A short time later, two Boston police detectives on detail in Charlestown observed the suspect vehicle and stopped it. Two of the suspects were placed into custody while the third suspect fled on foot. After a short foot chase the third suspect was also arrested. Recovered in the vehicle were the masks used in the robbery.
The suspects are identified as a James Rigano, d.o.b. 7/13/66 of Malden, Eric Leonard, d.o.b. 7/4/88 of Everett, and Terrence Dunnells, d.o.b: 7/21/79 of Cambridge, New York. The suspects were transported to Somerville Police station where they were booked on the charge of armed robbery while masked and later interviewed. The gun and clothing used in the robbery were recovered from a trash barrel in Cambridge by Somerville Detectives and agents from the FBI Violent Crimes Task Force. Two of the suspects have made incriminating statements in connection with today's robbery and two other recent bank robberies. Additional charges will be filed by the appropriate jurisdictions in those incidents. All three suspects will be arraigned tomorrow in Somerville District Court.
Chief Anthony Holloway noted that this crime was brought to a quick solution by the keen observations of witnesses who gave police the plate number and description of the get away car and the prompt notification of surrounding police agencies. The quick work by two Boston Police officers on detail brought this crime spree to an abrupt halt without anyone getting hurt. The investigation is continuing in cooperation with the FBI Violent Crimes Task Force.
After a contentious week-long series of meetings, the Board of Aldermen passed the FY 2010 budget 8-2 at midnight, June 30.
The total approved budget for the city is $160,032,473, down from the proposed $160,272,078 after a marathon session of line item cuts that followed a week of department presentations.
During the Finance Committee meeting that began June 29, a total of $239,605 in cuts were made during five and a half hours of deliberation. A public hearing, which saw a capacity audience, saw two speak in favor of the budget and eight against.
Mayor Joseph Curtatone's administration said the budget is $4.98 million less than in Fiscal Year 2009 and reflects a 22 percent cut in state aid. Gov. Deval Patrick signed the state budget earlier on June 29, indicating proposals for local meals and hotel taxes could go forward.
Curtatone said he would have those taxes ready for Board approval at their July 9 meeting.
Until the final moments before the budget vote on Monday, aldermen argued about budget issues ranging from overtime spending to whether the mayor's office had kept them in the dark about litigation payouts - a topic which required a closed-door session.
Ward 7 Alderman Bob Trane and Ward 6 Alderman Rebekah Gewirtz eventually voted against the budget, citing their disappointment in Youth and Recreation Department cuts. Alderman Tom Taylor was absent for the vote.
The Public Speaks Out
A group of children opposed to the layoffs of two Youth and Recreation Department employees spoke during the public hearing portion of the Board's Finance Committee meeting. They were also sponsored at the Board's June 25 meeting.
A group of around 80 also marched to City Hall June 25 to protest the layoffs of Karen Harrington and Carol Lane, two long-time rec department employees. A petition to keep them had gathered 160 signatures.
The two who spoke in favor two spoke in favor of the budget at the June 29 hearing were parents of rising sixth graders at the Brown school, which at one point faced the sixth grade being cut.
The debate around the school was one of many issues that aldermen debated during a week of budget presentations from city departments. At the Board's June 25 meeting, Ward 1 Alderman Bill Roche asked if the city had considered whether the school could be closed altogether.
Trane left the chambers after Committee Chairman Maryann Heuston refused to let him ask a follow up question on the school, telling him to "take a walk" as he got up.
"Unfortunately the Alderman from Ward 2 likes to stifle debate, because she's so in line with what the administration wants," Trane said before rejoining the meeting.
Cuts All Around
As the June 30 deadline for approving the budget approached, aldermen continued to suggest cuts they had lobbied for throughout budget review process. No cut was too small, and some city officials spoke to the merits of some items after they had been struck - prompting Heuston to chastise them for being too slow.
Roche found $11,129 in unnecessary salary payments. Gewirtz and others questioned the amounts being spent on police and fire department overtime but ultimately lost the battle.
Trane won a fight for a roughly 10 percent cut in natural gas spending for the Public Works Department after the measure was voted down twice in earlier forms.
At around 11 p.m., Alderman-at-Large Bill White asked why the Board was being asked to approve $112,500 in line item form for a legal settlement for a discrimination case in the police department without any explanation from the city solicitor beforehand.
Gannon said that while the city felt the suit had no merit, it decided to settle with the plaintiff. White pointed out any claim more than $5,000 needs to go before the board for approval on an individual case basis.
White threatened to cut the line item down to $0 prior to going into executive session, with Police Chief Anthony Holloway in attendance. The item was later approved.
White had earlier challenged City Solicitor John Gannon to explain whether the city would move forward with a lawsuit against the Federal Aviation Administration challenging excessive airplane noise if they lost the current case.
The city spent $77,000 more than the allotted $100,000 for outside legal counsel in FY09, mostly on the suit, which has cost the city $158,000 so far.
"We're in this to win," Gannon said.
The Parking Battle Continues
During the earlier public hearing portion of the final budget meeting, resident Bob grilled the Board on letting the Traffic and Parking Commission force the changes through without public input.
"That's the biggest joke I ever heard in my life," one senior resident said of the proposed citywide permit parking requirement. "What do you do when you have a large family, ration them out? This is a joke. Why force it down everyone's throat whether they want it or not?"
The parking changes proposed to take effect August 1 were dealt with mostly at the Board's June 25 meeting. The aldermen rejected a resolution 5-6 that would have asked the Parking and Traffic Commission to reconsider citywide permit parking and extend meter hours in Davis and Magoun Squares.
Sean O'Donovan, Tom Taylor, Dennis Sullivan, White and Gewirtz voted to send the resolution to the commission. Bruce Desmond, Jack Connolly, Walter Pero, Roche and Heuston voted against it.
The changes, Heuston said, were a major factor in determining the budget and that the potential revenue had already been worked in. Gewirtz said the recommendations of a recently convened parking task force will be released by mid-July.
As the clock struck midnight, the Aldermen approached the final vote on the budget, with all weighing in on the cuts being a "shared sacrifice" except for Trane and Gewirtz.
Both said the 21 percent cut to the Youth and Recreation Department was unfair, with Gewirtz stressing it could lead to an increase in youth violence - which White said was unlikely. Gewirtz also pointed out the two top administrators in the department, James Halloran and George Scarpelli, are earning $70,000 a year.
"I mean no disrespect to my colleagues on the Board," Gewirtz said. "I'm going to do this because of the kids coming up every night. As a form of protest I'm voting 'no' this evening."
She also pointed out that the mayor's proposal to put $3 million in a "rainy day" fund went against the current cuts the Board had just issued.
"It's raining now," Gewirtz said.
"I'm a little confused," Roche said in response. "Nobody likes cuts, nobody likes layoffs. There's nobody around this board that's happy. What if we all voted no? What would that do? The city wouldn't have a budget. It's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard."
