December 28 2018,  Everett

Year in Review

Year in Review

 

~January~

A New Year’s Vision

Mayor Carlo DeMaria delivered his inaugural address in the EHS auditorium Tuesday, January 2 at an Inauguration Ceremony that saw the swearing-in of Richard Dell Isola, John Hanlon, Michael Marchese, Wayne Matewsky, Peter Napolitano, Fred Capone, Stephen Simonelli, Anthony DiPierro, John Leo McKinnon, Rosa DiFlorio, and Michael McLaughlin as the 2018/2019 city council, of Beradino D’Onofrio, Robert Carreiro, Richard Baniewicz, Lester MacLaughlin, and Allen Panarese, Joseph LaMonica, Frank Parker, David Ela, and Thomas Abruzzese as the 2018/2019 school committee. Carreiro and Baniewicz passed away last year. Marcony Almeida Barros was appointed as Carreiro’s replacement the following week, and former school committee member Millie Cardello was appointed to replace Baniewicz.

Governor Charlie Baker presented his greetings to the assembly, the first sitting governor to attend the city’s inauguration ceremonies.

The mayor made several major announcements during his speech. Chief among them perhaps is his plan to move the football stadium from its site on Revere Beach Parkway to the new Seven Acres Park site on the old GE site on the Malden River.

The mayor also proposed scaling back parking restrictions on new housing developments and building private/public partnerships to create a local transportation network, bringing back the Broadway trolley.

 

DiBiaso leaves for Catholic Memorial, Theluxon Pierre named football coach

Longtime Everett football coach John DiBiaso announced at a press conference at Catholic Memorial in West Roxbury, Boston on Thursday, January 18 that he would be taking a position at the school as their football coach and associate athletic director.

DiBiaso was Everett High School’s athletic director, head football coach and head basketball coach. He has been coaching the Crimson Tide since 1992 and has won 12 Super Bowls, including one last December in a 35-10 victory over Xaverian at Gillette Stadium.

Shortly after the Super Bowl, DiBiaso announced he would step down from his numerous roles at Everett High School at the conclusion of the 2017-18 academic year. Both The Boston Globe and the Boston Herald covered the news extensively – and rightly so – though both characterized DiBiaso’s decision as a retirement.

Later in the year, on March 2, the football was passed evening at a press conference, as 31-year-old longtime Assistant Coach Theluxon Pierre stepped up to take the mantle of football head coach from his mentor, John DiBiaso. Pierre, an EHS Class of 2005 graduate, said that his tenure as coach would see the continuation of DiBiaso’s enormously successful style and legacy that won 12 state titles over the last 22 seasons.

Pierre, born in Haiti in 1986, immigrated to the United States in 1996, where he settled and grew up on Russell Street behind the high school. Initially drawn to soccer, Pierre followed his friends to the football team. He quickly became a star, playing in four super bowls at EHS and winning in three of them (2001, 2002 and 2003), and playing for four years as a Greater Boston League Champion. By 2004, he was a captain on the team. After graduation, Pierre attended Dean’s Union College, where he played football as a defensive end. Eventually he received a full scholarship to UMass Amherst, where he also played defensive end.

 

MGC opens sexual misconduct investigation into Wynn

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) opened an investigation in January into allegations made against Steve Wynn in The Wall Street Journal charging that the casino mogul has engaged in a pattern of sexual misconduct and harassment spanning decades. The results of the investigation have yet to be released.

The story, which was published in January, reported that “dozens of people The Wall Street Journal interviewed who have worked at Mr. Wynn’s casinos told of behavior that cumulatively would amount to a decades-long pattern of sexual misconduct by Mr. Wynn,” and claimed that Wynn had “sexualized his workplace and pressured workers to perform sex acts” using his power and influence as their boss and a major figure in the gaming industry. Among the incidents detailed in the report was a case where Wynn allegedly forced a manicurist to have sex. Reportedly, Wynn paid $7.5 million to settle the case out of court.

Wynn, who resigned as CEO from Wynn Resorts and from his position as Finance Chair of the Republican National Committee shortly after the report was published. He has denied the allegations. Matt Maddox was appointed to replace him as CEO of Wynn Resorts.

