• Where in the World is...

    Where in the World is...

    June 12, 2022
    Where in the World is…
    Holyoke’s Ward 2 City Councilor & Vice Chair of the Public Service Sub-Committee?!!??!?!

    By now you have surely either read or heard that Councilor Puello has been detained. He is in fact incarcerated in Rhode Island without the possibility of bail. His truly unfortunate circumstance leaves many public questions. Here are some that I have been asked:

    -What happens now?
    -Will he continue to receive the $10,000 Councilor stipend?
    -What is the Council going to do about it?
    -Does his forgery of City Clerk’s office signatures during his 2020 run make him ineligible for a Council seat?
    -Why does this keep happening in Holyoke?

    Although these questions are very straightforward, the answers definitely are not. Let’s pick’em apart:

    -What happens now?
    Basically, nothing. Our charter does not provide guidance as to the removal of a sitting Councilor. The Council to date has not managed to put guidelines in place to handle situations like these. That is not to say that there haven’t been attempts. There have been suggestions by other Councilors, during previous terms, that did not gain support. And so, we find ourselves in situations where Holyoke City Council members, aka the representation of our residents, are absent or untouchable during a term. Only during an election can seats be filled unless there is a death or resignation, at which time either an appointment or a special election are required, depending on the existing seat timeline. While other cities have created ordinances to address next steps should one of our leaders be unavailable or unable to serve for reasons outside of death or resignation, we simply have not.
    Why can’t we just address this now by creating parameters, and passing them through ordinance, in an effort to have solutions should things like this come up in the future? We can, however, they would not take effect until the next election cycle as we are unable to implement changes that affect the current council. In all fairness, this is very sensible. And yes, we should create future solutions that address the inability of our leaders to serve.

    -Will he continue to receive the $10,000 Councilor stipend?
    Yes. Municipal tax dollars will continue to be allocated to each Councilor on a monthly basis. Currently we have a Councilor who is unable to serve and, based on newspaper accounts, unemployed. Whether or not he can fulfill his duties is a non-issue in Holyoke. It seems that we have decided to hope for the best instead of preparing for the unknown. However, these types of unexpected situations have come up during past Council terms yet there has been no sense of urgency or need to address what happens when a seat is being occupied by someone who will be unavailable until further notice, has missed a specified number of city and/or sub-committee meetings, or even for seats filled by Councilors who happen to become residents of another city during their term. Sounds crazy huh:/

    -What is the Council going to do about it?
    For now, nothing. Although it seems like common knowledge to some on the Council, newbies like me had to dig up reality and learn the sad truth of our lack of preparedness to deal with certain things, as a body. Even more strange is the extension of the Council’s micromanagement of most city services while being completely unprepared to provide guidance regarding our very own governing body. The phrase, “Don’t do as I do, do as I say do.” comes to mind.
    A few orders were filed last week in an effort to start dialogue and begin working to create parameters for what we might act on should circumstances exist that cause seats to be vacant for extended time periods.

    The following related orders were filed on June 7th, 2022:
    MALDONADO-VELEZ -- Order that we add to our charter that if a councilor is
    absent from a full council meeting for more than 3 consecutive
    meetings without written notice, their seat is considered open.

    MALDONADO-VELEZ -- Order that when a vacancy opens up in city council
    with more than 6 months left of the term, that a special election is
    required.

    GIVNER -- With community support, Willmer Puello, being unable to serve
    his community and fulfill his obligation as a member of the
    Holyoke City Council, provide a letter of resignation to the Mayor,
    City Council, and Personnel department by July 1st.
    To City Solicitor

    -Does his forgery of City Clerk’s office signatures during his 2020 run make him ineligible for a Council seat?
    Excellent question. We are all waiting to hear our city lawyers’ findings regarding this.

    -Why does this keep happening in Holyoke?
    The short answer is, because we allow it. Our collective lack of foresight and/or desire to be prepared should be of great concern to all residents. Ongoing obstruction of common sense measures to keep our City Council functioning should not be tolerated.

    Next scheduled City Council Meeting and Public Comment opportunity:
    June 21, 2022
    www.holyoke.org/2022-city-council-meeti…
    (Agenda pending, this will be the last full council meeting before the July break.)

    Some related stories:
    Mass Live: / May 19, 2022
    Holyoke City Councilor Wilmer Puello-Mota returned to Rhode Island to face forgery, obstruction, child porn charges
    www.masslive.com/news/2022/05/holyoke-c…

    Western Mass News / May 20, 2022
    “Holyoke city councilor appears in court in Rhode Island”
    www.westernmassnews.com/2022/05/20/holy…

    Daily Hampshire Gazette / May 21, 2022:
    “Holyoke City Councilor Wilmer Puello-Mota extradited to Rhode Island in child porn case”
    www.gazettenet.com/Holyoke-City-Council…

    The Reminder / May 24, 2022
    ”Holyoke city councilor arrested, facing multiple charges”
    www.thereminder.com/localnews/holyoke/h…

    Daily Hampshire Gazette / May 23, 2022
    “Phony signatures on papers for Puello’s failed 2019 Holyoke election bid”
    www.gazettenet.com/Holyoke-city-clerk-q…

    Mass Live: / June 8, 2022
    Holyoke City Councilor Wilmer Puello-Mota remains held on RI charges; told to get a lawyer”
    www.masslive.com/news/2022/06/holyoke-c…


    Useful links:
    Holyoke City Council
    Contact your councilors

    Pioneer Valley Healthy Air Network
    pvhealthyair.org/

    Holyoke Housing Authority:
    www.holyokehousing.org/

    Valley Opportunity Council:
    www.valleyopp.com/

    Mayor Josh Garcia’s take on all things Holyoke!
    From the Mayor’s Desk

    Holyoke Forward / Holyoke Pa’Lante:
    We did it!

    Neighbor to Neighbor Mass Action Fund:
    Neighbor to Neighbor

    Ward 4 City Councilor page: |https://https://www.facebook.com/Kocayne4Holyoke|Kocayne 4 Holyoke FB Page|

    Ward 4 FB page:
    Ward 4 Page

    Donate a little or a lot: Support Kocayne!

    Articles and Interviews:
    Holyoke Media Interview:
    Ward 4 Interview

    Holyoke seeks to curb speeding and improve road safety
    MassLive March 9, 2022

    Fatal Car Crash in Holyoke
    Western Mass News story June 6, 2022

  • Fatalaties vs. Encouraging Compliance

    Fatalaties vs. Encouraging Compliance

    June 6, 2022

    It’s been noticed that I continue to be quite vocal when it comes to Holyoke’s traffic and neighborhood safety concerns. Issues that affect our quality of life as Holyokers and the general safety of our citizenry, be they pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorists, have been serious and ongoing.

    Speeding in our city, which has a city wide limit of 25 mile per hour unless otherwise posted, is constant. We have regular accidents caused by those running stop signs, red lights blinking lights, and even ignoring pedestrians in our crosswalks! We have had many deaths and injuries due to traffic safety compliance and lack thereof. Additionally, we have very little compliance when it comes to parking in no parking zones, which are marked to assist with visibility for driver and pedestrian safety.

    It makes me feel warm and fuzzy to hear from neighbors, friends, and Holyokers from all wards regarding our collective need to feel safe as we go about our daily lives. It is our right as residents to demand action from our city leaders. It is our responsibility to speak out in support of traffic safety compliance. It is our duty to encourage neighborly consideration of our children, our elderly, and our pets. This is a life or death issue that must be addressed NOW. Please be sure to make your feelings known through City Council public comment, by email, and by snail mail to our public officials. Let’s remind our city leaders and department heads how their stipends and salaries are generated. Let’s be sure to let them know that there is no Holyoke without safe and healthy Holyokers.

    Fatal Car Crash in Holyoke
    Western Mass News story

    My full email to reporter Matt Sottile:
    This weekend's accident is just another blow to our fatally serious speeding and traffic issues in Holyoke. Since January I have filed at least 5 traffic related orders that have all been motioned to be "complied with" usually based on findings of our city Engineer, DPW, or our police chief. Reasons vary, but more often than not, tend to have to do with traffic study costs, state laws/requirements, and/or lack thereof.

    Yes I do feel strongly about convincing residents and visitors that their compliance is desperately needed regarding our traffic laws which exist for the benefit of all pedestrians, bicyclists, and motor vehicles. Unfortunately, I have yet to file orders that have gained the support of my colleagues on the council and city departments heads. I will definitely keep working on this!!! Traffic safety is an incredibly serious quality of life issue in the paper city.

    Traffic related orders filed since January 2022:
    - That the City of Holyoke enforce no parking zones and implement warnings and or small fines for vehicles in violation. This is a danger and in many neighborhoods, makes it impossible to see oncoming traffic when turning onto or off side streets. Especially concerning in Ward 4 is the intersection of Hampden St at O'Connor Ave.

    - That the City of Holyoke adopt a camera speed violation system in order to deter speeding on commuters through streets especially Beach, Hampden, Dwight, Maple, and High Streets . Holyoke has a city wide speed limit of 25mph. A ticketing system would remove this burden from our police department in some of the busiest areas while creating revenue for our city. It would also greatly reduce speeding and the running of traffic lights, by default increasing resident safety and life quality in all of our neighborhoods.

