ACE Blog

Congratulations Penn!

November 10, 2008

 Charles Lee of the EPA with Khalida Smalls and Penn Loh of ACE.

We're pleased to announce that our very own Penn Loh was recently honored with an EPA New England Merit Award.

Penn has been at ACE since 1996 and has provided us with strong visioning and guidance in his most recent role as Executive Director. He currently also teaches at Tufts University and can be spotted biking all over the city. Penn is an asset to ACE as well as the environmental justice movement, and we know he'll continue to make great contributions to this work.

The award was presented by Charles Lee, Director of the Office of Environmental Justice. Charles has been a leader in the environmental justice movement for a number of years and continues to push for fair regulation and development within communities. Read more...

New videos feature youth and environmental justice

November 6, 2008

Photo from 1000 Voices Archive and EJCC

Check out these videos of young environmental justice organizers created by the 1000 Voice Archive and the Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative. The videos feature four young organizers explaining how they realized their calling to fight for environmental justice. This project is part of the 1000 Voices Archive, a "national collection of video stories created by filmmakers and communities across the country" that is being used to "encourage community conversations."

The short videos introduce Kari, Tony, Nia and Lllai, four youth activists who are engaging their communities in the green movement while also advocating for EJ issues. Read more...

Get your vote on!

November 3, 2008

Vote NO on Question 1 for our families and communities - do not repeal the state income tax!








As we all know, tomorrow is Election Day (finally)! We urge everyone to come out and make your voice heard in what may be one of the most important elections of our time. There is much at stake, whether it's choosing a president on the national level or deciding the fate of the income tax here in Massachusetts. Here are some tips and info to make sure your turn at the polls goes smoothly.

The voter checklist provided by the elections bureau of Massachusetts lists all offices and ballot questions so you can write down your choices before heading to the voting booth. Remember to bring your ID and know where polling locations are ahead of time. See your full ballot, polling location and other information by entering your address at www.wheredoivotema.com.

For voting assistance, call 1-866-OUR-VOTE for English help, or 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA for Spanish. These lines are staffed and available to answer any questions about the voting process. Read more...

Vote NO on Ballot Question 1 - an environmental injustice

October 30, 2008

Vote NO on Ballot Question 1 - do NOT repeal the state income tax

This November, our communities face the threat of an ill-conceived proposal to repeal the state income tax. Though proponents (a "yes" vote) point to punishing irresponsible government, we believe the initiative would have a disastrous effect on already disadvantaged and oppressed neighborhoods.

With a loss of over 40 percent of the state budget, there would be a brutal cutback in services that would primarily hurt lower income communities and communities of color that do not have the same cushion as wealthier communities and individuals.

Some of our hard-fought victories would be wiped out or severely cut, including youth jobs and programs that have helped keep young people off the streets. Like other city services, those jobs are paid for by state grants. Youth would be hit doubly as state funding for our already failing public schools would be slashed, leaving expensive private schooling the only decent method of education. Read more...

Question 1 would make current budget cuts seem insignificant

October 27, 2008

Election Day is only a week away, and while most of the attention is focused on the presidential race, on November 4, Massachusetts voters will weigh in on three ballot questions. In addition to taking a stance on marijuana possession and dog racing, (Questions 2 and 3), Question 1 will ask voters to determine the fate of the state income tax.

Ballot Question 1 would devastate Massachusetts communities - please vote NO!

Let’s look at the facts. Income taxes account for $12 billion or roughly 40 percent of the state budget. A repeal of the state income tax would let an executive with a $200,000 salary collect more than $200 a week, while a full-time minimum wage worker would only get $16 a week.

But what exactly would happen if in just two years the state’s budget was reduced by 40 percent? According to the Coalition for Our Communities, we would see a sharp increase in property taxes as well as other fees that affect lower income families the most. The cost of living would spike, hitting those in lower income communities and communities of color the hardest. Cuts in education would mean less funding for our public schools as well as teacher lay-offs and even school closings in some areas. It would also affect funding for healthcare, law enforcement, and infrastructure (roads, bridges, etc.) as well as the state’s job market in general – a deathwish to the state’s already fragile economy. Read more...

MBTA 'bailout plan' will help riders, service

October 24, 2008

The Town Meeting on Public Transportation this Wednesday, sponsored by On the Move (OTM): The Greater Boston Transportation Justice Coalition, addressed issues of the MBTA’s staggering debt. The coalition consists of Boston-based community organizations , including TRU, that have been working together since 2000 for environmentally friendly, reliable public transit that is committed to first class service for all neighborhoods.

On the Move Coordinator Bob Terrell speaks in favor of MBTA debt relief at the public forum

Right now OTM is working on legislation that would relieve the T of the $1.8 billion debt that resulted from the Big Dig. This debt originated when Massachusetts was required to improve public transportation to counter the increase in air pollution and traffic congestion the Big Dig caused. The T, a separate entity that is still part of the state government, was given the debt burden by the legislature without adequate funding to pay the debt.

This year the $444 million annual debt payment will be passed on to riders, as it has been since 2000 through a series of fare increases. Another may be announced as early as summer 2009 if the state doesn’t take back the Big Dig debt. Read more...

Zero waste: Fueling the economy, not the incinerators

October 23, 2008

ACE and other environmental groups are concerned that the Patrick administration may lift the decade-long moratorium on new incinerator capacity in Massachusetts when it revises the state’s Solid Waste Master Plan. We believe that keeping the moratorium in place is an environmental justice issue because incinerators, landfills, and trash transfer stations are too often located in lower income communities and communities of color.

A zero waste plan would prevent trash from being burned and contributing to the air pollution in EJ communities

There are no rules preventing those types of pollution sources from being placed in already overburdened environmental justice communities.

True sustainability includes ending the throw-away mentality where certain people and land are seen as expendable. In our environmental justice vision, justice and sustainability are inextricably linked. Putting the state on a zero waste plan (reduce, reuse, recycle, and producer take-back) would provide green jobs, help fuel a green economy rather than incinerators, protect public health and be an important step toward sustainability for all. Read more...

Sustainable neighborhood development must be pedestrian centered

October 22, 2008

Over the course of a month this summer, three pedestrians were struck and injured by cars along Washington Street between Dudley Square and Melnea Cass Blvd. These tragedies are common and indicative of the unsafe conditions that traffic congestion creates in Dudley Square. Pedestrians from nearby parks, schools, stores, and housing must contend with cars and buses, often speeding down Ruggles Street, Washington Street and Shawmut Avenue (which bound ACE’s office at 2181 Washington Street).

There are few crosswalks between the Dudley Square Bus Station and surrounding streets, putting riders and pedestrians at greater risk when navigating traffic

The numerous red lights around this area create a great deal of stop-and-go traffic; on Washington Street, cars in one direction are often stopped while those heading in the opposite direction speed recklessly. Pedestrians, faced with a lack of clearly delineated crosswalks or signage, are often forced to weave through both stopped and speeding vehicles. This is dangerous and unacceptable in such a vibrant, pedestrian-based commercial district. Traffic congestion, through the danger, noise, blight, and localized pollution it creates, undermines the commercial viability of Washington Street in Roxbury.

Yet, from our decade of working in offices along Washington Street, we believe that the solution to this problem will not come from a car-centered approach. Read more...

Proposed Silver Line bus tunnel expensive and unnecessary

October 21, 2008

The financially strapped MBTA is planning an $1.2 billion expansion of the Silver Line bus that would connect the Waterfront and Washington Street routes with a tunnel under the city. The project, supported by business interests, is meant to connect the waterfront and Back Bay with a bus tunnel. However, more efficient transportation alternatives are being overlooked, even though they are significantly less costly.

Rally for light rail service instead of the Silver Line bus on Washington Street

While the project may be eligible for federal funding, the T will still be putting up at least $500 million. The MBTA is already in financial crisis and the expansion will only lead to further debt. Even the executive director of the MBTA Advisory Board, Paul Reagan, said in a recent Globe article that the MBTA does not have that kind of money.

"The people that rely on the T the most, people of low income and communities of color, would mainly be the ones paying for this project, and they can't afford it," ACE member John Cater said in the Globe. Read more...

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