Massachusetts state Senator Karen Spilka has one more reason for supporting Ed Markey's campaign for U.S. Senate. If Markey wins the seat vacated by John Kerry in the special June 25 election, Spilka said she will run for Markey's seat in the U.S. House.
"I'll make a formal announcement that I'm a candidate, once I can call him 'Senator Markey,'" Spilka said in an interview Thursday. "I'm working very hard to get Ed elected, and I believe he will be elected."
Markey, a Democrat representing the Fifth Congressional District, is leading Republican Gabriel Gomez in the race, 41 to 35 percent, according to a WBUR poll.
Efforts to reach Markey's campaign office for comment Thursday were unsuccessful.
Spilka is on a growing list of potential candidates for Markey's seat if he wins the Senate race. Others are Middlesex County Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian, state Senators William Brownsberger of Belmont and Katherine Clark of Melrose and state Representative Carl Sciortino of Medford, all Democrats.
Spilka said she has a strong track record in "fighting for the little guy" during her time in the Massachussets legislature, first as a member of the house, then as senator representing the Second Middlesex and Norfolk District, comprising Ashland, Framingham, Franklin, Holliston, Hopkinton, Medway, and Natick.
If elected, Spilka would represent communities from Holliston to Winthrop.
Among her accomplishments, she cited the overhaul of the Children Engaged in Services, or CHINS, law, for handling children who consistently get in trouble at home or at school, including runaways and students who are habitually truant.
She said she also helped change state law to allow communities west of Boston to create or join existing regional transit authorities.
Spilka said she would be able to work in the U.S. House, an often fractious and partisan body. "My background is in conflict resolution," she said. "People are tired of hearing about conflict, bitterness, and divisiveness."
She was elected to the Massachusetts House in 2001, before becoming sworn in as Senator in 2005. In January, she was promoted to Majority Whip after previously serving as Assistant Majority Whip since January 2012. She also serves on the Joint Committee on Rules, the Senate Committee on Ethics and Rules, and the Senate Committee on Steering and Policy.
Spilka lives in Ashland with her husband, Joel S. Loitherstein. They have three children and three dogs.
Allegations of sexual abuse at the Arlington Boys & Girls Club from the 1970s to ’90s continue to escalate as police said they have identified five more victims and arrested a former club employee in New York.
Paul A. Collins, 62, of Centereach, N.Y., was arrested Friday on charges of rape of a child with force, indecent assault and battery of a child under the age of 14, and indecent assault and battery and lewd, open, and gross conduct, according to the Middlesex district attorney’s office.
He was arrested by the United States Marshal’s New York/New Jersey Regional Fugitive Task Force and the Arlington Police Department.
Chief Frederick Ryan of the Arlington Police Department said Collins waived extradition and was expected to arrive in Massachusetts on Saturday night. He is scheduled to be arraigned Monday 5/20 at Cambridge District Court, according to the district attorney’s office.
The charges against Collins come about three months after the Arlington Boys & Girls Club announced that it had discovered multiple allegations that a former and now deceased employee, William Sullivan of West Roxbury, had sexually abused children at the club between the 1970s and 1990s.
A former member of the club brought the allegations to the club’s attention in late 2011, and the club hired someone to investigate before informing Arlington Police of the allegations in January.
Arlington Police began investigating the allegations. Ryan said that after the first revelations of abuse appeared in the media in February, other victims came forward, which led to the charges against Collins.
The charges against Collins stem from alleged abuse that occurred in the late 1970s and early ’80s, and involves five male accusers now in their 40s, according to authorities.
Ryan said Collins was a counselor at the club, and in that position had access to children there.
Sullivan, who died in 2002, had been a program director at the club, where he worked from 1964 to 2002. Because Sullivan is dead, Arlington police have said there may not be any prosecutable crimes in the allegations against him.
Ryan said the accusers in the Collins case are different individuals from those in Sullivan’s case. Nothing in the investigation has led police to believe that Collins and Sullivan were committing the alleged abuse together, Ryan said.
The Arlington Boys & Girls Club said in a statement it is “deeply disturbed” to learn about the charges against the former employee.
