21 Candidates Qualify For Quincy Election

By SCOTT JACKSON

Twenty-one residents have qualified for the ballot in this fall’s municipal election, which will feature four contested City Council races and a race for three seats on the School Committee.

There will be a preliminary election in the School Committee race next month.

Would-be candidates had until the end of the business day on July 27 to return nomination papers, including the signatures of 50 registered voters, to the Board of Registrars of Voters. Those running for the six ward seats on the City Council needed to collect all those signatures from voters within their ward.

Five people qualified for the ballot in the race for the three at-large seats on the council.

All three incumbents – Noel DiBona of 70 Chickatabot Road, Nina Liang of 100 Grand View Avenue 8A, and Anne Mahoney of 12 Ferriter Street – are running for reelection. DiBona and Liang are both seeking their fourth two-year term and Mahoney is seeking her third. DiBona and Mahoney previously served on the School Committee.

Joining them on the ballot are Michael Bellotti of 33 Bayberry Road and William Burke of 28 Rice Road. Bellotti is currently the Norfolk County treasurer and was formerly the county sheriff and a state representative. Burke ran unsuccessfully for state representative in 2018 and had run for Congress two years prior.

A sixth candidate, John Rodophele of 62 Grenwold Rd., pulled papers to seek an at-large seat but did not return them.

There will also be races for three of the six ward seats on the council.

In Ward 1, incumbent David McCarthy of 48 Whitney Road will face off against Joseph Murphy of 18 Macy Street. McCarthy, who formerly served on the School Committee, is seeking his third term on the council. This will be the third time McCarthy and Murphy have run against each other.

In Ward 2, incumbent Anthony Andronico of 46 Endicott Street and Steven Perdios of 86 Ruggles Street both qualified for the ballot. Andronico, who had been serving on the School Committee, was appointed to the Ward 2 seat in January following the resignation of longtime councillor Brad Croall. Croall was first elected in 2011, when he defeated Perdios for an open seat.

A third resident, Jorgette Theophilis of 4 Norman Road, returned her nomination papers but was five signatures short of the requisite 50. A preliminary election in would have been required in the Ward 2 race if she had qualified for the ballot,

In Ward 5, incumbent Charles Phelan Jr. of 298 Fenno Street and challenger Stephen Christo of 42 Standish Avenue both qualified for the ballot. Phelan is seeking his second consecutive term; he previously represented Ward 5 on the council from 1988 to 1996. Christo had run against Phelan for an open seat in 2019.

The remaining incumbent councillors – Ward 3 Councillor Ian Cain of 93 Forbes Hill Road, Ward 4 Councillor Brian Palmucci of 16 Cross Street and Ward 6 Councillor William Harris of 74 Ashworth Road – qualified for the ballot and will be unopposed in the fall. Cain and Harris are seeking their fourth terms and Palmucci his seventh.

Seven candidates qualified for the ballot in the School Committee race, which means a preliminary election will take place on Sept. 14 to whittle the field of candidates down to six, barring any withdrawals.

All three committee members whose terms expire at the end of the year have qualified for the ballot: Douglas Gutro of 85 Arnold Street, Emily Lebo of 354 Highland Avenue and Courtney Perdios of 86 Ruggles Street. Gutro, who previously served on the City Council, is concluding his first four-year term on the committee; Lebo has served ten years on the board; and Perdios was appointed to the seat in February to fill out the remainder of Andronico’s term after he joined the council. Perdios had finished in fourth place in the 2019 school board election.

Joining them on the ballot are challengers Tina Cahill of 51 Grenwold Road, Ellen Patterson O’Donnell of 6 Hatherly Road, Liberty Schaaf of 28 Howe Street and Liz Speakman of 129 Merrymount Road. O’Donnell, Schaaf and Speakman were also nominated for the open seat Perdios filled during the February joint convention.

An eighth candidate, John McDonald of 241 Quincy Shore Drive, took out nomination papers but did not return them.

Candidates for both City Council and School Committee have until 5 p.m. on Aug. 10 to submit certified nomination papers, including a statement of candidacy, to the clerk’s office. The deadline for objections and withdrawals is 5 p.m. on Aug. 12.

Ballot position for the preliminary will be determined by drawing on Aug. 6 at 10 a.m.

The deadline to register to vote in the preliminary is 8 p.m. on Aug. 25. The last day to apply for a mail-in ballot ahead of the preliminary is Sept. 8 and the deadline to request an absentee ballot is noon on Sept. 13.

The cut off to register to vote ahead of the final election is 8 p.m. on Oct. 13. The deadline to request to vote by mail in the final election is Oct. 27 and the deadline to request an absentee ballot is noon on Nov. 1.

