Stop playing name game

Saugus High School could be in need of a new mascot.


Native American logos are nothing new to me. From the time I was old enough to know what a baseball was, I knew who the Cleveland Indians were, and thought nothing of it when I started following football and started hearing about the Washington Redskins.

I didn’t know until much, much later, that a Brave was a Native American, as was a Chief and a Blackhawk and many others.

I took it for granted that the Sioux had a propensity for fighting, and that was why the North Dakota hockey mascot was a Fighting Sioux (though not anymore).

Of course, that also meant that the Irish were a contentious lot, that they drank to excess as a matter of cultural heritage, and there was nothing untoward about an American university with a French name calling its mascot the Fighting Irish.

I’m surprised the Irish haven’t lobbied to get that changed. After all, it’s not very complimentary to the Irish. At least the Boston Celtics do not attach anything pejorative to their nickname. The Leprechaun might offend some people, though not me. And despite my last name, I have plenty of Irish in my family.

Earlier this week, there was a hearing at the State House on whether public schools should be prohibited from using Native American mascots. This casts a pretty wide net around the state of Massachusetts, as just within the Boston area there are at least five schools that use them. One of them is Saugus.

There is nothing inherently evil or racist about the use of the word Sachem. A Sachem is described as a chief or an elder. It is a position of respect. If that were the only issue, I doubt people would have too many objections over the use of the word.

But that’s not the whole issue, is it? And therein lies the problem. From the Trail of Tears to Wounded Knee to many other incidents, our history with Native Americans is not a happy one. So it is reasonable that Native Americans now should have the final say on what they consider offensive. And it’s just as reasonable to expect us to accept that.

Saugus rallies around the Sachems

All you have to do is look around to see how slippery the slope is when you allow patronizing nicknames into the mainstream. Is there anything more offensive than the Tomahawk Chop — a cheer that began at Florida State (whose athletic teams still call themselves the Seminoles) and gained more fame and traction during the 1990s, when the Atlanta Braves became one of America’s great baseball teams?

How about the pounding of drums in Cleveland when the Indians are rallying? How about just the name Redskins? It’s bad enough to use the name, but it’s worse that it’s on a team that represents the nation’s capital.

All of the above represent stereotypes — few of them respectful — and relics of a time when there was serious enmity among early American settlers and various tribes. And when it gets to that point, when the slope becomes this slippery, it’s impossible to differentiate and to establish levels of disrespect.

This is happening all over the country with college teams. We’ve already discussed the aforementioned Fighting Sioux (now they’re the Fighting Hawks — at least until Audubon Society starts a movement). The University of Massachusetts used to be the Redmen. Now its teams are called Minutemen. It’s now the Red Storm, and not the Redmen, at St. John’s University in New York.

UMass Lowell used to be the Chiefs. Now it’s the Riverhawks.

This isn’t just limited to Native Americans. Wes Unseld and Elvin Hayes used to play for the Baltimore — then Washington — Bullets. Now they’re the Wizards. Life goes on.

I’m sure the town of Saugus’ pride in how it honors its Native American heritage is sincere and justified. I can’t see any rationale that suggests that the town in any way intended to insult or demean Native Americans by making the Sachem its mascot. That goes for Winchester, the Pentucket school district (both Sachems), Amesbury (Indians), Andover (Warriors) Braintree (Wamps), Masconomet (Chieftains) and so many others.

But it’s long past time to understand the point of view of the people for whom these teams are named. We’re always talking about how we can unite in this country rather than divide.

Understanding the Native American point of view on this issue would be one very big way.


Mark Falzone named next president of Scenic America

WASHINGTONFormer Lynn and Saugus state representative Mark Falzone has been selected to serve as the next president of Scenic America, announced the organization’s chairman Ronald Lee Fleming.
“We are ecstatic to have Mark leading Scenic America,” said Fleming. “He brings a tremendous record of public service and advocacy to the helm of our organization, and we are confident that he will guide us to new heights in our mission to preserve and enhance America the Beautiful.”
Falzone comes to Scenic America after serving as Deputy Director of the National Immigration Forum. He also served five terms as a full-time elected member of the House of Representatives.
“I am honored by the opportunity to lead Scenic America,” said Falzone. “At age 14 I joined my first civic organization, a local conservation and open space protection group. In my career and in my life I have worked to protect and improve the visual environment, and I look forward to leading Scenic America to even greater achievements and success.”
During his legislative tenure, Falzone was chairman of the Legislative Library Caucus and mobilized hundreds of librarians through various associations across the state. His efforts brought unprecedented attention, appreciation and budgeting to libraries.
Falzone and Scenic America’s Board of Directors expressed their sincere gratitude to outgoing president Mary Tracy, who served the organization for eight years with tremendous energy, vision and dedication.

Consider the progress we’ve made, Kennedy says

Donna Coppola, left, and Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy have a word during Kennedy’s re-election kickoff.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I think I can make a difference, McGee says

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Krause: Making the playoffs isn’t enough

Boston Bruins centre Frank Vatrano (72) celebrates a goal during the third period of the first round of NHL Stanley Cup playoff hockey action in Ottawa on Wednesday, April 12, 2017.


For the first time since 2013, both the Celtics and Bruins are in the playoffs, but unlike a lot of people who see this as a big deal, I do not.

Perhaps this is an outgrowth of being a spoiled-rotten Boston fan. We’ve become so accustomed to winning, and being relevant, that we consider it a birthright.

Also, we forget sometimes how fortunate we really are. Go to an area whose sports teams never do a darn thing — let’s use Philadelphia as an example — and their fans would be doing cartwheels if just one of their teams made the postseason. But the Phillies, Eagles, Flyers and 76ers are 0-for-4 since last summer — and the Phillies look like they’ll continue the streak this season.

Meanwhile, here we are. Professionally, the Boston area has had champions in the calendar years of 2002, 2004 (two), 2005, 2008, 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017. In that time we’ve had college hockey champions at both Boston College and Boston University as well.

So yeah. Making the playoffs in this environment is like getting up in the morning and breathing. The Bruins didn’t make the them the last couple of seasons for a variety of reasons, but as one of the National Hockey League’s Original Six, and with the resources the team has, making the postseason should almost be a given, except when the team has made it clear it is in rebuilding mode (and this franchise clearly doesn’t seem to be interested in this). They are the “one-of-these-things-is-not-like-the-other” of Boston professional teams. They don’t seem to have a plan, and came dangerously close to not making the playoffs this season, too.

So it really bothered me when they clinched a spot to see such celebrating. Why? So they could be cannon fodder for either Washington or Ottawa? I’d rather skip the honor, blow the thing up, and build a team that can actually compete for a Stanley Cup.

There’s no way the Bruins will get past the second round — if they’re lucky enough to take down the Senators. This is more an example of how a league that sends 16 teams to the playoffs every season ends up scrounging to find enough of them worthy of qualifying.

The Celtics were in that position a few years ago, but now they’ve reached the top echelon of the NBA East thanks to general manager Danny Ainge’s ability to build on the fly. Ainge hasn’t done everything correctly during his tenure (someday I might forgive him for dumping Kendrick Perkins in a year where they actually had a chance to win), but he’s won way more than he’s lost. Ask yourself whether Peter Chiarelli, Cam Neely or Don Sweeney have that kind of a track record.

The Celtics have reached the point where they’re expected to make the Eastern Conference finals. In fact, if they don’t, there will be people calling for wholesale changes in the team’s structure.

I say even if they do make the East finals, next year’s team will be markedly different than the one you saw on the court last night. But it won’t be a case of trading this spare tire for that spare tire, which is what the Bruins do. Ainge does have a plan, and it’ll be interesting to see what he does with his resources.

But I wouldn’t be so fast to concede the Eastern Conference finals to the Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Washington, Toronto, Milwaukee and Atlanta have all, a different times in 2017, given the Celtics trouble. A seven-game series against any one of them, even with the home-court advantage, is no gimmie.

But give the Celtics their due. They at least realized some very high expectations. The word on them last October is that they’d reached a level where challenging the Cavaliers for the top spot in the East wasn’t out of the question. And that’s exactly what ended up happening.

The Celtics should get out of the first round relatively unscathed. A long series would not be a very good sign.

After that? It’s anyone’s ballgame no matter who they play, especially if it’s either Washington or Toronto.

So I don’t think it would be fair to call this season unsuccessful if they don’t make it out of the second round.

And, really, is it going to matter? If they played the majority of games in Boston, Cleveland, Mars or Jupiter, the Cavaliers would have no problem with the Celtics. The teams don’t match up well, and the C’s have nobody who can stop LeBron.

All that said, I believe it’ll be a Cleveland-Boston East final, and if the Celtics can extend the Cavs to six games, that would one heck of a season.

But if it doesn’t come to pass, I wouldn’t threaten to jump off the ledge.

McGee leading transit talk tour

State Sen. Thomas McGee speaks with The Item.


LYNN — It might be one of the few times when you talk and politicians listen.

Two dozen state senators are expected to attend the latest Commonwealth Conversations next Tuesday at the J. Henry Higgins Middle School in Peabody at 6:30 p.m.  

But don’t expect speeches, these Town Hall-style forums put the microphone in your hands.

“We don’t talk, we listen,” said state Sen. Thomas McGee (D-Lynn). “You get two minutes to make a comment, ask a question or both.”

The Massachusetts Senate launched the statewide listening tour in 2015 designed to connect legislators with constituents to hear their ideas, concerns and suggestions.

“On that tour, we got input from the public that helped us develop our legislative priorities for the session,” McGee said.

Two years ago, legislators heard from the public about the cost of higher education, mounting student debt, college affordability and income inequality.

“As a result of those listening tours in eight Massachusetts regions, we passed legislation to create the college savings plan and expanded the earned income tax credit,” said Sen. Michael Rodrigues (D-Westport).

Time for adult conversations

So far, the common denominator at forums in Greater Boston, the South Coast, South Shore, MetroWest and Western Massachusetts have brought out voters who are fired up about immigration issues, global warming and renewable energy.