The club said in the statement that it had disclosed information to police about the allegations against Sullivan with the goal of encouraging anyone with information about possible sexual abuse to report it to the authorities.
“We have been working cooperatively with the Arlington Police throughout the course of their investigation in recognition that no child should ever experience the trauma of abuse of any kind,” said the statement released by the club’s executive director, Derek Curran. “Our thoughts and prayers are with all victims.”
Collins had moved to several places around the country since leaving his job at the Arlington Boys & Girls Club, Ryan said, and when police tracked him down on Long Island he was working as a maintenance employee at a hotel.
“Obviously the authorities down there will be looking into his recent activities,” Ryan said.
Ryan said he wants to emphasize that there is no reason to believe any children at the Arlington Boys & Girls Club are currently at risk, as the crimes allegedly occurred decades ago.
The Middlesex district attorney’s office is working with Arlington police on the investigation, and Ryan said the club management is working closely with the authorities.
“There’s always the likelihood that more victims may come forward and we are prepared to support them,” Ryan said.
Brock Parker can be reached at email@example.com.
Robbins Library staff members have received three awards from the Massachusetts Library Association for their public relations efforts. Pictured from left to right are Vicky Slavin, Ryan Livergood, and Rebecca Meehan. Photo courtesy Robbins Library.
Staff members at Arlington’s Public Library have won three public relations awards from the Massachusetts Library Association.
The awards were presented at the non-profit association’s annual conference at the Hyatt Regency in Cambridge in late April.
Robbins Library received the first place award in the bookmarks category for the foreign language film bookmarks created by Vicky Slavin, the second place award in the logo category for the “We Want You to Sign Up for a Library Card” logo designed by Neva Corbo-Hudak, and third place in the news coverage category for the Open Book column that appears regularly in the Arlington Advocate, started by Library Director Ryan Livergood and Rebecca Meehan.
“We have an amazing library staff that does such a wonderful job of getting the word out about all of the great programs and services both the Robbins Library and Fox Branch Library have to offer,” Livergood said in a press release announcing the awards.
Lexington will close a section of the Minuteman Bikeway for approximately three weeks beginning Monday, May 13, because of work to replace a collapsed culvert.
The collapsed culvert has caused flooding on some local property. During the construction the Bikeway will be closed between Woburn Street and the driveway area of the Seasons Four outdoor furniture and garden store at 1265 Massachusetts Ave. in Lexington, according to the Lexington Department of Public Works and Peggy Enders, a member of the Lexington Bicycle Advisory Committee.
Users of the bikeway will be detoured along Massachusetts Avenue, and signs will mark the detour route. The work is expected to take about three weeks.
A bid to bring self-serve fueling stations to Arlington ran out of gas on the Town Meeting floor Monday, leaving the town as one of the last in the state in which an attendant must pump gasoline for customers.
By a voice vote, Town Meeting voted against a proposal to begin allowing self-serve gasoline stations in Arlington after the lead sponsor for the proposal, Town Meeting member Carl Wagner, changed his mind citing unintended consequences of altering the local law.
Wagner said that his proposal to bring self-serve gasoline stations did not do enough to keep full service from disappearing completely at gas stations, and also would not prevent “megastations” offering self service from moving into Arlington.
“It needs more work,” Wagner told Town Meeting, before urging the body to reject his proposal.
Arlington banned self-service at gasoline stations in 1975 and is one of a dwindling number of towns in Massachusetts that require full service at the pump. Weymouth, Milford, and Upton also do not allow self-serve gasoline stations, but the state fire marshal’s office, which oversees plans required for all self-serve stations, does not keep a list of which communities require full service and was unaware if any others ban self-serve stations.
By a majority vote, Arlington Selectmen had backed Wagner’s original proposal to change the local laws and allow self-serve gasoline, said Selectmen Chairman Dan Dunn. In the board’s report to Town Meeting, Selectmen said the town’s ban on self-service gasoline sales is out-dated and no longer sensible.
“Technological advances since the introduction of self-service gasoline sales in the market have reduced safety hazards associated with the practice,” the board reported. “Removal of the ban will make Arlington competitive with surrounding communities that offer self-service gasoline sales.”
