Marie St. Fleur, an attorney, former state representative and Mayor Menino’s chief of advocacy and strategic investment, is joining the Bessie Tartt Wilson Initiative for Children as president and CEO, according to the organization’s founder and outgoing president Mary Reed.
The initiative was founded in 2002 and conducts research, advocates for new policies and works with early ed providers and families to improve early education, especially in low-income communities.
"Marie is uniquely qualified to advance the agenda of the initiative in an era of increasingly complex local, state and federal mandates," Reed said in a statement.
Said St. Fleur: "We will be working not only with children, families and care providers, but with the next mayor, legislators, the governor and our Washington delegation to create an early education system in Massachusetts that prepares all children and families for the future.”
(Image courtesy Artists for Humanity)
As travelers step into Logan International Airport's Terminal E, they will be greeted by art created by high school students from Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan, and South Boston. While the art alone is impressive, it’s the story the works seek to tell that will capture the travelers’ attention.
On Thursday the South Boston-based Artists for Humanity unveiled its exhibit, “Capturing the Sun: A Visual Dialogue on Solar Energy.”
The project, a partnership between the non-profit and National Grid, which supplied the three-year grant to support the initiative, seeks to get students, travelers, and artists thinking about the benefits of solar energy and how science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) can be made attractive to young peopleFULL ENTRY
The Red Sox’s 2013 World Series Trophy will be leaving its home at Fenway Park to pay a visit to Roxbury Sunday.
The trophy will be at the Roxbury YMCA, located at 285 Martin Luther King Blvd., from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. December 15.
Participants will have an opportunity to have their photo taken with the trophy and the Red Sox’s mascot, Wally the Green Monster.
The free event is sponsored by the Roxbury YMCA, The Boston Area Church League, City Councilor Tito Jackson, and the Boston Police Department.
Crime in Roxbury is slightly down in 2013, but the neighborhood has had more homicides this year compared to 2012.
Eighteen homicides have been committed this year in the Boston Police Department's District B-2, which covers Roxbury, compared to the 10 committed this time last year, according to the most recent data provided by BPD.
For more on homicides in Boston, click here.
Rape, burglary, and vehicle theft are also up this year.
Aggravated assault, larceny, and robbery, however, are down.
City-wide crime is down six percent, compared to this time last year.
Although crime is down city-wide, vehicle theft is slightly up across the city.
(Image courtesy Rediscover Rosarito Civic Engagement Project)
Young people from the Bird Street Community Center in Dorchester recently created their own works of art with the help of renowned American and international artists.
The students, members of the Bird Street Civic Engagement Project, joined the artists, who hailed from Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and the United States, Saturday to learn the skills and create a group painting.
The artists were in the city to celebrate the Rediscover Rosarito Civic Engagement Project, an Emerson College-led crisis management initiative. For the past six years, the Boston-based college has been working with the residents of Rosarito Beach, Mexico, to revamp the community’s image.
The artists also helped fundraise for the Bird Street Civic Engagement Project, which also includes Emerson as a partner.
For the past year, the school has been working with the Uphams Corner community center on the project, which seeks to provide local youth with the tools to communicate the needs of their community.
Mexican artists David Silvah, Nuria Bac, and Antonio Proa were joined for the event by local artist Derrick Maurice Sanderson and Saudi artist Nada Farhat, according to a release from the project.
(Image courtesy Rediscover Rosarito Civic Engagement Project)
(Image courtesy Rediscover Rosarito Civic Engagement Project)
With his remaining time at city hall now numbered in days not months, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino on Tuesday morning reflected on his time in office, while outlining challenges ahead for the city he has led for two decades.
Menino said the “dramatic decline” in federal support for Boston will test not just city, but its non-profit and research industries. Menino also said he worried about the increase in income inequality and the rising cost of higher education, which has put a college education further out of reach for many students.
“The climate in Washington is poison and the problem-solving is rare,” Menino said.
Menino, who in January will give up the office he has held for the past 20 years, spoke to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce for the last time as mayor before a packed, reverential audience at the Westin Waterfront Hotel in the Seaport District that Menino has prided himself of reinventing.
In the shadow of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, the ever-feisty mayor chided critics who once told him the facility would be a “white elephant” for the city, the same warning issued when he brought the Democratic National Convention to Boston. “They were wrong,” he said.
Challenging the business community to think about how it can combat income inequality in the city, Menino said, “If you aren’t talking about this in your boardrooms, you should be. If you aren’t worrying about what it means for your workforce and your customers, you are missing the boat.”
