Friday, July 27, 2018

Revering Eastie

"Don’t let Eastie become Southie, residents say" by Milton J. Valencia Globe Staff  July 26, 2018

East Boston, with its picturesque views of the harbor and downtown skyline, diverse restaurants, and historic landmarks, has emerged as one of the city’s hottest neighborhoods for real estate — second only, perhaps, to South Boston’s Seaport District.

Only, don’t let Eastie turn into the Seaport District.

So say community leaders who have called for a temporary halt to development in East Boston — at least until some sort of community master plan can be put in place. They say they fear a disjointed building spree will turn their neighborhood enclave into another overdeveloped, mismatched expanse of gentrification — like what has happened across the harbor.

Of concern is that the burgeoning development of apartment complexes and towers has already begun to alter the landscape of the largely residential neighborhood and its population — displacing many of the Italian and newer Central American immigrants who called the neighborhood home.

The overall increase in the number of residents, many of whom are wealthier transplants, has begun to overburden the infrastructure, some say. And it all comes at a time when resiliency to climate change should be on the forefront of planning for a neighborhood surrounded by ocean, residents say.

They point to South Boston’s Seaport District as an example of the disorganization they want to avoid: a new neighborhood made up of higher-income earners, with no fire station, school, or community center. Only recently has it gotten a CVS Pharmacy.

“The identity gets sucked out of [the neighborhood],” said John Walkey, an Eastie resident and environmental justice advocate with GreenRoots Inc.

“We’ve gotten a little bit to a tipping point,” he said. “There’s just a sense that this development is going on without a plan.”

Even counterparts from South Boston have raised an alarm, telling East Boston locals not to repeat the mistakes of the Seaport District.....


It's going to be a bitter pill to swallow:

"Necco candy factory shuts down abruptly after company is sold again" by Katheleen Conti Globe Staff  July 24, 2018

The Necco plant in Revere was abruptly shut down Tuesday after the entity that bought the company at bankruptcy auction in May announced it had sold Necco to another candy manufacturer.

The announcement was a shock to hundreds of the company’s workers, who expected the New England Confectionery Co. to remain open through at least November, when its lease at the Revere plant is scheduled to expire. That lease was originally set to end in August but was extended as part of the bankruptcy proceedings.

Necco’s chief executive Michael McGee reportedly told workers Tuesday afternoon at a town-hall-style meeting held at the cafeteria that Necco would shut down “effective immediately,” according to a Necco mechanic, Chris, who asked that his last name not be used.

I've been in those. Not a good vibe going in.

“There was a statement they read off about severance pay and ‘thank you for your service’ and where you can pick up all your personal belongings,” Chris said, adding that workers were stunned. “We were told don’t show up tomorrow [Wednesday].”

McGee could not be reached for comment.

Chris said workers were told to come back Friday to pick up their final paychecks and get their belongings.

“It was more shock than anything,” Chris said.

Then you tear out the parking lot going home.

The closure appears to be the culmination of a saga that began in the spring, when the company said it would lay off its entire workforce if it didn’t find a new buyer by the end of May.

Necco has since filed for bankruptcy protection, and was sold auction for $18.8 million only to have that buyer back out of the sale. It was then sold again, this time to Round Hill Investments LLC, which purchased Necco for $17.3 million at emergency auction in May.

Necco has about 230 workers, including executives, at the 830,000-square-foot building at 135 American Legion Highway. Chris said Round Hill executives never introduced themselves to the workforce after purchasing the company May 31.

Revere Mayor Brian M. Arrigo was not aware of the closing, according to his chief of staff, Bob Marra.

“There’s been no information given to this office,” Marra said. “Even attempts to reach them have gone unheeded.”

They aren't aware of a lot of things over there (keep reading).

Necco has been making the classic Necco Wafers since 1847, as well as other sweets, including Sweethearts, Mary Jane, Thin Mints, Clark Bars, and the Sky Bar.....


I'm sure you have questions:

"Unanswered questions surround sale of Necco" by Katheleen Conti Globe Staff  July 25, 2018

Details about Tuesday’s sudden closure of Necco’s manufacturing plant in Revere — including who bought the candy maker — remain a mystery, but this much is certain: Necco candies already are in short supply.

Prior to Tuesday’s — apparently permanent — shut down, manufacturing operations were halted for seven days at the plant starting on May 29 to address Food and Drug Administration code violations. Those included evidence of rodent activity, roof leaks, and other unsanitary conditions.

Actually, the excrement pellets were “too numerous to count.” 

So how do they taste now?

Yeah, you better run out and get all the Neccos you can!

