Seth Moulton

Repeal of Affordable Care Act lamented in Lynn

PHOTO BY PAULA MULLER
State Senator Thomas M. McGee attended a meeting hosted by U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton at Lynn Community Health Center to hear from constituents who are at risk by President Trump’s repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

By ADAM SWIFT

LYNNU.S. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass) has been one of the most vocal national critics of President Trump’s new administration, making appearances on the cable networks and sparking debate across the country.

On Saturday morning, Moulton brought a local focus to a national issue, taking part in a roundtable on the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), more commonly referred to as Obamacare, at the Lynn Community Health Center.

“It’s an incredibly important issue in the community and in the country, as the Republicans in Washington intend to repeal the ACA but have nothing to replace it with,” said Moulton.

During the hour-long discussion, Moulton heard from about a dozen community members, Lynn Community Health Center staff, and local businesspeople about how they have benefitted from the Affordable Care Act and their fears if it is repealed.

The Lynn Community Health Center serves 39,000 people annually, according to Lori Abrams Berry, the center’s CEO. Before the ACA passed, 40 percent of those people had no insurance. Today, that number is under 15 percent, Berry said.

That increase in the number of patients who have insurance has a huge impact on the ability to run and fund the health center, Berry said.

State Sen. Thomas M. McGee noted how former Governor Mitt Romney laid the foundation for the ACA in Massachusetts.

“It was embraced by the governor at the time and it was not embraced by the Republicans down in Washington, which was pretty interesting,” said McGee. “They were the ones who came up with the mandate so we were able to pay for it. We were able to insure over 96 percent of the people in the Commonwealth, and our challenge with the ACA under attack is what’s it going to mean for what we’ve been able to do to keep the insurance that we have in Massachusetts.”

With a repeal, McGee said Massachusetts could be in line for losses of billions of dollars in health insurance costs. He said the state could be especially hard hit when it comes to emergency room costs.

“From the legislative perspective, we used to spend hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars to pay for the patients who didn’t have insurance who went to the emergency room,” McGee said. “All the hospitals were being inundated and we were really struggling with those costs, we were actually subsidizing those costs as a legislature and a Commonwealth into the hospitals that were giving that care. Obamacare has created a great opportunity to bring those costs down, bring people out of the emergency rooms, and find a better way to care for people.”

While the politics of the ACA was never far from everyone’s mind at the roundtable discussion, it was the personal stories that had the greatest emotional impact of the morning.

Deb Debski has been battling a rare autoimmune disease that was destroying her liver and needed a transplant in order to live. While she said she is doing well now, she was in the hospital earlier this week.

“I told my doctor that I had this discussion coming up and that he had to let me out,” Debski said. “I’m very thankful for the Affordable Care Act. I had $17,000 in medications during the past year, and I paid $75.59. These are medications that I need to take twice a day in order to live.”

Debski said she is extremely upset that the ACA could be repealed with nothing to take its place.

“It would be an incredible hardship to decide whether I can eat or take my medicine,” she said.

Moulton said that Democrats in Congress are open to changes in the ACA, and that he is open to changes in the ACA that could improve it.

“But, we can’t just throw it out and not have a replacement,” Moulton said. “That would be disastrous and you clearly heard that from so many people. We want to hear these stories because we care so much about you, we want to be able to say this to our Republican friends in Washington, but I think it is even more powerful when you convey it directly.”

Lynn immigration center inundated with questions

PHOTO | SCOTT EISEN
Protesters hold up a sign that spells “#NoMuslimBan” during a rally against President Donald Trump’s immigration ban at Copley Square in Boston on Sunday.

By GAYLA CAWLEY
Item staff

An executive order issued by President Donald Trump banning refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim countries on Friday sparked immediate anger and confusion.

Protests were held at airports across the country on Saturday where immigrants from the targeted countries were being detained. Hours after hundreds of protesters flocked to Boston Logan International Airport, a judge issued an emergency temporary stay on Trump’s executive order, halting deportations.

About 12 hours after protesters cleared out of Logan Airport, hundreds of people headed to Copley Square in Boston on Sunday afternoon to continue voicing their opposition to Trump’s immigration orders. The president also recently officially ordered a Mexican border wall built.

Trump issued a statement via Facebook on Sunday, defending the ban.

“America is a proud nation of immigrants and we will continue to show compassion to those fleeing oppression, but we will do so by protecting our own citizens and border,” he said in a statement. “The seven countries named in the executive order are the same countries previously identified by the Obama administration as sources of terror. To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting.”

Locally, Natasha Soolkin, director of The New American Center, which serves the refugee and immigrant population in the Lynn area, said the executive order targeting seven Muslim countries has resulted in confusion and fear with that population. She said there are people frightened and unaware of what’s going on.

“They came from places where they experienced extreme violence and harassment, and are probably scared,” Soolkin said. “They deserve to understand this is not the place for that.”

People came to the country with the hope that the worst was over and that they were welcome, Soolkin added. Now it’s all in the air, she said.

“They suffered enough,” she said. “They went through so much to make it here. They deserve a welcoming feeling.”

Soolkin, an immigrant herself from the former Soviet Union, said she finds the new turn in policy a bit scary. She doesn’t mind a more thorough vetting process, on top of what she said is already a vigorous screening, as safety is paramount. But she’s unclear of what’s going to happen in the next 120 days. Are the people from Syria indefinitely being kept out, she questioned.

Going forward, Soolkin expects Monday will be a busy day at the center, which provides social support services, English classes and job search help and other resources for immigrants and refugees. She is preparing for a barrage of questions about the executive order from those who use the center.

Soolkin plans to contact the state attorney’s office to see what they’re doing in response, and is also thinking about getting an immigration lawyer to come in, to interpret what’s happening with the order.

Rudy Vale, 47, of Hingham, immigrated to the U.S. from Iran when she was 7 years old. She married an American man and has two children. Her family was protesting along with her in Copley Square. She said the protest was beautiful. What she found profound was that it wasn’t just Muslims gathered, saying “not here, not in this country. Enough is enough.”

“We all feel that our country’s been hijacked by a very small group of people that want to push an agenda,” Vale said. “It’s not us. It’s not what America stands for.”

Carissa Halston, 35, of East Boston, attended one of last week’s women’s marches. The march was great, she said, but she was unsure of its end goal. But, she said the case was different at the Logan Airport rally on Saturday, where people were being detained.

With Halston was Randolph Pfaff, 36, also from East Boston. Pfaff said that a federal judge stepping in and issuing the emergency stop on the travel ban was an important step.

Pfaff said having people come out and protest at the airport shows that the popular opinion is against the ban, and that it doesn’t represent the best of the country.

“Silence is tacit acknowledgement that this is OK,” Halston said.

Siri Benn, 25, of northern Virginia, was at the airport with a message written on a torn sheet of paper: “Do not criminalize Islam,” it said. “Do not make the USA a fascist nation.”

“The idea of people coming here and not being able to enter — the emotional toll on those people — it’s just not part of our country,” said Lucy Joan Sollogub, of Norwood.

Edith Sangueza, 28, of Cambridge, was in Copley Square Sunday. Her father is an immigrant, and she’s studying at Harvard University, hoping to practice immigration law.

“This is obscene,” she said. “His executive actions are unconstitutional.”

Today, it’s people from Muslim nations, she said. Tomorrow, it’s going to be Central Americans trying to get away from gang violence, or Mexicans seeking asylum here.

“I’m so horrified by Donald Trump’s ban that it’s hard to find words to really describe how horrified I am,” said Emily Lodish, of Boston. “I want to do anything to be a part of fighting for the rights of refugees to be welcome in my country. His actions are so opposed to what America is about and we all need to make ourselves heard. I’m ashamed, embarrassed in the eyes of the rest of the world.”

U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass) echoed those sentiments on Friday, issuing a statement condemning Trump’s executive order on refugees. He said Trump’s policies put the country’s troops at risk, and will help inspire attacks both at home and abroad.

“We are a nation of immigrants, and America is stronger when we welcome the refugees of our enemies,” Moulton said in a statement. “These policies do not put America first. I am ashamed that he is our president.”

 

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

Lynn poised for opportunity

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Craig Seymour from RKG Associates answers questions at the Lynn Business partnership meeting.

