River Watershed Council, said Lynn has an opportunity to become a blueprint for public access to water for the rest of Massachusetts.

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Isaac Simon Hodes, who said he was a member of Lynn United for Change but was representing himself as a longtime resident, cautioned against too much luxury housing on the water.

“If all the housing is for wealthy out-of-towners, the open space will be perceived as privatized,” he said.

Jonathan Feinberg, also of the New Lynn Coalition, said the waterfront needs to be a place for families and should include picnic tables, green space, and venues for social events.

Ward 1 City Councilor Wayne Lozzi said while his district is farthest from the ocean, he still remembers a time as a boy when he saw drive-in movies on the Lynnway.  He said he was thrilled to hear the suggestions of what can be done to activate the waterfront.

“It’s awesome where we’re headed and we still have a long way to go,” he said.

Ward 6 City Councilor Peter Capano, whose district includes the Lynnway, said while these ideas are years away, he had a suggestion to get something started this summer. He said the vacant Lynn ferry parcel and its parking lot be could be used now and until the ferry returns.

“We don’t have to wait,” he said. “We can do a drive-in movie theater right there, right now on city-owned land.”

State Sen. Thomas McGee, (D-Lynn) and candidate for mayor, said while he was encouraged by the crowd, everyone should reach out and invite others to the next meeting

“The more input the better,” he said. “Let’s make sure we reach out to other community groups and have a larger crowd next time.”


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

 

Immigrant-worker march set for Monday

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN Days after a federal judge blocked President Donald Trump’s effort to withhold funding from sanctuary cities, nearly two dozen groups are organizing a May Day rally.

The “May Day March for Immigrant and Worker Rights” is scheduled for 4 p.m. Monday at City Hall. Before the march, organizers plan a teach-in at 1 p.m. at 112 Exchange St.

Activists are inviting people from all backgrounds to celebrate Lynn’s history as a home for immigrants and as a leader in the fight for dignity, respect, and a living wage for workers. “People from other parts of the state are bringing their own histories of resistance,” said the invitation. “Let’s all come together to carry the struggle forward.”

Dozens of members of the coalition, which includes labor, community and faith organizations from the North Shore, are expected on the downtown march.

The annual event, which will take place in cities nationwide, comes on the heels of a federal judge’s ruling in San Francisco that rejected the administration’s argument that the executive order applies only to a small amount of money. The judge ruled Trump cannot set new conditions on spending approved by Congress.

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The president has targeted sanctuary cities, ones that refuse to cooperate with U.S. immigration officials. But the judge rejected the order.

“Federal funding that bears no meaningful relationship to immigration enforcement cannot be threatened merely because a jurisdiction chooses an immigration enforcement strategy of which the president disapproves,” said U.S. District Judge William Orrick.

The injunction will stay in place while the lawsuits work their way through courts, which could include the U.S. Supreme Court.

Reince Priebus, the president’s chief of staff described the ruling as another example of the “9th Circuit going bananas.”

“The idea that an agency can’t put in some reasonable restriction on how some of these monies are spent is something that will be overturned eventually, and we will win at the Supreme Court level at some point,” Priebus told Associated Press.


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.comMaterial from Associated Press was used in this report.

 

Lynn marchers see hope, but feel doubt

COURTESY PHOTO
A protester, photographed by Christopher John Stephens, raises her sign at the Boston Women’s March for America.

By DAVID WILSON

LYNN — Two little girls have a message to share. It’s written on poster board around a pair of slightly-misshapen hearts, carefully painted in with what looks like a scattering of rainbow-colored puzzle pieces.

"Fight hate with love," and "Love makes America great" are the messages raised up.Allison Hallissey

“Fight hate with love,” and “Love makes America great” are the messages raised up.

“Fight hate with love,” one sign says; “Love makes America great,” the other.

Allison Hallissey, 42, hops in for a photo with her 8-year-old daughter, Lilac and 7-year-old niece, Amore. The girls hold their signs under their chins: a small statement to a fractured country, Saturday at the Boston Women’s March for America.

Across the Boston Common, perhaps, another sign among a sea of others reads, “If you demean one of us, you demean all of us.”

Hallissey, who lives in Amesbury after about 30 years in Lynn, was joined by her mother, a couple friends, and an estimated 175,000 others. The “completely positive” crowd included women of all ages, she said.

The financial adviser at Verizon admits she wasn’t a fan of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. She did, however, vote for the former secretary of State over Republican businessman Donald Trump.

But the march wasn’t just about politics, she said.