    -That the city takes serious steps to create methods of enforcement. There are many ordinances and laws in place to protect citizens and support businesses. What good are all these laws and ordinances without enforcement? Ongoing city wide enforcement issues include; parking in no parking zones created specifically to aid in visibility for drivers and pedestrians, parking in reserved parking zones created for businesses to receive deliveries and or include customer parking, well over the 25mph speed limit violations especially throughout our more populated neighborhoods, traffic light violations, stop sign violations, trash violations, snow removal violations, etc, etc.

    -That the city paint new crosswalks and stop lines on the t-bar of Brown and Laurel. People run the 3 stop signs constantly. If you're a driver who doesn't know the area, it can be confusing as to where to stop and when. These were not repainted last year and are now completely faded. This intersection has become extremely dangerous for drivers and pedestrians alike. There have been both serious accidents and many near misses.

    -Create single lanes out of two laned one way roads in ward 4 to include:
    -Beach between Hampshire and Hampden Streets
    -Linden between Hamden and Sargeant Streets
    -Hampden between Lincoln and Pearl Streets
    -Dwight between Nonotuck and Linden Streets
    If we are serious about wanting safer streets for our residents we must create deterrents to speeding. By eliminating these lanes and turning them into marked turning lanes, added parking, and additional bike lanes, we will discourage speeding while creating traffic safety through clarity, and additional parking. This would also encourage biking and make our neighborhood streets safer for all who use them.

    - That the city revisit existing traffic light projects and consider rotaries in their place. Traffic circles require no lights and therefore no maintenance cost. They are also less expensive to build than traffic light intersections. They are proven to deter speeding as they require reduced speed upon approach, during use, and returning to travel lanes. They force driver attention adding to overall safety. Other U.S. research has shown that roundabouts lead to 37% less collisions and 90% less fatalities than traffic lights. Conversion to roundabouts also lead to quicker traffic flow, with a reduction in delays of anywhere between 20% and 89%. Our neighboring communities have studies reflecting a wide range of benefits to traffic circles and roundabouts including the following:
    "A 2001 Institute study of 23 intersections in the United States reported that converting intersections from traffic signals or stop signs to roundabouts reduced injury crashes by 80 percent and all crashes by 40 percent. Similar results were reported by Eisenman et al.: a 75 percent decrease in injury crashes and a 37 percent decrease in total crashes at 35 intersections that were converted from traffic signals to roundabouts. Studies of intersections in Europe and Australia that were converted to roundabouts have reported 41-61 percent reductions in injury crashes and 45-75 percent reductions in severe injury crashes.
    Because roundabouts improve the efficiency of traffic flow, they also reduce vehicle emissions and fuel consumption. In one study, replacing a signalized intersection with a roundabout reduced carbon monoxide emissions by 29 percent and nitrous oxide emissions by 21 percent.9 In another study, replacing traffic signals and stop signs with roundabouts reduced carbon monoxide emissions by 32 percent, nitrous oxide emissions by 34 percent, carbon dioxide emissions by 37 percent, and hydrocarbon emissions by 42 percent.10 Constructing roundabouts in place of traffic signals can reduce fuel consumption by about 30 percent.9,11 At 10 intersections studied in Virginia, this amounted to more than 200,000 gallons of fuel per year.8 And roundabouts can enhance aesthetics by providing landscaping opportunities."
    https://www.northamptonma.gov/FAQ.aspx?QID=151


    Useful links:
    Holyoke City Council
    Contact your councilors

    City Council meeting info
    www.holyoke.org/2022-city-council-meeti…

    Mayor Josh Garcia’s take on all things Holyoke!
    From the Mayor’s Desk

    Holyoke Forward / Holyoke Pa’Lante:
    We did it!

    Neighbor to Neighbor Mass Action Fund:
    Neighbor to Neighbor

    Ward 4 City Councilor page: Kocayne4Holyoke FB Page

    Ward 4 FB page:
    Ward 4 Page

    Articles and Interviews:
    Holyoke Media Interview:
    Ward 4 Interview

    Holyoke seeks to curb speeding and improve road safety
    MassLive March 2022



  • A Few Updates and a Rant from your Ward 4 Councilor! 3/8/22 - 4/18/22

    A Few Updates and a Rant from your Ward 4 Councilor! 3/8/22 - 4/18/22

    Pre-Council Rant
    The City Council's April 19th agenda is interesting indeed. I hope you will email your city councilors regarding items of concern. Tit for tat politics are what has kept our city in a holding pattern for the last 40+ years.

    With all the important tasks our city council could focus on, in efforts to create real and positive changes, it seems we choose to focus on eliminating the only tools we have to support upkeep and appearance of our city's historical gems.

    This while finding new ways to take on as many decision making powers as possible in an effort to micromanage our city AND its’ services, regardless of existing departments, their expertise, or the recommendations of our highly qualified, full time professional staff. Just a reminder, elected positions are not based on professional training in city planning, municipal law, state law, education, health, or certification in any of the many trades represented throughout our municipal departments. In short, there are full time experts whose salaries are paid for by our tax payers.

    And don't even get me started on the dangerous traffic season we are already well into. How many of our neighbors must be harmed or lost before we find ways to take action regarding pedestrian, bike, and vehicle safety? How many requests for traffic studies must we make before speed humps are placed in not just our most affluent, least trafficked, least lethal accident having neighborhoods, before we see results?!

    Please do keep in mind that there are upcoming Public Hearings in Ordinance including one requesting input in an effort to require special permits for in-home day care facilities. Apparently our Massachusetts General Laws are not specific enough for some. This is another issue that I am eager to hear more resident insight on. Is this yet another micromanaging effort on the part of our council. What say you? Listed as item 3 in Ordinance public hearings below: “Item 3: PUBLIC HEARING (joint hearing with the Planning Board, continued from 3-22-22) 2-1-22 BARTLEY -- The Holyoke zoning ordinances shall be amended to no longer allow daycare services in R-1 or R-2 district by right but only by a city council special permit.”

    Don't be fooled by weapons of mass distraction. Please follow the actions of your city leaders and voice your concerns regarding any and all matters that you feel strongly about. Tune in, show up, take part! Public comment is your right. Let your voice be heard for 90 seconds twice per month, in person or online! Council starts at 7pm monthly on the first and 3rd Tuesdays. Public comment happens just after the first few agenda items are addressed. This is your city. Democracy is not a spectator sport. Your participation is required in creating the life quality we all deserve in Holyoke!

    This week's meeting info
    www.holyoke.org/2022-city-council-meeti…

    Holyoke City Council
    Contact your councilors

    Orders Filed / Upcoming public hearings in Ordinance / Public Safety work: 3/8/22 - 4/11/22:

    ORDERS SUBMITTED BY COUNCILOR GIVNER 4/5/22:
    BARTLEY -- Ordered that the Holyoke City Council review and amend
    GIVNER Section 5.4 of the Zoning Ordinance to allow for
    Accessory
    PUELLO Dwelling Units (AUDs) in the DR zone, in addition
    RIVERA_J to amending Section 2 Definitions, and any other
    sections that may apply to allow this use in the DR zone.
    Accessory dwelling unit (ADU) is a smaller, independent residential
    dwelling unit located on the same lot as a stand-alonesingle-family home. (planning.org)
    (Sent to Ordinance)

    GIVNER -- That a handicap sign be placed at 204 Oak St. for Josephine
    Rivera, Placard #P59864114.
    (Sent to Public Safety)

    GIVNER -- With community support: That the city post a snow parking restriction on its website at least twelve hours before towing begins. In other words, towing will not begin until the parking restriction has been up on the website for at least twelve hours.
    (Sent to Public Safety, Ordinance, and DPW)

    GIVNER -- With community support: That the city paint new crosswalks and stop lines on the t-bar of Brown and Laurel. People run the 3 stop signs constantly. If you're a driver who doesn't know the area, itcan be confusing as to where to stop and when. These were not repainted last year and are now completely faded. This intersection has become extremely dangerous for drivers and pedestrians alike. There have been both serious accidents and
    many near misses.
    (Sent to Public Safety and DPW)

    GIVNER -- With community support: That the Holyoke City Council adopt, and create a method of enforcement for, a wage theft ordinance for all contractors doing projects for the city or receiving special tax incentives by the city similar to Easthampton and Springfield with the following purposes: prevent misclassification of employees as independent contractors; assure that employers are paying all payroll taxes and workers compensation premiums; comply with state laws governing the payment of prevailing wages; assure that contractors provide opportunities for Holyoke residents, veterans, people of color and women.
    (Sent to Ordinance with request from Legal)

    GIVNER -- With community support: Create single lane out of two laned one way roads in ward 4 to include:
    -Beach between Hampshire and Hampden Streets
    -Linden between Hamden and Sargeant Streets
    -Hampden between Lincoln and Pearl Streets
    -Dwight between Nonotuck and Linden Streets
    If we are serious about wanting safer streets for our residents we must create deterrents to speeding. By eliminating these lanes and turning them into marked turning lanes, added parking, and additional bike lanes, we will discourage speeding while creating traffic safety through clarity, and additional parking. This would also encourage biking and make our neighborhood streets safer for all who use them.
    (Sent to Public Safety, City Engineer)

