WOBURN - Today, a Middlesex Grand Jury returned indictments against John Buonomo, the former Middlesex Register of Probate, in connection with allegedly stealing funds from his campaign committee and using those funds for his own personal use. Buonomo, age 57, of Newton, is charged with Larceny Over $250 (2 counts), Personal Use of Campaign Funds (2 counts), and Willfully Misleading Investigators. Also indicted today for his role in the alleged scheme was Marc Piro, age 46, of Wilmington. Piro is charged with Larceny Over $250, Personal Use of Campaign Funds, and Willfully Misleading Investigators. Piro is the owner of Guy T. Piro Printing ("Piro Printing"), located in Somerville.
In April 2008, the Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF) began an initial investigation into suspected violations of campaign finance laws by Buonomo. In November 2008, OCPF referred the matter to the Attorney General's Office for further investigation. Authorities believe that on various dates between December 2004 and July 2008, Buonomo withdrew funds from the Committee to Elect John Buonomo for his personal use. Buonomo allegedly stole these funds using two methods. First, investigators discovered that Buonomo allegedly wrote checks to himself from the Committee's account, falsely stating on the checks that he was reimbursing himself for postage he had bought with cash. Second, investigators discovered that Buonomo also allegedly stole funds from his campaign account by writing checks from the Committee to Piro Printing for fictitious print jobs. Authorities believe that Buonomo wanted to make it appear as though the printing company was printing materials for the campaign, when in actuality these services were never rendered. Investigators discovered that after receiving the money from the Committee, Piro would allegedly refund the funds back to Buonomo immediately, minus approximately $500 for each transaction. Authorities believe that Piro also allegedly participated in the creation of fake invoices for these transactions, so that it would appear as if Buonomo had indeed used the company's printing services. All of these fake invoices were created on the same day, and were entered into Piro's accounting system in an effort to make the transactions appear legitimate.
During the course of their initial investigation, OCPF found that Buonomo allegedly submitted to OCPF forged and altered bank records, forged and altered printing invoices, as well as false written statements he had obtained from postal employees. Investigators believe this was an effort by Buonomo to mislead OCPF and to justify the taking of funds from his Committee. Investigators from OCPF and the Attorney General's Office believe that Buonomo stole approximately $100,000 from the Committee.
A Middlesex Grand Jury returned indictments against Buonomo and Piro today. Both men will be arraigned at a later date in Middlesex Superior Court.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Marc Jones of Attorney General Martha Coakley's Corruption and Fraud Division, with assistance from Financial Investigator Jessie Julian Dean and Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Attorney General's Office. Sarah Hartry, Legal Counsel for the Office of Campaign and Political Finance also investigated and assisted with this case.
"The MBTA should not be able to place freestanding billboards wherever they'd like and without input from the communities affected. We all recognize how desperate the MBTA is for new revenue. This amendment allows for ample commercial advertising opportunities while striking a balance by involving communities in discussions about the construction and placement of these potentially towering structures," Senator Galluccio said. "Billboards have gone up rapidly in Charlestown and Somerville. Unfortunately, this amendment was not adopted, but local communities should have some say and this conversation has to take place. I expect this issue will be revisited as the legislative session proceeds."
The transportation reform legislation passed by the Senate consolidates multiple agencies into an independent authority known as the Massachusetts Surface Transportation Authority (MSTA). The reform package will potentially save the Commonwealth up to $6.5 billion over 20 years.
The Senate's bill must now go to the House for further action.
Off The Shelf
This will be my ninth year reading, hosting, and kibitzing at the Boston National Poetry Month Festival April 4, 2009. The festival was founded by Bagel Bard Harris Gardner and it is still going strong. This year, like the others, Somerville poets will be represented. The Somerville contingent includes: CD Collins, Tim Gager, Afaa M. Weaver, Dick Lourie, and Ifeanyi Menkiti. Here is a press release that will give you all the inside dope...hope to see you there!
CO-SPONSORS: Tapestry of Voices & Kaji Aso Studio in partnership with the Boston Public Library, SAVE the DATE, Saturday, April 4th 10:00 A.M.- 4:45 P.M. OPEN MIKE: 1:30 to 4:00P.M. The Festival will be held at the library's main branch in Copley Square. FREE ADMISSION
53 Major and Emerging poets will each do a ten minute reading; ALSO
Featuring six extraordinarily talented prize winning high school students: Dianna Willard & Joshua Mejia from Boston Latin High School; Yolanda Cruz, Peter Li & Yamira Serret: Boston Arts Academy; Gabriella Fee: Walnut Hill School for the Arts. These student stars will open the Festival at 10:00 A.M. SAM CORNISH, Boston's current and first Poet Laureate will open the formal part of the Festival at 11:00 A.M. 52 additional major and emerging poets will follow.
Some of the many luminaries include SAM CORNISH, Diana Der Hovanessian, Richard Wollman, Jennifer Barber, Afaa M. Weaver, Barbara Helfgott-Hyett, Dan Tobin, Ellen Steinbaum, Charles Coe, Ryk McIntyre, Elizabeth McKim, Regie O'Gibson, Kate Finnegan, Michael Bialis, Gary Tucker, (Kaji Aso Studio), Marc Widershien, Sandee Story, CD Collins, Marc Goldfinger, Diana Saenz, Stuart Peterfreund, Valerie Lawson, Joseph DeRoche, Frannie Lindsay, Ifeanyi Menkiti, Dick Lourie , Mark Pawlak, Lainie Senechal, Harris Gardner, Joanna Nealon, Susan Donnelly, Irene Koronas, Doug Holder and a Plethora of other prize winning poets.
This Festival has it all: Professional published poets, celebrities, numerous prize winners, student participation, OPEN MIKE.
Even more, it is about community, neighborhoods, diversity, Boston, and Massachusetts. This popular tradition is one of the largest events in Boston's Contribution to National Poetry Month. FREE ADMISSION!!!
FOR INFORMATION: Tapestry of Voices: 617-306-9484 or 617-723-3716
Wheelchair accessible. Assistive listening devices available. To request a sign language interpreter, or for other special needs, call 617-536-7855(TTY) at least two weeks before the program date.
Lyrical Somerville edited by Doug Holder
Cameron Mount is a substitute teacher at Somerville High, and is also a member of the Davis Square Bagel Bards. He recently received his MFA from Emerson College. To have your work considered for the LYRICAL send it to: Doug Holder 25 School St. Somerville, Mass. 02143 firstname.lastname@example.org.
A leaf-littered chair sits
in the woods behind
The deskless seat stares
at train tracks, nothing,
and wishes for an occupant,
oblivion, between trees
in autumn's fall.
Leaves weep and pool
beneath the abandoned,
drowning the lonely
in the forgotten dead.
They crunch in my booted tread.
I steal out
to learn the unteachable
lessons of decay,
to share the solitude
supporting each other
in the certainty of a sharp
Coriolanus is one of Shakespeare's lesser-performed tragedies, and so it was a meaningful choice for The Actors' Shakespeare Project to use this play as the inaugural performance for the Center for the Arts at the Armory (191 Highland AV, Somerville, MA). The Armory was once a military drill-hall and the ASP must've seen the space as an ideal setting for this story of a headstrong Roman military general.