After the 8-2 vote, with Trane and Gewirtz voting against the budget, Gewirtz was the lone vote against the $3 million rainy day fund allocation.
At the end of the meeting, Heuston noted that the state will likely make cuts to its local aid in the middle of the fiscal year, in January, when that $3 million may be needed.
"I would submit that this is as fair and balanced a budget as it can be," Heuston said.
The budget took effect July 1.
This minivan belonging to, Scott Parisi of Somerville, still with trees and bushes sticking out of it's front end, is what's left of his Ford Windstar that crashed through a front porch located at 16 Fairfax Street late Saturday evening. Sources say that the driver, Mr. Parisi was attempting to back into a parking space but put the mini in forward then stepped on the gas pedal causing him to crash into the porch!
By Christina M. Acosta
Truth be told the economy isn't what it used to be, but that doesn't mean residents should not go out and enjoy themselves. Lighten up your carbon footprint and put money back into your wallet with these great ideas of how to go green this summer and after.
Investing in a programmable thermostat can save a family on average, $180 a year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency; it also helps fight global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. A programmable thermostat allows families to change the temperature in their homes at selected times. For example, it can be programmed to lower the heat or cold air when the family is away during the day and you can program it to raise or lower the temperature when people begin returning home. Programmable thermostats are simple to install and prices can start as low as $30 depending on the thermostat you choose.
Many desktops are not created energy efficient, so take a minute to utilize the power management setting on your desktop, which can save you $40 to $80 each year. You can increase you money savings by choosing an idol time of a few minutes to automate when your computer enters an energy saving mode.
Replace floodlights with motion sensor lights that turn off automatically. Floodlights left on all night not only increase your electricity bill, but also can negatively impact local wildlife. If your neighborhood squirrels aren't enough to convince you, motion sensor lights can also increase the security around your home by pouring light in the area when the sensors go off.
Going green isn't only about saving electricity around your house. Water is another commodity that is often wasted. By installing low-flow water fixtures, you will see a drop in your monthly water bill. Many older toilets use 5 gallons of water per flush. Try replacing it with a low-flow model toilet that uses less than a gallon of water. Shower fixtures also come with low-flow options and start as low as $10. Remember that leaky faucets and pipes can drip over 3 gallons of water per day, which can add up when your water bill comes. It's worth taking the time to fix it your self, or calling in a local professional plumber to solve it.
Recycling has hit an all time money saving high with the non-profit grass roots network called, FreeCycle. Made up of over 7 million members across the globe this group is made of people looking to give and receive free stuff in their own towns. From coffee grinders to winter coats to a full size metal headboard, all the items that would have otherwise been thrown out are here looking for new homes. Instead of tossing your old patio set, post it on the website and check if another Somerville resident could give it a second life. Not only does this reduce trash removal but it also supports the local community by offering free stuff for neighbors. Visit the Somerville group page at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/FreeCycle-Somerville-MA/.
Water your plants and yard in the morning before the sun evaporates most of the water. If you have a garden that you water frequently purchase a chic rain barrel from your local garden store that will collect rain. You can then use the fresh rainwater to fill up your watering can. Remember to empty the barrel frequently, as stagnant water can be a breeding ground for insects such as mosquitoes.
Traditional cleaning techniques are becoming an eco-friendly staple, which may mean doing things how your grandmother does them. Somerville resident Eda Lasser, who turns seventy-six next month, explained, "I have always washed my clothes with baking soda, vinegar and a little elbow grease. I have done it all these years because the chemicals in the soaps burn my hands and they smell awful." Laughing Mrs. Lasser went on to say, "Now a days these kids think it's a hip, tree hugging thing to do! If they only knew I've been doing it for sixty years and how much money I save. So yes, I suppose I'm a little green myself. Guess you can never be to old or young to be green." There are also manufactured eco-friendly cleaning products that are not has harmful as chemical based cleaning products so it greatly reduces the risk of harmful exposure to children or pets.
Going green is about being smart and deciding how thrifty you want to be. Local resident Vanessa Williams explained, "What surprises me are the different ways to go green that actually save money, and yet we still don't take enough advantage of them. In this current economy, I think going green is the best thing we can do for ourselves, our wallets, and our world."
Once you start making changes to be more eco-friendly, you will notice that you are not alone in your efforts. Being green saves money but it also reduces waste, pollution and saves natural resources that are limited. "I try to be as sustainable and green as possible by unplugging or turning off appliances that are not in use, utilizing a water filter and using a reusable water bottle instead of disposable bottles," said Heather Brigham, a resident of Somerville. "I also recycle, and take public transportation instead of driving. It's easy and important to have a sustainable lifestyle that is environmentally friendly and often budget friendly too!"
Being eco-savvy is easier than you think:
Always shut off unused lights
Unplug chargers that are not being used since they continue to use energy when they are plugged in
Shut the faucet off when you brush your teeth
Wash your laundry in cold water then line dry clothes since automatic dryers use about 6% of household energy according to the EPA
Use the dishwasher only when it is completely full
Use dishtowels instead of paper towels
Save gas by making sure your tires are properly inflated
Print on both sides of paper
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! If you need a recycling bin visit the Department of Public Works between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. with proof of residency
Always dispose of old paint, chemicals and oil properly. Remember that if you have left over paint, ask local community groups or neighbors if they could use the paint. You could also try posting it on FreeCycle.
The La Quinta Inn & Suites Hotel located at 23 Cummings Street in Somerville is once again in the spotlight! Allegedly a prostitution ring sting was conducted by Somerville police that resulted in arrests made at about 9 p.m. on Friday evening. According to sources, the recently built hotel has been the center of attraction and hangout for pimps, prostitutes drug dealers and drugged up rock bands since it has been opened for business.
Back a few months ago a local contracting company source told us that the hotel had a serious sewage blockage that was causing serious backups. When repairs began to correct the problem, crews cleaning out the sewage pipes and catch basins discovered that the system was completely clogged up with hundreds of condoms and syringe needles that were apparently flushed down the toilets by guests!
East Somerville residents living near I-93 and intersecting highways, like Mystic Avenue, will soon have many visitors asking health-related questions. The Somerville Transportation Equity Partnership, a group of concerned Somervillians, has partnered with Tufts University to devise and implement a study of air quality in neighborhoods just off major highways in Somerville. It is thought that the added pollution from passing cars negatively affects the residents' cardiovascular health. This study will randomly test residents, but as Ellin Reisner of STEP says, "That doesn't mean you [those not chosen] won't benefit from research being conducted." As well as testing individuals in Somerville, the air will constantly be monitored by several vans driving in and around the East Somerville neighborhoods closest to the highways.