    GIVNER -- With community support: That the city revisit existing traffic light projects and consider rotaries in their place. Traffic circles require no lights and therefore no maintenance cost. They are also less expensive to build than traffic light intersections. They are proven to deter speeding as they require reduced speed upon approach, during use, and returning to travel lanes. They force driver attention adding to overall safety. Other U.S. research has shown that roundabouts lead to 37% less collisions and 90% less fatalities than traffic lights. Conversion to roundabouts also lead to quicker traffic flow, with a reduction in delays of anywhere between 20% and 89%. Our neighboring communities have studies reflecting a wide range of benefits to traffic circles and roundabouts including the following:
    (Sent to Public Safety and City Engineer)
    A few stats:
    "A 2001 Institute study of 23 intersections in the United States reported that converting intersections from traffic signals or stop signs to roundabouts reduced injury crashes by 80 percent and all crashes by 40 percent. Similar results were reported by
    Eisenman et al.: a 75 percent decrease in injury crashes and a 37 percent decrease in total crashes at 35 intersections that were converted from traffic signals to roundabouts. Studies of intersections in Europe and Australia that were converted to roundabouts have reported 41-61 percent reductions in injury crashes and 45-75 percent reductions in severe injury crashes. Because roundabouts improve the efficiency of traffic flow, they also reduce vehicle emissions and fuel consumption. In one study, replacing a signalized intersection with a roundabout reduced carbon monoxide emissions by 29 percent and nitrous oxide emissions by 21 percent.9 In another study, replacing traffic signals and stop signs with roundabouts reduced carbon
    monoxide emissions by 32 percent, nitrous oxide emissions by 34 percent, carbon dioxide emissions by 37 percent, and hydrocarbon emissions by 42 percent.10 Constructing
    roundabouts in place of traffic signals can reduce fuel consumption by about 30 percent.9,11 At 10 intersections studied in Virginia, this amounted to more than 200,000 gallons of fuel
    per year.8 And roundabouts can enhance aesthetics by providing landscaping opportunities."
    www.northamptonma.gov/FAQ.aspx?QID=151

    GIVNER -- Ordered that the Holyoke City Council review and amend
    MALDONADO-VELEZ Section 86-322 of the Zoning Ordinance to allow for
    restricted electric vehicle charging station parking
    spots. Adding Subsection F to include ; F. Electric vehicle charging stations.The following locations are designated as electric vehicle charging stations: Parking Area Location Area/Number of Spaces Time Limit/Class
    (Sent to Ordinance, DPW, and HG+E)


    COUNCILOR GIVNER ON ORDINANCE COMMITTEE AGENDA FOR 4/26/22 (as of 4/11/22)
    Item 1: 3-15-22 Petition of Yoeli Brene, for a street vendor license to be located on High Street between Hampshire and Worcester Pl
    Tabled 3-22-22

    Item 2: PUBLIC HEARING (joint hearing with the Planning Board, continued from 8-31-21, 10-26-21, 12-14-21, 3-8-22) 8-3-21 LISI - Review and amend section 6.4 of the zoning ordinance to be in compliance with Consent Judgment and Permanent Injunction ordered by Honorable Mark G. Mastroiani dated April 12, 2019 and any other updates to streamline the ordinance.

    Item 3: PUBLIC HEARING (joint hearing with the Planning Board, continued from 3-22-22) 2-1-22 BARTLEY -- The Holyoke zoning ordinances shall be amended to no longer allow daycare services in R-1 or R-2 district by right but only by a city council special permit.

    Our current Zoning Ordinance regulates both "Family Day Care Home" and "Child Care Facility". Pursuant to Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 40A, Section 3, the city cannot require a special permit for a "Child Care Facility", but the city can require a special permit for a "Family Day Care Home". The ordinance that I drafted removed the By Right use for a "Family Day Care Home" and changed the use to require a Special Permit. The "Child Care Facility" is still a By Right use.
    Per Kathleen E. Degnan
    Assistant City Solicitor
    City of Holyoke

    Item 4: PUBLIC HEARING (joint hearing with the Planning Board) 3-15-22 Zone change application from DR to BH for Daniel Laflamme at 41 Temple St (085-00-012) to operate a truck repair shop in a district zoned DR so that the business can be conforming.

    Item 5: PUBLIC HEARING (continued from 3-22-22) 1-4-22 Special Permit Application of WTM-SB LLC at 120 Middle Water St (047-01-016) to operate a marijuana cultivation and manufacturing establishment.

    Item 6: PUBLIC HEARING (continued from 3-22-22) 12-7-21 Special Permit Application of GreenGrab Inc at 620 Beaulieu St (055-00-004) to operate a marijuana establishment for marijuana cultivation, product manufacturing, and delivery.

    Item 7: PUBLIC HEARING (continued from 3-22-22) 2-15-22 Special Permit Application of River Grove LLC at 475 Canal St (032-01-004) to operate a marijuana cultivation and manufacturing establishment.

    Item 8: PUBLIC HEARING (continued from 2-22-22, 3-22-22) 12-7-21 Special Permit Application for 876 Grow Inc at 360 Race St (028-06-018A) to renovate and operate a marijuana cultivation and processing establishment.

    Item 9: PUBLIC HEARING (continued from 2-22-22, 3-8-22, 3-22-22) 1-18-22 MURPHY-ROMBOLETTI, ANDERSON-BURGOS -- Ordered that the City Council amend Holyoke Zoning Ordinances to correct the site plan review process in Section 7.10.6.5(b).

    Item 10: 1-5-21 LISI -- Ordered, that the City Council consider updating the Demolition Delay ordinance with changes proposed by the Historical Commission

    Item 11: 1-5-21 From Historical Commission re: 2020 update to the demolition delay ordinance.

    Item 12: 8-3-21 MURPHY -- Ordered, that the ordinance committee meet to discuss amending the demolition order regarding historical commission review to begin the process once a property has been listed by the problem property group. The goal of this would be to enhance the possibility of preserving structures, and to do so prior to extensive building deterioration, which then escalates costs.

    Item 13: 6-15-21 (referred from Finance Committee) Communication regarding the Historical Commission review process
    Item 14: 3-10-20 VACON -- Ordered, that street vendors who have received a license may be granted a renewal of the license for the same location without a hearing when all required approvals are presented with the application and any required fees/taxes are paid.

    Item 15: 2-15-22 (referred from Finance Committee 3-1-22) From Megan Seiler, Director Wistariahurst Museum regarding Office Assistant Position reclassification from W-2 to W-7

    Useful links:
    Holyoke City Council
    Contact your councilors

    Holyoke Forward / Holyoke Pa’Lante:
    We did it!

    Neighbor to Neighbor Mass Action Fund:
    Neighbor to Neighbor

    Ward 4 City Councilor page: www.facebook.com/Kocayne4Holyoke

    Ward 4 FB page: Ward 4 Page

    Holyoke Media Interview:
    Ward 4 Interview

  • From the Mayor's Desk April 6, 2022

    From the Mayor's Desk April 6, 2022

    Link to Mayor Josh Garcia’s take on all things Holyoke :
    From the Mayor's Desk Newsletter
    Holyoke Employee Retention Incentive
    Press Conference: Addressing Drug Trafficking
    Addressing Homelessness & Substance Abuse
    Mayor, Police, and School Superintendent visit Opportunity Academy to discuss Opioid crisis
    Project updates from the DPW
    Call for Local Artists! Holyoke Tourism Plan: Artistic Bike Racks
    Historic and Cultural Tourism Survey
    Middle School Building Project update
    Join a local board or commission
    Holyoke is Hiring!

  • Power to the people! Virtual Labor Town Hall recap from last week!

    Power to the people! Virtual Labor Town Hall recap from last week!

    Follow up resources from Wednesday's Virtual Labor Town Hall organized by category.

    Building Trades:
    www.policygroupontradeswomen.org – is a resource website that has best practices for working on construction diversity.

    www.BuildALifeMA.org – website for women considering careers in the trades. It includes lots of info and videos on the different trades and navigating how to apply to apprenticeship programs.
    For those interested in learning more about wage theft and how to prevent it or info on diversity in the trades, please reach out to Lisa Clauson, Director of Strategic Partnerships, Carpenter Local 336, lclauson@nasclmp.org or 617-429-1677.

    Supporting our Nurses:
    Join the Baystate Franklin Medical Center Virtual Community Forum March 9, 2022 from 6:00 – 7:30pm: www.facebook.com/events/101503428611729…

    The forum will feature nurses and community advocates and is open to participation from the public. It will provide an opportunity for transparent discussion about the needs of Baystate Franklin Medical Center frontline staff and the community during the pandemic and beyond. To register and find out more click here.

    You can also support by signing the Baystate Franklin Community Petition: bit.ly/bfmcpetition

    Supporting our Educators and School Staff:
    Show your solidarity with Springfield’s Paraprofessionals by signing their petition for a living wage.:actionnetwork.org/petitions/demand-livi…
    &
    You can also show your support by joining the Springfield Paras Rally for a living wage on 3/17! RSVP here:
    actionnetwork.org/events/springfield-pa…

    Attached below is also a copy of an important memo Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona sent to districts encouraging them to use ESSER funds for staff retention.

