Monday, November 30, 2020

Mayor Walsh appoints Aisha Miller as Chief of Civic Engagement

Aisha Miller
Aisha Miller new Chief of Civic Engagement
Photo: Courtesy City Hall 



BOSTON - Monday, November 30, 2020 - Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced the appointment of Aisha Miller as the Chief of Civic Engagement for the City of Boston, effective Monday, December 7, 2020. 

The Civic Engagement Cabinet is composed of the Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Services, the Mayor's Office of Public Service and Community Outreach, Boston 311, and SPARK Boston and is dedicated to the efficient and effective delivery of City services, as well as creating opportunities for Boston residents to participate with local government. 


Miller is currently the Assistant Commissioner of Constituent Services for the Boston Inspectional Service Department (ISD). "Aisha brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in civic engagement to this new role, and I am proud and excited to appoint her as my Chief of Civic Engagement," said Mayor Walsh. "Managing the Constituent Services Division at ISD required building relationships with the community, outside stakeholders and various city agencies to ensure each Boston resident is afforded the best quality of life. I am confident that she will also excel in this new role and all City departments will benefit from having her as a Cabinet Chief." 

 "I am excited and esteemed by this opportunity to lead one of the essential departments in the City of Boston that connects to all Boston residents. I look forward to continuing the initiatives spearheaded by Chief Jerome Smith and creating new initiatives under the leadership of Mayor Martin J. Walsh," said Aisha Miller. "I was born and raised in Mattapan, enriched with families and hard-working parents like my mother that instilled values in their children. Moments like these prove to young people of color that opportunities are at their fingertips through hard work and dedication. For me, it's simple; a girl from Mattapan has the chance to give back to the people who have prepared her for this moment."

Aisha will take the role of Jerome Smith, who served as director of the Office of Neighborhood Services and Chief of Civic Engagement for over six years. Current Chief of Staff for the Civic Engagement Cabinet, Edward M. McGuire III, will assume the role of Director of the Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Services effective Monday, December 7, 2020. 

Faisa Shariff was recently appointed as the Deputy Director of ONS. Jerome Smith's last day working at the City of Boston will be Friday, December 4, 2020. As Chief of Civic Engagement and Director of the Office of Neighborhood Services, he advised the Mayor on efforts to preserve and enhance the quality of services delivered to residents, including overseeing Mayor Walsh's Civic Academies and NEW (Neighborhood Engagement Walks) Boston, developing neighborhood partnerships, resolving problems related to code enforcement, rebranding and managing Boston 311, and spearheading Mayor Walsh's Problem Properties Task Force, Fireworks Task Force, and Police Reform Task Force. 

 "Jerome has been an integral part of my team for many years, and greatly contributed to the continual improvement of delivering City services," said Mayor Walsh. "It has truly been a pleasure to work with him and we wish him the best in his future endeavors." "It was a privilege to serve the City of Boston under the Walsh administration doing such meaningful work as the Chief of Civic Engagement and Director of Neighborhood Services," said Jerome Smith. 

"I was dedicated to bridging the gaps between our communities and local government as I firmly believed that it is only by strengthening our neighborhoods that we can succeed as a city. With the support of the Mayor, my excellent staff and I were able to improve the delivery of services to constituents and to find innovative and meaningful ways in which to engage the residents of Boston. I am confident that the Cabinet will continue to do incredible work." 

For more information, please visit www.boston.gov/departments/neighborhood-services.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

R.I.P. John L. Forbes, former Executive Director of the East Boston Social Centers

A reflection on the passing of John L Forbes who served as director of the East Boston Social Centers for so many years.


Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Obituary: Judge Joseph Ferrino

Judge Joseph Vincent Ferrino, Sr. passed away peacefully on November 22, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. 

Born in 1926 in Boston, MA, he was a child of Sicilian parents who immigrated to the Boston area via Ellis Island around 1910. In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by his wife of over 60 years, Marie A. (“Jeanette”) Ferrino, his brother, Peter J. Ferrino, MD, and his sister, Annette M. Nazzaro. 

He is survived by his four children: Joseph V. Ferrino, Jr. of Winthrop, MA, Joanne F. Zahrobsky and her husband Colonel Joseph R. Zahrobsky, USAF (Ret.), of Tampa, FL, Paula J. Fosa of Winthrop, and Richard H. Ferrino and his wife Rhonda K. Ferrino of Winthrop. He is also survived by nine grandchildren, several great grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews.

Judge Ferrino was a World War II veteran, a Boston area attorney, a district court justice, a veterans organization leader, a patriotic organization founder, a beacon in the Italian American community, and a volunteer for hundreds of community causes and organizations.

A graduate of Boston University Law in 1951, Judge Ferrino returned to his roots to open a one-man practice in a brownstone law office in East Boston. There he served clients and became involved in several national causes until, in 1971, the Governor of Massachusetts appointed him a judge in the East Boston District Court. 

In 1976, he was promoted to presiding justice of that court. Over the ensuing 25 years, Judge Ferrino stewarded his court into a unique community asset--a multi-dimensional community court complete with a totally unique in-court community medical clinic and a Boy Scout coeducational Explorer Post. 

In addition, he also initiated Law Day in the Massachusetts courts. In 1989 the president of the Massachusetts Bar Association presented him their Public Service Award, calling his court “unparalleled in the state.” 

In addition to his court responsibilities, Judge Ferrino was a member of the Massachusetts, North Suffolk, and Boston Bar Associations. He sat on the Executive Committee of the International Association of Jurists, the Governor’s Task Force on Juvenile Justice, and the Judicial Committee on Courthouses and Facilities. He also served as President of the Justinian Law Society and was recently named "Honorary Dean". 

His academic lecture and advising resume included Harvard University, the National Judicial College, the Massachusetts Bar Association, the University of Massachusetts, Brandeis University, Salem State University and numerous others. Many of these activities resulted in published scholarly work.

Beyond his legal career, however, Judge Ferrino lived a remarkable life in many other diverse fields. He entered the Merchant Marines and then later, enlisted in the U. S. Navy for the last 24 months of World War II. After the war ended, he attended college at the University of Alabama, and Boston University for law school. But he never lost his connection with veterans. He was a member of the Disabled American Veterans, the Italian American War Veterans, the East Boston Veterans Council, and most notably, the American Veterans--commonly known as the AMVETS. There, he commanded its local post, served as its Massachusetts Judge Advocate, co-wrote the national constitution and by-laws, and commanded its Northeast District. He went on to serve as its National Judge Advocate and its representative to international veterans councils in The Hague and Geneva. Finally, in 1968, he was elected its 25th National Commander and served in Washington, DC for a year.

He was also fiercely patriotic. Judge Ferrino founded the Bay State Chapter of Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge. It became a major focus of his energies, particularly after retirement from the bench in 1991, and he served in multiple offices, including president. His work in building the group from scratch ultimately provided hundreds of young people an immersive U. S. policy and education experience at the Freedoms Foundation national education center in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania even as his local chapter served Massachusetts as a cornerstone organization in public affairs and traditions.

Judge Ferrino’s role in the Italian American community was legendary. Over the decades he served in every leadership role in the Dante Alighieri Society of Massachusetts. He was instrumental in building the cultural center in Cambridge, MA. In 1998, working closely with the governor, he was instrumental in establishing the annual October Italian Heritage Month in Massachusetts. He maintained active membership in a plethora of Italian American organizations his entire life. He also worked closely with the Italian Consulate in Boston, hosting and supporting a number of consuls general and their work in Massachusetts and New England.

Judge Ferrino also served in numerous other leadership and advisory capacities. At various times he co-chaired the 1987/1988 East Boston and Winthrop Bicentennial Committee, the Trinity Neighborhood House, the Boston Bicentennial and the Boston Jubilee. He incorporated and advised the East Boston and North Suffolk Mental Health Clinics. He served as president of the East Boston Chamber of Commerce, the East Boston Kiwanis Club, and the East Boston Social Centers, Inc. He sat on the Boards of the YMCA Armed Services, Huntington General Hospital, Trinity House Camps, Inc., and the Board of Trustees of the Boston Public Library. He served as Scoutmaster of Troop 15, and sat on the Executive Board of the Boston Council of the Boy Scouts. And he co- published the East Boston Leader.

Judge Ferrino’s U.S. and International awards and decorations were myriad. He was knighted by the President of the Italian Republic as Commendatore dell'Ordine della Stella della solidariet√† italiana (A Commander of the Order of the Star of Italian Solidarity). In May 2016, Freedoms Foundation presented him its highest national award, the “Spirit of ‘76” medal and, in 2018, the Massachusetts State House of Representatives honored him for his “collective body of work” on the Italian Heritage Month Committee. In 1989 he was honored with a Grand Knighthood in the Order of Saint Michael the Archangel of the Massachusetts Italian American Police Officers Association. He held awards and recognition from every level of the Massachusetts Bar and countless other organizations.

Arrangements are being made through Caggiano Funeral Home of Winthrop, MA. In view of the national health emergency, memorial and interment services will be held privately for the immediate family only. A retrospective public celebration of life is contemplated for some later date when safety can be assured. Friends wishing to make a memorial gesture are encouraged to donate to the American Diabetes Association.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Mayor Walsh, Governor Baker, Boston Housing Authority and Trinity Financial celebrate completion of phase two of Overlook Terrace at Orient Heights

(BOSTON - Thursday, November 12, 2020) - Mayor Martin J. Walsh and Governor Charlie Baker today marked the completion of Phase Two of Overlook Terrace at Orient Heights with a virtual 'ribbon cutting' event - joining the Boston Housing Authority (BHA), the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), and the development team of Trinity Financial and the East Boston Community Development Corporation.

Phase Two of the project involved the demolition of 87 original units in four buildings and the new construction of 88 State Public Housing rental units in a combination of apartment style and townhouse homes. The Phase Two property, which also includes new community and open spaces and play areas, achieved LEED Gold certifiability for sustainability and energy efficiency. 

Photo credit: Anthony Crisafulli, Trinity Financial

"The Orient Heights development is a great Boston story," said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. "We brought lots of partners together, we got creative sourcing funding, and we harnessed the economic strength of our city to create powerful opportunities for working families. I congratulate everyone involved in the financing, design and construction. I thank the tenants for their patience and input, and the BHA for working with them on relocation and return."

"I'm pleased to celebrate the completion of Phase II of Overlook Terrace at Orient Heights, preserving hundreds of affordable units for Boston residents," said Governor Charlie Baker. "Thank you to Mayor Walsh, the Boston Housing Authority and all the partners that worked together with our administration to make this project possible."

Originally built in 1951, the 331-unit Orient Heights state public housing community has become physically distressed over the years. For the past five years, BHA, DHCD, and the residents of Orient Heights have been working with the development team to transform the community. Phase One of the redeveloped Overlook Terrace at Orient Heights, which was completed in 2018, included the construction of 120 units of new replacement state public housing. The total development investment in Phase One was of approximately $51.2 million, including affordable housing resources from the City of Boston, and funds raised through an allocation of federal 4 percent Low-Income Housing Tax Credits; tax-exempt bonds for construction financing; state public housing capital funds from BHA and DHCD.

Phase Two, being celebrated today, was made possible with $10 million from the City of Boston, including the proceeds from the sale of the Winthrop Street Garage as well as Inclusionary Development Policy funds secured from Article 80 development projects in East Boston. Financing for Phase Two was also provided by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts's DHCD, the BHA, MassWorks, MassHousing, RBC Capital Markets, and Citizens Bank. 

As part of the upcoming FY22 Capital Plan, Mayor Walsh is committing another $19 million for Phase Three, which is anticipated to complete the replacement and modernization of the remaining 123 units in order to achieve a one-for-one replacement of the original 331-units, and is projected to commence in 2021. 

"Orient Heights has been a vital housing resource for low-income families in East Boston for almost 70 years. With these new units we are building a future for our residents," said BHA Administrator Kate Bennett. "The work we're doing today will secure a vibrant, stable home for hundreds of families at Orient Heights for decades to come."

The BHA, which has owned and managed the Orient Heights public housing development since its original construction in the 1950s, undertook a planning process in 2008 with the support of DHCD to consider redevelopment options for the community. In January 2015, with an award of funding from DHCD, the BHA selected the development team of Trinity Financial and East Boston CDC to work with both agencies and the residents of the Orient Heights community to finalize a redevelopment strategy. In partnership with the BHA and DHCD, the development team secured financing to implement the redevelopment, and will own and manage the buildings post-redevelopment. The BHA will continue to own the land and will lease the land to Trinity.  

"This property is a critical part of the BHA's portfolio in meeting the City of Boston's affordable housing needs. It has been a privilege to be part of such a collaborative public-private partnership with our colleagues at the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the City of Boston, the Boston Housing Authority, East Boston CDC, the Orient Heights residents, and our colleagues in finance and development to see this second phase through to completion." said Eva Erlich, Vice President, Development with Trinity Financial. "We're thrilled to be marking this milestone for Phase Two, and look forward to completing the full transformation with the third and final phase.  "

Since January of 2015, BHA and the development team have held public meetings with residents and the neighborhood, regular meetings with the Local Tenant Organization and various meetings with City and State officials. The redevelopment effort has been supported by a local community that recognizes Orient Heights as an integral part of the neighborhood. BHA, Trinity, and the East Boston CDC will continue to meet with public housing residents and neighbors in the broader community on an on-going basis throughout the remaining stages of redevelopment.

Mayor Walsh and the City of Boston have dedicated substantial resources to redevelopment efforts at BHA Public Housing sites across the city. In addition to the city's $10 million investment for Orient Heights Phase Two, Mayor Walsh has invested $6.5 million to redevelop the Whittier Public Housing Development in Roxbury, $30 million for a future redevelopment of the Bunker Hill Public Housing Development in Charlestown, $25 million to Anne Lynch Homes at Old Colony in South Boston, and $5 million this year to kickstart renovation efforts for BHA Public Housing for seniors and residents with disabilities across the city.

Since the implementation of the Mayor Walsh's housing plan in 2014, 23,000 new units of housing have been completed. With an additional 9,700 units currently under construction, the City has secured housing for an estimated 45,600 residents, making significant progress in meeting Boston's rapid population growth.  

ABOUT THE BOSTON HOUSING AUTHORITY

The Boston Housing Authority (BHA) is a public agency that provides subsidized housing to low and moderate income individuals and families. In addition to conventional public housing communities throughout Boston, BHA offers rental assistance programs. BHA receives federal and state funding in order to provide housing programs to individuals and families. BHA's mission is to provide stable, quality affordable housing for low and moderate income persons; to deliver these services with integrity and mutual accountability; and to create living environments which serve as catalysts for the transformation from dependency to economic self-sufficiency.

ABOUT TRINITY FINANCIAL

Trinity Financial is a community-driven, diverse real estate development firm with a proven-track record of redeveloping complex urban sites from New York to Greater Boston. Our work spans half a dozen residential and commercial specialties, from multi-family housing to transit-oriented development. Over the past 30 years Trinity has completed more than $3 billion in innovative development, delivering high quality, sustainable, multi-family housing, ranging from affordable to luxury - all with a commitment to people and place. For more information about Trinity Financial, please visit www.trinityfinancial.com.

 


Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Mayor Walsh Column: Help your city by getting tested for COVID-19

 By Mayor Martin J. Walsh

(Boston, November 10) The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged us in profound ways, and has impacted nearly every aspect of city life. Although we have made great progress since the spring in controlling the spread of the virus, Boston has been facing an increase in COVID-19 positive rates for the last few weeks. Currently, 7.1 percent of people who get tested are testing positive. Since anyone can be infected and spread the virus even if they don’t show symptoms, testing is a key part of stopping the spread. 


I recently announced a new campaign called “Get The Test, Boston,” a pledge that encourages every Boston resident to make testing a regular part of their routine. It also encourages employers to let their employees know about testing resources available to them. The City of Boston is offering benefit-eligible City employees one paid hour every 14 days to get tested during their normal work hours. Several local businesses have also committed to signing the pledge, to ensure their employees know how and when to get tested for COVID-19. 


I encourage everyone in our city to look at the testing resources we have worked so hard to make available, and seriously consider getting tested to protect themselves and their communities as we work to stop this increase in COVID-19 cases. Here are some reasons why you should get tested: 


  • If you are experiencing COVID-like symptoms, like fever, cough, or shortness of breath

  • If you are at high risk for complications from COVID-19

  • If you have been in contact with someone who was infected with COVID-19

  • If you have traveled or have been in large gatherings


The City offers free testing for residents with or without COVID-like symptoms through our mobile testing teams currently in East Boston’s Central Square and at Jubilee Christian Church in Mattapan through Saturday, November 14. The teams change locations every couple of weeks to increase testing accessibility and availability, prioritizing neighborhoods that need dedicated testing efforts. For locations and hours of the more than 30 COVID-19 testing sites we have in the City, including these mobile sites, please visit boston.gov/covid19-testing


We are entering a critical time in this pandemic, and everyone who does their part will help save lives, and make a real difference. By following the safety guidelines, everyone can minimize the spread. In addition to getting tested, residents should continue to wear a face covering or mask, stay six feet apart from others, wash your hands often with soap and warm water, and avoid crowds and gatherings. 


Together, we will continue to keep our city and our communities safe.


Source: Mayor's Press Office 11/10


Sunday, November 8, 2020

From the archives: Jeveli's adds new dining room.

Update 11/9: According to several sources Jeveli's is only going into winter hibernation. 

Posters at the East Boston Open Discussion Group over at Facebook report that landmark Jeveli's Restaurant in Day Square will close on Tuesday, November 10.  Here's some ad copy I wrote for an ad in the East Boston Community News in January 1983.  I worked there as a teenager in various jobs; I learned a lot from the late Ted Jeveli. 

Another local institution sails away. 



Sunday, October 11, 2020

East Boston Main Streets Launches Eastie Strong: Partnership with local businesses to support struggling restaurant industry

 

(EAST BOSTON, October 5, 2020) – East Boston Main Streets (EBMS) announced today that it is launching Eastie Strong, a partnership between EBMS and local real estate developers to provide much needed financial support to local restaurants, as they re-open during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The initiative has two components. The first is “Adopt a Patio” which will provide capital to fund reopening costs related to complying with COVID-19 restrictions. The funds will be used to purchase items such as outdoor furniture, umbrellas, and space heaters. The second component is a “gift card program” under which sponsors will distribute gifts cards directly to tenants for use only at participating local restaurants. 

“We wanted to find a way to help our tenants as well as contribute to the local restaurant economy which has suffered greatly during the pandemic,” said Stephen Davis of The Davis Companies. “Thanks to East Boston Main Streets we can help our tenants afford a night out while providing a financial lifeline to restaurants and support the overall health of the East Boston economy,” added David Grossman of The Grossman Companies, who is spearheading the fundraising component of the program with The Davis Companies.

Gladys Oliveros, the Executive Director of EBMS, is running the program. “Over the course of the pandemic, we have discovered many unique challenges that local restaurants face: lack of access to government Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, decreased revenue from customers, and the need for capital to help cover the cost of creating new outdoor seating. This partnership will help address these problems while encouraging East Boston residents to dine at the many wonderful restaurants operating locally.”

EBMS Board (acting) President, Ida R. Candreva added, “The Board is excited to enter into a partnership that will support local restaurants.  Historically, this neighborhood has thrived on the local small businesses built by local residents.  This pandemic is certainly taking its toll on many of our neighborhood’s businesses and its vitality. This partnership will help put money back into our community and our local businesses, an important component to keeping ‘Eastie Strong’.  Thank you to our sponsors and thank you to Gladys for taking this project head on.” 

Founded in 1995, EBMS is a nonprofit community improvement organization serving the diverse neighborhoods of East Boston with a focus on Maverick and Central Squares. EBMS has been working to support local restaurants and businesses through the immediate shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic, connecting business owners to grants and helping to navigate evolving reopening guidelines. EBMS aims to create a vibrant business district by initiating private and public improvements, promoting commerce, and supporting efforts to improve the quality of life for all who live, work and do business in East Boston. 

The first round of Adopt-A-Patio funding will be distributed in mid-October with a potential second round in November, depending on need and resources. Sponsors of the program, as of this writing, include The Davis Companies, The Grossman Companies, Roseland, The Novus Group, MG2, Seyfarth Shaw LLP, Trinity Financial, Volnay Capital, LendLease, and Norfolk Kitchen and Bath. Sponsors expect the list to grow over the coming weeks.


Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Italian American Alliance: The Real Story about the Columbus Statue in Boston; "Mayor broke his word."

The following is a statement released today by the Italian American Alliance.

The Italian American ALLIANCE is not fooled by Mayor Walsh’s recent actions concerning the Columbus statue, For starters, the Mayor broke his word to the ALLIANCE. 

In a private ZOOM meeting between Mayor Walsh, and the ALLIANCE -- which took place shortly after the Columbus statue was vandalized --the ALLIANCE  gathered residents of the North End and Donors of the statue to participate in the meeting. During that meeting, Mayor Walsh was very emphatic about several points.

  1. The statue’s head had been smashed into 7 pieces and would take time to repair. However, he pledged to have it repaired.
  2. He asked for time. He said that in the present climate, it was not the right time to make a decision. He said he would listen to a variety of opinions before making a final decision – AND THAT HE WOULD HAVE A SECOND MEETING WITH THE ALLIANCE BEFORE ANNOUNCING IT.
  3. He asked us to keep the meeting confidential and out of the press – which we did with some misgiving and reluctance.

WE ARE DISAPPOINED AT THE OVERALL PROCESS AND ARE CONSIDERING LEGAL OPTIONS.

While some cautioned us not to trust Walsh, we did. It now appears that our trust was a mistake.  However, there’s no other way of saying it. The Mayor did not keep his word.

There are significant questions as to whether all the donors of the statue were ever consulted about Walsh’s decision.

There’s a need to review the terms of the gift to the city. There’s a need to know WHERE THE STATUE WILL BE PLACED. There’s also a need to know where the North End Council will pledge to develop substantial security around the statue and whether it INTENDS to meet the costs of carrying sufficient insurance for costs of repair should the statue be vandalized again.

In the end, there are serious questions concerning the overall process taken by Walsh which the ALLIANCE intends to pursue.

We are now creating a BOSTON COLUMBUS STATUE COMMISSION. Please let us know if you would like to get personally involved. Email us at Frankwrote@aol.com.

MAYOR WALSH MAY THINK SO – BUT THIS IS NOT OVER !

Submitted October 7, 2020

Background: Boston Herald "Boston Christopher Columbus statue won’t come back to site — but will remain in North End." October 6, 2020


Councilor Edwards issues statement on Housing Stability Notification Act

BOSTON (7 October 2020) - Boston City Councilor Lydia Edwards has issued the following statement on the ordinance filed by Mayor Martin J. Walsh which would require landlords to distribute materials to tenants on their rights prior to filing an eviction:

“I want to thank Mayor Walsh for filing this ordinance and asking that the council pass it during today’s hearing. These actions show a sense of urgency that is required of all elected officials in Massachusetts with the eviction and foreclosure moratorium set to end in 10 days. I can promise the mayor, my colleagues on the council, tenants, landlords, homeowners and housing advocates across Boston that as the chair of both the Housing and Community Development and Government Operations committees I am committed to ensuring this body will pass a comprehensive ordinance protecting renters and owners facing eviction or foreclosure. I am committed to doing so before the moratorium ends on the 17th or immediately afterward during our weekly meeting on the 21st.

The ordinance filed by the mayor is a good starting point, but it is just that: a start. We must go further than what’s being proposed today to protect Bostonians from the coming housing crisis.

The Mayor should call upon the Boston Public Health Commission to issue an emergency order establishing a moratorium on eviction enforcement during the pandemic. This would prevent the levying of an eviction order on commercial and residential tenants and protect tenants against people entering their unit except in limited circumstances. Governor Baker and Mayor Walsh have requested that residents stay home to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Evictions would make this impossible and would increase the risk to public health and safety.

Boston should also implement one of the proposals in the Housing Stability Act (H.5018/S.2918) at the statehouse and provide property tax relief for landlords that do not evict tenants for unpaid rent. This measure will provide much needed financial relief for landlords who are facing foreclosure as a result of their tenants not paying rent.

Finally, the mayor should call upon Governor Baker to do his job and lead the nation in cancelling rent and mortgage payments until the pandemic ends. Tenants, landlords, and homeowners throughout the Commonwealth are facing an unprecedented crisis on the 17th if we don’t take immediate action. I look forward to working with the administration, my colleagues and the housing advocates who have not had the opportunity to review today’s proposal on finding solutions to the challenges ahead.”


Source: Councilor Edwards' office 10/7/20

photo credit: EastBoston.com


Monday, September 21, 2020

Mayor Walsh, Boston EMS celebrate new EMT graduates at East Boston ceremony

City Hall Photography
























BOSTON - Monday, September 21, 2020 - Mayor Martin J. Walsh today joined Boston EMS to celebrate the graduation of 10 Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) recruits in a socially distanced, outdoor ceremony at LoPresti Park in East Boston. This graduating class will be assigned to 911 ambulances, strengthening the City of Boston's Emergency Medical Services (EMS).

"In our lifetime, we've never seen a crisis quite like the COVID-19 pandemic. And through it all, the men and women at Boston EMS have been on the front lines, leading the City's response with incredible courage and passion," said Mayor Walsh. "I'm proud to be here to congratulate the men and women graduating today as they join the best emergency medical services department in the country. "

Today's ceremony formally acknowledges 10 recruits' successful completion of a rigorous post-hire training program for EMTs at Boston EMS. Already state-certified EMTs prior to hire, this graduating class, completed an additional seven months of classroom and field training. Known as "Recruit Class 2020-1," the recruits were trained in a variety of life-threatening emergency situations, including active shooter incidents, hazardous materials exposure, transportation accidents, recovery services, human trafficking and mass casualty incidents. The training program also included a month-long reassignment to assist with the City of Boston's COVID-19 pandemic response, supporting field operations, dispatch operations and enhanced disinfectant procedures.

"Their rigorous training academy began when the City only had one confirmed case of COVID-19 and it continued through the surge of the pandemic in Boston. This recruit class has seen firsthand the courage, passion and heart it takes to do this job," said Boston EMS Chief James Hooley. "Welcome to Boston EMS. You are serving in historic times and you are ready."

This academy class responded to nearly 1,400 9-1-1 calls during their training. Those emergency incidents included baby deliveries, cardiac arrests, motor vehicle accidents, shootings, stabbings, strokes, overdoses and more. With guidance from seasoned EMT field training officers, recruits are not only prepared to care for patients, regardless of the circumstances, they also now understand the level of care, clinical excellence and professionalism expected of Boston EMS EMTs.

Boston EMS is one of the busiest municipal EMS providers in New England, responding to more than 125,000 emergency medical incidents per year. As a bureau of the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC), Boston EMS is committed to serving Boston's residents through clinical excellence, emergency planning and preparedness, and community outreach.

In his FY20 budget, Mayor Walsh added four EMTs to promote diversity and recruitment as well as resources to expand the capacity of Boston EMS's Community Assistance Team, also known as Squad 80. Squad 80 is a two-person team that travels in a non-transport vehicle and answers calls where patients have a low frequency of being transported to the emergency room, making more ambulances available for priority calls that need to get patients to the hospital. It also connects people to our recovery or homeless services and other city programs. In FY21, Mayor Walsh is investing in seven new ambulances, as well as new portable radios to support coordination and communication, new body armor to protect EMTs and Paramedics and new AEDs for patient care.

ABOUT BOSTON EMS
Boston EMS is the primary provider of emergency medical services for the City of Boston and is a nationally recognized leader in the field of pre-hospital emergency medicine. The department leverages the latest advances in both medicine and technology to bring high-quality, compassionate care to the people of Boston. Boston EMS also plays a key role in the City's emergency preparedness efforts and provides community programming designed to educate the public about important health and safety topics.

ABOUT THE BOSTON PUBLIC HEALTH COMMISSION
The Boston Public Health Commission, one of the country's oldest health departments, is an independent public agency providing a wide range of health services and programs. It is governed by a seven-member board of health appointed by the Mayor of Boston. Public service and access to quality health care are the cornerstones of our mission - to protect, preserve and promote the health and well-being of all Boston residents, particularly those who are most vulnerable. The Commission's more than 40 programs are grouped into six bureaus: Emergency Medical Services; Child Adolescent & Family Health; Community Health Initiatives; Homeless Services; Infectious Disease; and Recovery Services.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Mayor Walsh and Superintendent Cassellius: Our fall school plans are guided by health, safety, and equity

By Mayor Martin J. Walsh and Superintendent Brenda Cassellius

 

From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping Boston’s families safe, healthy, and equitably supported has been our top priority. That’s why we made the tough but necessary decision to close Boston Public Schools buildings in March. In a matter of days, we began distributing Chromebooks and WiFi hotspots to students, we set up meal sites to continue feeding tens of thousands of students and families, and we transitioned to fully remote learning. It was an all-hands-on-deck effort, and one we kept up while planning the upcoming school year.

 

We are still facing uncertainty from coronavirus, but the values that guide us are unchanged. Our plans for the upcoming school year put health, safety, and the needs of our most vulnerable students at the center of our plans.

 

After conducting an equity analysis and incorporating the feedback of thousands of stakeholders, we have decided to move forward with a cautious, responsible, phased-in hybrid model for the school year. In the optional hybrid model, students learn at home three days a week and attend school in-person two days a week.


This is our plan:

 

  • We pushed the first day of school back to September 21, to give schools and teachers extra time to prepare. 


  • On September 21, all students will start with all-remote learning. 


  • No sooner than October 1, the option of hybrid learning will begin for students with the highest needs. 


