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5299 Posts

Posted - 01/20/2013 :  4:38:23 PM  Show Profile Send massdee a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Everett and its firefighters union remain locked in a contentious contract dispute more than a month after the city admitted it violated state labor laws in the negotiation process.

The state Department of Labor Relations is reviewing a new allegation by the union that the city violated the law when it unilaterally increased union members’ pay by 1.5 percent on Dec. 6. A division investigator has scheduled a Feb. 13 hearing , ­according to Craig Hardy, president of Local 143 of the International Association of Fire Fighters.

In a Dec. 12 ruling, a Labor Relations hearing officer said the city had admitted to all factual and legal allegations by the union contained in two previous complaints issued by agency investigators, on Oct. 22 and Nov. 27. The investigators had found probable cause the city had committed a combined seven violations of the law.

Since June, the city and the 94-member union have been negotiating a contract to succeed the one that expired at the end of that month.

“During the negotiation period, my administration has been working diligently and in good faith with representatives of Firefighters Local 143 in the effort to modernize the current firefighter contract,” Mayor Carlo DeMaria Jr. said. “It is my goal to find an equitable and balanced solution to our shared challenges while maintaining the highest level of public safety services to the residents of the city of Everett.

“I am confident that when we return to the negotiating table, both sides will be able to achieve their respective goals. I have great respect for the Everett firefighters and look forward to continuing our conversations,” DeMaria added.

Hardy said the ruling last month “just shows the city’s blatant disregard for the law and the process we have in hand, collective bargaining. . . . I wouldn’t say we were pleased, but it showed that we were telling the truth, that we weren’t making things up.”

He said that at about the time it was admitting to the charges, the city took another action the union claims was a violation of labor law: unilaterally giving a 1.5 percent raise to union members for fiscal 2013.

“We are not against them increasing our pay, but we have a process in place,” Hardy said. “Let’s do it right and let my members ratify it.”

In August, the union filed for arbitration before the state’s Joint Labor Management Committee. Hardy said the union is “anxiously awaiting” the start of that process, speculating that the state board has not wanted to initiate arbitration while union charges against the city were pending.

Yashira Pepin, a spokeswoman for the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, said that on Oct. 12, the Joint Labor Management Committee “voted to take jurisdiction over the case.”

Typically, when the committee takes jurisdiction, it attempts to mediate the dispute. If the mediation is not successful, the committee can send the case to an arbitrator.

One of the charges in the Oct. 12 complaint concerned a comment that Albert ­Mason, the city’s counsel, allegedly made at an Aug. 1 bargaining session.

The union said Hardy advised Mason of a meeting he had attended with the mayor and his chief of staff in which they discussed contract talks. The union said Mason “advised Hardy that if Hardy had spoken to the mayor or spoke to the mayor in the future, he would file an unfair labor practice charge against the union.”

The union also alleged that around July 11 and July 17, the city advised the union that if it filed for arbitration with the Joint Labor Management Committee, “The union would be going to the JLMC without a contract, or words to that ­effect.”

The union also asserted that at an Aug. 21 bargaining session the city said if the union filed with the Joint Labor Management Committee, “The city’s funding authority would not fund, and the mayor would not support, a JLMC award that differed from the city’s current proposal.”

The union said that in all those cases, the city “interfered with, restrained, and coerced employees in the free exercise of their rights,” and that in its July 11 and July 17 comments, the city “has failed to bargain in good faith with the union by threatening to terminate [the contract] if the union filed a petition with the JLMC.”

One of the charges in the Nov. 27 complaint concerned a discussion the union claimed DeMaria had at the Ferry Street Fire Station with six union members who are not on the bargaining committee.

The union said that through statements the mayor made there, the city had “interfered with, restrained, and coerced employees in the free exercise of their rights” and “bypassed the union by dealing directly with unit members over wages,” in violation of the law.

The hearing officer for the Department of Labor Relations, Kathleen Goodberlet, ordered the city to cease and desist from violations of the law; to bargain in good faith; and to post notices advising union members of its intention to adhere to those requirements.
John Laidler can be reached at laidler@globe.com.

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2040 Posts

Posted - 01/21/2013 :  08:19:35 AM  Show Profile Send tetris a Private Message  Reply with Quote
It's stuff like this that totally baffles me about the current administration. Do they truly believe that they can do whatever they want with no regard for any rules?
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Senior Member

165 Posts

Posted - 01/21/2013 :  09:02:31 AM  Show Profile Send cozulady a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Seems so. Good reason to want term limits.
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2682 Posts

Posted - 02/19/2013 :  09:23:37 AM  Show Profile Send Tails a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Kinda distressing article...

18 Feb 2013
The Boston Globe

A steady flow of troubles for the long-foul Mystic

SOMERVILLE — Pity the Mystic. The gritty 7-mile river that flows from Medford and Arlington to Boston Harbor rarely earns better than a “D” on the federal government’s annual water quality report card. Raw sewage still spews into the river during severe storms — including almost 4 million gallons in December. Vast mats of invasive water chestnut clog the surface in places.

Almost 30 years after Boston’s sewage-laden shores began their transformation into sparkling, swimmable beaches, the Mystic — one of the three main rivers that flow into the harbor — lags far behind the beloved Charles or scenic Neponset in water quality and public access. Hidden in spots and surrounded by asphalt, it serves as a stark symbol of the cleanup challenges remaining for waterways in cities nationwide.

“When you go downstream, really, it’s an urban ditch,’’ said Neil Clark, who lives on one of the two Mystic Lakes that drain into the river and knows the area well. “It is just down beaten.”

The Mystic— the namesake of the celebrated Dennis Lehane crime novel — has long suffered in the shadow of the longer and more visible Charles and Neponset rivers. It is a far cry from the idyllic waterway portrayed in the popular Thanksgiving poem “Over the River and Through the Woods,” with densely settled suburban towns such as Medford in its northern reaches and scrap metal plants and tank farms downstream in Everett and Chelsea.

But it is starting to attract attention, as more development is proposed near the river, including casino magnate Steve Wynn’s bid to build a casino and resort on the site of a former Monsanto Chemical plant in Everett. A herring run was robust last year, and the Environmental Protection Agency has stepped up enforcement to prevent illegal discharges of pollutants into the Mystic, including fining Suffolk Downs $1.25 million last year for dumping horse manure and urine into a nearby wetland.

Court-ordered work to separate sewer pipes from storm drains is underway in Cambridge and Somerville, including a $116 million project for Alewife Brook, which flows into the Mystic. And the environmental advocacy group Conservation Law Foundation, hoping to accelerate the pace of the Mystic cleanup, began suing scrap metal plants near the river last year, saying they did not have proper permits to discharge industrial pollutants.

Yet ever since the EPA began grading the Mystic seven years ago, there has been no lasting improvement in water quality, largely because the river faces so many of the persistent problems of urban rivers: Sewer and storm pipes overflow, and pet waste, industrial pollutants, and lawn fertilizer drain from acres of surrounding paved surfaces. While the Charles and Neponset have some of the same challenges, the Mystic’s are more extensive, many water specialists agree.

“You name the problem, we have it,’’ said EkOngKar Singh Khalsa, executive director of the Mystic River Watershed Association. “Part of the problem is that we were settled first, we are so old. People perceive this river as ruined, but it is a living system that is struggling to thrive.”

Khalsa and other advocates say severe cuts to the state Department of Environmental Protection’s budget have stymied progress, as has the agency’s reluctance to fine communities for not stopping pollution such as leaking sewage.

Kenneth Kimmell, DEP commissioner, said the agency has worked hard, despite deep budget constraints, to take aggressive action to clean up the river. Cuts forced his agency to halt a two-year effort in 2009 to track pollution in the river to its source, but that may soon change if the Legislature approves money for the testing.

“A clean and healthy Mystic River is a high priority,” said Kimmell. “The governor’s proposed budget would enable us to reinstate that program and get the river cleaned up more quickly and more thoroughly.”

Advocates for the river also decry periodic large dumps of raw sewage. During a stormy Dec. 27, Massachusetts Water Resources Authority workers released a mix of untreated sewage and rainwater into the river across from the Medford Whole Foods Market to relieve pressure on the system. In all, almost 4 million gallons of the sludge flowed into the river from various discharge pipes.

River advocates are concerned that the volume of releases into the Mystic might far exceed those into the Charles and Neponset, but they say they do not know for sure because reporting has not always been accurate.

“Although these releases are well-known and well-understood, they are in fact violations of the Clean Water Act,’’ said Khalsa.

Massachusetts Water Resources Authority officials say they are working hard to stop such releases, but they come only about once a year and tend to flush out of the system quickly. And if they did not occur, they add, the entire system would back up during heavy storms. They say their data — based on water quality readings from the middle of the Mystic, as opposed to testing near tributaries as the watershed association does — show the river’s water quality is on par with the Charles.
“We view these [releases] as something of a last resort, but the lesser of two evils,’’ said Fred Laskey, the water agency’s executive director.

Those large releases are only a piece of the problem. A bigger one may be pavement: It is difficult to prevent waste from washing into a river from every street, parking lot, and sidewalk. The Mystic flows through communities with an enormous amount of pavement — 77 percent of Somerville’s land area is paved over, for example — that prevents rainwater from seeping into the ground to be cleansed.

“In many ways, these are the next-generation environmental challenges,’’ said Bruce Berman of Save the Harbor/Save the Bay, a Boston-based advocacy group. Fixing those problems requires a reengineering of cities to keep water local, such as using barrels to catch rainwater flowing off roofs to water plants, or developing porous pavement to let rain seep into the earth. Yet Berman and other river advocates say there is an easier way to help the Mystic: Make it more visible, as a way to build public, and then political, support to clean it.

Unlike the Charles that flows through the heart of Boston and the Neponset, which is garnering attention in part from a new bike trail along its most densely populated areas, the Mystic is largely hidden behind fences, industrial sites, and old buildings.

Many of the communities along its filthiest parts are poor. The watershed association holds yearly kayak and canoe races and cleanups, but making the Mystic more accessible remains a challenge.

There is no better time to get the public involved, advocates say, because the Mystic may be in for worse news. The EPA announced last month that it is working on new language to give financially struggling communities more time to comply with Clean Water Act regulations. Requests to the EPA for comment went unanswered.

“The real message there . . . is we are going to make it easier for you to pollute,’’ said Christopher Kilian, director of the Conservation Law Foundation’s Clean Water Program. “We made a decision as a society that these public resources were going to be treated the same . . . all waters were going to be protected equally. I worry about the Mystic.”

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2682 Posts

Posted - 02/19/2013 :  11:47:19 AM  Show Profile Send Tails a Private Message  Reply with Quote
19 Feb 2013
The Boston Globe
By Jenna Russell GLOBE STAFF Jenna Russell can be reached at jrussell@globe.com.

Hearings to begin on state budget

‘By doing this around the state we can better inform the public, and they can see the process.’

HouseWays and Means

Residents around the state will have a chance to listen in as legislators debate Governor Deval Patrick’s $34.8 billion budget proposal at a series of public hearings set to kick off Wednesday.

The hearings on the fiscal 2014 budget, run by the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Ways and Means, begin in Worcester and Greenfield and return to the Boston area next week with a Feb. 27 session at South Shore Vocational Technical High School in Hanover. Residents will have a chance to speak at the end of each hearing, if time allows.

Patrick’s budget proposal, released last month, boosts spending to most state programs after years of cutbacks, relying on an increase in the income tax rate to 6.25 percent, from 5.25 percent. His plan would simultaneously decrease the sales tax from 6.25 to 4.5 percent.

The House is expected to release its version of the budget in mid-April; the Senate will follow in May.

Republicans have criticized the plan as fiscally irresponsible, and compromise is expected by the time a final budget deal is hammered out, before the new fiscal year begins on July 1.

Representative Stephen Kulik, vice chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said the hearings give legislators a chance to dig deeper into the governor’s proposal, “to ask probing questions and see what he is trying to achieve.

“By doing this around the state we can better inform the public, and they can see the process,” said Kulik, a Worthington Democrat.

Each session will focus on a different area of the budget. Wednesday ’s hearing in Worcester will address public safety, beginning at 10 a.m. at Worcester State University. Additional hearings are scheduled on education Feb. 26 at Greenfield Community College and on environment, energy, and transportation Feb. 27 at the technical high school in Hanover.

Two hearings will be held on health and human services: Feb. 28 at Montachusett Technical School in Fitchburg and March 4 at Arlington Town Hall. A hearing on economic development and housing will be held March 7 at Everett High School.

Members of the public are welcome at all of the hearings and will be allowed to speak if there is time, Kulik said, but their best chance to weigh in on the budget will come at a final public hearing on March 8 at the State House.

That all-day hearing will be set aside for residents to address legislators on any aspect of state spending.

Patrick’s proposals include doubling the personal income tax exemption while eliminating dozens of income tax deductions and several corporate tax breaks.

He would extend the reach of the sales tax to candy and soda, items that are currently exempt, and increase the state tax on cigarettes by $1.

Spending on transportation would increase by $269 million, education spending would grow by $553 million, and cities and towns would receive about $31 million more in local aid.
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2682 Posts

Posted - 03/06/2013 :  09:19:18 AM  Show Profile Send Tails a Private Message  Reply with Quote
At least Suffolk Downs is releasing their ideas and development plans. Development plans in Everett are without openness to the residents with only a few privileged in the know. I just could not support something like this in Everett.

6 Mar 2013

The Boston Globe

Mark Arsenault can be reached at marsenault@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @bostonglobemar

Suffolk Downs plan adds green to site

Track group says it will reduce the ‘sea of asphalt’ around site

Suffolk Downs will dramatically shrink the “sea of asphalt” around the East Boston racetrack and increase plantings and gardens, as a key selling point of its bid for casino development rights, track officials say.

The revamped development plans are the first major update to the Suffolk Downs casino design since the track initially rolled out plans for a $1 billion “urban oasis’’ last June. The new details come as Suffolk Downs, once the unchallenged front-runner for the state’s most lucrative casino license, is facing tough new competition from rival projects.

The new designs, produced by the architectural firm Sasaki Associates of Watertown, includes an overhaul of the main entrance to the property off Route 1A, which passes between a homely field of fuel tanks and the densely developed Orient Heights neighborhood. The new entrance calls for a winding boulevard through newly planted fields and a buffer of new forest, leading to a horseshoe-shaped hotel.

The $10 million to $15 million grounds plan would reduce pavement on the site by 30 percent, in part by cutting the number of surface parking spaces from the current 6,300 to 1,900. Suffolk Down would add a new parking garage to hold 2,400 to 2,500 cars, and create another 450 parking spaces under the hotel development, said track officials.

“This is a really stunning vision for how the property can look in the future, compared to what it looks like now,” Chip Tuttle, chief operating officer of Suffolk Downs, said Tuesday. “It’s a part of our commitment to having the most sustainably designed gaming property in the United States.”

Protecting the environment, designing energy-efficient buildings, and using sustainable materials are also competitive factors that will help decide which casino developer receives the coveted license in the Greater Boston region.

Suffolk Downs, with partner Caesars Entertainment, is locked in a winner-take-all contest with Las Vegas developer Steve Wynn, who has proposed a gambling resort in Everett, and Foxwoods Resort Casino, which has joined a casino project in Milford, about 35 miles from Boston.

The state’s 2011 casino legislation calls for casino proposals to be judged against the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design ratings, known as LEED, created by the US Green Building Council. The legislation calls for a rating of gold or higher.

“We’re aspiring to go above and beyond that in our approach,” said Tuttle. The track is also investigating solar panels, rooftop gardens, ways to harvest rainwater, and other green initiatives.

Casino projects will also be judged on job creation, financial strength, creativity in design, and other factors. The state gambling commission, which controls the state’s casino licenses, is still deciding how to weigh the criteria, but “clearly, sustainable construction and operation is going to be a significant factor,” said Stephen Crosby, the commission’s chairman.

For much of 2012, Suffolk Downs appeared to have an open path to the most lucrative casino license in the state, as the only viable applicant. Wynn tried to build support in Foxborough early last year for a casino next to Gillette Stadium, but the project hit intractable local opposition, and Wynn dropped the plans.

Developer David Nunes long maintained that he would compete for casino development rights on a site he controls in Milford, but the proposal showed little public progress in 2012. Caesars chief executive Gary Loveman doubted openly that Nunes would be an applicant. The competition changed dramatically as the Jan. 15 application deadline approached.

Wynn made a surprising return to Massachusetts in late November. He gained control of vacant industrial land on the Mystic River for a planned $1 billion hotel and casino. The company has not yet shared the details of the project, but Wynn has a reputation in the casino industry for innovative designs.

Nunes kept his promise to file an application, beating the deadline by 10 minutes. His project took a huge leap forward in February when Foxwoods in Connecticut joined the effort as a stakeholder and the casino’s operator, if it wins a license. Foxwoods brought instant credibility and name recognition to the proposal, giving the gambling commission a distinct suburban alternative to the urban applicants.
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Posted - 03/07/2013 :  11:16:42 AM  Show Profile Send Tails a Private Message  Reply with Quote
7 Mar 2013 The Boston Globe By Katheleen Conti GLOBE STAFF

Frustration over police training Towns must foot bill as state drops funding

If there was any hope to be gleaned from a 2010 report finding that Massachusetts ranked third from the bottom nationwide for funding police training, it was that the report would lead to a remedy.

But nearly three years later, frustrated law enforcement officials around the region say that basic and specialized training, from fingerprinting to dealing with the mentally ill, continue to be underfunded, and next year local departments won’t receive any state money at all.

Dan Zivkovich, executive director of the state committee that sets training standards, acknowledges shortcomings due to declining state revenues.

It wasn’t long after he took the helm of the Municipal Police Training Committee in 2009, at the height of the recession, that his budget was cut about 20 percent, to $2.5 million. After fixed costs, including personnel, the committee is left with about $200,000 to allocate for training courses and instructors, he said.

“There have been trade-offs in this transition from 40 employees to 21,” said Zivkovich. “Our training records are not what they should be. Our trainer certifications are mediocre. Training programs have become stale. . . . We as an agency have not taken the time to make the curriculum updated and uniform. Even our own academies were teaching the same curriculum in different ways.”

Despite the lack of state funds, the committee still sets annual training requirements, develops the curriculum, and provides instructors for local, environmental, and University of Massachusetts police officers.

Typically, the committee has required 40 hours of training per officer per year, and paid for instructors, but has relaxed the requirement the past two years because of budget constraints. However, when the new fiscal year starts on July 1, the 40-hour requirement will be reestablished, but the committee won’t allocate any money for professional development, leaving local police to foot the entire bill.

Instead, the agency will dedicate its budget entirely to revising the curriculum for recruits, last updated 20 years ago, said Natick Police Chief James G. Hicks, who is also a voting member of the Municipal Police Training Committee.

“The frustration level that I see is maybe the legislators don’t feel [funding the training] is their area of responsibility, that maybe it’s up to individual departments,” said Hicks, who is also president of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association. “Given a choice, police departments are going to do what’s best for them, and if it’s best for them not to do any training, that’s what they’re going to do, and that’s not adequate enough.”

Shifting costs to local police departments can lead to disparities in training between those in wealthier communities, which may be able to afford special instruction in areas like cyber crime, and those in poorer areas, said Everett Chief Steven A. Mazzie.

“It’s gotten pretty bad,” Mazzie said. “We try to be creative. We try to find free training when we can. We do a lot of online training.”

Of his $15,000 training budget, Mazzie said he spends $7,000 on online training alone for his 91 officers. Promoting someone to detective probably means sending him or her out of state to be trained in new duties, like how to conduct rape investigations, he said.

“In this profession, everybody has to be trained because you can use force that can result in the death of somebody,” Mazzie said. “When I hear that $2.5 million covers all [training] ... it disturbs me. People are relying on us to provide these services.”

Echoing police frustrations, a national study released last month by Cambridge-based Strategies for Youth found Massachusetts among the states that underfund new officer training programs, particularly in the treatment of juveniles.

“Every failed social policy or problem gets dumped in police officers’ laps, and they’re given one tool: arrest. And that’s not fair to them,” said Lisa Thurau, the organization’s founder and executive director. “The number one person people call when they’re having problems with kids is police. It’s not in my interest to blame the police; it’s in my interest to say we need to support them.”

The 2010 study found the state pays $187 on training per officer annually, compared with Vermont’s $1,525 and New Hampshire’s $933. In what could be the first positive sign since the study, legislation has been filed on Beacon Hill that would shift police training funding away from the state budget and onto automobile insurance companies by way of a surcharge on policyholders.

The bill’s lead sponsor, Senator James E. Timilty, a Walpole Democrat, cochaired the special committee that led the 2010 study.

If every auto insurance holder in the state paid an annual $3 surcharge, it could generate an estimated $5 million for the training committee, Zivkovich said. The idea is modeled after the state’s firefighter training program, which is fully funded by a 0.5 percent surcharge on homeowners’ insurance policies.

A similar proposal calling for an auto insurance surcharge was unsuccessfully introduced in Governor Deval Patrick’s budget last year. That left some law enforcement officials feeling discouraged about the current bill’s chances, said Plymouth Police Chief Michael E. Botieri.

“It’s an unfunded mandate,” Botieri said. “Each chief keeps their officers trained to the level that they think is appropriate. You won’t be called to task on it until a lawsuit is filed and you have to account for it. I don’t want to be the chief to say, ‘I didn’t train [my officers] because the state didn’t fund us.’ ”
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2682 Posts

Posted - 03/13/2013 :  2:32:28 PM  Show Profile Send Tails a Private Message  Reply with Quote
State attorney general’s office strikes down local ban on medical marijuana dispensaries.

03/13/2013 1:55 PM

By Peter Schworm and Kay Lazar, Globe Staff

The state attorney general’s office Wednesday struck down Wakefield’s ban on medical marijuana dispensaries, ruling that towns can regulate, but not prohibit the centers under state law.

Such bans would frustrate the purpose of the medical marijuana law, passed by referendum last fall, that allows patients with certain medical conditions to obtain marijuana for medical use.

“The act’s legislative purpose could not be served if a municipality could prohibit treatment centers within its borders, for if one municipality could do so, presumably all could do so.”

Wednesday’s ruling addressed only Wakefield’s prohibition. Other Massachusetts communities have also approved bans, fearing the centers would spur an increase in crime. Other communities have focused on limiting where the centers can operate.

In a separate decision, the attorney general’s office approved Burlington’s temporary moratorium on medical marijuana treatment centers, which bans such centers until mid-2014.

Geoffrey Beckwith, executive director of the Massachusetts Municipal Association, said the attorney general’s ruling allowing cities and towns to adopt moratoriums on medical marijuana treatment centers sends a clear signal that communities can retain control over many aspects of the contentious issue.

“Certainly the door is open, and we believe wide open, for communities to be able to regulate this,” Beckwith said. “For example, they will be able to proscribe the locations where a facility could be allowed or not allowed, for example not in a residential area, not near schools, not in a downtown commercial district.”

The association continues to push for a six-month delay, until Oct. 1, in implementing the law, because most communities do not hold town meetings or elections until later this spring, making it difficult for them to enact bylaws before the new marijuana rules are scheduled to go into effect.

State public health regulators Wednesday announced that they will release draft regulations of the rules on March 29, hold public hearings on April 19, and vote on the final rules May 8. If approved those rules will go into effect May 24.

Peter Schworm can be reached at schworm@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globepete.
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Posted - 04/01/2013 :  2:49:57 PM  Show Profile Send Tails a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Police shutter video arcade

By Kathy McCabe | GLOBE STAFF MARCH 31, 2013

Everett police are seeking criminal charges against the operators of the closed Ferry Cyber Skill Arcade after 12 video gambling machines were seized from the business last month, Police Chief Steven A. Mazzie said.

A small amount of cash and credit cards also was taken by police from the arcade, located at 365 Ferry St., Mazzie said.

Police allege the video machines, billed as “sweepstakes” devices that award prepaid credit cards as prizes, amounted to an illegal lottery game, police said.

The games seized were video displays of either slots or poker-themed games.

“It’s a scheme to hide that gambling is the predominant attraction,” Mazzie said. “It’s a violation of the law.”

‘Come to find out, what they put in there were poker machines.’

Mazzie identified three people involved in the business, whom police will seek charges against: Grace and Tony Daniels, a married couple from Saugus; and Mehrdad Roostaie of Needham.

Each will be charged with conspiracy to violate state gambling laws, promoting an illegal lottery, and maintaining a gaming apparatus, Mazzie said. Roostaie also will be charged with keeping a building for the purposes of illegal gaming, the chief added.

Attempts to reach the Daniels and Roostaie for comment were unsuccessful.

There is no phone number listed for either Daniels in Saugus. A man who identified himself only as Jim, and who said he was a friend of Roostaie, returned a telephone message left at the home of Roostaie’s mother.

He said Roostaie was traveling out of state, and that he was not aware Roostaie operated an arcade in Everett.

Roostaie is listed as the owner and manager of the business, according to corporate filings at the secretary of state’s office. Grace Daniels is listed as an employee.

The Ferry Street property is owned by Roos Co. LLC, which lists Roostaie as its president, the filing shows.

A handwritten sign on the door March 18 stated: “We will reopen after license issue resolved.”

According to state law, arcades may give noncash prizes for skee ball, pinball, and other games that require skill. But games of chance such as those found at the Everett shop — which can be licensed solely by the State Lottery Commission — cost money to play and make random payouts.

“There were brand new machines in there,” Mazzie said. “They are in violation of the law. There are going to be charges coming out.”

Summonses for Roostaie and Tony and Grace Daniels have been mailed from Malden District Court, said Ann Marie Lyons, an assistant clerk magistrate. An arraignment date is set for April 25, she said.

The raid on Ferry Street follows an ongoing investigation by Everett police into illegal gambling machines in the city. During the last year, police have seized 37 machines from social clubs and corner variety stores and $13,000 in cash, Mazzie said.

“We’re trying to send a message that you can’t set up shop here in Everett,” he said.

Mazzie said the crackdown has nothing to do with a billion-dollar resort casino proposed for the former Monsanto chemical factory site in the city, backed by Las Vegas mogul Steve Wynn.

“It’s not related at all,” he said. “A lot of these games have been around for years in private clubs. Some of them are very old, and some are newer ones, like this guy had.”

Mazzie said police became aware of the Ferry Cyber Skill Cafe through advertisements for the business. Signs touting games of skill and the chance to win free credit cards popped up around the city, Mazzie said.

Everett detectives visited the business prior to its opening to discuss the machines, and left a message for Roostaie to contact police, he said

“We let them know that we had seen similar machines in the area, and that the owners of the machines have faced criminal charges,” he said. “We were pretty much putting the olive branch out there. He never called.”

The arcade’s alleged lottery surprised city licensing officials. In December, Tony Daniels applied for an entertainment license with the city’s licensing commission, chairman Philip Antonelli said.

“They came in and said they were going to have a family entertainment center, with skee ball and games like that,” Antonelli said.

Antonelli said the three-member commission did not have to hold a public hearing or vote on the application.

“It’s not a votable license,” he said.

The arcade was issued a permit for 10 games, and paid a $50 per-game annual fee to the commission, Antonelli said.

“Come to find out, what they put in there were poker machines,” he said.