    The Fair Share Amendment:
    Our Fair Share Amendment campaign is aiming to pass municipal resolutions endorsing the Fair Share Amendment in city councils and school committees across our region. If you’re interested in working with us to bring a resolution in your community please reach out to Lydia Wood, at organizer@wmalf.org, 413-475-0934.
    You can take the Fair Share Amendment Digital Voter Pledge here: docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScUbzf…

    Mass Not For Sale Campaign:
    The campaign to defeat Big Tech’s ballot question in Massachusetts is heating up. You can sign up to get involved in the campaign here or contact the campaign’s Organizing Director, Jonathan Paz at, jonathan@noprop22ma.com

    Here are some pertinent materials from Mass Not For Sale Coalition:
    City Council - Sign On Letter:docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSftVrr…
    FactSheet: docs.google.com/document/d/12YABZniDoB7…
    Myths vs. Reality Sheet:
    noprop22ma.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/…
    City Council - Template resolution: docs.google.com/document/d/1fFjLButBRRu…

  • Ward 4 and Upcoming Public Hearings

    Ward 4 and Upcoming Public Hearings

    Ward 4 Councilor City Stuff

    Orders Filed and upcoming public hearings in Ordinance:
    1/18/22 - 3/8/22:

    COMPLETED:
    -That a streetlight be installed, by the City of Holyoke, at pole #10
    on Sycamore St as requested by Mr. White of 50 Sycamore St. There is a retaining wall there and it is very dark in the evening. Suspicious activity has been occurring frequently. Lighting this area will add to the safety of our community and contribute as a deterrent against crime and loitering.

    ON ORDINANCE COMMITTEE AGENDA FOR 3/8/22:
    Item 1: PUBLIC HEARING (joint hearing with the Planning Board, continued from 2-22-22) 1-18-22 MURPHY-ROMBOLETTI, ANDERSON-BURGOS -- Ordered that the City Council amend Holyoke Zoning Ordinances Section 7.10.5.3(a) by deleting “other use as listed in Table 4.3 of Principle uses” and inserting the following language in its place: “any pre-existing public or private school providing education in pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, or any grades 1 through 12” or other such legal form sufficient to resolve any uncertainty over the interpretation of the existing ordinance as compliant with state law.

    Item 2: PUBLIC HEARING (joint hearing with the Planning Board, continued from 2-22-22) 1-18-22 VACON -- That the current buffer in the marijuana ordinance (200feet from any other use…)be reviewed and revised to schools, residences etc. to ensure opportunities for new marijuana businesses and to ensure continued development opportunities for established local business in accordance with our master plan, Connect, Construct, Create.

    Item 3: PUBLIC HEARING (joint hearing with the Planning Board, continued from 2-22-22) 1-18-22 MURPHY-ROMBOLETTI, ANDERSON-BURGOS -- Ordered that the City Council amend Holyoke Zoning Ordinances to correct the site plan review process in Section 7.10.6.5(b).
    Item 4: PUBLIC HEARING (joint hearing with the Planning Board, continued from 8-31-21, 10-26-21, 12-14-21) 8-3-21 LISI - Review and amend section 6.4 of the zoning ordinance to be in compliance with Consent Judgment and Permanent Injunction ordered by Honorable Mark G. Mastroiani dated April 12, 2019 and any other updates to streamline the ordinance.

    Item 5: 1-18-22 GIVNER -- That the City of Holyoke enforce no parking zones and implement warnings and or small fines for vehicles in violation. This is a danger and in many neighborhoods, makes it impossible to see oncoming traffic when turning onto or of side streets. Especially concerning in Ward 4 is the intersection of Hampden St at O'Connor Ave.

    Item 6: 1-18-22 GIVNER -- That the City of Holyoke adopt a camera speed violation system in order to deter speeding on commuters through streets especially Beach, Hampden, Dwight, Maple, and High Streets . Holyoke has a city wide speed limit of 25mph. A ticketing system would remove this burden from our police department in some of the busiest areas while creating revenue for our city. It would also greatly reduce speeding and the running of traffic lights, by default increasing resident safety and life quality in all of our neighborhoods



    ON CHARTER & RULES SUBCOMMITTEE AGENDA FOR 2/23/22
    -That the City Council limit debate of items covered in committee to 60 second clarifications, in the form of question/inquiry only, with a limit of 3 questions/inquiries per counselor. AND that responses be no more than 60 seconds each as well. (INTENDED TO LIMIT REPETITIVE COUNSELOR INPUT)
    -Heavy discussion and found to be “Complied with”

    -That the City Council consider changing rule 44A to reflect the following: -All Council and Sub Committee agendas, and legal forms shall be distributed to Council Members by 1:00 pm 7 calendar days prior to the scheduled meeting or by Monday the previous business day at 1:00 pm in the event that 7 days prior falls on a legal holiday. AND that late files are in fact necessary.
    -Found to be unreasonable and “Complied with”

    IN THE WORKS / SENT TO SUBCOMMITTEE:
    -That the city of Holyoke install storm warning lights much like those in neighboring communities. These would act to signal coming snow and other inclement weather storms, prompting residents to check our city web site as well as their preferred news sources. Storm warning lights would also act as a parking ban notification in an effort to assist our overextended police department.
    Per Public Safety Committee, 1/24/22: DPW and funding required for this study. Times, lighting etc. Conductors to power, cabling, space in boxes. 60-90 day research when looking at neighboring communities re Bob Peirent. Federal infrastructure funds for something like this. We’ve looked into this before. tabled for 60 days.

    -That the City of Holyoke address poorly or un-plowed alleyways. Residents on the block of 192 Walnut str have been paying to have been paying to have alley plowed. Why are these not being plowed by the city if they are used by DPW for refuse pickup and access for Fire, Utilities, and police?

    -That the City of Holyoke amend ordinance that provides Columbus day as a Holiday be updated to wording that reflects that Columbus Day will now be referred to as "Indigenous Peoples Day, formerly known as Columbus Day".

    -That the Holyoke City Council adopt a wage theft ordinance for all contractors doing projects for the city or receiving special tax incentives by the city similar to Easthampton and Springfield with the following purposes: prevent misclassification of employees as independent contractors; assure that employees are paying all payroll taxes and workers compensation premiums; comply with state laws governing the payment of prevailing wages; assure that contractors provide opportunities for Holyoke residents, veterans, people of color and women.

    -That the City of Holyoke enforce no parking zones and implement warnings and or small fines for vehicles in violation. This is a danger and in many neighborhoods, makes it impossible to see oncoming traffic when turning onto or of side streets. Especially concerning in Ward 4 is the intersection of Hampden St at O'Connor Ave.

    -That the City of Holyoke adopt a camera speed violation system in order to deter speeding on commuters through streets especially Beach, Hampden, Dwight, Maple, and High Streets . Holyoke has a city wide speed limit of 25mph. A ticketing system would remove this burden from our police department in some of the busiest areas while creating revenue for our city. It would also greatly reduce speeding and the running of traffic lights, by default increasing resident safety and life quality in all of our neighborhoods

    -That City counselors receive all documents electronically unless a paper copy is requested. All paper copies received shall be printed double sided for conservation. This action will create fiscal and environmental savings.

    -That the Holyoke Board of Health publicizes an email/ phone number to receive health related complaints ie. odor nuisance complaints generally in regard to manufacturing and commercial businesses.

    -That the city revisit previous legal language to create an ordinance allowing backyard chickens in residential areas in an effort to enhance food equity.

    -That the city takes serious steps to create methods of enforcement. There are many ordinances and laws in place to protect citizens and support businesses. What good are all these laws and ordinances without enforcement? Ongoing city wide enforcement issues include; parking in no parking zones created specifically to aid in visibility for drivers and pedestrians, parking in reserved parking zones created for businesses to receive deliveries and or include customer parking, well over the 25mph speed limit violations especially throughout our more populated neighborhoods, traffic light violations, stop sign violations, trash violations, snow removal violations, etc, etc.

    Useful links:
    Holyoke City Council
    Contact your councilors

    Holyoke Forward / Holyoke Pa’Lante:
    We did it!

    Neighbor to Neighbor Mass Action Fund:
    Neighbor to Neighbor

    Ward 4 City Councilor page: |https://https://www.facebook.com/Kocayne4Holyoke|Kocayne 4 Holyoke FB Page|

    Ward 4 FB page: Ward 4 Page

    Holyoke Media Interview:
    Ward 4 Interview

    Donate a little or a lot: Support Kocayne!


  • Thanks for sharing this public information Pa'lante!!!!

    Thanks for sharing this public information Pa'lante!!!!

