Thursday, March 31, 2011

Brockton Dems Boil Over Over Trio Ouster

By Lisa E. Crowley
BROCKTON—School Committeeman Tim Sullivan let his feet do the talking when he, his longtime girlfriend Debbie Dineen, and Councilor-at-large Jass Stewart walked out of a fiery Brockton Democratic City Committee meeting initiated by Chairman Steve Foote to vote if the trio should be removed from the committee for publicly supporting Republican candidates during last November’s elections.
“Steve Foote should be removed” Sullivan shouted walking towards the door of the Red Cafeteria at Brockton High School Wednesday night.
When the three left the meeting following a comment about Sullivan and Dineen's personal life, the only thing that was clear to the 55-60 members who attended was that nothing was clear-especially the rules, regulations, bylaws and procedures of the Brockton Democratic City Committee.
A vote—yes or no—to remove the trio never took place and Foote’s assertion Sullivan, Stewart and Dineen had been suspended as of an Executive Board meeting in January was hotly disputed by many members.
“I don’t know what the hell happens now,” City Committee member and Ward 2 City Councilor Thomas Monahan said after the meeting.
Many members said the meeting was “out of control.”
Many like Jay Cohen said they wished a vote was taken because many believed those who did not want to remove the three would have the necessary votes to prevent a two-thirds vote to oust by members who may agree Sullivan, Stewart and Dineen broke the committee’s rules.
Allyne Pecevich, a longtime member of the City Committee and the State Committee during the meeting apologized to observers and visitors who were seated at a table and separated from the voting members of the committee. She said she was humiliated by the proceedings.
After the meeting Pecevich said because no votes were taken and so many aspects of the rules, bylaws and procedures have gone unanswered she expects more to come.
“Is it over? I hope it is, but I wouldn’t count on it,” she said.
From the opening gavel—which Chairman Steve Foote used often and loudly—to the closing gavel the meeting was punctuated by calls for Points of Order and numerous questions over parliamentary procedure which Foote said would be governed by Robert’s Rules—a set of guidelines for holding meetings and hearings used daily by the many city councilors, school committee members, and lawyers who comprise the City Committee .
In a heavy-handed manner, Foote overruled any questions about procedure, including an opening motion to begin discussion of the removal Sullivan, Stewart and Dineen.
When Foote’s rulings were challenged, Councilor-at-large Thomas Brophy—who is the City Committee’s parliamentarian or legal expert —was asked by Foote if the challenge was valid.
Brophy said it was, but Foote overruled Brophy.
Brophy then said since Foote wasn’t going to take his advice, he would no longer act as parliamentarian and walked away from the head table where Foote and other members of the Executive Board were sitting and took a place several tables away.
Ward 1 City Councilor Tim Cruise from the beginning of the meeting to the end continually noted proper motions for action were not taken.
Several times the normally mild-mannered Cruise vociferously argued Foote was not following proper procedure.
“If you’re going to hold a kangaroo court, you’re going to get my Irish up,” Cruise said after the meeting. “Steve’s heart is in the right place, but his inexperience showed,” he said.





Wednesday, March 30, 2011

R.I. Man Found Hanged In Brockton Garage After Murder-Suicide

By Lisa E. Crowley
BROCKTON—Pawtucket Police said there was little indication that a Rhode Island man would stab his wife to death in Pawtucket and then drive to a relative’s home in Brockton and hang himself in a garage in an apparent murder-suicide that tied the two cities together Wednesday.
Pawtucket Major Arthur Martins said Pawtucket Police were called to the home of Maria Almeida Turmel, 63 Charlton Ave. in Pawtucket around 3 p.m. Wednesday, March 30 after Turmel’s 7-year-old adopted son was hoisted into a window by his two siblings when the doors of the house were locked after school and their mother wasn't there to greet them.
Police said the boy found his mother stabbed to death on the kitchen floor--a shock to the family and police.
“We had never been over there for any domestic calls. There weren’t any problems that we know of. There was no way of predicting that this was going to happen or a reason to intervene,” Martins said.
When police arrived they found 32-year-old Turmel on the floor of the kitchen stabbed to death and her husband of about three years 35-year-old Antonio Dos Santos as the prime suspect.
“She had been stabbed multiple times—all over,” Martins said.
Turmel was pronounced dead at the scene.
Martins said Turmel has three children—two in their early teens from a previous marriage and the 7-year-old who she adopted after a friend died.
Martins said police were also contacted by family members because they could not get in touch with Turmel on the phone.
Martins said police began to look for Santos through his car registration and a cell phone trace after talking to Turmel’s three children and family members who said Santos had not shown up for work.
Through the cell phone trace, Martins said, Santos was believed to be in the area of a relative’s home at 4 Sycamore Ave. in Brockton.
Brockton Police were contacted and as Brockton cruisers headed to the Sycamore Avenue home at about 6:20 p.m. last night they received a call from a family member who reported Santos’ body was found hanging in a detached garage.
Martins said except for a recent “internal squabble” family members described as minor there is little to explain the murder suicide.
“It could be anything. It could be finances. It could be something else. It could be anything,” Martins said.
Martins said there is evidence from the crime scenes in Brockton and Pawtucket that indicate Santos was the one who killed Turmel and then hanged himself.
There was no evidence or indication of alcohol or drug use at the scene, Martins said.
Unfortunately, Martins said, Turmel’s three children are essentially orphans and while there is a biological father for her two biological children, Turmel’s adopted son has already lost two parents and it is unclear if the family will remain together.
“It’s a sad story. There are two families that are destroyed here,” Martins said.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Trio Of Democrats Face Ouster From Local Party Arm