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN — When it comes to real estate development, the city has lots of potential but faces huge obstacles.

That’s the finding of a new study which details the strengths and weaknesses of Lynn’s housing market and assesses the chances for much-needed apartment construction citywide.

The survey comes more than a year after U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass) and Republican Gov. Charlie Baker formed the Lynn Economic Advancement and Development (LEAD) Team to cut through bureaucracy and jump start construction. Since its inception the group, that includes Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash, Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack, Environmental Secretary Matthew Beaton and Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy, has been unable to attract a single new developer to build housing on the waterside of the Lynnway.

“We talked to many large developers and what we heard was they are building in places like Chelsea, Revere and Everett because they can get $3.50 to $4 per square foot in rent,” said Judi Barrett, the study’s project manager at RKG Associates Inc. in Boston. “They would have to see those kind of rents in Lynn because it’s high risk for them to come here.”

Craig Seymour, RKG’s principal, acknowledged the $80 million project at the former Beacon Chevrolet site that is expected to break ground on the Lynnway this year could be a game changer. The waterfront development promises to deliver 348 apartments with rents expected to be in the $2,000 range. If they can fill the units at those prices, it could see others willing to invest in Lynn.

“Developers will come to Lynn once they see the first guy make an 8 percent return,” he said. “Then, they’ll come in and ask if there’s another site available.”  

Lynn takes stand against violence

Lynn Housing Study” was unveiled on Wednesday at a meeting of the Lynn Business Partnership, whose mission is to improve the city’s economic vitality and quality of life. The 132-page survey was commissioned by the city’s Lynn Housing Authority & Neighborhood Development (LHAND) $60,000.   

Among the major issues facing the city include:

  • While many industrial cities have experienced dramatic growth in home values, this has not yet happened in Lynn.
  • Lynn has failed to attract outside investment in luxury housing while it is flourishing in nearby cities.
  • Officials must consider ways to encourage more types of affordable housing with tools such as inclusionary zoning that require some low-cost units when any new market rate projects are built.
  • The city’s homeownership rate is under 50 percent and any housing plan to help the city prosper must focus on policy, planning, organization and capacity-building.

Seymour said one of the biggest challenges facing Lynn is its image. The phrase “Lynn Lynn, city of Sin, You never go out the way you came in,” makes changing people’s perception about the city more difficult, he said, not unlike “Slummerville” before Somerville was transformed with the Red, Orange and Green MBTA lines.

“An image is a very hard thing to change,” he said. “That branding unfortunately has contributed to one of the most persistent messages about the city’s image.”

Still, Lynn has its strengths. The study praised the efforts of the city and LHAND in partnership with its affiliate, the Neighborhood Development Associates. Together, they have turned abandoned or distressed properties into apartments and condominiums. The survey credited the Economic Development & Industrial Corp. for hiring Watertown-based Sasaki Associates to create a master plan for the waterfront.

Among the recommendations include:

  • Improve the city’s planning, regulatory and zoning functions by creating a planning office led by a professional planner to institute permitting that is transparent, clear, streamlined and fair.
  • The city needs to reorganize the zoning ordinance to eliminate unclear or inconsistent provisions and update it to be consistent with the state’s zoning act, case law and institute best practices.  
  • Preserve the city’s affordability to families at all income levels.
  • Build on the city’s cultural diversity and help residents be good stewards of their neighborhoods.
  • Make neighborhoods pleasant places to live.
  • Improve the city’s older housing stock.

One of other challenges facing the city is the lack of citywide or neighborhood organizations that can spur development, Barrett said.

“Every city I can think of in my 30 years in this field that has turned around a difficult situation has been on the ground with neighborhood activists,” she said.

Peggy Phelps, LHAND’s director of planning and  development, said the study is an important ingredient to move the city forward.

“We don’t just commission studies and toss them on the shelf,” she said. “We try to use them as a tool to break it down and see where we should go from here.”


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

Veterans know where to turn in Lynn

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Mike Sweeney and Harry McCabe talk about the veteran’s clinic in Lynn.

By LEAH DEARBORN

LYNN — A decade after narrowly avoiding closure, the Lynn Community-Based Outpatient Clinic on Boston Street is serving more veterans than ever before.

“It was not a small fight,” said Veterans Director Michael Sweeney, who estimated that approximately 2,900 patients are enrolled in services at the clinic, up nearly 50 percent from 10 years ago. “It’s used every day.”

Sweeney attributed the rise in patient usage to three factors: accessibility, need and outreach.

He said the success in keeping the clinic open was the result of a widespread community push that included assistance from property owners, the mayor and a number of local veterans groups.

He said U.S. Reps. John Tierney and Seth Moulton also provided support.  

Sweeney, who is a patient at the clinic himself and served in Afghanistan, said most of the complaints he hears from veterans are related to frustration with bureaucracy; once past the hurdle of the application process, most patients are satisfied with the care itself.

He said transportation is a major issue for many seeking health services, and the closer health care is to veterans, the likelier they are to use it.

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Madeleine Gearan, a press assistant in Moulton’s office, said outpatient clinics such as the one on Boston Street are important for older veterans who have difficulty driving to more distant medical services.

Moving forward, Sweeney said it will be important to ensure that the Department of Veterans Affairs continues to staff the clinic appropriately.

The city is the first in the Commonwealth to reach functional zero regarding veteran homelessness, which Harry McCabe of Lynn Housing Authority and Neighborhood Development said came about through strong community partnerships.

“I think it’s just building on what we have,” said McCabe about the future of veteran services in the city. “You have to be able to deal with the medical side of it as well as the social support. There are a lot of different components.”

Sweeney said debates about the privatization of veterans health care are taking place across the country right now.  

“Veterans need to make their voices known,” said Sweeney. “We need to stand up and say what we want.”

Lynn Veterans Council President George Fitzhenry said today’s veterans have an obligation to fight the rights of those who will come later.

“The World War II vets fought for us and we need to keep it going,” he said.

In 2015, the VA reported 368,000 veterans in the state, which has 21 outpatient care centers. Of that number, 133,737 were enrolled in the VA Health Care System.

Moulton faults Trump for delaying VA pick

PHOTO BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
House Speaker Paul Ryan administers the House oath of office to Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) during a mock swearing in ceremony Jan. 3 on Capitol Hill in Washington.

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

BOSTON — Congressman Seth Moulton is faulting President-elect Donald Trump for failing to announce a nominee to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The incoming Republican president has nominated appointees to lead most of his Cabinet-level departments and agencies, but has yet to nominate a Veterans Affairs secretary.

The Massachusetts Democrat, who served four tours of duty in Iraq, said the delay shows Trump’s lack of respect for veterans.

Moulton said the delay should come as no surprise from someone he described as “a draft dodger who had five deferments during the Vietnam War.”

Trump has vowed to overhaul the beleaguered agency and has met with prospective hires to run the VA.

Moulton said presidents Barack Obama and George Bush named their VA appointments in the December before their inaugurations.

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Saugus State Rep forum Thursday

SAUGUS — The Daily Item will sponsor a candidates forum Thursday at 7 p.m. in Town Hall auditorium with the two state representative candidates whose names will appear on the Nov. 8 ballot.

Democrat Jennifer Migliore and Republican state Rep. Donald Wong will answer questions asked by Daily Item News Editor Thor Jourgensen, who will serve as forum moderator. Candidates will deliver opening and closing statements.  

Migliore, a Saugus native, has experience working for U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton. Wong is a three-term legislator and 41-year town resident who has served on Town Meeting and the Board of Selectmen.

Voters in the 9th Essex District including Lynn Ward 1, Precincts 1 and 2 residents; Saugus Precinct 1, 2, 4-9 residents and voters living in Wakefield Precincts 1, 2, 3 and 7 will vote in the Nov. 8 final election.

Saugus rep foes trade insults

By Gayla Cawley

SAUGUS As the Nov. 8 election draws closer, state Rep. Donald Wong (R-Saugus) and challenger Jennifer Migliore, a Democrat, have been trading insults by their respective campaign’s press correspondence.