    Hindsight is 2021?
    The recent article by Dusty Christensen of the Gazette caused us to go back and check out the City Council discussion from January 5, 2021, the first time former Director of Econ Dev and Planning Marcos Marrero's appointment to the HG&E Commission was discussed. At the time, several now ex-Councilors (Sullivan, Greaney, Murphy) argue that the appointment needed to be discussed in DGR Committee (then chaired by Councilor Bartley) because of the gas moratorium. But it certainly looks like Bartley instated his own moratorium on taking any action at all in DGR Committee!
    In the video, discussion starts just before the two minute mark, with Councilor Tallman stating at 5:20 that every other HG&E appointment in his 21 years has been sent to Public Service Committee.
    Listen further to the 7:50 mark for the question from (now former) Councilor Lisi that seems to have the answer of, They organized to bury it:
    Councilor Lisi:
    "for those who are pushing for it to go to DGR, I'm just sort of unclear. I mean, they are all committees of the body, so what do you think is going to get accomplished in that [DGR] committee that wouldn't get accomplished in Public Service committee? I mean, if Councilors want to raise questions, they are always welcome to go to any committee meeting and raise the questions. I guess I'm not clear as to why this sudden move to DGR and what Councilors feel like they may be able to accomplish there as opposed to in Public Service."
    Councilors McGiverin, Tallman, Lisi, Hernandez, Lebron Martinez, and Anderson-Burgos voted to send the Marrero appointment to Public Service, which failed to get enough votes. Much more discussion happened on this including Councilor McGiverin asking to reconsider the action. A "roll call" vote was then asked for the vote to send it to DGR. Councilors Murphy, Sullivan, Greaney, Bartley, Vacon, McGee, Leahy voted Yes.
    The entire discussion and wrangling on where to send this appointment took 18 minutes, with the end result that it did not see the light of day in Councilor Bartley's committee and Mayor Garcia has had to refile the order.
    Noted that Councilor Murphy-Romboletti now chairs DGR Committee, and has introduced an order to prevent things like this from being buried in the future. Moving Forward!

    After year of inaction, Marrero appointment to HG&E board gets new life.

    Link to council meeting with mentions at minutes 5:20 and 7:50:
    City Council 1/5/2021

    By DUSTY CHRISTENSEN
    Staff Writer
    Published: 2/10/2022 6:13:36 PM
    Modified: 2/10/2022 6:11:54 PM
    HOLYOKE — Mayor Joshua Garcia has named Marcos Marrero, the former director of the city’s Office of Planning & Economic Development, to serve as a Holyoke Gas & Electric commissioner.

    Former mayor Alex Morse had appointed Marrero, who now works at the Massachusetts Development Finance Agency, to the municipally owned utility’s board more than a year ago. But when his appointment came before the City Council on Jan. 5, 2021, seven city councilors voted to send the appointment not to the committee that usually deals with those appointments, Public Service, but to the Development and Government Relations Committee.

    Since then, the DGR Committee has not acted on the appointment. Marrero was not given an interview about his qualifications, and current Commissioner Robert Griffin continued to serve on the three-member board, though his term expired at the end of June 2020. Members of the board serve for six-year terms.

    Last week, the City Council took up Garcia’s Jan. 14 appointment of Marrero and referred it to the Public Service Committee, where a hearing has been scheduled for March 9. The Council also voted to take Marrero’s previous appointment out of the DGR Committee and send it to Public Service.

    “This has been in my jacket for DGR for over a year,” current DGR Committee chair, At-Large Councilor Tessa R. Murphy-Romboletti, said during the meeting, referring to the place where council items go when they’re awaiting action. “I’m wondering why that happened that way … I just was curious as to why it was referred to DGR in the first place.”

    Reached by telephone Monday, Marrero said that he is looking forward to serving on the board if the City Council confirms him. When asked about the year-long wait for an interview before the Council, Marrero seemed unfazed by the delay.

    “The Council has its own processes and I figure whenever they want to have a confirmation hearing, they’ll call me,” he said. “Every legislature has to figure out its own priorities and I’m sure they’re busy with all kinds of things.”

    Previous DGR Committee chairman David Bartley, the Ward 3 councilor, said in a phone interview Monday that the committee met every month in 2021 — sometimes twice in a month — with full agendas.

    “It’s just a very busy committee,” Bartley said. “I wasn’t getting pressure on me from the G&E manager, because he’s got a full commission as it is … I really didn’t have any pressure on me to take it up. It was in the jacket, I knew it was there.”

    Bartley stressed that HG&E’s board was still operating with full membership and that its operations weren’t impacted by the lack of action on Marrero’s appointment. HG&E Superintendent James Lavelle confirmed Monday that “it’s been smooth sailing” for the board of commissioners this past year.

    At-large Councilor Peter Tallman was also a member of the DGR Committee last year and said that he had tried on multiple occasions to get Bartley to bring the appointment out of committee as its chair.

    “We were busy but we could have taken that appointment up,” said Tallman, who had voted to send the appointment to the Public Service Committee in the first place. When asked why he thought the appointment was never brought up in the DGR Committee, he said: “I think he didn’t want that to go forward, the chairman.”

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    HG&E was a topic often debated on the campaign trail this fall as mayoral hopefuls addressed how they planned to address a moratorium that HG&E has had to place on new gas hookups amid a lack of gas capacity in the region.

    The lack of capacity can only be rectified by expanding a pipeline. The “Northampton Lateral” pipeline that currently provides gas to the region from the Tennessee Gas pipeline is at maximum capacity, meaning that utilities like HG&E and others in the region have to limit new hookups in order to make sure they have enough gas for days of peak consumption during the winter. Those denied hookups have often had to turn to propane gas, another fossil fuel contributing to climate change.

    Columbia Gas of Massachusetts had worked out an agreement several years ago with HG&E to build a new connecting pipeline to more directly serve Holyoke and communities beyond also facing a moratorium, like Northampton and Easthampton. After Columbia Gas lines exploded in the Merrimack Valley in 2018, killing one and causing tens of thousands to evacuate their homes, the company pleaded guilty to a federal felony and was forced to sell off its assets and move out of the state.

    Morse, who left office in March 2021 to become Provincetown’s town manager, issued a statement on Earth Day 2019 saying that while HG&E had contractual obligations to support the project going forward, he would use his position to oppose the deal because of the ramifications that increased fossil-fuel burning would have on the planet’s climate crisis. That statement drew the ire of some city councilors, including Bartley.

    Marrero, who has previously worked on government energy policy in Puerto Rico and New York, served for more than eight years as director of planning and economic development in the Morse administration.

    City Councilors are sure to dig into Marrero’s thoughts on many topics, including how to deal with the lack of capacity, which has impacted local businesses and raised concerns that companies are passing up on the chance to locate in Holyoke because a gas moratorium is in place. Asked about the moratorium issue, Marrero said he’s sure that HG&E is already making plenty of efforts to address the problem, and that any commissioner would have to do their due diligence to understand those efforts.

    “These things are complex and it’s not like you just pull a lever or make a contract and you’re done,” he said.

    Marrero said that as technology makes it easier to electrify the grid and heating, HG&E can work to move homes off of dirtier energy sources and onto electricity, which has more stable prices for customers. He said that energy efficiency is also an essential part of easing capacity demands by lowering gas use in the city — something HG&E has committed to. As somebody who spent nearly a decade on economic issues in the city, he said he’s excited for the opportunity to lend his experience to the HG&E board.

    “How do you meet those economic, environmental and societal needs?” he asked. “That’s something I’m looking forward to adding from my perspective.”

    Tallman has confirmed that a confirmation hearing is scheduled March 9 for Marrero in the Public Service Committee — a three-member body chaired by Tallman. Bartley and Ward 2 Councilor Will Puello are the committee’s other two members. Tallman said he’s sure many councilors will have questions for Marrero about the moratorium and other issues.

    “We’ll take it up and we want to have a good discussion,” Tallman said.

    Dusty Christensen can be reached at dchristensen@gazettenet.com.

    Useful links:
    Holyoke City Council
    Contact your councilors

    Holyoke Forward / Holyoke Pa’Lante:
    We did it!

    Neighbor to Neighbor Mass Action Fund:
    Neighbor to Neighbor

    Ward 4 FB page: Ward 4 Page

    Holyoke Media Interview:
    Ward 4 Interview

    Donate a little or a lot: Support Kocayne!

  • A Crash Course in Holyoke Water

    A Crash Course in Holyoke Water

    Thanks to Mr. David Conti, Holyoke Water Works General Manager, I have a much better understanding of our amazing drinking supply. I wish I could say that I scheduled this visit out of sheer curiosity. What had actually happened was… As you may know, the City Council recently voted to appoint two new Water Commissioners. Being a new City Councilor, I felt completely unprepared and severely uninformed regarding both our water system and the tasks of a Water Commissioner.

    If the citizens of Holyoke only knew how awesome our system is and how much work is being done to update it, create efficiencies, and secure its future, I think they would really appreciate our resources. It’s so easy to focus on the inconveniences of system flushes that cause water discoloration. However, recognizing problems leads to solutions. Most of Holyoke’s discoloration issues are due to system flushes following water line replacements. So actually, the discoloration is a sign of progress! The next time you notice this, think about how the water in our city flows north. Any flow, pipe, hydrant, drainage upgrades from the point they are happening going north, will experience discoloration. According to Mr. Conti, we have a few more years of this before all areas of the city have been addressed.

