Author: Jay Livingstone

NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts Releases Reproductive Freedom Scorecard

In this time of federal crisis, fundamental reproductive rights are at risk and the states play a key role in safeguarding those rights. The ongoing federal threat to reproductive freedom makes the critical work of the Massachusetts Legislature more important each day. Massachusetts voters need and deserve a transparent legislative scorecard to inform their understanding of where their elected officials stand on reproductive freedom. That’s why, today, NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts released the first-ever Reproductive Freedom Scorecard for the 2017-2018 Legislative Session.

“This past legislative session, the Massachusetts Legislature responded to the threat posed by the Trump Administration with passage of key bills that safeguard and expand reproductive freedom in the Commonwealth.” said Rebecca Hart Holder, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts. “Next legislative session, we have the opportunity to pass bold legislation that affirms the Commonwealth’s commitment to reproductive freedom and guarantees that no matter what happens in Washington, the people of Massachusetts will be able to access the full spectrum of reproductive health care, including abortion care.”

“That’s why we are introducing the first-ever NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts Reproductive Freedom Scorecard. The scorecard gives all Massachusetts citizens the opportunity see how their State Senators and Representatives voted on reproductive freedom during the most recent legislative session.”

“In our recent poll conducted by MassINC, we found that found that 8 in 10 Massachusetts voters want Roe v. Wade upheld. The Scorecard empowers Massachusetts citizens to understand which legislators are in-sync with the Commonwealth’s commitment to reproductive freedom and which legislators want to turn back the clock.”

In the interest of transparency, NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts is releasing the full scoring document. The scoring formula is simple: each legislator can receive a point for cosponsoring priority legislation or taking a pro-choice vote. Legislators can additionally earn points by being lead sponsors of priority legislation and advancing bills out of committee. Similarly, legislators lose a point for taking anti-choice votes or cosponsoring anti-choice legislation.

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Esplanade Association Board says ‘Thank You’ to Rep Livingstone

November 9, 2018

By 

The board of the Esplanade Association hosted a reception to thank State Rep. Jay Livingstone for his contributions to the Charles River Esplanade, and to the neighborhoods of Back Bay and Beacon Hill on Thursday, Oct. 25, at the home of T.K. and Lianne Ankner.

At this intimate gathering, Livingstone met with EA supporters and spoke of some of his proudest moments while in the Legislature. He was acknowledged for his contributions to public access to the Charles River Esplanade, including advocacy for the completion of the Fanny Appleton Footbridge, inclusion of Commissioner’s Landing for funding in the Governor’s 2018 Environmental Bond Bill and his active role in planning for the future of the former Lee Pool site.

“As a Friends group to a state park, it is invaluable to have allies in the State House to help secure funding for major improvements to the park or advocate for the removal of impediments to public access,” said Michael Nichols, executive director of the Esplanade Association. “Rep. Livingstone understands the role the Esplanade plays in improving the quality of life for the people in his District and beyond and he has been a strong supporter of the park throughout his years in office. We were thankful for this opportunity to express our gratitude.”

Are text-a-thons the future of activism? Cambridge’s Activist Afternoons thinks so.

Boxes of pizza, an aroma of hot coffee and smiling people invested in their phones filled a Cambridge workplace in the heart of Central Square yesterday, but the gathering wasn’t purely social.

As millions of Americans across the country prepared for the midterm elections by reading up on issues and candidates, over 160 volunteers in Cambridge spent the evening before Election Day encouraging voter participation at a text-a-thon hosted by Activist Afternoons.

The gathering was one of many the group has hosted since it launched in the fall of 2017. The first of three around the state, Activist Afternoons hosts weekly events with a different menu of activities – often including meetings, activist training sessions, and text-a-thons – for the Cambridge community at Workbar, a membership-based coworking space on Prospect Street.

Hustling young people to the polls

The members of the five national and local organizations present at the Nov. 5 text-a-thon used Hustle – the texting platform used for Bernie Sanders’ campaign in the 2016 presidential election. For three hours they sent personalized messages to registered voters, reminding them to vote on issues, political parties and candidates this Election Day.