“Unlike my opponent, I am running to do a job, not to get a job,” said 64-year-old Wong in an email sent to the local media. “This first debate provided the residents of Saugus, Wakefield and Lynn with a clear choice between my ability to deliver what we need to succeed and my opponent’s lack of experience and misinformation at many levels.”

Wong’s statement was part of a correspondence where he fact checked 25-year-old Migliore, based on her remarks from their first debate in Wakefield last Thursday.

Wong, a three-term legislator and 41-year Saugus resident, is vying to remain the 9th Essex District representative. He has been endorsed by the Saugus Republican Town Committee and Saugus police unions. He has served on Saugus Town Meeting and the Board of Selectmen.

Migliore, a Saugus native, most recently served as district representative for U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.). She beat Wakefield resident Saritin Rizzuto in September to win the Democratic primary.

This week, she was endorsed by U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). Migliore worked as an intern for Warren’s 2012 election campaign and then went on to intern in her Washington, D.C. office. The senator called Migliore “the type of fighter that we need more of on Beacon Hill.”

She also received a vote of confidence from Elizabeth Marchese, a Saugus School Committee member, who wrote that Migliore has made public education a pillar of her campaign.

On Monday, Migliore and her team campaigned with Moulton and Lynn Police Chief Kevin Coppinger, the Democrat running for Essex County Sheriff.

“After knocking on Saugus doors with her, it’s clear that people want a change at the State House,” said Moulton in a statement.

But Wong’s campaign is not impressed, fact-checking Migliore’s debate performance. He questioned her comment on the lack of infrastructure investment and transportation improvement that has come to the district, citing the Walnut Street overpass in Saugus.

According to his campaign, Wong has secured money for the repair of the Walnut Street overpass as part of $1 million in funding through the 2014 transportation bond bill. Other infrastructure improvements the campaign cited included the Saugus Main Street overpass and nearly $1 million in road and bridge repairs to Wakefield as part of the 2013 Chapter 90 funding.

Migliore and her team attacked Wong’s statement during the Wakefield debate when he “falsely claimed to have co-sponsored a bill” with state Rep. RoseLee Vincent (D-Revere), which aims to prevent the Wheelabrator ash landfill in Saugus from expanding.

“Donald Wong either knowingly misled his constituents or he doesn’t know his own record,” said Migliore in a statement. “Regardless, he inaccurately portrayed his position on Wheelabrator, one of Saugus residents’ top concerns. We deserve a leader who will stop Wheelabrator’s planned expansion and clearly Donald Wong doesn’t even have a grasp of the issue.”

Wong responded in his own campaign correspondence.

“First, I would like to address my own misstatement regarding the Wheelabrator ash landfill,” he said in a statement. “In my eagerness to respond to a question from the moderator, I incorrectly identified which piece of legislation I supported to limit an expansion of the facility. My office has taken numerous steps to ensure that the health and safety of our residents comes first, including an ongoing discussion with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to conduct a site analysis.”

The Daily Item has scheduled a 9th Essex debate on Nov. 3 at Saugus Town Hall.


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

Lynn takes lead on lead

Latasha Dobson in the kitchen of her Mountain Avenue home in Lynn. Federal and city officials picked her home Thursday to celebrate successful residential deleading efforts. Item photo by Owen O’Rourke.

By Thomas Grillo

LYNN — Latasha Dobson knew the moment she toured the cobalt blue home for sale on Mountain Avenue that it was her dream house.  

But the 116-year-old Colonial had one major problem: the interior was filled with lead-based paint, a hazard for her three children. The terms of the city’s first-time homebuyer program required deleading to close the deal on the four-bedroom home.

Thanks to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Lynn Housing Authority & Neighborhood Development’s (LHAND) Lead Abatement Program, Dobson received a $28,600 grant to delead the eight-room home she purchased last fall for $256,000.

“The mortgage company would not have let me go forward with the purchase without a commitment to delead the house,” she said. “If the grant was unavailable, I couldn’t have afforded this house. The city made it possible for me to become a homeowner.”

The former Arlington resident, who had been paying $2,450 for a three-bedroom apartment, discovered Lynn thanks to a recommendation from her real estate agent. While she loved Arlington’s schools, the rent was rising and she wanted a piece of the American dream.

Today, the MBTA employee is just a 17-minute ride on the nearby commuter rail in Swampscott to her job in Boston.

Typically, it costs about $8,000 to delead a home. It cost Dobson nearly four times that amount given the amount of intricate wood trim and doors in the 2,100-square-foot dwelling.

To be eligible for the deleading grant a family of four cannot  earn more than $73,050.

Lynn was awarded $2.9 million in the latest round of competitive deleading project cash to protect children and families from the hazards of lead-based paint. Since 2009, Lynn has received a total of $9.1 million in HUD monies to make more than 500 homes safe for about 300 children.

While much progress has been made to remove lead paint from the city’s homes, there’s more to be done. Of the 33,000 housing units in Lynn, about 25,000 still need to be deleaded, according to Jeff Weeden, LHAND’s planning and development manager.

Lead blood levels of 5 micrograms per deciliter or more are a concern for young children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Lynn, 161 children between the ages of 9 months and 4 years of age have blood lead levels of 5 and above, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

The primary source of childhood lead poisoning is from exposure to lead paint and dust in homes built before 1978. In Lynn, 88 percent of the housing stock was built before that date, according to the U.S. Census.

James Reed, HUD’s regional administrator, said the program brings together agencies to make deleading happen.

“Here’s the end result of coming together in a proactive measure to address lead hazards,” he said while touring Dobson’s eight-room dwelling.

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy thanked all of the organizations that make deleading possible for families who can’t afford it.

“Our hope is to reach as many residents as possible who can take advantage and utilize this new funding,” she said. “The continuation of this program ensures that low-income families no longer have to choose between a lead-safe environment for their children and housing they can afford.”

U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) welcomed Dobson to Lynn and said many people are unaware that HUD’s deleading program exists.

“When they enable people like Dobson and her family to come and live in Lynn, it makes the entire community stronger,” he said. “As you walk through her home, you see what a difference this program has made in her life and in the life of her kids.”


Thomas Grillo can be reached @ itemlive.com.

Wong, Migliore stake out their platforms in Saugus

By Thor Jourgensen

SAUGUS — State Rep. Donald Wong and Democrat challenger Jennifer Migliore are staking out their policy positions and amassing endorsements as the Nov. 8 election draws nearer.

Wong unveiled his “Children First” initiatives aimed at improving education, saying, “When my family emigrated to Massachusetts, they did so with a firm belief in the fundamental power of education as an equal opportunity institution.”

Wong, a Republican, cited his work on helping local public school projects move forward. He lobbied to secure 53 percent, or $10 million, of total project funding from the MSBA for extensive refurbishments to the 47-year-old Augustine J. Belmonte Middle School in Saugus, including the painting of all walls and ceilings, the addition of new security devices, fire sprinklers and alarms, and the installation of energy-efficient windows to promote conservation heating.

Migliore this week announced her advocacy plans on behalf of women if she is elected to the Legislature. She said will create a women’s working group to discuss current legislation and how it will impact women in the 9th Essex District.

“Fighting for women’s rights is deeply personal to me. I will not take a backseat to pay equity legislation. I will take a lead role in fighting for the women and families in my district by advocating for equal pay for equal work and paid family medical leave,” Migliore said.

She vowed to take the lead on seeking state money to pay for all-day free kindergarten and

pre-kindergarten for municipalities.

Migliore, a ‘cum laude’ graduate of Wellesley College, has mentored young girls at Girls Inc., a nonprofit in Lynn.

Wong is a three-term legislator and 41-year town resident as well as a third-generation business owner of the Kowloon Restaurant on Route 1.

Gina Pires, president of the Lynnhurst PTO in Saugus, praised Wong’s efforts since 2010  working in the Legislature to secure $60,000 to fund the FIRST Robotics program and a district-wide enrichment initiative for young engineers; $150,000 in philanthropic donations for Saugus schools and he chaired the Saugus Business Education Collaborative’s (SBEC) Adopt-a-School program.

Wong has been endorsed by the Saugus Republican Town Committee, with the committee citing his perfect voting record in the Legislature. The committee also endorsed Essex County Sheriff’s candidate Anne Manning-Martin, a Peabody Republican, citing her work with substance abuse treatment programs as Deputy Superintendent with the Massachusetts Department of Correction.