    Holyoke has a lot to be proud of. We have our own surface water sources, plural! How many other municipalities can say that? Our reservoirs include the Tighe Carmody, Whiting Street, Ashley, and McLean! I was thoroughly impressed by our entire system. I found information about Tighe Carmody Reservoir to be most intriguing and even inspiring. Having an impound capacity of 4.825 billion gallons and a safe yield of 13.0 million gallons of water per day, it is located in Southampton surrounded by protected lands, roughly 5000 acres of which are owned by our very own Holyoke Water Works!

    Holyoke Water Works:
    Everything you could possibly imagine about our water system!

    Useful links:
    Holyoke City Council
    Contact your councilors

    Holyoke Forward / Holyoke Pa’Lante:
    We did it!

    Neighbor to Neighbor Mass Action Fund:
    Neighbor to Neighbor

    Ward 4 FB page: Ward 4 Page

    Holyoke Media Interview:
    Ward 4 Interview

    Donate a little or a lot: Support Kocayne!

  • The New Faces of Holyoke City Hall!

    The New Faces of Holyoke City Hall!

    11/4/2021
    This is us! The new faces of City Hall!

    It's been an awesome run that would not have been possible without your donations, and citywide support. Neighbor to Neighbor and Holyoke Forward really helped shake this race up! Thanks for not electing the status quo. We deserve better and that was made very clear in this election.

    Things are definitely happening in our city. I'm enthusiastically looking forward to working with Mayor Garcia, all of the new councilors, and those returning to the council. You can be sure that your newly elected officials will be meeting in the next couple of weeks in order to plan out how best to support our mayor and all of Holyoke's residents. You are counting on us. Although we will not be sworn in until January, the work starts NOW!

    Useful links:

    Holyoke Forward / Holyoke Pa’Lante:
    Get with this instead of that

    Neighbor to Neighbor Mass Action Fund:
    Neighbor to Neighbor

    Holyoke Media Interview:
    Ward 4 Interview

    Donate a little or a lot: Help me Win!

  • Happy New Year!

    Happy New Year!

    January 5, 2022
    After a hot Summer of campaigning and a super chilly election day, I managed to earn the votes for a seat at the table. I am excited and humbled to be succeeding Jossie Valentin and Libby Hernandez. These strong Holyoke Latinas have done the work needed to help pave the way and encourage women of color to run for public office. I must say that without seeing these strong women as Ward 4 Councilors, I may not have been so inspired to run. It's been such a privilege to watch them navigate and positively impact systems dominated by institutional racism, sexism, and bigotry while getting into so much good trouble as Ward 4 Councilors.
    It is my sincere pleasure to be just one of many new Holyoke City Councilors of color. We have to give thanks to all of the great public servants and activists who made sure we would have this opportunity.
    Beyond being the most diverse council to ever serve, we are a council that truly reflects the diversity of our community. Holyoke's citizens are predominantly of Puerto Rican and Irish ancestry. We are a city of all ages and economic backgrounds. We are laborers and professors, librarians and mechanics. Our neighbors are life long Holyokers and transients who fell in love. We are a community sprinkled with people from all over. One where even a black woman of German decent represents the story of our city. Holyoke is growing, changing, and absolutely surthriving. Join us in continuing to fight the good fight and work towards the change we need and deserve in Holyoke. Democracy is not a spectator sport. Your involvement is required.

    Useful links:
    Holyoke City Council
    Contact your councilors

    Holyoke Forward / Holyoke Pa’Lante:
    We did it!

    Neighbor to Neighbor Mass Action Fund:
    Neighbor to Neighbor

    Ward 4 FB page: Ward 4 Page

    Holyoke Media Interview:
    Ward 4 Interview

    Donate a little or a lot: Support Kocayne!

  • It's November 2nd, ELECTIONS ARE TODAY!!!!

    It's November 2nd, ELECTIONS ARE TODAY!!!!

    11/2/2021
    Polls are open 7am - 8pm. We all need to vote if we want to be represented. It's so important that we take 6 minutes to flex our voting muscles if we want Holyoke to be perceived as more than a dangerous "low income warehouse", as stated by #dontsullyholyoke during Thursdays' debate. There is PLENTY of specialized skill, talent, age/wisdom, and diversity among the group of HolyokeForward.org candidates to implement needed change and improvements to our city, without stigmatizing entire groups of humans.
    Council members who've served, OVER DECADES, and have yet to prove themselves should be voted out. Luckily, council and mayoral terms are limited. Let's take advantage of that and do things differently for the next 2-4 years. I think doubters will be pleasantly surprised at how many improvements can be made in a short period with a fully focused team that can't wait to work together, and with all municipal departments, for you!

    Ward 4 votes at 485 Appleton str, St Paul's Church Parish.

    Useful links:

    Find your voting location:
    Poll Location

    -Election Day! November 2, 2021

    Donate a little or a lot: Help me Win!

    Holyoke Forward / Holyoke Pa’Lante:
    Get with this instead of that

  • It's time to vote!!!

    It's time to vote!!!

    10/29/21
    It's time to vote!!! Get over to City Hall if you have time. Early voting ends Friday, October 29th at 4:30pm. There are lots of new names on the ballot this year. Feel free to take your Holyoke Forward mailing with you to the polls!

    And, if we haven't met yet, I'll be at the Ward 4 polling location, Saint Pauls's Church/Parish at 485 Appleton St, throughout the day on November 2. Let's vote in all the change we want to see this term! We deserve it as residents. Holyoke is a wonderful community and has earned the privilege to growth and experience positive change.


    Useful links:

    Confirm you are registered to vote:
    Voter Registration Search

    Register to vote: Voter Registration site

    Find your voting location:
    Poll Location

    -Last Day to Register November Election October 13, 2021

    -Election Day! November 2, 2021

    Donate a little or a lot: Help me Win!

    Ward 4 FB page: Ward 4 Page

    Holyoke Forward / Holyoke Pa’Lante:
    Get with this instead of that

    Holyoke Media Interview:
    Ward 4 Interview

  • Givner, Siciliano vie for Holyoke City Council’s Ward 4 seat

    Givner, Siciliano vie for Holyoke City Council’s Ward 4 seat

    By DUSTY CHRISTENSEN
    Staff Writer
    Published: 10/23/2021 4:06:47 PM
    HOLYOKE — On Nov. 2, city residents will vote to fill seven ward-based seats on the City Council, five of which are contested races. The ward seats are in addition to six at-large seats on the council.
    Ward 4 covers parts of the Churchill and Downtown neighborhoods, as well as smaller chunks of the Oakdale and Highlands neighborhoods. Two candidates are vying for the position and are profiled in the order they appear on the ballot, which was randomly determined.
    Kocayne Givner
    A homeowner who has lived on and off in the city since the ‘90s, Kocayne Givner is a fashion designer who worked in New York City, Houston and Philadelphia before returning to Holyoke in 2015. She said she’s running for office to do what she has long done in her neighborhood: advocate for improvements.
    “I was always a squeaky wheel in my neighborhood,” she said. “I noticed when I moved back the last time there were the same problems here as the time I left before.”
    Givner said that trash pickup, keeping parks clean, improving sidewalks and dealing with speeding cars are all areas of focus in her neighborhood. She said that there have been improvements under the tenure of the ward’s current city councilor, Libby Hernandez, who has endorsed Givner, and previous councilor Jossie Valentin. Givner hopes to continue that work.
    “I think the most important things in the neighborhood … are public safety things,” she said. “I really think it would be great to do some traffic studies.”
    If elected, Givner said she would also work to support the city’s public schools to the extent that she can, and that she wants to work with the city’s new mayor to get things done.
    Givner also spoke about the importance of local government being accessible to all residents, which she said is currently not the case, and the importance of boosting voter turnout in the city. She said Ward 7 tends to dominate city politics, and that she hopes to improve interest in city government among her constituents by being there for them.
    “Helping people understand that they can be heard if they flex that voting muscle, and helping them realize that there are people who do want to work for them,” she said. “But they have to vote them in.”
    Givner said she is the most accessible candidate in the race. And she vowed to bring change to the City Council.
    Support the Daily Hampshire Gazette. Subscribe Today
    “I haven’t seen anything like this,” she said. “There are a lot of people running so there’s a lot of chance for change.”

    Michael Thomas Siciliano
    A Holyoker for the last two decades, Michael Thomas Siciliano described the city as the most family-friendly community he has ever known. He became involved in the schools and youth sports when his children were young and has done volunteer work for organizations like the Holyoke Safe Neighborhood Initiative.
    “Holyoke is a city with significant issues,” he said. “But when you spend so much time here and it becomes your home, you just see beyond these significant issues and you come to appreciate all the great things about it.”
    Siciliano said his priorities include protecting homeowners from higher taxes, advocating for the public schools and an end to state receivership, and holding public officials accountable. He also said he would work to end “mismanagement” in city agencies such as the Department of Public Works, which he said has “experienced difficult times” as a result of poor city management.
    “Holyoke has a tremendous amount of resources and it has for a long time,” he said. “They’ve been misappropriated, not wisely spent.”
    Improving pedestrian safety is another important focus for Siciliano, who said speeding cars and motorcycles make families and children feel unsafe walking around town. He said some of that is because of “issues with enforcement,” and that he would work to hold the Holyoke Police Department accountable for that enforcement.
    Siciliano spoke at length about his work helping to develop the Chestnut Community Alliance, a neighborhood association. He said he learned a lot from volunteering with the South Holyoke Neighborhood Association, as well as taking part in the Resident Leadership Program put on by the organization Wayfinders.
    “I’m a very large proponent of the neighborhood associations,” he said.
    Siciliano said that what separates him from his opponent is his community development experience.
    “It frankly speaks for itself,” he said. “It’s in-depth, it’s diverse. It comes out of a love affair (for Holyoke). I just love it, I love it so much.”
    Dusty Christensen can be reached at dchristensen@gazettenet.com.