  • No sooner than October 15, optional hybrid learning may begin for the three grades of kindergarten: K0, K1, and K2. 


  • No sooner than October 22, opt-in hybrid learning may begin for grades 1-3. 


  • No sooner than November 5, opt-in hybrid learning may begin for grades 4-8. That will include grades 6-8 in the high schools that include those grades. 


  • And no sooner than November 16, opt-in hybrid learning may begin for grades 9-12. 


In every step, families have the choice of whether to opt in to hybrid learning or stay fully remote. BPS is surveying families about their learning environment and transportation preferences for the fall. We know that many families want and need their children to be in school, but many other families are not yet comfortable with in-person learning. That’s why we are honoring family choice.


We’ve learned a lot from the spring remote learning period. This plan is an opportunity to make remote learning more robust, inclusive, and creative. We are expanding technology and internet access; creating new outreach and support plans for families; developing solutions for special education students and English learners; and talking with childcare providers.


We have also spent months preparing our school buildings and training staff to protect students’ and teachers’ health. We are working with school leaders and facilities professionals to make sure every school is safe and in compliance with DESE recommendations. We will not send students, teachers, or staff into buildings that are not safe.

 

We are focusing on equity and meeting the needs of our students. Our plan responds to the significant opportunity gaps facing students from low-income households, students of color, immigrants, and English language learners. Many parents are essential workers who must return to work, and cannot leave their young children home alone. For these families, opportunity gaps grow with every day students are out of school. It’s also important to remember that school is about much more than learning. For many students, it’s their place of safety, support, and social development.


Supporting students with special needs is a big focus of this plan. We are prioritizing high needs special education students by giving them the option of in-person learning, two days a week (Monday and Tuesday for Hybrid Group A, Thursday and Friday for Hybrid Group B) starting October 1, and up to 4 days a week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday) starting October 12 based on family choice, considerations to ensure safety based on classroom capacity, and any potential need to reroute transportation for students. This is the right thing to do. We are committed to meeting the requirements of every student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP).


We need to keep our communities safe, get kids back to school, and provide quality education. That’s what this plan makes possible. At every step, we will follow public health data. Every family will have the choice about when to send their children into school buildings. And we will continue the work that began long before COVID-19: to close opportunity and achievement gaps, and give every single child the quality education that they deserve. 


We are deeply grateful to all of the teachers, school leaders, staff, families, students, and public health experts who lent their time and expertise, and helped us consider all aspects of our plan. This is the most difficult chapter in our city’s recent history, and time and time again the Boston community rises to the challenge with solidarity and compassion. 


To see the full BPS reopening plan, and for more information about how to submit feedback, visit bostonpublicschools.org/reopening.



Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Health Center appoints Greg Wilmot Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

Wilmot brings more than 20 years of health care experience to new role

Boston, MA (September 2, 2020)—East Boston Neighborhood Health Center (EBNHC), the largest community health center in Massachusetts and among the largest community health centers in the country, today announced that Greg Wilmot has been promoted to the role of senior vice president (SVP) and chief operating officer (COO). Wilmot most recently served as vice president and executive director of Neighborhood PACE, part of the national Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly network that provides comprehensive care and support for adults 55 and older with specific needs and preferences. In this new capacity, Wilmot will continue to oversee the PACE program while also playing a key role in the development of EBNHC’s 2025 strategic plan.

“This year the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center celebrates its 50th anniversary providing easily accessible, high-quality health care to some of our most vulnerable populations,” said Wilmot. “No patient is ever turned away and it is a privilege to be a part of an organization that has made such a tremendous impact on the local community. As we chart a course for the health center’s future, I’m looking forward to helping shape its strategic planning efforts.”

Wilmot brings more than 20 years of experience in the health care field to his new role. Prior to joining EBNHC in 2017, Wilmot worked at AllWays Health Partners, a member of Mass General Brigham, where he led the organization’s MassHealth Accountable Care Organization strategy and operations. Wilmot previously served as Boston Medical Center’s director of business development, where he partnered with clinical and administrative leaders at the hospital and across key partners to create new opportunities for growth and expand clinical services and quality goals. Wilmot also worked for former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick’s Executive Office of Health and Human Services as senior advisor and director of strategy and performance management and held various operational and management roles at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts.

“Greg’s appointment comes at an important time for EBNHC and the communities we serve as the health center continues to grow and expand,” said Manny Lopes, CEO. “As COO, he will play a key role in integrating the PACE program into the overall health center, which will improve patient care and organizational efficiency, as well as in the development of EBNHC’s strategic planning.”

Wilmot holds a BA in psychology from Boston College and an MBA from Northeastern University. Wilmot resides in Framingham, MA, with his wife Romina and their two daughters.

The East Boston Neighborhood Health Center (EBNHC) has been a vital part of the community for the last 50 years, providing easily accessible, high-quality health care to all who live and work in East Boston and the surrounding communities of Chelsea, Revere, Everett, and Winthrop. EBNHC supports more than 1,000 employees and handles 300,000 visits per year—more than any other ambulatory care center in New England. For more information, please visit www.ebnhc.org.

Friday, September 4, 2020

R.I.P Mike Valerio, Italian immigrant who started Papa Gino's pizza on Bennington Street

Michael A. Valerio 1931-2020
Reprinted from StandAmerica.us.

It is my sad duty to inform you that Michael A. Valerio, “Mike” to his friends, went home to heaven on Wednesday afternoon, September 2nd.

He was a faithful husband to Helen, loving father to Linda, Laura and Michael Jr. He was an Army veteran, a successful entrepreneur and businessman, a philanthropist and to me and many others, a very dear friend. He will be missed beyond measure, and the grief of those who knew and loved him is deep.

Mike was not a man who sought the spotlight, but behind the scenes he was a force of nature. After military service, he started a small pizza shop in 1953. With his wife Helen by his side every step of the way, they labored long hours, refused to go into debt and over the next three decades, turned a modest storefront in East Boston into over 200 stores, one of the largest restaurant chains in New England - Papa Gino’s of America.