Hallissey was standing up for the causes she’s always stood up for, she said: women’s rights, reproductive rights, and safe access to abortion, to name a few.

“Trump has made it clear that these things are very much in jeopardy under his administration,” she said.

Christopher John Stephens of Lynn snaps a photo of two smiling women. One holds a sign, “Twitter is not a platform for diplomacy.” The other wears a T-shirt patterned with Hillary Clinton’s face.

Behind them, in the background, a more cryptic sign is raised: “Extinction is forever,” it says.

Stephens attended the march to document it. After all, he was seeing the birth of a new movement, he said.

Arriving into Boston around 10:45 a.m., the 52-year-old sensed some frustration. But mostly, the march was positive and mobilized; intelligent and focused, he said.

"Twitter is not a platform for diplomacy," one woman's sign said,Christopher John Stephens

Two women pose for a photo at the Boston Women’s March for America.

“This was a march for equality, and unity, and inclusiveness,” he said.

The adjunct English instructor at Northeastern University and Bunker Hill Community College pointed to the “very dangerous perspectives” Trump has toward women and immigrants.

“I have no faith in a Donald Trump presidency,” he said.

But Hallissey is trying to remain open, she said. This kind of openness is something she’s teaching her daughter.

“The best outcome is that he’s a wonderful president,” she said. “I would love to see that.”

Stephens said the often-used political hashtag #notmypresident doesn’t sit well with him. Trump was elected, he said, and he accepts that. But he also believes in the power of people.

“What happens tomorrow? What happens the next day? What happens next week?” he asks. This is not a time to sit and take selfies, he said.

Maria Carrasco was one of about 50 protesters who stood on the steps of Lynn City Hall the night of Trump’s inauguration.

She emigrated from the Dominican Republic to Lynn in 1981. She would become, 26 years later, the first Latina appointed to the city’s school committee.

Now 55, Carrasco represented her “city of diversity,” she said, once more at the march in Boston. “Lynn says no to Trump,” read a sign she clutched with both hands.

“It’s not (just) about Trump; it’s about what he implies,” she said, referencing comments the president made on the campaign trail toward women, immigrants, and people with disabilities.

Carrasco enjoyed “a lot of good energy” at the march. It was an opportunity to get united, she said.

“To me, it showed that we have a lot of people who care about our community,” she said.

Several hundred miles away, a 31-year-old Lynn man was marching in Washington, D.C. It was a “personal investment,”  he said, because oppression toward women affects men, too.

A large crowd rallies at the Women's March on Washington in the nation's capital.Jonathon Feinberg

A large crowd rallies at the Women’s March on Washington.

Jonathon Feinberg attended the Women’s March on Washington, along with some family members. It was his mother’s first protest in decades and his sister’s very first, he said.

An “uncountable” number of marchers took to the nation’s capital for a “beautiful” program that helped weave together a variety of struggles into one narrative, he said.

Feinberg works for the New Lynn Coalition. He also plays in local band Tigerman WOAH. He is Jewish, and for him, that sparks new worry under a President Donald Trump.

Feinberg is “deeply terrified,” he said, of the president’s appointment of Steve Bannon, formerly of media outlet Breitbart News, to his White House staff.

Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign manager said in a conference call last year that Breitbart “peddles divisive, at times racist, anti-Muslim, and anti-semitic conspiracy theories.”

But Bannon calls the allegations of racism and anti-semitism “nonsense,” according to Breitbart’s website.

So more marches might be ahead for Feinberg. He has participated in anti-war and environmental protests, as well as demonstrations for Black Lives Matter, among others.

Feinberg said he would “absolutely” join in another women’s march. Because under a Trump presidency, the wariness remains. “I think he already showed us who he is, and what he wants to do,” he said.

In Washington, D.C., Feinberg may have passed 54-year-old Kathleen Speranza, who was likely hard to miss in front of the U.S. Capitol. The Lynn artist hoisted a 5-foot-tall enlargement of one of her paintings into the air, reading “America the Beautiful.”

The march “was an extraordinary show of force; a beautiful, nonviolent display of our power as a people,” Speranza wrote Wednesday in an email to The Item.

“This is just the beginning of what will be a long fight for all the progress we have made and the rights that we hold dear,” she said.

This fight is something Jackie Berman knows well. At 65, she has been marching for civil liberties for a “long, long time.” Having to “relitigate” issues like reproductive rights is discouraging and infuriating, she said.

A Lynn resident, Berman didn’t hold back on her criticisms of the new president. His “unconscionable lies … (normalization of) hate groups … (and) sexist comments with no concept of how people live” all factored into her attending the march in Boston.

