By 4-2 Vote, Lunar New Year Will Not Be A School Holiday

By SCOTT JACKSON

The Quincy School Committee on Wednesday a calendar for the 2024-25 academic year that will keep schools open on Lunar New Year, despite a push from parents and community members make it a school holiday.

The committee voted 4-2 to approve the calendar for the 2024-25 school year that does not include Lunar New Year as a day on which schools will be closed. Committee members Paul Bregoli, Douglas Gutro, Kathryn Hubley and Emily Lebo voted in favor of the calendar. Mayor Thomas Koch, the committee’s chairperson, and Courtney Perdios voted against it. Tina Cahill, the committee’s vice chairperson, was not in attendance for the meeting.

Parents and other community members had called for schools to close on Lunar New Year, which will next be celebrated on Jan. 29, 2025. During the open forum portion of Wednesday’s meeting, five people spoke in favor of adding the holiday and the school board received 13 letters in support of it (one person sent two letters). Others had spoken in favor of adding the holiday at the March 20 committee meeting, and a similar effort to add the holiday was made last spring.

During Wednesday’s meeting, prior to the vote on the calendar for the upcoming school year, Perdios made a motion to amend it so that schools would be closed on Lunar New Year. Perdios said the only concerns she had heard about adding the holiday had come from her colleagues on the committee.

“We had 45 minutes again earlier this meeting hearing from members of our community about why this is so important,” Perdios said. “In the last two weeks since we’ve had this discussion, I have not had anyone reach out in opposition to adding Lunar New Year. The only concerns I have heard have been in this room by this committee. I have not heard anyone else articulate any concern that giving Lunar New Year off would alienate or devalue other cultures.”

No one on the committee seconded Perdios’ motion to amend the calendar. After Perdios had made her motion, Lebo made a motion to move the question – meaning to end discussion and vote on the calendar as proposed – which Hubley seconded.

Before the committee could vote on the motion to move the question, Koch reiterated his support for making Lunar New Year a school holiday, which he had voiced at the March 20 meeting. Koch said it took him some time to warm up to the idea of adding the holiday because he was concerned about what would happen if the district had too many snow days, but Quincy has had fewer snow days in recent years than in the past.

Quincy has long been a city of immigrants, Koch added, and the city respects all its cultures. He said it was time to honor the Asian American community by adding the holiday.

“I do believe we respect everybody in the city, but it’s that issue of going that little extra mile, honoring that newest immigrant group to our city. They are here in large numbers. They’re contributing to the city in so many ways,” Koch said. “With that, I will be voting against calendar as proposed because it does not include the Lunar New Year.”

The motion to move the question ultimately failed in a 3-3 vote, with Gutro – who said he wanted to explain the reasoning for his vote on the calendar – joining Koch and Perdios in voting against it.

Gutro said the school calendar treats all cultures and religions the same and includes a list of major religious and cultural observances, like Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Diwali, Eid al-Fitr and Lunar New Year, among others. If the school system were to close for a new holiday, it should also be a holiday for city employees, he said.

“My feeling is if we choose to value one cultural or religious holiday over another, that we should make it a citywide holiday so an entire family could celebrate,” Gutro said. “I don’t understand how you value a culture if the student has the day off but the parent who works for the Fire Department, Police Department, Public Works Department, Parks Department, Treasurer’s Office and so on don’t get the same day off.

“So those employees go to work while their kids are at home, they need to pay someone to watch the kid or use a vacation day. What’s a vacation day? In Quincy Public Schools language, it’s an excused absence.”

In addition, Gutro said that Good Friday, currently a day on which schools are closed, should no longer be treated differently from other holidays. At the next School Committee meeting, Gutro said he planned to introduce a motion to ask the superintendent to add Good Friday to the list of topics that will be discussed in the next round of negotiations with the unions that represent school employees.

Lebo, who said Quincy will have its first community celebration of the Hindu festival of Holi next month, said she would prefer the schools only be closed on state and federal holidays.

“I would personally not have to discuss this again and say our policy is that we follow the state and federal holidays, because we’re making holidays up,” Lebo said. “Should we make Holi a holiday next year because we have a population in Quincy that’s celebrating it and is asking for some cultural recognition?”

Perdios said she would support having a discussion about school holidays in the school board’s equity, diversity and inclusion subcommittee. Koch said removing holidays from the school calendar could create issues.

