Fiscal and Professional transparency must be applied to Winthrop’s Ferry Service
In a January 20, 2017 letter to the editor titled “The Winthrop/Quincy Ferry: Is it worth keeping afloat,” I wrote that real leadership is risky because it challenges entrenched beliefs, leads to conflict, and demands a hard look at existing systems. I made my concerns public regarding the ferry because my discussions with the former town manager and council regarding oversite were continually ignored.
Our former town manager felt both the town council and the citizens of Winthrop “could not handle the truth.” I was simply asking for fiscal and professional transparency regarding ferry operations. The current situation with the ferry is a result of our former town manager, a lawyer by trade. A lawyer started a ferry service without hiring a professional with appropriate knowledge of managing ferry operations. It was bad enough that ferry operations were run out of the town manager’s office, this meant the finances were not monitored by traditional financial department oversite. I believed then and still believe now that part of being a professional organization is striving for financial transparency.
I had to make a freedom of information request to receive even partial financial records for the ferry. During the most recent budget review, the former town manager initially reported the ferry was close to breaking even, being ~$70,000 in the hole because his office kept the financial records.
Two weeks after this statement, as part of the citizen finance commission, we pressed the former town manager for the truth. Finally, at that time he was forced to disclose the amount was closer to $240,000. I then worked with the citizen finance commission to write the commissions response to the council, pleading that the council evaluate the sustainability of the ferry at the end of this season. Because the town has exceeded the total $300,000 the council had voted to subsidize the ferry a year earlier than anticipated. The finance commission was very concerned that allowing the ferry to operate would generate another negative fiscal impact, bringing the town a loss of over $500,000 in a 3-year period. We further recommended that if state and federal subsidies do not appear as promised, the ferry should cease operations. We asked for a full financial and operations review.
The interim town manager’s review ( https://www.town.winthrop.ma.us/winthrop-projects-plans-and-presentations/pages/winthrop-ferry-fall-2017-report) has been made public, and thankfully his openness to fiscal and professional transparency makes it clear that no longer can these glaring facts be ignored. I did not mind my business like a “good town councilor should;’ I chose to speak up and question both the lifelong councilors and the former town manager. I challenged their comfort zones and yes, this request for transparency led to conflict. However, I stand by the principle that true leadership demands a hard look at existing systems. In this same January 20, 2017 letter to the editor, I envisioned the creation of a Ferry workshop so that we could have an open and honest discussion regarding the Ferry. The environment is now more conducive to holding such a discussion. I will discuss ask the interim town manager to begin work on creating this workshop that should include the public, the transportation, harbor and citizen finance committees, town management, town council and the chief financial officer. In order to make the changes necessary for a 21st century Winthrop, we must be willing to look at and fix existing systems.
Rich Boyajian APRN, NP
Winthrop town councilor at large
Vote for ron vecchia
The Winthrop community is certainly undergoing much change. When you drive around town there is construction going on just about everywhere. From Shore Drive to Veterans Road, the new Miller Field project and with more important projects on the horizon.
Because of the many critical infrastructure changes to our beautiful town, it is imperative that we elect a proven, skilled leader. Ron Vecchia is without a doubt the best candidate to move Winthrop through its next chapter. Ron’s experience as a member of Winthrop’s Board of Selectmen, Town Conservation Commission, Planning Board Member and Current Member of Winthrop’s School Committee gives him the concrete, on the ground knowledge to help ensure Winthrop’s best interests are preserved.
I have worked in Government at the highest levels. I worked closely on Beacon Hill for the late Gov. Paul Cellucci and in Washington, DC for President George W. Bush. Today I continue to work with many accomplished leaders in the private sector and with numerous elected officials. In my career I have collaborated with some impressive as well as some that I found not to be effective leaders. My friend Ron Vecchia possess the skillset found in a vetted leader. Ron’s governing style involves listening to people, providing support and valuing their involvement in problem solving and decision making. His experience, temperament and knowledge will make Ron an effective full time Town Council president. Ron will create a positive work environment for our new council members and new town manager. I hope over the next few weeks leading up to election day you get a chance to meet Ron and hear his vision for Winthrop and ultimately join me and cast your vote for Ron Vecchia, Tuesday, Nov. 7th.