By Lisa E. Crowley
BROCKTON—More than the usual Democrats are expected to cast a vote Wednesday night to decide if three members of the Brockton Democratic City Committee—including Councilor-at-large Jass Stewart and School Committeeman Timothy Sullivan--will be removed from the local arm of the Democratic Party for publicly supporting Republicans in the November election.
To deal with what is expected to be a packed house, Democratic City Committee Chairman Steve Foote—who initiated the action against the three after the November election--said as a part of a letter to the City Committee’s membership about tomorrow night’s meeting at Brockton High School he has warned those who attend that if they are not members of the City Committee they will not be allowed to vote or take part in any of the discussion.
“If they come there as observers—that’s fine,” Foote said.
“If they cause a disturbance we’re going to have an executive session and clear the room,” he said. (Pictured above)
The letter, Foote said, clearly notes those who are not members of the City Committee will not be allowed to speak or vote. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 30, and will be held in the Red Cafeteria at Brockton High.
A two-thirds vote of the committee is required to remove the three members.
Stewart, who is the city’s only African-American and openly gay councilor, has hired a local attorney Elizabeth “Betsy” Clague to ensure the process follows City Committee regulations and that Stewart, Sullivan and Dineen are given a fair hearing.
“It’s important that individuals don’t abuse their power. This issue extends beyond me. It’s about everyone in the membership,” Stewart said. (Pictured below)
Questions of jumping party lines by Stewart, Sullivan and Dineen arose during last November’s election when Democrats and Republicans were in hotly contested races for nearly all state-wide seats, including Gov. Deval Patrick’s reelection against Republican challenger Charlie Baker.
On his website Stewart supported Republican candidates for reelection Timothy Cruz for Plymouth County District Attorney and Joseph McDonald for Plymouth County Sheriff.
Sullivan and Dineen attended a rally at City Hall where Charlie Baker was speaking and were quoted in a local newspaper stating they supported Baker over Patrick.
Some have said Sullivan and Dineen are fallout in a grudge Foote has against Stewart, but Foote has been adamant the action is not just against Stewart and that Sullivan’s actions broke the committee’s rule not to publicly support an opponent of a Democratic Party nominee.
Stewart’s lawyer Betsy Clague said she has sent a letter outlining issues she and Stewart have with the process and bylaws to each of the nine members of the City Committee’s Executive Board--which includes each ward chairman and two other members.
At Foote’s request, the Executive Board voted 8-0 to move ahead with asking for the resignation of Stewart, Sullivan and Dineen. State Senator Thomas Kennedy was absent and did not vote.
When the trio did not resign, the next step is a two-thirds vote of the membership to remove.
Clague said it is unclear, in her opinion, if the City Committee is following its own rules.
She noted the City Committee’s bylaws posted on its website do not reference any kind of disciplinary matters or removal if bylaws are broken.
“There’s nothing there referencing there’s any removal or disciplinary action,” Clague said.
“So how the heck do you know if you did anything wrong if there’s nothing there to tell you what you can and cannot do,” she said.
Foote has said the committee is following the State Democratic Committee’s charter, but Clague points out the Brockton City Committee’s rules do not show the committee has actually voted to accept the State Charter and does not guide members to the State Charter for further regulations.
Historically in Massachusetts, members of the Democratic and Republican Party can cross party lines in local elections, but for statewide or county seats with power and budgets, such as governor or district attorney, it is usually considered a no-no to publicly support a candidate of the opposing party.
However many observers--in Brockton and outside-have said they are unaware of any Democratic Town or City Committee moving to remove members for breaking the written—and unwritten—election rule.
John Walsh, head of the Democratic Party’s State Committee said any disciplinary matters are “local” and he is unaware of any other city or town taking any steps to remove its members.
“There hasn’t been any big push for enforcement,” Walsh said.
“As far as I know, to the best of my knowledge, it’s only Brockton,” he said. Brockton Democrats—many involved for 30 to 50 years—could not remember another instance when the City Committee moved to remove one or more of its members.
Walsh noted he does not agree with the regulation preventing Democrats from publicly supporting opponents and its subsequent discipline.
However--like enforcement of the rule-there has not been a “big push” to change it. If the three Brockton Democrats are removed by a two-thirds majority vote, there is an appeal to the Democratic State Committee’s Judicial Council.
Stewart’s lawyer Besty Clague also noted neither Stewart, Sullivan or Dineen were notified the Executive Board was going to be asked to decide to request their resignations--a meeting none of the three attended or knew their status as members was on the agenda.
“It’s about due process and fairness,” Clague said.
Foote said Clague’s arguments are a lot of “nit-picking” and “splitting-hairs.” Ward 7 Chairman and Executive Board member Bill Black agrees.
Black said he believes Foote is doing the right thing because Stewart, Sullivan and Dineen broke the rules and it is not a grudge against Stewart.
“I was on the East Side with the Governor and the rest of the Democrats while Tim Sullivan was on the West Side with Charlie Baker,” Black said. “We have rules,” he said.
Usually Democratic City Committee meetings are poorly attended.
Maybe 25, 30 or 50 of the more than 150 members show up depending on the agenda or event.
Each of the city’s seven wards is allowed up to 35 members, or a total of 245, but each ward does not have a full complement.
Foote said there is between 150 and 180 members of the City Committee and with a vote to oust three members expects to get a quorum of actual members, but also a contingent of non-voting supporters and opponents—the main reason why he made it clear non City Committee members would not be allowed to vote or speak.
City Councilor-at-large Thomas Brophy said he supports Stewart, Sullivan and Dineen and will not vote in favor of removing them.
Brophy said he believes the Executive Board vote in January and tomorrow’s membership vote are “unnecessary.”
He said the situation could have been handled by meeting and talking with Stewart, Sullivan and Dineen and adamantly demonstrating to each how important it is not to publicly—in the press or on a website—support Democratic Party opponents.
“I’m not going to vote to remove anyone,” Brophy said. “We have such poor attendance...we should be looking to get more members not remove the ones we have,” he said. Click here for an earlier BrocktonPost article about the Democratic City Committee action and
Click here for BrocktonPost's article about the November election and Stewart's website

Monday, March 28, 2011

Coakley Urges Year-Round Party Involvement

BROCKTON—State Attorney General Martha Coakley, State Treasurer Steve Grossman, and U.S. Representative William Keating made appearances at the annual Jefferson-Jackson breakfast Sunday, March 27 hosted by Register of Deeds John Buckley.
The annual fundraising gathering of Brockton area Democrats featured the three state officials who spoke about the future of the economy and some of the things they have done to create jobs and protect taxpayers.
Coakley (Pictured with Water Board Commissioner Patrick Quinn) urged the 80 to 100 Democrats who attended the breakfast at the VFW, to be active and involved even though many, like Register Buckley may not be facing an election this year. “History is not inevitable. It’s what we make of it,” Coakley said.
Coakley lost a special election in Jan. 2010 to fill U.S. Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy’s seat to Republican Scott Brown.
Coakley went on to gain reelection to her current position as State Attorney General in November.
Coakley seems to have moved past the defeat to Brown—an election that drew media attention when Brown closed a wide gap to win the seat held by Democrat Ted Kennedy for 46 years.
“I have said voters told me twice last year they want me to be Attorney General,” Coakley said.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Former Stonehill Student Faces Threats To Kill Charges

