Melrose Tension Has Familiar Stench To It
Notebook: Melrose is dealing with new crises, but one still lingers. Saturday was the year anniversary of the Brazil Street sewage disaster.
By Mike Carraggi, Patch StaffVerified Patch Staff Badge
Jun 21, 2020 11:23 pm ET
Updated Jun 22, 2020 12:28 pm ET
Saturday was the one-year anniversary of the Brazil Street sewage disaster.
Saturday was the one-year anniversary of the Brazil Street sewage disaster. (Mike Carraggi/Patch)
MELROSE, MA — It's the weekend. So let's shake the reporter's notebook and see what comes out.
A somber anniversary
Direct criticisms from the City Council to the mayor. Bickering councilors tossing accusations at one another. Irate residents demanding accountability from those they elected.
It's not hard to find some comparisons between the current discussion on re-routing police funding for bias training and the 2019 Brazil Street catastrophe.
Substantively, of course, the two couldn't be more different. But seeing such a bitterly divided City Hall drums up memories from the infamous sewage spew, of which Saturday marked the one-year anniversary.
What began as unimaginable foulness exploding into four homes right off Washington Street turned into a public relations nightmare Melrose was never able to wake from. The city came under a firestorm of criticism for being reactive, having half-measured, tone-deaf responses and poor communication.
Much like now, it was a perfect storm of circumstances and timing. But the friction among and ire toward city officials was in many ways worse.
Public opinion during Brazil Street appeared to be uniformly against the city — unlike the divisiveness of today — and it never got better during the lengthy, messy fallout. Television news cameras and apoplectic residents filled the City Hall on more than one occasion.
Now, most of the discourse is digital and contained within city limits.
Mayor Paul Brodeur, who like other mayoral candidates was critical of the way the previous administration responded to the situation, is contending with a pandemic and national reckoning on race and police brutality. But the impact of last year's crisis still lingers.
Of the four homes affected, only two house the same occupants it did the morning of June 20, 2019, Brazil Street resident and Ward 5 Councilor Shawn MacMaster said when asked by Patch. One of the homes remains empty. A monumental investment in the city's ancient sewage infrastructure is as vital as ever.
The city has moved on to new crises. But there is still some cleaning up to do on Brazil Street.
City Councilors are only a quarter of the way through their terms, but already gaps in communication, misunderstandings and outright disagreements have caused fissures among even those friendly with each other — not to mention between many of themselves and the mayor.
While it has been stunning to see how direct some of the barbs have been, the guess here is cooler heads will eventually prevail and working relationships be mended. Or at least, they better.
Brodeur didn't leave Beacon Hill for one term as mayor, and there's not going to be another nine new councilors after the next election. The legislative and executive branches of the city government have to work together to get things done over the long term.
Brodeur is not going to take things personally. If and when a compromise on this free cash situation is found, both sides will move on to the next thing. That's how this works.
The more lasting impact may be on reputations, which isn't lost on anyone involved. In a relatively small community, being branded anti-cop or racist is especially painful. The binary reaction may be unfair, but it's the world we live in right now.
The sticking point won't be the bias training funding; It'll be the police weapons upgrade. Which side will give in on that? There are still some bridges to cross.
Our prediction is both sides, still smarting over the reaction from a messy showing last week, extend some olive branches before the next Council meeting ends.
What we have here is: A failure to communicate?
A developing criticism toward Brodeur's administration is poor communication.
Brodeur has been far more digitally savvy than his predecessors with frequent Twitter updates, text messages and an almost nightly YouTube update (though don't sleep on Mayor Gail Infurna's popular blog updates!) But there's a difference between communicating your message and engaging in communication.
Patch has heard from a good many people — city officials (including Brodeur's supporters,) business owners, residents — who over the course of months have expressed frustration at the administration's response time, if a response comes at all.
Brodeur campaigned on communication and transparency. In a way, he's delivered. But while the administration is proficient issuing press releases and Facebook announcements, it opens itself to unnecessary criticism by providing last-second, late or no information.
This and that
Related to all the above: It's going to be interesting to see how an effort on getting more information about the city's Emergency Fund plays out. The order is being put forth by Councilors Shawn MacMaster and Jeff McNaught, who offered some of the most biting criticism of the administration last week. Part of the order asks for details on spending for the three months after the coronavirus really took hold on the city. One related story from this week is the city putting in for nearly a half-million dollars in COVID-19 spending reimbursements ... Cripes, can someone start a GoFundMe for a digital recorder for these city meetings? Two times in a month important deliberations were cut short — and yes, it's the right decision, but still a bit silly to consider ... It's still impressive to think the city handed out five masks to every household in Melrose. Health Director Ruth Clay, who took a beating during the aforementioned Brazil Street fiasco, should get credit for being at the forefront of the coronavirus response for Melrose and Wakefield ... It's heartening to finally see progress at the old Coffee, Tea & Me building and the soon-to-be Cafe Nero. But a little farther down the street, the Caruso's situation remains a downright embarrassment for Melrose and everyone involved with that building. The graffiti on it now isn't exactly the local street art many were hoping for ... Sad to see Gabriella's go — they may have sneakily had the best grab-and-go slices in town — but wait until you try Tenóch ... Nom-nom's of the week: The peach cobbler from Buckalew's, graham central station ice cream from Kennedy's, fried clam bellies from Liberty Bell and more muffins from Jitters. (Do we need to mention our daily Dunkin'?) And can we sneak in the maple dijon chicken wrap from Cibo, just over the line in Wakefield?
The police department has had zero civil rights violations, the school department has had two I believe that were settled by the city, it actually got so bad at some point that the city hired an attorney that dealt only with school department litigation at probably a $100,000+ salary. Now we are talking about defunding the department with zero civil rights violations after giving the department that actually has civil rights violations a five million dollar over ride package (racist much melrose?) Would you like to explain this Mr. Mayor?
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Russia 599,705 4.11 8,359
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Peru 254,936 7.73 8,045
Chile 246,963 12.92 4,502
Spain 246,504 5.27 28,324
Italy 238,720 3.95 34,657
Iran 207,525 2.47 9,742
Germany 190,862 2.28 8,895
Turkey 188,897 2.24 4,974
Pakistan 185,034 0.84 3,695
Mexico 175,202 1.36 20,781
Saudi Arabia 161,005 4.62 1,307
France 154,892 2.37 29,591
Bangladesh 115,786 0.7 1,502
South Africa 101,590 1.71 1,991
Canada 101,337 2.68 8,430
Qatar 88,403 30.68 99
People's Republic of China 85,070 0.06 4,646
Colombia 68,652 1.35 2,237
Belgium 60,550 5.22 9,696
Belarus 59,023 6.25 351
Egypt 56,809 0.56 2,278
Sweden 56,043 5.55 5,053
Ecuador 50,640 2.87 4,223
Netherlands 49,658 2.9 6,090
Indonesia 46,845 0.17 2,500
United Arab Emirates 45,303 4.58 303
Argentina 42,785 0.95 1,016
Singapore 42,313 7.23 26
Kuwait 40,291 9.43 330
Portugal 39,392 3.86 1,534
Ukraine 38,074 0.87 1,035
Iraq 32,676 0.81 1,167
Poland 32,227 0.85 1,359
Switzerland 31,217 3.61 1,680
Oman 31,076 6.09 137
Philippines 30,682 0.28 1,177
Afghanistan 29,481 0.76 618
Dominican Republic 27,370 2.52 669
Panama 26,030 6.03 501
Ireland 25,383 5.14 1,717
Bolivia 24,388 2.09 773
Romania 24,291 1.26 1,523
Bahrain 22,407 13.17 65
Armenia 21,006 7.09 372
Nigeria 20,919 0.1 525
Israel 20,813 2.4 306
Kazakhstan 18,231 0.97 127
Japan 17,968 0.14 955
Austria 17,320 1.92 690
Moldova 14,363 3.56 484
Ghana 14,154 0.46 85
Azerbaijan 13,207 1.3 161
Guatemala 13,145 0.73 531
Serbia 12,990 1.49 262
Honduras 12,825 1.29 363
Denmark 12,527 2.16 602
South Korea 12,484 0.24 281
Algeria 11,920 0.27 852
Cameroon 11,892 0.45 303
Czech Republic 10,561 0.99 336
Morocco 10,172 0.28 214
Nepal 9,561 0.33 23
Norway 8,745 1.61 248
Sudan 8,698 0.2 533
Malaysia 8,587 0.27 121
Ivory Coast 7,677 0.29 56
Australia 7,474 0.29 102
Finland 7,144 1.29 327
Democratic Republic of the Congo 7,011 0.08 171
Puerto Rico 6,564 2.29 149
Uzbekistan 6,500 0.19 19