“We’ve been surprised at how energized people are about what’s happening in Washington,” said Rodrigues. “We expected that in the more progressive parts of the state, like MetroWest, Northampton and Amherst, but we heard the same in Ashland.”

The sessions have had anti-President Donald Trump undertones, the senators said.

“There hasn’t been much speaking directly at the president, but clearly they oppose his policies on immigration and climate change,” said McGee. “That has been universal.”

A separate transportation forum will be on the same day from noon to 2 at the Lynn Museum. Sponsored by the Barr Foundation, the Boston-based nonprofit with assets of $1.6 billion, will explore ways to improve and increase investment in transportation.

“We need to transform our state so that it has a fair and equitable transportation system that benefits everyone,” McGee said.

The senators acknowledge the biggest challenge on transit and infrastructure improvements is raising the money.

“It all boils down to dollars,” Rodrigues said. “It’s difficult to have an adult conversation around taxes because there’s an innate mistrust of government that we don’t spend tax dollars wisely. Everyone thinks about tax policy on their own wallet … it’s challenging.”

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


US blasts Syria base with cruise missiles

President Donald Trump speaks with reporters on Air Force One while in flight from Andrews Air Force Base, Md., to Palm Beach International Airport, Fla.


WASHINGTON — The United States fired a barrage of cruise missiles into Syria Thursday night in retaliation for this week’s gruesome chemical weapons attack against civilians, U.S. officials said. It was the first direct American assault on the Syrian government and Donald Trump’s most dramatic military order since becoming president.

The surprise strike marked a striking reversal for Trump, who warned as a candidate against the U.S. getting pulled into the Syrian civil war, now in its seventh year. But the president appeared moved by the photos of children killed in the chemical attack, calling it a “disgrace to humanity” that crossed “a lot of lines.”

About 60 U.S. Tomahawk missiles, fired from warships in the Mediterranean Sea, targeted an air base in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack that American officials believe Syrian government aircraft launched with a nerve agent, possibly sarin.

The president did not announce the attacks in advance, though he and other national security officials ratcheted up their warnings to the Syrian government throughout the day Thursday.

“I think what happened in Syria is one of the truly egregious crimes and shouldn’t have happened and it shouldn’t be allowed to happen,” Trump told reporters traveling on Air Force One to Florida, where he was holding a two-day summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The strike came as Trump was hosting Xi in meetings focused in part on another pressing U.S. security dilemma: North Korea’s nuclear program. Trump’s actions in Syria could signal to China that the new president isn’t afraid of unilateral military steps. even if key nations like China are standing in the way.

GOP health care bill collapses day of vote

President Donald Trump is pictured March 24 in the Oval Office.


WASHINGTON — Speaker Paul Ryan says the collapse of the House Republican health care bill means former President Barack Obama’s health care law will be around for the foreseeable future.

The Wisconsin Republican addressed reporters minutes after GOP leaders abruptly shelved the legislation, averted likely defeat for the bill. But it still dealt a damaging setback to President Donald Trump, Ryan and an entire party that has long said it wants to annul Obama’s statute.

Ryan says pulling the bill was “a setback, no two ways about it.”

The speaker is chiding Republicans who refused to back the legislation for being too inflexible. He says lawmakers must be “willing to give a little to get something done.”

Many conservative and moderate Republicans opposed the legislation.

Lynn Elementary basketball tournament tips off

Brickett’s Soleil Chea, left, tries to wrestle the ball away from Sewell-Anderson’s Neveah Eth.


LYNN — There’s a new prize awaiting the winners of the 40th Annual Lynn Elementary Basketball Tournament. In past years, teams were split into three divisions and battled it out, with only two wins sometimes earning a team a tournament championship. So to alleviate that, tournament organizer Sean Morris and his team decided to change things up a bit by consolidating the teams into two divisions and then creating a city-wide championship game for each division winner.

“One of the main reasons we changed it is because with the three divisions, there just weren’t enough teams, and teams were playing a couple games and winning the tournament,” Morris said. “We had a double-tier format a long time ago, like 25 years back, so we decided to bring that back and then add a brand-new element with the city championship. When we had three divisions that wasn’t really possible, but now that we have two we figured we should add in another game at the end so the winning teams can keep playing.”

Morris, now in his sixth year running the tournament, said that there were a number of factors that went into the decision to switch things up.

“We got a lot of feedback from coaches, players and parents about the little amount of games played, so we wanted to change things,” said Morris. “This is all for the kids, we just want them to be out there having fun so we’ll do whatever we can to make that happen.”

The teams are split into Division 1 and Division 2 for both boys and girls, with each team playing in a double-elimination bracket to decide a division winner. Then, the division winners will match up for a winner-take-all city championship on March 31.

The teams participating in the tournament this year are Cobbet, Ingalls, Brickett, Sewell-Anderson, Ford, Sisson, Washington, Lynn Woods, Callahan, Aborn, Lincoln-Thomson, Drewicz, Shoemaker, Harrington, Tracy and Fallon Elementary.


The tournament got going Thursday with a Div. 1 boys game, as Ingalls took down Cobbet, 36-13.

Cobbet was unable to contain the balanced attack of the Rockets, who had eight players score, including 12 from Mitchell Purter and eight from Canei McLoed. Cobbet’s Edwin Valenzuela and Greg Scipion each had five points in the loss. Ingalls plays again next Friday at 3:15 p.m.
Game 2 was the first of three girls games of the day, pitting Brickett against Sewell-Anderson in a Division 2 matchup, as Sewell-Anderson came out on top, 14-7. Despite a late surge by Brickett, Sewell-Anderson prevailed behind six points from Nevaeh Eth and four points each from Jomary Lora and Gabriella Willis. Jaeliegh Perry was the high scorer for Brickett.
The day’s third game saw the Eagles of Sisson taking their first step to repeat last year’s divisional championship against the Ford Falcons, as Sisson won 27-16. Sisson’s potent offense was led by the 1-2 punch of Lorynes Suriel with 13 points and standout point guard Brooke Moloney with 10 points. Ford was led by Ahjeanee Hyacinthe‘s nine points and four points from Aaliyah Avalo. Sisson plays again next Thursday at 3:15 p.m.
The final game of the day was a contest between Washington and last year’s Division 3 champs, Lynn Woods, as Lynn Woods emerged victorious in a lopsided game.
Lynn Woods pulled out the victory behind Kaleigh Bullock‘s 14 points and six points from Arelys Ruiz. Wendy Macario was the high scorer for Washington. Lynn Woods will meet Sewell-Anderson in the semi-final next Thursday at 7:00 p.m.
First round games will resume Friday afternoon at Pickering at 3 p.m. All games are open to the public and admission is just $1.

Trio becomes true blue for Malden

Malden City Clerk Tom Brennan administers the oath of office to new Malden Police officers, from left, Ayrton Borges, Patrick Kinnon and Cory D’Entremont.

MALDEN — Newly sworn-in Officers Patrick Kinnon, Ayrton Borges and Cory D’Entremont are sharpening their law enforcement skills at the Northern Essex Community College Police Academy.

Kinnon, formerly a Malden Police Cadet, is a lifelong Malden resident and graduate of the Mystic Valley Charter School. He served in the U.S. Navy aboard the U.S.S. Pennsylvania, a ballistic missile submarine out of Bangor, Washington.

Borges, who is fluent in Portuguese, graduated from Malden High School and served in the U.S. Marine Corps.

D’Entremont, also a Malden High School graduate, is an Eagle Scout who served in the U.S. Army and is currently in the National Guard.

Malden Mayor Gary Christenson, Police Chief Kevin Molis and Police Commissioner Salvatore Gennetti congratulated the new officers, who are expected to graduate the Academy in June and will backfill vacancies due to retirements

Trump: ‘The time for small thinking is over’

President Donald Trump arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington.


WASHINGTON — Heralding a “new chapter of American greatness,” President Donald Trump stood before Congress for the first time Tuesday night and issued a broad call for overhauling the nation’s health care system, significantly boosting military spending and plunging $1 trillion into upgrading crumbling infrastructure.

Striking an optimistic tone, Trump declared: “The time for small thinking is over.”

Trump’s address came at a pivotal moment for a new president elected on pledges to swiftly shake up Washington and follow through on the failed promises of career politicians. His opening weeks in office have been consumed by distractions and self-inflicted wounds, including the bungled rollout of a sweeping immigration and refugee executive order that was blocked by the courts.

Trump, who typically relishes flouting political convention, embraced the pomp and tradition of a presidential address to Congress. He stuck largely to his script, made occasional overtures to Democrats and skipped the personal insults he so often hurls at his opponents.

The president was greeted by enthusiastic applause as he entered the House chamber, though it was filled with Democrats who vigorously oppose his policies and many Republicans who never expected him to be elected. Most Republican lawmakers have rallied around him since the election, hopeful that he will act on the domestic priorities they saw blocked during President Barack Obama’s eight years in office.

Topping that list is undoing Obama’s signature healthcare law and replacing the sweeping measure. Trump offered a basic blueprint of his priorities, including ensuring that those with pre-existing conditions have access to coverage, allowing people to buy insurance across state lines and offering tax credits and expanded health savings accounts to help Americans purchase coverage. He suggested he would get rid of the current law’s requirement that all Americans carry insurance coverage, saying that “mandating every American to buy government-approved health insurance was never the right solution for America.”

Making a direct appeal for bipartisanship, Trump turned to Democrats and said, “Why not join forces to finally get the job done and get it done right?”

Democrats, now firmly ensconced in the minority, sat silently while Republicans stood and cheered. Some wore blue, pro-health care buttons that read “Protect our care,” and dozens of Democratic women wore white in honor of the suffrage movement.

Trump was vague in his call for tax reform, another Republican priority. He promised “massive tax relief for the middle class” and a reduction in corporate tax rates, but glossed over how he would offset the cuts.

The president also urged Congress to pass a $1 trillion infrastructure package financed through both public and private capital.

“The time has come for a new program of national rebuilding,” he said.

Trump sent unexpectedly mixed messages on immigration, one of his signature campaign issues. He pledged to vigorously target people living in the U.S. illegally who “threaten our communities and prey on our citizens.” But he told news anchors before his speech that he was open to legislation that could provide a pathway to legal status, and he told Congress he believed “real and positive immigration reform is possible.”

The president’s words on immigration and “extreme vetting” of immigrants and refugees had to have been of special interest to recent Lynn Classical High School graduate and a refugee from Iraq, Tiba Faraj, who attended Trump’s speech as the guest of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass).

Faraj, 22, came to Lynn in 2010, along with her parents and siblings. She became an American citizen last year.

Before the speech, Faraj said in a phone interview that she was excited to be attending.

The University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth junior now lives in Boston. She used the services of the New American Center, which serves the refugee and immigrant population in Lynn, during her school years for help with homework. She said Lynn is great for immigrants and people of different races and religions, calling it a place of diversity.

Warren’s decision to bring Faraj as a guest comes after Trump’s recent executive order, which temporarily banned entry to the United States by refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim-majority nations. The order has since been blocked by a federal judge. Trump is reportedly expected to release a new executive order on immigration this week, but didn’t specifically mention his plans in Tuesday night’s address.

Faraj said she sees the United States as the country to welcome everyone.

“I think, like refugees are the people who built the country,” she said. “I’m one of the refugees. I went to school like everyone else.”

Warren said in a phone interview on Tuesday that she decided to bring Faraj because she wanted people all across Massachusetts to hear her family’s story and to know how hard she has worked. The senator also wanted people to remember how Faraj and other refugees and immigrants have added to the country and helped make it safer.

Classical graduate goes to Congress

First lady Melania Trump sat with special guests who were on hand to amplify the president’s agenda, including the family members of people killed by immigrants living in the U.S. illegally. The widow of former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia also sat alongside Mrs. Trump, a reminder of the president’s well-received nomination of federal appeals court Judge Neil Gorsuch to fill Scalia’s seat.

The majority of Trump’s address centered on the domestic, economic-focused issues that were at the center of his presidential campaign. His national security message centered largely on a call for significantly boosting military spending and taking strong but unspecified measures to protect the nation from “radical Islamic terrorism.”

Underscoring the human cost of those efforts, Trump honored Chief Special Warrant Officer William “Ryan” Owens, who was killed in a raid in Yemen during his first days in office. Owens’ widow sat in the guest box with tears streaming down her face as the crowd stood and applauded at length.

Owens’ death, as well as the killing of several civilians, have raised questions about the effectiveness of the raid. Pushing back, the president said Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had assured him that the operation generated “large amounts of vital intelligence that will lead to many more victories in the future against our enemies.”

Trump also voiced support for NATO but reiterated his call for partner countries to meet their financial obligations to the military alliance. Trump has previously called NATO “obsolete,” setting some allies on edge about his commitment to the partnership.

Gayla Cawley of the Item staff contributed to this report.

Kids spell their way to City Hall

The 32nd Annual Daily Item Regional Spelling Bee will be March 10 at Lynn City Hall Auditorium. Candidates include 54 champions from local schools in grades three through eight. The winner of The Item’s regional bee will move on to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. in May. The trip is paid for by corporate sponsors, Joel and Mary Abramson and their Marblehead-based travel agency, Flagship Travel. The names of local winners will be published as they come in.

  • Geovanny Acetty, fourth grader at Paul Revere School, Revere.

Winning word: auction

Geovanny likes building things with Legos. He likes to read Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. When he grows up, he wants to travel, become an astronaut and president of the United States.

  • Omolade Adeniyi, third grader at Hill School, Revere

Winning word:


Omolade wants a job in healthcare when she grows up. She likes exploring, reading and math. She hates bugs, losing and getting dirty.

  • Zackaria Benlail, fifth grader at A.C. Whelan School, Revere

Winning word:


Zackaria wants to be a veterinarian. He likes playing outside and video games.

  • Massimo Bottari, sixth grader at Village School, Marblehead

Winning word:


Massimo lives in Marblehead with his two younger siblings, Sophie and Giorgio. In his free time, he enjoys playing with Legos and using electronics. In addition, he plays soccer and baseball. He loves reading Percy Jackson books. His favorite is Sea of Monsters because he also loves the ocean.

  • Samuel Burns, sixth grader at Susan B. Anthony Middle School, Revere

Winning word: alliance

Samuel’s favorite subject is math. In his spare time, he loves to draw. He hopes to become an engineer when he grows up. His favorite word is snoop.

  • Caroline Clark, seventh grader at Sacred Hearts School, Haverhill

Winning word: koan

Caroline has been a student at Sacred Hearts since pre-K. She is a high honors student.

She enjoys reading, writing, math and photography. Her passion is dance. In the future, she aspires to become a journalist.  

  • Davin Clement Jr., fourth grader at Shoemaker School, Lynn

Winning word:


Davin likes to study about different cultures and customs in faraway places. Some of his hobbies are swimming, baseball, cooking and going to the movies. He enjoys trying different recipes when he cooks. In the future, he wants to either become a history professor or culinary instructor. His favorite food is Mexican.  

  • Kendall Giordano, fifth grader at Beachmont Veterans Memorial School, Revere

Winning word: daunted

Kendall wants to go to Yale to study history or journalism. Her hobbies are reading, writing and basketball.  

  • Nicholas Granitsas, sixth grader at North Shore Christian School, Lynn

Winning word: inlet

Nicholas likes math. He also plays soccer and baseball. His favorite food is hot dogs with macaroni with cheese with beans.

  • Jaylen Guscott, fifth grader at Sewell-Anderson School, Lynn

Winning word: invisible

Jaylen’s plans for the future include having his own family, being a professional basketball player and seeing his kids graduate from college. Some of his likes are having recess, watching TV, and hanging out with his family. Some of his talents are writing, math and playing basketball.

  • Matthew Howell, fifth grader at Lynn Woods School, Lynn

Winning word:


Matthew is interested in hiking in the woods and becoming a video game designer or computer programmer when he grows up.

  • Sara Johnston, fifth grader at St. Monica School, Methuen

Winning word: alpinist

Sara is the oldest of four children. She likes to read, draw and play basketball. She would like to become a teacher.

  • Christy Ly, sixth grader at Rumney Marsh Academy, Revere

Winning word:


Christy enjoys celebrating Christmas. Her favorite subject is journalism. She likes to read and hopes to get a job that helps people when she grows up.

  • Charleigh Noroselsky, fourth grader at Garfield Elementary, Revere

Winning word:


In the future, Charleigh plans to become a 10th degree black belt in karate. The karate school she goes to is called Revere Karate Academy. She dislikes homework and Monday mornings.

  • Will Robson, seventh grader at St. John’s Prep, Danvers

Winning word:


Will hopes to go to the Nationals. He likes “The Walking Dead” and football. He doesn’t ike math.

  • Braedon Smith, sixth grader at John G. Whittier School, Haverhill

Winning word:


When Braedon grows up, he wants to be a professional sports player or a veterinarian. In his free time, he enjoys playing sports and watching the Patriots and Celtics. He also likes going to Disney World in Florida on vacation.

  • Melih Yilmaz, fifth grader at Abraham Lincoln School, Revere

Winning word: algae

Melih is a great student who loves math. He plays the piano. He hopes to attend MIT or Harvard and become a computer programmer.

  • William Yue, seventh grader at The Pike School, Andover

Winning word: maladroit

William enjoys spelling, reading and math. He loves writing, science, being a photographer and delivering speeches.


Day without immigrants hits Lynn

Casa Antigua was one of many Lynn retailers to close Thursday for “A Day Without Immigrants.”


LYNN Jose Reyes didn’t go to work yesterday.

A Dominican Republic native, Reyes joined “A Day Without Immigrants,” a national movement by immigrants, who vowed to stay home Thursday and show how critical they are to the nation’s way of life.

“We are a nation of immigrants and we have to show everyone that we are the moving force of this country’s economy,” he said.

The broker for RE-Yes Real Estate is just one of hundreds of North Shore workers who stayed home in reaction to President Donald Trump.

“I understand the president is trying to protect the country, but his approach is wrong,” he said.  “Lots of people are responding to this protest. The rights of all people should be respected.”

The massive protest has sparked walk-outs in Lynn, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, Houston, Chicago and New York. It comes in response to Trump, whose administration has pledged to increase the deportation of immigrants living in the country illegally. Trump campaigned on building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, and blamed high unemployment on immigration. As president, he’s called for a ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries from coming into the U.S.

Frances Martinez, CEO of the North Shore Latino Business Association, said more than 150 of Latino businesses in Lynn, including barber shops, beauty salons, auto repair and markets, closed as a result of the work stoppage.  

“We are here and if we were not part of the economy it would harm this country,” she said.  

Gilcia Garcia, a manager at American Food Basket, a neighborhood supermarket on North Common Street, stayed home.

“Most of our customers are immigrants, I am an immigrant and we are showing our solidarity,” she said. “Most immigrants come to the U.S. to work very hard because we don’t have opportunities in our home country that we have here.”

William Sanchez, co-owner of Casa Antigua in the downtown, which serves Guatemalan, Salvadoran and Mexican food, closed his restaurant to support the protest.

“Immigrants should not be portrayed badly by politicians,” he said. “We work every day and are here to have a better life for our children.”

Brian Murphy, distribution manager at Publishers Circulation Fulfillment on the Lynnway, said his newspaper delivery service is feeling the impact of the strike. Five carriers failed to report to work to on Thursday.

“They didn’t show and they didn’t call, we’re overwhelmed,” he said. “Five people may not seem like a lot, but it’s significant and spread my staff very thin.”

Associated Press contributed to this report. Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com

Talking about Trump in Marblehead

Jonathan Heins, 13, listens during a Norma Marks Shribman Memorial Town Hall gathering at Temple Emanu-El in Marblehead. He is the grandson of panelist, Michael Harrington.