“Oh my goodness, it was so exciting,” she said of seeing the crowd. “It was enormous.”

Berman supported Clinton after the Democratic primary process concluded. She was originally a Bernie Sanders supporter, but said the idea of a female president was exciting.

“I think she would have been a really good president,” Berman said of Clinton. “She was a candidate I could stand behind.”

One thing the campaigns and election showed, she said, was the “tremendous amount” of sexism that remains in the country.

Semi-retired from the state Department of Developmental Services, Berman is unsure if she will see a female president in her lifetime. But maybe others will, she said.

“I thought we were ready for a female president; I’m certainly ready for a female president,” she said.

Mary Sweeney recently turned 70. A woman who advocates for affordable housing and the environment, she has just one hope for a Trump presidency: that it ends early.

That’s right; Sweeney wants Trump to be impeached. She cites what she claims to be conflicts of interest between his businesses and his policies as president. He doesn’t know boundaries, she said.

Sweeney, of Lynn, didn’t vote for Clinton for president. She knew Massachusetts would go to the Democrat, she said, so she wrote in her favorite: Bernie Sanders.

Sanders lost the state’s March 2016 primary by about 17,000 votes, according to the Associated Press. But that didn’t stop Sweeney from giving a copy of his book, “Our Revolution,” to everyone on her Christmas list.

And in addition to marching in Boston, her activism doesn’t appear to be slowing down. “My march mentality is connected to real life; I don’t just talk about affordable housing … I don’t just talk about the environment,” she said.

But Sweeney said it was also Trump’s attitude toward women that motivated her to march. “I’m convinced we have already taken steps backwards in so many ways,” she said.

A leopard will not change its spots, Sweeney said. In fact, one sign at the march that stood out to her wasn’t a typical protest statement, but a cry for help for the brand-new first lady.

It simply read, she said, “Free Melania.”


David Wilson can be reached at dwilson@itemlive.com.

 

Waterfront development backed up by questions

PHOTO COURTESY OF ARROWSTREET
An artist rendering of the waterfront residential development to be built at the former Beacon Chevrolet site on the Lynnway by Mimco Development.

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN — The city’s first major waterfront development that promises to jumpstart the Lynnway’s transformation will take longer than expected to break ground.

Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton asked in a letter to  Minco Development from North Andover, to detail how it plans to avoid, minimize and mitigate the environmental, traffic and parking impacts of the $80 million project that will turn the former Beacon Chevrolet site into an oceanfront apartment community.

Since the proposal requires a Chapter 91 license, a state law that protects the public’s access to waterways, and the development will receive $1.2 million in infrastructure assistance, the Commonwealth has broad jurisdiction over the project, he wrote.  

Before being issued a permit, the developer must provide an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) that will demonstrate how plans for the 9-acre site will avoid damage to the environment, identify impacts to the wetlands, analyze the site’s vulnerability to climate change, avoid or fix any damage to the landscape and mitigate traffic impacts, Beaton wrote.

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Eric Loth, Minco’s managing director, said the EIR will take up to 90 days to complete and push the project’s start date closer to Labor Day.

“Sometimes we look at these things and think, gosh, it looks like there’s some overreach because the state wants answers on this, that and the other,” he said. “But I think we can work through all of the issues they’ve raised. Obviously, this project is important to the city and the state, so I hope they will work with cooperatively.”

Beaton also noted that the project fails to meet the goals of the city’s Municipal Harbor Plan which calls for a mix of housing, retail, hotels, a marina, parks and light industry on the 300-acre site from the General Edwards Bridge to the intersection of the Lynnway and Market Street.

In October,  Loth met with the New Lynn Coalition, a nonprofit group of housing advocates and union members who are lobbying for affordable units as part of the development and union construction.  While each side agreed the talk was useful, the developer did not make any promises.

If approved, the project will include 348 apartments in two buildings across from the North Shore Community College. The site has been vacant for more than three decades. When completed, it is expected to turn an eyesore into a world-class neighborhood with apartments offering sweeping ocean views, a nearby commuter rail station and a dock for a potential ferry to Boston. The development team also plans to connect the walkway from the Lynn Heritage State Park to the Clocktower Business Center on the Lynnway.

James Cowdell, executive director of the Lynn Economic Development and Industrial Corp., the city’s development bank, said he was not surprised that the state has asked Minco for more details about the project’s impacts.

This is simply how the permitting process goes on the state level,” he said. “It’s a sign that progress is being made.”


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

Workers have their May Day

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

By GAYLA CAWLEY

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 gcawley@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley