This is what Newton Dems are saying....

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Tuesday
Dec232014

Year End Update from Senator Creem

The final days of 2014 are fast approaching, as well as the end of the 188th session of the Massachusetts General Court.  I'd like to take this opportunity to update you on some of the issues considered on Beacon Hill this legislative session, but first I would like to thank you for your support in the November election!  I am very pleased and honored to continue to represent you and I look forward to working in the next session on issues that are important for my district and the Commonwealth.

 

The past two years have been very busy up on Beacon Hill.  I have been working hard as Chair of the Senate Committee on Post Audit and Oversight and have already conducted audits and issued reports on the state's information technology procurement process, the state's backlog of rape evidence kits, and a review of state boards and commissions.  I have also sponsored and successfully advocated for important legislation, including new laws tightening gun ownership requirements, addressing inequities in juvenile offender sentencing, and protecting domestic violence victims.  As the new session begins, I will continue to work on important priorities that still must be addressed.

 

This past November brought about the election of a new governor, attorney general, and treasurer, along with several new state senators and representatives.  Now I'm looking forward to robust debates beginning in January, and to ensuring that the 189th session works to pass meaningful legislation in a fair and transparent manner. 

 

Finally, as the holiday season fast approaches, I would like to wish everyone a happy holiday and a wonderful New Year!  2014 has been a very productive year and I am looking forward to the work of 2015!

— LATEST NEWS —

Comprehensive Firearms Reform - After years of working to strengthen our gun laws, I was pleased that this session saw enactment of the most comprehensive reforms to our gun laws since 1998.  Included within the new law are many initiatives that I proposed, including a new “suitability” process for police to deny a firearm identification card needed to use a shotgun or rifle, and requiring all gun sales, including private sales, to go through “real time” background and licensing checks.  The bill also brings Massachusetts into compliance with the federal National Instant Check System (NICS), as well as requiring the collection of data at the state level on guns used in crime and in suicides.  While this new law goes a long way towards ensuring the safety of our residents, I believe there is more to be done on gun control and I will continue to push for more ways to reduce gun trafficking and gun crimes.

Juvenile Life Sentences - Juveniles convicted of first degree murder will no longer be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole under a new law passed in response to both U.S. and State Supreme Court rulings regarding the unconstitutionality of state laws which imposed life without parole for these juveniles.  These cases recognized the significant developmental differences between juveniles and adults who commit murder.   The new law, while not optimal, provides for parole eligibility after serving at least 20 years and in more extreme cases at least 30 years.  The age of who is considered a juvenile has also now been raised from 17 to 18.  These important reforms will create a more effective criminal justice system, and I will continue to work on legislation to make our sentencing laws more just and effective, while allowing judicial discretion.  

 

Transportation - This session, the Legislature enacted a comprehensive 5-year funding plan for overdue public transit and road projects.  By 2017, we will have ‘open road tolling’ on the entire Mass Turnpike and Central Artery, eliminating all toll collectors and smoothing the flow of traffic. In my district, green line service should be improving, with plans to make traffic signals responsive to the B and C trains, and to put 24 new cars online by 2018.  And, the RIDE for seniors and the disabled will begin a discount program in July to help those who need financial aid.    

Environment - I have been successful this session in ensuring that zero-emission vehicle companies (ZEVs) are at the table when policies are worked out on charging stations and sales of these cars and adding methane measurements to the new gas leaks bill to make sure the most potent greenhouse gas emissions are considered a priority for repair.  And I will be supporting the divestment of our state’s pension funds from the fossil fuels industry, and efforts to stop a natural gas pipeline (Kinder-Morgan) that would go through protected state forests across our state.  In the next session, I am hopeful we will enact my bill banning toxic flame retardants in children’s furniture and other household products, and that my bills to enhance safety for bicyclists, pedestrians and other road users will be adopted.