Dr. Doug Brugge of Tufts University School of Medicine is excited about finally starting a study which he has been preparing for since 2008. On Monday morning at Mt. Vernon Restaurant, he announced data-collection would commence shortly. "Our current goal is to start in early to mid July," he tells a small gathering of concerned residents. "This is the start. We're going to be in Somerville conducting this study for a year. We'll be knocking on doors; we'll have air-monitoring vans driving on the streets," he says. Dr. Brugge has named his study CAFEH, Community Assessment of Freeway Exposure and Health; it has received a $2.5 million grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, an arm of the National Institutes of Health. Two other neighborhoods are slated to be identically tested after Somerville: Chinatown in Boston and South Boston, both near major traffic routes.
Mayor Curtatone was present at Monday's kick-off festivities at Mt. Vernon Restaurant. Saying of the study, "I'm here to support the effort...to build awareness to the overall health of the community." And Mayor Curtatone was able to inject some hometown pride, saying that working together is "...going to start undoing the mistakes of the past, and that's really what makes us an All American city."
John Durant, Associate Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering at Tufts held short, informal tours in of one of the vans that will be driving around East Somerville neighborhoods collecting air quality data. The van it outfitted with computers and gadgets all designed to better interpret and collect pollutants in the air. "Our goal is to cover a swath of Somerville on either side of 93" says Durant. This swath translates to 400 meters on either side of I-93 and intersecting roadways.
The people "knocking on doors" are concerned Somerville residents who volunteered. There are two parts to the "knocking on doors" portion of the study: one, the questionnaire, which asks about diet, exercise, smoking history, and general health. The second part of it, though, is thought to be considerably more important because it involves a blood sample. If those randomly selected do the first part but neglect to do the second part - giving blood - it may invalidate their contribution. "Without the blood we can't really get a clear picture of the study," adds Don Meglio, an administrator at Tufts School of Medicine and the organizer of the kick-off Monday morning at Mt. Vernon. A $20 gift card to a local supermarket is the reward for finishing the questionnaire. More money, in the way of a gift card, will be rewarded for giving a blood sample, informs Dr. Brugge. When asked what he really wishes to gain from this study, Dr. Brugge says, "...that it can be one piece which can affect national policy - that is our goal."
of rehearsals and strong determination of the local contingent of
residents led by Mayor Joe - Somerville is once again (and rightly so)
"All America City." What a nice feeling of accomplishment for everyone
involved along with the thoughts and prayers of everyone here in the
city. Congratulations to everyone in Somerville. |
It appears that the "Farm Team" ace reporter (so called) almost got herself handed a big fat motor vehicle moving violation ticket last week at the Somerville High Graduation ceremony at Dilboy Field. Apparently one of the State Troopers doing the detail at the graduation stopped the reporter in a "Do Not Enter/Off Limits/Restricted" area and told her to leave...but not until she snapped the trooper's photo and throwing it on their blog criticizing him for doing his job, then calling him "grouchy." Well it only proves that nobody is above the law, not even the Farm Team - especially after that.
Speaking of the Farm Team, just when people got used to another person not familiar with the lay of the land in Somerville, she gets promoted - and we wish her the best. A new Editor is coming to town and Gatehouse continues to be the brand known as the "Farm Team" paper. We wish Kat Powers good luck up there in the corporate world and her replacement good luck here in Somerville - and hope that she doesn't rely on the Assistant Editor too much - she's still learning how to spell correctly. The two staffers over there better get Visitor Permit Parking passes, tickets can be expensive here in Somerville.
Happy Birthday to our own Cam Toner, who celebrated her birthday on Tuesday, she's a great lady and is the "go to" person at The News when we need something. Cam not only runs the office over at College Avenue, but is Ms. Olio as well - every week she gets calls from many here in Somerville asking where she gets this stuff. She is closed-lipped to us as well. Happy Birthday Cam, we love you!
Our own Somerville Holiday Inn recently hosted a benefit for the Mass Badge Association's fund-raiser to support Cancer Research and Autism Language Program for the Children's Hospital, which was a complete success - lots of money was raised for a great cause, and the Holiday Inn participated and donated many of the prizes to help raise money. Great job - and awesome work - thanks to all those that worked hard for this. The Holiday Inn is a great place to host functions with the large and beautiful function rooms and all that parking, never mind the nice swimming pool!
Another Happy Birthday to one of the famous Tauro brothers, David Tauro is 48 today. He is a nice, plain, down to earth guy who is liked by everyone - we here at Newstalk wish him the best and many more birthdays to come.
The Somerville Lion's are looking for some new members here in the business community, contact King Lion Billy Tauro for more information 617 293-2016 (he is now getting a reputation of being our quick on the scene news reporter for the paper). Check out the Lions online at their own web site www.somervillelionsclub.com
The ever popular Senator Anthony Galluccio's birthday is Wednesday, June 24th (tonight) - they're having a party for him at the Charles River Yacht Club - located at 99 Memorial Drive. Anthony is a great guy, too bad he doesn't cover the entire City of Somerville - He's a Senator who reminds us of our dear departed friend Charlie Shannon - a person you could call, talk to and relate to. Happy Birthday Anthony!
Congratulations to Somerville Police Officers Mike Kiley and Sean Sylvester, who last week were, along with six Cambridge Officers, awarded a citation for "Dedication of Duty" by the Cambridge City Council. Via a joint effort by the Somerville and Cambridge Police Departments, their surveillance enabled them to observe a suspect put a knife to a victim's throat which let to the arrest in Porter Square! Both Mike and Sean are great guys and we also congratulate them for a job well done.
What's going on up at Medford and Walnuts Streets at the body shop there? Apparently we heard that the neighbors are complaining that they constantly park smashed up vehicles all over the streets waiting for repair to be done. We hear that Alderman at Large Bruce Desmond is looking into it and is considering not renewing their license; Alderman Bob Trane is backing him up. Didn't this place have problem about year or so ago with illegals working there?
Last week we spoke about former Mayor Kelly Gay snubbing her former supporters at a function...well apparently she wasn't too pleased and made a call bitching and complaining to one of the Newstalkers. Then "Mr. Nasty" - her husband - called and said he wanted a retraction and that it wasn't true. No retraction here - how do you retract the truth - simple as that? They need to both get over the loss, and look in the mirror for the reason why she lost to the better candidate - our own Mayor Joe. It was funny, she even questioned "loyalty" and said some of us don't know the meaning. Well, no retraction and there never will be for the truth - if it's a lie, then make our day and sue us - we look forward to it. Thank you to all those former Mayor Kelly Gay's supporters who called us to thank us for saying the truth - how they both snub and treat people. Loyalty is a two way street, which most would know, apparently the Gay's think it's a one way street!
What's with all the bats nesting over on Shore Drive - our ace reporter Billy Tauro was there to snap pictures and was virtually attacked by hundreds of bats dive bombing him and his car. But as Billy has proven lately, he's there - first on the scene and he gets stuff reported - and the Farm Team still races to catch up.
The weather, the budget, the economy - yeah, they've all been lousy recently - but that doesn't mean our sense of community pride isn't strong. In no time, there will be fireworks at Trum Field - and there will be great celebration for the community, much like the recent Memorial Day Parade. It will be yet another shining example of how we as a community have come together, in the face of adversity.
