The raids that took place last early Friday morning that resulted in 56 indictments of MS-13 gang members certainly should stop for the time being the crime and murders in the neighboring communities of Chelsea, East Boston and Everett that we have witnessed over the last several months. However, these arrests removed only about one-third of the known members of this gang. The arrests also have created a power vacuum that rival gangs will try to fill.
The effort to rid the streets of these criminals by law enforcement officials is not to be minimized. Positive alternative programs are needed quickly both to stop the recruitment of area youths into these gangs and possibly to turn present gang members away from gang life.
A few years back, Fr. Greg Boyle spoke at St. Cecilia’s Parish in the Back Bay about his work with gang members in the Los Angeles Community. Fr. Boyle told of his experiences with confronting the gang menace and trying to turn would-be recruits and gang members into productive and law-abiding citizens.
Fr. Boyle related how the major reason that gangs exist is that members of these gangs seek a family experience. He related how many gang members had an abusive or highly dysfunctional family life that drove them to join the gangs. He also related how after some of these gang members had children, some of the most hardened members hoped that their children would be able to find a life far different than being a gang member. As a result, Fr. Boyle started Homeboy Bakery that employed gang members and started to give them skills for the workplace. Eventually, the Bakery project worked and from this experiment, other industries were started to provide training and work experiences for members of rival gangs who were now working together. This program has been in existence for almost 30 years and the success rate keeps increasing.
Presently, as we mentioned last week, there are programs in these communities that seek to help get members out of the gangs. However, funding is always an issue and there are usually fewer financial resources than are needed.
For a regional solution, we urge our elected officials to allocate more resources, both manpower and financial, to start programs to help solve this problem. We do not know if anyone has talked to Fr. Boyle or his staff about their programs and what we can do in our community, but contact with Fr. Boyle might make a good starting point.
All the civic and financial progress that we have seen in these neighboring communities can easily be undone if citizens feel that it is not safe to walk the streets or send their children to local schools.
Law enforcement officials have dealt a major blow to the MS-13 gang, but without positive follow-up, the same problems will quickly reoccur. As mentioned, Fr. Boyle has been working on this problem for almost 30 years, but we need some positive policies in place now.
The Wynn and City of Boston Deal
The announcement last Thursday that Wynn Resorts and Mayor Walsh have reached a deal on mitigation should come as no surprise. Since the Boston lawsuits were dismissed last November, the legal options available to Mayor Walsh were dwindling. We congratulate Mayor Walsh for recognizing this reality and negotiating in getting some added benefits for Boston residents. Mr. Wynn is to be thanked for still negotiating and giving additional funds to Boston, when he probably did not have to do anymore concessions.
Both sides came away with something and this outcome is what is sought in all successful negotiations. No one was a big winner or loser at the expense of the other party.
For Charlestown residents what all this means is still not completely known. There is a million dollars that is being held in escrow by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission that should divided among local organizations. We hope that as a community we can agree on the proper Charlestown authority to dispense these monies without a lot of rancor.
While most of the brown field clean-up at the Wynn Resort site is now done, we should turn our attention to areas of quality of life. Our issues of clean air and reducing traffic congestion are the same concerns that Steve Wynn has at his resort.
Mr. Wynn has always shown himself to be a good and responsible neighbor at all of his developments. We see no reason why he should change his method of operation now with the Everett proposal.
Wynn representatives have always been willing to talk, as seen by their community meetings last winter, but given the climate of the last year, everyone was far less willing to start serious talks. Now should be the time to start talking again.
Wynn should not be seen as someone with bottomless pockets. He has a business to run and stockholders to answer to. Wynn and Charlestown must now jointly deal with the expanded Assembly Square Mall that will send many more cars onto our overcrowded streets. We need to be reasonable in our requests and discussions. After all, Wynn and Charlestown want the same results – less traffic congestion and a better and greener environment.
Sal is the man
When Councilor Sal LaMattina was named vice chair of the Boston City Council Ways and Means Committee last month, little did we realize then that just maybe his appointment came in the nick of time for Charlestown.
The waste transfer station needs to bring some zoning changes before the City Council. However, these requests will first have to go before Councilor LaMattina’s committee.
We know that Councilor LaMattina will hear these requests and debate the pros and cons of the changes. Council President Michele Wu will also be a key participant in these discussions. But like so many requests that are heard, some make it out of committee and others just stay in committee.
We hope that this request will just stay in committee. But that is only our opinion.