  • Holyoke Media Interviews with Holyoke Candidates!

    Holyoke Media Interviews with Holyoke Candidates!

    October 19, 2021
    Check out candidate interviews, including my own of course:)

    Holyoke Media Interview:
    Ward 4 Interview
    Holyoke Meida


    Useful links:

    Holyoke Forward / Holyoke Pa’Lante:
    Get with this instead of that

    Confirm you are registered to vote:
    Voter Registration Search

    Find your voting location:
    Poll Location

    -Election Day! November 2, 2021

    Donate a little or a lot: Help me Win!

    Ward 4 FB page: Ward 4 Page

  • Holyoke Forward / Holyoke Pa'lante

    Holyoke Forward / Holyoke Pa'lante

    October 19, 2021
    Holyoke is at a pivotal moment. Issues like preparing for climate change, transitioning to green energy, strengthening infrastructure, addressing structural inequities, managing finances, and enacting strategic plans and vision require many hands on deck pulling in the same direction.

    This year’s election offers a unique chance to begin to make the changes we need.Holyoke needs more effective leadership. It’s time for a new mayor, a brand new council, and a school committee that will work to regain local control without backsliding on progress already made. ​

    Holyoke Forward / Holyoke Pa’Lante:
    The change you've been waiting for!

    Other Useful links:

    Confirm you are registered to vote:
    Voter Registration Search

    Register to vote: Voter Registration site

    Find your voting location:
    Poll Location

    -Election Day! November 2, 2021

    Donate a little or a lot: Help me Win!

    Ward 4 FB page: Ward 4 Page

  • Local Politics Heats Up 29 Days to the Election!!!!

    Local Politics Heats Up 29 Days to the Election!!!!

    By DUSTY CHRISTENSEN
    Staff Writer
    Published: 10/5/2021 9:05:05 AM
    HOLYOKE — With less than a month until a Nov. 2 general election, two political action committees have formed in Holyoke to boost the candidacies of competing factions for city offices.
    A PAC calling itself Holyoke Forward, or Holyoke Pa’lante in Spanish, said that it would launch a campaign on Tuesday to elect 10 candidates it has chosen to endorse for mayor, City Council and School Committee. Those endorsements stand in opposition to the support another PAC, A Better Holyoke for All, has given to separate group of 11 candidates for those same races.
    The PACs are throwing their weight behind two competing political factions in Holyoke and largely focus on competitive races. The two groups appear to represent the conservative-liberal divide in Holyoke, though spokespeople for both groups disputed that.
    A Better Holyoke for All was initially formed in 2019 as the Keep Holyoke Affordable For All Committee — a group that successfully opposed a ballot question that year to raise taxes to build two new middle schools. The group has now renamed itself and has endorsed a slate of candidates pulled largely from its own membership, according to the PAC’s president, Preston Macy, who the group has also endorsed in his bid for City Council in Ward 6.
    In addition to Macy, the group has endorsed: Michael Sullivan for mayor; Kevin Jourdain, Howard Greaney and Mark Chatel for at-large seats on the City Council; Will Puello for Ward 2 councilor; David Bartley for Ward 3 councilor; Michael Thomas Siciliano for Ward 4 councilor; Linda Vacon for Ward 5 councilor; Marc Hickey for an at-large School Committee seat; and Colleen Chesmore for Ward 7 School Committee member.
    Holyoke Forward/Pa’lante, meanwhile, has backed the other candidates running in most of those same races: Joshua Garcia for mayor; Israel Rivera, Jennifer Keitt, José Luis Maldonado Velez, Paola Ferrario and Tessa Murphy-Romboletti for at-large City Council seats; Anne Thalheimer for Ward 3 councilor; Kocayne Givner for Ward 4 councilor; Guy O’Donnell for Ward 5 councilor; and Juan Anderson-Burgos for Ward 6 councilor.
    A Better Holyoke for All’s endorsements were made before Holyoke’s preliminary mayoral election late last month, which narrowed the mayoral field down to Sullivan and Garcia. They include some of the city’s more conservative politicians, including Jourdain, Vacon and Hickey, who are all Republican Party city committee members in Holyoke, according to the Mass GOP website.
    “We’re probably more fiscally conservative than we are socially conservative,” Macy said in a phone interview Monday. However, he described the group as a collection of Republicans, Democrats and independents.
    Macy said that the group’s platform contains three issues: ending a gas moratorium to help bring more businesses into Holyoke, getting “a hold of our budget and stopping it from declining,” and using the City Council and School Committee to push for local control of Holyoke’s schools, which are currently in state receivership. He said city voters made a good decision when they overwhelmingly rejected the 2019 ballot question to raise money to build new schools, and that his PAC is looking to reinforce that decision in these elections.
    “We’re really locally focused and we’re trying to direct our energy at problems that are solvable and that are important,” he said.
    A Better Holyoke for All has come under some criticism for the lack of diversity among its endorsed candidates. In a city that is more than 50% Hispanic, Puello — who is running unopposed in November — is the only Latino candidate the group has endorsed.
    “Very candidly there are very many Hispanic people who think our way but we don’t know who they are,” Macy said, adding that the group has made efforts to include the city’s Hispanic residents.
    The slate that Holyoke Forward/Pa’lante has endorsed is more diverse and appears to be more liberal. Thalheimer, for example, is a local Democratic Party ward committee chair, according to the Mass Dems website. And the PAC has named as its spokesperson William “Billy” Glidden, who was a mayoral candidate and previously served as an aide to former mayor Alex Morse.
    But Glidden said that issues don’t neatly map onto a left-right divide when it comes to local politics, and that the PAC supports candidates who span the political spectrum locally. He said the group wants voters to know the stakes of the election: a choice between “the dysfunction we’ve seen previously or a new path for the city.”
    In a press release, the PAC described city government as “paralyzed by obstruction, cronyism, and polarization” when it needs to be united around issues including climate change, improving infrastructure, addressing structural inequities and managing finances. It noted that as city councilors, Sullivan, Bartley, Greaney, Vacon and At-Large Councilor James Leahy all voted in 2020 to reject a $275,000 grant to help Holyoke transition away from fossil fuels.
    “Holyoke needs more effective leadership,” the group said. “It’s time for a new mayor, a brand new council, and a school committee that will work to regain local control without backsliding on progress already made.”
    Both PACs will be able to raise and spend money ahead of the general election on Nov. 2.
    Dusty Christensen can be reached at dchristensen@gazettenet.com.

  • Neighbor to Neighbor Action Fund Endorsement!

    Neighbor to Neighbor Action Fund Endorsement!

    October 5, 2021
    It is with great pleasure and enthusiasm that I announce this amazing endorsement! Neighbor to Neighbor is highly active throughout Massachusetts, and definitely in Holyoke. I am honored to have gained this organization's attention and confidence!

    Neighbor to Neighbor Massachusetts Action Fund is building democracy by putting the new majority– people of color, immigrants, women, and the working class– at the center of the political process. By educating voters, developing local leadership, and electing candidates who put people & planet before profit, they are building the power to confront the triple crisis of racism, economic inequality, and environmental degradation. Through every election, they are transforming government to reflect the will and wisdom of the new majority.

    When N2N members step into their power, a bright future is possible:
    ~A future where everyone has a place to call home is possible.
    ~A future where the good of the many is valued more than the privilege of the few.
    ~A future where our land and natural resources are revered as elements of life not tradable commodities.
    ~A future where no matter where we come from or what our color is, we can all prosper.
    N2N Action Fund knows that a better world is possible, and believes that they are the ones to create it.

    More Neighbor to Neighbor info:
    N2N

    Useful links:

    Find your voting location:
    Poll Location

    -Last Day to Register November Election October 13, 2021

    -Election Day! November 2, 2021

    Donate a little or a lot: Help me Win!

    Ward 4 FB page: Ward 4 Page

    Confirm you are registered to vote:
    Voter Registration Search

    Register to vote: Voter Registration site

  • Reminder Article!

    Reminder Article!

    September 27, 2021
    Running to be on your city council continues to be a real pleasure! If you haven't already, please read what your ward contenders have to say about regarding ways to improve how our city functions. If you live in ward 4 and agree that we need to figure out creative ways to do things better, consider filling in the bubble next to my name on November 2nd.

    And please, if you have not voted recently, make sure you are still registered. It's so important to be in the know. Let's share our findings with friends and family. Vote early if that's more convenient for you. Vote later in the day. Polls tend to be open from 6am to 8pm. Take a friend. Show your little ones how these processes work. It's so quick, easy, and impactful to take part in electing those who have your best interest at heart. Only then will they be in position to amplify your voice.