Of course, there will be the usual group of haters that will drum on about how we should save the money spent on that and things like the Memorial Day Parade in order to save jobs. The same haters who will spew that garbage, but won't bother to to explain to their Koolaid drinking chums that things like the parade and the trip to Tampa were paid for by local businesses and residents of the city - not city government. Funny how they leave that information out.
Believe it or not, it is possible to stay upbeat and positive - and still be able to call stupid people, stupid. To call arrogant jerks who live in a bubble of hate and have a warped sense of reality - assholes. To laugh at the people who, no matter how definitively you prove them wrong, still tell you their way is the only way.
You can do all these things and still have a positive attitude - we do it all the time - the real problem, the part that needs to go away in this city, is the group of people who are so absorbed in their sense of entitlement that they think everyone else is negative and that there is a conspiracy around every corner. Every 20 or so years they rear their ugly head around here, and then they just fade away - let's hope they fade soon and spare the rest of us from their demented rhetoric soon.
A winning combination of improving public transportation, working to reduce substance abuse amongst the city's youth and innovations to streamline communication with the city earned Somerville the "All America City" award this week.
The last time Somerville won the prestigious award-given by the National Civic League-was in 1972, a time which some say mirrors this current age of new reforms, innovations and getting through tough times. Somerville was a finalist in this competition last year, but fell just short-coming in 11th place-of winning a place on the top 10 communities list.
"Tough times don't last, but tough people do," said Alderman at Large Jack Connolly, who was among the 40 Somerville residents (ranging from ages 17 to 79, representing the high school, non profits, business and city officials) who flew to Tampa, FL this week to demonstrate why Somerville ranks above the rest. "No matter how tough it is with the recession, we have seen how people in this community really care."
Mayor Joseph Curtatone added that during tough times when people are stressed is when people really come together. He also attributed Somerville's prestigious recognition to its residents.
"The wonderful thing about Somerville is that there are so many engaged citizens who want to make the community better," Curtatone said, "And we've had that for decades."
The National Civic League is a non-profit organization that fosters innovative city building and reform. The All America City award since 1949 has recognized the efforts of extraordinary communities. Each year the National Civic League honors ten communities for effectively addressing their most critical challenges.
The overall theme Somerville chose was "Improved Communication." The city highlighted its commitment to the MBTA's Green Line extension through Somerville (which will be complete in 2014); the efforts of the Somerville Care about Prevention program to educate about and prevent substance abuse amongst the city's youth and the adoption of "SomerStat," the 311 hot line number initiative that streamlines how the public communicates with the city's offices.
"We have learned how to communicate, and to do it well," Connolly said, pointing out that 50 languages alone are spoken in the hallways of Somerville High School. The city has always enjoyed a diverse population, but over the past couple decades the influx of people from all over the globe has accelerated at an unbelievable pace. And the city has met and exceeded those needs.
"We have changed the image of the city by responding to the diverse population that lives here," he said.
Gene Brune, who was the mayor from 1980 to 1990, remembers when the city won the award 37 years ago. At that time he was an Alderman; Lester Ralph was the mayor. The city back then had gone through some tough times, marked by political unrest in the 1960s and an administration that was not as "community oriented," Brune said.
Ralph introduced new ideas and got away from the "business as usual" type of mentality. Brune himself was one of the reform candidates who believed in new programs and grass roots organizations. The city applied for the All American City award, and won.
"It brought a new spirit to the city," said Brune, likening that era to today, where Curtatone is the "new blood" who has infused the city with innovative programs like 311 and keeping the extensive Green Line program on track.
"The cycle has begun again," Brune added, "And this will be very meaningful to the city to instill more pride."
Somerville representatives flew to Tampa last Wednesday for the three-day affair. The event included breaking up into workshops, seminars and receptions.
"I will never forget the experience I had in Tampa and I'll be forever grateful to have been a part of it," said Maureen Bastardi, said Ward 1 School Committee Representative.
In addition to meeting people from 28 other cities across the country and making friendships, Bastardi also got to know her fellow Somervillians better.
"There wasn't an air of competition, but one of camaraderie," she said. "I've lost my voice from cheering so loudly and proudly. I always thought of Somerville as an All American City, but now we have the official title to prove it."
Connolly said that the award will have a lasting impact for marketing and applications for grants and bonds for future projects.
The Board of Alderman will hold a special presentation about this award just prior to convening its meeting on Thursday night.
Rain pelted the streets of Somerville on Friday, causing temperatures to drop and pedestrians to take cover beneath umbrellas and awnings. The shops and restaurants of Davis Square, filled with dripping patrons, offered welcome respite from the dreary weather.
As springtime showers fell, the Somerville Homeless Coalition (SHC) kicked off summer with a celebration to honor the non-profit's volunteers. At the organization's One Davis Square office, attendees enjoyed refreshments donated by local eateries and chatted about current fundraising endeavors. Executive Director Mark Alston-Follansbee and Director of Development Jennifer Bonardi mingled amongst volunteers, thanking them for their service and sharing insight into the SHC's purpose and goals.
"Volunteers help to support our programs by learning about these issues [of hunger and homelessness] and by helping us to work on ending hunger and homelessness in our society, especially in our own community," Alston-Follansbee says. "It's a relatively small population, and it could be done if we had the resources."
A highlight of the evening came when long-time SHC volunteer John Chochrek received the Carmela Addario Award, named for an early influential board member.
"I've heard all of these outrageous stories about Carmela," Alston-Follansbee states. "She would do things like put this big, over-stuffed teddy bear on a lawn chair in front of her house with a can that said 'help the homeless' on it. She'd do little yard sales out of her garage all the time - the money would go into the can, and the can would go to the SHC."
Carmela's resourceful spirit lives on through the work of the SHC's current volunteer force. The organization's volunteer arm, dubbed the Super Hero Corps, mobilizes individuals from a variety of backgrounds. These "super heroes," united by their common goal of ending hunger and homelessness, bring a wide range of experience and skill to the table.
"Volunteers send us the application - this is the first step in the process - and on it, we ask them if they have any special skills," Bonardi says. "We try to match up our needs with what they need as a volunteer. It's fun to find cross-over with those things that are unique about [each volunteer] ending up being an asset for us."
Founded in 1985, the SHC was the first program of its kind in Somerville.
"The story that I heard when I came to SHC in 1990 was that people in Somerville didn't realize that there was a problem with homelessness until the red line was extended out to Alewife," Alston-Follansbee states. "Suddenly, there were people hanging out in Davis Square who nobody had ever seen before. They were from Somerville, but if you were homeless from Somerville, you'd have to go to Cambridge or Boston to get help."
SHC's founders converted a bowling alley in the basement of College Avenue United Methodist Church into the city's first shelter, employing only two staff members and depending largely on volunteers. Twenty-four years later, the agency has grown to 36 employees, has a budget of $2.8 million, and subsidizes 80 apartments available to homeless individuals as they transition into housing.