 

~February~

 

School funding battle ends with $5 million transfer

After weeks of debate and testimony from students and teachers urging the city to act, the city council and mayor approved a $5 million transfer on Monday, February 12 from the city’s savings to the schools to prevent 110 layoffs at the School Department.

The transfer met only a portion of the school’s $8.3 million budget shortfall. The city has also given the schools the go-ahead to transfer $1.3 million from revolving funds towards their operations.

A major cause for the schools’ shortfall is continuing struggle with changes made to how the state calculates how much aid it gives to the district for needy students. The state provides aid to the schools to feed every student studying in the district considered economically disadvantaged. Formerly, those students were counted by the School Department, but three years ago that responsibility was moved to the state. Under the change, to qualify as “economically disadvantaged” under state guidelines, the students and their families must have been enrolled in a state or federal poverty program, such as food stamps, for a certain number of years.

The problem for diverse urban communities like Everett is that many of its low-income students are immigrants whose families either do not qualify for those services or haven’t been on them for very long, and thus are not counted as “disadvantaged” by the state – while still requiring assistance. In all, the situation has cost the district between $6 million and $8 million this year.

In the wake of the transfer, the mayor announced that the city would be taking several steps “to ensure we do not find ourselves here again.” Among those steps are the creation of a Task Force on School Finance, the hiring of an outside firm to conduct an operational audit on both the schools and city finances, and the creation of an internal School Finance Review Commission.

 

~March~

 

Stolen dog thrown from car returned to rightful owner

All dogs go to heaven, but Tedge got to go home. After a month long journey in which he was stolen, thrown from a moving vehicle, saved by Good Samaritans and lost a leg to his injuries, the 18-month-old beagle-Chihuahua mix is back with his rightful owner.

Theron Miller, Tedge’s owner and a truck driver from Montana, said that Tedge has been his constant companion on the road.

During one of their trucking runs delivering potatoes to the New England Produce Center in Everett, Miller let Tedge out of the truck to get some exercise in a fenced-in area at the site, something Miller had done before during his eight previous visits to the warehouse. Later that night Miller found the pen empty. He whistled for the dog, something to which he says Tedge always responded. There was no answer. He knew then that Tedge was missing.

With no sign of Tedge and his job calling him back to Montana, Miller was forced to return home.

Sometime later, Jamie-Lee Hersey of Wakefield was driving down Revere Beach Parkway when she saw a small dog alone in the middle of the road, clearly injured. According to police, witnesses had seen Tedge thrown from a black SUV on Revere Beach Parkway. Earlier in the evening, a similar vehicle was seen near the produce center.

Chris Desrochers of Revere was also driving by at this time, and, recognizing his friend Jamie, pulled over. “Once I’d seen that poor little dog, I just couldn’t leave him,” he said.

The two brought Tedge to the Massachusetts Veterinary Referral Hospital in Woburn, where he underwent two surgeries and ultimately had to have one of his hind legs amputated. While on the mend, Tedge was staying with Melissa Doherty-Geuvin, who runs The Dogmother, a doggy daycare service in Peabody.

Back west, Miller was keeping an eye on the Everett Animal Control Facebook page, hoping to see some sign of Tedge. Before long, his hopes came true. Animal Control Officer Stacia Gorgone said that Miller reached out to her in the weeks following the incident. Three others had claimed the dog as theirs as well, but Gorgone was able to confirm Tedge was Miller’s through Facebook.

Gorgone called the outcome the result of Miller’s “good karma” from helping animals in need back home. “I’m so glad Theron was reunited with Tedge because I know that up in Montana he saves a lot of animals that are dumped on him,” she said. “This was good karma coming back. He’s getting it back 10-fold here today.”

 

DiDomenico elevated to Assistant Majority Leader of Massachusetts Senate

In early March, Senator Sal DiDomenico was elevated to the position of Assistant Majority Leader by Senate President Harriette L. Chandler (D-Worcester). In addition to this new leadership post, Senator DiDomenico was also named to serve as Chairman of the powerful Senate Committee on Bills in the Third Reading, as well as Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Intergovernmental Affairs. Previously, Senator DiDomenico served as Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Ways & Means, and with this new enhanced leadership role and committee assignments, the Senator remained a member of this important budget writing committee.