Bottle Bill - I am the lead sponsor of legislation complementing curbside recycling by requiring the nickel deposit for ‘on-the-go’ beverages like water bottles and energy drinks.  These containers now end up as roadside and sports field litter, costing cities and towns around $8 million a year for disposal as trash (since 76% are not currently recycled, just put into landfills!)  I supported the ballot question this November, but unfortunately it was not successful.  While Brookline supported adding nickel deposits (54-46%), Newton (45-55%) and Wellesley (41-59%) voted ‘No’.  However, I believe the current bottle bill remains necessary since 82% of deposit containers are now recycled, and I will be introducing new legislation in January make sure our communities adopt the most effective recycling programs to reduce landfill trash.

Women's Health - In 2007 I collaborated with other lawmakers to institute a 35-foot "buffer zone" around reproductive health facilities to ensure that women could access needed medical services free from harassment or intimidation.  However, the Supreme Court determined this year that this buffer zone law was unconstitutional.  In response to this decision, I worked with other lawmakers to enact a new law which allows law enforcement to disperse unruly individuals and prohibit them from standing within 25-feet of a clinic for up to eight-hours.  This session we also passed legislation I sponsored which will ban shackling of pregnant women in all state and county correctional facilities and promote safe pregnancies by requiring prenatal and postnatal medical care and counseling services.  I’m proud that Massachusetts now joins the 18 other states that prohibit the shackling of pregnant women.

Domestic Violence - Building on last year’s passage into law of my bill to protect domestic violence victims from housing discrimination, I am proud that two more of my initiatives to protect and empower victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse became law this session.  Partly in response to the tragic Jared Remy case, the legislature passed an omnibus domestic violence bill, including one of my longtime initiatives to provide employment leave to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in order to address related issues such as housing, counseling, or medical treatment.  It also included my bill to prevent perpetrators of domestic assault from avoiding prosecution by utilizing an old statute meant to allow individuals in simpler assault cases to resolve their disputes by mutual agreement.  I plan on continuing my efforts to ensure that resources are available to assist victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault.

 

— COMMITTEE NEWS —

 

This has been a busy year for the Senate Committee on Post Audit and Oversight, which I chair.  This committee has the important job of looking into government inefficiencies and recommending ways to make the government work more effectively for its citizens and ensure that our taxes are well spent.

 

Recently, I conducted a detailed examination of the problems the state has encountered with information-technology projects and the private contractors who build them for us.  One example was the problematic roll-out on July 1, 2013 of the Department of Unemployment Assistance’s new online claim system.  After hearing from many unemployed people whose distress at losing their jobs was compounded by not being able to collect the unemployment benefits they were due, I began to investigate.  After holding three hearings and thoroughly investigating the issues, I released a report in April setting forth problems with state information-technology procurement and development and making numerous recommendations for improvement.  This report, in turn, was used to help write new laws revamping state information-technology procurement and management.

 

My committee has also looked into concerns about the many boards and commissions in the Commonwealth to learn if they are fulfilling their mandate or whether their usefulness has expired.  There are over 600 boards and commissions ranging from those that issue professional licenses on a continuing basis, to others created to look into particular issues and make recommendations.  I found, first, that there were problems with the organization of information about our boards and commissions available on our state website.  More importantly, I found there were commissions that (1) have failed to conduct meetings and produce required reports; (2) apparently have never begun work (usually because they don’t have enough members); (3) have overlapping responsibilities; or (4) have completed or outlived their mission.  In July, my committee issued a report listing the problematic commissions we found and making recommendations to improve the current system.  I am planning to file legislation soon that will hopefully fix at least some of these problems.

 

 

— COMMUNITY CONTACT—

 

I often meet with school committees, selectmen and other public officials, Leagues of Women Voters, and local advocacy groups.  These meetings help me to understand and advocate for what my communities truly need. For example, after learning from my local school committees about the high cost of healthcare for some students, I filed a bill to shift the costs – appropriately - to private insurers to cover medically necessary treatment. If you have an issue I can help with, please contact me to schedule a meeting.