The proposal to bring self-serve gasoline to Arlington had drawn some mixed reviews from local service stations and motorists. Some local service station workers said motorists are often careless at the pump, which leads to accidents including people driving away with the pumps still in their tanks. But others have said allowing self-service would improve the ability local gas stations to compete with those in surrounding communities.
Wagner said he thinks selectmen voted correctly on the idea that Arlington can move forward from a 1950s-style law to having self-service. But Wagner said after the board had initially voiced its support for the change, he learned from town inspection workers that if his proposal was approved by Town Meeting, Arlington would have to allow stations that would have no full serve gasoline and there would be no limit on the size of gas stations.
“Although some of you might think I’m a crazy person for wanting to have self-serve, I think everybody would probably like to have full serve, self-serve, and not have a change in the feel of our gas stations,” Wagner said. “So I ask you to resoundingly vote no.”
Wagner said he has been pleased to learn that other processes underway in the town, including a comprehensive review of local zoning bylaws, could revisit the question of allowing self-serve gasoline.
Police called in a bomb squad to remove a World War II-era hand grenade found at an Arlington home Sunday.
Arlington Police Chief Fred Ryan said the department received a call from 11 Village Lane about 2 p.m. Sunday about a suspicious object at the home. Police determined the object was a potentially live grenade and established a 300-foot perimeter around the home while calling in explosive ordnance disposal technicians from Boston, Cambridge and state police. Bomb technicians then removed the grenade.
Ryan said that the grenade appears to have belonged to the previous owner of the home, who is now deceased.
When Eileen Kneeland rides her bike, she looks like many other recreational cyclists: happy, smiling, and rolling along.
But unlike most other recreational cyclists, Eileen has Multiple Sclerosis.
Fourteen years ago, Eileen went to her doctor because she was not feeling well. On a Friday night, she was diagnosed with MS. By Sunday, she struggled to stand up.
It took Eileen a month of rehabilitation at the same hospital where she had worked as a physical therapy assistant before she was able to walk again. For Eileen, a former college athlete, this was a huge adjustment.
“It was hard to face the fact that I could barely get up and roll over.”
For Eileen, being an athlete helped her recover. “My muscle memory relearned things a lot faster. Also, because I had done physical therapy, I knew what I needed to do.”
What Eileen needed to do was not easy. For this long-distance swimmer, a woman who had always been active, just walking around the cul-de-sac where she lived was a challenge.
“When I first got home, I did walks around the circle. I’d measure how far I went by how many mailboxes I passed.”
The first year that she was diagnosed with MS, Eileen volunteered to help out at the MS walk. As her recovery progressed and she got stronger, Eileen was eventually able to do the walk itself.
Most people with a life-changing illness don’t describe themselves as fortunate. But that’s exactly how Eileen sees herself.
“I’m extremely fortunate, but I know I’ve worked hard to recover. I’m also a glass is half-full kind of person. That’s how my father taught me by how he lived, that’s how I’ve always approached life. Plus I have the support of my husband, Dave, a loving family, and great friends.”
Even with all of these supports, Eileen’s recovery has not been easy. For one, she has had several exacerbations of her MS. Fortunately, they have been controlled by changes in her medication.
As Eileen descirbes it, “There are so many options for treatment now if you get MS.” Once again, this glass half-full woman finds the good in whatever comes her way.
Life has changed greatly for Eileen since she was diagnosed with MS 14 years ago. Although she tried to return to her job as a PT assistant, the physical strain was too much. For a time, Eileen worked ran a work-study program at Holy Cross, her alma mater. But when a position doing community outreach for the Worcester D.A.’s office opened up, Eileen was all-in.
Eileen’s new job was an opportunity. It was also a big change, though one that she quickly embraced.
“I didn’t choose to have MS, but I can choose how I deal with it. And that’s what I focus on when I talk with kids about peer pressure and bullying: I talk with them about the fact that they have choices, too.”
Eileen’s life has changed, to be sure, since she was first diagnosed with MS. She no longer skis—she worries she might fall. But instead of focusing on what she can’t do, Eileen found something new that she can do: ride a bike.
Before she got MS, Eileen did not bike that much. Now, it’s a different story. “I love biking: I can go fast, I get to be outside, and it’s something that my husband Dave and I can do together.”