 

~April~

 

Former Councillor Mangan hired as legislative aide

Former City Councillor Michael Mangan returned to City Hall, this time as a salaried employee assisting the body on which he once served. The City Council hired their former colleague Mangan to serve as the body’s legislative aide in an 8-2 vote on Monday, April 23, filling the position left open by the retirement of longtime aide Caroline McCorry.

Mangan resigned from the City Council early last year, stating he was looking to “go in a different direction.” At the time, Mangan was cagey about what exactly that direction might be, but it appears to have been at least in part a step towards qualifying for this position: Mass General Law required that Mangan be out of office for at least a year before being hired for such a role.

For qualifications, Mangan touted his relationships on the council and his experience as a legislator. “I’ve been nine years in government – I think really helps me in this job – understanding what the agendas are, what’s expected on a daily basis, and I’m also the type of person that’s always gonna go above-and-beyond what’s asked,” said Mangan.

The council interviewed three candidates for the role Monday night, all of whom had been nominated last week by the Committee on Legislative Affairs. The three candidates – Mangan, Joetta Lynn Yutkins and David Flood – were each allowed to make a five-minute pitch to the council prior to the vote.

Ultimately, most of the councillors backed their former colleague. Councillors Richard Dell Isola, Rosa DiFlorio, John Hanon, Michael Marchese, John Leo McKinnon, Michael McLaughlin, Anthony DiPierro and Stephen Simonelli all voted for Mangan. Councillor Wayne Matewsky voted for Joetta Lynn Yutkins, and Council President Peter Napolitano voted for David Flood.

 

~May~

 

Wynn Resorts reintroduces itself to state as Encore Boston Harbor

Wynn Resorts reintroduced itself to the state this May. The freshly named Encore Boston Harbor – shedding the namesake of the company’s disgraced founder, Steve Wynn –made a pitch to regulators and residents that it’s a different company under new leadership. While banners depicting leadership and employees were draped in front of the Lower Broadway construction site in Everett announcing “We Are Encore,” company officials appeared before the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) last Friday, petitioning it to remove Steve Wynn’s name from the “suitability” portion of the company’s license. Their petition was ultimately successful.

New Wynn Resorts CEO Matthew Maddox presented to MGC a company undergoing massive internal changes to its leadership and its workplace culture and policies, including the creation of a cultural and diversity department, leadership development programs and a women’s forum, as well as the redevelopment of sexual harassment training with a third party.

The company maintained the Wynn name at its other properties, but opted to use “Encore,” an existing Wynn brand, in Everett because the company felt that there is a greater degree of “cultural sensitivity” to sexual assault and harassment in Massachusetts.

“The Wynn brand is strong, and I understand it, and I believe in it globally. I also understand the cultural sensitivity here,” said Maddox. “We’ve heard it loud and clear from the beginning, and so we will … change our name to Encore Boston Harbor.”

 

~June~

 

City Council approves $196,427,922 FY19 operating budget

The City Council passed Mayor Carlo DeMaria’s FY19 budget on Monday, June 25 with only minor cuts, despite a few efforts to make deeper cuts.

After two weeks of budget hearings, the council’s budget committee recommended out to the full council a $196,427,922 FY19 operating budget, which included $60,171 in cuts from the mayor’s salaries line item, $100,000 from his marketing and business development line item, $15,000 from his afterschool program line item, $10,000 from the planning and development intern account, and $100,000 fixed costs. On Monday, the council cut an additional $25,000 from the mayor’s celebrations account, leaving the final operating budget at $196,402,922.

The council approved the revised budget, 8-2, with Ward 1 Councillor Fred Capone and Ward 2 Councillor Stephen Simonelli voting against it.

City officials have stated repeatedly that FY19 is a difficult financial year for the city for a number of reasons: rapidly raising home values yet unmatched by the growth in commercial values, the financial blows the School Department has received due to changes in the state aid formula, and the preparations being made for Encore Boston Harbor’s June 2019 opening.

 

~July~

 

City steps up fire safety inspections after Morris Street fire

In the wake of the dangerous July 13 Morris Street fire, the City of Everett stepped up safety inspections citywide, preparing for a street-by-street review of fire safety and warning systems in every home in the city.

Members of the city’s Inspectional Services Department (ISD) were eager to begin a process which they believe could save lives in the city, especially given that such an inspection likely saved some in last week’s fire.

