Thomas M. McGee

Choices aplenty await Lynn voters

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN  —  Time is running out for potential political candidates to get into this fall’s election.

The deadline to pull nomination papers from the City Clerk’s Election Office is Friday at 4 p.m, and the filing deadline is Monday, June 26.

So far, four candidates have emerged to replace incumbent Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy who is seeking her third, four-year term. They include state Sen. Thomas M. McGee, Edward J. McNeil, Shawnee Love Haynes, and Daphnee N. Puryear.

Eight candidates are seeking councilor-at-large seats including incumbents Buzzy Barton, Hong Net, and Brian LaPierre. Among the challengers are Brian Field, Jaime Figueroa, Richard Ford, John Ladd, and Taso Nikolakopoulos. Councilor-At-Large Daniel Cahill is not seeking reelection, clearing the way for at least one new at-large councilor.

Unless a challenger emerges by Friday, Ward 7 Councilor John “Jay” Walsh is the only councilor on the 11-member panel who will not face opposition.

In what some say 2017 could be a “throw the bums out year” councilors in Wards 1 through 7 face competition.

Ward 1 Councilor Wayne Lozzi is pitted against William F. O’Shea III and Jesse Warren.

In Ward 2, William Trahant decided not to seek re-election. Among the five candidates positioned to take the open seat include Peter Grocki, Christopher Magrane, Gina O’Toole, Richard Starbard, and Alexander Zapata.  

Ward 3 Councilor and City Council President Darren Cyr is pitted against Calvin Anderson, George Meimeteas and Lee Sherman.

In Ward 4, Richard Colucci,  the longest serving city councilor, is in a fight with Eliud Alcala.

Ward 5 Councilor Dianna Chakoutis is facing a fight for the second time against Marven Hyppolite. The 24-year-old caseworker for U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) was defeated by Chakoutis two years ago by a nearly 2-1 margin.

In Ward 6, City Councilor Peter Capano could face off against Daniel Edwards Staub.

There will be at least two new members of the school committee.

Patricia Capano, the 55-year-old vice chairwoman who was first elected in 1997, and Maria Carrasco, a native of the Dominican Republic who has been on the seven-member panel since 2007, will not seek re-election this year.

The other members who are seeking re-election this year include Donna Coppola, John Ford, Lorraine Gately, and Jared Nicholson. The mayor serves as chair.  

A handful of candidates have also taken out papers to run including Jordan Avery, Cherish Rashida Casey,  Brian Castellanos, Elizabeth Rosario Gervacio, Gayle Hearns-Rogers, Sandra Lopez, Natasha Megie-Maddrey, Jessica Murphy, Michael Satterwhite, and Stanley Wotring Jr.


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

$300,000 LEADs to a cleaner Lynn

The city will be little cleaner thanks to a $300,000 Brownfields grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

U.S. Rep Seth Moulton (D-Salem) and the Lynn Economic Advancement and Development (LEAD) team worked to secure the cash.

“This grant is yet another testament to the strength of the LEAD team,” said Moulton in a statement. “These sites, saddled by years of oil and chemical contamination, are an albatross around the neck of Lynn, and pose a serious threat to the city’s environmental and economic health.”

Brownfields funds help transform dirty, dormant properties into new businesses and homes, stimulating much needed jobs and tax revenue for Lynn, he said.

These competitive awards will be used for assessment and partial clean up. A $200,000 grant will determine what hazardous substances are located on six sites across Lynn, and prepare a cleanup plan.

Among the sites included is the former Whyte’s Laundry. The EPA estimates that it will cost about $350,000 to remove contaminants from the 15,000-square-foot parcel.

In addition, there’s a $100,000 remediation grant to clean 870 Western Avenue, a former gas station and automotive service facility.

Initial testing by the Economic Development and Industrial Corp., the city’s development bank, found soil and groundwater at the site are contaminated with petroleum hydrocarbons.

James Cowdell, EDIC’s executive director, worked with Moulton’s office in applying for these two EPA grants.

“We are very appreciative to receive these critical grants,” said Cowdell in a statement.