BOSTON--A Connecticut man and former student at Stonehill College has been charged in federal court with threatening to kill two Stonehill College staff members and blowing up the collge in Easton.
Sterlynn Robbins, 23, of North Branford, Conn., was arrested Thursday, March 24 and charged in a criminal complaint with the transmission of a threat to injure the person of another,according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Boston.
The complaint alleges that on March 17 and 18, 2011, Robbins, a former student at
Stonehill College, sent a series of text messages to a current student at Stonehill College and threatened to blow up the college and kill two staff members.
According to an affidavit submitted in federal court, Robbins allegedly sent an expletive-filled text message to a female student telling her to be there the day he blows it up and kills people on the campus.
Officials say Robbins sent a current student 12 text messages between about 11:45 p.m. March 17 and 12:15 a.m. March 18 threatening to blow up the campus and kill two employees because of disciplinary hearings against him, first in March, 2007 and again in spring, 2009.
Following the first incident, court documents state Robbins was required to take anger management training and was placed on deferred separation from residency.
According to court documents, the hearings stemmed from two different assaults on students at the campus.
Two Stonehill employees oversaw the hearings that resulted in Robbins' separation from the college in 2009.
In the text messages, Robbins threatens to kill the two Stonehill staff members, stating in one of the text messages, "I'm gonna kill them both, I swear," and in another states, "I don't f*****g care. I was already arrested once. I don't even care if they try to kill me in my attempt. At least my pathetic life will be over."
In another, "It's not hard to get on campus and do what I need to."
The female student notified school officials of the text messages around 1 p.m. March 18. Police were then contacted.
If convicted, Robbins faces up to five years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.
The case was investigated by the Easton Police, Stonehill Police and agents from the FBI assigned to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
According to the press statement, Robbins is being held in Connecticut and is due in U.S. District Court in Boston March 28.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Stonehill Student Denies Rape Charges

By Lisa E. Crowley
BROCKTON—A Stonehill College student has pleaded not guilty to charges he allegedly forcibly raped an 8-year-old girl at the Angelo Elementary School in Brockton.
According to Brockton District Court documents, Kevin P. Treseler, a student at Stonehill College and tutor at the Angelo School as a part of a work-study program, pleaded not guilty to two counts of rape of a child with force and two counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14.
Cash bail was set at $20,000. He also must have no contact with the victim or any child under 15.
Kristen Magda, associate director of communications and media relations for Stonehill College, said in a prepared statement Treseler has been suspended on an interim basis. She said the interim suspension will remain in effect until further investigation and is in accordance with the college’s Community Standards policies and procedures.
According to court documents, Brockton Police began an investigation Thursday, March 17 when police received a call from Signature Healthcare Brockton Hospital’s emergency department about the possibility of child abuse.
Court documents show the girl’s parents brought the third grader to the emergency room because of injuries sustained to the girl’s private area.
When police interviewed the girl, she told police a teacher in her classroom had touched her with his hand and fingers several times during class, sometimes over her clothes and sometimes under.
The girl told police the incidents happened when she, Treseler and some other students were at the back of the class room during math and reading class and out of view of another teacher who was at the front of the class room teaching other students.
Treseler, a junior at Stonehill, has been on the school’s Dean’s List at least twice, once during the spring of 2008 and again in the spring of 2010.
Stonehill’s Spokeswoman Kristen Magda in the statement, said Treseler was employed as a math tutor at the Angelo School through the America Counts Program—a federally funded work study program.
She said the college continues to work with Brockton Police in the matter.
According to court documents, the girl told police the alleged touching changed March 17 when hand touching went to hand and finger penetration.
The girl told police when she went home from school she immediately went to the bathroom and saw bleeding, court documents state.
She told her mother and her mother brought her to the emergency room and an investigation was begun.
The girl told police she had not told anyone about what maybe happening to her because she did not want to worry her mother and because the teacher allegedly told her “he would tell the police it was a lie if she ever said anything.”
According to court documents, in a videotaped interview with Brockton Police Treseler denied ever touching the girl inappropriately or touching any other child inappropriately.
Court documents state Treseler told police when asked why the girl would make such allegations he suggested, “the victim was angry with him for not having picked her for group.”
Treseler, according to court documents, told police he has had little to no interaction with the girl this school year and denied she had ever been at the back of the classroom.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Breakfast With Champions Highlights Youth Leaders

By Lisa E. Crowley
BROCKTON—School Superintendent Matthew Malone was stunned when he heard about three Brockton High School students who biked 3,800 miles from San Francisco to New Jersey to raise money for Muscular Dystrophy.
“I woke up and ran 3 ½ miles this morning. I thought that was tough, but 3,800 miles? That’s impressive. That’s incredible,” Malone said during the annual “Breakfast With Champions” ceremony Sunday, March 20 at the Shaw’s Center.
Malone was pointing out the feat by three students, Elizabeth Chauppetta, Kristin Schilling, both seniors at Brockton High, and John Fontes, a freshman, who from June to August rode their bikes across country to raise money for Muscular Dystrophy, not only earning much needed money for research, but also an award from the Brockton Youth Foundation. (Pictured above from left to right are Schilling, Chauppetta and Fontes with Foundation Chairman Bill McGauley)

Along with the three teens, also recognized were: Harry Allen, the first director of Brockton Community Schools; Kathleen Smith, the current director of Brockton Community Schools; Tony DeGrace, a Brockton firefighter who has been a dedicated youth coach and adjustment counselor at the YMCA and pictured above with daughter Ahnika; George Sylvester, a long-time basketball coach for Brockton Community Schools; and the entire board of Brockton Youth Soccer Association, which offers soccer to more than 1,000 Brockton players a year.
Elizabeth Chauppetta said her two twin brothers Troy and Andrew--freshman at Southeastern Regional Vocational School—who suffer from Duchenne disease, a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy were the reasons she and her cousin John and friend Kristen decided to complete the bike ride across country.
“They’re the inspiration,” Chauppetta said.
(Pictured at right with family)
Missing from the festivities was Harry Allen, who turned 80 on March 14.
He is spending the winter in Florida, McGauley said, and when Allen returns to Massachusett he will receive his award—a special Wheaties box with his picture on it—during the school’s “Summerfest” event.
Allen’s grandson Jon Gezotis, his wife Ellen, and Allen’s great-granddaughter McKenzie attended the ceremony in Allen’s honor.
“He would be so proud,” Gezotis said. (Pictured above with Ellen and McKenzie)
High School Principal Susan Szachowicz remembered how Allen--who taught English at the high school until taking over as head of Brockton Community Schools—was one of the first teachers and coaches to take girls sports seriously.
A Brockton High 1971 graduate, Szachowitz said she had a penchant toward sports as a youngster, but there wasn’t any sports for her to play.
“This was before Title IX—there was nothing for girls,” Szachowicz said.
Allen, Szachowicz said, would help organize afterschool games at Nelson Playground where she played softball and other sports with like-aged boys and girls. When she was a freshman, Allen asked Szachowicz and other girls to join a fledgling girls track team.
“I can guarantee you, not one of us knew what a discus, shot-put or javelin was,” she said. She said under Allen’s tough, yet endearing guidance when he would tell them “pain is sweet,” the team ran in circles and sideways in the old, tiny Brockton High School gym and in 1971, the team claimed its first state championship—and the first ever for a girls team at Brockton High.
“I still have that letter and certificate on my wall,” Szachowicz said. “He was so ahead of his time,” she said.
Rick Savignano, head of Brockton Youth Soccer Association thanked all of those that came before him and all of the current board members for launching a program 30 years ago that has grown to more than 1,000 boys and girls a year.
Savignano was proud to point out that John Fontes, one of the cross-country riders, is also a youth soccer player. Savignano said the board decided to put the organization's logos on the box instead of their own as the current board because it is a symbol to remember those who came before and those who will lead the group in the future.
"Like the 2002 Patriots, we decided to run onto the field as a team," Savignano.