According to the city’s Assistant City Solicitor and head of ISD’s Problem Properties Team Keith Slattery, when the city was called in to inspect 15 Morris St. this March, there were no smoke detectors operational in a two-family building housing 19 people. An immediate order was placed to install fire detection equipment in the building, and ISD ordered some beds moved that were blocking egresses in the home.

Four months later and a week after a follow-up inspection to ensure that the smoke detectors were still operational, Slattery watched the TV with horror as the Morris Street property blazed, but with a measure of relief on hearing the smoke detectors blaring. “In some ways, it was a relief to hear the alarms chirping in the background,” said Slattery.

 

School funding bill collapses in state legislature

A change to how the state allocates education funding that would have been a major step towards fixing Everett’s school funding issues collapsed in the legislature late in the night on Tuesday, July 31, a disappointing and exasperating outcome for the educators and administrators who have been working for years to change the system that has left the local system – and the systems of many similar low-income communities – severely underfunded.

A version of the bill passed the Senate and the House, but the two chambers were unable to create a compromise bill in the Conference Committee after a marathon negotiation session lasting well into the night. According to the Chair of the Senate Education Committee, Sonia Chang-Díaz, D-Boston, while the Senate offered major concessions, the House leadership refused to accept their offers.

“The Senate did our best to reach a deal that would meet the needs of all kids,” said Díaz. “We offered multiple versions of major concessions: on structure, on content, on money. … This is unfathomable and inexcusable. It’s a dark day for our Commonwealth.”

Senator Sal DiDomenico, D-Everett, called the vote “one of my most disappointing days as a legislator.”

Legislators have stated that they intend to take up the issue again when the legislature is back in session early next year.

 

~August~

 

First woman in Everett Fire Dept. dies from cancer

After a year-long battle with cancer, Everett’s first and only active-duty female firefighter passed away Wednesday, August 1. Susan Pipitone, 56, of Haverhill, joined the Everett Fire Department on May 26, 1993, the first woman to ever do so. For 12 years, Pipitone drove Engine 1, often riding with current Fire Chief and then-Captain Anthony Carli.

“It was a sad loss for the department,” said Carli of her passing. “Not only was she our first female fighter, she was a great member of the department and a great person. She brought a lot to the department.”

Mayor Carlo DeMaria offered his condolences this week, calling Pipitone “a valued and well- respected member of the EFD family and we know her loss is felt by all that know her.”

“Sue was a trailblazer and inspiration to all of us. My thoughts and prayers go out to Firefighter Pipitone’s family,” said DeMaria.

 

City Council unanimously approves Commercial Triangle zoning amendments

The City Council unanimously approved the Commercial Triangle Economic Development (CTED) Zoning District ordinance on Monday, August 13, bringing zoning changes to Revere Beach Parkway that Mayor Carlo DeMaria hopes will attract large developers to the district and definitively move the area away from its industrial past.

The amendment’s approval ushers in a major zoning change to the parkway area that city officials will hope will begin a transformation south of Revere Beach Parkway, discouraging further industrial development while encouraging large, mixed-use developments.

The CTED district is bordered by Lewis Street on the west, Revere Beach Parkway on the north, a piece of Everett Avenue and Carter Street on the east, and it is closed in by the train tracks south of the neighborhood. The city’s plan also includes converting several smaller areas north of Revere Beach Parkway between Spring Street and the property just east of Vine Street from industrial zoning to business zoning.

The purpose of the zoning changes is twofold: First, the city is hoping to push industrial properties out of the neighborhood, which under the current zoning the city has very little control over.

Secondly, the city is hoping to encourage developers to buy up properties and create larger developments.

Under the new zoning, any existing industrial uses would be “grandfathered in” and allowed to continue operating, though changing or expanding those uses will become much more difficult. Conversely, large, mixed-use developments are actively encouraged by the zoning, with any project possessing a retail component of at least 12.5 square feet of retail, office and/or restaurant space per residential unit and more than 50 units being allowed “by right,” requiring nothing more than sitting down with the Planning Board at a Site Plan Review meeting.

 

~September~

 

Rep. McGonagle wins reelection in close race

In a night of historic political upsets across the Commonwealth, Everett largely backed its incumbents in the state primary on Tuesday, September 4, though by margins modest enough to suggest that a still ripening appetite for change does exist in the city.