"We've always depended on volunteers, and we're still grateful for them. [Volunteering] is a great way for people to find out about who we are and to see what homelessness and hunger are about," Alston-Follansbee says. "To me, these are social problems that can be solved if we decide, as a society, to put our minds to solving them."
Many opportunities exist for community members who would like to volunteer with the SHC. For more information, visit the organization's website at http://www.somervillehomelesscoalition.org/.
Last Monday night, Dr. Rachel Nardin, president of the Massachusetts chapter of Physicians for a National Health Plan, hosted an informational presentation and community discussion on Single Payer Health Plans, an alternative proposal for national healthcare reform in the United States. The event was sponsored by Somerville/Medford United for Justice with Peace, the Somerville Teachers Association, and Jobs for Justice Health Care Action Committee.
Taking place in the Somerville Library, a modest crowd of about 25 gathered to hear what Dr. Nardin had to say about the current state of the United States Healthcare system and how a Single Payer Health Plan may be a feasible solution to the mounting healthcare costs affecting millions of Americans every day.
"This is an issue I feel passionate about," explained Dr. Nardin. "From the 1970s to the present, the number of uninsured Americans has been rising steadily. But in my opinion, a bigger problem is the underinsured."
The underinsured include people who have insurance that does not sufficiently cover the healthcare and costs they require.
According to Nardin, as of 2007 42% of adults ages 19 - 64 are uninsured or underinsured. That is equivalent to the population of the 12 largest states in the U.S.A. combined.
Nardin, using a Powerpoint presentation filled with graphs and startling statistics went on to explain that approximately 18,000 adult deaths per year are the direct result of not being insured. In addition, the United States consistently has had the lowest life expectancy and highest infant mortality rate of any industrialized nation over the past decade.
"We rely on a multiplicity of private insurance companies and this requires a huge amount of administrative costs," Nardin explained. "We have to have an army of people at the insurance companies and an army of people in the hospitals dealing with denials and seeking payments. What we spend on administrators is far and away more than any other country."
By some estimates, up to 40% of costs in the healthcare industry are administrative. Nardin thinks this is frivolous. "There are huge amounts of money that, I would say, is being wasted on this army of administrators."
In a Single Payer system, a plan that Nardin promotes, the "multiplicity" of insurance companies and the plenitude of administrators are replaced by a Government agency that essentially becomes the paying mechanism for healthcare costs. It would theoretically be funded by slight employee and company tax hikes in addition to current healthcare taxes. The money would then flow into a Government trust fund that would pay for universal healthcare coverage.
This system, while similar to the socialist healthcare systems in place in Canada and England, has one fundamental difference - the hospitals and doctors would not be government employees. "The payment mechanism is the only thing that is socialized; not the hospitals or doctors." Said Nardin.
"With a national system, like with a Single Payer plan, you can do what you do when you have a system - logical planning. What we have now is a fragmented system; there's no cost control, no rationing of resources."
Concerning Barack Obama's proposed healthcare reform, Nardin said, "It is reform I would call incremental. It would leave the current system that is bankrupting us in place."
Obama's plan for healthcare reform would mandate that everyone be insured. There is also much talk and debate over a 'Public Plan' that would essentially be a default insurance for anyone who couldn't afford any other plan. In this scenario, private insurance companies could continue to compete freely, but some fear too many people would choose to use the free public plan, driving insurance companies under.
To Nardin, this reform is incremental in that it does not directly address the issue of the underinsured. With competitive insurance companies in place, there will always be the market incentive to deny coverage for certain people and illnesses to avoid losses; someone will always be underinsured. With Obama's reform plan, Nardin believes "We are treating the symptom - the uninsured - but we are ignoring the disease" which is the system itself.
When the meeting was open to community discussion an air of deep concern verging on discouragement permeated the room. The enormity of the problems in the American healthcare system seemed to be weighing down upon the audience.
"I feel discouraged because there seems to be huge, monumental power with people who don't want any of this," stated one woman. "I just don't see how we can get anything done. We're just not going to get there."
In response to this, someone in the audience took it upon themselves to quote the immortal Winston Churchill. "Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing...after they've exhausted every other option."
This seemed to lighten the mood. Nardin then said, "Don't get too discouraged. We're not taking to the streets yet, it might not happen this year or the next; but if we don't do something we are heading for a disaster. Change will have to come."
On Tuesday, swarms of graduates and their proud supporters gathered at Somerville High for the SCALE Awards and Graduation. The Somerville Center for Adult Education Learning Experiences congratulated 500 graduates from their three programs, Adult Basic Education, Adult Secondary Education and English Language Learning. It was SCALE's first year having the Adult Education students wear blue caps and gowns, which made the experience all the more exciting for the beaming students and attendees.
Many students enrolled in SCALE's programs have had to overcome tremendous struggles to receive their diplomas and certificates, such as raising a family or working two jobs. This is not an easy task, and the diploma the students receive is well-earned due to the national standards that have been placed upon the program. The Adult Diploma Program entails passing the MCAS, which is mandatory for all high school students nationwide. ADP student speaker Diana Flores said that enrolling in SCALE was one of the best decisions of her life.
Martha Bonilla was the ADP Honor Award recipient and Carolyn Richards received the ADP Special Award. Richards was honored for her outstanding work as the Director of Guidance and Testing. She has worked rigorously as the liaison between Somerville High and SCALE to ensure a secure and safe testing environment. "It has been an honor and privilege to work with these students," Richards stated.
SCALE's GED program is very competitive as well. To ensure that the test is challenging enough, is it tested on sample groups of graduating seniors all over the country and the test is considered satisfactory only when 30% of the seniors cannot pass the test. In other words, the GED recipients should be very proud of themselves for earning their certificates. Neil McMullen, the GED High Scorer Award recipient, scored almost a perfect score on the GED exam and was in the 99th percentile nationwide. Marina Karageorgiou received the GED Honor Award for her perseverance and positive attitude that showed in everything that she did.
The Adult Basic Education student speaker Piere Pacombe, earned his diploma after six years with SCALE with the support from his three daughters and his wife. Pacombe was very proud of this accomplishment and caused the whole room to get goosebumps when he stated, "Nobody on earth can take this away from me."
The Adult Secondary Education's Program Administrator, Sheryl Lovit, has been with SCALE for five years and believes the program's success can be accredited to its caring staff and great support system for the students.
The English Language Learning program has many classes for its students to choose from. The students find the ELL program to be beneficial and claim that it helps them tremendously with learning the English language. The ELL student speaker Salila Ranjit can attest to this. "Every time I come to SCALE I learn something new," said Ranjit. She shared her personal story with the filled auditorium and explained that it's because of SCALE that she is confident in her English and knows how to fix a mistake. She is also very proud of her recent citizenship and gives credit to SCALE for this accomplishment.