During her tenure in U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton’s office, Migliore served as a liaison to the Department of Labor and helped ensure that women in the 6th Congressional District were treated equally and paid fairly.

Her recent endorsements include the Massachusetts chapter of the National Organization for Women), NARAL Pro Choice, Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus. She also enjoys the support of local Democrats.

“I’m glad to have the support of Sen. (Thomas M.) McGee and state Reps Brendan Crighton and Dan Cahill. They are amazing leaders for the city of Lynn and I look forward to working with them to improve Lynnfield Street, maintain vital medical services at the site of Union Hospital and preserve our ponds and our woods, ”said Migliore.


Thor Jourgensen can be reached at tjourgensen@itemlive.com.

Running circles around free speech

James Walsh got a parking ticket from the State Police for parking next to the Nahant sign while he held a political sign on the opposite island. Item Photo by Owen O’Rourke

By Thomas Grillo

NAHANT — Hillary Clinton supporter James Walsh ran into trouble last week as he prepared to hold a “No Trump No” sign at the Nahant Rotary.

The 73-year-old retiree and chairman of the Nahant Democratic Town Committee said a state police officer gave him a $30 ticket for parking on the grass near the rotary as he unloaded 3-foot-by-4-foot “Hillary” signs for more than a dozen supporters. The group intended to do the standout at the busy intersection on the Lynn-Nahant border.

“I got the strong sense that I was getting ticketed because I had a ‘United Against Trump,’ sign on my windshield,” he said.

The mini political drama unfolded Friday afternoon when Walsh arrived at the Nahant Causeway. He pulled his 2015 silver Hyundai onto the grass near the tennis courts to unload the signs.  

Walsh said he had just brought one sign to a supporter when he spotted the officer with the ticket book in hand.

“I asked what was up and he said I couldn’t park there,” he said. “When I told him I was just unloading some signs, he said I need permission to hold a sign on Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) property. He also said they had arrested someone about 18 months ago who refused to stop holding a sign or handing out pamphlets.”

The news shocked Walsh, a former Nahant selectman, who said he’s been holding signs for Democrats at that location for more than two decades. He called DCR to seek clarification on whether a permit was needed and where to get one. But so far he’s been unable to get answers.

“I’ve stood out there for Congressman Seth Moulton and Congressman John Tierney before that,” he said. “It’s a traditional place and a very visible site to reach voters.”

State Rep. Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn) said he was puzzled by Walsh’s call to complain about the incident.

“I’ve been in politics for about a dozen years and we routinely use that rotary as a spot for visibility,” he said. “Whether you’re supporting a Democrat or Republican, it’s an issue of free speech on public land. I hope it’s just a mistake on DCR’s part. If not, we will look into changing those rules.”  

Mark Steffen, a DCR spokesman,  declined to say whether a permit is required to hold signs. State police spokesman David Procopio confirmed police issued a citation for parking in a restricted area.

“Parking at that location blocks operators’ view of traffic entering and exiting the rotary, so it is a public safety issue.”


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

Migliore wins right to represent Democrats

Jennifer Migliore gets a hug from Dale Orlando as she celebrates her win in Thursday night’s Democratic primary.

By Bridget Turcotte

SAUGUS — Voters chose Jennifer Migliore on Thursday as the Democrat they want to face state Rep. Donald Wong (R-Saugus) in the November final election.

Migliore secured 2,478 votes, or 71 percent of the total votes, beating opponent Saritin Rizzuto who received 1,006 votes, or 29 percent.

“I knocked on over 7,000 doors,” she said. “Today alone I knocked on 100. I have over 100 volunteers working with me. I’m incredibly humbled. It’s amazing.”

Migliore said she hopes to challenge Wong to a series of five debates. She would like to see more back-and-forth between herself and her opponent, with no pre-written questions.

Wong formerly served as a Saugus Town Meeting member from 2005 to 2007. He was on the Board of Selectmen from 2007 until 2011, when he went to the state Legislature.

“Tonight we celebrate, for sure,” Migliore said. “Tomorrow we start campaigning. Today’s turnout was between 10 and 12 percent. We’re expecting about 80 percent in November. We need a lot more votes to win.”

The vote broke down as follows: Migliore received 1,281 votes in Saugus, or 75 percent of votes cast in town in the 9th Essex race. In Wakefield, Migliore received 497 votes and in Lynn, she received 700 votes.

The 9th Essex District encompasses precincts 1, 2, 4-9 in Saugus; precincts 1, 2, 3 and 7 in Wakefield; and Ward 1 precincts 1 and 2 in Lynn.

Migliore is 25-year-old Saugus native who wishes to bring a fresh outlook to the State House. She studied political science at Wellesley College and most recently worked as a district representative for Congressman Seth Moulton.

“I represent a new generation of leadership,” she said. “People want new blood. Part of the reason I won by such a huge margin is that my campaign utilized innovation and technology to get the vote.”

Her primary opponent was first-time Wakefield resident and Democrat Saritin Rizzuto, a businesswoman who during her campaign cited her extensive community service experience.

Rizzuto said she will not rule out another run for office, adding, “For now, I’m just thinking about spending much-needed time with my children.”

Migliore said her lifelong interest in the district and the experience she got working with Moulton has prepared her for to serve in the Legislature.

“Jen is going to be our person on Beacon Hill,” said Jennifer D’Eon, a Saugus Board of Selectmen member and Migliore supporter. “She’s going to be a part of our team. I feel like I’ll be able to work with her. It’s exciting for me. It’s time for a change.”

Migliore expressed gratitude for the volunteers who helped her campaign by holding signs and endorsing her.

Veteran state Rep. Theodore Speliotis, who represents part of Peabody, won reelection to represent the 13th Essex District in the Massachusetts House and Governor’s Councillor Terrence Kennedy of Lynnfield won reelection to represent District 6.


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

Lynn committee approves garden plan

ITEM FILE PHOTO
Principal Thomas Strangie presented the idea of expanding an existing food garden at Lynn English.

BY LEAH DEARBORN

LYNN — Lynn English High School is growing its garden space as part of a historic tribute.  

Principal Thomas Strangie presented the idea of expanding an existing food garden at English High to the unanimous support of the Lynn School Committee on Wednesday.  

Strangie said that a garden with five beds is at the school now and students will be adding two more beds by bringing in extra soil to update and expand the growing space.

The expansion of the garden will coincide with the commemoration of the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton will attend at a ceremony at English High on Sept. 11 from 9-10 a.m.

A number of student-run projects will take place following the ceremony, including work on the garden.

“English is fortunate enough to be hosting this event, doing the welcoming and the Pledge of Allegiance before turning things over to Seth Moulton,” said Strangie.

In other committee business Wednesday night, it was a busy first meeting of the fall semester with members reviewing potential building sites for schools to replace Pickering Middle School.

In August, a building committee unanimously voted to support a two-school option in place of the outdated Pickering, which is being replaced to service a growing student population.

Architect Gene Raymond of Raymond Design Associates, Inc. presented site options for the committee to review and narrow down to a single choice for further schematic development.

Union Hospital, slated to close, is listed among potential new school sites. But Raymond said it is not a preferred site for a new middle school.

“We just don’t think it’s in the right place and we don’t think we can count on their timing for when, or if, they’re going to close,” said Raymond about the hospital.  

At the end of the presentation, the committee voted sites on Parkland Avenue and McManus Field as the preferred options for new school buildings.

Raymond said those sites were considered to be the most favorable from a traffic flow and curriculum development perspective.

The sites will be submitted for a review process to the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA).

The second public forum for information on Pickering will take place on Sept. 14 at the Marshall Middle School, said Superintendent Catherine C. Latham.

Strong choices for sheriff, Saugus state rep

With low voter turnout predictions and many Massachusetts communities without contested elections, Thursday’s primary election offers Essex County voters strong choices for Essex sheriff and state representative.

Two Democrats, Jennifer Migliore and Saritin Rizzuto, are running for elected office for the first time. The winner will face  Saugus Rep. Donald Wong (R-Saugus) in the Nov. 8 final election. Migliore has made a strong case for herself as a former aide to U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) who is ready to hit the ground running if she can beat Wong, who was elected in 2010, in November.