Two-term State Rep. Joseph McGonagle overcame a challenge by local activist Gerly Adrien for the 28th Middlesex State Representative seat by a 168-vote margin, netting 1,968 votes, or 42.17 percent, to her 1,800 votes, or 38.57 percent (a third candidate, former State Rep. Stat Smith, came in a distant third, winning only 893 votes or 19.13 percent). Local interest in the race was high, with only 108 blanks and six write-in votes cast. (For comparison, 470 blanks were cast in the Democratic primary for U.S. Congress between Ayanna Pressley and Michael Capuano, and 1,461 blanks and 79 write-ins were cast in the Democratic primary for Governor.)

McGonagle called the race a “tough campaign” which has made him “a better State Representative” – “My opponents ran a great race and I applaud their efforts. I’m looking forward to continuing to deliver for the people of Everett.”

In other races, Everett largely followed the rest of the state, though with a few notable exceptions. Boston City Councillor Ayanna Pressley earned a stunning and unexpected victory in the 7th Congressional District against longtime incumbent Michael Capuano by a massive 17-point margin, 58.6 percent (59,815 votes) to 41.4 percent (42,252 votes). Everett backed the incumbent by an even larger 30-point margin, with 2,798 votes (64.98 percent) for Capuano and 1,497 votes (34.77 percent) for Pressley.

In the Democratic primary, in the only other race where Everett diverged from the state, Everett narrowly backed local comedian and climate activist Jimmy Tingle over former Assistant Attorney General Quentin Palfrey by 39 votes, awarding Tingle 1,581 votes (49.95 percent) to Palfrey’s 1,542 (48.72 percent). Local interest in the race seems to have been limited: 1,611 ballots left the Lt. Governor’s race blank, about a third of all ballots cast and more than any individual candidate received. Statewide, Palfrey defeated Tingle by a comfortable margin, winning 58.9 percent of the vote to Tingle’s 41.1 percent.

Otherwise, Everett voters were in-line with the rest of the state, voting to nominate Democratic candidate for Governor Jay Gonzalez, Secretary of State William Galvin, Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Geoff Diehl, Governor Charlie Baker and Republican candidate for Attorney General James McMahon.

 

City approves 20-year solar credits agreement

Despite some misgivings about the length of the commitment, the City Council approved Monday, September 24 a 20-year contract with a solar energy company that has promised to save the city hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.

In a 5-3 vote, the council authorized a Green Solar Energy Power Purchase Agreement with Syncarpha Capital and Renewable Energy Massachusetts (REM), under the state Department of Energy Resources’s Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) program. The SMART program encourages solar development in the state by providing incentives paid directly to utility companies and municipalities. Created in 2016, the program is set to launch next month, and solar generation providers have been eager to sign agreements with municipalities across the state.

Under REM’s agreement with the city, Everett will receive a 1.5 cent discount per kilowatt hour over National Grid’s rate. Those discounts are expected to save the city $250,000 a year on its electric bills.

The City of Everett reviewed some verbal offers by other companies, but none could match the savings provided by REM. According to the City’s CFO, Eric Demas, and City Solicitor Colleen Mejia, the company has also been amenable to a number of demands made by the City. This is due in part to the fact that while many other communities have participated in similar programs in the past, and as such only have a limited amount of additional capacity for solar energy credits, Everett is a relatively clean slate.

“You haven’t dipped your toe into this water yet,” Syncarphia’s Counsel, Ferd Convery, told the council. “And that’s bad news in the past, but it’s great news now, because you have a lot of energy to apply credits to.”

 

Gaming Chair Crosby resigns amid charges of bias

Massachusetts Gaming Commission Chair Stephen Crosby resigned Wednesday, September 26, stating that accusations of bias both for and against Wynn Resort’s Encore Boston Harbor project had made his continued presence on the board untenable.

Crosby’s resignation came as the commission’s long-awaited report on its investigation of allegations of sexual misconduct by Wynn Resort’s founder, Steve Wynn, nears release.