 

— COMMUNITY CORNER —

 

 

Ali Safran, founder of Surviving in Numbers and one of my Newton constituents, organized an exhibit at the State House this past summer.  Surviving in Numbers is an extraordinary organization which provides a healing forum for sexual assault survivors to relay their experiences in numbers, such as the number of times assaulted and the number of people who believed them.  This ability to speak out in a safe forum helps with the healing process and allows survivors to discuss their individual experience.  Ali's work is an amazing testament to the power that one voice can have. I was so proud to introduce her to the State Senate and facilitate her organization's display.

Wellesley students from Hunnewell Elementary School came to the State House to advocate for legislation, which I co-sponsored, to designate Ms. G of the Massachusetts Audubon Society as the official groundhog of the state.  These groundhog loving Wellesley students developed the idea for this bill and were the main impetus behind its passage.  This bill, with my support, was signed by the Governor into law on July 31, 2014.

I recently had the opportunity to meet Steven Legge, who was able to install a stair lift in his home in Newton with the help of the Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership's (MBHP) Home Loan Modification Program.  The program provides assistance to individuals so they can continue to live independently in the community.  I have been a longtime supporter of the MBHP and believe that increasing opportunities for those with disabilities to remain in their homes is a core community value we can all support.

 

— CONTACT ME 

 

Massachusetts State HouseOne of my most important jobs as your State Senator is assisting you with problems you may be having with state agencies.  I work very hard to ensure that my constituents have access to and receive needed services from the state.  If you are having problems and believe that I may be of assistance, I hope that you will think of my office as a resource.  Please feel free to contact me by telephone or email if you believe I can help. 

Friday
Dec192014

Remembering Sal

Wednesday
Dec172014

National Update from former NDCC Chair Priscilla Leith

With the final results from Louisiana in, here is where things now stand in the US Senate between the Dems and Republicans. (Hint: its rough for now!)

Friday
Dec052014

NEWTON DEMOCRATIC CITY COMMITTEE ENDORSES AN ACT TO AMEND THE CITY OF NEWTON CHARTER TO CHANGE THE TITLE OF NEWTON’S LEGISLATIVE BRANCH FROM “BOARD OF ALDERMEN” TO “CITY COUNCIL”.

For Immediate Release:

December 12, 2014
Newton, MA--Members of the Newton Democratic City Committee voted overwhelmingly to endorse a proposed update to the Newton Charter that would change the title of Newton's legislative body from Board of Aldermen to City Council. 
"Our members clearly thought it was time for a change," said NDCC Chair Shawn Fitzgibbons, "We need to make it crystal clear, through the language we use, that women deserve an equal seat in government. The term Alderman is from a different time and just doesn't accomplish that goal." 
The motion for the NDCC to endorse the change was made by Priscilla Leith who is both the former NDCC Chair and president of the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Organization for Women. The change to a gender-neutral term was also supported by State Treasurer Steve Grossman, a Newton resident, and State Representatives Ruth Balser and Kay Khan. 
Many NDCC members who spoke in favor of the change noted that the Democratic Party strongly supports diversity in government and that this initiative is an important step in the direction of encouraging more women to seek elective office in our home city.
The act recently passed the Board of Aldermen's Program and Services Committee and is expected to go before the full Board in December or January. 
The Newton Democratic City Committee consists of over 330 politically active individuals who are City residents, Democratic voters and activists. Learn more at www.newtondems.org. For more information contact Shawn Fitzgibbons, chair of the NDCC, at (617) 997-2577 or shawn@newtondems.org

 

 

Sunday
Nov302014

Video of the 2014 NDCC Brunch

Thanks to Ward 6 Chair Barbara John and her husband and fellow Ward 6 Dem Paul Sears for their exceptional videography skills! 