Kathy McCabe can be reached at kmccabe@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @Globe­KMc­­­Cabe.
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Posted - 04/11/2013 :  1:52:13 PM  Show Profile Send Tails a Private Message  Reply with Quote
• 11 Apr 2013
• The Boston Globe

Cities seek state aid to extend school days and expand classes
Faced with growing pressure to improve student achievement in the state’s poorest public school districts, leaders of the region’s Gateway Cities are appealing to legislators for the funding they need to add more hours, days, or weeks to their academic calendars.

They hope to ensure that middle school students, whose academic performance has lagged behind that of their younger counterparts, get the reading, writing, and math lessons they need without having to give up music, art, or exercise.

“When schools get expanded learning time, educators can move from STEM — focusing on science, technology, engineering, and math — to STEAM, and include the arts,” said Revere Superintendent Paul S. Dakin, who oversees three schools that have longer school days.

Dakin and 21 other Gateway City leaders — including city officials and school superintendents in Chelsea, Everett, Haverhill, Lynn, Malden, and Salem— have sent a letter to Senate President Therese Murray and House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, urging the Legislature to support Governor Deval Patrick’s proposal to increase funding for expanded learning time, especially in middle schools.

“We believe that this strategy is critical for our students,” the March 20 letter stated. “We know that the students in our cities are not keeping up with some of their peers in higherincome communities.”

At Garfield, one of three middle schools in Revere, students have made steady gains on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System exams since the fall of 2008, when the school day was stretched from six to 8.5 hours.

“It makes for a richer day for the kids and, I believe, a more meaningful day,” Dakin said. “We can build back into the curriculum some of the things we had to push out because of the greater attention being given to the core subjects, due to the intense focus on MCAS.”

Students write more essays, solve more word problems, and get more personalized instruction.

The result: More than half of the school’s sixth-graders now score in the proficient or advanced categories in math. Four years ago, 23 percent fell short of earning a passing score. In English Language Arts, more than two-thirds of sixth- graders are earning scores in the top two categories; four years ago, fewer than half demonstrated proficiency or better.
Given such results, the expanded learning time movement is gaining momentum, with Patrick seeking an addi tional $5 million in fiscal 2014, which begins July 1, and an additional $70 million annually in subsequent years to increase the number of middle schools with extended days.

“The governor’s proposal offers a whole new slate of tools that districts can utilize, opening a dialogue in our communities not just about whether we should have more classroom time, but about how schools would utilize that time,” said Saeyun Lee, policy director for the state’s Executive Office of Education.
“If we can give more middle schools the opportunity to engage in these conversations by providing this funding in the fiscal 2014 budget, we can give them powerful tools for closing achievement gaps.”

This fiscal year, the state is spending $14.2 million to extend learning time at 19 elementary, middle, and high schools across the Commonwealth that have redesigned their academic calendar, giving some 10,500 students in 10 districts about 300 additional hours of learning. Currently, the participating schools receive $1,300 per pupil to implement their plans.
Six schools in the region receive funding through the Expanded Learning Time Initiative: Joseph A. Browne Middle School in Chelsea; the Ferryway and Salemwood schools in Malden; and Garfield Middle School and the A.C. Whelan and William McKinley elementary schools in Revere.

“On the heels of adopting expanding learning time, the Salemwood and Ferryway schools have improved dramatically,” said Malden Mayor Gary Christenson. “They’ve gone from being Level 3 schools to Level 1. We couldn’t be more enthused about what ELT has meant here in Malden.”

Although the program is not without its challenges — teachers want more pay for working longer hours, and often, additional support staff is needed— Patrick’s proposal is being championed by business leaders, state Education Secretary Matthew H. Malone, the Massachusetts Teachers Association, Stand for Children, the Massachusetts Charter Public School Association, and Massachusetts 2020, a Boston-based organization that has worked since 2000 to expand the school year.
Chelsea Superintendent Mary M. Bourque and other educators say the goal of the initiative is not to simply log more time in the classroom. The goal, they say, is more learning.

“Moving forward, we can’t work within the same time frame we’ve been using for 200 years in education and expect that we will have our students 21st-century college- and career-ready,” she said.

Paul F. Toner, president of the 110,000-member Massachusetts Teachers Association, said: “We need to provide urban kids with the same summer and after-school opportunities that suburban parents are able to provide their children. They all sit for the same MCAS exam, and they must all meet the same graduation requirements. That’s like having the same expectations for runners in a race where some are still at the starting line while others are already halfway around the track; the kids in our Gateway Cities are starting behind their peers.”
Gateway Cities are urban centers with populations ranging from 35,000 to 250,000; a median household income below the state average of $65,981; and a below-average number of residents with college degrees.

The percentage of students living in poverty in Gateway Cities is 60 percent or above — more than three times higher than in other Massachusetts districts. In addition, nearly 50 percent of the students are African-American or Hispanic.

Statewide, there are 26 Gateway Cities, including Chelsea, Everett, Haverhill, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, Malden, Methuen, Peabody, Revere, and Salem. Of those, only three — Chelsea, Malden, and Revere — receive state funding for expanded learning time. However, some schools — including several charter schools and the Saltonstall School in Salem — have added classroom hours on their own. Statewide, 90 schools have embraced longer days, a longer academic year, or both.

“We’re talking about taking action to prevent summer learning loss, and offering more opportunities for teacher planning and collaboration,” said Salem Mayor Kimberley Driscoll, who has taken a lead role in the push for legislative support. “Not every child learns the same way. The question is, how do we address that? With expanded learning time, we can offer tutoring to students who need extra support and provide opportunities for those kids who are excelling and need more of a challenge.”

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Posted - 04/14/2013 :  08:36:37 AM  Show Profile Send scamore a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Common Councilor Wayne Matew­sky, who is also Everett’s newly elected state representative, is facing a reprimand from his council colleagues for reportedly berating employees at a Texas Roadhouse restaurant in a dispute over seating arrangements.

A spokesman for the restaurant said Matewsky used profanities while he complained about being seated near a special needs child celebrating her seventh birthday at the restaurant, located at the Gateway Shopping Center on Route 16.

After taking testimony at a private meeting on Tuesday, the council’s ethics committee determined that Matewsky had “committed misconduct, to wit, abuse of his official position for the purpose outside of his official duties,” according to the decision read aloud after the committee deliberated.

Matewsky, 54, also threatened to call the Board of Health on the restaurant and left without paying his $60 bill, said Travis Doster, senior director of public relations for Texas Roadhouse, a Kentucky-based restaurant chain, in a telephone interview from Louisville.

“He and his party were seated at a table in the bar area, near the family with the special needs child,” said Doster, who received an account of the incident from the manager of the Everett restaurant. “At some point, he said, ‘I would like to be moved away from this [expletive] child.’ He raised a ruckus.”

Matewsky, a common councilor for 32 years and the city’s longest serving elected official, strongly denied the restaurant’s version of events. “It was a table dispute,” Matewsky said in an interview. “I don’t want to get into any more than that.”

He said he never saw a special needs child in the restaurant. “I never saw any child. I never had any contact with anybody,” Matewsky said

Management became concerned that other patrons overheard the exchange between Matewsky and staff, Doster said. “He left without paying his bill, though he claims he left cash on the table. If he did, nobody has since found it,” Doster said.