Production resumed in June, but with Tuesday’s stoppage, whatever was manufactured in those few weeks is the only remaining stock of Necco Wafers, Sky Bar, Sweethearts, and other candies.

“I don’t think there’s much out there,” said Frank D’Amelio, 38, a mechanic with Necco for the past four years.

Actually, he would be wrong: 

"When I told him many workers are immigrants who only speak Spanish, the state has sent in a rapid-response team to help displaced workers find new job and is confident the workers will land on their feet thanks to a white-hot economy, Necco workers may find themselves with a sweet ending, after all" -- at the casino

Meaning they are likely illegal immigrants in this sanctuary state! 

Maybe he is right after all!

D’Amelio was among the dozens of workers present at a town hall-style meeting at Necco’s cafeteria Tuesday during which chief executive Michael McGee reportedly said the company was shutting down “effective immediately.” Workers were under the impression that Necco, which traces its roots to 1847, would continue to operate through at least November.

Round Hill Investments LLC, which bought the company — formally known as New England Confectionery Co. — for $17.3 million at an emergency auction in May, confirmed the plant’s closure. Round Hill said that “after careful engagement and consideration,” it had sold the brands to another national candy manufacturer. Round Hill, owned by billionaire C. Dean Metropoulos and his sons Evan and Daren, did not elaborate on its decision to sell, or reveal details about the sale, including the identity of the buyer.

Peter Cohan, business strategy lecturer at Babson College, said, “They owned the company for five seconds and they shut it down. They couldn’t have possibly made any money on it. The reason to shut it down is clearly related to trying to minimize the amount of money they’ll lose. [By selling it], they’re going to lose money, but not as much.”

Not so $weet after all, huh?

Typically, the Metropouloses hang on to a brand for three to four years and then sell it, which makes the Necco move all the more unusual, said Ariel Markelevich, associate professor of accounting at Suffolk University’s Sawyer Business School.

“I’m sure they sat back and said, ‘We have two options: we either take Necco, do our magic and improve on the company, and sell it for what we expect to get from it in three to five years, or we take the offer that’s on the table,’ ” Markelevich said. “We know they took the offer that’s on the table . . . We don’t know if it was a fire sale or a luxury sale in which they made a lot of money.”

I think the FDA inspection had a lot to do with it!

Revere Mayor Brian M. Arrigo said in a statement the city “received no advance word about the situation.” He added that six private food service companies, including Legal Sea Foods and Kelly’s Roast Beef, have reached out to offer jobs to some of the 230 or so former Necco workers.

For people such as D’Amelio, a married father of three who will likely lose his pension, the offers may help soften the blow.

“I was taken by surprise,” he said. “I gave my heart and soul for this place. I wanted to help bring the company back.”


The lawsuit dissolved like one of their candies.

I'm sure city can find you unemployment money if you can't land a job:

"Revere audit finds $2.2 million in idle city accounts, possible parking meter corruption" by J.D. Capelouto Globe Correspondent  July 24, 2018

REVERE — An audit of Revere’s city government found more than $2 million in previously undiscovered money and two possible cases of corruption by municipal parking meter technicians, officials said Tuesday.

The two employees were placed on paid leave last week and are believed to be responsible for missing meter payments, which could total up to $90,000, Revere Mayor Brian Arrigo said in an interview Tuesday. Revere police are investigating the case and seeking to refer it to the state attorney general’s office, the mayor said.

The findings are the result of an audit Arrigo commissioned in March 2016, two years after starting his term as mayor. The consulting firm CliftonLarsonAllen identified 86 “funds” — various accounts and streams of revenue for the city — that had seen no activity since 2014, as of the last fiscal year, according to a report.

“There were no written policies, no procedures, no formal reconciliations that were happening at the department level . . . for how to handle cash,” Arrigo said, sitting in his City Hall office with two staff members.

Those accounts held around $2.2 million of previously untapped cash for the city, the audit found. Nearly $800,000 will be returned to the city’s general fund, Arrigo said.

“These kinds of funds once upon a time were used for something, but they’ve become stagnant,” city auditor Richard Viscay said. “Nobody really took a look at them.”


Arrigo announced the findings of the audit at a City Council meeting Monday. The formal reports were shared with the Globe on Tuesday.

The audit, which cost the city about $72,000, had several recommendations for cleaning up the city’s finances, and the parking system specifically.

Arrigo said Revere has already begun to institute some “smart meters,” which allow for credit card payments, and will mandate that coin collection be done by two people at a time.

The city also plans to close some of its inactive funds, pay back government grants, and implement a comprehensive policy that ensures money is being tracked efficiently and consistently.

So how did the city of more than 50,000 overlook more than $2 million?


Maybe you should head up to the North End.