Benjamin Evett plays Caius Martius (later dubbed Coriolanus), Coriolanus's arrogant, scornful protagonist. During the first act we see him in his element: mocking and intimidating a crowd of riotous Plebeians, encouraging his fellow soldiers into battle, and single-handedly breaking down the gates of an enemy city.
As a result of his heroic deeds, his mother Voluminia (Bobbie Steinbach) and senior Roman senator Menenius Agrippa (Ron Goldman) encourage him to become involved in politics. What they don't understand is that Coriolanus's vision can only accommodate the do-or-die mentality of the battlefield. He cannot cope with the compromise and rhetoric necessary for a political career and this leads to his eventual undoing.
The ASP has put a lot of thought into developing an atmosphere to draw out Coriolanus's military themes. Rusted metal structures are used as props for the spare set. Stephen Serwacki, former STOMP cast-member, has written stark percussion that serves as a backdrop throughout the entire performance. The actors' lines reverberate powerfully against his martial riffs.
Often we see Shakespeare plays being interpreted for different eras. In this case, the costumes evoke a WWII, Communist-tinged wasteland-giant projections of Industrial Workers of the World posters are displayed during scenes with the Roman plebes. Sometimes these interpretations can lead to interesting effects. In this case, the choice seems a bit superfluous. While it doesn't exactly detract from the performance, it doesn't contain the visceral impact of the percussion, and some of the more inventive fight scenes. I understand that this choice ties in with the industrial set-design and plebeian protests, but, when it comes down to it, having the cast dressed in 1940's garb doesn't resonate with the rest of the play.
The main characters' performances are what really shine. Benjamin Evett is an electrifying Coriolanus, marching around the stage in a near-constant frenzy of contempt and outrage-his facial expressions and body-movement make his character's obliviousness and live-wire passion palpable to the audience. His unreflective, action-hero mentality is an interesting contrast to the self-doubt and introspection we see in the more well-known Macbeth and Hamlet. Bobby Steinbach's rendition of Voluminia is pitch-perfect. She manages to evoke an overbearing, needy mother, but with an undercurrent of strong-willed brilliance.
Overall, ASP has put on a wonderfully energetic, confident performance, well worth seeing. It is also a great opportunity to support Somerville's new community arts center at the Armory.
Coriolanus produced by Actors' Shakespeare Project will be at the Armory through April 5.
Local youths will have a chance to discuss issues facing them and their peers, and hear about opportunities for creating positive community change at the third annual Somerville Youth Peace Conference. The event is being organized by the youth leadership non-profit Teen Empowerment, and will be led by 30 of the group's trained youth leaders at Somerville High School on Saturday, April 4.
"Our goal is to give Somerville youth an opportunity to use their own experiences, their voices, and their unique talents to raise awareness about the issues affecting their lives and the community and inspire their peers to work together toward positive change" said Stephanie Berkowitz, the Director of External Relations for Teen Empowerment.
At the conference, themed "The Faces of Change: The Changes We Face," presentations by youth speakers will be used to foster dialogue among a diverse group of participants. Using mediums such as rap, poetry, plays and dance, youths will have a chance to express their perspectives on issues that affect them, including teen pregnancy, gang violence, immigration.
The conference will kick off with a "Jobs and Services Fair" that will provide participants with information on local services available to Somerville youths, and expose them to potential employers. There will also be a fashion design workshop, an address from Mayor Curtatone, and a speech by Terrel Walton, a former Somerville High School student who was left partially paralyzed by a gang-related shooting.
The conference will also highlight Teen Empowerment's "successful efforts to improve youth outcomes in Somerville over the past few years," according to Berkowitz. One such successful effort came out of the 2007 conference, where teens identified a lack of summer job opportunities for the city's teenagers, and sent a letter to the Mayor's Youth Council. Their appeal led to increased funding in the city's budget to create more jobs, and to the appointment of a summer youth employment coordinator.
Last year's conference drew a crowd of almost 700 young people, according to organizers, and they expect a similar turnout this year. The conference will run from 11:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Somerville High School. Tickets are $3, and the admission cost covers lunch. For more information, you can visit Teen Empowerment's Web site, http://www.teenempowerment.org/somerville/, or call them at 617-628-0710.
(The opinions and views expressed in the commentaries of The Somerville News belong solely to the authors of those commentaries and do not reflect the views or opinions of The Somerville News, its staff or publishers.)
Whether it's the stimulus bill, or the plan to flush "toxic" assets from the financial system, or health care reform, or a sustainable approach to transportation, or the adoption of better environmental policy, all eyes are on Washington these days - including the eyes of municipal officials across the country. After all, all of these issues, and a lot more, are of immediate and compelling interest to local governments and the residents they serve.
I have the privilege of serving on the Board of Directors of the National League of Cities (NLC), the Washington-based non-profit organization that provides advocacy and policy analysis for America's urban communities. From Saturday March 14th through Wednesday the 18th, the NLC held its Congressional Cities Conference, which is an annual event designed to highlight urban issues and concerns for Congressional leaders and staff as well as for the White House and Cabinet officials. I attended the conference in the company of Alderman at Large Jack Connolly and Ward 2 Alderman Maryann Heuston, who both serve on key NLC policy committees. (Maryann serves on the Community and Economic Development steering committee and Jack is on the steering committee for Transportation Infrastructure and Services).
It was an extremely useful trip. We heard from the Obama Administration about its plans to distribute $1 billion in new Community Oriented Policing (COPS) Program funding - and you can bet that we'll be pursuing a share of that money for Somerville, where we have rolled out a comprehensive community policing strategy over the past year. We heard from Dept. of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who briefed us on DOT's efforts to pump transportation stimulus dollars into local economies - which is especially gratifying for Somerville when you consider how much transit development is occurring within our borders (and how important transit improvements will be to our future economic development and quality of life). We heard from Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson and Energy Secretary Steven Chu about the commitment made by the Obama Administration to support green jobs and clean tech with incentives and economic development dollars.
If you live or work in Somerville, all of these news items should be music to your ears: After years of neglect, mistrust, and even open conflict, the federal government's agenda is at last starting to align with the strategies and policies we've been pursuing here in Somerville. Especially at a time of constrained resources and economic uncertainty, it makes a huge difference to have strong executive branch allies at the federal level to match the support and leadership we've been getting from Governor Patrick and his team.
We don't know yet how much stimulus funding and other federal grant money we'll see here in Somerville over the next couple of years, but at least we can expect a fair shake. What we are trying to do here - build a sustainable future based on transit-oriented, mixed use development; green- and clean-tech industrial activity and constantly improving public education - is precisely the type of local agenda that the federal government is trying to support.