Senegal 5,970 0.36 86
Tajikistan 5,513 0.58 52
Haiti 5,211 0.46 88
North Macedonia 5,196 2.49 247
Guinea 4,998 0.38 27
El Salvador 4,808 0.74 107
Kenya 4,797 0.09 125
Gabon 4,739 2.13 39
Ethiopia 4,663 0.04 75
Djibouti 4,599 4.65 48
Luxembourg 4,121 6.58 110
Hungary 4,107 0.43 573
Bulgaria 3,984 0.57 207
Venezuela 3,918 0.14 33
Bosnia and Herzegovina 3,524 1.07 170
Kyrgyzstan 3,519 0.54 41
Greece 3,287 0.32 190
Thailand 3,156 0.05 58
Mauritania 2,984 0.64 111
Central African Republic 2,963 0.61 30
Somalia 2,812 0.18 90
French Guiana 2,458 8.23 8
Mayotte 2,434 8.92 32
Croatia 2,317 0.56 107
Cuba 2,315 0.2 85
Maldives 2,217 4.1 8
Costa Rica 2,213 0.43 12
Albania 2,047 0.71 45
Nicaragua 2,014 0.3 64
Estonia 1,981 1.49 69
Mali 1,961 0.1 111
Sri Lanka 1,951 0.09 11
South Sudan 1,892 0.17 34
Iceland 1,823 5.34 10
Lithuania 1,801 0.66 76
Madagascar 1,640 0.06 15
Lebanon 1,603 0.23 32
Slovakia 1,588 0.29 28
Guinea-Bissau 1,556 0.79 19
Slovenia 1,521 0.73 109
Zambia 1,430 0.08 11
Paraguay 1,392 0.2 13
Sierra Leone 1,340 0.17 55
New Zealand 1,165 0.24 22
Tunisia 1,159 0.1 50
Latvia 1,111 0.59 30
Niger 1,046 0.04 67
Equatorial Guinea 1,043 0.74 12
Jordan 1,042 0.1 9
Cyprus 988 0.82 19
Yemen 971 0.03 258
Cape Verde 944 1.7 8
Georgia 911 0.23 14
Burkina Faso 903 0.04 53
Uruguay 876 0.25 25
Chad 858 0.05 74
Andorra 855 11.07 52
Uganda 823 0.02 --*
Benin 807 0.07 13
Rwanda 787 0.06 2
Republic of the Congo 779 0.14 25
Malawi 745 0.04 11
Mozambique 737 0.02 5
San Marino 713 21.01 42
Malta 665 1.51 9
Jamaica 659 0.22 10
Liberia 650 0.13 34
Swaziland 643 0.55 6
Libya 571 0.08 10
Togo 569 0.07 13
Zimbabwe 512 0.03 6
Tanzania 509 0.01 21
Réunion 507 0.57 1
São Tomé and Príncipe 398 1.82 10
Montenegro 375 0.6 9
Vietnam 349 0 --*
Mauritius 340 0.27 10
Isle of Man 336 3.95 24
Jersey 318 1.83 31
Suriname 318 0.54 8
Myanmar 291 0.01 6
Guernsey 252 1.45 13
Comoros 247 0.28 5
Martinique 236 0.63 14
Syria 219 0.01 7
Guam 216 1.28 5
Mongolia 213 0.06 --*
Cayman Islands 195 2.97 1
Faroe Islands 187 3.83 --*
Guyana 184 0.23 12
Angola 183 0.01 9
Gibraltar 176 5.22 --*
Guadeloupe 174 0.43 14
Bermuda 146 2.34 9
Burundi 144 0.01 1
Eritrea 143 0.04 --*
Brunei 141 0.32 3
Cambodia 129 0.01 --*
Trinidad and Tobago 123 0.09 8
The Bahamas 104 0.26 11
Aruba 101 0.95 3
Monaco 99 2.52 1
Barbados 97 0.34 7
Botswana 89 0.04 1
Liechtenstein 83 2.18 1
Sint Maarten 77 1.8 15
United States Virgin Islands 76 0.73 6
Bhutan 69 0.09 --*
Namibia 63 0.02 --*
French Polynesia 60 0.21 --*
Saint Martin 42 1.09 3
The Gambia 41 0.02 2
Northern Mariana Islands 30 0.52 2
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 29 0.26 --*
Antigua and Barbuda 26 0.27 3
East Timor 24 0.02 --*
Grenada 23 0.2 --*
Curaçao 23 0.14 1
Belize 22 0.06 2
New Caledonia 21 0.07 --*
Saint Lucia 19 0.1 --*
Laos 19 0 --*
Dominica 18 0.25 --*
Fiji 18 0.02 --*
Saint Kitts and Nevis 15 0.28 --*
Turks and Caicos Islands 14 0.36 1
Greenland 13 0.23 --*
Falkland Islands 13 3.73 --*
Lesotho 12 0.01 --*
Seychelles 11 0.11 --*
Montserrat 11 2.2 1
Papua New Guinea 9 0 --*
British Virgin Islands 8 0.26 1
Bonaire 7 0.27 --*
Saint-Barthélemy 6 0.61 --*
Anguilla 3 0.2 --*
Saint Pierre and Miquelon 1 0.17 --*
Source: World Health Organization
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Update at 6:02 p.m. ET
"Today, Texas will report an all-time high in the number of cases of people testing positive" for the coronavirus, Gov. Greg Abbott said Tuesday, adding that for the first time, his state would surpass 5,000 new cases in a single day.
Hours later, the Texas Department of State Health Services reported 5,489 new cases.
Abbott initially revealed the daunting new record during an interview with TV station KBTX in which he urged people to take the deadly disease seriously, telling them to wear a mask in public, stay home when possible and take other precautions.
"The hospitalization rate is at an all-time high," he said. "The coronavirus is serious. It's spreading in Brazos County, across the entire state of Texas."
Texas is seeing a sharp rise in cases; it was just days ago that the state crossed the 4,000-case mark for the first time in its daily tally.
New cases have hit the Houston area so hard that the Texas Children's Hospital is now admitting adult patients. The move comes despite the fact that Houston is home to the massive Texas Medical Center — deemed the largest medical center in the world.
"Texas Children's is committed to providing additional capacity through ICU and acute care beds across our hospital campuses to take on both pediatric and adult patients," the hospital said in a statement to NPR.
The adult patients include people have COVID-19 and other cases. Those diagnosed with the coronavirus are being cared for in an expanded special isolation unit, according to Texas Children's Hospital.
Texas has steadily boosted its capacity to test for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, but experts said that's not enough to explain the flood of new cases.
"Probably the greater factor that's pushing our numbers up is that the positivity rate is now gone from around 3% to around 9% — that's a threefold increase," said Dr. David Persse, public health authority for the Houston Health Department, according to Houston Public Media.
Texas is facing "a steep terrifying rise" in COVID-19 hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions at the Texas Medical Center, said Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, in a tweet about the current situation.
"We now face a public health crisis," Hotez added.
The dramatic new numbers do not represent a second wave in Texas, which was among the first states to start the reopening process. The state health department's graph of daily new cases shows a steady rise since the COVID-19 pandemic began to take hold in March. The curve began to arc even higher earlier this month, continuing with Tuesday's spike.
The number of new coronavirus cases has risen briskly in Texas during June, sharpening an overall rise since cases crossed the 1,000-patient mark in March. The state now has 120,370 cases.
Texas Department of State Health Services/Screenshot by NPR
Abbott has urged people to observe social and physical restrictions to curb the coronavirus. He recently called the idea of shutting down the Texas economy again "the last option" to fight COVID-19. But on Tuesday, he also said agencies will clamp down on bars that have allowed overcrowding since restrictions began to lift.
And the governor hinted at the possibility of new limits, referring to "additional announcements that may be coming later today" or sometime this week.
"COVID-19 is now spreading at an unacceptable rate in the state of Texas, and it must be corralled," Abbott said Monday.
Calling on people to follow safety rules about washing their hands, social distancing and wearing face coverings, he added, "Texans have shown that we don't have to choose between jobs and health — we can have both. We can protect lives while also restoring livelihoods."
Texas now has 120,370 cases, trailing New York, California, New Jersey and Illinois.
2,000 Massachusetts Teachers Get Layoff Notices: Union
Delays in the state and federal funding process mean school districts can't guarantee they'll have money for the positions this fall.
By Dave Copeland, Patch StaffVerified Patch Staff Badge
Jun 24, 2020 12:40 pm ET
Updated Jun 24, 2020 3:25 pm ET
Delays and anticipated cuts in state and federal education funding because of the coronavirus crisis have upended how local school districts prepare their budgets this year.
Delays and anticipated cuts in state and federal education funding because of the coronavirus crisis have upended how local school districts prepare their budgets this year. (Dave Copeland/Patch)
MASSACHUSETTS — The union that represents public school teachers in Massachusetts says more than 2,030 of its members have received layoff notices as school districts struggle to cobble together budgets for the 2020-21 school year.
The Massachusetts Teachers Association says 10 school districts sent layoff notices to 10 or more teachers and education support professionals by the June 15 deadline to notify teachers their contracts are not being renewed. Another 25 districts have sent notices to nine or fewer MTA members.
Districts often recall teachers who receive the so-called pink slips by the start of the school year. But delays and anticipated cuts in state and federal education funding because of the coronavirus crisis have upended how local school districts prepare their budgets this year. As local districts wait for the state budget to be finalized, school committees have had to prepare budgets with their best guess at how deep the cuts in state and federal aid will be.
The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has not released reopening guidelines for the fall. But preliminary guidance suggests schools will reopen with significantly reduced class sizes and with added expenses to make sure classrooms have personal protective equipment and extra cleaning supplies.
"We are going to need more educators, not fewer, to reopen safely in the fall," said MTA President Merrie Najimy. "The state must live up to its constitutional obligation to provide the funding needed for schools to operate effectively and safely during the COVID-19 pandemic."