Janice Philpot, the supervisor of SCALE since September 2008, was a brilliant presence at the ceremony. Hearing the passion she has for SCALE was truly inspiring and it is clear she is involved in every decision of the operation. "We really change lives here. It's not just a catch phrase; it's a reality for us. This is where knowledge blooms." Philpot went on to decipher how SCALE stands out from other Adult Education programs. "We have the best program administrators in the industry, and we have a true Adult Education curriculum. We really know what we're doing here." Her confidence and pride in SCALE really shined when she took the stage at the closing of the ceremony. After reading a poem titled, "Yes We Can," Philpot congratulated the crowd with the statement, "You have earned the right, respect, and privilege of a secondary education."
The tassels were turned at the end of the ceremony and the graduates streamed out of the entrance of Somerville High to embark on their next journey and to enjoy their newfound hope and accomplishment.
The All America City competition has been sponsored by the National Civic League for the last 60 years. Somerville took the honor in 1972. We were finalists in 2008, and we were victorious in 2009.
Over 30 citizens planned, rehearsed and packed for Tampa Florida on June 17th. We met in the darkened parking lot of City Hall at 4am. We felt pumped yet nervous as we boarded a bus that took us to Logan Airport for our flight. The trip was paid for completely by donations from our fabulous businesses and citizens. Thank you all.
Our presentation focused on the Green Line extension with concentrations also on other key city issues. You can find documentation on the city website.
To pull off such an extensive project as a trip to the All America City finals, many people and departments had to pull together. It starts at the top with Mayor Joe Curtatone, who never let the pain of our defeat in last years finals leave his soul. He came back 500% stronger and more determined this year. Jackie Rossetti was at the helm as our project leader. Once again she proved that anything associated with Jackie Rossetti ends up successful. There is not an un-positive bone in her body. The fundraiser that was sponsored by Steve Mackey, Ron Bonney and the fantastic Chamber of Commerce way back when raised needed funds. Thanks to the TAB building folks and the SHS library people for supplying us with rehearsal spaces. Also thanks to Tom Champion and the Communications Department for sending Joe Constantine and Steve De Carlo to document it for prosperity.
I spent many hours in Somerville High School's Graphic Communications Department. I spoke to my old friend Philip Bassett, Director of Vocational Education, who sent me to Graphic Communications Instructor Chuck Gerlach. Chuck could not have been more accommodating and helpful, as well as a very funny guy. He turned simple ideas into colorful, detailed and exciting posters, that we later had mounted for our presentation. The students of Somerville are very lucky to have such a dedicated instructor as Chuck. He not only helped our project, but we came to him at the end of a very busy school year and to watch him with his students was a pleasure. By the way, if you haven't seen Somerville High School lately you are in for a big surprise. The place is awesome!
A huge thank you also goes out to Headmaster Anthony Ciccariello, and Superintendent of Schools Tony Pierantozzi. Thanks for your continued support in all things cultural and civic related.
The Chamber of Commerce hooked us up with a company called VDA Productions whose headquarters are on Inner Belt Road. Have you seen the State House and The gigantic Wally The Green Monster at Jordan's Furniture in Avon? Well, that's the company! These guys mounted our posters, designed stands and signs and also shipped everything down to Tampa. Little did I know that the President of VDA David Breen is my fraternity brother from Emerson College, and Vice President Bob Russo's family ran Jasper's rock club (now Choices). The Somerville connection is a magical thing. I'd also like to thank Maryn Herberg, Harrison Rabel and Julia Clapper at VDA for all your help. We had a Green Line train with working lights! We are also indebted to our friends at the Green and Yellow Cab company. You rock (and roll)!
Here is a list of the folks who made the trip and took part in the winning presentation. Maureen Bastardi, Jackie Rossetti, Carrie Dancy, Cheryl Horan, Cindy Hickey, Cory Mashburn, Delio Susi, me, Ellin Reisner, Gene Brune, Gretchen Kinder, Holli Banks, Janice Delory, Janine Lotti, Jen Lawrence, Jack Connolly, Joe Constantine, Steve DeCarlo. Joe Curtatone, Karen Tamagna, Kimberly Smith-Cofield, Liliane Paiva, Michelle Bowler, Mimi Graney, Patrick Cain, Patrick Sullivan III, Paul Carroll, Paulo Gutierrez, Rachel Strutt, Ron Bonney, Ruby Von Dwornick, Sue Fontano, Talia Mosley, Tom Taylor, Sarah Rossi and Florence Papagno.
We got to meet new friends in Tampa and spend some fun time with each other. All our hard work paid off and the whole city can be proud because it truly took a village.
As I said before, the thing that makes this All America City Award more sweet is the fact that so many people helped. It is an award we can all be proud of. Check out YouTube and the city website for more footage.
I would like to thank the Mayor and the city for allowing me to be part of one of the most exciting experiences of my life. To have been part of the losing delegation last year and to regroup with this year's determined group was nothing less than a glorious triumph.
Somerville has always been an All America City. Like the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz, who always had a brain, we always knew we were an All America City. Now we have a testimonial to prove it.
Also thanks to The Somerville News who had the story with photos up on their website seconds after we gave them the good word from Tampa. All Aboard! Somerville Truly Rocks!
You can email Jimmy direct at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Following up on the allegations of a Mercury spill that occurred on June 17th at the Cambridge Health Alliance located in the rear of the Twin City Shopping Plaza in Somerville.
According to officials in Somerville and Cambridge, the spill was never reported to the Somerville nor the Cambridge Fire Departments and that no fire company units were ever dispatched on that day to that location.
When we showed up on the scene, a private hazardous waste clean up crew was on site containing the spill loading fifty five gallon drums onto a hazardous waste box truck and they refused to comment. The rear entrance of the Medical Center was sealed off with yellow emergency protective tape to keep anyone from using that exit. The front of the clinic was open for business as usual with patients going in and out without any knowledge of what was happening behind closed doors just feet away. According to Somerville city officials, the front entrance of the clinic is located on Rufo Road in Cambridge and the rear entrance is located in Somerville.
The first Green Roof in Somerville was installed May 22nd on a brand new building on the site of St. Polycarp Village through a collaboration among the Somerville Community Corporation, Apex Green Roofs and Prospect Hill Academy. The green roof is being used to educate students and community members about environmental issues and solutions and is part of a transformation of a closed Catholic parish into a mixed-use, mixed-income development by the Somerville Community Corporation. This installation also marks the first-time in the Boston area that a Green Roof, photovoltaics and solar/thermal are being used on a mixed-income property.
The students at Prospect Hill Academy participated in the installation and planting of the green roof as the culmination of a green roof course. The "Green Roofs for the 21st Century" course is part of a larger program that teaches students about the engineering design process by involving them in a community project. The students have been learning about the many environmental and financial benefits of green roofs which include more than doubling the life of the roof, retaining storm water, reducing energy needs, creating habitat, cleaning the air and improving the quality of life of those around them. "Our students are thrilled to be a part of the green roof installation! Exposing high school students to these emerging technologies while also getting them involved in the community in such meaningful ways has really been a great experience," said Michael Moretti, a teacher at Prospect Hill Academy.