MARBLEHEAD President Donald Trump’s rise to power was the focus of Wednesday night’s panel discussion which brought more than 200 spectators to Temple Emanu-El.

“Many people feel like the political system was offering them nothing, and, in my opinion, had some pretty legitimate grievances with that,” said James M. Shannon, former Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Massachusetts who later served as the Massachusetts attorney general. “We just have to acknowledge that a lot of people have been left behind, have been threatened, have had stagnant wages or wages that have declined. I think we have to have a little more respect for the people who voted for Donald Trump than we tend to have around here.”

The event was held in memory of Norma Marks Shribman, who had a special interest in current affairs, and sponsored by her children; David Shribman, executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Jeffrey Shribman of Marblehead; Peter Shribman of Swampscott; and Cindy Liptrop of Marblehead.

David Shribman formerly worked as the Washington bureau chief for The Boston Globe, where he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1995. A Salem native, he also spent time as a reporter with the Salem News.

He said his mother loved a crowd and would have been pleased with the size of the audience.

Shannon was among four panelists chosen because of their role as prominent observers of the political scene.

He sat beside Mickey Edwards, a former Republican congressman from Oklahoma and former John Quincy Adams lecturer in politics at Harvard University; Katherine Seelye, New England bureau chief for The New York Times, who has been with the Times since 1994 and covered six presidential elections; and Michael J. Harrington, former Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Massachusetts, who won a special election in 1969 and was elected to four full terms as a congressman.

Shannon also expressed disappointment in U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis and U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, whom he said he expected more from. Instead, he said, Mattis stood beside Trump with a smile on his face while he signed executive orders that don’t align with what the country stands for.

Edwards agreed, adding he was equally concerned with the people Trump has on the White House staff.

Kellyanne (Conway), when she was Kellyanne Fitzpatrick, would come speak to my class when I was teaching at Harvard and she’s smart but her ideas are bad,” Edwards said.

Seelye said that while covering a primary in New Hampshire last year, she kept thinking that one thing after another would surely be the remark or action that would eliminate him from the presidential race.

“I kept thinking no candidate could get away with saying something like this or doing something like this,” she said. “In a way, I’m just as dumbfounded as I was a year ago.”

The change in administration has brought many added challenges to the media, she said. Her staff has to be extra conscious of remaining impartial.

“It’s a challenge every day in multiple ways one is this question of lies whether you call something that is blatantly untrue a lie,” she said.

According to the dictionary, a lie is only a lie if it was intended to be untrue, she said.

“This is just one of 5 million decisions going on in newsrooms today on how to deal with this phenomenon,” Seelye said.

Swampscott grapples with education spending

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

Repeal of Affordable Care Act lamented in Lynn

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.


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.”

Discussing the Trump administration

President Donald Trump is pictured in this Jan. 31 photo.


MARBLEHEAD — The children of Norma Marks Shribman are sponsoring a panel discussion on the country’s new administration next week, in honor of their late mother.

The Norma Marks Shribman Memorial Town Hall: The New Administration in a New Age will be Wednesday, Feb. 8 at 6:30 p.m. at Temple Emanu-El. The event is free.

“We have a new president and it’s been a tumultuous period, so we’ll probably examine some of that,” said David Shribman, executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and moderator of the panel discussion. “We’ll also examine whether this is a fundamental change in American politics or a logical extension of something else.”

Shribman said the panel will also be discussing whether the dynamic with the press has changed. No topics will be off the table, he added. He expects about 200 people, which was the crowd drawn at the first town hall the Shribman family hosted, last year also at Temple Emanu-El. The discussion then was on the role of religion in public life. He said the event is in memory of his mother.

“She had a special interest in current affairs and we wanted to do something in her honor,” Shribman said.

The event is sponsored by David Shribman, along with his two brothers, Jeffrey Shribman, of Marblehead, Peter Shribman, of Swampscott and his sister, Cindy Liptrop, of Marblehead.

Before he became executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Shribman was the Washington bureau chief at the Boston Globe, where he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1995. A Salem native, he also spent time as a reporter with the Salem News.

Panelists include Mickey Edwards, a former Republican congressman from Oklahoma and former John Quincy Adams lecturer in politics at Harvard University; Kit Seelye, New England bureau chief for the New York Times, who has been with the Times since 1994 and covered six presidential elections; James M. Shannon, former Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Massachusetts who later served as the Massachusetts Attorney General; and Michael J. Harrington, former Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Massachusetts, who won a special election in 1969 and was elected to four full terms as a congressman.

Shribman said the panelists were chosen because they are prominent observers of the political scene.

“Every change in administration sends ripple waves through the country and reflects change in the country,” reads a description of the event. “The ascendancy of Donald J. Trump to the White House is no different and in fact, may be an extreme example of both. Temple Emanu-El has assembled a distinguished panel of experts — a diverse group of voices — to examine the Trump administration and the forces that combined to catapult him to power.”

Lynn marchers see hope, but feel doubt

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

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Trump takes charge: The nation’s 45 president

Donald Trump is sworn in as the 45th president of the United States as Melania Trump looks on during the 58th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington.


WASHINGTON — Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States Friday, taking the helm of a deeply divided nation and putting Republicans in control of the White House for the first time in eight years.

The billionaire businessman and former reality television star has pledged an era of profound change, energizing his supporters with promises to wipe away predecessor Barack Obama’s signature achievements and to restore America to a lost position of strength. But Trump’s call for restrictive immigration measures and his caustic campaign rhetoric about women and minorities have infuriated other millions of Americans. He assumes office as one of the most unpopular incoming presidents in modern history.

The pomp and pageantry of the inaugural celebrations were also shadowed by questions about Trump’s ties to Russia, which U.S. intelligence agencies have determined worked to tip the 2016 election to help the Republican win.

Facebook users sound off on Donald Trump

Trump’s inauguration drew crowds to the nation’s capital to witness the history. It repelled others. More than 60 House Democrats refused to attend his swearing in ceremony in the shadow of the Capitol dome. One Democrat who did sit among the dignitaries was Hillary Clinton, Trump’s vanquished campaign rival who was widely expected by both parties to be the one taking the oath of office.

Instead, it was Trump placing his hand on two Bibles, one used by his family and another used for President Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration. At 70, Trump is the oldest person to be sworn in as president, marking a generational step backward after two terms for Obama, one of the youngest presidents to serve as commander in chief.

Trump takes charge of an economy that has recovered from the Great Recession but has nonetheless left millions of Americans feeling left behind. The nation’s longest war is still being waged in Afghanistan and U.S. troops are battling the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The American health care system was expanded to reach millions more Americans during Obama’s tenure, but at considerable financial costs. Trump has vowed to dismantle and rebuild it.

Trump faces such challenges as the first president to take office without ever having held a political position or served in the military. He has stacked his Cabinet with established Washington figures and wealthy business leaders. Though his team’s conservative bent has been cheered by many Republicans, the overwhelmingly white and male Cabinet has been criticized for a lack of diversity.

How do you feel about a Trump presidency?

Officials expected hundreds of thousands of people to flock to the National Mall to witness the inauguration of the 45th president, though early crowds appeared smaller than past celebrations. Demonstrations unfolded at various security checkpoints near the Capitol as police in riot gear helped ticket-holders get through to the ceremony.

In a show of solidarity, all of the living American presidents attended the swearing-in ceremony, except for 92-year-old George H.W. Bush, who was hospitalized this week with pneumonia. His wife, Barbara, was also admitted to the hospital after falling ill.

While Trump came to power bucking convention, he wrapped himself in the traditions that accompany the peaceful transfer of power. Following a morning church service with his family, Trump and his wife, Melania, had tea at the White House with Obama and outgoing first lady Michelle Obama.

The two couples greeted each other with handshakes and hugs, and Mrs. Trump presented Mrs. Obama with a gift. Following their private gathering in the executive mansion, the Trumps and Obamas traveled together to the Capitol for the swearing in ceremony.

Councilors cut through parking issues

Danny Balencuela shovels snow off the sidewalk and co-worker Jesus Tavarez runs a snow blower behind him on Liberty Street in Lynn during Winter Storm Helena.


LYNN — City councilors armed with bolt cutters removed chains from closed school parking lots during Winter Storm Helena to open them for parking on Saturday, sources told The Item.

Ward 7 Councilor Jay Walsh didn’t say if he was one of the snowstorm bandits. Instead, he offered: “You can just say we opened the lots. It was the right thing to do. We did it together collectively.”

The action underscored varying accounts highlighting the city’s preparedness in advance of what was the biggest snowstorm in nearly two years.

“What we did was, we made sure through a collaborative effort of everyone to get all the lots open Saturday morning so residents could use them for parking during the snow emergency,” said Darren Cyr, Ward 3 councilor.

Cyr also declined to name the councilors who may have cut the chains.

The city issued notice Saturday that parking was not allowed at the following schools: Aborn, Brickett, Callahan, Cobbet, Fallon, Hood, Lynn Woods, Sewell-Anderson and Washington. But a 1 p.m. an examination by Item reporters found the gates at several of those schools open with cars parked inside.

Schoolyard gates were installed last summer to prevent car owners from parking on the school lots during snow emergencies. In an earlier interview, Cyr said the council came up with alternative parking sites because residents often failed to leave the school property by school start time following a storm.

Cyr said a sense of urgency preceded the move to open lots Saturday morning as snow fell steadily.

“The School Committee, the mayor’s office and the council all talked Saturday morning and decided that we had to get those open as quickly as possible,” he said. “For the concern of the public’s safety, the council did what they had to do.”  

But Michael Donovan, the city’s Inspectional Services Department director, offered a different account of the Saturday lot openings.

He said parking was initially banned at all 18 of the city’s elementary schools. But early Saturday morning, he received a call from the city’s law department telling him that parking should be allowed at eight of the elementary school lots.

“By about 11:45 a.m. our people were opening the locks,” he said. “I did not receive a single report of a broken lock.”

Cyr said the school committee had previously voted to allow residents to park in the schoolyards during snow emergencies. He expects the committee to approve keeping the gates open when the panel meets on Thursday.

Patricia Capano, committee vice-chairwoman, said there was some miscommunication among school officials about closing and opening the gates before storms.

“The school committee certainly didn’t make any requests to limit the school parking lots,” she said. “If we need to take a vote to continue open parking lots, that’s what we’ll do. If an owner is there after 6 a.m., as has been in the past, then the responsibility is on the owner, be it towing and ticketing.”

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

Gayla Cawley contributed to this report.

Still a lot to weed out on Question 4

One ounce of marijuana is weighed at the Lynn Police Department. If Question 4 is approved, adults over the age of 21 can legally carry up to one ounce in public. 


On Nov. 8, voters will decide if marijuana will be legalized, regulated and taxed by the government.

Under the proposed new law, adults over the age of 21 would be able to use, grow and possess a limited amount of the substance. Up to 10 ounces and six marijuana plants can be kept inside a single home; up to an ounce can be carried, but not used, in public.

Exceeding the legal amounts, consuming or smoking the substance in public, or traveling in a vehicle with a container of marijuana that has a broken seal, are all violations that would result in fines ranging from $100 to $500.

A ‘yes’ vote on question four also supports the creation of a Cannabis Control Commission to oversee legalization and issue licenses to sellers.

Retail marijuana would be subject to the state sales tax, with an additional 3.75 percent excise tax. A community can choose to add up to 2 percent in additional taxes.

Stores would be subjected to random inspections and audits of books and records by the commission. Security would be mandated. Packaging will be required to include a symbol or other easily recognizable marking indicating that it contains marijuana; it will also distinguish a serving size within a package of multiple servings.

A city or town can adopt its own regulations for safeguards and restriction on public signage and advertisements, though restrictions will already apply to signs, marketing, displays and advertising.

But local police worry about enforcing the regulations.

“From a police perspective, I’m against the legalization of marijuana,” said Saugus Police Chief Domenic DiMella. “I’m concerned about impaired driving while under the influence of marijuana. When you smoke it, you are impaired by the drug. We do not have a breathalyzer test or anything like that. It has to be based on the officer’s observations. Even then, we really don’t know the substance.”

Other local police chiefs share similar concerns.

Lynn Police Chief Kevin Coppinger said he has seen a rise in the number of children smoking marijuana since it was decriminalized in 2008.

“They think there’s nothing wrong with it,” he said.

Coppinger said he has spoken to chiefs in Colorado and Washington state who reported that they’ve experienced problems enforcing the law.

“The black market has not been eliminated,” he said. “They’ve got a lot of problems. Not everyone is going to the approved dispensaries. They’re still going to a local drug dealer. The cost is less, there are no taxes. They don’t have to pay for the storefront, the security, the regulations.”

Jim Borghesani, spokesman for Yes on 4, an organization in support of the question, argued police would continue responding the same way they do to anyone who is driving impaired by a substance.

“If someone is driving erratically, they can be pulled over,” Borghesani said. “If you fail a field sobriety test, you can be immediately taken off the road. The opponents claim that police won’t be able to deal with this is ridiculous.”

He said supporters want to see the ability to prove convictions in court as much as those in opposition do.

“These are the same complaints as in 2008, when it was decriminalized,” Borghesani said. “There are no increased problems on the road since 2008. Since 2008, two things have happened. Marijuana has been decriminalized and in 2012, medical marijuana became legal. Neither had an impact.”

But State Rep. and City Council President Dan Cahill (D-Lynn) argues it is too soon.

Just this week, officials decided to invite medical marijuana treatment centers to the city. Last summer, City Council selected a zoning district along the non-waterfront side of the Lynnway from Market Street to the General Edwards Bridge, two sites on Commercial Street and all properties on Route 107 from the Belden Bly Bridge to the intersection of Western and Murphy avenues.

“Cities and towns are just starting to figure out medical marijuana,” said Cahill. “To have this come at the heels of that, as a local official, makes it more difficult to address the issue.”

In March, the Saugus Board of Selectmen voted unanimously to deny the request for a letter of non-opposition to the possibility of a medical marijuana dispensary on a parcel of land at the end of Osprey Road, which is near the Lowe’s Home Improvement store and Route 99.

“Legalizing this drug for recreational use would compromise the health and safety of the public,” said Debra Panetta, chairwoman of the board. “Marijuana is a gateway drug, and we have already experienced the detrimental effects drugs have on families, especially today’s youth. Colorado’s fatal incidents increased by 62 percent in three years since they voted in favor of legalizing marijuana. Massachusetts residents should learn from Colorado’s mistake.”

Borghesani said the theory that marijuana is a gateway drug has been “debunked by every study that looks at marijuana use.”

“There is no credible study that shows that marijuana is a gateway to anything,” he said. “Some people are more prone to becoming addicted to substances than others. They try to find something that gives them whatever escape they are looking for. It’s usually much harder drugs than marijuana.”

He added that cigarettes and alcohol are more addictive.

“We’re in the middle of an opioid epidemic,” said Coppinger. “It’s the worst substance abuse problem I’ve seen in my whole career. Basically, we’re losing the battle. To go out and legalize another drug, to me, it’s not good public policy.”

Marblehead Police Chief Robert Picariello said he is as concerned about highly potent edible forms of marijuana as he is about impaired driving.

“I think these THC-infused edibles that look like cookies and brownies and gummy bears, clearly, are going to be an issue for children,” he said. “I don’t agree with the message that says ‘this is okay.’ I think it sends a very bad message to children, especially when we start putting it in things that kids would want to eat.”

But polls show that more voters support the legalization of marijuana than those who don’t. The results of a recent poll by the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan fact tank, indicate that 57 percent of adult voters believe it should be legal, and 37 percent believe it should be illegal.

Fifty-seven percent of voters between the ages of 36 and 51 and 56 percent of voters between 52 and 70 support the proposal, according to the study. A whopping 71 percent of millennials, between the ages of 18 and 35, are in favor.

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

A magical summer 33 years ago

Item Sports Editor Steve Krause sat down with 1983 Lynn Babe Ruth World Series champs (l-r) Mark Giardina, Ray Veguilla, Rich Fucci and Steve Roney at Tony’s Pub before the World Series-bound Lynn 15s depart for North Dakota this week.

By Steve Krause

LYNN — Enjoy it. It may never happen again.

That’s the message players from Lynn’s 1983 Babe Ruth All-Star team that won the World Series gives to the boys who will leave Thursday to compete in this year’s national tournament in North Dakota.

“Enjoy every moment,” said Ray Veguilla, who was a catcher and a pitcher on that ‘83 team of 13-year-olds who went to Michigan and came home with the World Series title. “You’ll never have that moment again.”

Last month, when this year’s team defeated North Providence/Smithfield, R.I., in the New England Regional title game, manager Leon Elwell praised his players.

“They’re a great group of kids,” he said. “They care about each other.”

Rich Fucci, another of the Lynn 13s from 1983, understands how that can be more important than all the skill in the world.

“We weren’t the most talented team,” he said. “Going into the tournament, we clearly weren’t the favorites. But we played together as a team and that’s what made the difference.

“Every last player on that team is going to have a role to play,” Fucci said. “We had our stars, like (Giardina) and Mark Debasitis (the tournament’s MVP). But there will be role players too, and they’ll be important.”

Elwell has also said that as the games get bigger, it’s important to remember “this is the same game you’ve been playing since you were five years old.”

Again, the 13s from ‘83 have a unique understanding of what that means.

“It’s important to go into these games with a level of confidence,” said Mark Giardina, an outfielder on the team. “You just keep doing the same things you did to get you there,” he said. “Keep focusing on every pitch, every at-bat. Don’t take anything for granted. Execute. That’s what he means. If you look at it that way, you won’t get too tight.”

Steve Roney, who his teammates say threw 55 miles per hour but always hit his spots, said that the players on this year’s team should keep their goal in mind.

“Set that goal, and know that nothing’s going to stop you from reaching it,” he said. “Do that, and you’ll do fine.”


From left, Mark Giardina, Ray Veguilla, Rich Fucci and Steve Roney. (Photo by Bob Roche)

In 1983, Lynn had three hotly-contested tournaments to get ready for the World Series, and the players recall nothing was easy leading up to it.

“Even on the local level, we had some tough games,” Giardina said. “I remember we beat Saugus 10-8. We had tough games against Revere and Beverly.”

Veguilla recalled that Cambridge brought its celebration to the field in its game against Lynn, certain it would win the state championship.

“They brought the float to the field,” he said. “That’s how sure they were that they were going to win.”

But victory belonged to Lynn. And in the states, Veguilla said, “there was a team from Stamford, Conn., that was supposed to be THE team. Every step along the way, there was some team that we weren’t supposed to beat.”

Giardina, too, recalled doubters.

“When we got back from Maine, where the regionals were held, I went down to the park behind English and someone there told me ‘you guys don’t have a chance,’” he said. “Why would someone say that?”

Because, said Fucci, “we were going up against teams from California and Washington who played all the time. Nobody’d ever heard of us. But by the time we left, everybody had heard of us.”

With all that doubt, it couldn’t have helped Lynn that it lost the first game of the World Series against Nashville, Tenn.

“In a way, though, I think it helped us,” Fucci said. “From that point on, all we had to focus on was winning the next game. Just win the next game.

At the time, the World Series was a double-elimination format, as opposed to pool play this year. As a result, Lynn got the opportunity to play Nashville again, and won.

“I think after that game, we really began thinking we could do this,” said Fucci, who is now a Lynn police officer.

There was also a victory over West New York, N.J., that got Lynn into the finals against Santa Maria, Calif.

“After that game, a couple of us got called up to do interviews,” Giardina said. “And I kept thinking that usually it’s someone from Texas or California or one of those places that wins these things. And I thought ‘why not us?’”

Rich Fucci's 1983 World Series ring.

Rich Fucci’s 1983 World Series ring.