Friday, March 18, 2011

St. Patrick's Sing-A-Long At Brockton COA

By Lisa E. Crowley
BROCKTON—Attendees at the Mary Cruise Kennedy Senior Center were treated to the surprise visit by the center’s namesake, Mary Cruise Kennedy, who enjoyed a traditional St. Patrick’s Day corned beef and cabbage meal during the Council on Aging’s Irish luncheon that also featured the intonations of a 6-man city official acoustic band now known as "The Brady Bunch."
State Sen. Thomas Kennedy, Cruise Kennedy’s son, said his mother turns 101 in September and although people are always asking her to attend events, she cannot always make it because of mobility reasons.
“This is a special occasion,” Kennedy said. (Pictured above in middle with his uncle Tom Cruise at left and mom, Mary Cruise Kennedy, at right) Also joining the festivities with Kennedy's mother was his uncle Tom Cruise, 83.
It was also revealed earlier in the day on WXBR-AM1040, that senior center Program Coordinator Janice Fitzgerald was celebrating her birthday, however, she would not reveal her age.
“It’s under 100,” she said with a laugh.
Another highlight of the 2011 celebration was a rousing 6-man acoustic session featuring State Rep. Michael Brady, City Councilors Todd Petti, Tom Monahan, Thomas Brophy, Robert Sullivan and Police Chief William Conlon. Now known as “The Brady Bunch,” we’ll leave the jokes to them….


Thursday, March 17, 2011

County Finances Conflict Shows State Take Over Rift

By Lisa E. Crowley
PLYMOUTH—One of the few things Plymouth County Commission Chairman Anthony O’Brien and Plymouth County Treasurer Thomas O’Brien can agree on, is that while they share the same last name, they are in no way related by their common Irish heritage and are as far away philosophically as they can be over whether Plymouth County should continue as a governmental body or be abolished. Commissioner Anthony “Tony” O’Brien, elected to the county commission in 2008, for the last several weeks has hit the radio airwaves and media with accusations that Treasurer Thomas O’Brien, appointed in 2006 and then elected in 2008, has refused to provide the board with financial information, such as monthly account reports, bank statements of accounts that pay salaries and operations, and revenue versus expense statements for county facilities such as courthouses in Brockton, Hingham and Wareham, and the Registry of Deeds.
He also wanted detailed account information about the county’s retirement and health insurance expenses and revenues.
“Are our bills in order?” asked Commissioner O’Brien, who is a former Navy Seal, who initially ran for his seat as a Democrat then about a year later switched to Republican.
“The issue is do I have enough money to pay those bills. I don’t know because he won’t give us the documentation we’ve asked for,” he said.
Until Tuesday night, March 15 when Commissioner O’Brien and his two fellow board members Sandra Wright and John “Jack” Riordan met for a regular meeting and received monthly and annual reports, Commissioner O’Brien intended to call for the shut down of Plymouth County—a symbolic move he said would illustrate that the county might be running more than the $620,000 known deficit and are paying bills they don’t have the money to pay for.
From the information he received prior to Tuesday night’s meeting, the county will be short $620,000 by the end of the fiscal year June 30, and personnel need to be notified if the county will stop functioning or not.
Since receiving updated statistics, Commissioner O’Brien has pulled back on the move.
“It was a threat to get Tom to play ball,” Commissioner O’Brien said.
Tuesday night, Commissioner O’Brien said he received some of the information he was looking for, but not all.
“It’s progress,” he said.
Treasurer Tom O’Brien, who spent 10 years in the State Legislature as a state representative, said before Tuesday night’s meeting and after the meeting that in essence Commissioner O’Brien is nuts, because he has provided the board with monthly and annual reports all along, and splayed a pile of statistics across his desk for reporters to see.
“I don’t know what he wants,” Treasurer O’Brien told three reporters. “You can see, there are monthly reports and annual reports…. I don’t know what he’s talking about” he said, ticking off numerous analytical reports. In some instances, Treasurer O’Brien said it is up to Commissioner O’Brien and his board to get financial information about the financial status of the health care group and retirement accounts for past and present employees, including the now state-run Plymouth County Sheriff’s Department.
Treasurer O’Brien said he doesn’t oversee the retirement board or health care funds.
“It’s not my job,” Treasurer O’Brien said. “He’s got it in his head he wants to shut down county government and that’s what he’s trying to do. That’s what this is about,” he said.
Treasurer O’Brien showed financial data that shows the county has a deficit of about $620,000, but, unless some unforeseen circumstance takes place between now and June 30, will have nearly $780,000 in projected remaining cash to cover the difference.
However, the picture isn’t that rosy.
During Tuesday night’s meeting Plymouth County Retirement Association Executive Director William Farmer and Mayflower Municipal Health Group Chairman Michael Levy gave updates of each of their situations.
Farmer was adamant that if county officials don’t resolve an on-going battle with the state over $18 million worth of Maintenance of Effort payments—a lynchpin in the county’s finances--he would be forced to send the county a bill for its share of retirement costs—a move he has held off making for months without receiving any money for payments to retirees.
Farmer said unless there is some resolution over the disputed payments, a not so pleasant letter for payment will be received by the county, possibly not long after today, when county officials are expected to meet with Senate President Therese Murray about the matter.
“Nobody is going to want to see that letter,” Farmer said.
Sandra Wright, one of the three members on the Plymouth County Commission who was elected in November, said Commissioner O’Brien’s public outcries have been helpful in gaining some of the financial information she said all board members want, not just Commissioner O’Brien.
“It’s improved,” Wright said.
On the other hand, Wright said, Commissioner O’Brien’s call for shutting down the county has not been so positive.
“It doesn’t help morale,” Wright said, meaning the county’s thousands of employees, who have been on a see-saw for at least the last two years as Plymouth County’s operations have been scrutinized for savings and efficiencies.
Currently a commission is meeting to decide if the county should be abolished or not and are expected to make a recommendation by the end of the year.
Commisioner O’Brien has been vocal and unequivocal about his belief the county should be abolished and the state should take it over—in part because much of the rents the state pays for use of county buildings are less than if the county sought private renters—which it can’t.
“We lose money to the state anyway,” O’Brien said. “They under pay us and they pay us late. We’re losing money every day,” he said.
He also said after the county passed operations of the Sheriff’s Department to the state as of Jan. 1, the county is only responsible for three courthouses and the Registry of Deeds in Brockton.
“What do we really do? We really only do two things—the courthouses and Registry,” Commissioner O’Brien said.
Treasurer O’Brien agrees the state does not pay a real rent or costs because on the back-end it takes away about 70 to 80 percent from any of the financial gains from the rents or state funding.
However, Treasurer O’Brien wholeheartedly disagrees with abolishing Plymouth County because it serves more roles than just overseeing three courthouses and the Registry of Deeds.
He said the entire country is moving toward regionalization for savings and efficiencies, moves that make Plymouth County a valuable asset to surrounding communities.
Treasurer O’Brien said the county has already regionalized some services, including processing parking ticket payments for 33 towns, including West Bridgewater, Whitman, Abington and Easton.
The county is also administering a grant that is expected to help Scituate install a wind turbine.
“This isn’t the time to abolish Plymouth County,” Treasurer O’Brien said.
During Tuesday night’s meeting State Rep. Tom Calter attended the meeting to show support and submit a letter of support from “the Plymouth County delegation at the State House” for Treasurer O’Brien against Commissioner O’Brien’s media attacks.
When he mentioned the media report, Commissioner O’Brien, the chairman, interrupted and hotly said he would not allow Calter to talk about the media report, saying he was misquoted, and demanded Calter stick to the topic on the agenda, which was the county’s financial matters,
Calter interjected he should be allowed professional courtesy to make his comments and after a brief exchange, Commissioner O’Brien allowed Calter to speak. He said numerous state representatives, led by Garrett Bradley signed a letter supporting O’Brien’s fight against the state take over.
Calter handed Commissioner O’Brien a manila folder he said included the state delegation letter and a copy of an email.
As Calter returned to his seat, Commissioner O’Brien thanked Calter for his comments and quipped he could now get back to the board’s official business because “I’m on an agenda,” to which Calter muttered as he sat down, “I’m certain you are on an agenda. It’s disgraceful.”
After the meeting Commissioner O’Brien said the folder only contained the email and no letter.
“He was grandstanding. That’s why I didn’t want to let him talk,” Commissioner O’Brien said.
Reached by telephone, Calter said there is “absolutely” a letter.
“First and foremost anyone who is charged with leading the county shouldn’t be attacking it. It’s incomprehensible to me that they would try to destroy the agency they were elected to. Commissioner O’Brien is not looking to change county government, he’s looking to end it,” Calter said. “Tom O’Brien has given (the commissioners) everything they’ve asked for,” Calter said.
Calter said if it wasn’t for Treasurer O’Brien standing up against the move, and in the process saving the county $18 million—disputed or not—no county official would have battled for the county at all.
“Tom O’Brien was the only one. Tom O’Brien was in the fight. Where were the commissioners? The commissioners were absent from the fight,” Calter said.
Admittedly, Calter said based on the way Plymouth County has been run in the past it should be abolished, but with the election and appointment of “hard-working and visionary” people like Treasurer O’Brien, the county could be a force for regionalization in the future.
As for the letter, Calter emailed a copy this morning.
Calter said Commissioner O'Brien's vitriol is out of line and he is attacking Treasurer O'Brien for things that are beyond his control.
"Tom O'Brien answers to the voters, not the board of commissioners," Calter said.
Commissioner O'Brien sees it differently.
"He's not doing his job and if I could fire him I would," Commissioner O'Brien said.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Potential "Golden Mile" Shapes Up Manley-Belmont Area