The union's announcement came on the same day that The Boston Globe and Suffolk University released a poll showing parents were split on whether schools could safely reopen in the fall. The poll showed that 60 percent of Black and Latino parents and 44 percent of white parents felt Massachusetts schools could not reopen "in a way that keeps most kids and adults safe from the coronavirus."
Finding funding to recall teachers "is part of dismantling a system of institutionalized racism wherein students of color attend schools with significantly less funding," Najimy said. "While the education and well-being of all students have been disrupted, our students of color have been harmed the most."
All Of Melrose Might Be Voting At Just 1 Location
Voting for all seven wards would be consolidated to help keep people safe from the coronavirus pandemic.
By Mike Carraggi, Patch StaffVerified Patch Staff Badge
Jun 23, 2020 2:20 am ET
Updated Jun 23, 2020 2:22 am ET
MELROSE, MA — City officials want to consolidate all voting for this year's two elections to one location to keep people healthy during what could be a fall wave of COVID-19.
The City Council on Wednesday night will hear a request by the Board of Registrars of Voters and the City Clerk's office to approve the Melrose Veterans Memorial Middle School gymnasium as the only polling place in the city. The temporary approval would be for the Sept. 1 state primary and the Nov. 3 general election.
"These changes are being made in an effort to support the health and safety of residents, voters, and elections staff during the Covid-19 pandemic," City Clerk Amy Kamosa said in a letter to Mayor Paul Brodeur.
Related: Melrose Elections Will Look Much Different This Year
All seven of the city's wards would vote at the gym, which was picked for its ample parking and space for social distancing. It also has a separate entrance from the rest of the school and is able to be closed off to the rest of the building.
The city has already seen some poll workers withdraw from the fall elections, citing health concerns. Having one location would lessen the need for as many poll workers.
More than 10,000 ballots were cast during last fall's citywide elections.
State lawmakers are working on bills that would allow for every registered voter to participate in expanded early voting or mail in their ballots, in addition to showing up to the polls in person.
Even though the pandemic appears to be on the downswing in Massachusetts, many experts are expecting a second wave in the fall; Gov. Charlie Baker said Friday the state is preparing as if there will be.
By Mike Carraggi, Patch StaffVerified Patch Staff Badge
Jun 25, 2020 1:30 am ET
Updated Jun 25, 2020 2:23 am ET
Mayor Paul Brodeur committed long-term investments in addressing diversity, equity and inclusion. Above, a local resident proclaims Black Lives Matter.
Mayor Paul Brodeur committed long-term investments in addressing diversity, equity and inclusion. Above, a local resident proclaims Black Lives Matter. (Mike Carraggi/Patch)
MELROSE, MA — Neither implicit bias training nor a police weapons upgrade is in the city's immediate future, but they don't appear to be far off, either.
City officials agreed Wednesday night to fund an external needs assessment of racial equity in Melrose and defer the weapons upgrade to the fall as part of a compromise for what had become a harshly divisive issue.
Mayor Paul Brodeur also committed long-term investments in setting aside at least $100,000 to implement what the needs assessment suggests — including potentially bias training — and, eventually, dedicating annual funds for diversity, equity and inclusion.
"I know that we are at the beginning of a long process that must be sustained over time," Brodeur told the Council. "And I think that this plan does that."
The bias training will be funded by a free cash allocation of $40,000, with $26,000 coming from the police allocation and $14,000 coming from the informational technology allocation.
Brodeur committed to taking $26,000 from the city's next round of free cash once it's certified to fund the weapons upgrade. The free cash is expected to be certified by Nov. 1.
That free cash will also be used to implement what the needs assessment suggests. Brodeur said he will propose at least $100,000.
Brodeur also said the FY22 budget will see the beginning of an annual commitment to funding a diversity, equity and inclusion line item "to assist in meeting the challenges and goals identified through the external needs assessment and any related actions including, but not limited to, training, diversity in recruiting, hiring and retention practices, and community engagement."
The proposals to take the funding from police and IT and fund the need assessment were approved unanimously by the Council, who had no discussion on the matter.
In fact, the meeting was strikingly cordial, particularly after back-to-back contentious meetings that drew public criticism. President Jen Grigoraitis set the tone from the beginning, calling on her colleagues to be collegial, respectful and professional.
Both the short- and long-term commitments to diversity, inclusion and equity stem from the reaction to Brodeur's original request nearly two weeks ago to take the $26,000 from the police weapons and re-direct them to implicit bias training. The request, which came in the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd and national unrest over racial inequality and police brutality, sparked a heated conversation in Melrose.
Some councilors questioned why the bias training funding had to come at the expense of new police guns; Chief Mike Lyle said the department's .40 calibers are 14 years old and new 9mms would be more accurate and cost-efficient.
Even more councilors expressed frustration at Brodeur communicating the request to them the afternoon they were set to meet, giving them what they said was a complicated situation on a moment's notice.
In the end, the two sides found common ground, avoiding a potentially sticky stalemate over a larger police funding allocation and bias training.
The Council then proceeded to rip through a number of items, including approving the proposed FY21 budget.
A handful of hands-free phone options for Massachusetts drivers
Whether you're looking for a hands-free accessory, adapter, or something else, these five options will help you comply with the new Massachusetts ban.
Hands-free controls on a a Subaru Outback. Hands-free controls on a a Subaru Outback. –George Kennedy
February 24, 2020
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Massachusetts now has a hands-free driving law in effect.
The ban on handheld phone use means drivers could be fined at least $100 if they are caught breaking the law. It also closes a so-called “loophole” in the state’s 2010 distracted driving law that made it virtually “impossible” for police to enforce the ban on texting while driving, according to Rep. Bill Strauss.
Most new vehicles — and many newer used ones — already have the tools for hands-free phone use, but you have to know where to look. And if your car is on the older side, there are plenty of affordable aftermarket accessories that will ensure you are in compliance.
Here are a handful of options and accessories to help you keep your hands off your phone while driving.
Bluetooth has been available in vehicles for about a decade, and it’s among the most commonly available hands-free features on this list. After your phone is paired via Bluetooth, you can make and receive calls, and most set-ups will even allow you to stream music from your phone.
To set it up, look for a phone icon, either on the steering wheel or among the dash buttons. Most systems will prompt an ID that appears both on the phone and the car’s radio or instrument panel display. Once you pair your device, it will automatically reconnect every time you get into your vehicle.
For iPhone users, some later model cars even have Siri EyesFree, which allows you to control Siri by holding down the voice control or phone button for an extra second. With Siri EyesFree, you can compose, send, and receive text messages, all using voice control.
2. Aftermarket Bluetooth devices:
There are a number of devices on the market that can turn any car into a Bluetooth-enabled vehicle. Some emit a radio frequency that you can tune into from your car’s stereo.
Others are as simple as a small Bluetooth speakerphone that mounts onto a visor. The visor-mounted device has a “phone” button that allows you to answer incoming calls and initiate outgoing ones.
Apple CarPlay, as found in the Kia Forte. —George Kennedy
3. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto:
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto provide most of your phone’s functionality from your vehicle’s infotainment system. These systems project selected apps onto a touchscreen interface that has the look and feel of your phone, text messages, Google Maps, Apple Maps, Waze, podcasts and radio apps, and more.
The tech giants have worked for years to seamlessly integrate their platforms with a range of automakers. Apple and Android provide comprehensive lists of vehicles that support this technology.
Connecting with Android Auto requires plugging the phone into a USB port. Nearly all cars with CarPlay require to connect via a USB port, though some select late-model Audi, BMW, Mini, and Mercedes-Benz models provide wireless CarPlay.
4. Phone cradle:
If your car doesn’t have Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, or Android Auto, the simplest and most affordable route is to get a phone cradle.
These cradles often plug right into a climate control vent or mount to the dashboard or windshield via a suction cup or another adhesive. Per the new law, the phone must be in hands-free driving mode. Luckily, modern mobile devices have a “hands-free” mode that allows you to control, say, an iPhone by using Siri.
5. Aftermarket stereo head units:
If your car is old enough that it doesn’t have Bluetooth, it’s likely also old enough that its radio, CD, or other head unit could be swapped out with a newer one with built-in Bluetooth functionality.
Single-din head units simply have a microphone built in, while others provide a small wired mic that you can feed under your dash and place closer to the driver. Many of these units also have USB ports, so you can charge your phone.
Double-din head units have more features but take up more real estate on your dash. They have their own touchscreens to answer calls, and some even come equipped with Apple CarPlay and/or Android Auto.
MELROSE, MA — It's the weekend. So let's shake the reporter's notebook and see what comes out.
It's easy to be invested when issues have a lot of friction — everyone has an opinion about the problems. But people rarely get as involved in the solution.
So because it's important to understand what the compromise on the issue involving bias training and guns consists of, here it is again.
(Read a recap of Wednesday's meeting.)
Melrose is taking $26,000 that was once earmarked for upgrading police guns and $14,000 that was once headed to IT to fund an external needs assessment of racial equity across the city. This is not implicit bias training, though it stands to reason that the assessment could lead to that.
The police are likely still getting their gun upgrades, just not as soon as anticipated. Mayor Paul Brodeur committed to taking $26,000 from the next round free cash (expected to be certified by November) to fund the upgrades.
Brodeur also committed to taking at least $100,000 from the next round of free cash to help implement whatever suggestions come of the external needs assessment.
Lastly, Brodeur said the FY22 budget (which would go into effect July 1, 2021) will begin what would be an annual commitment to funding a diversity, equity and inclusion line item. That would go "to assist in meeting the challenges and goals identified through the external needs assessment and any related actions including, but not limited to, training, diversity in recruiting, hiring and retention practices, and community engagement," according to a memo from Brodeur.
So the guns and bias training (or a reasonable facsimile) are likely on deck, and there will be dedicated funding for equity and inclusivity moving forward. It wasn't everyone's perfect outcome — and in some respects it's just the start — but this is what meeting in the middle looks like.
If and when Brodeur makes the aforementioned proposals, they will still need to pass the Council. Obviously much of this was agreed upon behind the scenes (more on that in a minute) and there is no reason to think this won't all happen. But if we've learned anything over the last month, it's that public opinion and external circumstances are powerful, and nothing is done until it's done.
On the agreement between the Council and the mayor: We've heard questions about how an issue that was pitting people against each other in previous meetings was so quickly resolved without any public discussion. Surely an Open Meeting Law must have been violated, some have said.
Multiple sources Patch spoke with said that was not the case. There is a limit to the number of councilors who can speak on Council matters outside official meetings, but that number was not exceeded.
Brodeur found common ground with some of the opposing councilors leading up to Wednesday's meeting, though it wasn't immediate. Multiple sources told Patch that Councilor Mark Garipay brokered an important meeting between Brodeur and some councilors.
As predicted in this space last weekend, the issue was solved without any more public spats.
It could be worse
The acrimonious Council meetings the past few weeks have rightfully garnered some local attention, but we're not sure any unforgivable lines were crossed. Juxtapose the frustrations that boiled over in Melrose with the naked falsehoods and disrespect just down the road in Everett.
Friday's disheartening Boston Globe story about what the first black woman on the City Council has endured from her colleagues makes Melrose spats look like patty-cake. One councilor accused the woman, Gerly Adrien, of, "trying to destroy our city since day one." A former councilor called her "a cancer on the City Council."
But our favorite line came from Councilor Wayne Matewsky, who the story points out is white.
"I personally have not experienced racism in Everett."
Right. From one fellow white man who grew up in Everett to another: Take a step back, councilor. Maybe take a step down.
Melrose officials have disagreements, often very healthy ones, and they can make for good theater in a relatively quiet community. But everyone always seems to be working toward a similar goal: A better Melrose.
Not sure the same can be said in Everett.
It's hard to imagine any Melrose officials making such obtuse statements.
There are five meetings or hearings scheduled for Monday night: Finance, Appropriations, Planning Board, City Council and a public hearing for the Planning Board. Among the discussions:
There has been a lot of talk about Melrose potentially consolidating all voting locations to the middle school gym for the September and November elections. Without advocating for or against it, it's important to remember the city is counting on what is expected to be early and mail-in voting this year, which would in theory reduce how many people head to the polls.
Keep an eye on the Melrose Emergency Fund order, in which Councilors Shawn MacMaster and Jeff McNaught will be trying to pry some information from the administration.
A demolition of the home at 272 Tremont St. and the construction of a mixed-use four-story building.
This and that
Brodeur's office was supposed to release the results of a citywide self-examination regarding racial inequality by June 19. Sunday is June 28 ... Expect a whole lot of news from Patch over the summer on what school will look like this fall — both in Melrose and beyond. The state's back-to-school guidelines were released last week and tell districts to plan for a return to class, continuing remote learning and a mixture of the two. Here's a good overview and some personal questions from School Committee Member Jen McAndrew ... Will there still be a Fourth of July without cute kids riding their wagons around the Common? According to the calendar, yes. Take a look at what the city is asking you to do instead ... A great "what if?" is what would have happened if the Council didn't run out of recording space in its June 15 meeting. In many ways, it was the best possible ending to that evening ... Can't say Councilor John Tramontozzi didn't try. Tramontozzi tried to make at times even painfully minor cuts to the budget in every department — even the City Council salaries — throughout the process. His reasoning: There could be thin days ahead due to the pandemic. He was the lone "no" vote on the final budget approval ... You know the scene in 'Elf' where Will Ferrel busts into the coffee shop to congratulate on having the "world's best coffee," as noted by a sign out front? We might do that to Petrone's for their buffalo chicken ... It had been a while since we had an everything bagel toasted with cream cheese from Bruegger's ... Thank heaven for peach biscuits from Buckalew's.Thanks for all the feedback these past few weeks, positive and otherwise. Reach me at email@example.com and follow me on Twitter @PatchCarraggi for the latest Melrose happenings. Subscribe to Melrose Patch for free and like us on Facebook.
ROME (AP) — The world surpassed two sobering coronavirus milestones Sunday -- 500,000 confirmed deaths, 10 million confirmed cases -- and hit another high mark for daily new infections as governments that attempted reopenings continued to backtrack and warn that worse news could be yet to come.
“COVID-19 has taken a very swift and very dangerous turn in Texas over just the past few weeks,” said Gov. Greg Abbott, who allowed businesses to start reopening in early May but on Friday shut down bars and limited restaurant dining amid a spike in cases.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom rolled back reopenings of bars in seven counties, including Los Angeles. He ordered them to close immediately and urged eight other counties to issue local health orders mandating the same.
More Florida beaches will be closing again to avoid further spread of the new coronavirus as officials try to tamp down on large gatherings amid a spike in COVID-19 cases. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said interactions among young people are driving the surge.
“Caution was thrown to the wind and so we are where we are," DeSantis said.
South Africa’s health minister warned that the country’s current surge of cases is expected to rapidly increase in the coming weeks and push hospitals to the limit. Health Minister Zwelini Mkhize said the current rise in infections has come from people who “moved back into the workplace.
New clusters of cases at a Swiss nightclub and in the central English city of Leicester showed that the virus was still circulating widely in Europe, though not with the rapidly growing infection rate seen in parts of the U.S., Latin America and India.
Poland and France, meanwhile, attempted a step toward normalcy as they held elections that had been delayed by the virus.
Wearing mandatory masks, social distancing in lines and carrying their own pens to sign voting registers, French voters cast ballots in a second round of municipal elections. Poles also wore masks and used hand sanitizer, and some in virus-hit areas were told to mail in their ballots.
“I didn’t go and vote the first time around because I am elderly and I got scared,” said Fanny Barouh as she voted in a Paris school.
In Texas, Abbott appeared with Vice President Mike Pence, who cut campaign events from upcoming visits to Florida and Arizona because of rising virus cases in those states.
Pence praised Abbott for both his decision to reopen the state, and to roll back the reopening plans.
“You flattened the curve here in Texas ... but about two weeks ago something changed,” Pence said.
Pence urged people to wear masks when unable to practice social distancing. He and Abbott wore face masks as they entered and left the room, taking them off while speaking to reporters.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, meanwhile, defended the fact that President Donald Trump has rarely worn a mask in public, saying he doesn’t have to follow his own administration’s guidance because as a leader of the free world he’s tested regularly and is in “very different circumstances than the rest of us.”
Addressing spikes in reported coronavirus cases in some states, Azar said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that people “have to take ownership” of their own behaviors by social distancing and wearing masks if possible.
A reported tally Sunday from Johns Hopkins University researchers said the death toll from the coronavirus pandemic had topped 500,00.
About 1 in 4 of those deaths – more than 125,000 – have been reported in the U.S. The country with the next highest death toll is Brazil, with more than 57,000, or about 1 in 9.
The true death toll from the virus, which first emerged in China late last year, is widely believed to be significantly higher. Experts say that especially early on, many victims died of COVID-19 without being tested for it.
To date, more than 10 million confirmed cases have been reported globally. About a quarter of them have been reported in the U.S.
The World Health Organization announced another daily record in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases across the world - topping over 189,000 in a single 24-hour period. The tally eclipses the previous record a week earlier at over 183,000 cases, showing case counts continue to progress worldwide.
Overall the U.S. still has far and away the most total cases. At more than 2,450,000 - roughly twice that of Brazil. The number of actual cases worldwide is much higher.
New York, once the nation’s pandemic epicenter, is now “on the exact opposite end,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in an interview with “Meet the Press.”
The state reported five new virus deaths Saturday, its lowest reported daily death toll since March 15. During the state’s peak pandemic in April, nearly 800 people were dying every day. New York still leads the nation in COVID-19 deaths with nearly 25,000.
In the state of Washington, Gov. Jay Inslee put a hold on plans to move counties to the fourth phase of his reopening plan as cases continue to increase. But in Hawaii, the city of Honolulu announced that campgrounds will reopen for the first time in three months with limited permits to ensure social distancing.
Britain’s government, meanwhile, is considering whether a local lockdown is needed for the central English city of Leicester amid reports about a spike in COVID-19 among its Asian community. It would be Britain’s first local lockdown.
“We have seen flare-ups across the country in recent weeks,” Home Secretary Priti Patel told the BBC on Sunday.
Polish voters were casting ballots, in person and by mail, for a presidential election that was supposed to have taken place in May but was chaotically postponed amid the pandemic. President Andrzej Duda, a 48-year-old conservative, is running against 10 other candidates as he seeks a second five-year term.
Iwona Goge, 79, was encouraged to see so many people voting in Warsaw.
“It’s bad. Poland is terribly divided and people are getting discouraged,” she said.
French voters were choosing mayors and municipal councilors in Paris and 5,000 towns and cities in a second round of municipal elections held under strict hygiene rules.
Italy was honoring its dead later Sunday with an evening Requiem concert in hard-hit Bergamo province. The ceremony in the onetime epicenter of the European outbreak came a day after Italy registered the lowest daily tally of COVID-19 deaths in nearly four months: eight.
European leaders were taking no chances in tamping down new clusters. German authorities renewed a lockdown in a western region of about 500,000 people after about 1,300 slaughterhouse workers tested positive.
Africa’s confirmed cases of COVID-19 continued to climb to a new high of more than 371,000, including 9,484 deaths, according to figures released Sunday by the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
China on Monday reported a further decline in new confirmed cases, with a total of just 12, including seven cases of domestic transmission in Beijing, where nearly 8.3 million people have now undergone testing in recent weeks. No new deaths were reported Monday, leaving the total at 4,634 among 83,512 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Associated Press journalists around the world contributed to this report.
Follow AP news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
As of Sun, Jun 28, 2020, 8:26 PM EDT
1.2%Since last week
2.5%Since last week
*Note: Some locations do not currently provide all data.
73 new cases yesterday
As of Sun, Jun 28, 2020, 8:26 PM EDT
What exactly is it that you're asking the Mayor?
When is the Mayor ever going to give a straight-forward, honest answer to a question?
With no perfect solution in these imperfect times, some City Councilors appeared to be genuinely struggling with the decision.
By Mike Carraggi, Patch StaffVerified Patch Staff Badge
Jun 30, 2020 7:33 am ET
Updated Jun 30, 2020 7:40 am ET
Signs at the usual polling places might be pointing people to the middle school gym this year.
Signs at the usual polling places might be pointing people to the middle school gym this year. (Mike Carraggi/Patch)
MELROSE, MA — Concerns about public health and enfranchisement for the elderly and foreign-language speakers kept the City Council wanting more information before voting on whether the city will consolidate all its voting locations into the middle school gym for the two elections later this year.
Monday night's Appropriations Committee meeting resulted in a 6-5 vote to keep the request in committee, as Councilors requested information on how the city would communicate such vital changes to residents — particularly those who don't use the internet or speak English as a first language — and transport seniors and others who don't drive to the centralized polling location.
The proposed change would eliminate all eight polling locations in the city for the September and November elections, instead directing in-person Election Day voters to the Melrose Veterans Memorial Middle School gym.
The move is being made with the expectation that the state will soon allow expanded early voting and no-excuse mail-in voting, which if instituted would theoretically cut down the number of people heading to the polls on Election Day; City Clerk Amy Kamosa said she expects 30 percent of registered voters at most to show up. Earlier in the day, state lawmakers agreed to a deal that would expand voting in such ways. (The plan is for early voting to take place at Memorial Hall.)
Like all things right now, the impetus for consolidating the locations is the pandemic.
The city is facing a poll worker shortage after half, including 10 of 14 wardens, already notified the city they won't be working this fall. Since all early and mail-in votes need to be tabulated on Election Day, Kamosa said it is easier to have the workers under one roof — especially if they are new.
Multiple locations also mean more incurring more costs for police, DPW and other potentially other materials; Either way, the election will cost more than the usual $30,000 or so thanks to all the pandemic-specific supplies and mailing costs. Kamosa said the city expects to be reimbursed for much of the extra cost through the CARES Act and the rest through a free cash allocation.
One of the chief concerns is bringing everyone into one location at a time when many experts expect COVID-19 infections to spike, but Kamosa said the 17,000-square foot gym can handle whoever shows up while maintaining social distance between voters and whoever else is using the school at the time — something current locations may not have the ability to do. City health officials and the Council on Aging both support the request.
There is also the question of whether some voters, especially seniors, would be made aware of the change and be willing and able to travel somewhere other than where they've voted for decades. Kamosa said the Council on Aging only has two vehicles to transport seniors to the polls.
Kamosa said the current plan calls for using all resources to communicate the message, including postcards in different languages, reverse 911 calls, using the mayor's YouTube and website updates and more.
Several councilors who appeared inclined to either support or resist the change seemed to be genuinely struggling with the decision.
"I do have a lot of reservations in bringing everyone to one location," Councilor Mark Garipay said, citing ubiquitous guidance from Gov. Charlie Baker to do the exact opposite during the pandemic.
Kamosa said the neighboring Marcoux Gym could be used as a spillover location if necessary, but didn't anticipate the number of votes at the middle school gym at any given time to be unwieldy.
While neither plan is perfect in this imperfect times, Kamosa said she believes the tradeoffs are worth having the centralized location.
"We want to make sure the election, regardless of cost, is handled freely and fairly," she said.
Local elections news
Melrose To Review Procedures After Thousands Left Off Voting List
All Of Melrose Might Be Voting At Just 1 Location
Melrose Elections Will Look Much Different This Year
MELROSE, MA — The School Committee hit the pause button on an at times impassioned discussion centering around an automated camera system that would broadcast school sports and events.
The halt means while the fall sports season is still in play, live broadcasting this summer's high school graduation through the system is not, according to Park Commissioner John McLaughlin, who has been brokering the deal.
The topic took up almost exactly half of the School Committee's 2 hour, 18 minute meeting Thursday night. For a night that saw the farewell of longtime Superintendent Cyndy Taymore and reaction to the state's back-to-school guidelines released earlier in the day, it was the camera system that demanded the most conversation.
Members debated the merits of the Pixellot camera system — which would broadcast school events from the middle school gym, Marcoux gym and Fred Green Field, and include a portable camera to broadcast other events — as well the merits of the discussion itself.
"I think it's absurd that we are spending so much time talking about something that's probably related to football and not much else, and we have bigger fish to fry than sports," School Committee member Jennifer Razzi-Thomas said at the tail end of the discussion. "We are gong into a fall after three or four months where we have not had school and that should be our focus."
Supporters of the system said it would open new ways of staying connected during a pandemic that will likely heavily restrict attendance at school events.
"We have sports teams playing to empty stadiums. Arts performances with no one in the venue," McLaughlin told Patch over the phone. "We think this is going to translate into the public school programming in the fall."
Here's how the Pixellot system works. People would subscribe at a cost of $11 per month or $70 per year to get access to any and all sporting events at all levels played at Fred Green Field, the Marcoux Gym and the middle school gym — as well as anywhere else in the country with the system. The school department would be able to hand out a certain number of discounted subscriptions.
Any other school events at those locations — or at a location where the portable camera would be — can be watched for free. McLaughlin cited that while dispelling the notion that it would be strictly for sports.
The three hard cameras and software would cost the city $10,500, money the recreation department is willing to front. The money, which is from the revenues the city gets from field rentals, is expected to be reimbursed from the federal CARES Act. A tech upgrade for Fred Green Field would also cost the city around $20,000, which is also believed to be reimbursable.
The portable camera, along with a tripod and laptop, would be purchased thanks to a $7,000 donation from the Victoria McLaughlin Foundation, a foundation created by John McLaughlin and his wife aimed at supporting Melrose families for extracurricular activities and fine arts.
Still, the costs gave concern to some.
"Any expense that we have to incur know that's nice to have or we even want to have ... I just don't think that this is the time," School Committee member Margaret Driscoll said. She noted CARES Act funds could perhaps go to better use for the fall.
"I just think there are so many people who are having issues, there are so many kids who are hungry, that this is one more have vs. have not," she said.
McLaughlin told Patch the city has $2.4 million in CARES Act funding it can tap by the end of the year. In June, the city put in for almost $500,000 for the first round of reimbursements. Because this is an accessibility issue caused by the pandemic, the city believes the camera system would be eligible.
The city has already signed a contract for the Fred Green Field camera, as it is under the purview of the parks commission and not the school district. But if the district doesn't grant permission for events to broadcast, the camera would be nothing more than an ornament. (McLaughlin told Patch that if the School Committee does not vote favorably on the matter, the contract will not be consummated and no money will have been spent.)
"We have no intention of putting the camera there without the ability to stream high school sports," he said.
McLaughlin told Patch the contract was signed to get the system installed by the Aug. 7 high school graduation, something that won't happen now. (There are expected to be other local broadcast options.) He didn't expect the kind of pushback he saw Thursday, particularly because he said he had already gotten support from Brodeur, Taymore and O'Connell.
Other concerns ranged from privacy to being overly sports-centric — and particularly football-centric.
McLaughlin said the portable camera is so non-sporting events can be broadcast. He also said Fred Green Field will likely be home to more than just the football team; The soccer teams in the fall and lacrosse teams in the spring could be playing if there are limits on spectators. Separately, the Stoneham Arena where the hockey teams play indicated it would be open to installing a camera.
"Ultimately it strikes me that there is significant upside to this proposal with no obvious downside or cost to the district, and that it is worthy of our favorable consideration," School Committee Chair Ed O'Connell said.
But not everyone was on board.
"I think this is a waste of our time," Razzi-Thomas said. "We have many more important things to do. We have a new superintendent starting in two weeks or less. We have to say goodbye to our beloved current superintendent. I am upset with the amount of time we are spending on cameras and sports when we should be focused on re-entry and orientation of our new superintendent and not concerned about football at this time."