Crosby has been accused of bias a number of times since joining the commission at its inception in 2011. According to Crosby, Steve Wynn’s attorneys have accused him of having “already made up my mind against Steve Wynn regarding the allegations of sexual misconduct,” while Mohegan Sun has alleged, occasionally in the form of a lawsuit, that he “had already made up my mind in favor of Wynn Resorts in the suitability investigations.”

Most recently, Crosby had been accused of “prejudging the outcome of the Investigations and Enforcement Bureau’s ongoing investigation regarding the suitability of Wynn Resorts,” according to his resignation letter.

“I simply cannot let my involvement in these critical deliberations be used by others to hamper the Commission’s ability to do its work, or to undermine the confidence of the public in that work,” he wrote. “There has never been a shred of truth or accuracy to any charge of bias, favoritism, corrupt practice, ethics violations, or prejudgment in my execution of this job.”

 

~October~

 

School district pleased with EHS MCAS results

The State Department of Elementary and Secondary Education recently released the results of this year’s MCAS test in early October, and Everett school administrations was celebrating its findings, particularly at Everett High School (EHS).

In the jargon of the new MCAS test, 45 percent of EHS students were designated as “partially meeting targets.” That result puts Everett High in the 20th percentile and well above the results of its neighbors in Revere (16 percent partially meeting targets), Malden (17 percent), Brockton (24 percent), Lynn English (34 percent) and Chelsea (21 percent).

In all, 38 percent of students taking the MCAS were meeting or exceeding expectations and 45 percent partially meeting expectations for English language arts, and 34 percent were meeting or exceeding expectations and 50 percent partially meeting expectations for Mathematics.

Those results also mean that the district will not require any special assistance from the state, as EHS Principal Erick Naumann touted to the School Committee on Monday night. “We don’t need the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education coming in and giving us assistance,” said Naumann. “That’s a positive thing, and that’s the first thing to look at.”

 

City Council compromises on Inclusionary Zoning rate

The City Council passed a compromise amendment to Everett’s year-old Inclusionary Zoning ordinance after several hours of debate on Monday, October 22, seeking a middle path between those on the council who want to scale back the ordinance’s restrictions to encourage development and those who worried a more severe rollback of the ordinance would cause the city to slip even further behind in its attempt to create more affordable housing.

Under the compromise amendment, the ordinance will require developers creating over six units of new housing to make at least 15 percent of those units “affordable,” five points below the original rate of 20 percent, but five above the reduction originally suggested by the planning board and the mayor’s office of 10 percent. The council also added a provision which automatically reduces that rate down to five percent affordable if the developer is working with contaminated land.

 

~November~

 Mayor agrees to transfer disputed $2.5 million to schools

Mayor Carlo DeMaria agreed to transfer $2.5 million in Chapter 70 funds to the school department, ending weeks of dispute over the fate of the unanticipated state funding. The school department stated that they will use the funds to hire more teachers and reduce class sizes.

The announcement came at a meeting of the School Finance Review Commission, held Thursday, November 1 in the City Council chambers. The Mayor stated that he made his decision after “walking through the high school myself and realizing that they could use more support.” The city has also received good financial news in recent days, not the least of which is the recent certification of almost $10 million in free cash, the largest figure the city has ever seen, according to the mayor.

Though the mayor, who initially wanted to use the funds to offset the tax rate and repair hits its own finances have taken while trying to address the school funding issue, announced his change of heart, he indicated to the members of the committee that he still wished to hear their opinion on the matter. Those who spoke on the issue spoke in support of making the transfer. State Senator Sal DiDomenico, who played a pivotal role in securing the money in the first place, also spoke at the meeting, saying that Chapter 70 money “is school money, by definition,” and had been awarded to the city on the understanding that it would go to help the school department fill budget holes left by changes to the state aid formula.

A voice vote ultimately held on the matter, with the committee voting unanimously to recommend that the funds go to the school department.  Members of the commission present included Mayor Carlo DeMaria, Everett’ CFO Eric Demas, Councilor-at-Large John Hanlon, Ward 3 Councilor Anthony DiPierro, Ward 4 Councilor John Leo McKinnon, School Committee member David Ela, School Committee member Frank Parker, City Solicitor Colleen Mejia, Chief Procurement Agent Robert Moreschi, Director of Organizational Assessment Omar Easy, Superintendent Frederick Foresteire, Assistant Superintendent Charles Obremski, and Everett Teacher’s Union President Kimberly Auger.