West Nile Virus Confirmed In Mosquitoes From Quincy

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health confirmed Tuesday that West Nile Virus (WNV) has been detected in mosquitoes collected from Quincy.

There was one WNV-positive Culex pipiens/restuans complex mosquito sample (pool) identified from samples collected July 21. The City of Quincy remains at low risk level, health officials said Tuesday.

To date, for 2021, the state has reported 15 WNV positive mosquito pools from four counties. There have been no human cases reported.

While WNV can infect people of all ages, people over the age of 50 are at higher risk for severe infection. WNV is most commonly transmitted to humans by the bite of a mosquito infected with the virus. The City of Quincy Health Department and the Mass. Department of Public Health recommend that the public continue to take action to avoid mosquito bites and reduce mosquito bites and reduce mosquito populations around their home.

Steps include:

• Limit your time outdoors during peak periods of mosquito activity (dusk and dawn) or, if you must remain outdoors, wear a long-sleeved shirt and long pants.

• Use mosquito repellent that contains DEET or Picaridin. Oil of lemon eucalyptus may also be considered. Products with permethrin should only be used on clothing. Follow directions on the label. Repellents should not be used on children younger than two months of age. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under three years of age.

• Take special care to cover up the arms and legs of children playing outdoors. When you bring a baby outdoors, cover the baby’s carriage or playpen with mosquito netting.

• Fix any holes in your screens and make sure they are tightly attached to all your doors and windows.

• Remove any standing water around your hone that is available for mosquito breeding. Mosquitoes will begin to breed in any puddle or standing water around your home that is available for mosquito breeding. Mosquitoes will begin to breed in any puddle or standing water that lasts for more than four days. Make sure water does not collect and stagnate in ceramic pots, trash cans, recycling containers, old tires, wading pools, bird baths, etc. Remove leaves and debris that may prevent drainage of roof gutters.

For more information visit https://www.quincyma.gov. or http://www.mosquitoresults.com/

Dorchester Man Killed In Squantum Crash

By SCOTT JACKSON

An early morning motorcycle crash Saturday in Squantum claimed the life of a 23-year-old Dorchester man.

Quincy police responded to the scene of the crash shortly after 2 a.m. on Saturday, Capt. John Dougan said, and found the rider and motorcycle up against a seawall.

The rider, identified as Carlos Soto-Mendez, age 23, of Dorchester, was taken to Boston Medical Center with critical injuries. He was pronounced deceased there that morning, according to Sgt. Karyn Barkas.

A preliminary investigation by Quincy police indicated Soto-Mendez lost control of the motorcycle and crashed into the seawall, Dougan said.

The crash remained under investigation by the department’s accident reconstruction unit as of Tuesday, Barkas stated.

Quincy Man Facing Charges After Multi-Car Crash

By SCOTT JACKSON

A 26-year-old Quincy man is facing charges after allegedly fleeing the scene of a multiple-vehicle crash in Wollaston early Sunday morning.

The crash took place near the intersection of Hancock and Beale streets around 12:15 a.m. on Sunday, according to Quincy Police Capt. John Dougan.

Dougan said a vehicle was traveling southbound when it veered into the northbound lane, striking another vehicle head-on.

The driver of the vehicle that was struck was unconscious when first responders arrived, Dougan said, and Quincy firefighters had to remove him from the vehicle using hydraulic tools. The driver was taken to Boston Medical Center in serious condition.

A third vehicle was also involved in the crash, Dougan said. The driver of that vehicle was treated at the scene and was not hospitalized.

The driver of the vehicle that veered into the northbound lane fled the scene on foot but was located by officers at a nearby convenience store, Dougan said. He was taken to Boston Medical Center for evaluation.

Dougan said that driver – identified as 26-year-old Anthony McShane of Quincy – would be summonsed to court on charges of leaving the scene of a crash with property damage, leaving the scene of a crash that caused personal injury, and a marked lanes violation.

RMV Cautions Customers To Be Aware Of Text Phishing Scam

The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) is cautioning customers to be aware of a text phishing scam that has been reported in the Commonwealth and in other states.

The scam reportedly involves customers receiving text messages, claiming to be from the “DMV,” that direct them to click on a provided link to update their personal identifying contact information.  Customers can identify this type of text as a phishing scam because it includes “DMV” and in Massachusetts DMV is not the name of the Registry of Motor Vehicles; in Massachusetts, the name of the Registry is abbreviated as “RMV.” Any text using the phrase “Department of Motor Vehicles” or “DMV” should be deleted.