2014 Newton Democratic City Committee Brunch from barbara John on Vimeo.

Monday
Nov172014

Invite from Ward 3 Dem Catherine Willinger

All Dems are invited to the folling events:

The First Unitarian Society of Newton, 1326 Washington Street in West Newton (corner Highland St.), is holding two upcoming events addressing the need for reform of our criminal justice system in Massachusetts. Both events will be held in the chapel (Enter the church from the back door, turn left toward the parish hall.  The chapel is on the right.). 

Tuesday, November 18, 7-9 pm: Activist Louellyn Lambros she will talk about Pre-Trial Detention. Many people -- including a large number never ultimately convicted -- wait several months in jail just to go on trial if they cannot make bail. Reform is desperately needed. The cost to the state per inmate is $46,000 per year, and new prison beds are being planned in part to jail this population.  

 

Tuesday, November 25, 7-9 pm: Senator Jamie Eldridge, an outstanding advocate for reform and for restorative justice, and Nora Fuller White, a specialist in restorative justice practice, will speak on the potential of restorative justice to reduce both recidivism and costs while giving crime victims and their families greater satisfaction than the traditional criminal justice system. 
Sunday
Nov162014

National Update (if you can bear it!) from former NDCC Chair Priscilla Leith

The results on Election Day 2014 were not Dem-friendly as they say. Especially in the Senate. If you want to go over the details, Priscilla has them all here for the Senate and here for the US House along with the summary below. 

Summary: The Democrats lost seats in the House overall, although they won some in open races or beating out incumbents.   We won 3 seats formerly held by Republicans, but lost 10 seats formerly held by Democrats, for a net loss of 7 seats in the 2015-16 US Congress.
    Specifics are as follows: 
Won      CA CD31 (open seat in So CA) -  Pete Aguilar (D) beat Paul Chabot (R) although Chabot seems to have raised more money!
Won      FL CD2 Gwendolyn Graham (D) beat Cong William               Southerland ( R Tea Party incumbent).
Won      NE CD2  St Sen Brad Ashford (D) beat Cong Lee Terry (R).
*********
Lost      IL CD10  Cong Bradley Schneider (D) lost to Fmr Cong Bob Dold (R)
Lost      IA CD1  Open seat.  St Rep Patrick Murphy lost to Rodney Blum, seat formerly held by Cong Bruce Braley who ran for Senate but lost.
Lost      ME CD2  Open seat, because Cong Michael Michaud ran for US Senate but lost.  St Sen Emily Cain (D) lost to Fmr St Treasurer Bruce Peloquin (R).
Lost      NH CD1  Cong Carol Shea-Porter (D) lost to Fmr Cong Paul Giunta (R).
Lost      NY CD1  Cong Timothy Bishop (D) lost to St Sen Lee Zeldin (R).      
Lost      NY CD21  Open seat.  Aaron Woolf (D) lost to Elise Stefanik (R), who is youngest elected member of Congress, I think ever.  She is from Watertown NY, Jefferson County on the St. Lawrence River and Canadian border.  District includes Fort Drum.
Lost      NY CD24  Cong Dan Maffei (D) lost to John M. Katko (R), a fmr asst US Attorney in district along the Mohawk River/Erie Canal.  
Lost      NC CD7  Open seat.  Jonathan Barfield (D) lost to Fmr St Sen David Rouzer (R) for seat vacated by Cong Mike McIntyre (D).
Lost      UT CD4  Open seat.  H. Douglas Owens (D) lost to Mia B. Love (R), fmr mayor of Saratoga Springs for seat vacated by Cong James D. Matheson.
Lost      WV CD3  Incumbent Cong Nick Joe Rahall II (D) lost to St Sen Evan Jenkins (R).

Louisiana Races.  All are same as before, except that some are undecided until a Dec 6th "runoff" in which Sen Mary Landrieu also has runoff.