“When I’m on my bike, I don’t feel like I have MS. I feel centered and balanced.”
Eileen wants people to know that MS is not a life sentence, that you can still be active and happy. And because Eileen can still ride, she will do the Bike MS Martha’s Vineyard Ride on May 4th.
“It’s my way of riding for those who can’t ride.”
Centered and balanced, caring and giving: that’s Eileen, both on and off of the bike.
Full Disclosure: I donated to support Eileen’s ride.
More disclosure: it’s not too late to donate to Eileen.
Jonathan Simmons is the author of “Here For The Ride: A Tale of Obsession on Two Wheels.”
Arlington Town Meeting shot down a proposal to ban the sale of single-serving plastic water bottles Wednesday night and approved a plan to significantly soften the town’s controversial leaf blower ban.
By a voice vote, Town Meeting voted against the proposal by three Arlington High School seniors, Amy Currul, Sonia Zacher and Marina Milan, to ban the sale of plastic water bottles smaller than one liter in the town after Jan. 1, 2014. The students are all members of the Students Against Violating the Environment club at the high school, and Town Meeting member Harry McCabe sponsored the town meeting article.Currul said the proposal was modeled after a similar ban in Concord and was aimed at reducing the negative impact of the plastic bottles on the environment.
“Bottled water is a small product, but it has a large impact when it comes to the Earth’s future,” Currul said.
But the proposal met opposition at Town Hall Wednesday night when several Town Meeting members and Andrew Ziner, the store manager of Stop & Shop in Arlington, suggested the ban would force Arlington residents to go out of town to buy their bottled water.
Ziner said that the ban would also reduce the healthy consumption of water, and would impact sales at local businesses.
“Stop & Shop is going on the record opposing this,” Ziner said.
Arlington Town Meeting member Sean Harrington said the plastic bottles can be recycled, and more efforts need to be made to encourage recycling instead of banning plastic water bottles.
“It’s really a bad thing for the town of Arlington and quite honestly a bad thing for consumer choice,” Harrington said.
Town Meeting also voted 113 to 95 in favor of new laws regulating the use of leaf blowers in Arlington that will undue much of the controversial ban narrowly approved by Town Meeting last year that prohibited the use of gas-powered leaf blowers on private property from May 15 to Oct. 15.
Opposition to the ban led to a special town election in July in which a strong majority of people cast votes to overturn the bylaw, but opponents fell just shy of the number of votes needed to overturn a decision by Town Meeting. In the fall, a special Town Meeting voted that the town should set up a special committee to explore a way to amend the ban.
Under the compromise approved by Town Meeting Wednesday, restrictions on leaf blowers with combustion engines would only apply to commercial and municipal use of the devices. The new law set the seasonal restriction from June 15 to Sept. 15 and would only allow commercial and municipal workers to use leaf blowers with combustion engines from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on weekdays and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. Leaf blowers could only be used for 30 minutes at a time under the proposal.
In other action, Town Meeting voted to appropriate $25,000 to pay for a temporary visitor center that will be located at Uncle Sam Plaza in Arlington Center in an effort to boost tourism to the town.
Arlington Police have turned over information to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force about a 2012 house party and disturbance in which Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was involved.
Arlington Police Chief Frederick Ryan said Wednesday that police responded to a report of a disturbance caused by a house party and public drinking on Paul Revere Road on the night of July 4, 2012.
At the scene, the chief said police encountered Tsarnaev, who was sitting in the passenger seat of his own Honda sedan. Ryan said the Honda was the same car that was found in Watertown last Friday after Tsarnaev and his brother and alleged marathon-bombing accomplice, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, engaged in a gunfight with police.
Police said they had earlier shot and killed MIT Police Officer Sean Collier.
Tamerlan, 26, was killed in the gunbattle. Dzhokhar was wounded by escaped. He was captured in Watertown later on Friday.
In 2012 Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, of Cambridge, was not charged or cited in relation to the Independence Day incident in Arlington, but the person operating his car was cited for having an open container of alcohol in a vehicle, Ryan said.
Ryan said police have turned over records of the incident to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force and the incident report is not being released at this time because it is part of the ongoing investigation and contains names of other people Tsarnaev was with that night in Arlington.
