Category: Community News

MBTA Focus 40 Comment Letter

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority unveiled a 35-page drafted investment plan, called “Focus40,” which mapped potential improvements and plans for the T. You can read the report here.

I was disappointed that the MBTA had yet again failed to address the possibility of connecting the Grand Junction Rail to Kendall Square via West Station. I was also disappointed that a connection of the Red and Blue lines were not prioritized either. Both connections would be a fantastic boon to the economy of Kendall square by increasing access to the hub. During the comment period, I submitted a letter to this effect, which you can read below:

MBTA_Focus40_Comment_Final

DiDomenico Continues the Fight for Anti-Hunger Policies

October 5, 2018

By 

As part of Hunger Action Month, Sen. Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett) last week participated in the Hunger Awareness Rally at the State House. DiDomenico was joined at the rally by DTA Commissioner Jeff McCue, Representative Jay Livingstone, Representative Hannah Kane and Representative Joe McGonagle.

Sen. DiDomenico has long made food insecurity and nutrition policy a top priority and has been a leading champion for anti-hunger policies in the Massachusetts Legislature. At the rally, DiDomenico was recognized for his advocacy in the Legislature, and he spoke on the importance fighting against cuts to nutritional programming on the federal level and the need to continue expanding access to these services here in Massachusetts.

“While nutritional access is under attack at the federal level, here in Massachusetts, we know how valuable nutritional programs like SNAP are when it comes to improving the health and wellbeing our hardworking families,” said Sen. DiDomenico. “I, along with my legislative partner, will continue working to ensure that everyone in our Commonwealth has access to the nutrition they need and deserve, and I am very proud to be the lead Senate sponsor of policies like the SNAP Gap and Breakfast After The Bell bills to help expand nutritional access for our Commonwealth’s children and families. I would like to especially thank The Greater Boston Food Bank, Project Bread, the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute and countless other hunger relief organizations for their partnership and that all they do to raise awareness on this incredibly important issue for our Commonwealth and our nation.”

 

The Senator has personally filed two major pieces of legislation this session that would have a direct impact on food insecurity here in the Commonwealth:
  • An Act improving public health through a common application for core food, health and safety-net programs (i.e. the SNAP Gap bill)- This bill would create a common application portal to let low-income households apply for MassHealth and SNAP at the same time, thereby consolidating the application process and raising awareness of SNAP eligibility. This bill would help more low income students access free school meals, increasing food access for over 100,000 Massachusetts elders, and help more families meet their basic needs.
  • An Act regarding to breakfast after the bell-  This legislation would require all public K-12 schools with 60-percent or more students eligible for free or reduced-price meals under the federal National School Lunch Program to offer breakfast after the instructional day begins to increase student participation in free and reduced price breakfasts and decrease the amount of kids that start the school day hungry.

The Senator’s breakfast after the bell bill passed the Massachusetts Senate in July with a unanimous and bipartisan vote, and Sen. DiDomenico is continuing to work with the Rise and Shine MA coalition to advocate for the bill’s final passage during informal session by the end of the year.

Lawmakers rally in rain for school breakfast bill

BOSTON – Gathered in the rain outside the Statehouse on Tuesday, a group of about two dozen ralliers held signs telling the stories of people experiencing hunger in Massachusetts – among them, a gig worker who relies on supplemental food assistance between jobs, and a disabled man on a fixed income who uses food stamps to buy the healthier foods his doctor recommends.

“The weather is illustrative sometimes of how I think it feels to be battling hunger issues, right,” state Rep. Hannah Kane told the group. “It always feels like we’re battling something.”

The demonstration, organized by the Greater Boston Food Bank and other organizations, was part of Hunger Action Month.

The national organization Feeding America says 652,760 Massachusetts residents – or one in 10 people – are struggling with hunger, including 167,450 children.

Ralliers recognized Kane, a Shrewsbury Republican, and Democratic state Sen. Sal DiDomenico of Everett and Rep. Jay Livingstone of Boston for their work combating hunger.

The group called on the House to pass a Senate-backed bill that would require schools where at least 60 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced-price meals to offer breakfast after the instructional day begins. The bill outlines breakfast service models that include “breakfast in the classroom, grab and go breakfast or second chance breakfast.”

With more than three months left in the legislative session, the “breakfast after the bell” bill, sponsored by DiDomenico, is now before the House Ways and Means Committee. It passed the Senate unanimously on July 26.

“Breakfast after the bell, to get kids into school and performing much better, is incredibly key, and I hope we can still get that done this year,” Livingstone said.

Bills require unanimous votes to advance during informal sessions, but very few lawmakers attend the sessions.

“That should be a question that is as commonplace as ‘What’s your plan for jobs?’ ” she said.

As the rally broke up, Assefa offered a parting note to participants: “For anyone who’s hungry, we are getting pizza.”

https://www.metrowestdailynews.com/news/20180925/lawmakers-rally-in-rain-for-school-breakfast-bill

Frances Appleton Pedestrian Bridge Across Storrow Opens to the Public

 

The $12.5 million Frances Appleton Pedestrian Bridge – a 230-foot-long, steel arch span that links Beacon Hill/Charles Circle to the Charles River Esplanade – is now open to the public.

The 14-foot-wide, 750-foot-long, multi-use bridge was constructed as part of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s (MassDOT) $300-million renovation of the Longfellow Bridge, which links Charles Circle in Boston to Central Square in Cambridge via the Charles Circle. The Appleton is a signature bridge in the City of Boston with its elegant steel arch span, as well as the first fully accessible, ADA pedestrian bridge over Storrow Drive.

