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News

Sen. DiDomenico reflects on 2015-2016 Legislative Session

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On January 3, 2017, the 189th General Court officially came to a close. It has been an impressive and productive legislative session, and as I look back on these past two years, I am amazed as to how much has changed and just how much has been accomplished.

In 2015, the Massachusetts Senate embarked on a new era of shared leadership under Senate President Stan Rosenberg, ushering in a more open and collaborative environment in our chamber. We began our work crisscrossing the state for our Commonwealth Conversations tour, visiting with residents, businesses, and interest groups to listen directly to their needs and concerns, and then set out to draft and pass legislation to meet those diverse needs.

From passing legislation to prevent and reduce opioid addiction, implementing protections to ensure that women and minorities receive equal pay for equal work, and increasing our Commonwealth’s reliance on renewable energy to passing economic development legislation to support our workers, businesses, and communities, my colleagues and I in the Senate worked hard to ensure that our policies responded to the will of people and the unique needs of our constituencies. In total, the Senate passed an impressive amount of legislation, and I am very proud of all that we were able to accomplish together.

This past legislative session has also been a particularly special one for me; I was appointed as the Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means and had the honor of joining the Senate President’s leadership team. I have also had a great opportunity to work closely on policy areas and issues that are near to my heart.

As many of you know, supporting our Commonwealth’s children and families has always been one of my top priorities, so I was thrilled to be chosen by Senate President Rosenberg to lead the Senate’s new Kids First Initiative. This multi-year initiative will take a comprehensive and interdisciplinary look at a wide variety of policy areas to identify and support innovative strategies to invest in Massachusetts’ children.

The initial phase of the initiative has focused on early childhood development from prenatal through the fourth grade, and we have been busy working with experts and stakeholders to develop a bold blueprint for raising strong and resilient children. Our first report is set to be released in February, and I am greatly looking forward to sharing our findings with everyone.

I am also happy to report that eight of my bills passed the Senate, one of the highest numbers in the Senate chamber this legislative session. These bills include:

• An Act to prevent wage theft and promote employer accountability, which gives the state greater power to go after corrupt employers and provides additional tools for the Attorney General’s office to hold wage violators fully accountable for their illegal actions;

• An Act for language opportunity for our kids, which removes the current mandate requiring schools to use Sheltered English Immersion (SEI), or English-only programs, as the default English Language Learner (ELL) program model, thereby giving schools the flexibility to establish programs based on the unique needs of their students;

• An Act relative to healthy youth, which ensures that school districts that elect to provide their students with sex education provide age-appropriate, medically accurate information and requires that parents remain informed about the child’s education along the way;

• An Act relative to fairness in worker’s compensation disfigurement benefits, which ensures that workers who suffer from permanent bodily harm in the workplace are compensated for their loss under the state’s worker’s compensation law;

• An Act relative to enhanced enforcement of civil penalties, which clarifies the Attorney General’s ability to enforce wage and hour violation directly in Massachusetts courts, thereby protecting workers from unlawful wage practices;

• An Act relative to adjusting the credit for nonpayment of fines, which adjusts the credit calculated for days imprisoned for the nonpayment of a fine against the amount owed;

• An Act relative to the emergency administration of certain overdose-prevention drugs, which was included in the Legislature’s landmark opioid bill that was signed by the Governor. Provisions from this bill protect first responders who administer Naloxone (Narcan) to an overdose victim from civil liability; and

• An Act restricting the sale of tobacco products at health-care institutions, which was included in the omnibus youth tobacco bill passed by the Senate. These provisions would prohibit the sale of all tobacco and nicotine delivery products in pharmacies and other health-care institutions.

It was a very busy and productive legislative session, and I am already looking forward to the next two years and the work that lies ahead. My colleagues and I in the Legislature will continue to confront many of the most challenging issues that our communities and Commonwealth face, and I look forward to working for you this year as we move forward. As always, it has been an honor representing you in the State Senate, and I wish you all a happy and healthy 2017.

