October 10, 2008
While plans for Boston University's (BU) Biolab won't be evaluated until 2010, opposition to this project remains strong. A recent letter to the editor published in the Herald draws attention to the many risks of the project. Attorney Laura Maslow-Armand of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and ACE Board member Dr. Daniel Goodenough authored the piece, highlighting wide security gaps in BU's plan.
Among the laughable safety measures is the assertion that having two UPS or FedEx drivers instead of one handling the transportation of deadly viruses would be adequate to protect against an outbreak. BU also claims that using a "buddy system" in the laboratory would safeguard against "the risk of human error, inattention, and negligence."
Potential blunders at the lab, already built in a densely populated lower income community of color, would be catastrophic in a neighborhood that historically has low access to transportation and medical care. It would be the first Bio Safety Level 4 (BSL-4) lab in the nation to be located in a city center. BSL-4 labs are the highest level of biolabs and deal with the most dangerous pathogens known. Read more...
October 8, 2008
This Election Day, there is more to be determined then the next President of the United States.
Massachusetts voters have three ballot questions to decide upon: Question 1 concerns the state income tax, and Questions 2 and 3 asks people to establish a stance on marijuana possession and dog racing. (We'll be writing more about Question 1 soon.)
Question 2 seeks to decriminalize the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana, turning it into a civil offense. This will include being under the influence of the chemical tetrahydrocannibinol or THC. This does not change any other aspect of the law - selling marijuana or driving under the influence will still result in criminal charges.
Decriminalization will enforce fines for those cited with possession. The revenue will be given to the city where the offender was apprehended. An additional drug education program will be required for those under the age of 18 to prevent future or continuous drug abuse. Read more...
October 7, 2008
During heavy rains in June and July of this year, homes in Dorchester and South Boston were flooded with storm water and raw sewage that filled the streets, damaged parked cars and flowed into basements. Possessions were lost and heating systems ruined. Those homes had not been flooded during previous rainstorms and the Boston Water and Sewer Commission (BWSC) refused to provide reimbursement for losses.
On September 23, the Boston City Council Committee on Public Safety, at the request of City Councilor Charles Yancey, held a heating about the flooding. The residents testified about the floods and their losses of property. Some do not have money to replace their wrecked hearing systems and are facing a frigid winter. Councilors Yancey and Murphy closely questioned representatives of the BWSC and Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA). Neither agency accepted any responsibility or agreed to assist the residents whose possessions were destroyed. Read more...
October 3, 2008
As the subprime mortgage crisis continues, newspapers and TV are flooded with stories of bail-outs of major banks, crashing stock markets and constant uncertainty. But how will this all affect smaller local businesses and non-profits? Who will bail them out of their financial woes?
Yesterday, Governor Patrick announced massive cuts in the state budget due to declining revenue, including a September shortfall of $188 million. The Governor has imposed a hiring freeze on non-essential jobs and suspended pay raises that were not in union contracts. His proposal also includes cost-saving measures like getting rid of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority.
There are approximately 36,000 Massachusetts non-profit organizations that currently employ roughly 14 percent of the Massachusetts workforce. Without security in the market, these organizations are at risk. Read more...
October 2, 2008
In Washington, Congress and the Bush administration are scrambling to stop the downward spiral of our financial markets. The plans in discussion would require a large investment of taxpayer money to buy the assets of failing financial institutions and save them from collapse.
Here in Boston, community, labor and political leaders are demanding that in addition to solving the current economic crisis, we must also focus on saving our communities from the impending collapse.
ACE partner Community Labor United (CLU) and other organizations in the Secure Jobs, Secure Communities Campaign held a press conference Tuesday announcing a Boston City Council hearing on corporate responsibility during the financial crisis. Speakers collectively called on businesses who are holding strong through the current economic meltdown to fill the gap in the bailout proposal – the gap between Wall Street and Main Street. Read more...
September 30, 2008
Over the weekend, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman authored an opinion piece on why the federal government’s response to the financial crisis needs to be green. While the bursting economic bubbles of the past have been painful, the United States has at least been left with improved infrastructure. For example, the country has benefited from the railroads left behind after the railroad bust and the information superhighway left behind after the dot-com bust.
The banks and subprime lenders that profited from the subprime boom and are now suffering the bust have left no positive legacy for the nation. Their policies were based on deceptive financial practices rather than investment in infrastructure or innovation. Instead of railroads or the Internet, we are left with evictions.
Solutions to today's economic crisis should not be centered on giving more money to the corporations that have been working against our communities through predatory lending and evictions. Solutions should help our communities grow into more sustainable, healthy, and vibrant places to live. Investing in the green economy will do just that. Read more...
September 29, 2008
Take a look at this cheery video from Street Films about Park(ing) Day NYC. Started three years ago, Park(ing) Day is now an international event that "reclaims over 200 parking spots in 50 cities around the world and transforms them into engaging public spaces for one day a year."
Look for a coalition of EJ groups in the South Bronx at 2:48 who are working on issues of air pollution, water quality and green space. Read more…
September 26, 2008
Yesterday, with the largest bank collapse and seizure in the history of the U.S. and a breakdown in talks on the federal government's $700 billion bailout plan, the national financial crisis hit home for the Esquivel family of Roslindale. The culmination of their two year struggle with predatory, sub-prime lending ended in a forceful, post-foreclosure, no-fault eviction.
Deutsche Bank, a German-owned mega-bank that engaged in predatory sub-prime mortgage lending, used cold shoulder tactics in an attempt to avoid declaring a loss on the property. Read more...
September 19, 2008
Host Meghna Chakrabarti interviews riders along the route, talks to the MBTA Director of Operations and Service Development and compares an MBTA bus to a loud, crowded and smelly box.
Said Lee, "I think the experience that an every day rider has on the bus hasn't changed. There are more people on the bus, but the overall quality of transit, the crowding, the drivers, these things have continued." Read more...
September 16, 2008
Today is Primary Day in Massachusetts. If you haven't gone to vote, it's not too late - polls close at 8 p.m. If you'd like to register to vote, come by ACE's office to pick up a voter registration form. You may also register online. To be able to vote in the November election, you must register to vote by Wednesday, October 15. Also, see your sample ballot and find your polling location by entering your address here. For more information about voting, see MassVOTE and Boston.com. Have a good Primary Day!