Thursday
Nov132014

Invite from Ward 4 Dem Amy Sangiolo: Solar Workshop

The Newton Solar Challenge -- Upcoming Workshops         
Auburndale Community Library - Your choice of dates       
Sunday Nov. 16 at 4 PM (or) Wednesday Nov. 19 at 7 PM        
                 
The Newton Solar Challenge is a City-wide residential solar campaign sponsored by Green Decade Newton, the City of Newton Sustainability Office and Newton-based BarnRaise Energy.  The Newton Solar Challenge provides:  preferred pricing for Newton residents, American-made solar equipment, a choice of high-quality regional solar installers and loans from local banks to support residential solar ownership.         
                     
         
          
In the Solar Workshops, the team will give a brief presentation and then will have interactive "breakouts" in small groups covering:          
  • How would solar work at my house?
  • How would it "look" on my house?
  • Show me the numbers !            
    • How does solar reduce increasing utility bills (NSTAR's recent 29% increase)?
    • How do the numbers work to provide a payback on a solar investment?
    • Solar Loans:  How will home equity loans and other loan products enable residential ownership and help make the numbers even better?  We will have a Village Bank representative available in the breakout session.

We will provide hospitality of coffee, soft drinks and desserts.  We expect to be wrapped up with the presentation within 30 minutes and then will have informal "breakout discussions" for about 30 minutes.  This is an opportunity to learn and get involved in an informational, community-based setting.  To learn more, visit            http://www.newtonsolarchallenge.com/     

                     

Solar Workshop Location:   Auburndale Community Library -- 375 Auburn Street, Newton, MA 02466 www.auburndalelibrary.org

Saturday
Nov082014

Invite from W1 Dem Susan Davidoff: Progressive Mass Fundraising Event 11/13

"All Means All"
Join Progressive Newton in celebrating our victory on Question 4 Earned Sick Time, and help us raise funds for our parent organization, Progressive Massachusetts.
Reception & Fundraiser for Progressive Massachusetts with Don Berwick
Don Berwick's bold campaign for governor blazed new paths in remaking Massachusetts as the progressive beacon for the nation. He galvanized progressives all over the state, and made progressive priorities such as single-payer healthcare and fair progressive taxation a central issue of the primary season.  As we move forward, our work in these areas is made easier because of his leadership.
Join us in thanking Don and help us continue the work.
Thursday, November 13
5:30 - 7:30 pm
Alyce Kaprow & David Backer
47 Page Road off Lowell Avenue
Newton 
Tickets:   $250 Host, $150 Champ, $150 Partner
(limited income and activists tickets available -call)
For more information, call Susan at 617-448-6281
Progressive Massachusetts (“Progressive Mass”) is a new, statewide, diverse grassroots organization built from the ground up by organizers and activists from across Massachusetts.We organize around progressive issues in Massachusetts, help elect and support progressive candidates for public office who are committed to making a difference on these issues, and hold elected officials accountable to progressive positions and values.Progressive Mass works to move Massachusetts toward a future where the values of equal opportunity, social and economic justice, consumer and environmental protection, health care as a right, equal access to quality public services, respect for all residents and accountable and transparent government are given top priority.see more at:  www.progressivemass.com
Friday
Nov072014

Holiday Reception hosted by Wards 1, 2 and 3

In our efforts to build our grassroots volunteer organization in 2015 looking towards the 2016 Presidential Campaign, we are interested in inviting and including new members into the Ward Committees.  The Newton Wards 1, 2 + 3 Democratic Committees are hosting a Holiday Open House on Sunday, December 14, 2015 from 5:00 - 7:30pm. This party is pot luck. Ward 1 Committee members are invited to join in and perhaps bring an appetizer or dessert to the party. All current, past and future Democratic Committee members are invited! Ward 1 Committee member, Mike Atwell has offered his lovely home at 105 Waban Park in Newton Corner (map). SAVE THE DATE!