 

Mayor DeMaria: Everett’s time is now

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"The state of our city is strong,” said Mayor Carlo DeMaria to the packed crowd in the City Council Chambers Monday night. Wynn Resorts and other businesses are bringing development to the city, Everett’s educational system is respected throughout the Commonwealth, and Everett is being connected to its neighbors in ways that would have seemed implausible only a few years ago.

The mayor’s 2017 State of the City Address was less a simple tally of last year’s accomplishments than a welcoming of a new era in Everett. DeMaria recalled remarks made by the city’s first mayor, Alonzo H. Evans, during his first inaugural address on January 2, 1893, shortly after the charter that established the City of Everett was accepted. “At that time Mayor Evans addressed the retiring Board of Selectmen,” said DeMaria. “In that speech he stated that the Town of Everett has ‘grown in population and in wealth far beyond the experience of any other town.’ And that, ‘beginning of a new form of government … marks an epoch in the progress of the community.’”

DeMaria clearly believes that the city is on the verge of another such epoch. “We have before us the opportunity of a lifetime, the opportunity to transform in a short period of time into a vibrant, healthy and sustainable city that will serve as a national model of urban revitalization,” said DeMaria. “I ask you all to join me in first envisioning, and then creating, a city where all residents have access to good jobs, where they can get the training they need to attain jobs right here in Everett that pay them a living wage – a wage that allows them to buy a home instead of renting, or to save for their children’s college education. “

“We issued the Wynn resort casino development a building permit and received our first payment of $5 million and watched construction on this $2.1 billion economic engine begin at the former blighted and contaminated Monsanto site as legal challenges fell away. We were named one of the top 10 places in Massachusetts to live by Boston Globe Magazine. Our home values increased by record amounts. We provided $8 million in tax relief to our residents. We launched a designated bus line down Broadway, the only of its kind in Massachusetts outside of Boston. We were named the most diverse municipality in Massachusetts in a Boston Business Journal analysis. We received national awards for our work to improve children’s health. We broke ground on the first hotel in Everett, the enVision.”

The mayor also pointed to a “tele-town hall” held on the Everett Square redesign study which engaged “over 1,000 residents in a public process from the comfort of their homes;” the naming of the city’s first female Veterans Service Officer, Jeanne Cristiano; planning for a massive park on the former GE site; record attendance at the city’s annual Village Fest event; the expansion of the city’s Village Business District, particularly with the growth of breweries in the neighborhood; the signing of a cable license contract with RCN; and “millions in dollars in grant funding, supporting infrastructure, health, parks, technology and so much more.” The mayor also indicated that he hopes to attract new businesses into the city, “perhaps in advanced manufacturing,” and to encourage incubators and start-ups to come to the city.

Promoting business development

Wynn Resorts and the economic development DeMaria expects it to bring to the city were front and center for much of the mayor’s speech. To ensure that Everett residents are first in line for some of 4,000 permanent jobs the casino is expected to produce, DeMaria called on the city to make a “collaborative investment in workforce development and training programs,” and he pointed to existing partnerships the city enjoys with groups like the Metro North Regional Employment Board, the Career Resource Center in Chelsea, the New England Center for Arts and Technology, and “regional vocational schools that offer training and certification at night, and many others to encourage collaboration and the expansion of opportunities for our residents. “

“As Mr. Wynn understands deeply, guests at the resort may or may not remember the ornate detail of the chandeliers or the beautiful art displayed on the walls, but they will remember how employees made them feel. As Mr. Wynn said, if potential employees had personality, he could train them, and as you all know, we are not short on personality in Everett. I ask that our residents be trained by the company, and for those who require more advanced training in order to be hired, I ask for opportunities to let them start working on getting the skills that they will need to get these jobs in 2019.”

To this end, the mayor expressed his wish for Everett residents to be able to view a full list of future Wynn operations jobs, including estimated salaries, job descriptions and required qualifications.