But perhaps the single most encouraging trend we noticed in Washington is the reemergence of the Massachusetts congressional delegation as major powerbrokers in all aspects of federal policy. I saw Senator John Kerry only briefly, but you may recall that he visited Somerville at the beginning of the month to voice his strong commitment to Assembly Square. Anybody who saw the media coverage of that event will tell you that Senator Kerry has a deep and detailed understanding of Assembly Square's potential, the size of the positive economic impact it brings to the city and the region, and the importance of federal support for the transportation and utility infrastructure needed to make the project work.
On this Washington trip, I had a much longer visit with Mike Capuano, and it bodes very well for Somerville's future that our Congressman has risen so high in the House Democratic leadership - and become such a strong and effective advocate not just for Somerville but for cities across the nation. Congressman Capuano is not only a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee and the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, but - maybe more important -a senior and trusted member of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's Democratic leadership team.
In these days of fiscal and economic uncertainty for our city, state and nation, nobody should pretend that our short-term future is looking very bright - but thanks to the effective representation Somerville enjoys in Washington, we can be confident of getting the attention and support we deserve.
Discussions to reconfigure the concrete jungle and traffic mayhem of Rutherford Avenue and City Square into a green, bike and pedestrian-friendly corridor continued to evolve Monday night.
The City of Boston's transportation department and its consulting team, Tetra Tech Rizzo and the Cecil Group, led the third community meeting at the Knights of Columbus in Charlestown with a few dozen residents to ponder design alternatives. Since the past two meetings had covered neighborhood concerns with the area and plans for Sullivan Square, the focus on Monday night was on the area south of Sullivan Square, including Austin Street, Rutherford Avenue and City Square.
Organizers have completed the planning phase and are now in the conceptual design stage. This summer and fall planners will draw up a consensus design for the whole corridor that stretches from Mishawum Street to City Square.
The $100 million project was accepted as a major infrastructure project in the state's long range plan. The good news for the state is that $1 billion of stimulus dollars will go toward funding projects such as this, with $20 million appropriated for Federally-funded highways coming into Boston, said a representative from Congressman Michael Capuano's office.
"The planning stage is "where it all happens" and gives residents the opportunity for input, said Boston Transportation Department Commissioner Tom Tinlan, who added the city wants to ensure that project managers protect and enhance Sullivan Square and Rutherford Avenue that serve as the "jewels" of the city.
Mike Hall, the project manager for Tetra Tech Rizzo, outlined the following issues that consultants working on the project wanted to address:
o The lack of a crosswalk on Rutherford Avenue
o The lack of a direct connection to Paul Revere Park
o Rutherford Avenue is unnecessarily wide, encompassing nine lanes
o There are poor sight lines for pedestrians
o The crosswalk across Chelsea Street is not ADA compliant.
On the outbound side of Rutherford Avenue toward the bridge, the road can be narrowed by one lane. Filling in the unused left-hand lane will create a 20-foot median to separate the north and southbound traffic. A crosswalk across the eight lanes and modified light signs will allow pedestrian access.
A continuous bike and pedestrian path will run alongside the corridor and cross over Rutherford Avenue alongside the crosswalk.
Landscaping (hardy, drought-resilient plants) and a continuous linear park-like edge will green the area and allow for meeting spaces and tot lots, said Steven Cecil of The Cecil Group. It will also provide opportunities to redevelop the land alongside the corridor that is consistent with neighborhood plans, he said.
Residents were generally receptive, but came up with questions and suggestions to fine-tune the concepts. For example, they stressed that the wide sidewalks are important, as that area sees heavy pedestrian traffic.
Some were not too fond of on-street parking along Rutherford Avenue, while others questioned the availability of parking in that area to accommodate the retail businesses in City Square.
The medians must also be maintained, as other medians in the city have been neglected, a resident said.
Traffic volume on Rutherford Avenue has decreased by 40% since 1997, according to Tinlan, so planners will consider slowing traffic down with traffic signals, while acknowledging that they can't create congestion that would tempt motorists to cut through neighborhoods. Planners will also look at how to accommodate the variety of traffic that includes MBTA buses, trucks and cars.
The Rutherford Avenue underpass could also be taken away and the streets graded at one level. Doing so would also need to happen at Sullivan Square, Cecil said. If the underpass remained, one lane of traffic would pass in either direction with a grade separating the two lanes.
Regarding the Austin Street area, planners would like to get rid of the strange U-turn there. Doing so could allow for a more creative use of the space, such as erecting a coffee shop for Bunker Hill community College students. If Bunker Hill Community College changes its access from the Austin Street area, the crosswalks could be shorter and allow for some landscaping, but the city would need to talk to the college, Tinlan said.
The 72-foot-wide underpass at Austin Street could also be narrowed to about 58 feet, the retraining wall moved over, the sidewalks widened and a bike connection installed, Cecil said.
Planners will post all project updates at www.cityofboston.gov/transportation/rutherford/ sometime next week.
Neighbors at the first planning meeting in July voiced the following concerns with the Rutherford Avenue/Sullivan and City Squares areas:
o Pedestrian access between the neighborhood and the Sullivan Square station
o Bus circulation and access at Sullivan Square station
o Main Street and cut-through traffic
o Truck impacts and traffic
o Traffic lanes and speed reduced on Rutherford Avenue
o Pedestrian access improvements at City Square
o Bike lanes are needed
BOSTON - Wednesday, March 25,2009
- As part of his Massachusetts Recovery Plan to secure the state's economic future, Governor Deval Patrick today announced an additional $764 million in federal recovery funds to secure jobs, maintain health care reform and protect key safety net services.
"These additional FMAP funds are critically important to Massachusetts during these challenging economic times," said Governor Patrick. "Through thoughtful and strategic investments, we will protect and assist Massachusetts residents who will rely on the state for key services and supports now more than ever."
The federal American Recovery & Reinvestment Act provides a temporary boost in the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP), increasing federal matching dollars for Massachusetts' Medicaid program from 50 percent to between 56.2 percent and 61.6 percent, depending on unemployment levels in the state during the stimulus period.
Approximately $764 million in additional FMAP funding will be available to Massachusetts in FY09 and FY10, which supplements the $1.2 billion announced in January as part of the Governor's Emergency Recovery Plan for FY09 and FY10.
Securing Jobs and Supporting Health Care Services: $255million in FY10.
Ensuring the stability of essential health providers and ongoing strategic initiatives is critical to maintaining jobs in the health sector and preserving key services.
The Governor's FY10 budget priorities provide $255 million for:
Hospitals: $160 million
Nursing homes: $45 million
Community mental health: $15 million
Community health centers: $10 million
"Community First" initiative: $20 million
Other health care providers: $5 million
Maintaining Health Care Reform: $222 million in FY10
The Governor's plan for FY10 provides $222 million to maintain coverage and eligibility for all existing MassHealth and Commonwealth Care members, allowing for anticipated increases in caseloads with the creation of a caseload mitigation reserve fund.
Protecting the Safety Net: $97 million in FY10.
The Governor's funding priorities for protecting safety net services in FY10 include:
Department of Mental Health: 14 million
Support additional rental subsidies for people with mental illness living in the community.