Note that the RMV does not send unsolicited requests for personal and/or contact information to customers by text.  Any communication by text from the RMV would be as a result of a customer-initiated request or transaction.

For the latest Registry updates and information, check Mass.gov/RMV or follow the RMV on Twitter @MassRMV.

Blood Shortage Continues: Red Cross Needs Donors Now

While donors across the country have rolled up a sleeve to give this summer, the need for blood and platelets remains crucial for patients relying on lifesaving transfusions. The American Red Cross continues to experience a severe blood shortage and donors of all blood types – especially type O and those giving platelets – are urged to make an appointment to give now.

 Right now, the Red Cross needs to collect more than 1,000 additional blood donations each day to meet current demand as hospitals respond to an unusually high number of traumas and emergency room visits, organ transplants and elective surgeries.

 To thank donors who help refuel the blood and platelets supply this month, all who come to give July 7-31 will receive a $10 Amazon.com Gift Card via email and will also receive automatic entry for a chance to win gas for a year (a $5,000 value). More information and details are available at rcblood.org/fuel. Also, all those who come to donate throughout the entire month of July will be automatically entered for a chance to win a trip for four to Cedar Point or Knott’s Berry Farm. To learn more, visit rcblood.org/CedarFair.

Donors who give now will help stock the shelves for the rest of the summer season. Schedule an appointment to give blood or platelets by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.

In most cases, those who have received a COVID-19 vaccine can donate. However, knowing the name of the manufacturer of the vaccine they received is important in determining donation eligibility.

Two Red Cross Blood Drives are scheduled in Quincy this month:

• Friday, July 16 from 1 to 6 p.m. at the Quincy Sons of Italy Social Center, 120 Quarry St., and Monday, July 26 from 1 to 7 p.m. at the Sons of Italy, 120 Quarry St.

Quincy, Braintree Residents Oppose Proposed Billboard

By SCOTT JACKSON

Residents and elected officials from Quincy and Braintree spoke out against a proposed digital billboard that would be located along Route 3 in Quincy. Members of the board vetting the proposal were also skeptical of the idea.

Quincy’s Zoning Board of Appeals held a public hearing Tuesday on the request of the John Flatley Company for a variance to construct the new digital billboard at 1 Crown Drive, which is located within the Elevation apartment complex at Crown Colony. The board did not vote on the proposal that evening and will discuss the matter again on Aug. 10.

The proposed billboard, which would be 35 feet tall, would face toward Route 3 and Braintree. It would replace an existing billboard already on site.

“We are essentially seeking to replace the signage that exists there today, the static sign that exists there today, with a new digital sign,” said Edward Fleming, the attorney representing the John Flatley Company at the hearing.

While the developer is seeking permission to build the new billboard, a provision in Quincy’s municipal code prohibits the construction of new billboards and also prevents the ZBA from granting a variance for such a sign.

“The construction of new off-premises signs, including billboards, is prohibited throughout the City and the City may not issue permits for their construction or relocation. No use variance shall be granted to vary this provision,” the municipal code states.

At Tuesday’s hearing, however, Fleming said a separate section of the code gives the ZBA the ability to grant use variances in all zoning districts throughout the city – a provision he said was not changed when the City Council barred the ZBA from granting variances for billboards.

“They didn’t change the underlying authority that was given to the Zoning Board of Appeals,” he said.

In addition, Fleming said the ability to permit billboards ultimately rests with the state’s Outdoor Advertising Board. That board, he said, would have to hold a public hearing where residents of Quincy, Braintree and other communities would be allowed to share their concerns.

“All we are asking the board to do tonight is to grant a variance to allow this matter to move forward to the state level,” Fleming said.

The sign will not be visible from Quincy’s residential neighborhoods, Fleming said.

“You will not be able to see this sign from a residential neighborhood in Quincy, whether it is on Independence Ave or on Centre Street,” he said.

Douglas Richardson, a vice president with the John Flatley Company, said the height of the billboard, 35 feet, was chosen because it is 18 feet lower than the nearby buildings that comprise the Elevation apartment complex. Richardson presented the ZBA a slideshow he said indicated the billboard would have no visual impacts when viewed from the Common Street neighborhood and other areas in Braintree.

“There are multiple buffers, trees and grade changes as we make our way over towards the Common Street area,” he said. “We have done multiple perspectives and you will not see it.”

Drivers headed northbound on Route 3, Richardson stated, would have a “very limited view” of the sign. He said the billboard would be placed at an angle and its pixels use shades – which he likened to blinders used on horses – to limit the amount of bleed from the side of the signs.