The mayor also pointed to developments beyond the Wynn casino, including groundbreaking for the enVision Hotel on Revere Beach Parkway, a luxury apartment complex at the old Harley Building and a 545-unit development at the current Wood Waste site. Outside the Parkway, DeMaria touted new businesses and expansions in the Village, in which a number of breweries have set up shop, and Everett Square, to which technology firm NBI recently relocated from Boston’s Seaport District. “All of this growth and development sends a clear and resounding statement – Everett is thriving, and there really is no better place to start or grow a business than right here, right now,” said DeMaria.

In order to make the city “an even more attractive community for business development,” DeMaria’s administration has implemented an online permitting program, as well as hiring branding and marketing help.

A major initiative the mayor called for is a program to “take a hard look at our land and facilities and think broadly about potential highest and best use,” starting with municipal properties and then moving on to land “with potential that is not being maximized.” One such lot the mayor singled out was the former MBTA maintenance and storage facility, which he urged Wynn to purchase and use for an additional hotel.

Transportation

Transportation was a major subject in the mayor’s address, of which DeMaria said the city had to consider “radical change” to “support our tremendous growth.” Calling Everett “truly the next growth area in Greater Boston,” the mayor lamented the fact that the city is the “only urban core community that is not linked into the transit system by rail,” and he praised MBTA and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) efforts to improve public transit in the city.

The mayor also noted the city’s recent investments in transportation, including the Complete Streets Program, the hiring of a transportation planner, the city’s new pavement management system, upgrades to the city’s traffic signals, and starting the implementation of a congestion database. He also called for the reestablishment of the city’s long-discontinued Broadway trolley system.

The mayor’s transportation vision was larger than a T stop; however, instead the mayor hopes that the Wynn development will produce a series of transportation improvements that will connect the city to its neighbors and the world by air, road, bridge and water. “Imagine a tourist landing at Logan, taking a water shuttle to Everett and a trolley up Broadway to a hotel where the Whittier School is now, and then walking to a restaurant in a redesigned and vibrant Everett Square,” said DeMaria. “Imagine a recent Everett High graduate walking over a pedestrian bridge on the Malden River from the old GE site to a new Orange Line Station just across the way, and taking the T to Northeastern. Imagine an Everett resident working at a tech company in the Seaport, taking a quick one-seat ride on the Silver Line to and from work.”

Affordable housing

As the city’s fortunes rise, many worry that rents will follow. Affordable housing is increasingly a watchword in the city, and received extended treatment during the mayor’s remarks: “We are a strong, diverse, and close-knit community, and the character of our city is second to none. We must remain an affordable place to live for our residents.”

To this end, the city introduced an inclusionary zoning ordinance last fall with the aim of encouraging affordable housing by requiring at least 10 percent of units in new housing developments of a certain size to be rented at rates affordable to low- or moderate-income residents.

Hoping to go further; however, the mayor announced that he hopes the council would pass a new ordinance this year establishing a “linkage fee” on new large-scale developments, which would be used to fund new affordable housing projects.

In order to preserve and expand its gains in affordable housing policy, the mayor announced that the city will establish a partnership with MassDevelopment and the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Strong Cities initiative. “We will work with housing experts from the Washington, D.C.-based Enterprise Community Partners to create and implement a five-year affordable housing plan for Everett – for our residents and our seniors,” said DeMaria. “We will be one of only five communities in Massachusetts to participate in this competitive national program, which brings together cities and public policy experts through the National Resource Network for targeted and meaningful assistance on their biggest local challenges.”

Parks & public space

Many of the city’s parks saw necessary improvements in the past few years, with new improvements to come in 2017. The mayor touted work recently completed at Day Park and Glendale Park, with work nearing completion at Meadows Park and Florence Park and work to soon begin at Sacramone Park. Design is beginning on Swan Street and Gramstorf Park, and the Swan Street playground and splash pool will be completed this summer. In the coming months, the city will add new amenities to the Everett portion of the Northern Strand Community Trail bike path, including benches, lighting, bike pumps and water fountains. The city also seeks to expand the trail under Route 16 to Gateway Park. A design firm has been hired, and the city is in the midst of a feasibility study for the expansion with the help of a $150,000 Mass. Gaming Commission grant.