“Just like we’re talking about a lot of people being out the day of Lunar New Year, which creates an issue, if we take one away, there are folks that are going to be out that day that we’re going to have concerns about not only…the students but the teachers who may be celebrating that,” the mayor said. “As you know, we have challenges filling sub spots now.”

Among those who spoke during the open forum section of Wednesday’s meeting was Frank Santoro, a former member of the School Committee. Brookline does not have school on Jewish holidays because of low attendance on those days, he said, and Boston has no school on March 17, not because it is Evacuation Day, but because it is St. Patrick’s Day.

“All the cities and towns across the state as well as country where there is a large Asian population, they establish Lunar New Year so families can celebrate with their children on that day,” Santoro said. “We too should do the same.”

City Councillor Nina Liang was among those who wrote letters to the School Committee in support of closing schools on Lunar New Year. She said elected officials are elected to be the voices of their constituents.

“The majority of the population in our schools identify as AAPI, and the students have made their voices heard ad nauseum on this matter. They are the future of this city, and we have a responsibility to them,” Liang said. “We are elected to represent the voices of the people, and the people – the students – have spoken. Who are we to ignore them? What message do we send if we tell them no to a simple effort at equity and respect?”

Ben Hires, the CEO of the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center, also submitted a letter to the School Committee. He said that Lunar New Year “is one of the most significant cultural celebrations observed by millions of people around the world, particularly those of East Asian descent.”

“In our diverse and inclusive school community, it is imperative that we honor and respect the traditions and cultures of all our students, staff and families,” Hires said. “By recognizing Lunar New Year as a school holiday, we not only acknowledge the importance of this cultural celebration but also demonstrate our commitment to fostering an environment of inclusivity and understanding.”

According to the calendar for the 2024-25 school year approved by the committee, the first day of school for students in grades 1-9 will be Sept. 4. Students in grades 10-12 will begin classes on Sept. 5. Orientation for pre-kindergarten and kindergarten is Sept. 6 and the first day of classes for those grades is Sept. 9.

The last day for high school seniors will be June 2. The final day for other students would be June 18 if there are no snow days and, if five days of school need to be made up, the last day for students would be June 26.

Schools will be closed on Oct. 14 for Columbus Day; Nov. 5 for Election Day; Nov. 11 for Veterans Day; Nov. 28 and 29 for Thanksgiving; Jan. 20 for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day; April 18 for Good Friday; May 26 for Memorial Day; and June 19 for Juneteenth.

Winter recess will run from Dec. 21 through Jan. 1. February vacation will run from Feb. 15 through Feb. 23. April vacation will run from April 19 through April 27.

Five Running Boston Marathon In Support Of ALS Research

Five runners will participate in this year’s 128th Boston Marathon in support of The Angel Fund for ALS Research, a 501 (c)(3) independent charity that benefits ALS research at UMass Chan Medical School.

The five marathoners include veteran runners Matt Bergin, running his 34th consecutive Boston Marathon; Meghan King, running her 22nd consecutive Boston Marathon; Ryan Osterlind running his second Boston Marathon; and Kiel Anderson and MaryLu Klum who are running their first Boston Marathon for The Angel Fund for ALS Research.

The Angel Fund team has been raising funds for ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) research at UMass Chan Medical School Day Lab under the direction of Dr. Robert H. Brown, Jr., a world-renowned researcher in the field of ALS.

“We are grateful to our supporters who are running for Team ALS in this year’s Boston Marathon, and we look forward to following them throughout the marathon and celebrating their efforts when they cross the finish line,” said Quincy native Rich Kennedy, the president of The Angel Fund for ALS Research and a former longtime Boston Marathon runner. “They are truly an inspiration to all.”

The team members have created fundraising pages which enable supporters to donate and to learn more about the runner and his/her inspiration behind their fundraising efforts. To donate to the runners and to read their stories, visit www.theangelfund.org. To follow the runners’ progress during and after the Boston Marathon on April 15th, visit the Boston Athletic Association’s webpage at www.baa.org.

In addition to the Boston Marathon team, The Angel Fund conducts fund raising events throughout the year which, along with other individual and corporate donations, have been beneficial in helping make significant strides in ALS research. For a list of upcoming events, visit The Angel Fund website, www.theangelfund.org.  Donations to the Angel Fund can also be made online at www.theangelfund.org, or can be sent to The Angel Fund, 649 Main Street, Wakefield, MA 01880.