Rizzuto has made a convincing argument for translating her business background and commitment to community into service as a legislator representing Saugus and parts of Lynn and Wakefield.

Voters assessing the candidates on Thursday should ask if Migliore and Rizzuto are capable of looking at Saugus’ long-term needs and taking a measured and thoughtful approach to meeting them. That question should specifically apply to how the candidates address the town’s relationship with Saugus Wheelabrator.

With Wheelabrator’s landfill lifespan extension poised to advance to the state Department of Environmental Protection for permitting, voters should ask if the two Democratic candidates or Wong are best suited to guide discussions about how the extension, if permitted, can translate into economic benefits for the town.

Voters have a different question to ask the 11 candidates running for sheriff.

All of the candidates bring law enforcement backgrounds to the race. All 11 candidates bring different ideas to the sheriff’s race. All agree the department can play a role fighting the opioid addiction epidemic.

But the 11 can be easily divided into two camps, not along party lines, but along philosophical lines.

Candidates Michael Marks, Jerry Robito, Jeffrey Gallo, William Castro and Craig Lane have spent years working in the jail. Each one of them delivers a loud and clear message to voters: I know how the Sheriff’s Department works and I can improve it.

Kevin Coppinger, Anne Manning-Martin, Edward O’Reilly, James Jajuga Jr., Paul Russell and Kenneth Berg say their law enforcement backgrounds combined with a fresh perspective can improve the department.

Coppinger and Marks offer the starkest contrast on these competing philosophies. Marks said he knows the department and is ready to succeed Sheriff Frank Cousins. Coppinger said his track record of introducing new approaches to crime fighting in Lynn and managing a city police department make him the right person for the job.

In picking a sheriff, voters are urged to ask themselves if the next sheriff should be an insider or someone with an outsider’s perspective.

It’s up to the voters to do their homework on the sheriff’s and the state representative race today and go to the polls on Thursday armed with information.

Where have all the Republicans gone?

Donald Trump may be the national electoral lightning rod and the boon or bane of the Republican party, but the oasis of Republican party politics this primary week in Massachusetts is the North Shore and, specifically, the race for Essex Sheriff.

No fewer than five candidates will compete for votes on Thursday to become the Republican finalist facing off in the Nov. 8 final election with the Democrat nominated on Thursday and two unenrolled candidates.

Five candidates on the Republican ticket for sheriff in Essex County is almost twice the number fielded in any other GOP race across the state. One of those candidates and the only woman running for sheriff is Peabody political stalwart Anne Manning-Martin. A corrections professional, Manning-Martin has more political experience than the 10 men running for sheriff.

Jim Jajuga Jr. is a well-known “up county” political name. But the rest of the Republicans, like most of the Democratic candidates, are law enforcement professionals who didn’t have much use for running for election until Sheriff Frank Cousins decided to retire.

Interestingly, Cousins was a state Republican leading light through the first 10 years of his tenure. Easy going and bright, Cousins has made the sheriff’s job look easy and speculation about Republican politics in the era of Republican governors in the 1990s inevitably turned to Cousins’ future political prospects.

He never took the dive into political waters to run for the 6th Congressional District even though campaigning across Essex County is basically a political blueprint for mounting a congressional race.

Even though Trump won the Republican presidential primary in March in Massachusetts, his larger-than-life political presence failed to translate into Republicans interested in striding onto the political stage and seeking out a seat in county office or the General Court.

Somehow Gov. Baker’s popularity has not been able to plant the seeds necessary to grow Republican candidates capable of challenging local legislators like state reps Brendan Crighton or Daniel Cahill or U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton.

In their failed bids to scare up sufficient candidates to run this year, Republican leaders can take some solace in the fact that Daniel Fishman of Beverly is the United Independent Party’s only candidate running for office in Massachusetts this year.

State: Wheelabrator proposal may proceed

Wheelabrator Saugus.

SAUGUS — Wheelabrator Saugus has moved a step closer to extending its life and increasing capacity on Route 107.

In a ruling late Monday, the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) found that no further review by the state agency is required. Opponents objected to the proposal that will provide an additional 400,000 cubic yards of space for ash disposal through 2022. They sought an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) by MEPA and argued the landfill should be closed and alternative uses to ash disposal be investigated.

The 14-page decision by Deirdre Buckley, assistant secretary of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, rejected the request for an EIR which would have identified the potential adverse environmental impacts of the plan.

“Many comments request that I deny the project based on public health concerns …,” Buckley wrote. “… I have weighed these concerns against the presumption that the project is not subject to a mandatory EIR and the fact that the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has indicated that its permitting process will include additional opportunities for public comment.”

Through a spokeswoman Buckley denied comment, noting “the certificate will speak for itself.”

The next stage will be a review by MassDEP.

New Hampshire-based Wheelabrator Technologies cheered the decision. James Connolly, the company’s vice president of environmental, health and safety, said they are pleased to see their proposal for continued use of the Saugus plant move forward.

“We have had the opportunity to participate in an open process looking at the potential issues around the continuation and use of our facility,” said Connolly. “We look forward to working with the MassDEP as it conducts a thorough analysis of our proposal during a process that will continue to provide opportunity for public engagement. We have believed and maintained the best solution to the region’s solid waste is the continuation of a process proven to be environmentally responsible and in compliance with all local, state and federal regulations and that preserves the many environmental and economic benefits provided to the community by Wheelabrator Saugus.”

Connolly declined to comment on the opposition that included senators Elizabeth Warren, Edward Markey and U.S. reps Seth Moulton and Katherine Clark.

“We are moving forward,” he said.    

Rep. Roselee Vincent (D-Revere), who has led the fight to close the facility, did not return calls seeking comment.

But Veronica Eady, vice president and director of the Conservation Law Foundation and Wheelabrator opponent, said she was disappointed in the decision.

“This landfill has been there for 40 years and the environmental review of it has been sporadic and it’s time to take a closer look at it,” she said.

Eady said MEPA misinterpreted the environmental justice policy which takes into account the fact that low-income families and minority communities have an unfair share of the environmental burden.

“I was shocked to read the secretary didn’t feel the project tripped any environmental justice thresholds,” she said. “We are exploring all our options, including litigation.”

Anti-Defamation League honors local pair

PHOTO BY BOB ROCHE
Lynn English High peer mediator Ginny Keenan was awarded the Anti-Defamation League’s Community Service Award on Thursday.

BY THOR JOURGENSEN

SALEM — Maria Arias choked back tears as she described why peer mediator Ginny Keenan deserved to be honored by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on Thursday.

“Before I knew you, I didn’t have a place where I thought I belong,” the English High School senior said. “You helped me find myself,”

As a 350-person Kernwood Country Club audience applauded Thursday, the ADL awarded Keenan and Gloucester police chief and former Saugus police officer Leonard Campanello the organization’s Community Service Award.

An ADL statement said the awards salute Keenan’s and Campanello’s “leadership in combating hate and bigotry in their communities.”

Founded in 1913, the ADL’s mission is to fight anti-Semitism and hate through programs and services.

Keenan, of Swampscott, has been a peer mediation coordinator for Solutions for Living, a nonprofit organization serving English for the past decade. She got her start in mediation at a Lynn organization resolving neighborhood disputes. With 1,700 students from 40 nations attending English, Lynn educators brought in Solutions for Living to work on teaching students, in School Superintendent Catherine Latham’s words, “acceptance and responsibility.”

Keenan’s peer mediation work at English branched off into formation of Friends of Rachel, a student club named for one of the Columbine mass shooting victims, and Living in Two Worlds. After moving to Lynn from the Dominican Republic and finding herself “not in a good place,” Arias joined Two Worlds and met Keenan.

“Ginny is the first person I really opened up to,” Arias said.

Keenan said peer mediation helps students sort through seemingly unsolvable differences to settle conflicts. Sitting in the crowd filling Kernwood’s function room, Latham said Keenan is available around the clock to mediate student differences.

“We’re so fortunate to have her at English High School,” Latham said.

The ADL saluted Campanello for working with police colleagues to launch a program that has steered 430 opiate addicts to treatment over the last 11 months. The program allows addicts to surrender drugs without arrest and pairs them with volunteers who guide them to recovery programs.