Front and center of the mayor’s public space vision for 2017; however, is his proposal to reclaim the city’s long neglected and inaccessible waterfront, putting regulatory, economic and political pressure on businesses and agencies to open up waterfront properties to public use and allow the construction of public marinas, boat launches, boathouses, ferry service, viewing towers and fishing piers.

“For decades, our waterfront has been walled off to the public because of its commercial and industrial uses,” said DeMaria. “Last year the Wynn Resort began to take down that wall. They have remediated a polluted site and will soon be building public walkways, a marina – restoring a polluted harbor and shorelines and opening up over one mile of waterfront for public access. But that is only a small down payment to the citizens of Everett. Now is the time to give our entire waterfront back to our residents. Over the next few years, I will fight to make that happen by taking advantage of every rule and regulation that can be used to require businesses to provide public access.

One waterfront project that the mayor was particularly excited about is the recently proposed River Green Park, a project that will see the redesign and expansion of Seven Acre Park. Expected to begin construction this spring, the mayor called the project “critical to my goal of opening up our waterfront to the families of Everett.”

The mayor has called on the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) to “review waterfront parcels to ensure that all property owners along our waterfront are providing required public access to the water to the maximum extent possible” and has organized local groups to pressure businesses which are not doing so, such as when DeMaria joined with Malden and state officials to push MassDEP into reopening a public hearing on National Grid to urge them to open a parcel on the Malden River up for public use.

“I truly believe that to transform our waterfront you need not only a vision, but the passion to consistently and persistently fight for that vision,” said DeMaria. “We will continue the fight.”

   

Anthony DiPierro named council president

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Every year, a torch is passed on the City Council as a new council president is selected. Rarely is that transition as stark as it was Monday; however, as John Hanlon, a public servant in the 

city for over 50 years, passed the president’s gavel to the council’s youngest and one of its newest members, Anthony DiPierro.

Councillors began Monday’s ceremony by thanking Hanlon for his many years of service to the city – in which he’s worked as ward 5 alderman, city clerk, mayor, charter committee member, councillor-at-large and various other roles – and praised his tenure as council president, presenting him with a plaque.

“He’s served since 1968. He’s given almost an entire lifetime to the city, the people of the city, and government service,” said Ward 4 Councillor John Leo McKinnon. “He was a great president this year. He was fair. He was honest. He kept a good meeting, and he created new committees that will help the city very much.”

Hanlon, who indicated that he “wasn’t going anywhere” and that he still hoped to serve “for a long time yet,” returned his colleagues praise. “This year, everything seemed to gel,” said Hanlon. “I’ve been around for a long time, and this is the best council I’ve seen. We really acted as one person at times, and it was really great.”

As Hanlon stepped down, nominations were opened for a new council president. Councillor-at-Large Michael Mangan, with a second from Councillor-at-Large Wayne Matewsky, named Ward 3 Councillor DiPierro, who lobbied his colleagues for the position in recent weeks.

Mangan, who recalled meeting DiPierro as a young t-ball player on his team before later becoming close with him as they worked for Sal DiDomenico’s state senate campaign, called DiPierro one of his “best friends” and a “hard worker.”

“I know he’ll do a great job up there,” said Mangan. “I know how he is outside the chambers, and he works extremely hard for the people of the city of Everett. He’ll do the same up here. I know he’ll be fair.”

Matewsky had similar stories to tell about DiPierro’s work ethic and commitment to the city. “I’m voting for this gentleman because of the respect that I see that he gives people,” said Matewsky. “In the city of Everett in politics, you don’t see it as often as you should … This guy is the real deal. I’ve observed his hard work on the opioid committee. He’s sincere, he’s honest, he’s got a great family. He’s what Everett’s all about. He’s Everett’s future.”

When the role was called, DiPierro, who was elected in 2015, was unanimously selected.