Cooking remained a passion and past time for Mike long after his retirement as a restauranteur. He was often cooking when I called him, preparing a pasta dinner for Helen and himself. His love for his wife, children and family was demonstrated in ways small and large. If you met Mike and Helen in a social setting, you would have no hint of how successful they were. He carried himself with an unassuming humility, and yet he was one of the most generous men I’ve had the privilege of calling a friend.

He was also one of the hardest working people in America. I often awakened to find emails from him written at 2, 3 or 4 am about some idea he had and was anxious to talk to me about. I used to wonder when he slept. His energy was absolutely amazing, and reminds me of another outstanding leader on the scene today, President Donald J. Trump, who Mike deeply admired and vigorously defended.

I have known Mike and Helen for 37 years. He and his wife are the God parents of my youngest daughter. He was a member of my board of directors, and has been a significant donor since the day this organization was founded in 2009. He and I worked together on most of his major projects to help the country going back to the early 1980’s. I was a commentator on “Topic Religion” a radio program on the station he and Helen purchased in Boston in 1983.

We were allies and wide eyed idealists in Massachusetts politics who actually believed that we could take the state for conservative Republicans. We gave up on Massachusetts, but Mike never gave up on America. He was a courageous patriot who put his heart, soul, time, energy and money into helping save our country from the liberalism and progressivism which is now being exposed as socialism and communism.

Michael A. Valerio, was born in Italy, about 50 miles southeast of Rome. He was only five years old when he immigrated to the United States with his family, settling in the predominantly Italian East Boston. He grew to love America with a passion. When he achieved the capability, Mike expended tremendous effort and resources to preserve the nation he loved and the opportunities it gave him. He went from poor immigrant kid to prosperous businessman.

For those of us who knew him, the greatest parting gift we can offer is to remain vigilant and unrelenting in our quest to preserve America’s freedom, Judeo-Christian culture, economic and entrepreneurial vitality and faith in God. He wanted to make sure that the American people understand the threat posed by communism, in whatever guise it takes - progressivism,  Marxism, socialism or fascism. To Mike, it all springs from the evil human inclination to rob others of freedom. To assure the future of our country, he spent his life trying to stamp out this ideological poison. Mike will not be here to vote on November 3, but had he been, he was going to strike a blow for freedom by casting his vote for Donald Trump.

This is my first opportunity to publicly express my love and gratitude to Mike and Helen for their years of faithful friendship and support. STAND is one of many nonprofit organizations to which they donated. However, whether we were working on a project together or just waiting to figure out the next move, he was my dearest friend.

Please pray for his wife Helen, their children, grandchildren, extended family and all of his friends as we grieve the departure of this great patriarch and patriot. He fought for this country to the very end, and he is already missed.

Rest In Peace Mike. Thank you for your service to our nation. We will use the memory of your dedication and sacrifice as yet another reason to fight on. We will not let you down. America will remain a shining city on a hill.

God bless,

Bishop E.W. Jackson Sr.

Founder/President

Monday, August 31, 2020

Free Covid-19 Testing in Central Square as City Introduces Mobile Option



Boston's COVID-19 mobile testing site, in partnership with the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, will now be offering COVID-19 testing in East Boston's Central Square. This COVID-19 testing initiative will be available starting tomorrow, Tuesday, September 1 to Saturday, September 12 on Border Street at Liberty Plaza Shopping Center in East Boston. Testing will be available at no cost for both symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals. No appointment is needed but registration is required. To pre-register, please call 617-568-4500.

"Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been dedicated to monitoring and making decisions based on the latest COVID-19 data. With the increase in cases in East Boston, we are expanding testing access there to ensure that all residents can get tested," said Mayor Walsh. "Thank you to the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center for your continued partnership in helping Bostonians stay safe and healthy."

The dates and hours of operation at Central Square Park in East Boston are: 

Tuesday, September 1st: 2:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, September 2nd: 9:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Thursday, September 3rd - Friday, September 4th: 2:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. 

Saturday, September 5th: 10:00 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.

Tuesday, September 8th: 2:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, September 9th: 9:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Thursday, September 10th - Friday, September 11th: 2:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. 

Saturday, September 12th: 10:00 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.

This mobile site testing initiative was announced by Mayor Walsh back in May as a way to help fill any gaps in testing availability, prioritizing neighborhoods and populations that need dedicated testing efforts to create equitable access to testing. The site has previously been located in Roxbury, Allston, South Boston and Mattapan. In Mattapan, there were 927 COVID-19 tests ordered. Of 798 results received, less than 2.2% tested positive for COVID-19.

"East Boston has seen an alarming rise in COVID-19 rates and its critical that we take
immediate actions to stop the spread of the virus," said East Boston Neighborhood Health Center president and CEO Manny Lopes. "Testing is one of the most important infectious disease control tools in our arsenal and we are glad to be partnering with the City of Boston to provide pop-up testing sites throughout the city."

As of August 24th, 2020, East Boston is experiencing a 10.8% average positive test rate for the current week compared to the citywide average positive test rate at 2.3%. Bringing the mobile testing team is one step the City of Boston is taking to address the increase in the positivity rate in the neighborhood. The City is in communication with the State about finding temporary isolation housing so people can quarantine away from their families if they test positive for COVID-19. 

The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) has been mobilizing teams to provide care kits, information, and education to residents and businesses using the languages spoken in the neighborhood, including Spanish. They are distributing information at MBTA stations and key intersections, as well as neighborhood parks where people gather to play sports. Cross-departmental teams in the City of Boston, elected officials who represent the neighborhood, medical and social service providers in the community, union leaders who represent working people in the neighborhood, and Church officials and clergy have helped to get the message out.

In addition to the City's mobile testing sites, COVID-19 testing is available at over 20 locations across the city. Mobile testing sites also continue to be available at select locations, prioritizing neighborhoods and populations that need dedicated testing efforts to create equitable access to testing. Individuals can call the Mayor's Health Line with any questions using 617-534-5050. For a complete list of all testing sites, visit here. 