Elected officials from Braintree, however, said the billboard would negatively impact their community.

Braintree Town Councillor Julia Flaherty, whose district includes Common Street and other nearby areas, said the sign would be visible in areas at a higher elevation than Common Street and in the second floors of homes, particularly in winter when there are no leaves on trees.

“It will impact our property values. It will impact our quality of life. No digital billboard belongs that close to a residential neighborhood,” she said. “I really hope that Braintree neighborhoods are not irrelevant to your consideration.”

Flaherty also said the billboard would distract drivers traveling along Route 3, which could lead to car crashes.

“It’s already a fairly stressful place to drive because everyone on the road there has to be focused on getting into the correct lane as they approach the north-south split,” she said. “Billboards create a driving distraction that creates accidents…it is designed to draw your eye away from the road, away from what you are supposed to be focused on.”

Braintree Town Councillor Steven Sciascia, whose district abuts Flaherty’s, noted that a digital billboard next to Route 3 in Weymouth generated complaints from area residents concerned about light pollution after it was installed.

“The issue is not the billboard, it is the fact that it is a digital, 24-hour-a-day lighted billboard that will be seen from a lot of areas in Braintree,” Sciascia said. “Those lights radiate. Everyone has seen them. You have heard all the controversy from towns like Weymouth that have signs like this go in and the impact it has on neighbors.”

In addition, Sciascia noted the applicant’s presentation used images taken during the spring or summer, when trees are full of leaves.

“When it is winter, and when it is 8 o’clock at night and you are trying to get your kids to go to bed and you have to keep the blinds closed because there are lights coming in your window, it will impact residents,” he said.

Quincy City Councillor Anne Mahoney said the intent of city councillors was clear when they barred the ZBA from granting variances for new billboards.

“The city of Quincy made it very clear that we do not want billboards anymore in the city,” she said. “Billboards do not have an economic value for the residents of the city of Quincy. It doesn’t make the area more valuable – it actually depresses the area, and that is a fact if you do the research.”

Mahoney also said she was concerned about the electronic sign leading to distracted driving along Route 3.

“I agree with my neighbors in Braintree. They articulated it very, very well and I am thanking them for being here tonight, because digital advertisements – especially in that section of the highway – would be extremely dangerous and I would hate to see that happen,” Mahoney said.

Members of the zoning board were also skeptical about the proposed digital billboard.

Michael Covais, the board’s vice chairperson, said he was concerned about the proposed location of the sign along Route 3, calling it a “terrible place for it.”

“Though it is not part of my job, I know, I am concerned about our neighbors too. We should be good neighbors,” Covais added. “The citizens of Quincy aren’t going to get anything out of it and the citizens of Braintree may have some problems.”

Board member John Himmel said he drives through that particular section of Route 3 on a daily basis and called it a “nightmare” in the morning and “worse coming home.”

“I can’t imagine anything worse than a digital billboard up on that hill,” he said. “On top of that, what is the advantage for Quincy? Are we going to be known as the ‘City of Signs and Cement?’ And, the negative impact on the town of Braintree, I think, is terrible.”

Martin Aikens, the board’s chairperson, likewise questioned what value the new billboard would provide to Quincy. Aikens said he did not want to vote on the matter at Tuesday’s meeting because the board received more than 40 letters about the proposal. He wanted time to consider that correspondence before voting and made a motion to continue the matter until Aug. 10.

Board member Brian Radell added that he would like to hear from the city solicitor or another city official about whether the ZBA could even grant a variance for the billboard before the vote is taken.

Thomas Crane Main Library Now Open

The main library of the Thomas Crane Public Library is now open. The main library is located at 40 Washington St., Quincy Center.

Hours are Monday to Thursday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday hours will resume after Labor Day.

Outside pickup service has been discontinued.

‘Fight Like A Nice Kid’ Benefit Thanks Donors

Cornhole tournament supervisor John MacNeil with winners Rob Kane and Mark O’Brien. Courtesy Photo

The friends of a Houghs Neck girl fighting a life threatening illness held a benefit for her and her family on July 8th. Priscilla Bonica, 18, is battling HLH, a rare  blood condition that signals the immune system to go into attack mode.  With Priscilla, the attack is mostly against her brain cells.  She is currently undergoing intense treatment and her prognosis is grim unless a life-saving bone marrow transplant can be successfully performed. If you are not already a donor, signup for a swab kit at https://my.bethematch.org.

