ACE Blog

Public forum to discuss transit issues, MBTA debt relief

October 20, 2008

In this time of financial uncertainty, lower income communities of color are more reliant on public transportation than ever before. As private vehicles and fuel costs can be prohibitively expensive, many of us depend on the MBTA to get to work and buy groceries for our families. With three fare increases over the past six years, transportation is now the second highest cost for Boston residents, exceeded only by housing. Bostonians cannot afford to pay more for substandard public transit especially with winter heating costs still ahead.

Come out to the public forum on transportation, Wednesday, October 22 at the Boston Public Library in Copley Square

However dire the economic situation, fare hikes and service cuts remain a constant threat in our communities. The MBTA has been swimming in debt with over $8 billion and counting. $1.8 billion is from Big Dig projects required by the state government, yet the state has not accepted any responsibility for this cost. Fare hikes force riders to bear the burden of debt payments that include projects benefiting car owners. Read more...

Outraged residents pack bioterrorism lab public forum

October 17, 2008

30 p.m., the starting time for the biolab public forum

More than 300 people crammed into Hibernian Hall in Roxbury for a public hearing on Boston University's (BU) proposed bioterrorism lab on Tuesday. So many showed up that police closed doors to the public just minutes after the meeting began.

The bioterrorism lab, located in the South End/Roxbury area and funded in large part by federal tax dollars, will house experiments into biological agents including infectious diseases that can be used in biowarfare. Biolabs in the U.S. are classified into four levels according to the danger of pathogens researched. BU's will include a Biosafety Level 4 (BSL-4), the highest grade, allowing scientists access to ebola and other deadly viral hemorrhagic fevers for which there are no treatments. As the first BSL-4 to be built in a densely populated urban area, residents are worried that human error could expose thousands to hazards such as deadly airborne viruses.

Though the hearing was supposed to be a public forum, it seems that many people never got a chance to voice their opinion. Read more...

Protect yourself from high heating oil prices

October 16, 2008

Worried about home heating costs this winter? Join Co-op Power's home heating oil buying group!

Save money this winter with Co-op Power's heating oil cap service -photo from Wikimedia Commons

Co-op Power and Greater Four Corners Action Coalition are creating a home heating oil cap service to ensure protection from unexpected price spikes this season. This service acts as a group insurance plan for Co-op Power members and Affiliate Members. Co-op Power membership fees vary, and you can become an Affiliate member for just $25 per year!

After months of research, Co-op Power has found the best way for members to get fair and stable prices for home heating oil. Instead of signing a pre-buy contract as in the past, a cap service would better benefit folks because prices are actually decreasing right now. Members in Co-op Power’s home heating oil buying group don’t want to be locked into a price that’s too high if the market price goes down, but are also concerned that prices may spike due to extreme weather conditions or other unanticipated events. Read more...

Opposition to Biolab grows; community forum next week

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.

Residents protest Boston University's Bioterrorism lab built in an EJ community

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...

Ballot questions 2 and 3 tackle marijuana possession, dog racing

October 8, 2008

This Election Day, there is more to be determined then the next President of the United States.

Question

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...

Boston's 'mini-Katrina' demands a government response

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.

Boston City Councilors Stephen Murphy and Charles Yancey with storm victims

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...

State budget crisis will hurt families, community groups

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...

City Council hearing to address local economic issues

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.

Speakers included members of CLU and Boston Workers Alliance

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...

Bailout? ACE wants a buildup.

September 30, 2008

Join the October 1 rally at 4 p.m. in the JFK Building, Boston

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...

Listen to TRU on Boston Public Radio

September 19, 2008

ACE Member John Cater at a TRU training

What happens when an NPR reporter rides the #66 with TRU Organizer Lee Matsueda and ACE Member John Cater? Find out on the segment "Riding the Bus," aired last month on WBUR.

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...

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