Chairman Lynch Issues Statement On President Biden’s Plan To Withdraw Troops From Afghanistan By September 2021

U.S. Representative Stephen F. Lynch, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security, issued the following statement Wednesday after President Joseph R. Biden announced his plan to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, 2021:

“While I certainly share the desire to disengage militarily from Afghanistan, withdrawing all U.S. troops by September still comes with significant risks to U.S. national security, Afghan self-government, and the stability of the region.  

 “Multiple credible witnesses, including former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joe Dunford, former Senator Kelly Ayotte, and Special Inspector General John Sopko, have recently testified before our Subcommittee and warned that the complete withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Afghanistan by the Trump Administration’s May 1st deadline was likely to have disastrous consequences for our national security, as well as the future stability of Afghanistan and the nascent rights of women and girls in that country.

 “Under current conditions, the potential Taliban overthrow of the Afghan Government remains a strong possibility.  Civil war would seem a virtual certainty.  For those reasons, I look forward to discussions with the Administration to more fully understand the strategy that will enable us to successfully adhere to this new timeline.  To that end, I have requested a briefing with Special Representative Khalilzad, and I look forward to inviting Administration representatives to testify at a hearing on this momentous decision in the coming weeks.”

 

Plans For New Squantum School Advancing

By SCOTT JACKSON

Quincy’s plans to replace the 102-year-old Squantum Elementary School took a step forward Wednesday when the MSBA voted to move the project into its eligibility period.

During the 270-day eligibility period, the MSBA will work with the city to determine the city’s financial and community readiness to enter the MSBA capital pipeline.

The next step is for the district to complete preliminary requirements pertaining to local approval and formation of a local school building committee, the MSBA said. Upon timely and successful completion of the eligibility period requirements, the district becomes eligible for an invitation into the feasibility study phase of the MSBA capital pipeline, subject to a vote of the board of directors.

Mayor Thomas Koch welcomed Wednesday’s news.

“This project is vital to the future of Squantum and our city,” he said in a statement. “We have an incredibly well-proven track record in delivering transformational school projects together with the MSBA, and I think that gives the Board of Directors a good deal of confidence in welcoming us once again into the program.

“I’m grateful for the ongoing partnership with Treasurer Goldberg, all of our colleagues at the MSBA, and the tremendous efforts by Superintendent Mulvey and his team, the state delegation, our City Councillors and the School Committee for getting us to this point. We have plenty of work ahead, and I’m looking forward to it.”

Supt. Kevin Mulvey said he looked forward to the next step in the process.

“I’m looking forward to working with the MSBA on the Eligibility Phase of the Squantum Elementary School project,” Mulvey said. “Thanks to the support of Quincy’s state legislative delegation, Mayor Koch, the City Council, and School Committee, we have an opportunity to build a state-of-the art facility to benefit all of the students who attend the school, both from the neighborhood and the citywide special education program students.  A new building will enhance the outstanding educational opportunities provided by the dedicated staff and administrators at Squantum Elementary School and will also be an important resource for the local community.”

“This school is the cornerstone of the Squantum community, and I am thrilled we are now on our way to providing the state-of-the-art educational facility that our young people very much deserve,” Ward 6 Councillor William Harris added. “I can think of few higher priorities for myself as ward councillor than seeing this project through, and I look forward to working directly with so many of our neighbors in Squantum as this process moves forward.”

Quincy officials first expressed interest in replacing the Squantum Elementary School since 2015. Located on Huckins Avenue, the Squantum Elementary School was built in 1919 and an addition was added in 1971. City officials said the facility has not seen any substantial improvements since then and the building lacks the space needed in a modern elementary school.

The Squantum Elementary School would be the fourth school building the city has partnered with the MSBA to build in the past dozen years. The new Quincy High School opened in 2010, followed by the new Central Middle School three years later. The South West Middle School opened in 2019, replacing the Sterling Middle School. State reimbursements for those projects have ranged from 60 to 80 percent, saving local taxpayers tens of millions of dollars, city officials said.

The city also plans to renovate a Wollaston office building to convert it into the Richard DeCristofaro Learning Center, which will primarily serve special education students. That project is not being done in concert with the MSBA.

Koch has also expressed an interest in building a new elementary school in West Quincy at the site of the former St. Mary School. He previously said that would be the next project submitted to the MSBA following the Squantum Elementary School.

Said State Senator John Keenan:

“I wish to thank the School Building Authority, its Board and team, and Treasurer Goldberg for advancing the Squantum School project through the process, and congratulate my colleagues in government – Representative Ayers, Mayor Koch, the City Council, Superintendent Mulvey and his team, and the School Committee – for their hard work in laying the groundwork for what will be a modern school in another of Quincy’s great neighborhoods. Generations of students will benefit, proving that government works best when it works together.”

Added State Representative Bruce Ayers:

“The city designated rebuilding the Squantum School as a priority a few years ago, and this morning our advocacy paid off. I was proud to testify in support of the city’s proposal at the MSBA’s board meeting. With this partnership, we can finally begin to replace a facility that is over 100 years old and hasn’t been renovated in decades. A new building will help the great educators at Squantum School bring their programs into the 21st century of education. This project will allow for technology integration, greater investment in the arts, and more emphasis on STEM learning, all thanks to a facility equipped with the tools necessary for students to reach their maximum potential. The residents of Squantum take a lot of pride in their community, and now they are one big step closer to having an elementary school facility they can be proud of as well.”

 

Baker Anticipates ‘Minimal Disruption’ From J&J Vaccine Pause

By SCOTT JACKSON

Gov. Charlie Baker on Wednesday said the decision by federal regulators to temporarily stop the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine would have a minimal impact on Massachusetts’ vaccination efforts.

“The health and safety of our residents remains a paramount and fundamental concern for us and the commonwealth will closely monitor this issue and follow federal guidance as we move forward with our vaccination program,” Baker said during a press conference at Boston’s Hynes Convention Center, one of seven mass vaccination sites in the state.

“The J&J supply in Massachusetts is currently a small portion of our supply. In the immediate future, we are expecting minimal disruption to schedule new appointments.”

Massachusetts received 11,600 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine this week as part its state allocation, Baker noted, compared to 340,000 doses combined of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. To date, 4.7 million doses of the three COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the Bay State, 192,000 of which were the J&J vaccine.

The CDC and FDA on Tuesday recommended a temporary pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The agencies called for the pause after receiving reports that six of the 6.8 million individuals who received the vaccine in the United States developed a “rare and severe type of blood clot” that cannot be treated with the anticoagulant heparin. All six cases occurred in women between the ages of 18 and 48, and symptoms occurred between six and 13 days after vaccination, the agencies said.

The CDC’s Committee on Immunization Practices planned to meet Wednesday to review those reports. The FDA will also conduct its own investigation.

People who have received the J&J vaccine who develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their health care provider, federal officials said.

During Wednesday’s press conference, Baker said Massachusetts agreed to pause the use of the J&J vaccine Tuesday following the federal announcement out of an abundance of caution. The governor said he was glad the federal government took the steps it did.

“The decision that the FDA and the CDC made here based on six cases out of 7 million administered, to put a pause on this and take a look at it, is an example of the system working the way it should,” Baker said.

“In an abundance of caution, they put out the word, said we need to take a look at this, and that is what they are doing.”

Baker, who received his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine earlier this month, said he would still feel confident taking the J&J vaccine.

“I would take the J&J if it had been available – and I would still take it – but I think it is important for the feds to do their homework on this because the last thing we want to do is make decisions based on anything but the best available information,” he said.

Baker noted that Marylou Sudders, the state’s health and human services secretary, previously received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The J&J vaccine is based on a different technology than the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. The J&J vaccine uses an inactivated, modified form of a common cold virus, known as an adenovirus, to teach the immune system to recognize the virus that causes COVID-19. The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines use messenger RNA to prepare the immune system to recognize the coronavirus.

All Bay State residents over the age of 55 are now eligible to get the vaccine, as are those with one or more qualifying health condition and certain essential workers. All residents ages 16 and up will be eligible to get their shots starting April 19, though only the Pfizer vaccine has been cleared for use in 16- and 17-year-olds.

All residents should get the vaccine when they can, the governor said.

“It is critically important, I believe, for me and my family that I get vaccinated, and I think it is critically important for everybody, when they have that opportunity, to sign up and get vaccinated,” Baker said.