By Lisa E. Crowley
BROCKTON—Nissan 24 in Brockton just got bigger—65 feet taller actually.
About two weeks ago, the Route 123 dealership located just off Route 24 installed a new pylon sign that at 65 feet, is the largest standard Nissan sign in the country.
“We had no visibility from the highway. The new sign lets people driving on Route 24 know we’re here,” said Ed Kardon, Nissan 24’s owner and general manager. (Pictured above)
Community and customer relations representative Hank Tuohy said the sign has already begun to pay dividends.
Tuohy said a woman and her daughter who were searching for a new vehicle got off exit 17A after seeing the sign.
“They came in (Monday) and didn’t buy, but they came in (Tuesday) and they did,” Tuohy said.
Along with the new sign, the dealership six weeks ago began offering Express Service oil changes and tire rotations for all makes and models, not just Nissan vehicles.
Nissan 24 has been at its current location at the corner of Manley and Belmont streets across from the VA Hospital, for about 2 years.
The dealership took over the site from John Santilli’s Center for Automobiles. Two showrooms were renovated, equipment and technology were updated, and a customer waiting room with a TV and snack machines was installed.
Two years later with the Express Service’s launch and the new sign, Kardon said the Brockton region, known in Nissan circles as one of the worst in customer service and sales, has turned around into one of the best.
The Belmont-Manley Street location has also helped bring a more attractive western gateway to the City of Brockton and the area is growing into what has been loosely called a “Golden Mile” of new, large auto dealerships, including Bernardi Honda and Hyundai, a $22 million project that is under construction and expected to open in the spring.
“We are already turning around an underperforming area,” Kardon said. “When Bernardi opens in the spring it’s going to be great. Anyone coming in or out has to go by us,” he said.

Wisconsin Union Battle Red Herring For Larger Issues

By Jass Stewart
To close the gaping hole in Wisconsin’s state budget, Gov. Scott Walker decided to pick a fight.
“With whom?” you ask.
Well, it’s not with corporations that ship jobs overseas. Nor is it with the state’s wealthiest – who continue to enjoy huge tax cuts. And it’s certainly not with high-flying speculators whose greed helped tank the global economy.
Gov. Walker has decided to bully the middle class, the roaring engine of the American economy since the 1940s.
Despite claims to the contrary, unions and collective bargaining (which helped create the middle class) aren’t the principal cause of broken state budgets.
Consider this:
Texas, Louisiana, and North Carolina – all non-collective bargaining states – are among the 11 states facing budget shortfalls greater than or equal to 20 percent. South Carolina, another non-collective bargaining state, suffers a shortfall of 17.4 percent. And last, Nevada – where state employees have no collective bargaining rights, but local workers do – has the largest budget shortfall in the country, at 45.2 percent
Conversely, in some places where state workers are unionized – take New Mexico, Montana and Massachusetts as examples – the deficits are significantly smaller, less than 10 percent.
Though I believe Walker’s strategy for balancing the budget is, at a minimum, questionable, I also believe that unions play a role in making his methods politically expedient.
Mismanagement and misplaced priorities have left many in the public with a view of unions as self-serving entities willing to sacrifice productivity and profits for companies and the well-being of society as a whole.
Being pro-middle class, here is what I think unions can do to reframe the debate and win more support from all taxpayers.
First, unions need to continuously remind the public what the labor movement has earned us, such as 40-hour work weeks with weekends off, competitive wages and benefits, safe working conditions and a higher level of job security.
Second, unions should declare that they will no longer protect the worst of the worst performers who bilk the system. A union’s purpose should be to stand up for the rights of hard-working, competent and honest employees.
There’s nothing more taxing on morale, the bottom line and public opinion than having a low-performing employee “get away with” all kinds of shenanigans and still be shielded by the union.
And third, unions should only collectively bargain when the task is a true burden. For example, I know of an instance where management wanted to implement electronic payments for payroll – it’s cheaper for employers and more convenient for workers. But the union, because this was technically a change in the contract, wanted to negotiate a new perk before accepting this benefit. As soon as labor starts fighting for things that are excessive, unions lose public support.
Now, if you are a non-unionized worker and you believe you have something to gain by stripping unions of their benefits, think again. Corporate America will simply use the weakened state of unions to champion a steady race to the economic bottom.
When I was about 15 years old, my family moved out of the housing projects into our first home. I later learned that my father, who loaded trucks for a living, got a union job and a decent wage for the work he performed.
So while I’ve never been a member of a union, and most of my professional career has been in management, I’ve lived the power of unions to help lift a family out of poverty into the middle class.
That’s what this fight in Wisconsin is all about – the survival of the middle class. And this is a fight we have to win.
Jass Stewart is a Brockton City Councilor-at-large.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Nothing Like Brockton's Burrito Wraps