Daniel Curtis, community organizer at Activist Afternoons, said the goal of Monday night’s text-a-thon was to motivate or remind residents of Cambridge and others nationwide to participate, especially younger voters.

“The main objective of tonight is to get in contact with as many people as possible and encourage them to vote, ” said Curtis. “A general concern we have is that, historically, young people are the least likely to vote.”

During the 2014 midterm elections, only 17.1 percent of eligible 18- to 24-year-olds showed up at the polls. That was less than half the turnout of the population at large – 41.9 percent of whom voted – according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 Current Population Survey.

Curtis said he thinks a significant cause of low turnout among young people is the fact that they have never voted before.

The future of activism?

With Gen-Xers and younger generations representing 59 percent of American adults eligible to vote as of April 2018, according to the Pew Research Center, text-a-thon volunteers were hoping that the last-minute mobilization of younger voters has a serious effect on election results.

Among the clicking, tapping and chattering volunteers was state Rep. Jay Livingstone, D-Boston, who opted to make calls rather than texting during the 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. event.

“I couldn’t really figure out how to work the texting, so I went with calling,” laughed Livingstone.

Out of the five Democratic organizations represented at the text-a-thon, Livingstone chose to work with the Environmental Voter Project and Justice Democrats groups. He noted that one of the reasons Democratic organizations specifically tend to focus on mobilizing the younger generations is because they tend to be more worried about social issues and protecting the environment.

“Young people are more concerned about social and environmental issues,” said Livingstone, who represents parts of Cambridgeport as well as Boston. “The way we get the Democratic Party to where it needs to be is by convincing people to vote at events like this one.”

“Texting as a medium appeals to younger people and can easily reach tons of voters,” said Labandibar. “I think we will see more voters turn out as result of these texting events.”

Ian Anderson is a Boston University journalism student writing as part of a collaboration between the Cambridge Chronicle and BU News Service.

http://cambridge.wickedlocal.com/news/20181106/are-text-a-thons-future-of-activism-cambridges-activist-afternoons-thinks-so

Worsening BU Bridge, rotary traffic causes headaches in Cambridgeport

By Diane McLaughlin / Cambridge@wickedlocal.com

Since August, traffic on the Boston University Bridge has worsened, leading to congestion in the Cambridge rotary, adjacent intersection and Cambridgeport streets. Because of a network of one-way streets, many residents say they have found themselves trapped in the neighborhood.

“I’m just trying to get out of my street,” said Nancy Wei, a Rockingham Street resident.

City and state officials have met twice this fall with the Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association (CNA) to address traffic problems. While some issues have been identified, neighbors at the most recent meeting stressed the need for further improvements.

Multiple agencies involved

More than 70 residents have emailed complaints to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation [MassDOT] since the completion of the Commonwealth Avenue Bridge project in August, according to CNA members Walter McDonald and Carol O’Hare, who have reviewed the correspondence.

″[Traffic has] never been great in anyone’s memory, but it seems to be worse starting after the summer 2018,” said Joe Barr, director of the city of Cambridge’s Traffic, Parking and Transportation Department.

Barr was one of several city and state officials who met with the CNA in September and again on Nov. 1 to address residents’ concerns. More than 40 people attended the latest meeting at the LBJ Apartments.

Along with the BU Bridge, neighbors are concerned about the lack of signs, traffic lights and lane markers for the rotary; drivers from Waverly Street who block the intersection; and a tree on Granite Street affecting cars approaching the intersection.

State Rep. Jay Livingstone, D-Boston, who represents Cambridgeport, told the CNA that multiple government agencies have jurisdiction over the areas experiencing these problems. These include: MassDOT, which operates the BU Bridge; city of Boston, which manages the traffic lights at the end of the bridge on Commonwealth Avenue; the state Department of Conservation and Recreation [DCR], which controls the rotary and traffic signals in Cambridge before the bridge; and the city of Cambridge, which manages the roads adjacent to the rotary – Brookline, Granite and Waverly streets.

“When there are multiple agencies that butt up against each other, like here, you often have all of the agencies running away,” Livingstone said. “But here … every agency is really invested in working together in trying to solve the problem.”

