Reminder: Public Meeting on McGrath Boulevard Project this Thursday

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) and the City of Somerville will hold a second public information meeting for the McGrath Boulevard Project Development this Thursday, May 28th from 6:30pm to 8:30pm at the East Somerville Community School Auditorium.

MassDOT’s project team will share the ongoing work of the McGrath Boulevard working group in addition to providing a general overview of the progress of project development. The McGrath working group is composed of community residents, municipal staff of abutting cities, business owners, elected officials, and bicycle, pedestrian, and green space advocates. The working group  has met three times since November, 2014 and is working to reach a preferred alternative for an at-grade boulevard that accommodates bicyclists and pedestrians along the McGrath Highway corridor. Following the presentation, MassDOT staff will facilitate a discussion to hear community comments and questions.

Construction Advisory: Nighttime Demolition over Storrow Drive Eastbound Beginning May 26

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s (MassDOT) design/build contractor for the Longfellow Bridge Rehabilitation Project, White-Skanska-Consigli (WSC), will temporarily perform overnight demolition work during the third shift beginning on Tuesday, May 26, 2015. This schedule will be in place for approximately three weeks. Third shift work hours are from 10:00 PM to 6:00 AM with lane closures in effect from 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM.

This work requires the closure of up to two travel lanes on Storrow Drive eastbound. These lane closures are prohibited between 5:00 AM and 11:00 PM, necessitating the overnight work. Third shift work during this period of time will be located primarily on Span 1 of the bridge over Storrow Drive eastbound.

Activities during these work hours will involve localized demolition of the concrete deck, including jack hammering and saw cutting, and removal of steel columns. Noise levels will be monitored during the work. WSC will implement appropriate noise control measures as needed. Pedestrian, bicyclist and vehicular travel across the bridge will be maintained in the current configuration.

For more information about the project, visit the website at www.mass.gov/massdot/longfellowbridge. For questions or issues and concerns related to construction, please call the project hotline at 617-519-9892 or email longfellowbridge@state.ma.us.

Public Meeting on McGrath Boulevard Project

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) and the City of Somerville will hold a second public information meeting for the McGrath Boulevard Project Development on Thursday, May 28th from 6:30pm to 8:30pm at the East Somerville Community School Auditorium.

MassDOT’s project team will share the ongoing work of the McGrath Boulevard working group in addition to providing a general overview of the progress of project development. The McGrath working group is composed of community residents, municipal staff of abutting cities, business owners, elected officials, and bicycle, pedestrian, and green space advocates. The working group  has met three times since November, 2014 and is working to reach a preferred alternative for an at-grade boulevard that accommodates bicyclists and pedestrians along the McGrath Highway corridor. Following the presentation, MassDOT staff will facilitate a discussion to hear community comments and questions.

Cambridge Delegation Reports Back on El Salvador Trip

In April, a delegation of nine Cambridge residents traveled to El Salvador to learn about the realities in El Salvador and visit Cambridge’s sister city of 28 years. The delegation of CRLS students, teachers and community activists met with women’s groups, youth leaders and organizers in San Salvador to learn about the history and current situation before traveling to Las Flores for five days.

The delegates are excited to be sharing their experiences in the forms of images and words at a report back/Salsa evening May 15th from 5:30-9 at the Amigos school, 15 Upton Street (off Magazine in Cambridgeport). Welcoming for all ages and families, the Salsa evening will have food followed by a performance and salsa lesson from MetaMovements.

The delegates are Amigos music teacher Sharon Hamel, Cambridge organizer Stephanie Guirand, CRLS students – Emma Ramsdell, Maribel Rawson-Stone and Jesse Simmons, CRLS media staff Erica Modugno, and Sister City Project founders Nancy Ryan, Cathy Hoffman and Rachel Wyon.

Early Retirement Board Now Accepting Applications

The State Retirement Board has developed an informative web page with information for executive agency employees who are considering whether or not to take advantage of the Early Retirement Incentive Program (ERIP). It includes important items such as the application (available here), the application timeline (May 11th – June 12th), eligibility, and information about available and required counseling.

Additionally, the State Retirement Board intends to offer extended and weekend hours at the Boston office (located at One Winter Street, 8th Floor, Boston, MA 02108) and the Springfield office (located at 436 Dwight Street, Room #109A, Springfield, MA 01103) to assist members with any questions they may have.

Somerville Youth Conference, This SATURDAY

This Saturday, May 9th, 2015, the City of Somerville, The Somerville Police Department, Somerville Public Schools, and the Center for Teen Empowerment, Inc. will present Somerville’s Ninth Annual Youth Peace Conference at Somerville High School. The Conference will feature a highly sophisticated Teen lead show followed by community workshops focused on mental health from 12:30­-5:00pm.

The organizers are expecting about four hundred Somerville teens to participate in this moving and inspiring event, which will feature a sophisticated stage presentation that addresses the root causes of youth violence, mental health and other issues using the arts—including skits, music, spoken word, rap, and speeches. Through these performances, the conference will address some of the major issues facing Somerville residents and explore how youth, adults, police, politicians, and community organizations can work together for a more peaceful community.