The mayor also made a final pitch, which had been anticipated by Boston Chamber of Commerce President Paul Guzzi. After Menino concluded his remarks by urging, “Please hire a summer jobs kid,” Guzzi presented Menino with a “significant check” worth $10,000 for the program next summer.
Menino used the speech to look back at accomplishments in the city, and look forward to Boston’s future with Mayor-elect Marty Walsh at the helm. Walsh did not attend the breakfast.
“Lots of things make a place a city - crowds, commerce, heights. But the thing that makes a city most is change, the fact that something new is always just around the corner,” Menino said, ticking through achievements such as guaranteed full-day kindergarten for all 5-year-olds, the construction of the Boston Convention Center, and the addition of office space and housing.
Since he won the city’s first open mayoral race in 20 years ago this November, Menino said his team has been working hand-in-hand with Walsh’s to ensure a smooth transition of leadership.
“I’ve told the mayor-elect that I’m here to help. But I won’t be hanging around to critique his work,” said Menino, who won’t fade into background after he leaves. The mayor is taking a job at Boston University leading a new institute on cities, insisting he has ideas on how to improve the city’s schools that haven’t been tried in the past.
“I’m not going to leave those kids,” he said.
From investing in green space to making Boston a welcoming city for gay couples who want to marry and immigrants looking to build a life, Menino ticked through his proudest accomplishments as mayor.
“We built as much new housing as Somerville has altogether, and added more affordable housing than Wellesley has of any type,” he said.
He also thanked the business community for their partnership over the past two decades.
“The business community is the strength of our city,” Menino said, crediting the chamber specifically for working with his administration to create youth summer jobs
Angela Menino, who attended the breakfast with her husband, received a standing ovation.
The breakfast also drew a number of politicians, including City Councilors Bill Linehan and Ayanna Pressley, City Councilors-elect Josh Zakim and Michelle Wu, state Sen. Anthony Petruccelli and Reps. Aaron Michlewitz and Nick Collins, Massport CEO Tom Glynn, Treasurer Steve Grossman, and Democratic attorney general candidates Warren Tolman and Maura Healey.
“Thank you for 20 years. What a terrific run,” Guzzi said.
Robert Gallery, Massachusetts president of Bank of America, honored Menino in opening remarks for invigorating public education, renewing Boston’s neighborhoods and fostering innovative business.
“He has always been and always will be a champion for this city and is someone to whom we all owe a tremendous debt of gratitide,” Gallery said.
Starting in January, the chamber will be hosting Red Sox and Boston Globe owner John Henry, Attorney General Martha Coakley and U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy for similar speeches.
State House visitors may now send messages to the people of South Africa through a condolence book for Nelson Mandela set up outside the House chamber.
Legislative leaders and Gov. Deval Patrick, working with Rep. Byron Rushing and South Africa Partners, are hosting the book, which will be available for signing through Friday and presented at a later date to the Nelson Mandela Foundation in South Africa.
An entry signed by House Majority Whip Byron Rushing expresses gratitude to Mandela, “the African National Congress and to all the South Africans who struggled for liberation during Mandela’s lifetime.”
State House visitors from Ireland and various parts of the state have already signed the book. “Our world has been forever changed because of you, President Mandela. Our deepest condolences and greatest thanks. God bless!” says an entry signed by Rep. Alan Silvia (D-Fall River) and staff.
– M. Norton, M. Deehan/SHNS
Al Niles is an accidental icon.
He didn’t set out to be known citywide for his unique subs or quirky sandwich shop. He was just trying to make a decent living.
Yet the owner of WAN Convenience/Al’s Deli has caught national attention for his sandwich-making success. He was recently visited by the Travel Channel’s Adam Richman to be featured in a new show on the network -- yet to be named – that will kick off in March or April. The Travel Channel was turned onto Al’s by his 69 Yelp reviews, most of which praise the shop and owner for his tasty sandwiches and unique personality.
Niles, 48, never planned on running a sandwich shop. The West Indies native opened WAN Convenience [the initials of his full name, Winston Albert Niles] on Tremont Street in Mission Hill in 2004 – just a typical corner convenience store. But when Niles saw his business start to slip after Stop & Shop opened in Brigham Circle about two years later, he knew he needed to adapt.
“I used to sit over there and watch the guy next-door always packing a crowd,” Niles recalled of a neighboring sub and pizza shop. “I said, ‘I can do that, too – that [doesn’t] seem to be that hard.’”