Provide adequate funding to maintain inpatient capacities.
Department of Mental Retardation / Department of Developmental Disabilities: $31.6 million Renovate community group homes as part of the "Community First" initiative.
Restore funding for family supports.
Disability Commissions and Veterans:$5.73 million.
Restore after-hour interpreter services for the deaf and hard of hearing.
Fund supports for people with disabilities in the workforce (Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission, Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Commission for the Blind).
Invest in veterans.
Department of Children and Families: $10.2 million.
Preserve 82 social work positions.
Increase rates for foster care families.
Department of Youth Services: $3.4 million.
Address substance abuse for detained and committed youth.
Institute transitional placements.
Department of Public Health: $7.4 million.
Support Department's Bureau of Health Care Safety and Quality.
Maintain access to family planning services.
MassHealth - Children's Behavior Health Initiative: $25 million.
"Safety net services are critically important during times of economic uncertainty, and the Governor's commitment to securing jobs, maintaining health care reform and protecting needed supports will make Massachusetts communities stronger," added Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. JudyAnn Bigby. "By making these key investments now, we are continuing to preserve insurance coverage and eligibility for vulnerable populations to avoid capping program enrollment and eliminating services just when they are needed most."
"Unlike in previous fiscal emergencies, where administrations balanced their budgets by reducing safety net services and Capping enrollment in health programs, Governor Patrick is making the prudent and compassionate choice to use these federal funds to prevent more devastating cuts in our safety net," said Leslie Kirwan, Secretary of Administration and Finance."This is a fiscally responsible use of the recovery funds and will ensure that those in need get the help they deserve."
"These actions by Governor Patrick are just what the doctor ordered. This vital funding for health care in Massachusetts is an important element in President Obama's economic recovery plan that we fought for so hard in the Congress," said Senator Edward Kennedy. "I commend Governor Patrick's plan to use the federal recovery funds to shore up safety net services. His plan provides desperately needed money for essential health services, and will stem the tide of job layoffs in the health sector."
"We are facing challenging economic times and this additional federal funding will help ease some of the pressure on health care safety net programs. It is an effective use of stimulus funds and will have a direct impact on many Massachusetts residents," said Congressman Mike Capuano.
"The economic recovery bill was designed to save jobs and prevent the most vulnerable kids and senior citizens from falling through the cracks in the toughest economic times since the Great Depression," said Senator John Kerry. "This investment will guarantee that the kids and low-income folks hurting the most continue to get desperately needed health care services. I applaud Governor Patrick for distributing these funds in a way that protects thousands of people across Massachusetts."
"Maintaining high quality health care services is absolutely critical - especially in these tough economic times," Congressman Jim McGovern said. "I'm pleased that the Governor is ensuring that a wide range of services will receive this federal funding."
Congressman John Olver said, "Shoring up our health care system is a responsible and proper use of stimulus funds. This extra infusion of capital will help to ensure that modest income people have access to health care in these difficult economic times. In addition, these funds will directly contribute toward maintaining high-paying jobs in the health sector."
"I am pleased to see that the $764 million in FMAP dollars provided to the state via the Economic Stimulus bill will be used to address some of Massachusetts most urgent health care needs," Congressman Stephen F. Lynch said.
"These funds will secure jobs, lead to the stabilization of our safety-net hospitals and community health centers, provide for the continuation of health care reform and ensure essential services to those in need. With the economic downturn taking its toll on health care, the funds could not have come at a better time."
"I'm pleased that these federal funds will help Massachusetts maintain its role as a leader in health reform, while making certain that our hospitals and health centers have the resources to provide access to the quality, preventive care that so many of our most vulnerable citizens urgently need," said Congressman John Tierney.
"These needed funds will ensure that medical providers in our state are able to maintain essential health services, will sustain the Commonwealth's historic commitment to universal health care, and protect our most vulnerable residents all while creating local jobs," said Congresswoman Niki Tsongas. "I want to thank Governor Patrick and Lt. Governor Murray for their ongoing commitment to health care, as well as for their efforts to ensure that the funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act are used to create jobs and make much needed investments in our communities."
"These federal funds will provide critical support for those across the state who need it the most," said Congressman Edward J. Markey. "The money will support the young, the old, the disabled, and the veterans who have served our country so honorably. Our health is our first wealth, and this will provide a vital safety-net for our families and communities."
Investments in safety net services are a critical component of Governor Patrick's Massachusetts Recovery Plan, which combines state, federal and, where possible,private efforts to provide immediate and long-term relief and position the Commonwealth for recovery in the following ways:
Deliver immediate relief by investing in the road, bridge and rail projects that put people to work today and providing safety net services that sustain people who are especially vulnerable during an economic crisis: build a better tomorrow through education and infrastructure investments that strengthen our economic competitiveness, prepare workers for the jobs of the future and support clean energy, broadband and technology projects that cut costs while growing the economy; and reform state government by eliminating the pension and ethics loopholes that discredit the work of government and revitalize the transportation networks that have suffered from decades of neglect and inaction.
For more information about what the federal recovery law means for Massachusetts, please visit www.mass.gov/recovery.
This pervasiveness seems to have found its way to certain local print and online outlets in a really distracting manner. Not distracting to us, we get why they bang their drum, but distracting to the people who matter - the readers - the average, every day people on the street that look to these very print and online information sources for some insight on what is going on.
We applaud the Mayor for bring people into the process, giving them access to online resources so that their voices can be heard. At the end of the day, there is nothing more important than infrastructure and vital services, but there is always room for cooperative discussion and feedback on budgetary issues that affect everyone in this city. We can only hope that the print and online information sources that have been to this point only luke warm to the idea of coming together get on board, and quickly.
After accomplishing a memorable season, the Somerville High girls track team placed one final exclamation point on a successful campaign. At the Somerville City Club on March 12th, 12 awards were presented to outstanding athletes by High School Headmaster Tony Ciccariello, Athletic Director Nicole Viele, as well as assistant headmasters Joe Burke, Eve Jones and John Oteri.
"Over 125 people were in attendance and it was success," said coach Charles O'Rourke in regards to the banquet. "We had a lot of people there, and I think it just goes to show how much support there is for the program. We had a great season, and we couldn't have ended it on a higher note. We had a lot of girls step up and contribute and they all did a great job."
As for the awards, Nicole Genard captured the team's high scorer award. Gerard, who qualified for the all-states in the high hurdles, emerged as one of the top highlights of the Highlanders season. Other impressive accomplishments included Jessica Lopes, who was named as the team's unsung hero. Junior Jessica Masse, who qualified for all-states in the shotput, was also named as the team's most improved athlete.
"(Masse) had a wonderful season and she took our throwers to a whole another level," said O'Rourke. "She did a fabulous job."
Earning rookie of the year honors for the Highlanders were the freshmen duo of Genard and Tayla Plett.
In receiving the coaches' award, Justine Homsi guided the Highlanders in several track events while Michelle Meranda also picked up the assistant coaches' award.