Traffic backup from BU Bridge

A key issue affecting Cambridgeport is the traffic backup on the BU Bridge, often extending around the rotary and blocking the intersection at Granite, Brookline and Waverly streets.

During the Commonwealth Avenue Bridge project, lane adjustments were made to the BU Bridge. Now, most of the road from Cambridge to Boston is a single lane, with two lanes in the other direction.

Hamilton Street resident Stephen Kaiser said extending the single lane has made it more difficult for cars to access the adjacent lanes at Commonwealth Avenue, causing traffic to stretch into Cambridge.

Neil Boudreau, a traffic engineer with MassDOT, has worked since September to identify causes for the increased traffic congestion. He said adjusting the lanes again would cause more gridlock.

One problem on the BU Bridge has already been identified. In speaking with city of Boston officials, Boudreau learned that a traffic detection system was damaged during the bridge project. The system, which recognizes cars waiting at the traffic light, was fixed by the city of Boston Oct. 29, Boudreau said. He did not yet know the impact on bridge traffic.

The rotary and intersection

Another problem involves the rotary itself. The cars backed up into the intersection of Brookline, Granite and Waverly streets also affect drivers who want to head away from the bridge.

Wei, the Rockingham Street resident, said with the intersection blocked, cars cannot turn left from Granite Street onto Brookline Street, causing the Granite Street traffic to back up.

The network of one-way streets means Granite Street is the only way out for some neighbors. Several people at the CNA meeting said cars drive the wrong way on one-way streets to avoid the congestion.

Neighbors would like to see lane markings, signs and traffic lights for cars entering the rotary from Memorial Drive. For traffic approaching the rotary from Waverly Street, neighbors suggested signs advising cars not to block the intersection, with fines for offending drivers.

DCR could look at short-term solutions, including painting lines and putting up signs, Livingstone said. Long-term solutions for the rotary will be included in the third phase of DCR’s Memorial Drive project.

Tree preservation leads to reduced space

The blocked intersection is not the only problem affecting Granite Street.

To preserve a tree affecting sidewalk accessibility, the city of Cambridge routed the sidewalk into the street near the intersection, reducing the lane available for cars taking a right toward the rotary and contributing to congestion on Granite Street.

As a temporary solution, seven parking spaces on Granite Street have been eliminated starting Oct. 29, Barr said, allowing drivers to start lining up sooner for the left turn onto Brookline Street.

Barr said the city would continue to look at other solutions to address the intersection and surrounding streets.

Hill Voters Still Have Early Voting Option

November 2, 2018

By 

Beacon Hill voters can cast their ballots in the Commonwealth’s general election at their assigned polling locations on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 6, or take advantage of early voting ending on Nov. 2.

Republican Charlie Baker will be seeking a second term as governor in the race against Democratic candidate Jay Gonzales, who served as the state’s secretary of administration and finance under Gov. Deval Patrick from 2009 to 2013, while KarynPolito, Baker’s Republican running mate in the reelection bid, is vying for her second term against Democratic challenger Quentin Palfrey, an attorney who worked as senior advisor for jobs and competitiveness in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy during President Barack Obama’s first term.

In the race for U.S. senator, incumbent Democrat Elizabeth Warren is running for a second term against Geoff Diehl, a Republican who represents the 7th Plymouth District in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, and Shiva Ayyadurai, a scientist and entrepreneur running as an Independent.

 

Incumbent Democrat Maura Healy will face GOP challenger Jay McMahon, a Cape Cod attorney, in her bid for second term as attorney general, while Democrat Bill Galvin is seeking his sixth term as secretary of state against Republican Anthony Amore, director of security at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and Green-Rainbow candidate Juan Sanchez.

In the race for state treasurer. Democrat Deborah Goldberg is running for a second term against Keiko Orral, a Republican who serves in the Massachusetts House of Representatives and currently represents the 12th Bristol District in the General Court, and Green-Rainbow nominee Jamie Guerin.

Incumbent Democrat Suzanne Bump is seeking a third term as state auditor running against Republican Helen Brady, Libertarian Daniel Fishman and Green-Rainbow candidate Edward Stamas.

In the race for Suffolk County district attorney, Democratic candidate Rachael Rollins, former general counsel of the MBTA, will face Independent candidate Michael Maloney, a criminal defense attorney. Rollins has made waves during her campaign by vowing not to prosecute a list of 15 crimes if elected.