“The vaccine is a big part of getting back to what we might call normal and it is critical for all of us to take advantage of this opportunity when we have it.”

All residents can preregister for an appointment at mass.gov/covidvaccine, regardless of when they are eligible to book an appointment. Preregistration is currently available for the state’s seven mass vaccination sites – including the Hynes Convention Center and the Reggie Lewis Center, both in Boston – and six regional collaboratives, including one in Marshfield and five in the western part of the state.

Appointments for other locations can also be booked online through the state website and the site has a complete list of occupations now eligible for the vaccine and the list of qualifying medical conditions. Residents without internet access can call 2-1-1 and follow the prompts to schedule an appointment.

Residents can also book appointments directly through the websites for pharmacies like CVS, Stop & Shop, Shaw’s/Star Market, and Walgreens.

Koch To Propose Acquiring Adams Academy

The city of Quincy could soon acquire the Adams Academy and two nearby properties as part of Mayor Thomas Koch’s proposal to create a new John Adams Presidential Library. The site was the birthplace of John Hancock, whose bust is pictured in front of the building. Quincy Sun File Photo/Robert Bosworth

By SCOTT JACKSON

Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch wants the city to acquire the Adams Academy and two nearby properties to create the new John Adams Presidential Library.

Under the mayor’s proposal, the city would purchase the Adams Academy at 8 Adams St. and as well as the properties at 24 and 26 Adams St. Koch is proposing to use $9 million in community preservation funding to buy the three parcels.

The Community Preservation Committee approved the purchase of the land using those funds in a 7-1 vote April 8. The City Council must still approve the purchase.

Koch unveiled plans to create the new presidential library in his January 2020 inaugural address. The centerpiece of the library would be the second president’s personal book collection, which Adams left to the then town of Quincy in his will. The collection, which includes Adams’ hand-written notes and thoughts on a wide range of subjects, is widely considered to be a historic treasure. It is currently under the care of the Boston Public Library, and Koch has formally requested that it be returned to Quincy.

The Adams Academy, which is located on the site where John Hancock was born, is currently home to the Quincy Historical Society. The other parcels have been targeted for redevelopment and Koch said acquiring them would protect the historic character of the corridor.

“Protecting this corridor will have an immediate benefit in preserving the character of the Academy building, and by using community preservation funding, it will do so without impacting the budget,” Koch said in a statement Tuesday.

The community preservation Fund is a voter-approved tax surcharge that must be spent on items like historic preservation, park improvements, affordable housing, and purchasing open space. It is maintained within its own account and does not affect Quincy’s general operating budget, city officials said.

The ownership of the Adams Academy has been the subject of litigation in recent years.

In December, Chief Justice Kimberly Budd of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the Adams Temple and School Fund is the owner of the property, not the city, in a single-justice opinion.

James DeGiacomo, the trustee of the Adams Temple and School Fund, filed a lawsuit in 2019 seeking permission to sell the property for the benefit of the Woodward School for Girls, the beneficiary of the trust fund. Quincy had moved to intervene in that lawsuit, but Budd denied that motion after determining the city was not the owner of the property.

The city has filed a motion to appeal that decision to the full court.

City Solicitor Jim Timmins on Tuesday said Koch would be willing to use eminent domain to take the properties if a deal could not be reach.

“We would certainly wish to negotiate a purchase, but the mayor is committed to moving forward with this project and would use eminent domain if necessary,” Timmins said.

DiGiacomo, in an email Tuesday, said he had yet to receive any proposal from the city.

Budd’s December decision was the latest chapter in the saga of the Adams Temple and School Fund, which the second president established.

The legal dispute began in 2005, when the then chair of the Woodward School’s board of trustees requested a full accounting of the Adams Temple. The Woodward School sought the full accounting because it received lower than anticipated payments from the fund the previous two years.

The school filed suit against the city in 2007 after the information was not received. After a bench trial, a probate court judge in 2011 found the city had breached its fiduciary duty to the trust fund and removed the city as its trustee – DeGiacomo was appointed the trustee at that time. The probate court also determined the trust fund, and not the city, owned the Adams Academy property, Budd said in her December ruling.

The Supreme Judicial Court upheld the probate court’s ruling in a 2014 decision but remanded the case to the lower court to recalculate damages the city owed.