Receiving captains' plaques were the tandem of Homsi, Esther Sainterling, Rose Mathieu and Jessica LeBrun.
Establishing school records was the sophomore sensation of Sasha Garczynski, who recorded an astounding time of 1:42.54 in the 600 meters, along with a time of 3:10.53 in the 1000 meters.
Highlanders who earned Greater Boston League All-Star status were Genard, Thethe Selenga, Mathieu, Garczynski, Casse Marsden and Masse.
As for next year's captains, the Highlanders will be guided by Sabrina Ozit, Masse and Conde.
"The girls did a great job this season," said O'Rourke. "They were indeed a special group to coach and hopefully, we'll be able to continue it this spring."
High School Scholarship Foundation is having its annual major
fundraiser raffle coming up, drawing to be held May 8th at the Highland
Café at 7pm. Tickets are $100.00, for a chance at many prizes - contact
Gene Brune or any of the trustees for tickets before they are all sold
out - it's a great fundraiser for a great cause.|
Ward 5 Alderman Sean O'Donovan is having a "Spring Fling" celebration-fundraiser this Friday evening, the 27th, at the Dante Club on Craigie Street from 6pm to 10pm, tickets are $25.00 - should be a good turnout, as Sean has proven in the past on election year he can attract a lot of fans and support.
Veterans Services Department Director Frank Senesi is still looking for donations to help defray the cost of the Memorial Day Parade. He has done a wonderful job here in Somerville since being appointed by Mayor Joe. Every year the parade gets better and better and brings a lot of pride to our city, please send any donation you can to "The City of Somerville Parade and Memorial Restoration Fund" and mail to: The CSPF Parade Committee, c/o The Somerville Veterans Services Department, 50 Evergreen Ave. Somerville MA 02145 or call Frank at 617 625-6600 x 4700.
Cafe Lola is the new name of the great coffee place across from East Cambridge Savings on Highland Avenue. Lola Riveras has taken over the café and has some great ideas for the future. We wish her well. Mention this note in Newstalk and get a muffin for $1.00, they're the best around.
Nice to see our Friend and former Publisher Bob Publicover back as the emcee on the Mayor's Report. He and Mayor Joe recently had the Police Chief Anthony Holloway on as their guest and will soon be joined by the Fire Chief and DPW Commissioner in the near future. Doesn't Bob look great, since he put on a few pounds, he is the best.
Don't forget to renew your dog license. You can be fined if your dog isn't licensed every year!
Shout out to Dave Bolger down at the Housing Authority who continues to help people to find housing in a caring, professional way. We often hear good things about how Dave treats his clients.
Get well wishes to City Assessor Dick Bressia - get back up and around soon. Dick does a great job and Somerville is lucky to have such an honest, experienced man in that job.
Newly elected Register of Probate Tara DeCristofaro is having a birthday breakfast Saturday, April 4th at the Hilton Hotel in Burlington, cost is $35.00 per person 9:30am. to 11:30am.
And finally our own Congressman Mike Capuano is having fundraiser at the Hotel Marlowe on Monday, April 6th, from 5:30pm to 7:30pm. Great time to come and talk to him about the stimulus money given by congress lately. Mike is always a good listener and he has always been all about service to his district.
Somerville Pop Warner at 66 Sycamore Street is seeking donations to help run their programs for the nearly 300 kids here in Somerville from ages 5 to 15. In these economic hard times, they are reaching out to the public for more donations to keep the programs alive. Contact President Roger Desrouchers for how you can help or want more information about the programs they offer.
The Somerville Chamber of Commerce's next Business After Hours gathering on the first Thursday of the month is coming up on April 2nd at The Burren in Davis Sq. Great opportunity for local businesses to get to know one another and networking at its best.
Nice to see that the Somerville Police Officer out of work due to and auto accident in January is up and around raking and blowing his leaves around his yard on one of the nice warm days last week - we are looking forward to seeing him back to work soon!
Funny how several teenagers who were recently on the front page of the Farm Team paper were accusing the Police Department of abuse, how is that they found the Farm Team office and not the Somerville Police Station where they could have filed the complaint directly - or was it a slow news day at the Farm Team?
Masonic Open House is once again this coming Saturday from 9am to 3pm at 125 Highland Avenue "Rear" - two long time Masonic Lodges meet there and both are very active lodges as well. They contribute to many local charities and community programs. Ever wanted to know what Masons do and what its all about - the public is welcomed this Saturday. King Solomon's Lodge (just celebrated its 225th Anniversary) and Somerville Lodge members will be on hand to answer your questions. Go up the driveway to the large parking lot and then to the double doors. Any male over the age of 18 is eligible to join.
Enjoy laughing with others who like to laugh! Socialize, uplift your spirits and improve your health! Every 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month. 11 a.m. till 12 noon at 6 William Street(Unity Church of God) $5 per person or per family. Walter Ness leads group laughter exercises to enhance the enjoyment of laughter and show the value of different ways to laugh. For information go to www.SomervilleLaughterClub.com
Finally, our condolences to family and friends of Raymond Izzo, who was a school department employee for over 38 years, he was a nice guy and will be missed.
Okay, so where is Spring? As I am starting to write this article on Monday, the temperature is in the 30's . I thought it was supposed to be spring? We had some very nice teases there over the last couple of weeks.
We hit the bike trail and peddled to Spy pond in Arlington. The playground was packed, and we heard the words "good job" over and over from affirming parents. Little Johnny actually found his mouth with a granola bar! But these little spurts of warm weather is like dangling a dog biscuit in front of a pup. And who can you complain to? Each other, that's all. I'm tired of telling my kids to zip up their sweatshirts, or to put their coats on. The crocuses have croaked - so why am I still freezing my butt off?
Again, who can you complain to? Shelby Scott? Don Kent? Dick Albert just retired, so count him out. We did our time this winter for sure. It was like the movie Groundhog Day. As soon as we cleared one snow storm away, another one came. You couldn't keep enough rock salt and snow melt on hand. I want to wear my spring Red Sox jackets. My gas bill was the highest it's been ever. I am not on that budget plan but I made my own plan. I send them what I can each month, and they can like it or lump it.
We want warm weather. We are ready for warm weather. We deserve warm weather. This winter is like a pimple that won't go away.
When we have nice day, I open a few windows to get the smell of dog out. Then the next morning I am sitting watching TV, drinking my morning coffee shivering from the arctic blast coming from the open window I forgot to close.
The kids don't care if it's still cold out. They took off for Davis Square Saturday with just sweatshirts on. The kids can take it, I can't. Now I know why people work hard their whole lives and so that they can spend winters in Florida.
When we were kids weather didn't seem to bother us. We would go outside if was raining, snowing or if there was a monsoon. God forbid we stayed in the house. For crying out loud, what fun was that? Who the heck wanted to get up and go over to the TV every time you wanted to change the channel? Either that or you could watch Candlepins For Cash with your dad. My mother always used to ask me "where are you going?" And I'd say something like "I'm going over to (unintelligible mumble)'s." She knew it was baloney because no parent wanted 12 teenagers in their house listening to Led Zeppelin. We only did that when they weren't home.