In introducing Campanello, who was recently celebrated at a White House gathering, ADL regional board member Bonnie Shelkrot read a statement from U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton praising Campanello “for helping us open our minds and rethink previously-held opinions.”

Campanello said the addict outreach program is trying to reduce a world of hate, a world of rejection and a world of judgment.

“You have a certain amount of time to do some good,” he said. “That is the responsibility of all of us.”  

Boston City Councilor Josh Zakim delivered Thursday’s keynote speech and urged Gov. Charlie Baker to sign transgender anti-discrimination legislation.  

Marblehead High School students Averi Kaplowitch and Olivia Schauer were applauded for identifying online anti-Semitism posted by students and working with the support of town educators to launch an ADL “world of difference” education program.


Thor Jourgensen can be reached at tjourgensen@itemlive.com.

The Blue Line’s a no-brainer

ITEM FILE PHOTO
City Council President Dan Cahill says that Lynn is way overdue to benefit from the Blue Line rapid transit extension.

City Council President and soon-to-be state Rep. Dan Cahill didn’t need to say the words, “Hey, what about us?” during a Wednesday state transportation spending discussion. He made his point much more forcefully by telling a state transportation planner that Lynn is way overdue to benefit from the Blue Line rapid transit extension.

Cahill joined state Rep. Brendan Crighton and state Sen. Thomas M. McGee in pointing out the obvious during the North Shore Community College hearing: “I feel very bad for the folks in Somerville who won’t get a third subway line. We want just one.”

Cahill’s sarcasm is well founded. State transportation officials seem to be wearing blinders when it comes to improving transit service to Lynn and the North Shore. They talk about South Coast Rail and Green Line extension as if everything north of Boston did not exist.

McGee, Crighton, Cahill and Lynn Business Partnership representatives made it clear why the Blue Line matters.

The extension in one form or another has been discussed for 70 years and the reports and news stories written about it could fill a freight train with useless paper. Wonderland Station in Revere is the end of the line for Blue Line trains. Allowing the cars to roll down commuter rail tracks to Lynn would forge, McGee said, an ironclad bond with Boston spelling economic opportunity for Lynn.

“That project is imperative,” he said, summing up a point that Cahill expanded on when he pointed out how he drives to Revere to take a train to Boston when he could easily join other commuters in riding a train from Lynn to Boston.

Commuter rail, as the mega winter of 2015 proved, is great for casual “Geez, I think I’ll take the train to town today” commuters. But someone who has to get to work on time, every day, is ill served by it.

Now could not be a better time to prioritize the Blue Line and find the money to translate the plan McGee touted into an extension.

Gov. Charlie Baker and his top economic lieutenant Jay Ash came to Lynn last November with U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton and vowed to help spur Lynn’s economic resurgence from the drawing board into reality.

The three men can appreciate the importance of hitching the Blue Line extension to a full-court economic push on Lynn’s behalf. Baker commutes from his Swampscott home through Lynn daily to work. Ash in his previous job presided over urban Chelsea’s economic renaissance and Moulton has worked on high-speed rail projects.

The trio have sat in a room with McGee and listened to the veteran senator warn about the economic and safety implications of continually underfunding transportation in Massachusetts. McGee said $20 billion, not the $14.4 billion outlined by state planners, needs to be spent over by 2020 with the Blue Line ranked as a priority.

In describing his work commute, Cahill offered the most convincing reason on Wednesday why the Blue Line makes sense from an economic, environmental and life quality point of view: “I would love to not have to drive to Revere,” he said.

Cubans connect with Congressman

BY THOMAS GRILLO

Just back from his historic trip to Cuba with the president, U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton said the best part of the journey was meeting the island’s people.

“I thought the most exciting part of the trip would be the state dinner with the president — the first one I’ve ever attended — or history being made as Air Force One touched down in Cuba for the first time,” Moulton told The Item. “But the most meaningful part was meeting the Cuban people on the streets of Havana. They are yearning for freedom and the democratic values that we enjoy in America.”

Moulton was chosen by President Barack Obama along with about 30 other members of Congress, including Democrats and Republicans from the House and Senate. He is unsure why he was selected for the trip that marked the first time in 88 years that a U.S. president had visited Cuba.

“The White House just gave me a call,” Moulton said. “But as a member as the Armed Services Committee, I have been a consistent advocate for the use of diplomacy and political engagement in our foreign policy. I don’t think we can achieve our goals by just dropping bombs or sending troops.”

One of the trip’s objectives was to renew trade relations with Cuba and remove a 54-year-old boycott that was imposed by President John F. Kennedy. It will take an act of Congress to revoke the ban. Moulton said he is hopeful trade will resume with the tiny country just 90 miles from Florida, but not as long as Obama is in the White House.

“The Republicans on the trip said they realized the embargo, while well-intentioned, simply hasn’t worked and we need to make this change,” he said. “But they also said the Republican leadership won’t do it in an election year because they don’t want to give President Obama a win.”

Two years ago, Obama pledged to restore diplomatic ties between the two nations. Many Republicans oppose the move, saying the Castro regime has an unsettling record of human rights violations. But normalizing relations with Cuba has been embraced by the business community, religious groups — including Pope Francis — and many Americans.

The next step, Moulton said, is to increase the number of co-sponsors for the bill pending in Congress that would remove travel and trade restrictions.

“The bottom line is that the embargo makes no sense,” he said. “No matter where you are in the political spectrum, from the staunchest anti-communist on the right, to the Socialist sympathizer on the left, the embargo simply hasn’t worked. The Cuban people are still living in poverty and oppressed by a Communist regime. If you want to see change for the Cuban people, you need to take a different approach.”


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

 

Moulton will be all business in Lynn

FILE PHOTO

By THOR JOURGENSEN

LYNN — Congress comes to City Hall on Tuesday when U.S. Reps. Seth Moulton and Richard Hanna host the U.S. House Small Business Committee field hearing in the City Council Chamber.

Titled “Commercializing on Innovation,” the hearing will focus on technology and innovation in small businesses and the success of the Small Business Innovation Research program.

“So much growth in our economy comes from small businesses,” Moulton said. “SBIR is a great example of that happening.”

Swampscott resident Ann Eskesen is scheduled to testify and she plans to talk in part about her role in pioneering SBIR 30 years ago. By directing federal research and development money to businesses with 500 or fewer workers, Eskesen said SBIR spurred innovations in 1,500 Massachusetts businesses and 22,000 across the country.

Eskesen is president of Swampscott-based Innovation Development Institute, tracking SBIR projects.

“We have created with SBIR money the largest single concentration of technical talent anywhere,” Eskesen said.

The two-hour hearing is a chance for Moulton, a Democrat, to underscore his commitment to work with House Republicans.

“It’s a bipartisan hearing and another example of work that can be done across the aisle,” he said.

Hanna is a New York Republican who, according to a statement released by Moulton’s office, is committed to ensuring that congress approves funding reauthorization for SBIR.

“In the rapidly growing and ever-changing field of technology, it is often small firms that develop innovative technologies that become staples in the marketplace years later,” Hanna stated.

The Tuesday hearing is one of five Small Business Committee hearings planned throughout the country. Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy said she is honored City Hall is hosting one of the hearings.

“Congressman Moulton has put a lot of effort into helping the city with its economic development.” Kennedy said.


Thor Jourgensen can be reached at tjourgensen@itemlive.com

GE Boston move might ultimately be just what River Works needs

If distance makes the heart grow fonder then maybe it can also make Lynn’s number-one employer more profitable.

General Electric announced on Jan. 13 it plans to relocate its headquarters to Boston from Connecticut. In explaining the move, GE corporate leaders in a company statement said they want to be “at the center of an ecosystem that shares our aspirations.” That sentence referred to Boston’s status as a mecca for higher learning where GE’s best and brightest can tap the energy and intelligence of Boston-based brain power surrounding them.

There is no reason some of that blinding brain power cannot shed its glow nine miles north of Boston and onto the River Works. The West Lynn manufacturing complex is where Lynn’s heart still beats and it is where workers and management are trying to hold onto tried-and-true products while expanding into the global market.