DeGiacomo, as the trustee of the fund, then sued to invalidate the 50-year lease for the Adams Academy site that had been negotiated by the city and the Quincy Historical Society.

Under terms of the lease, which was signed in 1972, the historical society pays the city $1,200 annually to use the Adams Academy building and is also responsible for its upkeep. DeGiacomo had argued the group was not paying fair market value for the lease.

A single justice of the Supreme Judicial Court dismissed that lawsuit and the full court later affirmed the dismissal in 2016. In its ruling, the court said Quincy took the proper steps – including notifying the office of then Attorney General Robert Quinn – before executing the lease. Under state law, the attorney general is tasked with representing the beneficiaries of a public trust such as the Adams Temple and School Fund.

Free Presentation for Parents: Identifying and Managing Back to School Stress and Anxiety in Kids

Parents may be worried about their children and their stress at returning to school after months away because of the pandemic. Join Aspire Health Alliance at one of two times for a Zoom educational event “Identifying, Managing and Reducing Back to School Stress and Anxiety in Kids” hosted by Kathleen Bambrick, LICSW and Director of Training at Aspire.

There is a choice of two dates and times, Tuesday, April 27 at 7 p.m. and Wednesday, May 5 at 6 p.m. The program is free but pre-registration is required. For more information, call 617-378-1049.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

To register in advance for this meeting click the link below:

https://umassboston.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJYlcO-grT0jHtJG8T2cokwkCkUuIte__rlA

 Wednesday, May 5, 2021 06:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

To register in advance for this meeting click the link below:

https://umassboston.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJAkfumuqDgpH9GLvPnrg001DvOgvLSKy2_u

Braintree, Quincy Adams Garages Reopening Next Week

The MBTA on Tuesday announced that the parking garages at Braintree and Quincy Adams stations will reopen to customers on April 20.

Both garages have been closed since October 5, 2020, to enable accelerated infrastructure work to take place while ridership was reduced during the pandemic.

Beginning April 20, the Quincy Adams garage facility will have 500 available parking spaces and the Braintree garage will have 350 available parking spaces. The Quincy Adams gGarage drop-off and pick-up location will remain at its location within Level 1B with the Braintree garage drop-off and pick-up area moved back to its original location at Level 2A. The garages will be pay-by-phone/pay-by-plate with no need to pay to exit. More information on how to pay for parking is available at mbta.com/parking.

The two satellite lots at Quincy Adams (635 parking spaces) and two satellite lots at Braintree (315 parking spaces) will also continue to be available.

Upon re-opening, infrastructure improvement work will continue to take place at each facility with a total of 300 parking spaces reserved for construction work zones between the two garages. If parking demand increases, the MBTA will accommodate by opening as many spaces as necessary to meet demand.

When complete, the completely rehabilitated garages at Braintree and Quincy Adams will both be brought into a state of good repair with improved customer experiences that include better parking amenities, wider and more accessible parking spaces, and safer pedestrian routes to and from the stations available to riders. The Braintree garage will also feature a new lobby with a new elevator among other upgrades, and the Quincy Adams garage will feature new bicycle storage, the installation of a new pedestrian bridge, and more. With a budget of $64.3 million, the project is expected to be complete in June 2022.

For more information, please visit mbta.com/southshore or connect with the T on Twitter @MBTA, Facebook /TheMBTA, or Instagram @theMBTA.

2 Million Residents Fully Vaccinated By Week’s End, Baker Says

By SCOTT JACKSON

Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday said he anticipates the number of Massachusetts residents fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will eclipse 2 million by the end of the week, with all residents ages 16 and up eligible to get their shots starting April 19.

Speaking at a press conference in Worcester, Baker said 4.5 million total doses of the COVID-19 vaccines had been administered in Massachusetts, and 53 percent of adults have gotten at least one shot.

More than 1.7 million residents were fully vaccinated as of Monday, the governor said, meaning they have received two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or one dose of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“I fully expect that at some point later this week…we will pass 2 million people in Massachusetts fully vaccinated,” he said.

Baker said the number of doses Massachusetts can administer going forward depends on many shots the federal government sends the state.

“We have the infrastructure to administer a lot more vaccine than we have actually got. Unfortunately, we have been told by the federal government, that shipments, especially with respect to the J&J vaccine, will be much lower this week after we received a one-time increase last week.