"We love working with the kids and are excited about green roofs becoming more mainstream," said Charlie Sinkler, a Partner at Apex Green Roofs. "We believe that education is a big part of what is needed right now. These roofs make good financial sense in addition to all of the environmental benefits."
"We're proud to be including Somerville's first green roof among the many green measures at St. Polycarp Apartments," said Danny LeBlanc, CEO of the Somerville Community Corporation.
The Somerville Community Corporation purchased the former Saint Polycarp Parish property from the Archdiocese of Boston in 2006. Iric Rex of Mostue & Associates Architects designed the new complex with a complete array of the latest techniques to achieve cutting-edge energy conservation, indoor air quality, and water conservation. The building is expected to achieve a LEED-NC Silver rating, reflecting the aggressive goals of 50% energy savings, 40% water savings, and cooling and filtration of interior air to remove pollutants. Other green features integrated into the complex include a high percentage of recycled materials, high-efficiency elevator, energy recovery from ventilated air and a photovoltaic array to supply the electrical needs of the common area of the building. The tenants and local community will benefit from the green development and new urban green spaces created around the buildings.
Information on the Parties:
Apex Green Roofs, Inc. (www.apexgreenroofs.com) based in Somerville, is a leading provider in New England of Green Roof design, engineering, installation, and maintenance services.
Somerville Community Corporation (www.somervillecdc.org) is a nonprofit Community Development Corporation that provides leadership for sustaining the city of Somerville as a vibrant, diverse and tolerant community. They achieve this goal through the development and preservation of affordable housing, as well as by offering services and leading community organizing that supports low and moderate-income Somerville residents in their efforts to achieve economic stability and increase civic participation.
Prospect Hill Academy Charter School (www.prospecthillacademy.org) is a public school serving more than 900 students in grades Kindergarten through 12 on three campuses in Cambridge and Somerville, MA.
Laura Kozel is the Director of Sales and Marketing for Apex Green Roofs, her email is: email@example.com
The small peaceful area on Shore Drive that sits between Ten Hills and Temple Road is completely infested with bats! On any given day you can go there and take in the breathtaking views of the Mystic River and lounge out on the green grass but be prepared to start waving your arms up and down to scare away the hundreds of bats and other small birds that have been recently dive bombing sun bathers and joggers as they enter the "Fly Zone".
On the day we visited the area it was cloudy with showers and full of the flying critters protecting their space by the hundreds!
|(Exclusively First reported by The Somerville News)|
For the past couple of days, a contingent of Somerville's elected officials, city employees, business owners and residents have been in Tampa, Florida - competing for the designation of "All America City" by the National Civic League. Tonight (Friday), it was announced that Somerville had indeed been awarded this honor - for the first time since 1972.
The All America City designation by the National Civic League was created 60 years ago. Each year for the past several years, two dozen or so communities from across the country have been selected as finalists based on the hundreds of award applications received each year by the NCL.
The City of Somerville was a finalist in this competition last year, but fell just short - coming in 11th place - the top 10 communities are awarded the designation of All America City each year. The last time Somerville was awarded this designation (1972), the Mayor was S. Lester Ralph.
This year's finalists typically created job opportunities through various methods, revitalized their business and residential districts, reduced crime, created more cooperative working environments between public and private entities - overall, they have displayed innovation through engagement, collaboration and cooperative endeavors .
According to the National Civic League, each applicant and subsequent finalist completed a detailed award application documenting three community projects that address local challenges such as job creation/economic development, environmental sustainability, neighborhood revitalization and disaster recovery. One of the key factors in Somerville being chosen as a finalist this year was the city administration's adoption of "SomerStat," a statistically driven process in which the public can engage city officials and staff about problems, needs and efficiency. This process was originated and developed in Baltimore, where it was wildly successful in saving municipal costs there in a very short period of time, which increased response time of city departments to resident needs. The twist on Somerville's version of this process, is that "human interaction" is still a vital part, even though the process is predominately data-driven.
This year's contingent from Somerville included elected officials, city employees, business owners and residents. The overall theme Somerville chose was "Improved Communication." The skit presentation chosen for the head-to-head competition was how the development of the Green Line Extension will affect the sustainability of Somerville for the foreseeable future. The group traveled to Tampa on Wednesday morning and will be arriving back in Somerville on Saturday afternoon.
Here is a list of the other nine winners that won in the 2009 All American Contest
In the second installment of its "Trends in Somerville" surveys, the Office of Strategic Planning has released the findings of the economic portion of its study. The manufacturing plants that marked the economic landscape of the 20th and 19th centuries have largely disappeared and have yet to be replaced by companies of comparable size that provide relatively high wages. This mirrors a national manufacturing trend in which labor is replaced by capital, but Somerville has not been able to benefit from recent booms in the IT sector.
Instead, due in large part to its high residential density, the local economy is predominantly made up of small businesses that cater to the local community. The retail industry alone provides 3,031 jobs, second only to the health services sector. The average wage of a retail worker, however, is only $26,208. These low wages are one of the most worrying elements of the city's economic landscape, said Steven Houdlette. "Four out of the five sectors with the lowest average incomes are in the top five when it comes to the number of jobs they provide." Whereas throughout the city's history, the majority of Somerville's blue collar workers were employed in industries like brickmaking, meatpacking or automobile manufacturing, they now work for much smaller businesses--and smaller paychecks.
One bright spot is the thriving health care industry within Somerville. 3,760 jobs alone fall into this category, as health facilities in the area cater to both the local population as well as to the residents of surrounding communities. The average wage of $56,940 is among the highest pay grades in the city. It is, however, one of the few industries in Somerville providing large numbers of high-quality jobs, raising the issue of tax revenues for the city at large.
Supplying just .27 jobs per resident, a third of the amount in neighboring Cambridge, the city does not benefit from the high revenues generated by commercial properties. Already facing a $8 million deficit next year, Somerville is suffering from cuts in state aid. Without commercial districts like Kendall Square in Cambridge, however, it is unknown where large-scale economic development may take place. Keith Craig, of Strategic Planning, emphasized that the studies are in their preliminary stages. "Once we get an understanding of exactly what land is available for which uses, we can decide the sorts of firms that we'd like to attract."
In its current form, Somerville straddles the line between a vibrant local economy and a "bedroom community", a place where residents eat and sleep, but leave in the morning to go to work. In all, 84% of Somervillians do so, a significant brain drain for one of the best-educated cities Massachusetts.
If you have long been a Somerville resident, then you will surely remember the murder of Jeffrey Curley, the 10-year-old boy who was post-mortally raped, and then, crammed into a plastic storage box, for easy disposal in 1997.
Recently, Brian MacQuarrie, a seasoned reporter at The Boston Globe, published his first book entitled, "The Ride," which hashes out the details of the crime and discusses the transformation of the boy's father, Bob Curley.