With that, Niles went back to school to improve his culinary skills, got the necessary certifications, and built a kitchen in his store. He started without a menu, using his mainly college-aged customers as taste-testers and creative assistants. Customers would tell him what they liked, didn’t like and everything in between, and his menu of eclectically named sandwiches, including the “Deathwich,” “Richard Prior” and “The Orgasm,” grew organically from there.
“The driving force of this business is...the college students that come through that door – they’re part of this legacy. They’re who really made this beautiful,” said Niles, who lives in Cambridge. “I say, ‘this is your store. I’m only the caretaker.’”
Niles guarantees that his products are fresh and makes everything to order. There are now more than 20 signature subs on his menu, most of which consist of a combination of meats, enhanced by Al’s signature blend of West Indies spices and sauces, on a bed of lettuce and tomato, served on locally-made French bread. The “Richard Prior,” for example, is a combination of roast beef, turkey, Swiss cheese, mayo and ranch dressing; “Heaven is Here” consists of buffalo chicken, roast beef, turkey, bacon, mozzarella, green peppers, pickles, onions, herbs and spices and vinaigrette.
As a way to show gratitude for his customers who helped him to build the menu, Niles disregards conventional customer-merchant practices, such as formal waiting lines, hidden kitchens and “employees-only” areas. He cooks and builds his subs on an open grill in front of his customers and invites anyone to walk behind the counter to grab a drink or just watch him do his thing.
And yes, he’s always been this chill.
“Any where he goes, he would fit in. His personality would fit in because he’s just a relaxed guy,” said Niles’ younger brother, Ben, who often hangs out in the store and helps with upkeep. “He’s just cool. He goes with the flow of anything.”
Many people say Niles’ personality is one of the main reasons he’s been so successful. Niles says he’s a big kid at heart, so he can talk the college-kid lingo.
“He always makes good conversation. He has a pretty honest opinion. He’s not shy to tell you what he feels like or why he disagrees,” said Wentworth Institute of Technology senior and Mission Hill resident Brad Simonsen, as he waited for his sub. “He’s developed himself as a character...He stands out.”
That power of personality is a plus in this restaurant-packed neighborhood, especially when you consider the bareness of Niles’ shop and its dusty convenience-store inventory. A graffiti’d wall is the only shred of decoration in the place. But what his convenience store lacks in aesthetics, Niles makes up for with a comfortable, playful environment. On any given day, you can hear him yelling, “Somebody have an Orgasm?” even if he knows who ordered the sub.
“This is not work,” he said. “During the day, this is the stage, and I’m just doing my thing. I’m just having fun.”
Part of Niles’ performance includes what he calls a creative art form in the edible sense: the “hush.” It’s exactly what it sounds like: a secret. And no two hushes are the same.
“A hush comes in when you don’t know what you really want, and you say, ‘Al, make me something,’ and then I would create something not on the board,” he explained. “It will be edible, flavorful, enjoyable.”
Niles guarantees everything he makes: “If you bite it and don’t like it, you get your money back or we make it again,” he said.
Nine years running, and no one has ever asked for a refund.
Not that Niles never fields complaints. Customers sometimes have to wait up to an hour for their subs, depending on the crowd. Niles concedes he has a hard time sticking to a schedule; he says the biggest challenge of running his store is getting there on time...at 11 a.m.
“I have a tardiness problem like you wouldn’t believe. You can’t plan nothing around me,” he said. “That’s keeping it real. No need trying to sugarcoat it, because when you ask them on the street, they’ll tell you.”
If it weren’t sandwiches, Niles said he would have started another business by now. He believes strongly in putting in your time and earning your keep. Travel Channel attention aside, he is committed to continuing to grow.
“I really can’t see the sense as such a beautiful thing as life, sitting around doing nothing with it at all. Something about it is just wrong,” he said. “The reward comes back when you sit and reflect on whoever you touched that day.”
This article was reported and written under the supervision of Northeastern University journalism instructor Lisa Chedekel, as part of a collaboration with The Boston Globe.
The five Democratic gubernatorial campaigns have crossed paths in recent weeks at Doyle’s Cafe, talking policy as the Jamaica Plain Progressives sipped beers and pitched questions.
Attorney General Martha Coakley, Treasurer Steven Grossman, health executive Joe Avellone, former homeland security official Juliette Kayyem and former Medicare and Medicaid chief Don Berwick have all faced questions from members of the liberal group gathered in a backroom of the storied restaurant.