By the time Lynn played California, “it was a done deal,” said Roney, who went undefeated in that post-season. “No question we were going to win.”

The summer of ‘83 was a hot one, and Niles, Mich., was no exception. It was 100 degrees and Lynn played a doubleheader.

“Neither game was close,” said Fucci. “I know that the Santa Maria team gave up a lot of walks. I think it was something like 15 walks.”

Veguilla caught the first game, and then pitched for part of the second.

“I was so tired that I went back to my host family’s house and fell asleep,” he said. “I missed the whole after-party. Nobody woke me up.”

Among the highlights, all four agreed, was the visit to Notre Dame. South Bend, Ind., directly across the state border from Niles, Mich.

“That was awesome,” Giardina said. “There was a banquet there, and Ernie Banks, Mr. Cub, was the main speaker. We got to see the stadium, and Touchdown Jesus. It was great.”

Some might think that a summer given over to baseball and tournaments might have been a little too much for a 13-year-old. Not so, said Fucci.

“We had fun, let me tell you,” he said. “We got the most out of it. And when it was all over, it was time for school again.”

Veguilla talked of the letdown.

“After it all ended, I was just sitting at home, and there was nothing to do,” he said in a cautionary tone. “I was depressed. I didn’t know what to do.”

All these years later, the players’ reflection on the experience includes how much they accomplished.

“The fact that it hasn’t happened in 33 years is a pretty good indication of that,” said Fucci, with Roney adding that following this year’s team has brought the ‘83 experience flooding back.

Some, like Giardina and Veguilla went onto play high school baseball, both winning state championships with St. Mary’s. Others, including Debasitis, didn’t play baseball again, though he did play football.

Fucci acknowledges he peaked at 13.

“I still have my ring,” he said. “People joke with me. They say I hit my peak at 13. I tell them, ‘at least I had a peak.’”

They all owe a lot of what they accomplished to manager Gene Tetreault and coach Pat Lussiano, both of whom had since died.

“They were great,” said Fucci. “To both of them, wherever they are, if they can hear us, ‘thank you.’”

The Lynn Babe Ruth 15-year-old All-Star team will be competing in the World Series in Williston, N.D., beginning Saturday. Item Sports Editor Steve Krause will be in Williston beginning Friday to cover the team in its quest to bring back a national championship. Starting today, The Item will be reporting on all facets of the World Series.

Lynn Babe Ruth getting set for a World Series run

Lynn Babe Ruth’s Brett Bucklin lashes the ball down the right field line during a tournament game earlier this season.


LYNN — One week from today, at 12 noon EDT, Lynn Babe Ruth will begin its quest to bring home another World Series championship to the city.

The Lynn team of 15-year-olds, who earned the right to compete in the World Series, which will be held in Williston, N.D., will kick off the eight-day tournament at that time, against the winners of Atlantic Shore, N.J., winners of the Mid-Atlantic Regional.

Next week’s game will be streamed live on the internet, but for those who cannot make it, and wish to watch it on a march larger screen, Gannon Golf Course will air it on its 42-inch TV screen, in its sun room.

Gannon has lent its support to the Babe Ruth effort in other ways as well, including holding a “Night at the Race” Thursday with the proceeds put toward making a dent in the $35,000 cost of sending the team to North Dakota. Babe Ruth defrays the cost of transportation for the players and coaches. But where it used to seek housing for the players, this year’s participants will have to stay at local hotels.

“We just want to show our support for the team,” said Jason Newhall, an assistant at the 19th Hole at Gannon. “We had the fundraiser Thursday and it did very well.”

Newhall said that Gannon intends to stream all of Lynn’s games on its big-screen.

“I don’t know if anyone else is going to do it, but we have internet here, and we thought it would be nice to show our support.”

There are 10 teams in the tournament, which begins next Saturday and runs through Aug. 20. They will be grouped in two divisions, American and National, with Lynn in the National Division along with Atlantic Shore, Tallahassee, Fla. (Southeast), Columbia Basin, Wash. (Pacific Northwest) and West Fargo, N.D. (the North Dakota state champion).

The other division includes Bismarck, N.D. (Midwest Plains), Eau Claire, Wisc., (Ohio Valley), South Brazoria City, Texas (Southwest), Torrance, Calif., (Pacific Northwest) and the host team of Williston.

The format is pool play, with each team playing the other four in its respective group. After a day off on Sunday, Aug. 14, Lynn will play Monday against West Fargo (6:30 EDT), Tuesday vs. Tallahassee (noon) and Wednesday against Columbia Basin (2:30).

The top three teams in each division advance, with the first-place finishers getting byes. Quarterfinals are on Thursday, Aug. 18, with the second-place team in the Nationals playing the third-place team in the Americans at 6 p.m., with the other crossover game at 8:30.

Semifinals are Friday with the first-place teams in both divisions playing quarterfinal winners at 6 and 8:30. The championship game is Saturday, Aug. 20, at 2 p.m.

Lynn, which is managed by Leon Elwell with Sean Leydon and Ryan Boisselle as coaches, was guaranteed a spot in the New England regionals by virtue of hosting the tournament at Fraser Field. However, the players, who had come up short in state tournaments as 13s and 14s, chose to go through the entire process this season. They won the District 1 tournament in Saugus, and then defeated Medford at BC High’s new field to win the states. And, Lynn defeated North Providence/Smithfield, R.I., in the New England Regionals at Fraser Field on July 26.

Helping Lynn vets get home



WASHINGTON – The Lynn Housing Authority received nearly $58,000 in federal money to help end veteran homelessness.

The award will provide rental assistance from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) with case management and clinical services provided by the Veterans Administration (VA).

“This is real world, tangible help that can keep veterans off the street,” said Michael Sweeney, the director of Veterans Services in Lynn. “We have been working with the Housing Authority and the VA hand-in-hand and it’s been an incredible partnership.”

The local grant was part of about $630,000 to help 73 homeless veterans in Massachusetts find a permanent place to call home. The rental assistance distributed on Thursday is provided through the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program. The agencies work to reduce veteran homelessness by providing funding for the housing and supportive services that are essential for ending homelessness for tens of thousands of veterans nationwide.

In the HUD-VASH program, VA Medical Centers assess veterans experiencing homelessness before referring them to housing agencies for vouchers. Decisions are based on a variety of factors, most importantly the duration of homelessness and the need for longer term, more intensive support in obtaining and maintaining permanent housing. Participating veterans rent privately owned housing and generally contribute no more than 30 percent of their income toward rent.

Earlier this year, federal officials declared that Lynn had eliminated homelessness among local veterans.

Lynn Housing Authority and Neighborhood Development spearheaded the local battle to take veterans off the street by getting them one-on-one counseling; helping them to assess their financial situations and harnessing services provided by federal Veterans Affairs workers.

Despite the honor, Sweeney said advocates have to keep at it to make sure all vets have safe homes.

“We all recognize that it’s an ongoing effort” he said. “There will always be more vets who need housing help and that’s how to make sure we don’t lose the gains we’ve made.”

Buzz building for 31st Item spelling bee

Mitchell Robson competes in the Daily Item Spelling Bee at Lynn City Hall. Robson will be a participant in this year’s event.


LYNN — The contestants are set for The Daily Item’s 31st Annual Regional Spelling Bee, which will be held at Lynn City Hall Auditorium Friday at 6:15 p.m.

Students at 44 local schools competed in a round of spelling contests to determine which students would qualify to represent their school in the regional event. The Item’s regional winner will compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. in May.

The bee is sponsored by Mary and Joel Abramson of Flagship Travel in Marblehead. The Abramsons will send the winner to the national spelling bee, all expenses paid.

Candidates for The Item’s bee consist of champions from local schools, ranging from third- to eighth-graders.

There are 19 spelling bee champions from Lynn schools: Jasmin Jimenez Carrion, fourth-grader at Drewicz Elementary School; Jonathan Baker, sixth-grader at Breed Middle School;  Israel Ovalles, fifth-grader at Brickett Elementary School; Victoria Samuel, fifth-grader at Capt. William Shoemaker Elementary School; Yareliz Coriano, fifth-grader at Cobbet Elementary School; Juridia DeLeon, fifth-grader at E.J. Harrington Elementary School; Rebekah Soetan, third-grader at Edward Sisson Elementary School; Sasha Soy, fifth-grader at Ingalls Elementary School; Victoria Kadiri, eighth-grader at KIPP Academy; Dylan DeSisto, fifth-grader at Julia F. Callahan School; Daileny Torres, fifth-grader at Lincoln-Thomson Elementary School; Brady Bullock, fifth-grader at Lynn Woods Elementary School; Susie Stutz, sixth-grader at North Shore Christian School; Joseph Severe, eighth-grader at Pickering Middle School; Natalie-Mai, fifth-grader at Robert L. Ford Elementary School; Joysmer Minaya, fifth-grader at Sewell-Anderson Elementary School; Celine Huynh, fifth-grader at St. Pius V School; Chiara Tazoa, seventh-grader at Thurgood Marshall Middle School; and Paw Htoo, fourth-grader at William P. Connery Elementary School.

Three school spelling bee champions hail from Swampscott: Daniel Miretsky, third-grader at Clarke Elementary School; Andrew Tierney, fourth-grader at Hadley Elementary School; and Luca Croft, fourth-grader at Stanley School.

Marblehead’s winners are: Maia Newburg, seventh-grader at Marblehead Community Charter Public School; Ryan Grohe, eighth-grader at Marblehead Veterans Middle School; and Ella Kramer, sixth-grader at the Village School.

There are six top spellers in Revere: Teo Hood, fifth-grader at Paul Revere Innovation School; Samy Kardady, fifth-grader at Garfield Elementary School; John Barry, third-grader at Beachmont Elementary School, Aamna Umar, fifth-grader at Lincoln Elementary School; Sami El Asri, fifth-grader at Hill Elementary School; and Walid Ichcho, fifth-grader at Whelan Elementary School.

