Depending on who you talk to when you walk around Somerville, there are very different takes on the major stories of 2009. Some would say Barack Obama being sworn in as our 44th President and Senator Ted Kennedy losing his health battle were the top takers. Others might be a little more local, mention Obama briefly, talk about the local budget a bit, get excited about the All-America City award and the insane fees and fines and new parking regulations coming up.
Some people would say U2 coming to Somerville, the Green Line Extension, the MBTA Maintenance Facility and a couple of movies and TV shows being filmed here. Then there are those that are all about concern for the displacement of the immigrant population when the Green Line comes through the city and the resulting economic boom hits, lack of transparency from City Hall and disgust at no primary election in the city.
Truth is, they'd all be right - and they didn't even touch on some of the more directly related to Somerville stories and what they meant to you and me and the everyday resident of this city. Here are a few:
The closing of inpatient and detox facilities and support at Somerville Hospital by the Cambridge Health Alliance has sent a ripple through the community and created serious hardships for organizations which relied on services provided at this local facility.
After a quarter of a century and multiple lawsuits, a major press conference at Assembly Square with bulldozers behind the politicians and important people gives the community a first real visual indication that something, anything, is being done in this seemingly lost section of the city.
CAAS finds a new Executive Director for the first time in over 25 years. This vitally important local organization was led by Jack Hamilton since the early 80's and finding Kimberly Smith-Cofield to replace him was not an easy task for CAAS to do, but it seems to be working out quite well after almost one full year.
No local primary election made for a very low turnout in the final election, which saw only one contested incumbent - The News' our own Jamie Norton - lose his seat. The real excitement was a month later, with Somerville's own U.S. Rep. Mike Capuano in a heated Democratic Special State Primary against State Attorney General Martha Coakley and two relative newcomers - Alan Khazei and Steve Pagliuca. Unfortunately Mike lost, but, we still get to have him represent us in the House.
John Buonomo, disgraced former Register of Deeds, former Alderman and member of the School Committee was indicted in April for stealing from his own campaign committee to the tune of $100k. He was indicted while awaiting trial for his indictment stemming from charges that he stole from copier vending machines while serving as Register of Probate. In November he eventually pled guilty to a number of charges and was sentenced to serve 2.5 years in Billerica House of Correction.
Not to be outdone by Buonomo, Kevin Carey, former local real estate attorney and Water Commissioner under Mayor Dot Gay pled guilty to a number of charges related to mortgage "stacking" and was sentenced to 2-3 years in State prison, 10 years of probation and has to pay $2.6 million in restitution.
As we round out the year, State Senator Anthony Galluccio is on 24 hour a day house arrest and Somerville Police Chief Anthony Holloway may be heading back to Florida to take a job there. Welcome 2010 - we eagerly await what you have to offer.