McLaughlin will return at the next School Committee meeting with a representative of the National Federation of State High School Associations, the organization that uses Pixellot equipment to stream. In the meantime, the School Committee is seeking public input from parents on the proposal.
"It's such a great no-cost solution to the City of Melrose, I can't believe what this has turned into," McLaughlin said. A system that would broadcast sports and other school events was criticized as a waste of time and money by some School Committee members.
By Mike Carraggi, Patch StaffVerified Patch Staff Badge
Jul 1, 2020 4:47 pm ET
Updated Jul 1, 2020 9:29 pm ET
Coming soon phone numbers School Committee of Melrose and their name address and the ward that they live.This should be a good time to share this information.Because of the city budget Melrose.That way they can answer your questions.That way they are not invisible.
ADDRESS: 33A South Street
Mayor Paul Brodeur
Margaret Raymond Driscoll
Margaret Raymond Driscoll, Vice Chair
ADDRESS: 49 Boston Rock Road
Ed O’Connell, Chair
ADDRESS: 20 Cleveland Street
ADDRESS: 55 Hawley Rd.
ADDRESS: 12 Sears Ave.
ADDRESS: 106 Walton Park
By Lisamarie Demerjian firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted Jun 29, 2020 at 4:22 PM
The question over what to do with $26,000 of free cash has been resolved.
On June 24, the Melrose City Council held a special meeting in which it reached a compromise on the free cash appropriation. Free cash is left over money that can be used for one-time purchases such as equipment or tools. This money can’t fund salaries.
Mayor Paul Brodeur addressed the council during its Zoom meeting, recommending the appropriation should pass.
“The first step in the process that I recommend is to approve the existing amendment to appropriate $26,000 from the city’s available free cash to the Professional Services line for the purpose of investing in the needs assessment that was referred to earlier,” said Brodeur. “That money would come from the line item that includes the purchase of new firearms and it would leave in tack the overtime line and leave in tack the purchase of vehicles.”
In addition to this amendment, Brodeur asked the City Council for acceptance and approval of another amendment to reduce by $14,000 the proposed $225,000 transfer from free cash into the IT allocation.
“By amendment the $14,000 would also be deposited into the Professional Services line referenced earlier,” said Brodeur. “With both amendments, the newly appropriated funds in the HR Department Professional Services line would total $40,000 and will be incumbent so they will be immediately available for the purpose of funding the external needs assessment we’ve discussed earlier tonight.”
The mayor said he will commit to fund no less than $100,000 over the next year to implement measures for racial equity needs, diversity matters and employee recruitment and retention.
“It’s essential for the public to have confidence in government and that, in large part, is dependent on the executive and legislative branches working together to find solutions to pressing needs in the community,” said Councilor Shawn MacMaster. “We all ran for office to make Melrose a better place. And, we’re committed to working together to make that happen.”
The purchase of new guns for the Police Department will be delayed until fall when free cash is certified by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue. Chief Michael Lyle said he was OK with delaying the purchase.
The city also made a greater investment into funding Implicit Bias Training for all city departments. The total initial investment for Implicit Bias Training has now been increased to $40,000.
Funds were gathered from the mayor’s original request of $26,000 from the Police Department’s free cash appropriation and then, the City Council took an additional $14,000 from the IT Department’s free cash appropriation. The $40,000 will go to the Human Resources Department for this training.
All remaining items in the Police Department and IT respective free cash appropriation requests were funded.
The passing of the appropriation was unanimous. All 11 councilors voted in favor of the compromises.
“I think it would have been irresponsible for anyone to dig in on this issue,” said MacMaster. “We all want the same thing. We want equity in the government. We want to live in a safe community. And we certainly want our communities of color to feel safe, secure, and supported in Melrose. The problem is that the option initially presented to the City Council by the mayor was a trade off. The council made it clear to the mayor that we can, and should, prioritize both —and the mayor, to his credit, listened and was responsive to that.”
Brodeur said he is glad everyone was able to work cooperatively on a resolution that allows the city to put a significant amount of money into addressing racial equality now and going forward.
The first day since mid-March that Mel-Wake has no COVID-19 patients - we’ll see how long that lasts….:
Elections are near and the city is looking to temporarily consolidate polling locations due to COVID related challenges. But many councilors are hesitant about the change in location.
On June 29, the Melrose City Council discussed the request to temporarily consolidate the polling location to the Melrose Middle School gymnasium for the state primary election on Sept. 1 and presidential election on Nov. 3. The request was made to better social distancing for voters and poll workers; to have an all-purpose area that can easily be sanitized and to have control across wards and precincts to increase procedural consistency.
For several weeks, the Elections Office and the Board of Registrars has been discussing ways to “preserve both election integrity and the health and safety of all Melrosians.”
This year, Melrosians can vote three ways: early voting, absentee voting or on Election Day.
“Two would involve casting a ballot after having checked in and have gone to the early voting location or going to the polling location on Election Day,” said City Clerk Amy Kamosa. “And then the state would send all registered voters an absentee ballot application. The resident would need to fill that out, drop it in the mail, the office will receive it, and then we mail back a ballot to that person’s home and they can cast their ballot that way. They can fill it out and mail it back to us or we will have a secure drop box so people can drop off the ballots at City Hall any time, day or night before the election.”
The state is at the final stages of passing no excuse absentee voting, approval of polling locations, and requirements for the number of poll workers per precinct
Existing polling locations
There are currently eight existing polling locations in all-purpose rooms or cafeterias across the city: Hover School, Lincoln School, Horace Mann School, Roosevelt School, Beebe School (which is currently leased by SEEM collaborative), City Hall Council Chamber and Melrose Housing Authority’s Steele House common room (home to seniors and disabled residents).
Kamosa submitted a proposal to the City Council detailing the current challenges of existing locations:
• The Steele House and the Beebe School pose a risk to the building population.
• City Hall and the Horace Mann School would be hard to meet social distancing guidelines.
• The all-purpose locations in the elementary schools have several materials and supplies that would need to be sanitized for the following day.
• Voting booths don’t have “6-foot buffers.”
• Elementary schools have limited cell phone service. This makes communication difficult for procedural changes.
During the meeting, Kamosa said the average age of poll workers is 75 years old and 50% of poll workers have said they aren’t comfortable working in September.
“Most critically, that’s 10 wardens, managers of each precinct, so 10 out of 14 wardens have opted not to work,” said Kamosa.
During a typical election, more than 90 poll workers work full or part time and last about 15 hours. Poll workers are paid $150 per day.
“This results in challenges filling these slots — challenges are exacerbated by the distributed locations,” Kamosa’s proposal reads. “Poll workers can not easily be ‘pulled’ from another polling location to fill a gap. The Elections Office must plan for a larger number of poll workers opting out of working at the last minute or being forced out by illness, depending on possible spikes in local infection rates. With several sets of spouses working in the same precinct, there is a possibility that quarantining requirements could eliminate a number of workers all at once.”
Poll staff and police detail are a requirement to manage crowds and lines.
Why the gymnasium?
The Middle School gymnasium is the proposed consolidated location not just to protect voters, but also allowing better communication between the poll workers and efficiently tabulating ballots.
Kamosa said based on the data so far, 30% of voters go to the polls on Election Day.
“The purpose of consolidating the poll locations isn’t necessarily just to protect the voters because I think given the low numbers and the incredibly large space of the gymnasium, it’s 17,000 square feet, we are still separating everyone by ward and also by precinct,” said Kamosa. “So every precinct will have its own social distancing line. I’m thinking best case from a maximum voter turnout perspective, I was assuming 18,000 voters participating in the November election out of a registered voter total, which is just over 20,000. We are still only talking about 5,000 voters over the course of 13 hours. There will never be 10,000 people in one space at one time.”
Right now, it’s proposed to have two full weeks of early voting, including weekends for the November election. And, the September election will have one full week, including a Saturday, of early voting.
The proposal lists many positive attributes of the middle school gym.
• Previously identified as a general contingency location during emergency preparedness planning. [It’s large size, a central location, has a generator and meets ADA requirement].
• Separate entrance off Melrose Street.
• Can be closed off from the rest of MVMMS.
• Nearly 17,000 square feet of space.
• Overflow potential in the adjacent Marcoux Gym.
• Multiple exits and entrances for flexible traffic flow to ensure social distancing.
• Open, clear space allows for efficient and effective disinfection before school resumes the following day.
• Single location allows for increased procedural consistency and control across all wards and precincts. Allows elections staff and Board of Registrars to be on-site to address questions and concerns, and to effectively communicate to poll workers in real-time — this is particularly important due to expectation that we will have many first-time poll workers and an overall decreased number of workers.
• Decision-making included consultation with School Committee, health director, Mayor’s Office and school superintendent.
• Back parking lot provides a turn-around (Council on Aging bus) and voter drop-off zone.
During the meeting, several councilors raised concerns about the city consolidating to one polling location. Concerns are, but are not limited to: wait time, costs, transportation, communication to residents and poll worker recruitment.
Councilor Robb Stewart said his initial reaction was hesitation, although the proposal is very well thought out. Stewart’s ward consists of Fuller House and Levi Gould. He said there are well over 100 members that vote on a consistent basis within those two communities.