By Lisa E. Crowley
BROCKTON—The first place Hanson residents Bill Hogan and his son Dan thought of to spend a recent Tuesday afternoon for lunch is Brockton’s Burrito Wraps Mexican Grill.
“We come as often as we can. There’s nothing like it in the area,” Hogan said, dipping a crisp homemade nacho chip into the house specialty jabernero salsa sauce served as a complimentary appetizer and one of Hogan’s favorites.
“The food’s great, the service is great and the atmosphere is great,” Hogan said. (Pictured above with owner Alex Perez)
Brockton’s Burrito Wrap and Mexican Grill’s first location was opened in May, 2008 by owner Alex Perez at 688 Crescent St., in the Brockton East shopping plaza--a strip mall best known for Christo’s Restaurant and other businesses like Radio Shack and Family Dollar.
“This is one of those places where you can’t judge the book by its cover,” owner Alex Perez said.
Anyone looking at the strip mall entrance from the outside would never believe the warmth and savory aromas found inside.
Perez’s second restaurant was opened in February, 2009 at 707 Warren Ave. and has more of an atmosphere similar to Perez’s adolescence in Los Angeles, where his family moved when he was 11-years-old.
Once stepping over the threshold of his restaurants, a visitor is transported to a slice of Mexico, similar to the traditional Mexican bistros Perez said he remembers from his childhood in his native Mexico and has tried hard to emulate—right down to dishes that are freshly prepared every day and originate from the spices, meats and sauces in the kitchens of his mother and grandmother.
“I won’t give up until I get that flavor, that taste from my childhood,” Perez said.
It seems to have worked.
“I’ve heard things from customers like, “I feel like I just traveled to Mexico,” Perez said.
Perez, 49 until his birthday next month, was the proud winner of the first THRIVE Award, given by the Brockton 21st Century Corp. to the best minority or women owned business of the year.
Perez was one of 12 nominees for the award whose criteria includes giving back to the community in different ways and a business that has received assistance from the Brockton 21st Century Corp., MetroSouth Chamber of Commerce, or numerous programs such as SEED Corp. or U.S. Small Business Administration.
In choosing Perez for the inaugural award, the Brockton 21st Century Corp. states, “Alex and Burrito Wrap, Mexican Grill is a role model for our women and minority owned businesses. He has also invested in a neighborhood that others lost interest and has made a successful destination for those looking for quality Mexican food. Alex and Burrito Wraps has put Brockton on the map for the best Mexican food.”
Perez has donated money or time to several local organizations, including, YMCA, Brockton Day Nursery, Trinity Catholic, and has sponsored blood drives, little league teams and, Project Guardian Angel.
Anyone who has been at many of the events in the city will recognize Perez, a tall, dark and handsome man wearing a blue-denim oxford shirt with his Burrito Wrap logo, neatly creased dress pants handing out coupons for specials at Burrito Wraps.
Perez jokes that it is a good thing his shops remind him of home, because he pretty much lives at the restaurants.
Like many start-up business owners, Perez works around the clock.
When he is not serving customers, he is running the register, ordering groceries or helping general manager Francisco Harnadis (Pictured above with Perez) ready deliveries for callers ordering take-out and delivery.
When he’s not juggling in-shop needs, he’s checking the books, weighing money coming in and money going out, and sometimes wonders if he can make it, but pushes doubts aside and thanks his wife Cheryl, and three children, Chelsea, 20, Gabriella, 17, and Adam, 15—who often helps out at the restaurant—for their support and patience.
“It’s hard to balance everything—the business and time for family,” Perez said.
Perez said he is doing well enough to “keep the doors open,” but hopes word spreads about the restaurants and more customers are introduced to his home-style blend of authentic Mexican food and drink, including Jarritos soda, homemade sangria and margaritas.
Mexican food devotees could not name a restaurant in the area that compares to Burrito Wraps.
“I come all the time. I love it,” said Brockton resident Jesus Arocho, who brought his 16-month old granddaughter Isabella in for a couple of burritos and tacos.
Arocho (Pictured above with Isabella and Harnadis) said he is Puerto Rican, but when he eats food from Burrito Wraps it's like being home.
"There's nowhere around here like this," he said.
Perez said he left the mutual fund industry to open Burrito Wraps. As his own boss, he follows in the footsteps of his father Lorenzo who was a successful businessman selling coal and fire wood to the bakeries and industries near his native San Luis Potosi, a central Mexico city with a population of more than 2 million.
Perez said while he is new to the restaurant business, he is not new to excellent ingredients, creative recipes and outstanding service and is enthusiastic about the restaurant’s future.
“The experience is passion,” Perez said.
Visit Burrito Wraps Mexican Grill website for a complete menu and hours.