 

Everett votes with the Commonwealth on Tuesday

There were no surprises in Everett Tuesday, November 6. Beyond a few races where the margins were somewhat closer than the statewide results, Everett voters followed the Commonwealth, backing incumbents and preserving transgender rights while rejecting a ballot initiative regulating nurse/patient staffing ratios.

Turnout was strong, if not record-breaking on Tuesday, with few local decisions remaining for Everett voters, many of their decisions having been made in September’s primary. In all, 10,347 ballots were cast Tuesday, a little over half of Everett’s 20,642 registered voters and a modest uptick from 2014’s midterm turnout, in which 9,379 ballots were cast.

 

City mourns Everett firefighter Thaddeus Baxter

The City of Everett mourned Everett firefighter Thaddeus M. Baxter, Jr. in November, who unexpectedly passed away Friday, November 9.

Officials across the city paid tribute to the late firefighter. Firefighters displayed their fallen brother’s uniform on Engine 2 during his wake Wednesday, November 7, the city council held a moment of silence in his memory, and at the request of Mayor Carlo DeMaria, Christopher Johnson of Elm St. Baptist Church delivered a prayer for Baxter before the council meeting Monday night.

Baxter, of Woburn, formerly of Everett, was a U.S. Army Veteran, Honor Guard Commander for the Everett Fire Dept. member of Local 143, IAF, and Commander of American Legion, Post 101, Woburn, was interred with military honors in the Woodbrook Cemetery, Woburn

 

Residents to see small tax hikes under FY19 tax rate

City officials presented the FY19 tax rate to the city council Monday, November 26, and while residential taxes will rise somewhat – and commercial taxes somewhat significantly – better than expected revenues are preventing the tax hike from hitting the 11 percent increase that had been anticipated during city budget negotiations this summer.

According to CFO Eric Demas, the residential tax rate will be set at $12.38 per $1,000 of value, while the commercial/industrial/personal property rate will be $35.27 per $1,000.

These figures actually represent a reduction in the residential tax rate, which was $13.78 last year. Because housing values continue to skyrocket in the city, however, resident’s actual tax bills will continue to increase.

As a result, taxes on the average single family home are expected to go up by $194 (about five percent), the average two family home by $116 (two percent), and the average three family by $385 (six percent).

Commercial tax rates will see a more marked increase, however. According to the city’s finance department, the average convenience store in the city will see a 35 percent increase, from $24,529.49 in FY18 to $29,023.68 in FY19. Similarly, the average fast food restaurant will see an increase from $49,780 in FY 18 to $62,159.85 in FY19, and the average warehouse/distribution property from $20,820.95 in FY18 to $28,050.23 in FY19.

According to Demas, this shift is in part due to a reversal of trends from over a decade ago, when commercial property values stagnated while housing values skyrocketed. Now, as housing prices begin to slow down, commercial property values are catching up with a vengeance.

As in previous years, the council approved a 25-percent residential exemption for owner-occupied properties, and also approved an approximately 1.75 percent shift of the tax burden from residential to commercial properties. If the council had not approved the shift, the single rate would have been $20.21.

According to Demas, FY19 was a fiscally challenging year for the city, as it absorbed the increased costs and housing evaluations as a result of the Encore Boston Harbor casino without yet enjoying the benefits of the multi-million dollar annual payments that will begin after the casino opens next year.

 

~December~

 

Mayor: Mohegan Sun not welcome in Everett

Mohegan Sun stated in December that it was willing to step in should Wynn Resorts be found unsuitable for a Massachusetts gaming license later this month, but they might not be welcome in the city, according to Mayor Carlo DeMaria.

Mohegan Sun announced that it would be willing to buy Wynn’s Encore Boston Harbor property should the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) strip the company’s license. “If that determination finds Wynn Resorts unsuitable to hold a gaming license in Massachusetts, Mohegan Sun is prepared to participate in a process that would assign that license to another operator – and enter into negotiations with the appropriate parties to acquire the facility under construction in Everett,” the company said in a statement.