“The Beebe School is a very convenient location for them, it’s a very short walk for them and it’s a social opportunity,” said Stewart. “My base reservation to the whole plan was how to give these folks an opportunity to effectively vote. What I would encourage is two things. One is to get clarity on what the state rules about mail-in voting is going to be. I believe they are going to have a call on that tomorrow at state level. The second is to your point about the absentee balloting since there is no excuse absentee balloting. If we could have some way to communicate that to the folks as well as, Cefalo, I’m sure there are other facilities in and around the city that would also take advantage of that.”
Councilor Shawn MacMaster discussed the diversity in Ward 5. There are 24 languages spoken in homes of students who attend the Lincoln School. Some immigrant groups are proficient in English while others aren’t. MacMaster said voting locations can inadvertently suppress voting rights.
“We really need to address any demographic barriers to voting, and considering the time limitations we face, I think we need to call upon the community and other stakeholders to help,” said MacMaster. “Bi-partisan community organizing is a way to safeguard access to the polls. This can be done through a voter education drive and with Election Day assistance.”
MacMaster said if this proposal ends up being approved, there will need to be a robust effort to notify citizens whose English skills may be less proficient in an effort to prevent voter disenfranchisement.
Kamosa said the urgency of this request is to communicate with Melrosians to make them aware of the temporary voting location change.
Councilor Cory Thomas asked Kamosa if the election cost was accounted for in the recently approved fiscal year 2021 budget. Kamosa said for the FY21 budget, a standard election was budgeted because during preparation for the budget, none of the legislation was clear and it would be hard to predict.
“Some of the extra costs we can use COVID-19 funding to cover some of the cost and then typically we cover the rest through the free cash allocation if there is a balance left,” said Kamosa. “We want to make sure the election, regardless of cost, is handled freely and fairly and everyone has the ability to vote as they choose. But obviously we keep an eye out on the budget.”
The request is being held in committee based on a 6 to 5 vote with Councilors Christopher Cinella, Leila Migliorelli, Jeff McNaught, Jack Eccles and City Council President Jen Grigoraitis against.
In April, the coronavirus was tearing through the Northeast and Midwest, overwhelming hospitals and filling morgues. The situation was bleak.
But the rules, at least, were clear.
Businesses were shuttered. Flights were canceled. Nearly everyone had been ordered to stay home. And that’s what nearly everyone did, reducing overall mobility by as much as 30 percent and reducing the number of new daily COVID-19 cases by roughly the same amount.
America may never return to that kind of economically devastating national lockdown. Yet with more tests coming back positive now than ever before — and with infections currently rising in 39 states, many of them in the South and West — lockdowns in some form may be the only way to regain control over a virus that has ruthlessly exploited Americans’ eagerness to return to normal life.
The question is whether individualistic Americans who already endured one big — and only partially successful — lockdown will tolerate another.
With all due respect to American exceptionalism, Americans share with the rest of the world a desire not to die. The experience of other countries may suggest a path forward — if the nation will listen.
On Monday, two of America’s top infectious disease experts — Dr. Anthony Fauci and his boss, Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health — convened online to discuss the pandemic running out of control in much of the U.S.
The conversation was telling. At the outset, Fauci warned that America was still “knee-deep in the first wave” of the contagion, describing the country’s new normal of more than 50,000 cases per day as “a serious situation that we have to address immediately.”
But how? asked Collins. “What should people do, who are listening to this, who want to do what they can do to try to deal with this surge and not have it get any worse? What’s the recommendation?”
Americans, Fauci said, need to adjust their personal behavior.
“Regardless of where you are, the fundamental concepts [apply],” Fauci explained. “Physical distancing. Wear a mask at all times when you’re outside [the home]. Wash your hands often. Avoid crowds. ... Outdoors [is] always better than indoors. If you’re going to have a social function, maybe a single couple or two. Do it outside if you’re going to do it.”
Then Collins and Fauci started talking about vaccines.
The message couldn’t have been more quintessentially American: Emphasize personal responsibility — at least until whiz-bang innovation can save the day.
Yet whether out of pessimism or discretion — it was hard to say — Fauci and Collins skipped over the most important step, illustrating the challenge now confronting America and the dysfunction that has made the situation so much worse.
Sure, everyone should wash their hands and mask up. But while personal precautions are necessary, they’re not sufficient. The truth is, individual action isn’t the only thing — or even the main thing — that flattened the initial curve of projected cases back in April and May. And given that most people who are spreading COVID-19 may not even know they’re infected — and many are getting infected while performing the kinds of frontline, blue-collar jobs they can’t do from home — it’s unlikely to arrest the deadly virus’s alarming summertime resurgence, let alone reduce its spread to the point where the U.S. can control and contain it.
Only systemic action by the entire society can do that. And judging by other countries’ experiences — not to mention America’s own efforts this past spring — that almost certainly means more targeted stay-at-home orders.
For proof, look no further than Europe, where most countries made sure the virus had been suppressed to a level low enough that containment was theoretically possible once business as usual resumed — and where governments are now closely monitoring new case clusters and quickly reinstating localized lockdowns when infections spike. Today, the European Union (population: 446 million) is averaging about 4,000 new cases per day. The U.S. (population: 328 million) is averaging 12 times that number.
On Monday, Fauci himself contrasted the European model with the United States’. America’s “baseline” number of cases “really never got down to where we wanted to go,” he explained. “If you look at the graphs from Europe ... it went up and then came down to baseline. Now they’re having little blips as you might expect as they try to reopen. We went up, never came down to baseline and now we’re surging back up.”
In Germany, hundreds of cases of COVID-19 linked to a meatpacking facility triggered the lockdown of Gütersloh in North Rhine-Westphalia. In the United Kingdom, much of the country reopened last week, but the city of Leicester reimposed lockdown after a similar local surge.
Spain, however, may be the most revealing example. As with the U.S., the country’s response to the coronavirus has hardly been flawless. Spain has recorded about a quarter of a million cases so far, and nearly 30,000 people have died from COVID-19 there, the worst per capita death rate in the world after Belgium and the U.K. Yet 49 days of near-total lockdown — the kind where residents were barely allowed to leave home — suppressed the disease to fewer than 400 new daily cases.
And after reopening, the country’s response to those 400 cases has been very different from America’s response to its 50,000 daily cases.
Case in point: Segrià county, an agricultural zone some 100 miles west of Barcelona. Last week, 524 new cases were diagnosed there, a doubling from the week before. (For comparison, Florida added 60,000 new coronavirus cases last week.) Of the 14 outbreaks in Segrià, a region thick with hundreds of thousands of fruit trees, 10 are associated with companies that employ migrant workers, who live and labor in close quarters during the harvest.
In response, the regional government sealed off all 210,000 inhabitants of Segrià, setting up 24 police checkpoints at the border and blocking all nonessential traffic in and out.
Same goes for A Mariña, an area in Spain’s northwest region, Galicia. There, bars are believed to have seeded 119 cases. Now all 70,000 residents are back in lockdown.
“Some might consider [this] maybe too drastic,” Sara Canals, a journalist in the region, told the BBC. “But there’s a willingness here to find a right balance between reopening the economy but also to ensure safety.”
In other parts of Spain, including Murcia, individual buildings have been completely quarantined.
To be clear: This isn’t a national lockdown. The Spanish government lifted the nation’s state of emergency on June 21, handing control back to Spain’s 17 regional governments. Those regional governments are now the ones responding to flare-ups.
Theoretically, U.S. states, ardent defenders of federalism, could do the same. Again, Spain is not some Platonic ideal of coordination and transparency. Recently, Madrid and Barcelona stopped reporting case counts, to the chagrin of the national health department. The Spanish government isn’t announcing new outbreaks, defined as three or more active cases. Observers are questioning whether Segrià hid its rising case count until the situation was out of control. And just like Americans, not all Spaniards wear masks, even though face coverings are required wherever and whenever social distancing isn’t possible.
Meanwhile, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez is imploring Spaniards to go out and revitalize the economy. The land of the conquistadors, Sánchez recently declared, has “successfully defeated the pandemic.”
Yet because of systemic action — an initial lockdown that flattened the curve to a manageable level followed by targeted lockdowns meant to nip any new outbreaks in the bud — Spain no longer must rely solely on individual behavior to keep the virus at bay.
That’s good, because there’s no indication that such behavior alone can contain 400 cases per day — let alone 50,000.
By Fauci’s own, optimistic estimation, a COVID-19 vaccine won’t be ready for public use until early 2021, and it won’t be widely available until months later. That means mass inoculation is at least a year away.
Does anyone really think the U.S. will be able to muddle through until then by telling Americans to wear masks and hoping they’ll listen? We’ve been doing that for weeks, yet our accelerating outbreak shows no sign of slowing down. So far this month, 14 states have recorded new single-day highs.
Meanwhile, residents in metropolitan Melbourne, Australia, will no longer be allowed to leave their homes unless it’s for grocery shopping, caregiving, exercise or work. The measures are expected to remain in place for six weeks.
The reason? The state of Victoria (in which Melbourne is located) saw a record rise in daily coronavirus cases Tuesday — to 191 new infections.
Over the same time period, more than 2,000 new cases were reported in the Miami area alone.
To be fair, there has been some progress in the U.S. Republican governors who long resisted mask mandates are starting to relent; states are reclosing bars and pausing restaurant reopenings. And mobility in hard-hit states such as Florida, Texas, Arizona and California is beginning to tick downward after peaking in late June, according to data collected by Cuebiq — a likely sign that residents are at least trying to rein in their behavior.