In addition to Moulton, members of the LEAD team include Gov. Charlie Baker, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash, Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Matthew Beaton, Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack, Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy, state Sen. Thomas M. McGee, and state representatives Daniel Cahill, Brendan Crighton, Lori Ehrlich, and Donald Wong.

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 state legislators back police over Baker

LYNN — State Sen. Thomas M. McGee and state reps Dan Cahill and Brendan Crighton are fighting Baker administration cuts to funding for the Lynn Police Department’s Behavioral Health Unit.

This program, along with several other local programs, including youth dental services and algae removal, were part of Gov. Baker’s $98 million “9c” spending cuts in December, McGee’s office stated in a release.

“I believe restoration of this funding is critical to our city and that’s why I have supported it in the budget,” said McGee. “The Lynn Police Department has established strong and effective relationships with many community partners. We cannot afford, socially or economically, to have money taken away from effective support programs like this or to interrupt the vital work being done.”

‘Trouble the Dog’ joins Lynn police

State health and human services spokesperson Michelle Hillman did not specifically address the police spending cut in a statement Thursday, but said the Baker administration has allocated millions of dollars during the last two years to pay for substance abuse prevention measures. That amount included $1.7 million to address drug trafficking in state-labeled Gateway Cities like Lynn.

“The Baker-Polito administration is fully committed to investing resources necessary to fight the opioid crisis. Spending for this fiscal year for substance use disorders will increase by $18 million to total $177 million. Since January 2016, the administration rolled out a new prescription-monitoring program, ended the practice of sending women to MCI-Framingham for treatment, expanded outpatient treatment, launched a prescription drop-off program, and doubled the number of Learn to Cope family support groups,” Hillman said.

The Behavioral Health Unit is located inside the Lynn Police station and provides overdose victims with access to licensed mental health and substance abuse clinicians. Additionally, the unit contacts overdose victims and known heroin addicts to provide assistance. In 2016, there were 443 overdoses in Lynn, which was an increase of 96 from 2015. The Behavioral Health Unit received 531 referrals in 2016 of which 85 percent were related to drug use.

“As we continue to fight the opioid epidemic, we can’t afford to lose valuable programs like Lynn’s Behavioral Health Unit,” said Crighton. “The unit both provides valuable services to those facing addiction and frees up our officers to focus on keeping our community safe.”

The Lynn delegation was able to secure $75,000 for the program and another $150,000 during the last two spending years prior to the budget cuts. The legislature is exploring options to restore the money, including a supplemental budget.

“Every family in Lynn has somehow been affected by the opioid epidemic,” said Cahill. “We must continue to fight to preserve every necessary resource to combat this crisis.”

Lynn Democratic City Committee to hold annual unity breakfast

LYNN — The Lynn Democratic City Committee’s annual unity breakfast will be held on Sunday from 8:30-11 a.m. at the Porthole Restaurant, 98 Lynnway.

The breakfast will serve to rally local Democrats in support of the Hillary Clinton-Tim Kaine ticket, Kevin Coppinger for Essex County Sheriff and Jennifer Migliore for state representative in the 9th Essex District, in advance of the Tuesday, Nov. 8 general election.

Former Gov. Michael Dukakis, Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin, State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, Massachusetts Democratic Party Chair and state Sen. Thomas M. McGee, Governor’s Councilor Terry Kennedy, members of the state and local delegation and other elected officials and candidates for office are planning to attend.

The unity breakfast has been a fun, successful and growing event for the Lynn Democratic City Committee over the years. It is a chance for Democrats to socialize and talk about shared values with friends, family, neighbors, elected officials and candidates for office.

Attendees also enjoy a plentiful breakfast buffet. Donation is $30 per person. Tickets may be purchased at the door or in advance by sending a check made payable to the LDCC c/o 86 Pennybrook Road, Lynn, MA 01905.

For more information, please contact LDCC chairwoman Agnes Ricko at alfredricko@comcast.net or 781-715-1515.

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.

Thomas McGee discusses 4.5-mile MBTA extension

ITEM PHOTO BY BETH BRESNAHAN
David Mohler, transportation department planning director, speaks at North Shore Community College.