The Winthrop Tree Committee would like to thank G. David Hubbard for his generous article in “Then and Now” about the historic Gibbons Elm. It is heartwarming to learn that the town saved the elm for another 40 or so years after it was struck by lightning in the 1870s, and had to be bolted back together. Further touching was the ceremonial commemorative gathering of the Winthrop townsfolk, who paid compassionate tribute to this stately tree before it was taken down.
We are reminded of the 107-year-old Great Red Oak that once stood before the Town Hall, taken by a wind storm in 2016. As was the Gibbons Elm, portions of the fallen oak have also been preserved for history. As was the Gibbons Elm replaced by a sapling elm, the fallen oak was replaced by a sapling Great Red Oak.
The Tree Committee aims to continue Winthrop’s tradition of hosting stately trees throughout the town, far into the future. Captain Gibbons’ gift of a tree outlived him by two centuries, and Winthrop continues to be home to other trees that are a gift to our descendants long into the future. Often the oldest residents of a town are some of its trees.
Mr Hubbard’s celebration of Winthrop tree history will help to focus reverence toward the existing big trees in Winthrop that are on public and private land. The Winthrop Tree Committee appreciates this treasured spotlight on a proud, past town tree and its memorial re-plantings.
The Winthrop Tree
CASA thanks community
Recovery Month 2017 has come to a close, and we want to personally thank our community for the participation and investment in the events. Dedicated volunteers and donors helped make this year’s events a success, and we want the community to know how important everyone is to CASA’s work because everyone is affected by addiction in some capacity. It might be a personal problem, or it might affect a friend, co-worker, relative, or neighbor. Addiction has no prejudice! It is CASA’s goal to build a community where people are free of stigma, able to get the help they need, and are educated on preventative ways to respond to unhealthy substances.
The Stepped Up Rally kicked off Recovery month quite nicely under the direction of CASA board members Linda Vecchia and Kathleen Duffy. A moving night of hope and remembrance was organized for the recovery community and all those impacted by addiction. We want to thank Chief of Police/Town Manager Terence Delehanty, Michael Duggan of Wicked Sober, Judge John McDonald Jr. of East Boston Court House, Lori and John Wadkins, Winthrop’s Recovery Coaches Danielle Fernaekees and Chip McHugh, Deanna Todisco, Jessica Santacrocci, the family of Nancy Williams, Eddie Barnacle, Makayla Norris, Senator Joseph Boncore, Sophia Grayson, Shannon Stimpson, Maryanne Frangules of MOAR, Brian Fisher, Kenny Pina , Elizabeth Carsley, Steve Tracy, Ron Vecchia, DJ Jeff Lyons, The Meridian House, CASA’s Youth Advisory Board WCAT and the DPW. Many more community members volunteered their time to help set up and break down the event, and many of you helped by donating sneakers! The sneakers were placed on the stairs of the town hall to symbolize the lives lost to addiction and at the conclusion of the rally those shoes were donated to people in recovery and organizations working with people working to find their road to recovery.
The “Ballin’ for A Cause” basketball tournament was a fundraising event held at the Philip “Zeke” McKenna courts on a beautiful sunny day. Organized by CASA’s Community Liasion LeighAnn Eruzione and John Hanson, the event brought people impacted by addiction together for a 6-team double elimination tournament. Event sponsors included East Boston Savings Bank, Intelligent Labor and Moving Company, The Gavin Foundation, The Process Recovery Center and Banyan Treatment Center. The day would not have been possible without the support of the Winthrop Police Department, the Winthrop Fire Department’s Chief Paul Flanagan, Winthrop Pizza Center, Winthrop’s Parks and Recreation and others who donated their time. Dale Hanson, Glen Curtis, Elaine Lanza, Rina Mallios, Vasilli Mallios, Angie Pettee, and Gina Garbone,- thank you for spending the day with us.