In a move that previous generations of GE workers could not imagine occurring, GE has been tearing down River Works buildings and selling off property. Anyone taking a negative bent might say this signals a gloomy future for the West Lynn plant, but a positive perspective suggests the River Works could undergo a rebirth as its sheds 20th-century manufacturing buildings.

U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton has already pointed out the value of linking emerging biomedical and other types of technologies in Boston with the River Works. He points to the short distance between Boston and Lynn and suggests that the West Lynn plant is the perfect place for innovators and inventors to grow their dreams and businesses.

GE plans to move 800 workers to Boston and most of them, according to the corporate statement, will be people employed to figure out how they can start designing the GE products that will be sold and used in the 22nd century.

The corporation plans to open something called a “Digital Foundry” where the best and the brightest shape the raw material of ideas into new products. Ideas and innovations are great but, at the end of the day, someone has to manufacture the products and there is no reason the workers in West Lynn cannot continue being today’s builders for the future.

Moulton promised even before he took the oath of office to make Lynn’s resurgence a top priority. Making that promise a reality hopefully involves convincing GE to shine the bright light of their Boston brainpower on Lynn.

 

Let Imperatore’s example endure

PHOTO BY BOB ROCHE
NY Waterway Executive Vice President Arthur Imperatore Jr., state Sen. Thomas M. McGee and U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton.

The meeting lasted only 20 minutes and drew fewer than a dozen people, but Arthur Imperatore’s visit to the Blossom Street extension ferry dock last Friday signaled a positive change in the way city leaders are viewing Lynn’s development prospects.

At the invitation of U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton’s economic development director, Jason Denoncourt, Imperatore — who helps run a New York City ferry service shuttling commuters on a daily basis over waterways surrounding New York — got a first-hand look at Lynn’s ferry operation.

There wasn’t much to see on a wintry day. The boat that shuttles passengers between Lynn and Boston in the summer suspended operations for the season three months ago and the passengers waiting to take a water-borne trip to Boston with their bikes, briefcases and books were negotiating traffic or sitting on a commuter train during Imperatore’s visit.

But the self-made businessman, who helped launch NY Waterway with one ferry running to New York and New Jersey, did not need to see passengers boarding a boat to know Lynn is on the right track with its decision to make the city a water transportation destination.

Imperatore said the Lynn ferry offers “tremendous potential” and he tempered that praise with specific advice to city officials: Find a way to run a ferry year-round and apply “patience and perseverance” to ongoing efforts to expand operations.

As much as Imperatore’s advice is probably worth its weight in gold, the willingness on the part of city officials to listen to that advice is priceless. In fact, it may be the key Lynn finally needs to unlock development riches on the city’s waterfront.

Public officials armed with new policies and developers carrying promises have given birth to a succession of grandiose development plans for the stretch of land bordering Lynn Harbor and the Lynnway. In almost every instance, those visions have evaporated and the drawings and plans sit gathering dust on some City Hall shelf.

The success or failure of the newest waterfront visions may well depend on city officials’ success in bringing other Arthur Imperatores to Lynn. Before the city signs or endorses a plan to build high-rise residential developments on the waterfront, it should get some Imperatore-like advice from a successful high-rise developer. Before they embrace plans for a hotel along the Lynnway, they should talk to the Chelsea city officials and developers who brought hotels to that city.

Arthur Imperatore didn’t say a lot last Friday on the Lynn ferry dock, but he made every word count for Lynn’s future.

 

Ferry ideas floated from New York City to Lynn

PHOTO BY BOB ROCHE
Lynn Economic Development and Industrial Corporation Director James Cowdell, NY Waterway Executive Vice President Arthur Imperatore Jr., U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton and state Sen. Thomas M. McGee discuss the Lynn Ferry on Friday at the Blossom Street extension dock.

BY THOR JOURGENSEN
LYNNArthur Imperatore Jr.’s ferry boats make 40,000 commuter trips over New York City waterways every weekday, but the NY Waterway executive vice president took time Friday to offer positive encouragement for the two-year-old Lynn-Boston ferry.
“I think there’s tremendous potential here. Early indications are very positive,” said Imperatore as he looked over the Blossom Street extension ferry’s gangway and dock.
Imperatore came to Lynn at the invitation of close friend Jason Denoncourt, economic development director to U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, who joined the pair in the ferry parking lot along with state Sen. Thomas M. McGee, state Rep. Brendan Crighton, City Council President Dan Cahill and city Economic Development and Industrial Corporation Director James Cowdell.
Moulton has made Lynn’s waterfront revitalization a priority for his work in Congress and focused Denoncourt’s attention on the city and its potential development sites.
The Lynn-to-Boston ferry exceeded ridership expectation in its first season in the spring and summer of 2014, and added riders last summer. But Imperatore said the keys to making the ferry a long-term success include “frequency, reliability, speed and comfort — and it needs to run year-round,” he said.
NY Waterway operates 31 routes from 25 terminals, providing waterway commuter service to New York City, but Imperatore said his business and the Lynn ferry share humble beginnings. NY Waterway’s first ferry crossed the Hudson River from a dock in New Jersey and Imperatore said “patience and perseverance” helped the company add routes and ferry terminals.
“We pioneered the ferry system in New York and put it back together again,” he said.
Working with Cowdell, McGee spearheaded efforts to obtain state money to pay for a two-year pilot program to operate the Lynn-Boston ferry with a boat provided by Boston Harbor Cruises. McGee envisions commuter ferry service expanding into Boston Harbor routes and even Provincetown destinations. He is working with Cowdell and other city officials to ensure money is available to pay for a continued service this summer.
“We want this to be a 52-week venture,” Cowdell said.
Imperatore also attended a briefing Friday on the waterfront’s development potential and, on Thursday, he rode the Hingham ferry studied carefully by Cowdell and other local officials who hope to repeat that South Shore community’s success in linking water transport to development.
Thor Jourgensen can be reached at tjourgensen@itemlive.com.

15 from ’15

Item Photo By OWEN O’ROURKE
Above, Arthur DeMoulas, left, had the attention of Secretary Jay Ash, Rep. Lori Ehrlich, Sen. Tom McGee and Reps. Brendan Crighton and Donald Wong as they focused on economic development in Lynn. At right, Governor and Lauren Baker were the center of attention at his inauguration.

By STEVE KRAUSE

This being New England, the weather played a big part in the story of 2015. From the excessively harsh February to an exceptionally mild December, it was never far from being the dominating topic of conversation.

But Mother Nature was not the only leading conversation topic yanked from the headlines this year. Other top topics included the recall of four of the five selectmen in Saugus; the announcement by Partners HealthCare that it would shift all of its in-patient facilities to Salem — closing, for all intents and purposes, Union Hospital; the unveiling of plans for a new Market Basket store in Lynn; a federal-state-municipal partnership on behalf of the city’s growth; news that Marian Court College in Swampscott is closing; plans in Saugus to radically alter the landscape on Route One; an attempt to add an extra hour before last call at Lynn drinking establishments (defeated); the discovery of the body of missing Swampscott woman Jaimee Mendez and the capture of Jason Fleury, who is charged in her murder.

Also, a fire on Bruce Place in Lynn killed four members of the same family, including a pregnant woman. Other news headlines included the forfeiture of a football game in Swampscott and allegations of hazing (as well as the subsequent resignation, on an unrelated issue, of the high school principal); the continued opioid problem on the North Shore, including the March deaths of three people in 48 hours in Lynn; the end of an era in Lynn politics with Ward 7 Councilor Rick Ford bowing out and state Rep. Robert Fennell taking a new job; and the release, after 19 years in jail, of Angel Echavarria, who had been convicted of murder in the death of Daniel Rodriguez in January of 1994.

After a cold, but relatively dry month, snow hit with a vengeance Jan. 26 and dumped more than two feet on the region. Every successive weekend through Valentine’s Day saw blizzards. By the first week of March, a total of 110.6 inches of snow had fallen during the winter, 64.8 in February alone. Both are records.
The winter had far-ranging ramifications, from problems with the MBTA subway and commuter rail, to unnavigable streets, to figuring out just where to put all the snow. Terms we became familiar with in 2015 included “bombogenesis,” which is the explosion of a low-pressure weather system into a major storm and “snow farm,” which is a designated area for dumping snow.

