Letters to the Editor

On Relaxing COVID Restrictions

Dear Editor,

Thank you so very much for your editorial “What are they thinking” that decried a number of states like Texas and South Dakota lifting mask mandates during this COVID-19 pandemic.  I read today that also easing restrictions or completely opening up again are Texas, Mississippi, Ohio, Wyoming, S. Carolina, Michigan, Arizona, Louisiana, W. Virginia, and California.

With the new COVID B117 making its way across the US coupled with Spring Break, I echo your “What are they thinking?”  Several months ago, Winthrop’s own Dr. Michael Murphy, an Emergency Room physician, made a compelling case for simple mask wearing in HIS letter to the editor.  He and his frontline medical team witness serious illness and death from this pandemic every day.  He appealed to people’s sense of fairness and decency—just mask up!

I’m tired of being the recipient of decisions made by people who rule against their own  and MY best interest!  I can only hope and pray that governors in control of restrictions follow the commonsense guidelines of President Biden, the Center for Disease Control, and medical people who make declarations based on science and concerns about “the health and safety of our citizens.”

Thank you for your editorial that urges all to mask up, as science and the medical experts know that wearing masks DOES stop the spread.


Donna Segreti Reilly

Looking at the State Representative Primary Election

Dear Editor,

The Special Election Democratic Primary for State Representative on Tuesday, March 2nd produced Jeff Turco as the winner, just as expected by many local people who followed the race.

Much has been written in the Boston media in the week following the race as to how the progressive vote was split between Juan Jaramillo of Revere and Alicia DelVento of Winthrop, as if ideology is the only reason to explain people’s votes, and that the Winthrop-Revere Representative District is progressive.

First of all, people vote for many reasons in local elections, such as which community they are from, what organizations they belong to, what relationships they have with friends and neighbors, not just about policy positions.

Second, Revere and Winthrop are really moderate municipalities.

For instance, in the September 2018 Democratic Primary for Suffolk County District Attorney won by progressive Rachel Rollins, the most conservative candidate, Greg Henning, won in both Revere and Winthrop.

Voter turnout in the District was a key factor in this race, with three candidates from Winthrop and only one candidate from Revere.

The turnout in Winthrop was 3,259 or 69% of the total, while in Revere it was 1,463 or 31%.

By comparison, in the September 2020 Democratic Primary for U. S. Senate between Ed Markey and Joe Kennedy, the turnout in Winthrop was 3,956 or 58% of the total, while in Revere it was 2,874 or 42%.

Winthrop’s total vote decreased by 697 votes or 18% between the two elections held six months apart, while Revere’s total vote decreased by 1,411 votes or 49%.

It is evident that Winthrop voters were much more interested in the race and the candidates than Revere voters.

Part of the reason for the decline in the Revere vote was probably due to the failure of Revere Veterans Service Officer Marc Silvestri to obtain enough valid signatures to make the ballot.

Let’s look at how the candidates did in each community by percentages.

Jeff Turco received 41% of the Winthrop vote and 26% of the Revere vote; Juan Jaramillo received only 15% of the Winthrop vote and a huge 63% of the Revere vote; Alicia DelVento received 34% of the Winthrop vote and only 8% of the Revere vote; and Tino Capobianco received 10% of the Winthrop vote and 3% of the Revere vote.

If Marc Silvestri had made the ballot and an additional nine hundred (900) or so voters turned out to vote for him in Revere, the final result would still have produced Jeff Turco as the winner, but with a good number of the votes cast for Jaramillo, as the only Revere candidate, transferring to Silvestri.

The demise of Capobianco’s campaign, caused by allegations of misconduct, also may have helped Jaramillo gain some votes in Winthrop from voters who did not want to choose DelVento or Turco, although both probably gained some of his votes as well.

Jeff Turco will be heavily favored in the Special General Election on March 30th, where he will face Republican Paul Caruccio and independent candidate Richard Fucillo.

William Schmidt

Regarding School Comm. Vote for an April 5 Full Return to School

Dear Editor,

The Winthrop Teachers Association strongly condemns the vote taken by the Winthrop School Committee on Monday evening. We, as well as the vast majority of community members, believe that public education should be equitable across all grade levels, genders, races, and creeds.

Equity is the core tenet of public education in the United States, and the measures taken by the School Committee will force our students into buildings without adequate resources. Many students will not have a functional workspace for much of the day, lacking desks and chairs. Students have to sit in the back corner without a place to put their notebook or laptop? How are teachers supposed to create a fair and equitable classroom in these conditions? Committee members stated that it is only “two weeks” of being uncomfortable but why cause the children discomfort when following the Superintendent’s recommended timeline only results in two more weeks of hybrid learning?

The School Committee optimistically believes, in the face of common sense, that dozens of students will “volunteer” to do without a desk, but they provide no guidance for what classroom teachers should do if this doesn’t happen. This undoubtedly leaves the Winthrop Public Schools vulnerable to civil rights lawsuits or injunctions.

A second core aspect of public education is the support for underserved community members by providing complimentary breakfast and lunch. Where are our students expected to eat between the date of return and the arrival of our temporary outdoor facilities? Worse, the School Committee is knowingly sending students into school buildings that currently lack the space for them to eat in a hygienic environment that conforms to COVID-19 protocols.

When the Committee is seriously discussing forcing Winthrop students to eat on the floor or eat while standing, they have clearly lost sight of their responsibility to ensure student welfare.

These issues are not only inequitable, but they are potential violations of the students’ civil rights.

Many committee members have chosen to pander to a select few by hijacking the topic of mental health and projecting psychological disorders onto the general student population. The WTA recognizes the obvious mental challenges our students face; we deal with those students every day. Further, many of us are parents ourselves and are intimately familiar with the struggles of distance learning on that level as well. Even so, the WTA strongly feels that the Committee’s responsibility to ensure equitable and hygienic workspaces and eating facilities outweighs, frankly, their self-imposed ability to diagnose and mitigate mental disorders, for which they cite no evidence. Though this is shocking and unfortunate on its own, it also minimizes the impact this pandemic has had on those dealing with severe, diagnosed mental health disorders.

The WTA has the utmost confidence in Superintendent Howard’s ability to continue to lead us through this crisis. She has done an excellent job overseeing the logistical task of ensuring that all students and staff can operate in a sanitary and safe environment. Hybrid learning has been safe and effective but it required substantial preparation and leadership. Despite this exceptional track record, the school committee chose to ignore her experience and expertise in one of the most critical decisions the body will make this decade. Trust and faith in your advisors is an absolute necessity for any governing body. The vote taken last night showed that many committee members are no longer engaging in their elected duty to oversee an education system that is fair, equitable, and just for all.

Winthrop Teachers Assoiciation

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