Category: Press

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.

Shaw 54th Regiment Memorial to be Restored through Unique Partnership

Mayor Martin J. Walsh joined representatives from National Park Service, Friends of the Public Garden and the Museum of African American History on the Boston Common Friday to sign a Memorandum of Understanding committing to jointly restore the Shaw 54th Regiment Memorial.

Situated inside the Common on the corner of Beacon and Park streets, the bas-relief memorial created by venerable American sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens will undergo a $2.8 million restoration in 2019, including a complete rehabilitation of its bronze sculpture. Portions of the park will be cordoned off and closed to the public during the five- to six-month construction period, officials said.

The memorial was installed in 1897 to commemorate Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th – the first regiment of black troops recruited from the North to fight for their freedom in the Civil War.  On May 28, 1863, the 54th Massachusetts infantry made its way for Beaufort, S.C., where it became part of the X Corps commanded by Major General David Hunter. Afterwards, the 54th took part in operations in Charleston, S.C. including the Battle of Grimball’s Landing on July 16, 1863 and the Second Battle of Fort Wagner on July 18, 1863.

 

During the latter battle, the 54th and other Union regiments waged a frontal assault against Fort Wager, which resulted in the death of Shaw and 20 other members of the infantry while 125 were injured and another 102 reported missing (and presumed dead). And upon returning home, members of the 54th faced racial intolerance despite having served their country so valiantly.

Marita Rivero, the museum’s executive director, recalled how Harriet Tubman, a leading abolitionist who escaped slavery to become the most celebrated “conductor” of the Underground Railroad, met troops from the 54th when their steamship landed in South Carolina and served them breakfast.

Michael Creasey, NPS superintendent, said the Shaw Monument is widely regarded as not only one of Saint-Gauden’s masterpieces, but also as one of the most important monuments in the U.S.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh, who has announced plans to devise a new Master Plan for the Common, juxtaposed the State House, located directly behind the monument, where he began his political career as a state representative as the son of immigrants in 1997, with the infantryman represented in the monument marching down Beacon Street, whom he credits for paving his eventual path to City Hall.

Besides restoring this monument, Walsh announced plans for memorials to Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife Coretta Scott on the Common and in Roxbury, a memorial to victims of the slave trade in Faneuil Hall and monuments honoring African-American culture in Dorchester and Roxbury.

Other elected officials on hand for the document signing included State Reps. Jay Livingstone, Byron Rushing and Chynah Tyler, as well as City Councilors Ed Flynn and Josh Zakim.

Meanwhile, Liz Vizza, executive director of the Friends, said the group plans to use the monument restoration to launch programming and a community dialogue and programming surrounding race relations in the city set to launch this fall.

“The project is an opportunity to engage the community through programming that will explore race, freedom and justice,” Vizza said, “and it couldn’t come at a more tumultuous time in our country’s history.”

Massachusetts House passes automatic voter registration

BOSTON — The Massachusetts House on Wednesday passed a bill that would establish automatic voter registration in Massachusetts.

That means anyone who updates their driver’s license at an RMV or applies for MassHealth, and is an adult U.S. citizen, would automatically have their name registered in the state’s voter database unless they choose to opt out.

“This is just another way to make it simpler … for people to vote,” said Rep. John Mahoney, D-Worcester, chairman of the Joint Committee on Election Laws. Mahoney said automatic voter registration could eliminate confusion at the polls and drive up youth participation in elections.

He estimated that voter turnout would increase by about 5 percent.

“We should be encouraging everyone to register to vote, to participate in our electoral process,” said Rep. Jay Livingstone, D-Boston, a co-sponsor of the bill. “Automatic voter registration just makes it easier for them to register to vote, and hopefully that will increase citizen participation in our elections.”

The bill, H.4667, passed the House 130-20. It now goes to the Senate for consideration, then to Gov. Charlie Baker.

Lawmakers have until the legislative session ends on July 31 to get the bill to Baker’s desk. Baker has not yet taken a position on the bill.

The bill would go into effect Jan. 1, 2020, in time for that year’s presidential election.

Advocates of automatic voter registration have pushed for the bill as a way to boost voter turnout by making it easier for people to register to vote.

Pam Wilmot, executive director of Common Cause Massachusetts, said there are about 700,000 U.S. citizens living in Massachusetts who are eligible to vote but are not registered.

Wilmot said voters who move frequently, young people and rural voters are the ones most likely to benefit, based on the experiences of other states.

Oregon blazes a path for Massachusetts on automatic voter registration

The former Oregon secretary of state says Oregon’s ‘motor voter’ law was a success.

Wilmot said automatic voter registration results in more accurate voter lists, since the system is better able to track when someone moves.

The bill would also require Massachusetts to join a national system in which states voluntarily compare databases to catch when someone moves from state to state.

“The new system mostly means more accuracy in our voting lists and a larger number of registered voters,” Wilmot said. “We believe that will also increase voter participation in elections.”

Mahoney said the bill would cost about $500,000 to implement the first year, for software and mailing costs, and $50,000 annually after that.

Galvin’s Democratic primary challenger, Boston City Councilor Josh Zakim, held a press conference outside the Statehouse on Wednesday in support of the bill.

Zakim noted that Massachusetts would be the 14th state to pass some form of automatic voter registration.

“It dramatically increases turnout and dramatically addresses issues of equity and access across demographics,” Zakim said. “It’s high time Massachusetts has it.”

“People often forget that the right to vote is a right, it’s not a privilege,” Zakim said. “We need to be doing everything we can to lower unnecessary barriers, make it more seamless.”

There are protections in the bill to allow domestic violence and sexual assault victims to keep their addresses confidential.

https://www.masslive.com/politics/index.ssf/2018/06/massachusetts_house_passes_aut.html

Smooth sailing seen for auto-voter bill

BOSTON – A co-sponsor of automatic voter registration legislation advancing in the House Wednesday said he expects to see the measure become law in a matter of weeks.

“I’d be surprised if it isn’t signed into law in the next month,” state Rep. Jay Livingstone said.

Livingstone joined Boston City Councilors Josh Zakim and Matt O’Malley at a State House press conference to tout the bill, which would automatically register eligible voters when they interact with a state agency such as the Registry of Motor Vehicles or MassHealth. People could opt out of registering to vote if they wish.

Zakim, a Democrat running for secretary of state, said the bill would boost registration across demographic groups and could be particularly beneficial for communities of color and populations that are younger, low income or move frequently.

As the press conference was being held, the House voted to advance the bill, with plans to consider possible amendments and send it to the Senate later Wednesday.

“Looking forward to voting for #AVRinMA in the @MA_Senate after it passes in the Massachusetts House!!” Senate Majority Leader Cynthia Creem tweeted Tuesday.

The bill has an effective date of Jan. 1, 2020.

http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/news/20180627/smooth-sailing-seen-for-auto-voter-bill

http://www.patriotledger.com/news/20180628/smooth-sailing-seen-for-auto-voter-bill