To celebrate recovery, the CLEAR Recovery Coach’s Danielle Fernekees and Chip McHugh organized a ‘Fancy Pants’ Recovery Dance at the Robert A. Deleo Senior Center. It was a night of food, music and dancing for those wanting to celebrate their own recovery or the recovery of someone they love. The event could not have been possible without donations from JW’s, Linda and Ron Vecchia, Family Pastry Shop, Gail Cusato, Winthrop Meat Market, Nick’s Pizza, The Winthrop Marketplace and the many volunteers who helped set up and break down the event. All the support, donations and the decorative touch of the anonymous fancy florist made for a very memorable night.
Lastly, the Stigma Awards Night organized by CASA’s Executive Director Amy Epstein, board member Stephen Ruggerio, Lead Youth Staff Rubin Rubiera, and Youth Advisory Board Volunteer Jacob Devlin was also a success. Hosted at the PSA Hall, the awards night focused on acknowledging individuals in the community who were nominated by you for their tireless work fighting stigma. Winners and Nominees were acknowledged and celebrated for their work.
CASA is proud to recognize the winners; John Hanson, Glen Curtis, Dona O’Donnell and the Book Depot, as well as the nominees; Blackstrap BBQ, Bookkeeper By Trade, Brajan Kalemi, Cambridge Health Alliance- Primary Care Behavioral Health Integration (PCBHI) Team, Carly Zichella, Cervizzi’s Martial Arts Academy, Chief Terri Delehanty, Chip McHugh, Danielle Fernekees, Deanna Faretra, Isadora Hipolito, Jillian Emma Buono, Joan Singarella, Judge John McDonald, Justin Gamble, LICSW, LeighAnn Eruzione, Linda Vecchia, Matt Crombie, Matt Zichella, Melanie Barbarisi, Meredith Hurley, Mi Amore, Rubin Rubiera, Sergeant Sarko Gergerian, Stephen Ruggiero, and Tajah Thomas. We thank all of you for your continuing efforts to provide an environment free of stigma. The annual MaryAnn Lounsbury Community Service award was presented to Mary Lou Osborne. Never a bystander, Mary Lou steps up when nobody else will. She is thoughtful and works tirelessly to make her community better and advocates for social justice wherever she sees a need. The awards committee was delighted to celebrate Mary Lou, who is the CASA Board President. The awards ceremony would not have been possible without the donations from the Point Shirley Association, Black Strap BBQ, Marino’s Espresso Catering Service and Michael Reilly, our volunteer barista, all the speakers and presenters as well as youth and adult volunteers who worked to make the event a success. A special thanks to Speaker Robert DeLeo for joining us in celebrating our community stigma warriors.
Throughout the month we received generous donations, from a variety of local and regional businesses and families that made all of these events possible. Thank you for your support. Winthrop Charities, Richard Smith Family, Thomas D’Ambrosio Memorial Fund, FKO Afterschool, Elliott Whittier Insurance Company, Ed Cash, In loving Memory of Michael Todisco, Jim Tieso Family, Highland Real Estate, Diane Wallace, Delvento Family, Committee for Bob Deleo, Boston Carmen’s Union Local, Linda Calla, Martha Ruggiero, Steven Grayson Family, Winthrop Market Place, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Valentino Capobianco, Mary Ann Cash, and William & Julie Dalton- THANK YOU!
Many heartfelt thank to all for helping CASA create a successful recovery month. By coming together we have shown individuals and families that they are not alone and that their community is here to support them. CASA’s work goes beyond recovery month and is consistently engaged in community initiatives. Whether it is educating the community about prevention, working with community leaders to implement strategies that promote a healthier lifestyle for citizens or supporting people in recovery- our work is yearlong. We encourage the community to connect with us, collaborate with us, join us in working together to create a healthier community. People may also support CASA by making a donation to CASA at 18 Bartlett Road, Winthrop.
We look forward to working with all of you again. Best,
CASA (Community Action for Safe Alternatives) Board
Mary Lou Osborne, Judie Vankooiman, Kathleen Duffy, Stephen Ruggerio, Diane Wallace, Fr. Walter Connelly, Linda Vecchia.v