We would go hang around at the corner of Bay State and Kidder for hours, under the tree that isn't there anymore and lean up against Teddy Bates' fence. He doesn't live there anymore either. If Ted's dad went out, we went in! Sometimes,there would be about 20 of us just hanging around. I guess back then our long hair helped keep us warm. The day my parents drove by on their way home from church and surprised me I had something else to supply a little heat. I had to stick a lit butt in my pocket until they finished their little visit and drove off. That warmed me up a little. We had no cell phones or Ipods either.
When we spoke, we spoke to each other face to face . If we were going to be late we had to go to a store and use a dime to call home. We wore army surplus green army jackets or blue navy pea coats. Our hands stayed in our pockets. Some of us conned our parents into buying us a leather jacket. I got one and loved it. I still remember the smell of that coat when it was new. It was the coolest article of clothing I ever got. It never left my sight at the Western Junior High School. It was stylish, but it didn't keep me warm while hanging on that corner.
That was a good spring. Thankfully, one by one we stared getting our drivers licenses, which meant now we parked on the corner and listened to Led Zeppelin. But when the nice weather arrived, we were out and about. All the hangouts started becoming more densely populated with kids. You know the ones I'm talking about.
Yes, I am ready for spring, even if it doesn't mean hanging around on a corner full of friends any more. It means walking the dog without shivering and not having to warm the truck up for 20 minutes. It means no more shoveling, no scarves and no hats to mess up our hair. Somerville is ready for spring, so bring it on!
Speaking of simpler times, a wonderful little radio station is in need of our help. It is WJIB, the memory station, and it plays great laid back music with no annoying commercials. That means it is listener supported. Right now they are having a donation drive, asking for contributions to meet their skyrocketing operating costs. The donation is, however, not tax deductible.
Bob Bittner is the owner and operator and here is the address: WJIB, 443 Concord Ave., Cambridge MA 02138. Their website is www.wjib740.com - so if you want great music without commercials and talk, WJIB 740 am is for you! Where else can you hear the Ballad of the Green Berets, The Singing Nun, Tom Jones, the Beatles, Sinatra, Glenn Miller and other adult standards without a car ad in between each song? You can email Jimmy directly at email@example.com.
Culminating another successful season, the Somerville High boys track team received a multitude of awards in the annual winter banquet held at the Somerville City Club on March 12th.
Earning Greater Boston League all star status was senior Kyler Evitt, who competed in the mile run, while Verly Jean delivered in the hurdles. Other all-stars included Keenan Augusts in the shotput, Nathaniel Evers in the 600 and Marcello Ciampa in the dash.
"Keenan and John won at the GBL Championships," said coach Dave Dickerson. "And the others owned the top time in their events during the season."
Emerging as the outstanding field event athlete event award was sophomore John Thomas at the high jump. Thomas who cruised to a victory in the freshman and sophomore championships, also captured the top spot in the league meet, clearing the bar with a state qualifying score of 5'10".
Sophomore Edward Chen, who won the both the league and freshman/sophomore meet in the hurdles, qualified for the Division 1 state championships, also placed third in the dash at the freshman/sophomore meet.
Recording the outstanding distance award was sophomore Tim Sullivan, who captured the two mile at the freshman/sophomore meet. In addition, he posted a time of 4:46, to grab fourth place at the league championship meet.
After suffering a quad injury playing baseball in the off-season, Augustus earned comeback of the year honors, while winning the shotput at the league championships.
"He was hurt in the baseball season with an ugly looking injury to his right quad," said Dickerson. He won the shotput with a league best throw at the GBL Championships."
Earning the most improved award was senior Scott Fitzgerald in the two-mile, who was the fourth leading scorer on the team. While placing second in the league championships, Fitzgerald earned a 12th place result with a time of 4:40.
Senior Bendhjy Naziare and freshman Andryc Evich received rookies of the year award while leading the Highlanders to several strong finishes in a number of events.
"A first season impact athlete, (Nazjare) improved as the season progressed in the 600 and 300 meter run and then moved up to the 4x800m relay at the Division 1 State Championships," said Dickerson. "We'll get him for one more season outdoor before he heads off to college next year.
(Evich) started inconspicuously but just kept on building up to being a competitive athlete in the GBL. Not afraid to practice on Saturdays, he ran his best at the end of the season with a strong 1000 yard run at the GBL Junior Varsity meet."
Notching the unsung hero award was senior Robby Lyons, who emerged as the fifth leading scorer on the team.
"Robby has great leadership and practice habits," said Dickerson. "He constantly reminded everyone what was needed in practice and at meets, placed third in the 1000 meters at the GBL Championships in qualifying for the D1 State meet. He was the 5th leading scorer on a team of all-stars."
Emerging as a proud recipient of the coaches' award was senior standout Kyler Evitt, who delivered one of the school's top times at 4:32 in a meet against league champions Cambridge.
"There was quite an over the top write up about all this guy has accomplished in his years at SHS," said Dickerson. "The real truth is that Kyler shows up every day because he wants to; not because he has to. He is the real deal and he did everything from organizing the team warm-up to putting away the equipment at the end of meets and practice. He always had a few encouraging and commanding comments prior to meets. Pushed the Highlanders to the lead against Cambridge with two events remaining while running one of the top 3 times ever run on the SHS indoor Track (4:32 equivalent of a sub 4:26 mile on a 200 meter track), while defeating the eventual Division 1 two-mile State Champion in our house. It would have been great to see him display the fruits of all the hard work at the GBL & State meet, but the Flu won out at an inopportune time. Anyone else would be devastated, but Kyler will be back."
After leading the Highlanders in points, Jean received the honors as the team's Most Valuable Player, posting solid and consistent performances in both the hurdles and the high jump.
"(Jean) picked up the mantle as the GBL's best hurdler in only his second full year on the team, went undefeated during the season in the hurdles and scored key points in the high jump. He was the top seed at the GBL Championships with the best time in the preliminary round but caught the penultimate hurdle in the final allowing an Everett running to sneak by."
Also picking up the Donald Kirton Memorial Award was senior Israel Rodriguez, who not only shined in the spotlight on the track, but off of it with his tireless commitment of community service at the YMCA.
"The winner of this award encompasses many great characteristics that we look for in our athletes and he has worked through some obstacles to be where he is today (accepted to attend Salem State next fall)," said Dickerson. "He'll run any event asked and actually wishes we had a three-mile run in high school track."
Following a team vote, next year's senior captains will be John Thomas, Augustus, Tim Sullivan and Chen.
|By Mike Rubin|
Led by a multitude of solid performances, a large number of middle school athletes shined in the spotlight at the 20th Annual Elementary Track and Field Championships held on March 10th at Somerville High School.
On the boys side, Winter Hill posted a team score of 77, followed by East Somerville who notched 53. Other participants included the Argenziano (19), the Healey (12) and the Kennedy Elementary Schools (eight).