Friday, March 11, 2011

St. Patick's Day Mass Saturday, March 12

BROCKTON--A St. Patrick's Day holiday celebration will take place at St. Patrick Church Saturday, March 12 beginning at 9:30 a.m.
Festivities include Irish step dancing by students of Costello School of Irish Dancing and Brockton Fire Department's Pipes and Drums.
Music and dancing begins at 9:30 and followed by a special mass at the church.
Attendees are invited to George's Cafe after the mass for a traditional boiled dinner.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Strand Theatre Fire Victims Remembered

By Lisa E. Crowley
BROCKTON—Seventy-years after 13 Brockton firefighters were killed when the roof of the Strand Theatre collapsed, their loss and those who were injured during the March 10, 1941 blaze were remembered on the 70th anniversary.
“We want to reassure their families, and ours that we will always remember those who died,” said Fire Chief Richard Francis during a ceremony this morning at City Hall.
More than 100 firefighters, police, city officials and residents gathered in the City Hall rotunda to honor those who died in the third highest loss of firefighter’s lives in the country.
Thirteen members of the department died and more than 20 were injured when the roof of the Strand Theatre caved in on firefighters as they fought a blaze that had become so hot it is believed a steel truss holding up the roof gave way.
Francis noted 70 years ago those firefighters who were hurt—some crippled and maimed—did not have health insurance, retirement disability didn’t exist, there was no worker’s compensation and counseling for emotional struggles following the tragedy wasn’t to come for more than 30 years.
“They literally crawled back to work,” Francis said.
Francis said the Strand was built in 1916 and rebuilt in 1937 with all of the latest fire safety equipment after a fire gutted the building.
Like the Strand, Francis said, despite having the latest fire safety technology, life-taking conflagrations still happen.
“This tragedy still can, and does go on across the country today,” Francis said.
This year’s ceremony featured Brockton Firefighters Pipe and Drum Corps, Brockton Police Color Guard and pictures of the Strand Theatre from the Fire Museum.
Archibald Gormley, head of the department’s union, said this year marks the beginning of a new tradition. Along with the usual remembrance, every year beginning with 2011 a wreath will be placed on the Strand Theatre FireFighter’s Memorial outside City Hall.
Participants were invited to the annual memorial breakfast at Keating Hall on Perkins Avenue after ceremonies at City Hall.
Mayor Linda Balzotti said she has been asked why the city continues to hold a ceremony for those who died since except for former Fire Chief Edward “Sonny” Burrell, few of the firefighters or families of the members who were killed or hurt remain alive.
Balzotti said a friend of her father, Joe McNeill was the son of firefighter John M. McNeill—one of those killed in the 1941 Strand fire.
Balzotti said like Joe, she also lost her father at a young age. Because Joe understood what that was like, he often reminded her that her father would be extremely proud of her.
“He knew to do that because he had lost his father too young, too,” Balzotti said, noting it is important to remember those who have died, in service to the community or in our own lives.
“No life that is lost is unimportant,” she said.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Brockton Women Revel In Cartwheels, Caring

By Lisa E. Crowley
BROCKTON—When Kathy Mullen heard her name called as this year’s City of Brockton Commission on Women’s Issues “Woman of Courage” winner she looked at the hundreds in the crowd and couldn’t believe she was winning the award.
“I was blown away. Me? I couldn’t believe it. I still can’t believe it,” Mullen (Pictured above) said during an interview Monday afternoon at St. Paul’s Table at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Brockton where about 100 people a day come for free lunch at the church’s long-time soup kitchen.
Mullen was one of six Brockton women who were recognized last Saturday, March 5 during the annual “Women of the Year” breakfast at The Shaw’s Center that honors the tireless and often thankless efforts of the city’s volunteers.
This year’s honorees, are pictured in consecutive order from top to bottom:
*Lovern Augustine, Mrs. Ethnic World International 2011, a survivor of domestic
violence who helped spearhead last week’s White Ribbon rally in Boston Feb. 26;
*Laronda Campbell, who has taught countless girls to believe in themselves and reach for their dreams as founder of Brockton Youth Cheerleading;

*Aisha Barlatier-Bonny, BAMSI’s Director of Operations in Wraparound Family Services who has dedicated herself to families with BAMSI and works to help her native Haiti through the Haitian Organization for the Advancement of Petit-Goave;

*Nadia Gay, a working, single mom of two teenagers, who tirelessly donates her time as president of Christ the King Church’s St. Vincent DePaul Society bringing food and often unexpected Christmas joy to many families; and

Jill Wiley, minister at Central United Methodist Church and perennial volunteer at St. Paul’s Table, who quietly goes about enriching the city’s art community as administrator for Brockton Cultural Council.