“It’s an honor and a privilege to serve the people of Everett with you, and I’m humbled by the faith and trust you’ve put in me by in my first term electing me president of this body,” said DiPierro after taking his seat at the head of the council. “This is going to be a great year for Everett. We have so much happening here, especially with the Wynn development serving as a major catalyst. Each time we drive by the site and see all the construction equipment in motion and workers coming and going … we have to feel a sense of pride and excitement about what is yet to come. We are in a position that other cities can only envy.

“While we are an exceptional city, we face some of the problems that every city in the country faces, like making sure that our residents can afford to live here, and that our families struggling with the health problem of addiction can access the resources and support they need. We must continue to work together on these challenges that impact so many of our residents, recognizing what a privilege it is to perhaps be able to truly help with the issues that touch people’s lives every day.

“In this new year, I look forward to working with all of you in the work we have ahead,” DiPierro concluded.

Committee assignments remain largely the same under DiPierro, though a new committee on utilities will be created, spurred by the number of complex and occasionally controversial utilities requests the council received last year.

   

Crimson Tide hockey falls as Saia reaches milestone

The Everett Crimson Tide fell to Northeast Vocational, 7-4 on Tuesday night in the Lynn Christmas Tournament.

Everett coach Eric Kainen believes his team is capable of performing better, particularly when it comes to staying mentally disciplined throughout a game.

“We’re running into the same problems, just getting out-worked,” Kainen said. “That’s it, plain and simple. Our problems are largely mental.

“We look good in practices – skate hard and compete hard – but then it changes in the games. And to me, that’s an indicator that it’s all mental.”

Kainen has highlighted the importance of studying game film in practice and is hoping that his players will learn from their mistakes by seeing how they play from a bird’s eye view.

“We’re asking a lot of these kids, but they need to accept that in these competitive situations, giving the whole effort is what it takes. We use film a lot – they have access to film and we watch in practice. It’s a matter of translating the lessons from film to the games.”

That said, Kainen did see some bright spots from his team’s performance. Brian Gianelli scored his first varsity goal, while Marc Saia earned his 100th point.

“Brian has a lot of grit and he’s got a great work ethic,” Kainen said. “He works hard. He hasn’t been playing as long as some other players on our team – but he puts in a ton of effort. He’s an excellent player because he works at it.”

“It’s also the second time I’ve ever been able to witness a player reach his 100th point,” said Kainen. “It’s always nice to see that. Marc has been giving a lot to this program for many years. Though we lost the game, it was nice to see him achieve this and it should not go unnoticed.”In the latest example of the business community’s commitment to the health and well-being of Everett students, Larry White of White’s Auto Body purchased complete Thanksgiving dinners for a handful of deserving members of the Everett High School football team. Mr. White is a great friend to many Everett residents, including City Council President John Hanlon and State Representative Joseph McGonagle, who helped coordinate the donation and ensure that it goes to student-athletes who will benefit from this generous outpouring of Thanksgiving spirit. From left: Superintendent of Schools Frederick F. Foresteire, Crimson Tide head football coach John DiBiaso, Hanlon and McGonagle. White’s Auto Body is located at 75 Vine St. in Everett.

 

 

   

Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Luncheon to be held January 14

The North Shore Black Women’s Association will hold its 24th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Luncheon on Saturday, January 14, 2017 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Anthony’s of Malden, 105 Canal Street.

This year’s honorees will be author Vick Breedy, Entrepreneur and day care provider Beverly Dinkins, Franklin International Beauty Supply owners Mr. and Mrs. Frank Ekhator, master barber Joe Max, artist Sharon Santillo, motivational speaker and coach Ushearnda Stroud (Reynolds), and Minutemen Press of Malden President Linsey Wyman. Ward 7 Councillor Neal Anderson will serve as the master of ceremonies.

Tickets cost $45. The price for a table of 10 is $450.

For more information, contact NSBWA Vice President Marion Desmond at 781-729-2243.

   

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