Her friends Allysa Ryan, Ashley Grehan and Juliana Tracey, put together a kickball and cornhole tournament. There were close to 70 cornhole teams and 17 kickball teams. The night featured refreshments, raffles and games for young children as well.  The organizers would like to thank the local donors and merchants for their contributions and donations that made the night a  great success.  Those donors include Quincy Credit Union, Bunker Hill Moving, Manet Contracting, First Class Plumbing and Heating, Reliance Air Systems, Roxies Market, Houghs Neck Community Council, Ginger Betty’s Bakery, Quincy Creamery, Bernies General Store, FlyFoe, November Gale lobster boat, NQHS/QHS Alumni Football,  and Rob Froelich. A special thank you to Michelle Hanly and Quincy Recreation, as well as the Quincy Men’s Softball League.

Appreciation to John MacNeil and Janet Morrell for keeping the tournaments running smoothly.  Many local restaurants and business owners also donated raffle items. Thank you to everyone who lent a cornhole board to the event.

Kickball Tournament winners Quincy High School Boys Soccer Team. Courtesy Photo
Kids line up for a turn to kick during kid’s event. Courtesy Photo

Quincy Commission On Equity, Diversity And Inclusion Named

By SCOTT JACKSON

Quincy officials have announced the names of the nine members of the newly formed Commission on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

The nine members Mayor Thomas Koch has appointed to the commission are:

Ward 3 Councillor Ian Cain; attorney Gabriel Cheong; Faries Gray, a leader of the Massachusett Tribe at Ponkapoag; Philip Chong, the president and CEO of Quincy Asian Resources; David Murphy, the city’s commissioner of natural resources and formerly the town manager of Randolph; Lola Tom, the director of Asian services and community development for Hamel-Lydon Chapel; Mercy Umoren, a 30-year resident of the city; business owner Tony Patel; and Jean Kutash, who is a member of the city’s Commission on Disabilities.

The commissioners held their first meeting on Thursday evening. Koch, in an interview earlier Thursday, said that meeting was intended to be organizational in nature and would allow the members to get to know each other.

“The commission members, most of them haven’t met each other yet,” Koch said. “It is probably going to be more introductions, set up the ground rules, what kind of a schedule are we looking at…they have got to figure all that out.”

Koch said he planned to ask Cain, who is the first Black person elected to the City Council, to chair the commission at the first meeting. He also wanted to let the members know his office would be available to provide assistance as needed.

“Essentially, I am going to get on, thank everybody for serving, letting them know I have asked Ian to chair the meetings, that my office will be available to do any task they need to be done,” Koch said.

“I don’t want this to become a lot of work for any individuals. They are all volunteering their time, so if there is research they want done, there is information they want, the city, various departments, can handle that aspect, and then I will get out of the way.

“I will say hello, I will let them know my thoughts about things in the city, and then hopefully we get a report sometime in the fall from them and take it from there.”

Chris Walker, the mayor’s chief of staff, said the commission is not subject to the state’s Open Meeting Law. Nevertheless, future meetings will likely be open to the public.

“It’s not subject to it for a couple of reasons,” Walker wrote in an email. “First, the Commission was formed at the sole discretion of the Mayor and not by any law, regulation, or order from the City Council. Secondly, the decisions the Mayor makes based on the work of the Commission are his alone.

“Future meetings are expected to be open to the public regardless of the Open Meeting Law.”

Koch had announced he would be establishing the commission in March, two months after city councillors passed an ordinance to create a Department of Social Justice and Equity, which would consist of a single employee, a director, who would be tasked to, “create equity and inclusion among all populations in Quincy.” The mayor did not include that department in his budget for fiscal year 2022, which began July 1.

In Thursday’s interview, Koch said he has not seen problems other communities across the nation are facing happen in Quincy. The commission, he explained, would probe into those issues.

“I heard the message from some people in the community who felt the city wasn’t doing enough for segments of our population. As you know, I publicly did not agree with that. If you go back a year and a half before the pandemic and before the social justice movement across the country, the city was flying. The school system was doing extremely well. People were moving here because of the schools, the parks, it’s a safe city,” Koch said.

“I’m not saying we’re perfect – nobody is perfect – I just have not seen the types of issues that have been described nationally happening here in Quincy.”

“Having said that,” Koch continued, “I think this will be good for all parties, because I think the commission is going to learn about things the city is doing that they are not even aware of – whether it is rec programs, things happening in the schools, the libraries – and maybe the city learns some things from this process we weren’t aware of.

“I think it is a good exercise for the city to go through and take a hard look at things and make some recommendations going forward. I am open to ideas and suggestions, but at the end of the day, if it is a funding issue, it is my call then of course the [City] Council’s call.”