Yet even the mobility trend lines show the limits of relying on individuals to restrain the coronavirus. In Florida, mobility peaked around June 15 at a level about 0.8 percent lower than last year at the same time. Today, it’s fallen back down to about 1.5 percent lower than last year.
In early April, during lockdown, mobility was nearly 28 percent lower than it was the previous April.
Unfortunately, the kind of clarity we had back then — stay home or else! — is gone forever, replaced by a cacophony of conflicting, politicized messages on everything from masks to fatalities to vaccination. Experts who study the psychology of decision making say this is precisely the sort of environment where individual judgment will fail us — and where, in the absence of a broader systemic response, the coronavirus will continue to thrive.
“Americans’ disgust should be aimed at governments and institutions, not at one another,” Tess Wilkinson-Ryan, a professor of law and psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, recently wrote in the Atlantic. “During a disease outbreak, vague guidance and ambivalent behavioral norms will lead to thoroughly flawed thinking. If a business is open but you would be foolish to visit it, that is a failure of leadership.”
Ultimately, Americans will probably never accept another national lockdown. But all the evidence from the rest of the world suggests they’re unlikely to stop the spread simply by fending for themselves. In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom pressured Imperial County to reimpose its stay-at-home order last week after the area’s positivity rate soared to more than 20 percent. Other governors might soon have to follow suit.
Donald G. McNeil Jr., the lead coronavirus reporter for the New York Times, put it succinctly Monday.
“We are doing the dance in, dance out of various forms of lockdown,” McNeil explained on the podcast “The Daily.” “But we need to get to the point where we’re all basically dancing to the same music — where all governors accept the notion that when they have a problem that is getting out of control in their state, they react quickly. And if they do that they will save lives of their own citizens.
“We need to arrive at [a] common understanding,” he concluded. “We don’t all have to move in lockstep as a nation. But at the crucial moments we need to take similar steps to save lives.”
It's not fair use to copy and paste entire articles written and owned by another publication into another public forum; it's a form of theft. If you want people to read the article, just include a link to it instead.
Here is a "new normal" buzz word,Pandering Fool .
Nobody:s forcing to read this string.Maybe time for you to go to bed to get a good night sleep.
In times of rage, we often paint groups with a broad brush. But at some point you have to go back and fill in lines between good and bad because, in that subtlety, lies our humanity.
People to start to look at everybody as Americans and not, 'He's White, he's Black, he's Asian.' We're people - and when we start realizing that, things should get better.
Mr. Mayor, do you think with the current social climate, any concessions will be made for the seniors come election day? For forty two years I have felt betrayed by the city I love. It's times like these that make me yearn for forced euthenasia if this is how it's going to be. That trickle down tax plan you touted in your campaign, what about that? Are we supposed to sit idly by why you and the fat cats at City Hall take the breaks and leave the crumbs to the elderly? Well I for one won't stand for it. I hope you respond because I am anxious to hear what you've got to say for yourself. No more blame game! Remember Mr Mayor, you point one finger at me, three fingers point back at you!
MELROSE, MA - Drive-thru testing for COVID-19 will continue Saturday after hours-long wait times Friday. The testing will be in the same location from 1-6 p.m. If you do come, wear a mask and do not bring any pets. Results are expected within 48 hours.A medical worker will ask a couple questions and retrieve a nasal sample.
Is the previous poster, under the handle "Mayor Brodeur" a poseur trying to attribute a completely tone-deaf comment to the actual mayor? Because the actual mayor has previously posted as "Paul Brodeur".
No Vote!? Whadaya talking about? It's the tax bill you so bravely stood behind then pretended it didn't exist when the votes were counted and they carried you on their shoulders down West Wyoming Street! I can't believe the ability of you political fat cats to turn such a blind eye on the elderly. Back when the Chinese ran this town you wouldn't see the dustpanning you see at City Hall nowadays. SO I ask again! What and where are the concessions for the elderly!????
Nobody:s forcing to read this string.Maybe time for you to go to bed to get a good night sleep.
Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito have said that the summer sports guidelines will be reviewed ahead of the fall sports guidelines, which are expected to be released in the next two weeks.
Baker and Polito - TWO CROOKS!
Exactly what 'crimes' (with supporting evidence, of course) prompts you to call them crooks?
After testing positive for the coronavirus just a couple months ago, Desmon Silva seemingly made a full recovery.
But on July 16, he stopped breathing.
Doctors rushed to put Silva on a ventilator and by Saturday night, he was flown to Massachusetts General Hospital from Tampa, Florida on a private intensive care jet with hopes of treating a rare infection that has left him paralyzed from the neck down, Boston25 News reported.
“They basically said it is COVID-related because it’s triggered by a viral infection,” Barbara Bonnet, Silva’s mother — a Massachusetts resident — told the station. “What happened is it laid dormant in my son’s system, still testing negative, still without any symptoms, but it was still there.”
Hoping to ease the financial burden of his treatments and the extensive rehab bills he may face in the future, Brooke Griffin organized a GoFundMe page for Silva.
PLEASE GO VIRAL: I'm raising money for: Help Us Help Desmon Silva. Click to Donate: https://t.co/5nnYTLk7DN via @gofundme
— Griffi9️⃣5️⃣™ (@griffin_brooke) July 21, 2020
Nearly 2,500 people from around the country had donated to the campaign as of Sunday afternoon, garnering $108,449 of its $200,000 goal.
“Desmon has always been a lover, but now also a fighter,” Griffin wrote in the fundraiser’s description. “Despite his condition, Desmon remains full of life.”
A 22-year-old nurse, Silva had been working to save lives on the front lines in Florida until he began fighting for his own.
“Desmon’s smile could light up the skyway. His giggle could make waves ripple through oceans worldwide. His zest for life could move mountains,” Griffin wrote. “He will fight the fight to come back, but he has a long road ahead.”
Bonnet told 25 News that Boston doctors have tentatively diagnosed her son with transverse myelitis — an inflammation of both sides of the spinal cord — but she’s hopeful he’ll make a full recovery soon.
“Desmon needs to return to breathing and walking on his own, so that he is able to continue helping and healing people, living the big and the small moments of his young life, catching sunsets, seeking adventure, celebrating his accomplishments, and growing old with those he loves,” Griffin wrote in her post. “Des – we all are rooting for you.”
So what, your reason for posting this here is to "Ask the Mayor" for a donation?
The mayor needs to go still no one coming to MPS to apply.
METHUEN — This community on the New Hampshire border may be smaller than 772 other American cities, but the salary of Police Chief Joseph Solomon is anything but small. His salary of $326,707 in 2019 made Solomon one of the highest-paid police chiefs in the nation, paid more than his counterparts in Boston, New York, Chicago, and many other major urban areas.
And, unlike them, Solomon doesn’t have to face a serious crime problem: Methuen had one murder last year.
Still, Solomon believes he is underpaid.
While your posts (articles about general topics) may be "true," the connection to anything relevant to Melrose is hard to grasp. Sure, other police chiefs may be extremely "well" paid, maybe even excessively paid (probably), but that surely isn't the case in Melrose, where Chief Lyle is a decent caring man and dedicated servant of the citizens (unlike, sadly, most of the elected and paid officials with whom he has to work, most of whom do not understand that they are supposed to serve the citizens, and not the other way around!). The Melrose PD is certainly not perfect (as that stupid sign incident revealed only too sharply), but our police chief is a well-meaning head of a department that is chronically underpaid and disrespected by the city governance. One look at MPD facilities illustrates that point only too bleakly.
There are a lot of things you, "Truths," could be posting about matters that deserve our attention. Melrose as a community seems to have a very short attention span for the important issues, and even smaller ability to come together in a way that demonstrates critical thinking ability. As a whole, it behaves in a very ignorant "sheeple" sort of way, herding towards the feel-good community actions and shying away (or actively bullying those who don't) from the difficult conversations and actions.
These generalized articles and zen-like postings about philosophy are not connecting with readers the way you'd probably like them to, and instead just open the door for mockery, which isn't fair or nice but is a reflection of the general Mean-Girls(Guys) approach that too many in Melrose revel in.
So if you're trying to express something useful that could get important messages across, you might re-think your choice of articles to post, for starters.
Thanks for trying! No disrespect meant towards you. Good luck!
That's A LOT more polite than the "- - - does that have to do with Melrose?", that I was going to post. Thanks!
Georgia boy, 7, becomes state's youngest COVID-19 fatality
A 7-year-old Chatham County boy has become Georgia’s youngest coronavirus victim, according to the Coastal Health Department.
The African-American boy had no underlying conditions, according to a CHD spokesperson. A date of death was not immediately available; there is often a delay of several days and sometimes weeks from when a person dies to when that death is reported to the state and confirmed.
Hon Mayor Brodeur,
Do you think you former friend Zwirko should run for city council after so gracelessly leaving his post to run an ill-fated mayoral campaign? His recent Twitter activity seems to point to him thinking this is a good idea.
Do you think his numerous affairs with prominent local women should disqualify him? Or, in libertine Melrose, is being insufferable cad who openly cheats on his spouse a noble quality?
Prominent local women? I didn't know we had any. Lately all I've seen is a bunch of Cambridge wannabes of no import whatsoever.
So Paul Brodeur how do we stop this corona-virus 19 and what else can we do?
YES! Biden has GOT to go! Agreed!