Ian Cain Files To Run For US Senate

By SCOTT JACKSON

Quincy City Council President Ian Cain on Monday filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to run for US Senate this fall.

Ian Cain

Cain, age 41, filed paperwork to run as a Republican in the Senate race. He said he plans to make a formal announcement regarding his candidacy later this month.

Cain joins several Republican candidates who have filed paperwork or announced their candidacy for this year’s Senate race. They include Robert Antonellis, owner of a nutrition software company; John Deaton, an attorney; Shiva Ayyadurai, an entrepreneur and perennial candidate; John Berman, an engineer and perennial candidate; and Rebekah Etique, a paralegal.

Cain, who is the co-founder of the non-profit Qubic Labs, has represented Ward 3 on the Quincy City Council since 2016. He was elected to his fifth two-year term in November 2023 and in January was chosen by his peers to be president of the Quincy City Council the current term. Cain said he would not have to relinquish his council seat while running for Senate.

The winner of the Republican primary, which will take place on Sept. 3, will face the Democratic incumbent Elizabeth Warren in the Nov. 5 election. Warren, who is unopposed in the Democratic primary, was first elected to the Senate in 2012 and won a second six-year term in 2018.

Quincy Councillors Pass Affordable Housing Resolution

By SCOTT JACKSON

City councillors on Monday approved a resolution that asks the Planning Department to look into ways to encourage the creation of affordable housing in Quincy.

“We need to keep Quincy affordable [for] Quincy people,” said Councillor Noel DiBona, who introduced the resolution. “This resolution is an effort to keep more of Quincy affordable.

“There is state and federal money out there for this type of housing. This resolution asks what we can do to make sure the money comes to Quincy to fund housing here. This past October, the Healey-Driscoll administration laid out a $4 billion plan to jumpstart the production of homes and make housing more affordable. I’m asking the Planning Department to take a look at what we can do differently to encourage improvement in our housing stock.”

In his resolution, DiBona wrote that “the city of Quincy is increasingly becoming unaffordable” and the average rent in the city is now $2,700 per month. Housing is considered “affordable” when the tenant or homeowner pays no more than 30 percent of their gross income towards housing costs, he wrote, and, at $2,700 per month, Quincy is unaffordable to anyone making less than $100,000 a year.

Housing affordability impacts “not just the poor,” DiBona added, “but also the working class families of Quincy” and the city “has been and should remain a community affordable to all, including firefighters, police officers, teachers and other blue-collar workers.”

To that end, the resolution asks that the Planning Department review current local, state and federal affordable housing programs “to determine what if any impediments exist to the creation of affordable housing in Quincy and what if any local changes can be made to encourage affordable housing” in the city.

Areas of review, DiBona added, should include, but not be limited to, the city providing administrative assistance to income qualification and verification requirments, waiver of municipal fees, and the Affordable Housing Trust Fund funding the purchase of affordable deed restrictions to existing individual condominium units.

DiBona’s resolution was approved in an 8-0 vote on Monday – Ward 6 Councillor William Harris was not present at the meeting – and referred to the council’s oversight and housing committees.

FoxRock Properties Acquires Crown Colony Building

FoxRock Properties has acquired the office building at 1200 Crown Colony Drive in Quincy. Photo Courtesy Flaunt Boston.

FoxRock Properties, a real estate investment, development, and management firm, on Thursday announced its acquisition of Quincy’s premier office building at 1200 Crown Colony Drive. The 236,491 square foot building is in the highly visible and centrally located Crown Colony Office Park, just a half mile from the Quincy Adams T stop and adjacent to the I-93 and Route 3 interchange.

“We think this is an opportunity to own a best-in-class property in a best-in-class city,” says FoxRock owner Rob Hale. “We’re seeing an influx of organizations that are attracted to the value proposition of being based in Quincy, and growing in Quincy. We are very bullish about the business community and workforce in the city.”

FoxRock has already secured leases, and tenants will be made public in the near future.

With a portfolio of 5 million square feet, FoxRock has maintained high occupancy and retention rates in their office buildings through high touch service and top-of-the-line amenities such as game rooms, golf simulators, and flexible work suites.

