July 17, 2008
Preliminary boring along Boylston Street has started for Silver Line Phase III. Our friends at Switchback have posted an article on some of Phase III's serious flaws. They summarize,
"What do we get with the current Silver Line scam? Less capacity, less comfort for more money than a rail line. Oh, and a few buildings might be put in danger, as well."
The proposed tunnel project will cost more than light rail service, require the destruction of historic buildings for tunnel portals, disrupt traffic, and could jeopardize the structural integrity of structures in Chinatown and Downtown Boston. ACE and our partners, including On the Move and the Washington Street Corridor Coalition, are advocating for light rail service that would use existing tunnels leading from Boylston Street. This alternative would cost less and provide service "equal to or better than" the Orange Line Elevated Train, as the MBTA has promised to provide. Read more...
July 16, 2008
Thank you to everyone who came out to game night last week! ACE members, supporters, staff and interns shared food, stories and tons of laughs. There was a karaoke machine for the musically talented, charades for the actors and cake for the sugar lovers.
July 15, 2008
Another victory in the movement for housing justice was won this morning, as once again a multinational bank backed down from a post-foreclosure eviction. CountryWide Loans, a subsidiary of Bank of America, foreclosed on the home of Paula Taylor in Roxbury. Paula offered to pay market rent directly to the bank, but they refused and pursued an eviction. They told her to move out on June 30.
Paula decided to fight back and called City Life/Vida Urbana (CLVU), a housing rights organization campaigning against foreclosures. Paula is demanding the right to stay in her home and will not move out as long as the bank is the owner.
"Either someone will buy who wants a tenant or, if someone who buys the home wants to move in, I’ll move out without a fight," she said. "But I am taking a stand based on principle that I will not move out without a fight as long as the bank owns the property." Read more...
July 14, 2008
Today’s Boston Globe features an editorial by urban designer and ACE member Shirley Kressel criticizing proposed legislation to privatize the Rose Kennedy Greenway. The editorial points out that the Greenway Conservancy, a coalition that introduced and is now promoting this legislation, is comprised mostly of corporate executives and lobbyists instead of environmentalists and park advocates.
If passed, the bill will largely benefit the corporations represented in the Conservancy, granting them control over the area’s development and giving them land use rights similar to ownership. The group is also demanding $11 million a year in public money, after promising to cover all costs themselves.
Kressel writes that this plan resembles the development of Post Office Park, developed by a coalition of many of the same business interests represented in the Conservancy. She notes that despite large tax subsidies, the Post Office Park is private property, where the public is regularly ejected. Read more...
July 11, 2008
Wednesday, Governor Deval Patrick signed an executive order launching a statewide initiative to help immigrants integrate better. Yesterday, he spoke at a citizenship ceremony in Faneuil Hall about the New Americans Initiative.
Modeled after an Illinois program, the initiative draws together a committee that will hold public meetings on the impact and experiences of immigrants in the state. In one year, the committee will report back with policy suggestions to further acclimate Massachusetts immigrants.
This afternoon, members of the Coalition for Asian American Voting Rights (CAAVR) and volunteers from the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition gathered outside the Great Hall to register the newly naturalized citizens to vote. Representatives from CAAVR also carried signs calling for fully bilingual ballots, another action in the Chinese and Vietnamese bilingual ballots campaign. Read more...
July 10, 2008
Yesterday the Secure Jobs, Secure Communities campaign of Community Labor United (CLU) hosted a People’s Assembly at the First Church of Roxbury. Partner organizations include ACORN, Boston Worker’s Alliance, City Life/Vida Urbana, District 7 Roundtable, Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance (MAHA), SEIU Local 615, Union of Minority Neighborhoods and the United Youth and Youth Workers of Boston. The campaign committee tackles issues in working class communities in Boston such as foreclosure, eviction, youth violence, youth opportunities, CORI reform, job access and unemployment.
The committee is calling on The Blackstone Group, the largest land owner in the city of Boston, to contribute $1 for every square foot of property they own back into the community. If this goal is met, Blackstone will provide over $11 million for a community fund. Read more...
July 9, 2008
Today the Massachusetts House will vote on House Bill 678, also known as the National Popular Vote Bill. This bill aims to prevent presidential victory by any candidate who loses the national popular vote. In 2000 Al Gore won the popular vote but lost the election; five times in the nation’s history the winner of the popular vote has relinquished the presidency to the winner of the Electoral College.
Under the current Electoral College system, each state’s electoral votes go to the candidate who wins the majority of the popular vote in that state. Candidates can expect to win a majority in certain "non-battleground" states, like Massachusetts and Texas. Swing states, or battleground states, like Michigan and Ohio do not always vote blue or red, which means candidates will spend more time and money on them. Candidate attention correlates with voter turn out; more attention usually results in more voters at the polls come election day. Read more...
July 8, 2008
Last week, the third session of the Green Jobs Working Group was held downtown, bringing together a range of groups including ACE, the Boston Workers Alliance, ACORN, the Chinese Progressive Association and Greater Four Corners Action Coalition. This session focused on developing green jobs and businesses in the Boston area.
Participants broke into small groups to explore possible business ideas, including biofuels, energy service, a Boston branch of Co-Op Power, solar installation and green landscaping. Each group will work towards creating comprehensive development plans and began developing future goals. For instance, the organic landscaping group plans on connecting with CDCs and conducting community outreach while the Co-Op Power group aims to have over 1,000 members signed on by the end of the year. Read more...
July 7, 2008
Over the past three years, our partner organization, the Boston Workers Alliance (BWA) has worked tirelessly to reform Criminal Offense Record Information (CORI). Now, the chance to make real change is before us as the state legislature is bringing a CORI reform bill to vote before summer recess on July 31.
Representative Eugene O'Flaherty, Chair of the Judiciary Committee, is proposing a bill that reduces the CORI sealing periods to five years for misdemeanors and ten years for a felony. While this is a good first step, the BWA continues to build support to bring the sealing period down to three and seven years respectively.
Currently, many employers use applications that require a potential employee to divulge their criminal history. Because of this application question, employers are 50 percent less likely to offer interviews to white applicants and 64 percent less likely to call back black applicants with a record. Providing criminal history on job applications prevents employers from considering resumes, references or relevance of the offense. CORIs include people with juvenile records, people arrested but not convicted and people cleared of charges. Read more...
July 3, 2008
On Thursday, Mayor Menino issued an executive order to green City Hall, requiring city departments to use green cleaning contractors, recycle more, and take simple energy conservation measures.
This order came one day after Governor Patrick signed into law the Green Communities Act. The new state law strengthens Massachusetts' renewable energy standard so that by 2030, utilities will be obligated to generate at least 25 percent of their electricity from renewable sources. It also forces utilities to enter into 10 to 15 year contracts with sustainable electricity developers. This will provide funding for the development of green technology, focusing specifically on Massachusetts-based firms.
The Governor asserted, "This legislation will reduce electric bills, promote the development of renewable energy, and stimulate the clean energy industry that is taking root here in the Commonwealth."
ACE believes that all communities should share the benefits of this new wave of green legislation. Cleaner energy production and the benefits of new green collar jobs should go to communities that have been overburdened with environmental injustices, not just higher income neighborhoods. Read more...