Tsarnaev was charged Monday with using a weapon of mass destruction in the April 15 attacks that killed three people at the Boston Marathon and injured more than 200 people
While the manhunt was still underway for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev last week, Ryan said Arlington Police entered his name in a department database and discovered the encounter with him on Paul Revere Road last summer.
Ryan said Arlington Police responded to the house where Dzhokhar had been to make sure he was not there.
“We went and did a sort of knock-and-talk with the occupant of that home to learn what their relationship was with the person who was being pursued,” Ryan said.
Ryan said police also asked when the resident last had contact with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The chief said he could not disclose what the resident said because it is part of the ongoing investigation.
Betty Tassinari, who lives on Paul Revere Road, said she came home from work on July 4 and had to go around police, who were talking to three men in the Honda, which was parked across the street from her house.
Tassinari said they were parked in a no-parking zone and police spent a significant amount of time talking to them.
"I got up there and got a glass of wine and watched," she said. "They stayed there a while. They were asking for I.D.s."
Another man who lives on Paul Revere Road, who declined to give his name or say which house was having the party, said he called police on the men with the Honda at the request of his wife. He said there were four kids and they were standing around with beer cans on the roof of the car. He said it was clear the men were not interested in abiding the rules.
When he saw the news report Thursday that one of the men was the Boston Marathon bombing suspect, he chalked it up to coincidence.
"I immediately told all my friends that 'hey, I turned him in," for public drinking, he said.
After a string of forfeitures by sports teams at Arlington High School, the school district has fired embattled athletic director, Ted Dever, who now plans to file a grievance against the district.
“Unfortunately, at this point in time it looks to me like another situation of protracted litigation,” said Rick Grundy, the attorney representing Dever this week.
Dever, of Winchester, had been the athletic director for Arlington Public Schools since 2007 and was notified in late March that he was being terminated, Grundy said.
Robert Spiegel, the human resources director for Arlington Public Schools, said Dever was taken off of the district’s payroll as of March 22 and the school district is beginning its search to find a full-time replacement. He would not comment on why Dever was removed from the payroll.
Dever had been on paid administrative leave since August 2012 amid an ongoing criminal inquiry, the details of which have not been made public. Arlington Police Captain Richard Flynn said Tuesday that the investigation is ongoing.
Arlington Public Schools initiated efforts to fire Dever last November, but the athletic director and his attorney fought back saying the reasons suggested for his dismissal, such as a claim that Dever hadn’t printed out sports schedules in three years, were unfounded.
Then in December Arlington Public Schools announced that ineligible players participated on 12 different teams in the 2011-2012 school year during Dever’s tenure as athletic director. As a result, eight teams had to forfeit games. Four teams, including the fall 2011 varsity and junior varsity boys soccer teams, the spring 2012 boys varsity tennis team, and the spring girls junior varsity softball team, had to forfeit all of their wins for their season.
The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association said it had never heard of so many teams from one school forfeiting games. Some of the players were ineligible because of their grades and some foreign exchange students did not have the needed waivers, according to the school district. The athletic association praised the work of acting Arlington Athletic Director Robert DiLoreto for uncovering and acting on the rule violations.
After the forfeitures were announced, Grundy said Arlington Superintendent of Schools Kathleen Bodie came forward with new issues to dismiss Dever.
Grundy said some of the reasons Bodie gave for firing Dever were related to the forfeitures, but the attorney declined to comment on what all of the superintendents reasons were.
Bodie said Tuesday afternoon that she could not comment on the personnel matter.
Grundy said Dever had a hearing on the new issues in March. Bodie determined there was no merit to dismiss Dever over the reasons first suggested by the school district in November, but fired him for the second round of issues, said Grundy.
Grundy said Dever has never been charged in the ongoing police investigation, and he doesn’t know the status of the probe. He said Dever had some tremendous accomplishments as Arlington’s athletic director, including being at the helm when the school district moved from the Greater Boston League to the Middlesex League.
“This is a guy who loves his job and was well-liked in his position,” Grundy said.
Spiegel said Arlington will be posting the athletic director position soon and hopes to have the new director in place before the start of the next school year.