“This building is going to be a showpiece for best-in-class amenities and tenant offerings,” says Jason Ward, Managing Director at FoxRock “There will be concerts, happy hours, food truck events, fitness and wellness classes. We look forward to delivering an unmatched offering for tenants who want to be competitive in the fight for talent.”

The amenities at 1200 Crown Colony Drive combined with the building’s proximity to public transportation and highways makes it an ideal location for employers looking to attract and retain top talent. Highlights include: a landscaped patio with soft seating and gas firepits, a renovated atrium lobby with coffee bar, a new full-service café, a 2,950 square foot state-of-the-art fitness center, an expansive fireplace lounge, outdoor exercise lawn and ample parking.

Biden, Trump Primary Winners In Quincy

By SCOTT JACKSON

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump won big on Super Tuesday – both in Quincy and elsewhere – all but guaranteeing a rematch between the two in the fall.

Biden received 6,364 votes in Quincy in the March 5 Democratic primary, 74.65 percent of all votes cast, and was the top vote getter in each of the city’s six wards. “No preference” garnered the second most votes, 1,031, followed by Cong. Dean Phillips (536 votes) and author Marianne Williamson (338 votes).

Biden won the Massachusetts primary with 82.8 percent of vote; “no preference” was runner up with 9.4 percent of the vote. Biden was the winner of in every contest held on March 5, except for the American Samoa primary, where he finished behind entrepreneur Jason Palmer. Phillips withdrew from the race on Wednesday afternoon.

Trump received 4,388 votes in Quincy in the Republican primary, 67.56 percent of all votes cast, and polled the most votes in all six wards. Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina, was runner up with 1,901 votes. “No preference” was a distant third with 75 votes. The remaining votes were split between candidates who withdrew from the race prior to the primary: Chris Christie (48 votes), Ron DeSantis (27), Vivek Ramaswamy (24), Ryan Binkley (9) and Asa Hutchinson (4).

Trump won the Massachusetts primary with 60 percent of the vote while Haley received 36.7 percent of the vote. Trump was the winner in every primary held on March 5, save for Vermont, which Haley won. Haley withdraw from the race on Wednesday morning.

In the Libertarian primary, “no preference” polled the most votes in Quincy, 44. Chase Oliver received 21 votes, Jacob Hornberger got 14, Michael Rectenwald polled 10 votes, Michael Ter Matt received four votes, and Lars Mapstead finished with two. Statewide results for the primary were not available Wednesday morning.

The only other contests on Tuesday’s ballots were for the Republican state committee man and woman for the Norfolk & Plymouth District, which includes all of Quincy and extends to several other communities.

In the committee man race in Quincy, Alexander Hagerty outpolled Gary Innes, 2,651 votes to 2,196. Hagerty also outpolled Innes in Braintree, 401 to 312, and in Holbrook, 676 to 210. In Hanover, Innes outpolled Hagerty, 1,640 to 412. Results for Abington and Rockland were not available as of noontime on Wednesday.

In the committee woman race in Quincy, Beth Veneto outpolled Edith Hughes, 3,263 votes to 1,976. Veneto also outpolled Hughes in Braintree, 421 to 284, and in Hanover, 1,175 to 666. In Holbrook, Hughes outpolled Veneto, 417 to 411.

Joel Buenaventura and Sandra Merrick were unopposed in the race for the Democratic state committee man and woman seats for the same district. Buenaventura polled 6,243 votes in Quincy and Merrick garnered 6,422.

Turnout in Quincy for the primary was 23.52 percent, with 15,314 of the city’s 65,120 registered voters casting ballots.

Arrest Made In Wollaston Shooting

By SCOTT JACKSON

Quincy police have arrested a Lowell man in connection with a shooting that left a man with non-life-threatening injuries.

The Lowell man, who police did not identify by name on Saturday, is facing charges of armed assault with intent to murder, possession of ammunition without a firearms identification card, discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a building or dwelling, illegal possession of ammunition, possession with intent to distribute a class A substance, and possession with intent to distribute a class B substance. The suspect is due to be arraigned Tuesday in Quincy District Court on those charges.

Quincy police were called to the area of Elm Avenue and Marlboro Street in the Wollaston section of the city just after 3 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 16, for a reported shooting. The victim was taken to a Boston hospital for non-life-threatening injuries. The suspect was arrested that same evening.

