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City Council votes against adoption of Paid Medical Leave

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  The City Council recently voted 3-7 against adopting a state statute to provide Paid Medical Leave to municipal employees.

  During the council’s March 14 meeting, Ward 2 Councillor Stephanie Martins said 1,900 Everett employees, including those in the School Department, would benefit from the statute. She said employees would receive 12 weeks of Paid Family Medical Leave and 20 weeks of Paid Personal Medical Leave.

  Had the council voted favorably, Everett would have been the first community in Massachusetts to adopt the state statute. “We have the opportunity to lead the way, to be the first city,” said Martins.

  Councillor-at-Large Stephanie Smith said Everett’s employees deserve Paid Medical Leave. “It’s ridiculous that the City of Everett does not offer Paid Leave,” she said, adding that she would not be deterred by a failing vote and “I will be working with the administration and Councillor Martins to put our own [program] in place.”

  Ward 3 Councillor Anthony DiPierro said that would be a better option. “I would be much more comfortable with an Everett-specific plan, not a cookie-cutter approach,” he said.

  Human Resources Director Justin Shrader said the state program would cost at least $800,000 and any unused funds would be returned to the state. Therefore, councillors raised concerns about how the cost of the program would impact the city’s taxpayers.

  Erin Deveney, chief of staff for Mayor Carlo DeMaria, said employees are currently covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Although FMLA provides up to 12 weeks of job protection, it does not provide employee compensation. “This would be an entirely new leave benefit that the city would be paying at least a portion of, if not the entire cost,” said Deveney.

  Ward 1 Councillor Wayne Matewsky was suspicious that no other community had adopted the statute. “That’s puzzling and concerning to me,” he said. “I’m not prepared to vote in favor of it because I just can’t seem to understand it.”


Revere Beach Parkway

  In other news, the council continued its discussion about the possibility of purchasing the section of Revere Beach Parkway that passes through Everett.

  Transportation Planner Jay Monty said the Parkway was owned by the state Department of Conservation and Recreation before being transferred to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT). “MassDOT is now trying to play catch up,” said Monty, adding that the traffic lights are one of several issues that need attention. “The signal timings out there are horrible.”

  In addition, he said that during the summer MassDOT will present plans for a $30 million renovation project, which is expected to take place over the next three to five years.

  Matewsky said there are currently 52 street lights that do not work. “We have to beg the state to get anything done,” he said. “I hope the state takes this seriously. This doesn’t happen in Medford, it doesn’t happen in Revere.”

  Monty agreed that MassDOT continues to be sluggish. “It’s like pulling teeth; we take the wins we can get,” he said.

Hazard Mitigation Plan

  The council voted unanimously to accept the city’s updated Hazard Mitigation Plan. Prior to the vote, Conservation Agent Thomas Philbin said he and his colleagues have been working with officials in Chelsea on a $50 million effort to construct a seawall and tide gate in the Island End River. The project’s funding application has been submitted to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

  In addition, Engineering Director Erik Swanson said a tide gate will be installed at the end of Spring Street.

  Ward 6 Councillor Alfred Lattanzi said residents at Wellington Parkside have been complaining about flooding from North Creek. “I’ve gone down there and the water sometimes is about a foot high,” he said. “It’s been brutal down there.”

  Swanson maintained that the new tide gate will eliminate the flooding problem.

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