“We continue to hope that the federal government’s increases with regard to vaccine supply generally and especially with respect to J&J get resolved and that the supply numbers – not just here in Massachusetts, but around the rest of the country – get to the point where they can actually meet demand. When they do, we will quickly be able to get those doses into people’s arms.”

Massachusetts received 100,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine last week. The state will be getting 12,000 J&J doses this week and 4,000 next week, Baker said, and he is waiting to hear from the federal government about shipments after that point. The governor said a manufacturing error at a Baltimore plant, which led to 15 million doses being discarded, was to blame for the drop off in J&J vaccine being sent to the state.

Baker said he would prefer the shipments of the J&J vaccine be consistent from week to week.

“If the number is going to be 40,000 a week or 30,000 a week or 60,000 a week – whatever the number is going to be, just stay there,” he said. “The thing we would really like to see is the same sort of predictability and visibility into the J&J vaccine that we have had into Moderna and Pfizer.”

Despite the hiccups with supply, Baker said residents should be confident in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“About 120,000 people in Massachusetts have gotten the J&J vaccine and overall, outside of the occasional issues you have for some people with respect to how they would have responded to any vaccine, the feedback on it has been very good,” Baker said.

“I’m not worried about J&J.”

All Bay State residents over the age of 55 are now eligible to get the vaccine, as are those with one or more qualifying health condition and certain essential workers. All residents ages 16 and up 16 will be eligible to get their shots starting April 19, though only the Pfizer vaccine has been cleared for use in 16- and 17-year-olds.

“Getting open to everybody by April 19 is pretty consistent with what we said back in December about when we thought we would be there,” Baker said.

“I have said several times that supply will be an issue, but I do believe that if the supply is there, by the time we get to Memorial Day a significant number of people in Massachusetts will have been vaccinated.”

All residents can preregister for an appointment at mass.gov/covidvaccine, regardless of when they are eligible to book an appointment. Preregistration is currently available for the state’s seven mass vaccination sites – including Boston’s Hynes Convention Center and Reggie Lewis – and a pair of regional collaboratives, one in Marshfield and the other in Amherst/Northampton. Additional locations could be added to the preregistration system in the coming weeks.

Appointments for other locations can also be booked online through the state website and the site has a complete list of occupations now eligible for the vaccine and the list of qualifying medical conditions. Residents without internet access can call 2-1-1 and follow the prompts to schedule an appointment.

Residents can also book appointments directly through the websites for pharmacies like CVS or Walgreens.

Baker-Polito Administration Announces Expansion Of Pre-Registration System

The Baker-Polito Administration announced Wednesday (April 7) the expansion of the pre-registration to include some regional collaboratives and improved features to allow for vaccination location selection during appointment booking.

Later this week, the Commonwealth’s preregistration system will expand to include the first regional collaboratives to the system. The Amherst/Northampton and Marshfield regional collaboratives will be the first to come online, and more regional collaboratives are working with the Command Center and tech teams to ensure they meet the operational and technological requirements to be added to the preregistration system.

Next week, the user experience for the preregistration system will change for people who are contacted with the opportunity to book appointments. People will have the opportunity to select their vaccination location before proceeding to select from available appointments.

To date, around 1.5 million people have preregistered using our system, with over 800,000 having been contacted with the opportunity to book appointments. We will continue to make improvements to the system in the weeks ahead, to make the process even easier as more people become eligible.

Quincy Squirt Hockey Team Dedicating Playoff Run To Team Dad

Quincy Youth Hockey’s Squirt A team will dedicate its playoff season to Bernie Anderson, a team dad who was diagnosed with glioblastoma last June. Courtesy photos.

Quincy Youth Hockey’s Squirt A team is dedicating their playoff season to a team dad who is battling glioblastoma.

Bernie Anderson was diagnosed with glioblastoma, a type of brain cancer, last Father’s Day and was given only 12 to 18 months to live. His son, Little Bernie, is a defenseman on the Squirt A team.

The team will compete for the South Shore Conference Championship against Weymouth on Saturday at Bridgewater Ice Arena. The game starts at 11:50 a.m.

The Quincy team will be sporting gray ribbons on their helmets adorned with the letters BBS for Big Bernie Strong.

The team will wear gray “Big Bernie Strong” ribbons for Saturday’s game.