Earning Most Valuable Player honors was Phoenix Huertas of Winter Hill, who captured both the 50-yard hurdles and high jump while Josue Rubio of East Somerville finished with honorable mention.
In the mile run, Winter Hill's Andre Rolim won his second consecutive race in the mile, posting a time of 6:15, while Huertas captured the 50-yard hurdles (8.4). Leading the way in the dash was Troy Martini of the Kennedy, who also posted his second consecutive win in with a time of 6.2, followed by Shyheem Silvia's victory in the 220 yard dash (33.0).
Leading the way in the 300 yards was Rubio, who cruised to a win in the 300 yards (44.0), followed by Carlos Guerra of East Somerville, who won the 600 yards (1:56).
In the high jump, Huertas, Rubio and Guerra all finished in a three way tie for first, clearing the bar at 4'6", while Christian Colon of Winter Hill rolled to a victory in the shotput (32'8").
For the girls, the Healey cruised to a win with a score of 57 points, followed by the Winter Hill (38), Kennedy (36) and the Argenziano (14).
Recording Most Valuable Player honors was Jennifer DiPersio of Winter Hill, who finished first in the high jump and second in the 600 yard race, while Jucline Felix earned honorable mention.
In the mile run, Melissa Baptista cruised to a win, finishing with a time of 7:31, while Brianna Dell'Isola captured the 50-yard hurdles. In the dash, Felix rolled to a win in with a time of 7.03, followed by Melissa Sanon in the 220 yard race (34.7). Leading the way in the 300 yards was Melinda Haley of the Healey, who finished in a tie for first with Winter Hill's Gelynne Berger, who posted a time of 51.1.
In the 600 yards, Shykela McAndrew of the Healey earned a victory with a time of 2:15.9, followed by DiPerserio's win in the high jump (3'4"). Also posting a strong performance in the shotput was Roselie Preval of the Kennedy, who finished with a first place toss of 30'3", while the 4x160 relay team of Julie Melgar, Jasmine Bejarano, Preval and Felix emerged victorious with a time of 1:45.
Two years after extensive pollution was first discovered at 50 Tufts Street, the full scope of its consequences is coming into focus. In all, an amoeba-shaped swath of Glen Park, from Alston Street to the Southern tip of Franklin Avenue, and including the Michael E. Capuano Early Childhood Center, has demonstrated contamination of one form or another.
As Anne-Marie Desmarais, a consultant hired with a grant by the Friends & Neighbors of Glen Park, explained in a March 10th informational session, "contamination occurred by dribs-and-drabs, over many years." The toxins released then slowly spread out through the groundwater.
Recently, Tufts Medical School interviewed residents from 39 different households within the affected area and found no health effects clearly linked to the pollution. The results were encouraging, said Pirie, but the sample size much too small to be definitive.
GEI, a firm hired by Unifirst, the company responsible for the pollution, is currently working at the site to extract contaminants.
Unfortunately, there is a limit to what can be accomplished mechanically in such a densely populated area. GEI looked into possible methods of "cleaning up", like the installation of a miniature purification plant. They found, however, that the contamination itself is irreversible, explained Desmarais. "It took 50 years to spread out," she said, "and it could take even longer to be cleaned up naturally." What is not left up to time, however, is the action that can be taken by residents.
According to an investigation undertaken by GEI and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, the only remedy that can guarantee the safety of residents would be an installation within the basement of each building in question. Exposure can only occur through the air, after evaporation, as noxious fumes enter the house through the cellar. At the cost of Unifirst, the cellar can either be sealed, or a pipe that pumps toxins out of the basement could be installed. This method has already been used at the Capuano Center, where four classrooms were found with traces of the pollutants.
A handful of landlords and tenants, however, have not been cooperative with GEI and MDEP's investigation. "They aren't sure what do with people with high levels of toxins who either won't have their houses tested or who won't allow for remediation," Alex Pirie, Coordinator of Immigrant Service Projects and Health. Such landlords are not required by law to notify their residents of the possible health risks and may fear that doing so will scare them away. As Desmarais emphasized, such a "head in the sand" approach is potentially very dangerous. "Based on what we know," she said, "there shouldn't be alarm, but there should be caution."
Residents opposed to a proposed condominium project on Summer Street may get a second chance to argue against a permit extension that gave the developer another year to begin construction.
In response to a lawsuit filed against the Zoning Board of Appeals by three abutters of a property slated to become 14 condos on the 300 block of Summer Street, the board voted March 18 to file an order in the Middlesex Superior Court asking the case to be brought back within its jurisdiction.
The property, owned by the Dakota Partners, has remained empty as a seven-year legal battle has
unfolded among abutters, the developer and the city. With the construction permit on the brink of lapsing, the ZBA's unanimously approved extension at its Feb. 18 meeting.
In effect, the remand order filed in the court acknowledges that Assistant City Solicitor David Shapiro
gave information to the board after the Feb. 18 vote granting a one year permit extension to Dakota that could have changed the vote.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the ZBA say Shapiro made a critical mistake when he told the board at its Feb. 4 meeting that the Dakota Partners could apply for an extension only once - a fact which several members cited in justifying their votes at a meeting two weeks later.
A day after the meeting, Shapiro sent an e-mail to the ZBA explaining that Somerville's one-year limit was susceptible to legal challenges based on a 2002 decision by the Massachusetts Attorney General's
rejection of a similar ordinance proposed in Swansea.
The order voted on at the March 18 meeting, drafted by Shapiro, asks for the case to be remanded from
the Middlesex Superior Court back before the ZBA "for the limited purpose of considering whether to reopen the proceedings in light of additional legal guidance received after the decision was rendered."
Tom Bok, an abutter to the Summer Street property, filed the request to re-open the case. He and
lawsuit plaintiff George O'Shea waited outside a closed-door executive session held at the March 18 meeting as Shapiro briefed the board on its options.
While Bok sees the remand order as a positive step, he said it was unfair that a 20-day limit on
requesting a case to be re-opened forced them to pursue both a request through the ZBA and a legal appeal at the same time.
"The part of this process that frustrates me is that there are two paths, one just says 'Are you
sure?' and another that is more costly," Bok said.
If the court decides to allow the ZBA to reconsider the permit extension, a new pubic hearing process will be required - giving residents another chance to protest the permit extension.
Attorney Rich DiGirolamo, who has represented Dakota before the ZBA, said he doesn't expect a new hearing to take place. "We don't believe the appeal is meritorious," he said. "We think the board gave due regard to the hardship arguments presented and I don't think (the abutters) will prevail."
Walter F. Pero, the Alderman representing Ward Four and the current President of the Board of Aldermen, was initially elected as an Alderman in 1995, an office which he served between 1996 and 2001.
"Then, I left my seat on the board to take a job as Director of Veteran Services for the city," he said. After having spent three years there, he was re-elected in 2003.
Pero has served as President of the Board before - he held that position for the first time in 1998. An individual is permitted to be elected to that position every 11 years.