    Check out your ward candidate's comments in the Holyoke Reminder:
    www.thereminder.com/.../meet-the-holyok…

    Useful links:

    Confirm you are registered to vote:
    Voter Registration Search

    Register to vote: Voter Registration site

    Find your voting location:
    Poll Location

    -Last Day to Register November Election October 13, 2021

    -Election Day! November 2, 2021

    Donate a little or a lot: Help me Win!

    Ward 4 FB page: Ward 4 Page

  • I Took the Pledge!!!!

    I Took the Pledge!!!!

    September 10, 2021
    There are plenty of ways for city leaders to protect and expand reproductive freedom. Ensuring that Holyoke citizens have access to the full spectrum of reproductive health care options is one of my priorities. That's why I took the ProChoiceMass City Champions Pledge! As a NARAL MA City Champion, voters can count on me to fight for these important policy positions!

    More about NARAL MA and other Massachusetts leaders who have taken the pledge! : Naral MA!


  • Signs are in!

    Signs are in!

    August 14, 2021
    It's so exciting to see my lawn signs next to so many other awesome public servants. It takes a village, and I am so ready for this work. Thanks Jeff Bianchine, at the Holyoke Print Shop, for getting these done! And thanks to all of the Holyoke and national love I have been receiving to make this run possible at all! Please inbox me if you would like me to stop by for a chat and drop a sign. I love meeting my neighbors and noting their concerns. And if you ca, donate so that I can continue to get the word out. Lawn sign inventory is limited. Donations make it possible to print more:)

    Donate at: Act Blue

    Ward 4 FB page: The Book Face!

    Register to vote: Registration link

    #KeepingUpWithKoco
    #Kocayne4Holyoke
    #Givner

  • Ward 4 is Our Village!

    Ward 4 is Our Village!

    July 23, 2021
    There's no stopping us when we work together. Closed mouths don't get fed. What do we need? What do want? What are the things that will make our communities better? What are the quality of life issues that seem like they should be non-ssues? I want to know what makes your eyes roll when our local leaders and service directors decide how this city will move forward.

    Voting Day is November 2,2021
    Email me!: Kocayne4Holyoke@gmail.com
    Donate at: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/kocayne4holyoke

    #KeepingUpWithKoco
    #Kocayne4Holyoke
    #Givner
    #ISupportKocayne

  • Local politics at their best! Kocayne4Holyoke@gmail.com

    Local politics at their best! Kocayne4Holyoke@gmail.com

    July 18, 2021
    Who says getting involved has to be stuffy and boring?! It doesn't have to be. It all starts right where you are, with the people you live next to. The best things we can do for each other include being kind and available. I've been so impressed with Holyoke's initiatives and progression as of late. I think many of my neighbors will be pleasantly surprised as they get to know one another, and our changing city. We deserve this progress!

    Have you been to a City Council meeting? If not, why not? This is your city. Come listen in to see what decisions are being made on your behalf. Who knows, you might even find some causes that peak your curiosity and have a direct effect on you and your family.
    https://www.holyoke.org/departments/public-meetings/

    Just a little sampling of things happening through progressive actions in your city:
    -Public pool is open!
    -Fiber optic internet is being considered as an option for us all!
    -Community relations policing board is being established
    -Working on tax rate stabilization through economic development.
    (Notice all the new businesses popping up?!)
    -Indigenous Peoples Day has been adopted in place of Columbus day!
    -Juneteenth is a recognized holiday!
    -Transparency and accessibility at City Hall through bilingual availability of all city business.
    -Farmers Market is back, now on Canal street!

    Have you considered a small donation to Kocayne 4 Holyoke?:
    Act Blue

    #KeepingUpWithKoco
    #Kocayne4Holyoke
    #Givner
    #ISupportKocayne

  • Donate a little so that we can do a lot!

    Donate a little so that we can do a lot!

    Its happening!
    Donate at: Act Blue

    #KeepingUpWithKoco
    #Kocayne4Holyoke
    #Givner
    #ISupportKocayne

  • I'm confirmed and have a new email address! Kocayne4Holyoke@gmail.com

    I'm confirmed and have a new email address! Kocayne4Holyoke@gmail.com

    July 7, 2021
    It's official, I'll be on the ballot! As we begin to approach this election season, please take a moment to ensure that your vote will count. There's nothing more frustrating than realizing that you are no longer registered or that you are not quite sure which voting location is yours. The only way we can ensure adequate representation on our council is by turning out in droves! I know it's not a federal holiday yet, but I hope you will take the time to make sure your voice is heard. Are you registered? Do you need to register? Are you unsure? No problem. Here are a few sites to help you figure that out, along with important dates to add to our calendars, as well as a list of representation outside of Holyoke:)

    Register to vote:
    Register here!
    Find your Voting location:
    Vote here

    -Last Day to Register for Preliminary Election September 1, 2021
    -Preliminary Election September 21, 2021
    -Last Day to Register November Election October 13, 2021
    -Election Day! November 2, 2021

    Not quite sure who represents you outside of Holyoke? Well, here ya go!
    Your elected officials are:
    Statewide office holders for the Commonwealth:
    Governor: CHARLES D. BAKER
    Lieutenant Governor: KARYN E. POLITO
    Secretary: WILLIAM FRANCIS GALVIN
    Auditor: SUZANNE M. BUMP
    Treasurer: DEBORAH B. GOLDBERG
    Attorney General: MAURA HEALEY
    U.S. Senator: ELIZABETH A. WARREN
    U.S. Senator: EDWARD J. MARKEY

    District Representatives:
    Congressional: RICHARD E. NEAL
    State Senate: JOHN C. VELIS
    State Representative: PATRICIA A. DUFFY
    Governor's Council: MARY E. HURLEY
    District Attorney: ANTHONY D. GULLUNI

    Donate at: Act Blue

    #KeepingUpWithKoco
    #Kocayne4Holyoke
    #Givner
    #ISupportKocayne

  • Signatures!!!!!

    Signatures!!!!!

    June 18, 2021
    Guess what ya'll!!!!! Too bad City Hall is closed:/ I so wanted to hand these in this morning!!!! On a VERY positive note, City Hall is closed in observance of Juneteenth!!!! Now that's really somethin'!

    Donate at: Act Blue

    #KeepingUpWithKoco
    #Kocayne4Holyoke
    #Givner
    #ISupportKocayne

  • Pushing for the last few needed signatures!

    Pushing for the last few needed signatures!

    June 12, 2021
    Getting so close to confirmation thanks to everyone who has traded their signature for an explanation of my name, and of course an understanding of my thoughts on how to keep the momentum as ward 4 councilor. Trust and believe that your signature makes a difference. Stop by and sign if you can! And of course, inbox me if you'd like an introduction:) I'm happy to answer your questions and commit to addressing your community related concerns:)

    Donate at: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/kocayne4holyoke

    #KeepingUpWithKoco
    #Kocayne4Holyoke
    #Givner
    #ISupportKocayne

  • Nice meeting you Israel!

    Nice meeting you Israel!

    June 6, 2021
    Thanks for introducing me to more of my neighbors at one of your Mayoral campaign kick off events Rebecca Lisi!!!

    Donate at: Act Blue

    #KeepingUpWithKoco
    #Kocayne4Holyoke
    #Givner
    #ISupportKocayne

  • Cleanup organized by OneHolyoke CDC!

     Cleanup organized by OneHolyoke CDC!

    June 6, 2021
    It's so easy to throw our trash in receptacles. Oh wait, what receptacles? We need more trash cans on the corners of our highly pedestrian city. Do the chain restaurants in your city add more than tax revenue? I think chains would be doing communities and themselves a service by sponsoring cleanups and adding trash cans throughout the communities they serve! It's time we hold one another accountable for the beautification and quality of life in our awesome city of Holyoke!

    Donate at: Act Blue

    #KeepingUpWithKoco
    #Kocayne4Holyoke
    #Givner
    #ISupportKocayne

  • Allow me to introduce myself!!!

    Libby Hernandez has endorsed me for this important city role! I hope you will too! Special thanks to our young, talented camera woman, Mega!

    Donate at: Act Blue

    #KeepingUpWithKoco
    #Kocayne4Holyoke
    #Givner
    #ISupportKocayne

  • Kocayne for Ward 4!

    Kocayne for Ward 4!

    MAy5, 2021
    It is with great pleasure and enthusiasm that I announce my intention to translate the needs of Ward 4 residents in order to represent us all on Holyoke's City Council! But first, signatures:) I will be wandering around our neighborhoods Friday afternoon with hopes of meeting and chatting with you. Please feel free to inbox me if you have questions or would like to bring anything specific to my attention. I am so excited for this journey and look forward to continuing the work of Libby Hernandez and others, who have made me feel heard and valued as a Holyoke resident since the 90's. Can't wait to meet ya! Feel free to contact me at kocayne@kocayne.com, or use this link https://kocayne.us/contact.html ~Koco

    Donate at: Donate

    #KeepingUpWithKoco
    #Kocayne4Holyoke
    #Givner
    #ISupportKocayne