MacQuarrie holds a Bachelor of Arts in American studies from Colby College, and a Master of Arts in journalism from the University of Missouri.
What piqued MacQuarrie's interest in this murder? "I was assigned, as part of a team, to cover the murder. We didn't think anything about it at first, but then, I saw that it was a story about a 10-year-old boy who was missing in a neighborhood and the community reaction," he said.
Shortly after having attended Curley's wake, at which he set up an interview, MacQuarrie wrote a story about the family's reaction to the recent death. Additionally, he crafted a story on the fifth anniversary of the child's death.
One day, MacQuarrie received a surprise telephone call. "They called me at my desk one day, two weeks before I was going to go to Afghanistan, and asked me about a book." After having pondered that proposition, he agreed.
Initially, it was assumed that the book would solely discuss the actual crime. However, it "became a story about Bob's journey on the death penalty and about the effect that Jeffery's death had on both the family and the neighborhood."
At the onset, "I didn't want it to be a "woe-is-me" story because it's not. I wanted it to be a book about transformation, about personal growth. I also wanted it to be a book about hope --- to bring whatever good we could possibly bring from what happened to Jeff and keep his memory alive," said Curley.
Among the possible positive aspects, which Curley suggested could emerge are: the prevention of another child from being molested, kidnapped, or murdered, as well as saving another person from unjust execution. Additionally, "I never really gave the death penalty much thought, one way or the other, prior to Jeffery getting killed."
After a lengthy period of having not publicized his stance, regarding the death penalty, Curley decided to act. "I wanted to put it out there that I was against the death penalty." Therefore, he contacted New England Cable News for an interview.
Ironically, an anti-death penalty conference at which he spoke, took place at Boston College, the weekend following that interview. "It was a Saturday morning, and it was Jeffery's birthday," he said.
Attempting to lead an active life has helped him to cope. "Sometimes when I'm struggling, just a kind, simple act, works for me." For example, at the first book signing, which took place, at The Globe, "A lot of people told me they remembered, so vividly, that time --- what they were doing and how they were feeling. Things like that really keep you going," said Curley.
Curley was acquainted with one of the individuals who were involved in his son's murder. "Salvatore Sicari was from right around the corner. He was just an odd kid --- easily influenced. [Charles] Jaynes is a really, really, really bad guy. He's really shrewd. He just kind of used Sicari."
Soon after his son's death, Curley recalls his interaction with Sicari, "I was standing outside on the front stairs, and he was just talking nonsense. He was bringing Jaynes up a lot. I just sensed something [was] wrong."
According to Curley, if he had the opportunity to communicate with the two men who were involved, his reaction "wouldn't be good."
Several weeks prior to his death, the two stole Curley's bicycle. Coincidentally, shortly before Curley's son was killed, an eerily similar incident occurred in East Cambridge. However, that time, Sicari's brother Robert was to blame. Unfortunately, that child was raped in a parking garage near MIT, and it was not publicized.
After Curley was missing, an individual informed his father that Sicari's brother had just scammed another child, in the same manner, shortly before it happened to his son.
Jaynes was only convicted of second-degree murder and is eligible for parole in approximately 10 years, according to MacQuarrie.
Curley believes the reason is Jaynes' having a good lawyer. "No disrespect to public defenders, but Sicari had a public defender, and he got the worst of the deal." He was sentenced to first-degree murder.
"Sicari gave the confession. He confessed to being there to dispose of the body," said MacQuarrrie. Further, "When Jaynes was tried, they couldn't use Sicari's confession."
Do you want to know more about MacQuarrie's book, as well as the writing process?
"As a journalist, we have a way to compartmentalize," said MacQuarrie. He has written copious crime and murder stories, in which emotional investment is not practiced. "The more time that I spent with this subject, the more that I got to know Bob, I became invested, in a way that you don't do when writing newspaper stories."
After having spent a year writing his book proposal, the book "process" consumed 18 months, according to MacQuarrie. "Frankly, I didn't realize I had enough material to write a book until I was well into the interview process."
Curley's initial reaction to the book was positive. "It's nothing that I didn't expect. We talked about it. I wanted him to write the truth, and he did."
Conversely, Sicari and Jaynes' families "weren't receptive," according to MacQuarrie.
After having written one book, which was a "journalistic exercise," MacQuarrie is planning to write another, this time in the genre of historical fiction
Although the memory of his son's murder looms, Curley resides in East Somerville because "I love it here. I don't want to be anywhere else. This is where I was born and raised. I like the Somerville attitude," said Curley.
Curley is proud of his son. "Jeff was 10 years old. They offered him a bike. They offered him $50, and Jeff refused. He knew right from wrong, and he knew enough to stand up for himself."
"The best advice that I ever got, and I can't remember who said it, was, 'It's bad enough that these guys killed Jeffery. Don't let them kill you. Don't let them destroy your life,'" he said.
Review by Timothy Gager
By Brian MacQuarrie
On October 1, 1997 ten year old Jeffrey Curley of Cambridge, Massachusetts took a ride with two adults, Salvatore Sicari and Charles Jaynes under the false pretense of receiving a new bicycle. He was brutally murdered after not accepting their sexual advances, then post-mortally raped, and stuffed into a plastic storage box. Then the container with his body in it was thrown off a bridge into the Great Works River in South Berwick, Maine.
The Ride is the story of that case, one which is familiar to many in the Massachusetts area. The book works its way from the grisly crime to the years afterward. It focuses on the family of Jeffrey, heavily weighted on the life of Cambridge Firefighter Bob Curley, Jeffrey's father. Briefly the book explains Bob Curley's need for vengeance was what kept him going in the dark months following his son's murder. He became a champion in the attempted legalization of the death penalty in Massachusetts. He spoke out at the State House, in the media, often confronting those opposing his beliefs. Years later, Bob meets the father of an Oklahoma City bombing victim and the brother of Ted Kaczynski, gentleman who opposed the death penalty. Through their shared experience, Bob Curley undergoes a remarkable transformation; he becomes an opponent of the very proposed law that he passionately fought for.
Brian MacQuarrie, a Pulitzer Prize Award nominee and Boston Globe writer does a fine detailed and astute job in reporting the facts regarding this case and the lingering affects it had on the Curley family. It is a no-holds barred account of the emotional ups and downs that occur over the years for the family, placing the reader into the edge of their painful abyss. One can not possibly fathom what it must be like to suffer such a tragedy and then turn the pain into such important work on causes the way Bob Curley did. Bob Curley's work on child safety and protection laws is currently on the books in Massachusetts.
Bob Curley's life as portrayed in The Ride is a study of breaking and redemption of human spirit. The rest of the Curley family was and remains shattered by Jeffrey's murder. There are no words that can be written that could convey this by author MacQuarrie. As a writer he handled this impossible task with skill and sensitivity. I recommend this book as an excellent, interesting read and a ride into heavy emotional traffic.