Other qualifying spelling bee champions include: Torin Anderson, fifth-grader at Johnson School in Nahant; Connor Gagne, fifth-grader at Douglas Waybright School in Saugus; Elinor Davenport, fourth-grader at Covenant Christian School in Peabody; and Sofia Valencia, sixth-grader at Higgins Middle School in Peabody.

Nine other spellers from North Shore communities will also compete: Luis Placido, eighth-grader at Bellesini Academy (Lawrence); Celeste Bucci, eighth-grader at Holten-Richmond Middle School (Danvers); Clara Diniz, seventh-grader at Rockport Middle School (Rockport); Caroline Clarke, sixth-grader at Sacred Heart School (Haverhill); Mitchell Robson, eighth-grader at St. John’s Prep (Danvers); Ali Hounain, eighth-grader at Salemwood School (Malden); William Yue, sixth-grader at The Pike School (Andover); Beckett Catron, seventh-grader at Dr. Paul Nettle School (Haverhill); and Ashrita Gandhari, third-grader at St. Michael School (North Andover).

The last three spellers standing will each receive an award. The first-place winner will receive  round-trip plane fare to Washington, D.C. to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, Bee Week accommodations at the Gaylord Resort and Convention Center and spending money for a family chaperone.

The first-place winner will also be awarded with a Merriam-Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, a one-year subscription to Britannica Online Premium, a $100 Barnes & Noble gift card and the Samuel Louis Sugarman Award — a 2016 United States Mint Proof Set.

The second-place winner will be awarded with a $50 Barnes & Noble gift card and the third-place winner will receive a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card. The remaining participants will each receive a $10 Barnes & Noble gift card. The gift certificates are provided by Flagship Travel.

Judges for the event will include: Karen Hynick, vice president of academic affairs at North Shore Community College; Meghann Price, reading teacher at Thurgood Marshall Middle School; and Kathleen Shaughnessy of KIPP Academy in Lynn.

Lynn English High School Social Studies Advanced Placement teacher William McGuiness will be the pronouncer for the event.

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

Marblehead’s O’Toole joins First Lady at State of Union

Kathleen O’Toole, formerly of Marblehead, is the Seattle Police chief.


Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole, a Marblehead High graduate, has been invited to sit with First Lady Michelle Obama during President Barack Obama’s final State of the Union address Tuesday.

O’Toole started her career with the Boston Police Department and became its commissioner, the only woman to hold that position. She was superintendent of the MDC Police, lieutenant colonel of the Massachusetts State Police, and Massachusetts Secretary of Public Safety. She also served as chief general for Ireland’s national police force, and became the Seattle Police chief in 2014. She is a 1972 graduate of Marblehead High and 1976 graduate of Boston College, where she also served as director of the alumni association.

O’Toole will join 20 others who have been selected to sit with the First Lady during the speech, with one seat remaining empty to represent victims of gun violence, who no longer have a voice, according to a published report.

O’Toole said she received the call from Roy Austin Jr., deputy assistant to the President for the Office of Urban Affairs, Justice and Opportunity in the White House, at around 8:30 p.m. Pacific time last Sunday, Jan. 3. She said she wasn’t expecting a call from the White House at that point, especially considering it was 11:30 p.m. on the East Coast.

“I think I was fairly stunned at first,” O’Toole said about being selected to sit with Michelle Obama. “I was just trying to process it all. It’s certainly an honor.”

O’Toole said by nature, she prefers to keep a low profile, despite having ended up in high-profile positions throughout her career. She said the opportunity is “humbling” and feels that she’s not only representing her community, but police officers in general. She said she just happens to be the person who gets to sit in the seat Tuesday.

O’Toole said it is a difficult time in policing and that officers and others in the field need to “work hard to rebuild trust.” She said with she’s been trying to focus more on enhancing community trust with the police.

O’Toole said she believes she was selected because she has worked hard on police reform over the past few years. She said she was hired as the Seattle Police Chief to take on a reform project in the city, based on a consent decree the city entered into with the U.S. Justice Department, regarding excessive police force and discriminatory policing.

O’Toole said because of their compliance with the consent decree, the Seattle Police Department is now “well down the road to reform” and other police departments are now turning to them to learn from their experiences.

“I don’t want to claim we have all the answers,” O’Toole said. “If we can share some of the knowledge with others, that’s a great thing.”

O’Toole also did reform work in Northern Ireland during her time as chief inspector of the country’s national police force and recently through her consulting work on a project in East Haven, Conn.

For the latter, O’Toole said East Haven had entered into a consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice as well. She said officers had gone to jail for civil rights violations of members of the Latin community in East Haven. She said the city was looking for a compliance expert to be certain the town met the requirements of the consent decree.

“Fortunately, they were able to turn that around,” O’Toole said.

O’Toole said she is proud of her North Shore roots. She said she still has many close friends in the area. Coincidentally, on the night of her appointment as Seattle Police Chief, the Seattle Mariners were playing the Boston Red Sox. She said she still feels angst when the two teams play each other. She said the same goes for when the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots play each other, as they did in the last Super Bowl.

“If not for their support, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” O’Toole said about those on the North Shore. “I feel like I’m representing a lot of people when I go to Washington this week.”

Fears rise that more than 8 died in mudslide

ARLINGTON, Wash. — The search for survivors of a deadly Washington state mudslide grew Monday to include 108 names of people who were reported missing or were unaccounted for, but authorities cautioned the figure likely would decline dramatically.

Still, the size of the list raised concerns the death toll would rise far above the eight people who have been confirmed dead after the 1-square-mile slide Saturday swept through part of a former fishing village about 55 miles northeast of Seattle. Several people also were critically injured. About 30 homes were destroyed, and the debris blocked a 1-mile stretch of state highway.

“The situation is very grim,” Snohomish County Fire District 21 Chief Travis Hots said, stressing that authorities are still in rescue mode and are holding out hope. But he noted: “We have not found anyone alive on this pile since Saturday.”

Adding to the worries was that the slide struck Saturday morning, a time of the weekend when most people are at home. Of the 49 structures in the neighborhood hit by the slide, authorities believe at least 25 were occupied full-time.

Snohomish County emergency management director John Pennington said the list of 108 names was pulled together from various sources, and it doesn’t mean there are that many injuries or fatalities.

Among the possible missing are construction workers coming into the neighborhood and people just driving by.

“It’s a soft 108,” Pennington said.

An overnight search of the debris field turned up no other survivors or fatalities, Hots said. He said Monday’s search would include aircraft, search dogs and heavy equipment.

However, conditions remained risky, and authorities had to pull back some crews Monday morning because of concern about the hillside moving, Snohomish County spokeswoman Bronlea Mishler said.

“It is definitely dangerous any time we have an unstable hillside,” she said.

Search and rescue teams took to the air in helicopters and the ground on foot on Sunday looking for anyone who might still be alive. Their spirits had been raised late Saturday when they heard the cries for help from the flotsam of trees, dirt and wreckage.

Dangerous conditions forced them to turn back in the darkness.

Snohomish County sheriff’s Lt. Rob Palmer said four bodies were discovered late Sunday. Earlier in the day, authorities said one body had been found on the debris field. Three people were confirmed dead Saturday.

Crews were able to get to the soupy, tree-strewn area that was 15-feet deep in places Sunday after geologists flew over in a helicopter and determined it was safe enough for emergency responders and technical rescue personnel to search for possible survivors, Hots said.

He added they did not search the entire debris field, only drier areas safe to traverse.

Frequent, heavy rainfall and geography make the area prone to landslides. Less than a decade ago, another slide hit in the same general area. Geologists and other experts said the Stillaguamish River likely caused some erosion in the area that was carved by glaciers.

Authorities believe Saturday’s slide was caused by ground made unstable by recent rainfall.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee described the scene as a “square mile of total devastation” after flying over the disaster area midday Sunday. He assured families that everything was being done to find their missing loved ones.

The slide blocked the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River, which is continuing to back up, officials said. Authorities said Monday at least seven homes are now flooded, and more flooding is expected.

The river, however, is finding its way through the mudslide, as expected. “It’s good news,” said Steve Thompson, public works director for Snohomish County.

Bruce Blacker, who lives just west of the slide, doesn’t know the whereabouts of six neighbors. “It’s a very close-knit community,” Blacker said Sunday as he waited at an Arlington roadblock before troopers let him through.

The mudslide also blocked about a mile of State Route 530 near the town of Oso.

Search and rescue help came from around the region, including the Washington State Patrol and the Army Corps of Engineers.

Barbara Welsh went to Monday’s news briefing in Arlington to get more information. She said she hasn’t seen her husband, William Welsh, since Saturday when he went to help someone in Oso with a water tank.

Linda Byrnes, a former Arlington council member, checked on friends and other community members Monday morning.

“What they’re doing is hanging out with each other, holding each other up, she said, adding: “You can’t live here without knowing someone who is unaccounted for.”

Bomb survivors to be guests at Obama speech

WASHINGTON — Two survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing and an openly gay NBA player are among the guests who will sit with first lady Michelle Obama Tuesday when President Barack Obama delivers the annual State of the Union address.

The first lady’s guests are often chosen because they symbolize an issue or policy the president is promoting. The White House announced six guests on Monday, with other names to be released ahead of Obama’s address.

The guests announced so far are:

— Carlos Arredondo and Jeff Bauman, Boston: A photograph of Arredondo, 53, and Bauman, 27, has become one of the iconic images from the April 2013 bombing. The photo captured Arredondo rushing a badly injured Bauman away from the scene of the attack. Bauman, who lost both legs in the attack, played a crucial role in identifying the bombers while he was in the hospital recovering. The two men have become close friends, the White House said.

— Gary Bird, Moore, Okla.: Bird is the fire chief in Moore, Okla., which was hit by a massive tornado in May 2013. The tornado killed 25 people and destroyed more than 1,000 homes and businesses. The White House said Bird and his team worked through the path of the storm to rescue survivors.