The incident happened at about 8:30 the night of March 6, the day after Matew­sky won the Democratic nomination for state representative for the April 2 special election. An assistant manager told Matewsky that no other tables were available, Doster said.

“She also told him she did not appreciate, in the least, his language about this young child,” Doster said.

“Mr. Matewsky then said to her, ‘Do you know who I am?’ and she said she did not,” Doster said. “He called her a name, and then said, ‘I can have the health department down here tomorrow, and I can get you fired.’ ”

At that point, the assistant manager told Matewsky to leave, Doster said.

Matewsky said he left $30 on the table. “We had a Bloody Mary and two Pepsis. We never got our food,” he said.

Matewsky said he went to the restaurant about a week after the incident and apologized to the staff. “I consider the matter closed,” he said.

Doster, the restaurant spokesman, confirmed that Matewsky later visited the restaurant to apologize. “We said, ‘That’s great. But we would ask that you apologize to the family.’ To my knowledge, he still hasn’t reached out to the family, and he still hasn’t paid the bill.”

Matewsky said he had never been to the Texas Roadhouse before that night, when he went with two friends. He was bothered by the loud music and the peanut shells on the floor, he said. “I might have said, ‘The place is messy.’ But I never called the Board of Health,” he said.

The dispute became public during the March 11 meeting of the Everett Common Council. Michael Toto, a Revere resident who said he witnessed the incident at the restaurant, spoke during the council’s public comment period. “I saw him berating the child and her father,” Toto, 56, said in an interview. “I didn’t think that was right. I wanted him to step up and take responsibility for it.”

A week later, at the council’s March 18 meeting, Councilor Michael McLaughlin asked that the matter be referred to the council’s ethics committee. “I contacted Texas Roadhouse to see if what Mr. Toto said was true,” McLaughlin said in an interview. “They did, and I asked for a full investigation by our ethics committee.” Matewsky said he voted in favor of the ethics committee review. “I’m a decent person. I’m a good councilman. I got elected year after year,” he said. Witnesses at the closed-door hearing last Tuesday included Toto and Matewsky’s dining companions. Doster said he was invited to the meeting, but he told city officials he could not attend on short notice.

The ethics committee voted unanimously, 4-0, to recommend the reprimand, which is the most severe action the council could take, according to a city attorney. The committee also recommended that Matewsky apologize to the restaurant, but acknowledged that he had already done so. The ethics committee recommendation still must be approved by the 18-member Common Council, which is expected to address it at its meeting on Tuesday. The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. at City Hall. Matewsky said he thinks the the incident was publicized to hurt his chances in the state representative race. “It was an attempt to derail my candidacy after I won the primary,” Matewsky said.

He was elected to fill the unexpired term of Stephen “Stat” Smith, who last week was sentenced to four months in federal prison and one year of probation and was fined $20,000 after pleading guilty to two counts of absentee ballot fraud. Matewsky beat former Everett mayor John Hanlon, who ran a write-in campaign, by 49 votes. Toto, who spent the first 10 years of his childhood living in Everett, said he’s not motivated by politics.

“In no way, shape or form, is this about politics,” he said. Matewsky, who worked as Smith’s legislative aide, said he expects to be sworn into office as state representative in the next month. He then plans to resign his seat on the Common Council, he said. “I consider this matter behind me,” he said of the restaurant incident. “I want to move forward so I can represent the people of Everett at the State House in a professional manner.”

Kathy McCabe can be reached at kmccabe@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKMc­Cabe.
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Posted - 05/02/2013 :  10:29:07 AM  Show Profile Send Tails a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Everett voters to weigh pros, cons of casino

By Kathy McCabe | GLOBE STAFF MAY 02, 2013

EVERETT — Everett voters will decide on June 22 if they want a Las Vegas-style resort casino called Wynn Everett to rise on a vacant factory site alongside the Mystic River.

The city and casino developer Steve Wynn have completed negotiations on a community host agreement, which includes millions of dollars in new revenues and thousands of jobs with hiring preference for Everett residents. The 18-page agreement, which also outlines Wynn’s plans to improve local roads and create public access to the Mystic River, was released by Mayor Carlo DeMaria Jr. on April 25.

Some voters already seem to know how they’ll cast their ballots for or against a casino in Everett.

“I feel that Everett needs jobs,” said Michele Finneran-Korn, a lifelong resident who spoke at a community meeting last week. “This is a much-needed opportunity for the city.”

“I’m against this,” said Stephen Simonelli, another longtime resident, who addressed his remarks to DeMaria. “I think this guy [Wynn] is going to take over the city. Carlo, you may lose your job, because he’s going to be the mayor.”

‘This casino won’t be built unless Everett voters say it’s OK. This referendum is very important.’

Scott Matson, a lawyer who moved to Everett in 2007, is undecided. “I’ll take it under advisement,” he said.

The special election is required by the state’s gambling law in order for Wynn to be approved for a casino license by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.

“This casino won’t be built unless Everett voters say it’s OK,” said DeMaria, a strong casino proponent. “This referendum is very important.”

Wynn has proposed a $1.2 billion resort casino on the former site of the Monsanto chemical factory off Route 99. A 19-story glass bronze tower, styled after his signature Vegas properties, would include a 24-hour casino, a 550-room hotel, upscale restaurants, and shops.

A summary of the agreement must be published in a local newspaper and on the city’s website, in advance of the election.

But on June 22, residents will not be voting on the agreement. They will be voting only on whether or not a casino should be located in Everett.

By state law established in the system to award casino licenses, the ballot question must state, “Shall the [city] permit the operation of a gaming establishment licensed by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to be located at [address of site].”

Voters then will check “yes” or “no.” A simple majority is all that is required for the referendum to pass.

Everett’s referendum will be held on a Saturday instead of the usual Tuesday, with the hope of encouraging strong voter turnout, DeMaria said. “This is going to be a campaign,” DeMaria told residents at the community meeting. “You have to make sure you talk to your neighbors, and get them to vote.”

Wynn is one of three developers vying for the sole casino license available for Greater Boston, which the state’s gambling commission is expected to award by early 2014.

Suffolk Downs and Caesar’s Entertainment have partnered to propose a $1 billion development at the race track on the Revere/East Boston line, and Crossroads Massachusetts has proposed a casino for vacant land off Interstate 495 in Milford.

Those developments also would have to be approved by a local referendums if their applications to the gambling commission are to advance. But an election cannot be held until host agreements are negotiated with each community.

Chip Tuttle, chief operating officer for Suffolk Downs, said the developer hopes to conclude negotiations on host agreements with Revere and Boston soon.

“We will continue to solicit community feedback as we work through the process of earning a license to develop a world-class resort at Suffolk Downs,” Tuttle wrote in an e-mail to the Globe. “We continue to talk with both our host communities toward the goal of reaching agreements in the coming weeks.”