The old, existing footbridge is slated for demolition within the next two weeks, according to Miguel Rosales, the architect for both the Appleton and Longfellow bridges, as well as president and founder of Boston-based Rosales  Partners.

 

“As the designer of the Appleton Pedestrian Bridge, I was thrilled to recently cross it for the first time,” Rosales wrote. “The beautiful bridge floats over the park with stunning views of the Charles River.   It is very light, visually pleasing and the first ADA accessible 14-feet wide link in the area.  The main arch soars over Storrow Drive with a single, elegant gesture, which is inspired by the historic arches of the adjacent Longfellow Bridge.

“I am looking forward to having the bridge fully completed including walking surface treatments, hardscape elements and landscaping including the addition of new shade trees in the next few months.  I am confident that Bostonians and visitors alike will enjoy using the innovative bridge for generations to come,” Rosales wrote.

Michael Nichols, executive director of the Esplanade Association, said, “We are excited that this breathtaking new footbridge has opened to make the Esplanade more accessible to visitors. Representatives from our organization advocated for this vital new connection from the early stages of the Longfellow Bridge restoration and we are so grateful to MassDOT, the Department of Conservation and Recreation, former State Rep. Marty Walz, current Rep. Jay Livingstone, Miguel Rosales of Rosales + Partners, and many other partners for their hard work to finally make the Fanny Appleton bridge a reality.”

DCR Commissioner Leo Roy said, “The Baker-Polito administration remains committed to providing residents and visitors with opportunities to safely visit the Commonwealth’s state parks system. With the completion of the Frances Appleton Bridge, [DCR] is thrilled that pedestrians and bicyclists will have increased access to the Charles River Esplanade. Furthermore, the completion of the Frances Appleton Bridge serves as a major accomplishment, and is a welcome addition to the metro Boston area.”

The bridge is named after the wife of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, one of the most widely known and best-loved American poets of his lifetime. He used to cross the Charles River from Cambridge to Beacon Hill in the 1840s while he was courting “Fanny” Appleton, and the new bridge complements the historic Longfellow Bridge as a symbol of their union.

Boston Voters Back Pressley; Hill Voters Support Zakim

Like voters throughout the Commonwealth, Boston showed its support for Ayanna Pressley who unseated 10-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano to represent the 7th Congressional District in an upset victory in Tuesday’s Democratic primary.

According to the city’s unofficial election results, 64 percent of Boston voters cast their ballots for Pressley, compared with Capuano’s 36 percent. Throughout the district, Pressley captured 59 percent of the ballots cast while Capuano garnered 41 percent, according to AP Data.

Pressley, age 44, will become the first woman of color to represent Massachusetts in the U.S. House. In 2010, she made history when she was elected as the first woman of color to the Boston City Council, where she continues to serve as an at-large representative.

 

Meanwhile, long-serving Secretary of State Bill Galvin defeated Boston City Councilor Josh Zakim by a margin of 36 percent throughout the Commonwealth. (Galvin captured 68 percent of the ballot statewide, compared with Zakim at 32 percent, according to AP data).

In contrast, around 52 percent of Beacon Hill voters Ward 3, Precinct 6 and Ward 5, Precincts 3, 4, 5 and 11 supported Zakim in the election as opposed to Galvin, who garnered 48 percent of the ballots cast.

Throughout Boston, 57 percent of voters supported Galvin, compared with Zakim at 42 percent, according to the city’s unofficial election results.

Upon learning the results of the Democratic primary, State Rep. Jay Livingstone wrote, “Ayanna Pressley and Josh Zakim ran great races, and their challenges brought issues to the forefront of political discussion. I look forward to Ayanna Pressley serving in her new role. I’m disappointed Josh Zakim did not succeed, but am pleased I can continue to work with him in his current role.”

Kenzie Bok, chair of the Boston Ward 5 Democratic Committee, wrote, “I’m thrilled Ayanna is going to be our next congresswoman – she is a role model to so many, ran an amazing campaign, and has already changed local politics just by running.

“Even though Josh lost, he and Ayanna both achieved a major shift: they showed that we can have a contest of ideas to choose the best candidate every cycle here in Massachusetts, regardless of incumbency.

“In an overwhelmingly Democratic state like ours, having real primary races like this is key to making our government the best it can be.

“I’m disappointed Josh won’t be our Secretary of State, but I’m proud of him for throwing his hat in the ring, and I think his candidacy alone has been good for voter access in Massachusetts.”

Rachael Rollins wins Suffolk County D.A. Rachael Rollins won the election for Suffolk County District Attorney Tuesday in the five person race to fill the seat left by outgoing D.A. Dan Conley. Rollins defeated Greg Henning, Shannon McAuliffe, Evandro Carvalho and Linda Champion. With her win Rollins will be the first female-candidate of color to hold the position in the history of the Commonwealth.

“I am honored and humbled.  But I also need to say – for all of us – that this is earned. As a 47-year old Black Woman, I have earned this,” she said Tuesday night. :We have earned this.  This is the time for us to claim our power and make good on our promises to make true criminal justice reform for the people in Suffolk County.  Reform that is progressive – that decriminalizes poverty, substance use disorder, and mental illness.  This is the time to create a system that puts fairness and equity first – as a model for the Commonwealth and the nation.”

In Boston Rollins received just over 40 percent of the vote followed by Henning who finished the night with 22 percent of the vote. Carvalho finished with 17 percent followed by McAuliffe who got 10 percent and Champion who ended the night with 9 percent.

In Beacon Hill Rollins received 633 votes and topped the ticket in the D.A. race here.

The district also includes Winthrop, Chelsea and Revere.