The difficulties prompted the City of Lynn to come up with a new plan to battle future harsh winters, including paying more per hour to heavy-equipment plow drivers.

As unusual as February was, even in terms of winter weather, that’s how unusual December was, but the other way. Records were set for warmth on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, as temperatures climbed close to 70 degrees. The reason given for the unprecedented warmth was a strong El Nino weather pattern, which generally spares the Northeast from the worst of the winter chill.

The problems with the MBTA, which included days when the service was shut down altogether and days when commuter trains were running hopelessly behind, presented a challenge for newly-inaugurated Gov. Charlie Baker of Swampscott.

Baker defeated Martha Coakley in November 2014, and the issues with public transportation forced the new governor to hit the deck running. With the help of State Sen. Thomas M. McGee, who is the chairman of the joint transportation committee, Baker came up with an $82.7 million plan to improve the T’s service, including better equipment to handle winter weather.

Also sworn in last January was Congressman Seth Moulton of Marblehead, the new representative of the 6th District. Moulton made his presence felt right away, taking several noticeable stands — none of them more controversial than his support for the Iran nuclear deal. On Aug. 14, Moulton spoke before a congregation at Temple Emanu-El in Marblehead about his support for the deal.

Two days after the Jan. 26 blizzard, a body was found washed up on King’s Beach at the Lynn-Swampscott line. It was identified as that of Jaimee Mendez, a Swampscott woman who had gone missing in November of 2014. Subsequently, Jason Fleury of Lynn was arrested and charged with her murder.

Fleury pleaded innocent in court on Aug. 6. In an exclusive interview with The Item last Nov. 13, Fleury said he was with Mendez on the night of her disappearance, but denied that he killed her. He told The Item that Mendez was a go-between for drug deals.

Fleury’s defense team has filed three discovery motions — to obtain the notes of former Item reporter Cyrus Moulton, who interviewed the defendant in November, the preservation of any tissue from Mendez and other evidence gathered by the medical examiner, and a request of any and all conversations recorded or otherwise that Crystal Brown, a friend of Mendez, had with another witness and the defendant. The third motion was also a request for any photographs Brown took of the beach area or related to the case.

The motion pertaining to tissue preservation has already been acted on and the other two discovery motions will be acted upon when Fleury next appears in Salem Superior Court on Jan. 5. He is currently being held without bail at the Middleton House of Correction and last appeared in court on Nov. 30.
Opioids continued to be a major story, and a major killer, on the North Shore in 2015. According to the Essex District Attorney’s office, as of Nov. 30, there were 148 deaths this year due to heroin overdoses, with December’s figures yet to be figured in. Last year, there were 145.

Lynn Police report that there were 32 overdose fatalities through November of this year, and 305 overdoses in all. Already, the overdose figure is up from last year.

In one 48-hour period in Lynn in March, there were six overdoses and three of them were fatal.

On March 17, the voters in Saugus went to the polls with the task of either keeping the five-member Board of Selectmen as it was, or recalling up to four members over a dispute that culminated in the firing of Town Manager Scott Crabtree in 2014.

By the end of the day, the results were overwhelming, with Maureen Dever, Stephen Castinetti, Paul Allen, and chair Ellen Faiella all voted out. Debra Panetta, the fifth member, was not included in the recall.

Elected were Scott Brazis, Jeffrey Cicolini, Mark Mitchell and Jennifer D’Eon. Panetta was named the new chair.

The recall negated the appointment, made just a week earlier, of Sean Fitzgerald as the new Town Manager, and the new board quickly reinstated Crabtree.
At the beginning of May, Marian Court held its annual gala to thank supporters and benefactors. A little over a month later, the college announced it was closing due to declining enrollment.

The closure was a bitter pill to swallow for an institution that had just celebrated its 50th anniversary and graduated its first four-year class. Gov. Baker, speaking at that gala, had praised the school for its hope and optimism. But in the end, Marian Court’s projected enrollment for the fall was weak, and it could not find funding to keep it going.

Also in May, 48-year-old Echavarria of Lynn was freed after spending 20 years in prison for the murder of Daniel Rodriguez in January of 1994.

Echavarria was found guilty of the murder in 1996, but the verdict was overturned due to questions about one of the main witnesses for the prosecution. Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said a lapse in time led to his office not pursuing the case any further.

Echavarria was released from prison on May 21.

June 30 brought devastating news to the Lynn medical community. Partners HealthCare, which runs both Salem and Union Hospitals, announced a plan that would move all in-patient care to Salem, effectively closing Union Hospital, save for the medical buildings there. Partners’ plan didn’t even leave hope that the emergency room would be kept in the same location.

The plan, which would leave a city of close to 90,000 without a hospital, triggered outrage throughout Lynn. Initially, this process was to take 18 months, but Partners announced in the fall that it had reassessed the situation and it would take three years to complete.

Meanwhile, a public hearing with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health on the issue will take place Jan. 7 at 4 p.m. at the Lynn City Hall auditorium.
Owners of Lynn’s eating and drinking establishments tried again this summer to extend the closing hour from 1 to 2 a.m. The original rollback occurred in 2010.
Over a two-night public hearing on the issue, and spurred by statistics from Lynn Police Chief Kevin Coppinger on what a difference just that one extra hour can make on law enforcement and public safety, the city’s licensing commission voted in August to stick with the 1 a.m. closing time.

In late September, police responded to a call about a bonfire at Phillips Park in Swampscott. When they got there, they reportedly found a group of youths performing calisthenics while naked.

As a result, Swampscott School Superintendent Pamela Angelakis decided to cancel the next game on the Big Blue schedule, which was against Saugus, and a forfeit was declared.

Earlier this month, it was learned that Swampscott High School Principal Edward Rozmiarek was placed on administrative leave after an investigation led Beverly police to his home. He resigned a week later.

2015 saw the fall of Route 1 icons including the demolition of Weylu’s Restaurant in September – 17 years after the once-famous restaurant closed. The pagoda-style structure was not the only highway landmark to fall to the wrecking ball. The Hilltop Steakhouse, which opened in 1961, was also demolished in 2015.

The new year will see Route One Miniature Golf’s orange dinosaur and other figurines replaced with the first mixed-use development proposed under the new zoning bylaws passed by Town Meeting this year.

The Collins Avenue Development will be a combined commercial and residential space with six buildings; two hotels, three apartment buildings, restaurants, a cafe, spa, and retail space.

Also in the works are plans for a WoodSpring Suites Extended-Stay Hotel. Developers are looking to build the facility on the three-acre piece of land currently occupied by Cap World.

Late fall saw the economy and politics make news in Lynn, beginning with the Nov. 6 announcement that $2 million in state money would pay for sidewalk, roadway and other improvements around the Federal Street site where a new Market Basket store is proposed for construction.

State Housing and Economic Development Director Jay Ash and Market Basket CEO Arthur DeMoulas headlined the MassWorks grant announcement and planners are aiming for a spring, 2016 start for the new store.

On Nov. 24, Ash came to Lynn again — this time with Baker and Moulton — to announce formation of a local, state and federal collaboration to support city development efforts, in part by helping to prepare waterfront and downtown land for construction.

December brought tragedy to Lynn. In the early-morning hours of Dec. 4, fire broke out and quickly spread at a three-family house on 24 Bruce Place in Lynn. While residents of the first and third floors were able to evacuate safely, four members of a second-floor family perished. They were Yasmin Cruz, 19, a 2014 graduate of Lynn English and a student at North Shore Community College; her mother, Maritza Cruz, 39, a home caregiver; Sonia Cruz, 36, Maritza’s sister, who was pregnant; and Rodolfo Cruz, 28.

The building was destroyed. As of yet, the cause of the fire has not been determined.

Two veteran Lynn politicians ended the year by setting the stage for their departures from elected office. Ward 7 City Councilor Rick Ford decided not to seek reelection and capped off an 18-year council career at the council’s Dec. 15 meeting. State Rep. Robert Fennell was hired to be Water and Sewer Commission deputy director on Dec. 14. As of Dec. 30, the 20-year East Lynn legislator had not set a date for departing the Massachusetts House.