The law requires the gambling commission to complete background checks on casino developers before a referendum is held. But at DeMaria’s request, the commission approved an option to allow communities to hold a vote before the checks are completed.

“Steve Wynn has the capital to build this development,” DeMaria said in an interview. “I am confident there is nothing in his background that would disqualify him from getting a license.”

E-mail Kathy McCabe at kmccabe@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKMcCabe.
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2682 Posts

Posted - 05/02/2013 :  1:01:14 PM  Show Profile Send Tails a Private Message  Reply with Quote
So while all hearts are still focused on the tragedies in Boston - the MA Gaming Commission snuck off to unanimously vote to put developer background checks on the back burner...... and not require them to be complete prior to referendum votes. THAT - I have an issue with.

They think it's okay for us to vote to secure a casino in Everett, without knowing who/what they are! While DeMaria and his administration are focused solely on a casino.... and totally unaware of any wrong doings (look up Suffolk background checks!) people that live here are focused on keeping Everett safe, a better place to live, work raise a family.... and develop a good business.
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2682 Posts

Posted - 05/14/2013 :  10:14:13 AM  Show Profile Send Tails a Private Message  Reply with Quote
• 14 May 2013
• The Boston Globe

Livery driver, woman fatally shot
Police investigate in Chelsea as peers pay respects to cabbie’s kin

CHELSEA — Gunshots rang out just before 4 a.m. Monday, and seconds later came the sound of someone running down the street. When police arrived, they made a grisly discovery: a man and woman dead in a vehicle that had jumped the curb on Crescent Avenue.

The Suffolk district attorney’s office identified the victims as Zouaoui Dani-El-Kebir, 52, and Karima El-Hakim, 38, both of Everett. They had been shot in the area of the head. One official said investigators believe the attack was not random.

Residents of the neighborhood stood on street corners with arms folded Monday morning, watching grimly as police inspected the car, still in the road in front of 111 Crescent Ave., its driver-side door hanging open and the window apparently blown out. Broken glass was strewn in the middle of Parker Street about 40 feet away.

Dani-El-Kebir was working the overnight shift as a livery driver for East Boston Tunnel Taxi, as he did almost every night, when he was shot, said his brother, Abdelkader Dani-El-Kebir, 56, from his home in Revere.

“I love my brother; I have one brother,” he said, his voice ragged with grief as he sat surrounded by friends. Outside, cabs from companies across the city arrived one after another as the drivers came to ay their respects. “He’s the guy. Everyone loves him. I don’t know what has happened to him.”

He said he did not know El-Hakim; her family could not be reached Monday night.

Abdelkader Dani-El-Kebir said he got a call Monday morning from Tunnel Taxi, saying his brother had been in an accident.

When he pulled up at Crescent Avenue, police kept him back about 200 feet, but as he frantically tried to describe his brother to a police officer, he caught sight of the body, slumped in the car.

“I see his body, my brother! I saw him far away,” he said, his voice breaking. A friend rubbed his back as he cried, his face buried in his hands.

He was close with Zouaoui, he said. His younger brother had come to America a few years before him in the late 1980s, married an American woman, and become a US citizen. He and his wife are separated, said Abdelkader, but remain friends. Abdelkader, who drives a taxi for Top Cab, said that every day, he cooked dinner for his own family and extra for Zouaoui.

“My brother is a hard worker,” he said. “I take him food, every night; 9 o’clock, I drop off his dinner. For 20 years, I take food to my brother.”
Zouaoui was close, too, with Abdelkader’s two sons in America.

Employees at Tunnel Taxi confirmed that Dani-El-Kebir had driven for the company, and had gone by the nickname Danny.
However, a manager declined to answer questions about whether he was working when he was shot.

The early morning killings were the second and third homicides this year in Chelsea, police said. In March, a 21year-old man was shot to death in a gang-related killing. In 2012, Chelsea had two homicides, both just a few blocks away from where Monday’s killing occurred. Police do not believe the killings are related.

“This place is not safe anymore,” said Wenling Huang, 55, who lives on Parker Street.

He has grown used to gunshots, he said, and rowdy people out on the streets late at night. “People have to speak out, to hope that something can be done, to clean up this street.”

One Parker Street resident who asked not to be identified because of the seriousness of the crime said that at 3:47 a.m., she heard two gunshots and then the sound of someone running past her home. Just after 4 a.m., she said, police arrived. She said she fears for her children, before nervously stepping back inside her home and shutting the door.

City Manager Jay Ash said that despite Monday’s violence, the neighborhood is “a pretty stable area.”

“Perhaps their reflection is about a house or two,” said Ash, who said it is natural for people to be upset and jumpy after a violent act. “I don’t think there is a particular problem in that neighborhood.” Regina Petricca, 79, who has lived in Chelsea her whole life, said she was not so sure.

“Up until now, I’ve always said it’s getting better. Since all these shootings, I don’t know,” she said. “Terrible, terrible, I feel terrible.

“I put it on Facebook: try to remember the mother and father of these people . . . someone’s crying.”
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Posted - 05/23/2013 :  11:56:00 AM  Show Profile Send Tails a Private Message  Reply with Quote
That's right this would go by people's homes, and the casino too! I doubt Wynn or his people would be too happy.

Residents north of Boston call for halt of ethanol rail plan

By Jeremy C. Fox | GLOBE CORRESPONDENT MAY 23, 2013

Imagine the outcome if terrorists attacked a freight train transporting a highly flammable fuel, which is difficult to extinguish, through densely populated local communities.

Some local activists fear it could become a reality if Global Partners LP is allowed to transport ethanol to its storage terminal in Revere over MBTA commuter rail lines. They are hoping the state Legislature can stop the plan before it becomes reality.

“This ethanol train is basically a bomb train. It’s there for anybody” to attack, said Chelsea resident Roseann Bongiovanni, a member of the Chelsea Creek Action Group.

Bongiovanni, who also is associate executive director of the Chelsea Collaborative — a nonprofit that organizes residents around various causes — said she was alarmed by the arrest, days after the Boston Marathon bombings, of two men in Canada who had Al Qaeda support in their plan to derail a passenger train between Montreal and New York.

She fears someone could hatch a similar plot in Revere, where Global Partners plans to transport ethanol by rail to its terminal on Route 1A, alongside Chelsea Creek, and mix the fuel with gasoline to comply with Clean Air Act standards.

Currently, the firm transports ethanol, the type of alcohol also found in intoxicating drinks, up the creek by barge, a method critics say is far safer for residents.

Global Partners executive Edward Faneuil did not respond to calls requesting comment on the rail plan.

The Waltham-based firm was named number 3 in this year’s Globe 100 list of top-performing public companies in Massachusetts.

Whether intentional or accidental, a derailment could be devastating, said East Boston resident John Walkey, who pointed to the 2007 gasoline tanker truck accident in Everett that shot flames down Main Street, and a 2011 tanker truck crash in Saugus that sparked an eight-alarm fire.

Opponents said rail lines Global Partners would use to transport ethanol from the Midwest through Western Massachusetts to Revere pass through about 90 cities and towns in the Commonwealth, where they say about 200,000 residents live within a half-mile of the tracks.