By THOR JOURGENSEN

LYNN  State Sen. Thomas M. McGee said extending the Blue Line on the North Shore’s commuter rail lines could make Massachusetts a national model for smart transportation.

Speaking at a transportation spending hearing at North Shore Community College on Wednesday, McGee urged state officials to boost a $14.4 billion spending plan over five years to more than $20 billion.

He said making the Blue Line extension a priority “ties into economic opportunity” for Lynn and the North Shore.

“That project is imperative to the region,” he said.

Under discussion for years, the Blue Line extension project would extend the subway above ground by 4.5 miles from the Wonderland stop in Revere to Lynn.

McGee said connecting it to the nearby commuter rail track and operating Blue Line trains on the rail can be done with signaling upgrades and other minor changes.
The Lynn Business Partnership’s James Moore said the group has long advocated for the Blue Line expansion and plans to continue making the project a priority.

Daily Item CEO Beth Bresnahan said commuter rail service does not meet transit riders’ needs. She said expanding the Blue Line “will provide economic opportunities currently beyond our reach.”

State Rep. Brendan Crighton and Lynn City Council President Dan Cahill also spoke in favor of the expansion.

David Mohler, the state’s transportation department’s planning director, said state oversight boards will vote on a final capital investment plan on May 23.

Other proposed area projects including the $41 million Belden Bly Bridge replacement; $3.4 million to resurface Lynnfield Street from Wyoma Square to Great Woods Road and $15.4 million worth of Route 1 resurfacing work.


Thor Jourgensen can be reached at tjourgensen@itemlive.com

State says farewell to Fennell

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Outgoing State Rep. Robert Fennell makes his final address on the floor of the House Wednesday.

BY THOR JOURGENSEN

BOSTON — Robert Fennell tried to keep the focus on others during his final speech Wednesday to Massachusetts House of Representatives, but he could only smile as legislative colleagues stood and applauded his 21 years in elected office.

“People elect you to be there for them. That’s what I’ve always done while I have been up here,” Fennell said prior to delivering his speech.

Thursday’s remarks in the House Chamber with its high-ceiling and ornately-carved furnishing offered a formal opportunity for Fennell to speak on the record as a legislator. His departure began two weeks ago when he started work as Water and Sewer Commission deputy director, a hiring approved by the commission last December.

Fennell spent Wednesday sorting through the last remaining items in his State House office and saying goodbye to long-time House friends. State Rep. Smitty Pignatelli of Lenox praised Fennell’s “sincerity” and love of the East Lynn district Fennell represented.

“No one was better at building relationships,” Pignatelli said.

Longtime Fennell aide Thomas D’Amario will run the 10th Essex District office in the State House, fielding Lynn residents’ calls, until a new representative is elected on May 10. House Speaker Robert DeLeo echoed Pignatelli’s praise, describing Fennell’s “true love and devotion was to the people he represented.”

Fennell, 59, grew up on Courtney Terrace and graduated English High School in 1974. He started working in the Capitol Diner owned by his family when he was 12 years old, cleaning the Union Street eatery on weekends and working alongside his late father, Bernard “Buddy” Fennell.

Listening to people air their problems across the Capitol’s counter spurred his interest in community involvement and, Fennell, said, “I realized I had an opportunity to help people.”

Elected state representative in 1994, he entered the House in 1995 along with Thomas M. McGee, who won election as West Lynn and Nahant’s state representative and is now a state senator.

Fennell takes pride in working to pass legislation as early as 1998 to combat drug addiction. He legislated against the danger of rohypnol after the drug was linked in published reports to rapes and pushed for restrictions on narcotic painkiller availability. One of the last bills he co-sponsored in the House dealt with fighting opiate addiction.

Fennell’s name had already been removed Thursday from the electronic roll call board mounted on one of the House Chamber’s walls, but he fielded a request from a Lynn constituent even as he walked down a State House hallway to make his speech.

The request concerned reducing the time period for accident surcharges and Fennell arranged for D’Amario to address it.

“Being state representative is not a one-man, one-woman job,” he said.


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