 

Sunday
Nov022014

National Update from former NDCC Chair Priscilla Leith

Senate Data Here 

I have put new financial contributions in for the states that are "in play" aka "Toss Up" as designated in the latest Cook Political Report.  Also indicated in the last column on the right how the Cook Report projects the results as of Oct 17th, when it did the latest polling.
     Cook projects Dems losing existing seats in South Dakota, West Virginia and Montana, which I knew months ago would happen.  The Dem candidates have just not been raising enough money or doing well in polls.
     Cook projects as "Toss Up" the following states the Dems now hold: 
    Alaska; Arkansas; Colorado; Iowa; Louisiana; New Hampshire; North Carolina
     Cook projects as "Toss Up the following states the Republicans now hold:
     Georgia; Kansas; and Kentucky

     The essence is the Democrats need to replace the 3 seats they will lose on Nov 4th by having Mary Michelle Nunn win Georgia, having Independent Gregory Orman win in Kansas, and having Alison L. Grimes win in Kentucky to have the balance stay the same.  And they need to keep all of the "Toss Up" seats mentioned above. 
     To keep control of the Senate Dems need to keep all of the "Toss Up" seats above, plus win at least 1 of the above for a bare majority, 2 for a better majority, and 3 for a comfortable majority. 
     It looks and sounds very iffy.  However, when one looks as the money (!!) things look very much better.
     I think we are going to do OK and just lose 1 seat for a majority of 52 senators, with Grimes losing to McConnell in Kentucky but Nunn and Orman winning.

Friday
Oct172014

Oct 23: Ward 6 Forum on Ballot Questions

On Thursday, October 23rd, Ward 6 in Newton will present eight speakers, two for each ballot question:  one for and one against.  Each will speak for six minutes.  At the end, the audience will question the speakers.

When:  October 23rd7:00 to 9:00

Where:  Women’s Workshop, 72 Columbus St. Newton, Maq

Contact:  Barbara John, 617 965 6875barbaraj.massed@gmail.com for more information 

Frank Wolpe has kindly agreed to be the moderator.

The four questions and the speakers are:

Question 1:  Should we repeal the automatic yearly increase on the gas tax?

Speakers:     Pro:  Stephen W. Aylward from Tank the Gas Tax 

Anti:  Lizzi Weyant from the Committee for Safer Roads and Bridges.

Question 2:   Should we expand the beverage container deposit law to include the containers of more drinks such as water.

 Pro:  James Purdy from the Green Decade

Con:  No one.  They send a statement to be read             

Question 3:  Should casinos be prohibited in Massachusetts?

Pro casinos:  Charlie Stefanini a lawyer who has a lobbied for Suffolk Downs

  Anti casinos:  Tom Larkin, Director of anti casino group USS-MASS

Question 4:   Should employees earn and use sick time in most businesses in which they work?

Pro:        Bill O’Neill, Regional Field Director for Yes on 4

Against:  Bill Vernon, MA Director of the National Federation of Independent Businesseas

Wednesday
Oct152014

Invite from Ward 2 Dem Catherine Willinger: Attend Yes on 3 Event with Don Berwick

 

Monday
Oct132014

Great read, relevant for Election Day

Ward 8 Dem Frank Wolpe shares an important progressive article.... about ongoing efforts by Republicans to supress the votes of minorities and the poor. Read it here, get mad and volunteer!

It does seem a bit ridiculous, doesn't it? That we still have to fight for voting rights, fight against laws that seek to suppress the vote, laws that will have a disproportionate impact on those Americans who—had they been of voting age before 1965—would likely have been barred because of their race? Ridiculous is one word for it.Infuriating is another. These tactics violate everything for which our country is supposed to stand. As President Obama put it, "The idea that you’d purposely try to prevent people from voting? un-American."

Republican-dominated states from Arkansas to North Carolina, from Texas to Ohio to Wisconsin have implemented various restrictions on voting that have been wending their way through the courts this fall. Just last week, the U.S.Supreme Courtallowed North Carolina's law to stand—one that might well be the nation's most awful, although the court did, thankfully, put a temporary hold on Wisconsin's law—for this election cycle only—while it considers whether to take the case.

Tuesday
Oct072014

10/20: Coakley-Kerrigan 'Raiser in Newton