"To become President of the Board, it's really a two year process because you have to lobby the other members," said Pero. "Once you're considered as Vice President, get elected, spend a year as Vice President, then you have to go back to them again, and say, 'Now, will you elect me President?' It's not automatic." The position of President of the Board of Aldermen is a one year term, most of the time.
Although Pero is serving as President of the Board of Aldermen, he is otherwise retired. He worked in municipal government for over twenty years.
Pero was born in Cambridge and at the age of two moved to Somerville - first to Oak Street "right outside of Union Square." After that, he and his family moved to 392 Medford Street, where he currently resides.
Having graduated from Boston State College with a degree in Education, he received his Masters in Counseling from the University of Southern California while he was in the service. After that, Pero worked for a period of time and then "earned another advanced degree [in educational administration] from Worcester State College. I was very fortunate I was able to take advantage of my GI Bill benefits to pay for the advanced school."
Pero battled Leukemia in 2002: "It began right here, in Davis Square. I was working for the city, at the time, as the Director of Veteran Services. I had a pain in my leg, and I didn't know what it was. I came up here to Harvard to be checked out on a Tuesday morning. By the middle of the afternoon, [the doctor] called me at my office at City Hall Annex and told me to go, right then, to Brigham and Women's. I was diagnosed with Leukemia. Five years they say is a cure," said Pero.
After having had Leukemia, Pero possesses a new outlook on life. "Very little worries me. I kind of feel like I've been through some of the worst." Leukemia caused Pero to sport "'the gaunt look' --- no hair, I lost 45 pounds," he said. "I literally came within a moment of death. I felt like one time, I was going to die."
In late February, Senator Kerry visited Assembly Square and assured Somerville residents that the city would receive stimulus money. Pero, as well as other city officials, were present. He predicts that Route 93 will be graced by a large IKEA sign, outside of the new Somerville store.
The Gasoline Tax, new toll plazas on roads which are currently toll-free, and the Highway Tax are all state initiatives, which, according to Pero, are three imperative issues, as they pertain to Somerville, "As a city, we don't take a position," said Pero. However, personally "I'd rather see [an increase in revenue] with the tolls, because I don't use the tolls as much as others. The Gas Tax will affect me directly and be permanent."
Somerville is considering forbidding free parking. Therefore, the entire city would use residential parking --- exclusively. "I live in an area where people will leave their cars there all day. They essentially have free parking, and then access to Boston," he said.
As others in the Boston area have done, Somerville Hospital has "gone through substantial layoffs and financial turmoil," he said. However, it will remain open. Although, now, overnight stays are a thing of the past.
"The Green Line is going to come through to Medford," said Pero. New stop locales will include one close to Brickbottom, one in Gilman Square, another at Lowell Street, and finally, Ball Square, before terminating at Route 16. "It's going to go to Route 16, but I think, it's going to be on the Medford side. Then, a separate spur is going to come to Union Square, and have, essentially, a turn-around and go back to Lechmere."
In this midst of budgetary woes, Pero says that while personnel cuts are not on the horizon for this fiscal year, next year is a different story. He also talked about his own Ward - which encompasses most of Winter Hill along the Broadway corridor - and that numerous plans exist for the area, one site in particular on Broadway, which was formerly the site of the Winter Hill Star Market. "We could attempt to get a supermarket back in there, but we had no takers," said Pero. A moratorium has been placed on zoning in the area and there have been several community meetings addressing concerns, including zoning restrictions. "That will allow for different developments on the site," he said. "What we may end up with is something like retail on the first floor, residential above it, parking in the rear."
As President of the Board of Aldermen, Pero feels that the Fiscal 2010 Budget is the most pressing issue this year. "Cities like New Bedford and Fall River are laying people off now --- we're talking about teachers, firemen, police officers --- key things that we all look for in a city," he said. In addition, "Public safety is going to be impacted. One layoff led to multiple impacts.
He "believes" that a new hotel will be constructed in Davis Square. However, he does not know the exact timetable. "I think it's a good thing for the Square." New zoning in Union Square was discussed at a recent land use meeting. "The zoning expires on April 30, unless we pass it," he said.
In Pero's opinion, some aspects of the present local government in Somerville should change. Each elected official in Somerville should all have a term, consisting of an equal number of years. The mayor has a four year term now, whereas, the Board of Aldermen and the School Committee, are both elected for a two year term.
He feels that, "It just creates a situation --- a mayor with a four year term and others with a two year term, the mayor is essentially freed up in that midterm to get very involved in the other elections, without having to be concerned with his or her own election."
Pero sits on the School Committee, although he does not "really feel like a full-fledged member." The city is considering transforming the current title of Aldermen to City Councilors. However, he favors the term Aldermen. Aside from "nomenclature, there's no difference."
Additionally, Pero voted against the Golden Light Chinese food restaurant's remaining open until 3 a.m. "I'm not against him having late night Chinese meals, what I'm against is him violating the law when a Somerville Police Captain told him to close, and he continued to serve. That, to me, was such an offense. You have a couple of police captains telling you to shut down, and you're serving out the back door."
In fact, the city has just become aware of other cases of restaurants having extremely late closing times. In Somerville, eateries, which serve after 12 a.m., are required to receive a permit from Board of Aldermen. "My position is, let's go after them, as well. So, we're going to be dragging these people before us to testify, themselves," said Pero.
Where are you going to throw that out? In a trash can, right? Now, you can dispose of your refuse in a technology-savvy trash receptor - the BigBelly Solar.
Big-Belly trash cans made their debut in Somerville in 2007, according to Lesley Hawkins, Public Information Officer. As part of his ongoing efforts to ensure that Somerville is a sustainable community and to reduce our city's carbon footprint, Mayor Curtatone participated in a pilot program with the company in 2007, installing seven BigBelllys throughout Somerville."
The number of them rose to a total of 42 by 2008. At that time, "The City opted to make a significant investment in this program and currently has a total of 42 BigBellys," said Hawkins. Each can cost around $3,600.
If you want to locate the nearest BigBelly, look all over Somerville, but especially in business districts, and parks.
However, now some of the BigBellys are broken. This winter, cold weather caused that to occur, according to Hawkins. "Four of the barrels had minor software malfunctions. The manufacturer has since repaired all four at no cost to the City," she said. "The City did not spend any man hours or funds on the repairs."
Hawkins directed individuals interested in the process of repairing the new trash cans, including the amount of time, as well as the cost of that project to the trash can's manufacturer.
How do these souped-up trash cans work? All of the BigBelly "trash compactor[s]" includes a series of lights, which are located on the can's side. That feature signifies its status - empty or full, according to Hawkins. Not only do they fire off a text-message upon their being filled to capacity, but they "will also upload that information to a website" that can be accessed by the City at any time," said Hawkins.
Fortunately, "No City positions have been eliminated as a result of the implementation of the BigBelly barrels," she said. Instead, "the barrels have allowed for better allocation of City resources and staff." Therefore, money for gas and productivity were saved. Further, the expense of trash removal is lower "because the trash in the barrel is compacted and is not exposed to the elements, therefore not becoming wet, it weights less."