While Coakley and Grossman have the best name recognition and Coakley has led in polls, it was the three lesser known candidates who took turns speaking and answering questions last Wednesday.
“The insurance system has to deliver value or else it will move toward single-payer,” said Avellone, who told the group he is “not religious about single-payer,” a system where generally one government-run entity would handle all health insurance, and said the focus should be on how medical care is delivered.
Avellone, a former Wellesley selectman who has said more spending on education can be accomplished by increasing efficiency in the health care system, also said he is “interested” in a tax on carbon emissions as long as it is “revenue neutral.”
Kayyem, who served in homeland security posts for Patrick and President Barack Obama, said “the merits are great” regarding a single-payer health system, but such a change would not be a focus if she won the Corner Office.
“I’ve got limited time and good will, if any, with Beacon Hill. So where would I expend my energies? I’m going to be honest with you, it probably would not be on pushing for single-payer,” said Kayyem, who said she did not believe such a measure would pass the Legislature, and said she would focus on preparing the state for global warming’s effects and removing burdens for veterans seeking work and health care.
“I know a lot of Democrats don’t talk about it, but we owe our veterans a lot,” said Kayyem.
Berwick, who was Obama’s choice to run Medicare and Medicaid, but did not receive congressional approval to hold the position permanently, indicated more willingness to move toward single-payer, a path taken by Vermont.
“We have built a complicated system that is just eating us,” said Berwick, a pediatrician, who said he hopes the health care reforms work, but if not “one of the biggest changes we might make is single-payer.”
State lawmakers overhauled the health care system in 2006, requiring individuals to purchase coverage while helping to enroll more low-income individuals in subsidized care, and last year enacted a series of measures designed to slow the rising cost of health care.
Berwick also fielded a question on medical marijuana, which was legalized by voters in 2012, and the legalization of marijuana for non-medical purposes, which activists hope to place on the 2016 ballot.
Berwick said marijuana can be “the only really effective treatment” in some cases and the state shouldn’t “deny people on some theoretic grounds” access to a drug that could ease their symptoms, and even indicated openness to supporting legalization of marijuana.
“I’d want to take a close look at it,” said Berwick, who also said he had seen the results of people who “have been really victims, of really severe overuse of marijuana.”
Earlier this year, Patrick unsuccessfully pushed for $1.9 billion in new tax money by raising the income tax, increasing the income tax deductibles, eliminating numerous exemptions, increasing corporate taxes and lowering the sales tax. The governor said his plan would have led to a more progressive form of taxation and provided needed funding for education and transportation investments.
“I basically supported the direction of this governor’s proposal,” said Berwick, who steered his answer toward health care, where he said there is 30 to 35 percent “waste,” and said “as governor I would focus on that.”
Avellone said he opposed the governor’s plan, but would favor a “straightforward” approach toward making the tax system more progressive, by changing the state constitution to allow for graduated rates. Avellone also said he favored increasing the gas tax, which the Legislature did this year by 3 cents a gallon, and opposed the computer services tax, which the Legislature passed and then swiftly repealed.
“You need a governor and a Democratic governor, even if it’s not me, who’s going to be asking for a billion well aware that you’re going to get half a billion, because that half-a-billion investment in infrastructure is really, really good for the state,” said Kayyem who said she was largely in favor of the governor’s proposal and pleased with what the Legislature passed.
Kayyem was receptive to a proposal to divest the state’s pension fund from fossil fuel companies, saying, “What I’ve seen is we can do it without being disruptive to the pension fund.”
“As divesting in fossil fuels as a symbolic act, I’m not sure it helps us,” said Avellone, who said he favors “creative” approaches, such as using the pension fund to invest in infrastructure.
Officials of the group said they would gauge interest among members before deciding whether to endorse a candidate, and said they were seeking liberal policy commitments and Berwick, followed by Kayyem, seemed to best meet that test.
“I may not be the most progressive candidate, but I’m the one who is going to get things done,” Avellone told the crowd.
Berwick scored a big cheer, noting that the controversial right wing personality Glenn Beck called him the “second most dangerous man in America.”
Kayyem, who oversaw the National Guard as an undersecretary to Patrick, also earned some laughs describing how she was at the top of the chain of command, which included a former Republican U.S. senator.
“I like to say, Scott Brown did report to me. Just saying,” Kayyem said.
On the Republican side, Charlie Baker enjoyed the first part of the fall with the field to himself, and picked up a challenge from Shrewsbury manufacturer Mark Fisher more recently.