— Jason Collins, Los Angeles: In April, 35-year-old Collins became the first active male athlete on a major American sports team to come out as openly gay. Collins played 12 years in the NBA, going to the playoffs nine times and making the league finals twice. The president has said Collins’ announcement marked a point of progress for the gay community.

— Joey Hudy, Anthem, Ariz.: Hudy participated in a 2012 science fair at the White House, where he helped the president use his invention, the “extreme marshmallow cannon.” Now 16, Hudy is interning at Intel and is a proponent of science, technology, engineering and math education.

— Kathy Hollowell-Makle, Washington: Hollowell-Makle was the 2013 teacher of the year in the District of Columbia public school system. A former Teach for America corps member, Hollowell-Makle teaches at Abram Simon Elementary, where 90 percent of her students demonstrated early literacy at proficient or advanced levels.

Obama backs limits on NSA phone collections

WASHINGTON (AP) — Seeking to calm a furor over U.S. surveillance, President Barack Obama on Friday called for ending the government’s control of phone data from hundreds of millions of Americans and immediately ordered intelligence agencies to get a secretive court’s permission before accessing such records. Still, he defended the nation’s spying apparatus as a whole, saying the intelligence community was not “cavalier about the civil liberties of our fellow citizens.”

The president also directed America’s intelligence agencies to stop spying on friendly international leaders and called for extending some privacy protections to foreign citizens whose communications are scooped up by the U.S.

Obama said the U.S. had a “special obligation” to re-examine its intelligence capabilities because of the potential for trampling on civil liberties.

“The reforms I’m proposing today should give the American people greater confidence that their rights are being protected, even as our intelligence and law enforcement agencies maintain the tools they need to keep us safe,” Obama said in his highly anticipated speech at the Justice Department.

“This debate will make us stronger,” he declared. “In this time of change, the United States of America will have to lead.”

Obama’s announcements capped the review that followed former National Security Agency analyst Edward Snowden’s leaks about secret surveillance programs. If fully implemented, the president’s proposals would lead to significant changes to the NSA’s bulk collection of phone records, which is authorized under Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act.

Even with Obama’s decisions, key questions about the future of the surveillance apparatus remain. While Obama wants to strip the NSA of its ability to store the phone records, he offered no recommendation for where the data should be moved. Instead, he gave the intelligence community and the attorney general 60 days to study options, including proposals from a presidential review board that recommended the telephone companies or an unspecified third party.

Privacy advocates say moving the data outside the government’s control could minimize the risk of unauthorized or overly broad searches by the NSA. However, the phone companies have balked at changes that would put them back in control of the records, citing liability concerns if hackers or others were able to gain unauthorized access.

There appeared to be some initial confusion about Congress’ role in authorizing any changes. An administration official said Obama could codify the data transfer through an executive order, while some congressional aides said legislation would be required.

Congress would have to approve another proposal from the president that would establish a panel of outside attorneys who would consult with the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on new legal issues that arise. The White House says the panel would advocate for privacy and civil liberties as the court weighed requests for accessing the phone records.

The moves are more sweeping than many U.S. officials had been anticipating. People close to the White House review process say Obama was still grappling with the key decisions on the phone record collections in the days leading up to Friday’s speech.

Obama only briefly mentioned Snowden, whose disclosures are largely credited with sparking the White House review.

“The sensational way in which these disclosures have come out has often shed more heat than light, while revealing methods to our adversaries that could impact our operations in ways that we may not fully understand for years to come,” Obama said.

While the president has said he welcomed the review of the nation’s sweeping surveillance programs, it’s all but certain the study would not have happened without the leaks. Snowden faces espionage charges in the U.S., but is currently living in Russia, where he was granted temporary asylum. Some privacy advocates have pressed Obama to grant Snowden amnesty or a plea deal if he returns to the U.S., but the White House has so far dismissed those ideas.

The surveillance revelations have caused particular anger abroad, especially over disclosures that the U.S. was monitoring the communications of friendly foreign leaders like German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Obama said new guidelines will cut back on foreign leader monitoring, expect when there is a compelling national security interest.

“The leaders of our close friends and allies deserve to know that if I want to learn what they think about an issue, I will pick up the phone and call them, rather than turning to surveillance,” Obama said.

The president’s changes are expected to be met with pushback from some in the intelligence community, who have been pressing him to keep the surveillance programs largely intact.

Reacting to reports of Obama’s plan, retired Gen. Michael Hayden, a former NSA director, said Friday that “no one will hold it (the phone data) as well.”

Appearing on NBC’s “Today” show, Hayden said there already has been “serious, irreversible harm to the ability” of the National Security Agency to collect intelligence.

The administration did not uncover any government abuse of the intelligence programs during its review process, officials said. But they said the president’s decision-making was colored by the potential for abuses as surveillance technology becomes increasingly powerful.

Many of the president’s recommendations were aimed at increasing the public’s trust in the spying operations. That includes lifting some of the secrecy surrounding the demands that might be sent to companies for data on customers involved in a national security investigation. The White House says those demands, called “national security letters,” will no longer remain secret indefinitely, unless the government establishes a need for the secrecy when they are being used in an investigation.

Roughly 20,000 such letters are sent yearly by the FBI to banks, telecommunication companies and other businesses, but recipients are barred from disclosing anything about them. Obama wants to change that and allow some of the information to be made public.

The president is also ordering the Justice Department and the Director of National Intelligence to look for ways to declassify future opinions from the FISA court.

13 dead in Navy Yard shooting; shooter identified

WASHINGTON (AP) — A former Navy man launched an attack Monday morning inside a building at the Washington Navy Yard, spraying gunfire on office workers in the cafeteria and in the hallway at the heavily secured installation, authorities said. Thirteen people were killed, including the gunman.

Authorities said they were looking for a second possible attacker who may have been disguised in a military-style uniform.

Investigators said they had not established a motive for the shooting rampage, which unfolded in the heart of the nation’s capital, less than four miles from the White House.

As for whether it may have been a terrorist attack, Mayor Vincent Gray said: “We don’t have any reason to think that at this stage.” But he said the possibility had not been ruled out.

President Barack Obama lamented yet another mass shooting in the U.S. that he said took the lives of American patriots. He promised to make sure “whoever carried out this cowardly act is held responsible.”

It was the deadliest shooting at a U.S.-based military installation since Maj. Nidal Hasan killed 13 people and wounded 30 others in 2009 at Fort Hood in Texas. He was convicted last month and sentenced to death.

The FBI took charge of the investigation at the Navy Yard and identified the gunman killed in the attack as 34-year-old Aaron Alexis of Texas. He died after a running gunbattle with police, investigators said.

A federal law enforcement official who was not authorized to discuss the case publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity said Alexis was believed to have gotten into the Navy Yard by using someone else’s identification card.

It was not clear if that person was an accomplice or if the ID was stolen, authorities said.

The Navy said Alexis was a full-time reservist from 2007 to early 2011, and left as a petty officer third class. It was not immediately clear why he left.

He had been working for a fleet logistics support squadron in Fort Worth, Texas. The Navy listed his home of record as New York City.

In addition to those killed, at least three people — a police officer and two female civilians — were wounded. They were listed in stable condition and were expected to survive.

The rampage took place at Building 197, the headquarters for Naval Sea Systems Command, which buys, builds and maintains ships, submarines and combat systems. About 3,000 people work at headquarters, many of them civilians.

The Washington Navy Yard is a sprawling labyrinth of buildings and streets protected by armed guards and metal detectors, and employees have to show their IDs at doors and gates to come and go.

Witnesses described a gunman opening fire from a fourth-floor overlook, aiming down on people in the cafeteria on the main floor. Others said a gunman fired at them in a third-floor hallway. It was not clear whether the witnesses on different floors were describing the same gunman.

Patricia Ward, a logistics-management specialist, said she was in the cafeteria getting breakfast.

“It was three gunshots straight in a row — pop, pop, pop. Three seconds later, it was pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, so it was like about a total of seven gunshots, and we just started running,” Ward said.

Todd Brundidge, an executive assistant with Navy Sea Systems Command, said he and other co-workers encountered a gunman in a long hallway on the third floor. The gunman was wearing all blue, he said.

“He just turned and started firing,” Brundidge said.

Terrie Durham, an executive assistant with the same agency, said she also saw the gunman firing toward her and Brundidge.

“He aimed high and missed,” she said. “He said nothing. As soon as I realized he was shooting, we just said, ‘Get out of the building.'”

Around midday, police said they were searching for two men who may have taken part in the attack — one carrying a handgun and wearing a tan Navy-style uniform and a beret, the other armed with a long gun and wearing an olive-green uniform. Washington Police Chief Cathy Lanier said it was unclear if the men were members of the military.

But later in the day, police said in a tweet that the man in the tan uniform had been identified and was not involved in the shooting.

As emergency vehicles and law enforcement officers flooded streets around the complex, a helicopter hovered overhead, nearby schools were locked down and airplanes at nearby Reagan National Airport were grounded so they would not interfere with law-enforcement choppers.

A short distance away, security was beefed up at the Capitol and other federal buildings, but officials said there was no known threat. Senate officials shut down their side of the U.S. Capitol complex while authorities searched for the potential second suspect. The House remained open.

Adm. Jonathan Greenert, chief of naval operations, was at the base at the time the shooting began but was moved unharmed to a nearby military installation

Anxious relatives and friends of those who work at the complex waited to hear from loved ones.

Tech Sgt. David Reyes, who works at Andrews Air Force Base, said he was waiting to pick up his wife, Dina, who was under lockdown in a building next to where the shooting happened. She sent him a text message about being on lockdown.

“They are under lockdown because they just don’t know,” Reyes said. “They have to check every building in there, and they have to check every room and just, of course, a lot of rooms and a lot of buildings.”

According to public records, Alexis’ neighbor called Fort Worth, Texas, police in September 2010 after she was nearly struck by a bullet that came from his downstairs apartment. When police confronted Alexis, he said he was cleaning his gun when it accidentally discharged.

Alexis was arrested on suspicion of discharging a firearm within city limits but was not prosecuted.