Mayor Carlo DeMaria rebuffed Mohegan’s overtures; however, saying that he would not accept “anything less” than the kind of operation that had been promised by Wynn Resorts. “Mohegan Sun is not welcome to operate a casino in the City of Everett,” said DeMaria. “We made a deal with Wynn Resorts to operate a 5-star international destination resort and I will never accept anything less – certainly not a gaming parlor that would be used to protect their interests in Connecticut at the expense of our community and residents. Wynn Resorts’ partnership with Everett and the Commonwealth runs far deeper than a building with slot machines.”

The city has claimed that its Host Community Agreement with Wynn Resorts allows it to veto any sale of the Everett resort.

 

Tide football superstar Mike Sainristil named Gatorade’s Mass. Player of the Year

In baseball, at the top of the list is the “five-tool” player who excels at hitting and hitting for power and has a rocket arm, fantastic fielding glove and speed to burn.

The “gold standard” for a football player, for a hundred years-plus, has been the “triple threat” star in running, passing and kicking. In today’s football parlance, “triple threat” now means the best player at running the football, catching the ball and playing defense.

Well, we are not sure if Everett High School senior Mike Sainristil ever threw on a baseball glove or not, but it is quite certain the 5’10”, 175 lb. future Michigan Wolverine knocked it out of the park on the high school football field this past season.

For his dominant, productive and successful fall campaign, Sainristil was been honored as the 2018 Gatorade Player of the Year, signifying the top high school player in Massachusetts. The Everett High senior is now able to designate a $1,000 grant from Gatorade to a local or national cause or group of his choice.

“It is a great honor for our football program and community,” Sainristil said of the Gatorade award, “especially considering all the great players from Everett and other schools who have been receiving this award in the past.”

Sainristil is the sixth Everett player in the past 22 years to receive the award as the top player in Massachusetts. The prior Crimson Tide award winners are Omar Easy (1996), Diamond Ferri (1999), Frank Nuzzo (2003), Matt Costello (2010) and Jonathan DiBiaso (2011).

 

Everett mourns death of Ersilia Cataldo Matarazzo

   Everett was shocked Wednesday, December 19 when beloved resident and public servant Ersilia Cataldo Matarazzo was found dead in her car, allegedly murdered by her estranged husband, Emilio.

The 50-year-old member of the Board of Assessors was leaving her parents’ home on Cedar Street, in which she had been living while in the midst of a difficult divorce, to go to work at St. Anthony’s Church on Wednesday morning when she was shot several times in the torso with a “shotgun-like” weapon. First responders rushed to the scene at around 8:40, but she was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police began searching for Emilio, and Everett High, the Keverian, and the Parlin Schools were locked down as a precaution. At 10:30, he turned himself in at the Everett Police Station and was taken into custody. He has been charged with murder.

During Emilio’s arraignment in Malden District Court on Thursday morning, prosecutors stated that Ersilia told family members that Emilio had been violent and had once strangled her. Shortly afterward she filed for divorce, moving in with her parents in Everett while Emilio lived in Peabody. Unwilling to accept the separation, Emilio had spent the past few weeks attempting to persuade Ersilia to come back, mailing her a check for $20,000 and showing up at a holiday party where she worked and refusing to leave, ultimately causing a scene. Ersilia told friends the night before she died that she was afraid of Emilio. Minutes before murdering his wife, he spoke with one of their three adult children on the phone, telling him “What is done, is done.”

The event shocked and dismayed many in the city. Ersilia, a member of a large family and a second cousin to the mayor, touched many during her lifetime in the city.

Maureen and Giovanni DiPierro, Ersilia’s aunt and uncle, held a brief press conference Thursday morning during which Maureen read a statement calling Ersilia’s death “a very difficult loss.”

 

Superintendent Foresteire retires

Last week, the Advocate received a copy of a letter submitted by Superintendent Fred Foresteire to Everett School Committee Chair Beradino D’Onofrio announcing that he was returning by the end of that day. The two line letter, dated for Tuesday, December 18, reads in full:

“This letter is to inform you I am retiring at the end of the day, Tuesday, December 18, 2019.

It has been a wonderful fifty-two and one half years!”

His retirement was announced shortly after the longtime school department employee was placed on paid administrative leave by the school committee after news broke that allegations of sexual harassment by a former school department employee had been filed with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. Foresteire has denied the allegations, and the investigation is ongoing. The school committee has also raised $50,000 to conduct an investigation of its own into the allegations.

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