North of Boston, trains would pass through densely populated areas and near important commercial sites and public facilities, opponents said, including the Chelsea Produce Market, one of the largest fruit and vegetable distribution centers in the United States.

Magdalena Ayed, leader of the Maverick Association of Residents, said her 4- and 6-year-old sons attend Manassah E. Bradley Elementary School in East Boston, overlooking the terminal.

“I don’t feel that safe right now, because the storage tanks are so close,” Ayed said, “but add to that the ethanol trains coming into the communities . . . my heart’s going to be in my mouth all day long.”

A state Department of Transportation safety report released March 29 said members of an advisory group worried there is an insufficient local supply of the alcohol-resistant foam required to extinguish an ethanol fire.

The report, mandated by the Legislature, found the proposed route generally safe but recommended maintaining track conditions and improving safety and security measures.

It noted, though, that under federal law, “the Commonwealth and the communities within it do not have the power to require additional security and safety measures of either Global or the railroads.”

The report was the final hurdle delaying the state Department of Environmental Protection from issuing a license that would allow Global to begin improving a fuel unloading facility at the Revere terminal and dividing a rail spur into two tracks for unloading.

The plan’s opponents are pinning their hopes to two amendments attached to the state Senate’s $33.92 billion annual budget proposal.

One amendment, filed May 17 by Senators Anthony Petruccelli of East Boston, Sal DiDomenico of Everett, and Patricia Jehlen of Somerville, would bar the state from issuing licenses to facilities handling ethanol in densely populated communities. The other amendment the three are proposing would require firms handling ethanol to fund training and equipment necessary to fight ethanol fires.

Earlier efforts in the state House of Representatives to attach similar amendments failed. But DiDomenico was cautiously optimistic that the rewritten amendments would produce results.

“We’re very hopeful that we’ll be addressing some of these issues in the budget, and these amendments will help that,” he said.

Petruccelli, lead sponsor on both, could not be reached for comment. But in an interview the day prior to filing, he said he would do everything he could to protect these communities.

Senators were set to begin debating the budget this week before reconciling differences with the House version passed in April and then submitting a compromise for Governor Patrick’s signature.

DiDomenico said the amendments were necessary because ethanol potentially would be “transported within literally feet of people’s homes.”

“I have two boys, and I wouldn’t want this train going by my home,” DiDomenico said. “This is a missile going through our neighborhoods.”

Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox.
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Posted - 05/26/2013 :  09:05:23 AM  Show Profile Send Tails a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Mayor’s casino pact at issue

Two campaign foes question the deal’s impact, benefits

By Kathy McCabe | GLOBE STAFF MAY 26, 2013

Two members of the Board of Aldermen who are running against Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria Jr. are questioning the impact of a community host agreement DeMaria negotiated with Wynn Resorts, which is seeking to build a $1.2 billion resort casino on vacant industrial land along the Mystic River.

Robert Van Campen, Ward 5 alderman, said a provision requiring Wynn to spend $50,000 annually on gift certificates to Everett businesses to be distributed to casino guests “is a slap in the face to the business community. . . . I would have negotiated a drastically higher sum.”

He also said he would have negotiated a $10 million annual payment for the Everett public schools. “That literally would have changed the game as to our ability to fund education,” Van Campen said. The schools are not mentioned in the agreement.

Millie Cardello, Ward 1 alderwoman, questioned how $5 million earmarked for public safety would be spent. “To what degree is that going to help us?” she said. “Where is that money going? Is it going to pay for benefits or salaries?”

Wynn proposes to build a 19-story bronze-colored glass tower, with a 550-room hotel, a 24-hour casino, and upscale shops and restaurants. Hotel and meals taxes are estimated to be $2.5 million annually, according to the agreement.

‘The deal was rushed, so that he could declare mission accomplished.’

In an interview, DeMaria dismissed the criticism by his opponents in the fall municipal election.

“If someone wants to run for mayor, and tell me I didn’t do a good enough job with this agreement, I beg to differ,” he said.

DeMaria said the agreement was reached after months of negotiations by the city, its legal counsel, and Wynn representatives.

“I think we worked very hard, for about four or five months, to negotiate this agreement,” he said Tuesday after a public meeting to discuss a plan to manage traffic from the project. “I think we’ve got a great agreement.”

The state’s gambling law requires developers to negotiate a community host agreement to mitigate any potential negative impacts of a casino. The state’s gaming commission is not expected to award the license until 2014, Everett officials said.

In Everett, key financial elements include a one-time $30 million payment to the city. Annual payments, totaling $25.2 million, include $20 million in real estate taxes, $5 million for police and fire, and $250,000 in support for local businesses. These payments would increase 2.5 percent annually, according to the agreement.

Other payments, such as the $50,000 for local businesses, would remain the same each year. Everett residents also would be given hiring preferences for the estimated 4,000 jobs the resort would create.

DeMaria said the jobs commitment would help address Cardello’s concern that the casino could bring more crime.

“You put 4,000 kids or young adults to work, they won’t be committing crime, because they’ll have a job,” he said.

But Cardello would like to see more proof that the casino won’t affect crime or property values. “I’d want to see something concrete that proves property values don’t go down,” she said.

Van Campen was an early critic of the agreement, issuing a press release on April 26, the day after DeMaria announced the deal. He wrote that agreement was “good . . . but that it could be a lot better.”

His campaign has taken to social media via its Twitter account, @VanCampen4mayor.

One Tweet read, “Mayor didn’t negotiate Host City Agreement. A lawyer from Mintz Levin wrote it and handed it to him. How’s that for due diligence?”

Van Campen said he didn’t write the Tweet, but that he approved the content. DeMaria’s early support for the casino development gave Wynn Resorts, represented by the Boston law firm Mintz Levin, the upper hand in negotiations, he said.

“The mayor was in a weaker position,” Van Campen said. “He was effectively cheerleading, not serving people as their mayor. The deal was rushed, so that he could declare mission accomplished.”

DeMaria said he never rushed negotiations. “I was very honest with them [Wynn representatives],” he said. “I said, ‘If this development is right for our community, at that point, we’ll make a deal.’ . . . We were able to negotiate a great host agreement.”

The state’s gambling law requires that the host agreement be finalized before a local referendum can be held for residents to vote on whether they want a casino in their community. The law also requires that casino developers pay the cost of the election.

Everett will hold a special election on June 22. The ballot question will ask for a “yes” or “no” on whether voters want Wynn Resorts to develop the casino at the former Monsanto chemical factory located off Routes 16 and 99.

If approved, Wynn Resorts could then continue with its application to acquire the one license available to operate a casino in Greater Boston.

Other applicants include Suffolk Downs and Caesar’s Entertainment, which has applied to operate a casino at the horse racetrack on the Revere/East Boston line. Crossroads Massachusetts has proposed a casino for land off Interstate 495 in Milford.

Kathy McCabe can be reached at kmccabe@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKMc­Cabe.
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