Meanwhile, the general election ballot also includes Question 1  – a proposed law that would limit the number of patients who could be assigned to each registered nurse in Massachusetts hospitals and other healthcare facilities; Question 2, which the secretary of the state’s website describes as a “proposed law would create a citizens commission to consider and recommend potential amendments to the [U.S.] Constitution to establish that corporations do not have the same Constitutional rights as human beings and that campaign contributions and expenditures may be regulated’; and Question 3, a “law [that] adds gender identity to the list of prohibited grounds for discrimination in places of public accommodation, resort or amusement.”

On November 6, Election Day, the polling location for voters for voters in Ward 3, Precinct 6 is Boston City Hall, 1 City Hall Square; for voters in Ward 5, Precinct 3 – the State House, 24 Beacon St.; Ward 5, Precinct 4 – the West End Branch of the Boston Public Library, 151 Cambridge St.; and Ward 5, Precincts 5 and 11 – Hill House Community Center, 127 Mt. Vernon St. All polling locations will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The state’s early voting period runs from Monday, Oct. 22, to Friday, Nov. 2. A Massachusetts state law passed in 2014 requires that cities and towns offer early voting for the general election every two years. The first early voting period was in 2016, so this year is only the second time the City is offering early voting.  Anyone who is registered to vote in Boston can take advantage of early voting in the city at any of the polling locations.

The main polling place in Boston is City Hall, though there are a number of pop-up locations throughout the city to make it more convenient for people to cast their ballot. This year, the city offered a full weekend of early voting on Saturday, Oct. 27, and Sunday, Oct. 28.

The most successful polling place over the weekend was the Copley branch of the Boston Public Library, bringing in 1339 voters on Saturday. Overall, there have been 15,603 early voters as of Oct. 29, according to the Election Department—and there are still two more days to go.

City Hall remains the main polling place, and will be open for voting from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 1, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2, but there are also a few remaining pop-up locations. On Thursday, Nov. 1, polls will be open from noon-8 p.m. at: The Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Community Center, the ABCD Thelma D. Burns Building, and The Blue Hills Collaborative.

State Rep. Jay Livingstone, who also supports early voting, said he hopes that the initiative makes it easier for people to access their right to vote and subsequently leads to higher voter turnout.

As for the ballot questions, Livingstone expects Question 3 will do “overwhelmingly well.” He added, “I’m pleased that the voters have upheld civil rights granted to transgender people in 2016 with the legislation that I actively supported.”

Also, Livingstone applauded Rachael Rollins as candidate for Suffolk County district attorney, adding that he “look[s] forward to the benefits to our criminal justice system and society as we encourage treatment and rehabilitation over incarceration.”

Livingstone also predicts that Elizabeth Warren and Maura Healy will “blow it out of the water” in their respective races for reelection as state senator and district attorney.

“It’s great working with Elizabeth Warren and Maura Healy, and I’m pleased that voters are returning them to office,” Livingstone said. “I’m grateful for people’s continued faith in me to serve them in the House of Representatives, and I look forward to this new term.”

Kenzie Bok, chair of the Boston Ward 5 Democratic Committee, also expects that Warren will handily win her bid for a new term while adding that she is encouraged by Jay Gonzales’ and Quentin Palfrey’s hard work on the campaign trail.

“Jay Gonzales and Quentin Palfrey are really doing a great job raising important issues and challenges in Massachusetts and… by not giving Charlie Baker a free pass,” Bok s aid. “The overall direction that the Republican party is taking the county in is disturbing and worrisome… so we still hope on Tuesday, the people will send [Baker] a message.”

Bok said the Ward 5 Dems are pleased with the return of early voting, which they hope will be available in all elections going forward.

“As far as increasing participation, early voting really moves the needle forward the most when combined with same-day registration, so that is hopefully something we can get in next election cycle,” Bok added.

Bok is also encouraged by the many people in their 20s and 30s who were engaged politically for the first time during this election, volunteering for campaigns and taking an active part in the process.

“It’s exciting…and this activation will matter a lot for future elections,” Bok said.