Letter to the Editor

Report the news properly

If you are one of those people that get your news solely from the Chelsea Record, I’d like to express my sincerest apology for last week’s paper and its failure to properly inform Chelsea residents of City Council happenings. I’d also like to take this opportunity to explain what should’ve been reported a week ago.

In the last City Council meeting, the Council was to ‘approve’ the City Budget proposed by the City Manager. During which time, I raised a couple of concerns that were echoed by some of my colleagues. I, for one, take issue with the over $1 million we dish out in taxpayer dollars to various non-profit organizations without requiring any audit or reporting back to City Council to justify those expenses. It seems with all the various opiate, crime, gang-related issues we have in this city, many organizations stand to make money off the woes of the people in this community. As a councilor, I’d like to know how those monies are being utilized and if we’re getting a bang for our taxpayers buck.

Furthermore, I also raised concerns about a certain multi-million dollar, nationally recognized non-profit organization having the social capital and network to raise money on their own without needing investments from the City and its hard-earned taxpayer dollars. When I see an organization such as ROCA hosting fundraisers at the Seaport in Boston yet with the potential of receiving close to $500,000 from the City; and then we have parents that are struggling to pay Little League, CYBL, Pop Warner, Pride football fees, it raises a concern for me.

I understand ROCA’s crucial work in reducing recidivism rates for our young men ages 18-24 years and am glad that we have a local organization working on preventing people from returning to jail. However, I feel strongly that our taxpayer dollars will be better allocated in assisting the smaller non-profit sports organizations that work directly with our children at impressionable ages, create mentorship opportunities, and allow resources to engage our young leaders to prevent them from needing ROCA in the first place. Rather than continue to funnel money into ROCA, why not level the playing field with those smaller organizations that don’t have the potential to raise as much money as they do?

As an alum, I have been very vocal of how ROCA’s old model of youth prevention, having employed the best youth workers I’ve ever known and how it has contributed to my success. Though the focus of ROCA has shifted, they’ve done an amazing job with their teen moms program and have paved the way with their work of recidivism. My concerns for the City Budget are not personal nor are they in any way to discredit the work that those at 101 Park Street (ROCA) do. I wish them nothing but success. As a lifelong advocate for youth and as a promoter of transparency, I look forward to achieving greatness in our community by working alongside EVERYONE, ROCA and the Chelsea Record, included.

I was disappointed to see that though there was a Chelsea Record reporter at our City Council meeting, there wasn’t a story in the paper explaining to Chelsea residents the truth of what transpired during that meeting. Rather, we had a one-sided statement from Molly Baldwin at ROCA that was irrelevant to what our concerns as community representatives were/are. As one of the few tools of getting information out to the public, the Chelsea Record has an obligation to report the news openly, fairly and without judgment. By the editor, choosing to not report the great inquiries, suggestions and well-thought out points made at our meeting by our City Councilors; we are pandering to politics and creating further divide in an already broken community.

This type of reporting is what has discouraged me from participating in municipal activities in the past as it creates a ‘distrust’ in the community with its one-sided reports. If we want to encourage civic participation and involvement, we need to start with transparency and reporting the news properly. I truly hope we don’t shut the door on topics that may arise and give our readers the information they need to be able to engage in dialogue and form their own opinions.

Damali Vidot

Vice President, Chelsea City Council

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