Days after Saturday’s ceremony, Mullen, 64, shakes her head in disbelief that she has won the “Woman of Courage” award.
She downplays her role in resurrecting St. Paul’s Table more than 6 years ago. An employee of New England Life Insurance for more than 30 years, Mullen said she was laid-off as a customer service supervisor when the company was bought-out. She began volunteering at St. Paul’s and quickly saw where her organizational and leadership skills could help.
“I like order,” Mullen said, waving her hands in a straight line in front of her.
And order was what was needed at the time. Mullen was quickly named volunteer coordinator—the first of a handful of unpaid titles with St. Paul’s.
Mullen, quick to smile and firm about the way things should be done, began recruiting a steady corps of 15 to 20 regular volunteers culled from the community, schools, friends family, churches and other organizations that has allowed St. Paul’s Table to stay open 6 days a week.
Less dramatic, but possibly more important was the overhaul of the soup kitchen’s information gathering and data analysis procedures—a haphazard collection of information about the soup kitchen’s guests—info that makes or breaks a nonprofit group’s chances at much-needed grant money.
“We didn’t have the data,” Mullen said.
Mullen said she was humbled by the “Woman of Courage” honor and isn’t one of those people who is comfortable when people point out her strengths.
“It’s just that things have to get done,” Mullen said.
She isn’t comfortable when people say she has courage because every day she fights debilitating rheumatoid arthritis that has transformed her once firm and strong handshake into a somewhat annoying exercise when Mullen has to warn new acquaintances of the pain in her hands or worse suck up the pain rather than have her hand go limp.
“I hate that ‘fishy, floppy’ handshake,” she said.
Mullen isn’t comfortable when she is heralded for being openly gay decades before it was as accepted as it is today. She has been married to spouse Carolyn—who isn’t as open and public--since March, 2005, just 10 months after gay marriage became legal in Massachusetts. The couple has been together for more than 30 years.
“It’s who I am,” Mullen said. “I can’t be anything else,” she said.
Who Mullen is comfortable with being called a “Woman of Courage” are the hundreds of women she met and helped as a rape crisis counselor for about 5 years in the 1990s with Womansplace Crisis Center in Brockton-now called A New Day.
“You can’t imagine what they go through after something like that,” Mullen said.
She has seen the physical pain, emotional suffering and down-deep courage it takes rape survivors to rise from brutal and savage beatings and continue on in life despite it.
“Those people have courage,” Mullen said. “Everyone has courage, it’s just that sometimes they just don’t know they have it. In this political climate we all need courage,” she said.
During Saturday’s breakfast, Mullen received the special “Woman of Courage” Award during a program that was highlighted by the state’s first female auditor and Cardinal Spellman High School graduate Suzanne Bump, who gave the key note speech during an event that was punctuated with laughter, inspiration and tears.
Bump, who once worked closely with Brockton’s Edwina Martin House, a safe-haven for women with addictions, and the final speaker of the morning, couldn’t help but notice the outpouring of emotion during each award winners' biography and acceptance remarks.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve been at an event where there have been so many tears of joy,” Bump said.
During many of the short histories of each winner tears were shed, but there was much more laughter from the many-flavored, many colored, and many-sized personalities and characters of each of the women.
Nadia Gay listened as her 26-year-old daughter Bianca, who nominated Gay for “Woman of the Year,” told how her mother hustles from one job in the morning and another in the afternoon all the while keeping food on the table, keeping a household in order and keeping her and her brother Phillip, 17, in line.
“Most people want to sleep-in on the weekends—like ME—but she gets up and goes out to help the poor and needy,” she said as her mother cleared a tear from her eye.
“She is SuperWoman,” Bianca said.
Gay, as a leader of Christ the King’s St. Vincent DePaul chapter, not only has given her weekends, but also her heart to helping others, especially during the Christmas holidays when, working families haven’t enough money to keep a roof over their heads, eat and stay warm, never mind money for gifts.
“People have lost their house, they have no car because it’s gone, the family has illnesses and sicknesses and they don’t know how they’re going to have a Christmas,” Nadia said. “I tell them, ‘Don’t worry. Christmas is on me,’ and I don’t know how I’m going to do it,” she said, getting a burst of laughter and applause from the audience.
Gay said she then calls on “My People,” a network of friends, family, work colleagues, parishioners, and a host of others who hear her call and donate money, toys, food, and other needs.
“There’s nothing they wouldn’t do for Nadia,” she said, thanking her “People” who have helped foster and spread the rewards and joys of helping others.
Many of the honorees said they were humbled by the award and proud to be in the company of so many women working to help others and bring awareness to social issues.
During her comments, Gay energetically waved at Loverne Augustine--a fellow “Woman of the Year” who as Mrs. Ethnic World International 2011 pageant winner has dedicated this year to raising awareness of domestic violence.
Gay said Augustine is someone she admires and wants to join Augustine’s domestic violence campaign.
“Watch out--I’m coming for you,” Gay said lightheartedly, adding she would have to find some more time in the day.
Augustine, who had already received her award, motioned for Gay to come on in.
“Bring it on girl, bring it on,” Augustine said.
Augustine, 33, a mother of 9-year-old Lailah Thymes, and a dedicated volunteer with several domestic violence and crisis intervention programs, said when she was as a girl she watched as her father brutally beat her mother during decades of marriage.
A native of Trinidad, Augustine said her mother finally got out of the relationship, but a cycle of violence had been implanted.
Augustine said for two years she suffered the abuse of a boyfriend before she was able to defy the lessons of a domestic-violence past.
“Let’s put domestic violence to an end,” she said.
Augustine’s energy and spirit were matched by Laronda Campbell who founded Brockton Youth Cheerleaderleading in 2001—an organization that has grown from 10 members to 123.
Campbell said her five brothers taught her to be tough and strong as they teased her growing up, and in part launched a cheerleading career that began with a bet, when she was challenged to do a gymnastic move.
“They said, ‘I bet you can’t even do a cartwheel,’” Campbell recalled to a laugh from the crowd, including Campbell’s brothers who attended the event.
Campbell thanked her parents for teaching her many things, including that while a man or woman should be tough and strong, they should always strive to be polite and respectful to others—a lesson she teaches to the hundreds of young girls and women between 3 and 14 who participate in programs, teams or coach.
“Manners will carry you—money won’t,” Campbell said.
After Coach Campbell’s motivating and enthusiastic remarks, those who followed acknowledged Campbell’s spirit.
Mayor Linda Balzotti—who earned a round of applause for being Brockton’s first female mayor—quipped: “Holy Mackerel—no one’s going to mess with these women.”
Aisha Barlatier-Bonny who accepted her award after Campbell, smiled and said, “After Laronda’s speech I feel like I should do a cartwheel.”
Barlatier-Bonny said she was overwhelmed by the award, and thanked all of those at BAMSI who have helped her over the 8 years she has been with the multiservice agency.
“I work with some great women at BAMSI and they have all shaped me,” she said.
Since giving birth to a fourth child, Chloe, Barlatier-Bonny has hardly stopped working for families at BAMSI and working to aid residents in her native Haiti through Haitan Organization for the Advancement of Petit-Goave—a town in Haiti where many of her family members perished after last year’s devastating earthquake.
Barlatier-Bonny said anything she has accomplished has been because of much help, especially from her husband Manny, her first sweetheart and life partner for 25 years, 10 of those as husband and wife.
“Without him I couldn’t have done any of this,” Barlatier-Bonny said, noting his love, support, and indefatigable help at home have always opened the way for her to reach out to others.
For Jill Wiley, a minister at Central United Methodist Church who has served her church in more than 30 cities across the U.S. said she is humbled to be among so many women who serve their community in so many ways.
Wiley said she was surprised to be among such women, however Anne Beauregard, who nominated Wiley, said Wiley has quietly organized and aided numerous workshops, festivals, and craft fairs, while keeping an open mind and doing the thankless jobs that have to be done.
“She does more after everyone else goes home,” Beauregard said.
Wiley said her work as a volunteer at St. Paul’s Table and as administrator of Brockton’s Cultural Council, has helped her make a difference in Brockton, and to her surprise after a lifetime of work in dozens of communities she never expected to be among such award winners.
She said the future is bright with so many women working for families, the needy and youngsters.
“Brockton now has a woman mayor,the state it's first female auditor,” Wiley said. “Someday we’ll have a female president,” she said.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Oil Delivery Truck Sinks Into Roadway

By Lisa E. Crowley
BROCKTON—An Alvin Hollis oil delivery truck driver had that sinking feeling this morning.
“It was weird,” the driver said when about 25-to-35 yards after turning from Pearl Street to Conant Drive his truck shuddered and came to a halt after two of its tires sunk into the roadway.
The driver, a man in his 40’s who would not give his name, but said he was from West Bridgewater, said he thought he had a flat tire when the vehicle suddenly angled to the right.
He tried to continue forward to move toward the shoulder of the narrow residential street, but the more than 30,000 pound truck wouldn’t move.
He said because of a differential lock it wouldn’t go forward, so he tried putting the truck in reverse. It started to move, and it wasn’t until he saw chunks of pavement flying in the rear-view mirror could he see both tires on the passenger side had sunk into the road way.
A 10-to 12-foot gash shows where the truck’s tires mashed its way through the soft pavement on its way backwards.
The accident happened at about 8:30 a.m., early in the day so the delivery truck was nearly full of home heating oil.
Police called Lynch’s Towing to pull the load from its embedded tracks, but because the oil delivery truck was close to capacity, the load was too heavy for a massive tow truck.
Alvin Hollis then sent one of its empty trucks and transferred about 400 gallons of the sunken truck’s oil to the other vehicle--lightening the load and allowing it to be pulled from the newly-created ditch.
A Brockton Police officer on the scene said the roadway does not have any weight restrictions and noted after checking the truck’s weight, about 36,000, it was not overloaded and was not of unusual weight for a home oil delivery truck.