Annual East Cambridge & We-Ha Clean Up This Saturday

East Cambridge_streetscapeIt’s time again for the annual East Cambridge & We-Ha Clean Up, and the organizers invite you to join your neighbors for a morning spent beautifying our community, followed by lunch and a volunteer celebration at Kennedy-Longfellow/Putnam Avenue Upper School. There will be flower planting, mulching playgrounds and tree wells, trash pick-up, and more.

The Clean Up is a collaborative effort organized by East End House and the East Cambridge Business Association in partnership with Kennedy-Longfellow Elementary School, Putnam Avenue Upper School, Inman Square Business Association, CambridgeSide Galleria, Charles Street Community Gardens, and the Cambridge Department of Public Works.

The Clean Up will take place this Saturday, May 9th between 9:30 am and 1: pm at four different locations:

  • Silva Park (Otis & Sciarappa)
  • Bocce Court (King Open)
  • Kennedy Longfellow (Spring St)
  • Inman Square (Velluci Plaza)

Volunteers may sign up to clean any location by registering here or just show up on Saturday morning at any of the locations listed above. Hope to see you there on Saturday morning!

MBTA Weekend Bus Diversions for Green and Orange Lines

Due to necessary track work, shuttle buses will replace Green and Orange line service on certain weekends starting tomorrow. Please see the schedule below for the next four weekend diversions.

MBTA%20Weekend%20Bus%20Diversions

Regular service will be restored at the start of service on Mondays, and all shuttle busses are accessible for persons with disabilities.

Somerville public meeting on Lifeline telephone program

Staff from the Department of Telecommunications and Cable (DTC) will be in attendance at the Somerville Elder Services Elder Fair on Wednesday, April 15th at the Holiday Inn at 30 Washington Street from 9:00am to 1:00pm to discuss the Lifeline telephone program as well as answering questions and offering general information on telephone and cable service in the Commonwealth.

Lifeline is a federal and state program that allows eligible low income customers access to discounted telephone service. Eligibility is based on household income and participation in the following programs:

  • Emergency Aid to Elderly, Disabled and Children (EAEDC)
  • Fuel Assistance (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program or LIHEAP)
  • MassHealth or Medicaid
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps)
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC)
  • Federal Public Housing Assistance (Section 8)
  • National School Lunch Program (free meals program only)
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

 Please click this link for more info on the Lifeline telephone program.

Scrapping the Film Tax Credit would hurt working families

Governor Baker has proposed doubling the earned income tax credit (EITC), an essential benefit that provides a boost to the incomes of low-income workers across Massachusetts. While the Governor should be lauded for his commitment to increasing the EITC, he has proposed tying this increase to the elimination of the Massachusetts film tax credit. The film tax credit, which has been in existence since 2006, has helped build a thriving film industry in Massachusetts that provides good jobs to many people. By attempting to link the fates of these two tax credit programs, Governor Baker has created a false choice for the legislature that has little to do with fiscal responsibility, and much more to do with political convenience.

With this proposal, Baker is attempting to strike at our basic sense of fairness. Who could argue that a family with children getting by on less than $52,000 per year deserves a tax credit less than Columbia Pictures? It’s a narrative that, on the surface, is politically-palatable in a time where the problem of income inequality continues to dominate national conversations.

But unfortunately for Baker, the reality is just not as simple. The truth is that the film tax credit has been far from ineffective. It has created thousands of jobs in Massachusetts and has generated hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity within the state’s borders. While critics often fault the film tax credit for the fact that it generates a lot of new spending that winds up leaving the state, Department of Revenue figures show that the film tax credit has generated millions in new, in-state private spending in industries like transportation, construction, and food service. Like with the earned income tax credit, this money winds up back in the local economy where it is used by workers to pay for everyday goods and services, generating hundreds of millions in new economic activity and personal income.

If the film tax credit is eliminated, it is likely that Hollywood producers and actors will just move on to other states offering similar incentives. Left behind will be our neighbors and family members—the carpenters, costume makers, electricians, caterers, and other small business owners who depend on the film industry to make a living. Many of these people have invested years of blood, sweat, and tears into building businesses within the Massachusetts film industry, but by scrapping the film tax credit now, we would be pulling the rug out from under them at the worst possible time.

With corporate tax credits, deductions, and rebates in Massachusetts totaling more $1.7 billion annually, we have many ways to pay for an EITC increase at our disposal. That Baker has instead decided to pay for that increase by eliminating another tax credit for working class people is disappointing, but hardly surprising. There is no doubt in my mind that increasing the earned income tax credit is badly needed, but there is no need—other than a political one for the Governor—to link the two issues together.

The Joint Committee on Revenue is hearing Governor Baker’s proposal on Tuesday, March 31st at 10:30 am. As the Vice Chairman of this committee, I am looking forward to hearing testimony and working with my colleagues to develop a plan that allows for the film tax credit to be maintained while providing for the expansion of the EITC.

Photo by Chalmers Butterfield, licensed under CC BY 2.5

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