July 23, 2008
Today, REEP youth joined forces with the Spanish American Union in Springfield, Chelsea Green Space and the Massachusetts Diesel Pollution Solution Coalition for a diesel lobby day. We handed out information packets and talked to receptionists, aides and state representatives, asking for support of the diesel pollution prevention amendment to the Environmental Bond Bill, otherwise known as the Diesel Bill. The bill could come to a vote as soon as this evening.
The amendment, sponsored by Representative Coakley-Rivera, would require all state contracted heavy duty and garbage/recycling vehicles that run on diesel to install the best available retrofit technology over the next three years. This technology could reduce air pollution up to 90 percent. The bill would also establish a Diesel Emissions Reduction Funding Program to help fund the installation of retrofit technology in diesel-powered fleets. Read more...
July 22, 2008
According to the Boston Phoenix, voter turnout in Massachusetts is "depressingly low," ranking only 21st in the nation. But does this mean residents are apathetic or are other issues at play?
Local community groups, including MassVOTE, a non-partisan voting rights organization, believe that by making it easier and more convenient to register voters at the polls, Massachusetts voting numbers could go up by as many as 225,000 people. Same-day voter registration would increase turnout during what many are calling the most important and hotly debated election in recent memory.
Proposed legislation on same-day registration was scheduled for a vote last Thursday, but a small number of senators used parliamentary procedures to stall the bill. Now the Senate is scheduled to debate and vote on it this week. The legislation would allow new voters and those who have changed addresses to register to vote on Election Day and to have the new system in place in time for the fall presidential election. Read more...
July 21, 2008
As part of the Radical Organizing Conference Summer Institute last Wednesday, ACE hosted a workshop on gentrification called "Stop Robbing Our ‘Hood." Led by T-Riders Union Chair and ACE board member Lisa Sadika Edwards, the workshop covered development issues in Roxbury.
The session began with a discussion of gentrification and its impact in the community. Gentrification occurs when money is invested to improve a neighborhood, ultimately raising the cost of housing. This displaces lower income people, frequently people of color, and allows wealthier folks to move in. The result is a catch 22 where residents who work to revitalize a neighborhood may eventually be priced out of living there. Read more...
July 18, 2008
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...