“I would like to commend the outstanding work of the department’s patrol and detective units in making a quick arrest and also let residents in the Wollaston neighborhood of Quincy know that this was an isolated incident and there is no ongoing threat to the public,” Police Chief Mark Kennedy said in a statement.

Any witnesses with additional information regarding the incident are asked to contact the department’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation at 617-479-1212.

Driver Extricated From Vehicle Following Quincy Center Crash

By SCOTT JACKSON

A 62-year-old Quincy resident sustained non-life-threatening injuries after being entrapped in their SUV during a single-vehicle crash in Quincy Center on Tuesday afternoon.

The crash took place at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday in the vicinity of 1250 Hancock St., police said in a statement. The SUV, driven by the 62-year-old Quincy resident, had been traveling southbound on Hancock Street when it traveled over the curb and struck a traffic light pole near the Hancock Adams Common.

The driver of the vehicle was entrapped in the car as a result of the crash, police said, and had to be extricated by Quincy firefighters. The driver was then transported to Boston Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries. No further update was available on the driver’s condition.

No pedestrians were injured as a result of the crash.

The crash is under investigation by the Quincy Police Department’s traffic unit and no citation had been issued as of late Tuesday.

$600,000 Approved For Quincy 400

By SCOTT JACKSON

Quincy city councillors on Monday approved an appropriation of $600,000 to cover costs associated with the Quincy 400 initiative, which will celebrate the quadricentennial of the city’s 1625 settlement next year.

“The goal of this exercise is to provide the seed money where we will have some ability over the next couple of months to come up with a rough schedule or calendar, the detailed breakdown of all the programs we’re going to do,” said Chris Walker, the chief of staff to Mayor Thomas Koch.

“This is really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and we’re going to do everything we can to make this a memorable experience for the city.”

Councillors approved the appropriation in an 8-0 vote on Monday; Ward 1 Councillor David McCarthy was not present at Monday’s meeting.

The $600,000 will come from the city’s hotel/motel tax receipts, a tax charged to visitors who stay in one of Quincy’s hotels or motels. Eric Mason, the city’s director of municipal finance, said there was $2.7 million in that account prior to the council vote. Mason anticipates the city will collect an additional $1.2 million in hotel/motel taxes in the third and fourth quarters of fiscal year 2024, which ends on June 30, and $1.3 million in the first two quarters of fiscal year 2025, which begins July 1.

The total costs of the Quincy 400 initiative are expected to be higher than $600,000, Walker wrote in a memo to city councillors. The city hopes to get outside funding for the initiative, he said, and having the initial funding in place will make that easier.

“What’s before the body is essentially seed money to get the ball rolling on planning and certain specific activities that have been discussed to date,” he said in the memo. “We fully anticipate that that the costs associated with the celebrations befitting the significance of this anniversary will be greater than what’s before you – but the goal is use this initial funding to leverage private donations via outside groups and sponsorship dollars in the coming months.”

The $600,000 will also allow the city to “get to a firm final plan, a full calendar, and the schedule and timing of projects associated with the anniversary celebration,” Walker wrote, and the administration is hopeful that information could be shared with the City Council before the body recesses for the summer at the end of June.

The memo also included a rough estimate of how the $600,000 would be spent.

Half of the funds, $300,000, will be for programming. That could include a major concert or concerts; a lecture series featuring notable Quincy residents or others with ties to the city; educational programming within the Quincy Public Schools; museum exhibits; expansion of existing events, like Lunar New Years and the Flag Day and Christmas parades; and “the telling of our immigrant story.”

The second largest item, $100,000, would be for personnel/contractual. That could include project management, outside firms to assist in major bookings, and an outside firm to assist in corporate sponsorships.

The budget also includes $80,000 for marketing – promotional materials, branding and souvenirs – and $20,000 for a website. Also included in the budget is $50,000 each for a heritage tree program and an historic signage program.

While the memo included those estimates, Walker said they are subject to change.

“Please note that the funding is flexible,” he wrote in the memo. “The Council is being asked to appropriate the bottom line total of $600,000, not the individual budget buckets. The funding would be interchangeable as specific plans take shape.

“Many of the ideas below came from community discussions and internal planning over the last several years, and we certainly hope you will continue share your ideas with us in the lead up to the new year.”