The City of Boston has been partnering with community health centers to increase access to testing, particularly in neighborhoods experiencing higher rates of COVID-19. As of Monday, August 24, 2020, there were 167,859 COVID-19 tests of Boston residents. Out of 167,859 total tests, 9.4% have tested positive, which is down from 10.1% reported through Monday, August 17. For all Boston residents, the positivity for tests decreased slightly from 2.7% for the prior week (August 11-17) to 2.3% for the current week (August 18-24). The latest numbers of cases from the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) by neighborhoods are available here.

Mayor Walsh and the Boston Resiliency Fund Steering Committee have dedicated over $1,720,000 to expand COVID-19 testing and conduct culturally appropriate outreach and education to community health centers across City of Boston neighborhoods, including Bowdoin Street Community Health Center, Codman Square Community Health Center, The Dimock Center, DotHouse Health, Mattapan Community Health Center, Uphams Corner Community Health Center, Whittier Street Community Health Center, Charles River Community Health, Fenway Health, Greater Roslindale Medical & Dental Center, Harbor Health, East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, Harvard Street Neighborhood Health Center, Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center, South Boston Community Health Center, NEW Health Charlestown, South End Community Health Center, and Brookside Community Health Center. The Fund has also supported telehealth services and equipment at those community health centers as well to connect testing to safe treatment options at home.

Resources and information about COVID-19 are available online. Resources available on boston.gov and through City departments include support for renters and homeowners; small businesses; free meals for Boston students; free toiletries for Boston students; support for older residents; information on homeless shelters; resources for those in recovery or those who have a substance use disorder; and mental health resources. More information on Boston's reopening can be found at boston.gov/reopening.

For additional questions or programs, please visit our coronavirus website or call 3-1-1, Boston's 24-hour constituent hotline. Text BOSCOVID to 888-777 to receive text alerts on a regular basis, available in 11 languages.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Republican write-in candidate Rachel Miselman for the 7th Congressional District


Rachel Nicole Miselman is a Republican write-in candidate for the Seventh Congressional District seat, of which East Boston is a part.

“My grandmother’s parents met and began a lifetime together in East Boston in the early twentieth century. So, I am very fond of East Boston and committed to the residents. Despite being terribly pricier, East Boston remains a place where immigrants come, work, and sometimes fall in love!”

“As for the job of congresswoman, I see this office as being the means through which all voices in the district are heard. Moreover, one of the primary responsibilities is securing federal dollars for things like infrastructure, health centers (like the East Boston Community Health Center), and senior programs.”

“Our current congresswoman is not doing any of this. She is not doing the job. I will do the job.”

Rachel Nicole Miselman is from West Roxbury and Dorchester. She attended Boston Latin School and Harvard University. At these two schools, she learned about the importance of civic engagement and academic excellence. She used this instruction to train as a barrister at the same institution as Gandhi and Margaret Thatcher and then to advocate for human rights. It equally enabled her to become a teacher at private language schools for over twelve years.

This is her first run for public office. “I am not a member of the political class, “ she says. “I am a citizen of the district, all of which I love and cherish.”

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Rep. Adrian Madaro on COVID in EB: "Many working-class Eastie residents don't have the privilege of working from home."

East Boston has the highest COVID infection rate in Boston. Last week it was 7.9%. This was over 4 times the state average. It was almost 50% higher than the second-highest neighborhood. Many cities around us are seeing the same or higher. Let's talk about why. And what we can do.

Some people might imply that residents are to blame for not following guidelines closely enough. This is wrong. Our community isn't worse at wearing masks/social distancing, or taking fewer public health precautions than any other.

That's not why our rates are higher than the suburbs.

Our COVID infection rates are higher because our communities are systemically more vulnerable to the spread of this disease. This was true at the beginning of the shutdown, and it has become truer as MA has progressed through the phases of Reopening.

Many working-class Eastie residents don't have the privilege of working from home. Their jobs require them to go out to work, and in most cases they're interacting with coworkers or members of the public through jobs in the service industry - construction, cleaning, restaurants, etc. While the shutdown meant some (but not all) of these service workers were staying home, our state's reopening means that even more are back to work out in the public now. This means Eastie residents & surrounding communities have an increased risk of COVID exposure and infection.

And housing is expensive and hard to find. Most Eastie workers live in apartments that are full of family or roommates, and short on space. People share rooms. When everyone's living together in a small space, there aren't many opportunities to social distance. This means that when a worker gets sick, they have nowhere to quarantine. This puts the rest of their household at higher risk of contracting COVID. Reports indicate that this kind of "family spread" is one of the top ways that COVID is spreading in East Boston.

Residents in high-risk communities like Eastie are more prone to COVID due to health issues that are the result of longstanding environmental burdens. We are Environmental Justice communities with a long history of air pollution. Eastie residents have long suffered from elevated rates of respiratory illnesses, such as asthma & COPD, a legacy of living next to an international airport and a major highway. COVID is a respiratory illness. It's no surprise our residents are at an increased risk.

Earlier this year,

released a report on the role of environmental pollution in higher rates of COVID infection in low-income communities of color. It's no coincidence that these communities remain the hardest-hit now.

So what do we need to do? First, we need increased resources and assistance from the state. Gov. Baker has recently set the stage for this by designating high-risk communities, and pledging additional aid.

It is also critical that the state expand access to isolation sites in at-risk communities for workers who cannot quarantine at home without putting their families at risk.Isolation sites will help reduce family spread - a major component of COVID infection rates in East Boston.

Finally, we need Emergency Paid Sick Leave. Our sick leave system was not designed for a global pandemic. Workers should not have to choose between their health and economic security. Many are forced to continue working even if exposed to COVID because they need to pay the bills.

We have an obligation to help our most vulnerable residents who have been systemically more exposed to COVID infection.

Massachusetts is only as safe as our most at-risk communities. If we want to stop the spread, we need to ensure equity in the fight against COVID-19.

This aid should include:
• Increased testing and tracing capacity
• Priority for federal funding aid
• More PPE and disinfectant resources
• Increased and improved public health messaging and communications
• Improved enforcement measures.

See more at: https://www.facebook.com/adrian.madaro.02128/posts/4766887530112