As of this morning, ground has been officially broken at the future site of Assembly Row, a transit-oriented, mixed-use development that will sit on what is now a vast, 60 acre lot bordering the Mystic River. For those involved in the planning and design of Assembly Row, this morning’s groundbreaking was a true milestone in what has been an arduous, decade-long quest to transform this troubled part of Somerville into a vibrant, truly liveable area.
Efforts at the state, local, and federal levels of government, as well as cooperation with Federal Realty Investment Trust, the development group behind Assembly Row, have been successful in securing funds for a range of public infrastructure improvements. Assembly Row was the first project to receive money from the state’s Infrastructure Investment Incentive (I-Cubed) program, a program created by the state legislature and the Patrick Administration that is designed to finance the infrastructure investments needed to support private development. I-Cubed symbolizes an acknowledgement of the public-private partnership that is necessary for projects like Assembly Row to ever get off of the drawing board, and has enabled the construction of streets, intersection improvements, and storm drainage pipes that will benefit the completed development as well as the surrounding areas.
The City of Somerville should also be commended for its efforts to use every option available to the city to secure funding for Assembly Square infrastructure, including funding for the new MBTA Orange Line station that will accompany the project. The city’s use of the innovative District Improvement Financing program, a capital expenditure plan that captures revenue from growth in the city’s tax base generated by economic development projects, was the final step needed to fully fund the new T station, which is expected to be complete by 2014.
What was once the home of a Ford assembly plant that produced the ultimately unsuccessful Edsel automobile has been re-imagined and will be re-built into a shining example of smart-growth development. The ongoing redevelopment of Assembly Square has been a struggle, but I feel that it has finally gained its own momentum, and the weight of what is being created there will, with our help, carry the project through to completion.
In the recent “Citizens United” ruling, the U.S Supreme Court gave corporations and unions the same political speech rights as individuals under the First Amendment. The Court ruled that there was no basis for prohibiting corporations and unions from using their general treasury funds to make election-related independent expenditures.
Citizens United has unleashed an unprecedented amount of corporate money into our political process, presenting a serious and direct threat to the nature of our democracy. The ruling provides corporations with the tools necessary to invalidate very important and democratically-enacted reforms. For instance, the Court ruled that the independent expenditures do not give rise to corruption of elected officials or the appearance of corruption. In other words, the Supreme Court reasoned that corporations’ access to or influence over elected officials does not give rise to corruption, which in turn, will not cause the electorate to lose faith in our democracy.
On February 2, 2012, I submitted testimony to the Joint Committee on the Judiciary in support of Senate Bill 772, a resolution introduced by Senator Jamie Eldridge. The resolution states that the First Amendment to the United States Constitution was designed to protect the speech rights of people and not corporations, and that the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United V. FEC will damage to the First Amendment and our democracy. The resolution also calls upon the United States Congress to use the amendment process, which has previously been used to correct the wrong decisions of the United States Supreme Court, to restore the First Amendment. Although the state legislature cannot reverse a decision of the U.S Supreme Court on its own, the Commonwealth must clearly state its opposition to the ruling
I believe that most Americans would agree that the First Amendment to the United States Constitution was designed to protect the free speech rights of people and not corporations. The resources and financial power that a corporation has access to are far greater than what is available to the ordinary individual. Furthermore, individuals within a corporation have more protection from criminal liability for the actions of the corporation than an individual would if he or she were acting alone. Corporations are not treated as people in other aspects of the law, and should not be allowed this much say in the electoral process as it diminishes the voice of individuals in our democracy and the trust that people have in our democratic process.
In this election year we are vividly seeing the poison fruit of Citizens United and the so-called Super PACs that it has spawned. American citizens should not be expected to stand against corporations and the unlimited amount of capital they are capable of spending in our electoral process. With that in mind, I will continue to support all who are working towards reversing the Supreme Court’s ruling in order to restore fair elections to the people and I encourage anyone who feels similarly to do the same.
My letter sent to the Joint Committee on the Judiciary, dated February 2nd, 2012:
Tim Toomey on Citizens United – February 2, 2012
The City of Somerville is hosting its annual Spring Clean-up Day on Saturday, April 28th, 2012 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Volunteers are being recruited to help clean up the parks, schoolyards, and gardens in their neighborhoods. There will be a barbeque and music afterwards at the Blessing of the Bay Boathouse on Shore Drive (map) from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.
The Clean-up Day is being organized by wards. To participate, meet a Ward Captain at one of the following locations:
- Ward 1: Cross Street Senior Center, Zero New Washington Street (OLRA)
- Ward 2: Union Sq Parking Lot @ SCAT Building, Albert F. Argenziano School @ Lincoln Park
- Ward 3: High School Concourse, Nunziato Field, Vinal Avenue
- Ward 4: Blessing of the Bay Boat House, Shore Drive
- Ward 5: Community Path at Cedar St, Albion Street Park
- Ward 6: Davis Square, Statue Park
- Ward 7: Dilboy Field, pool parking lot
The Rain Date for Spring Clean-up Day will be Sunday, April 29th. If it appears that clean-up could be postponed due to inclement weather, call 311 on the morning of the 28th for the most up-to-date information.
The Cambridge Water and Fire Departments will begin their regular testing and maintenance of the city’s fire hydrants on April 30th. Water main flushing will also be conducted during the same time period.
Fire hydrant testing is performed annually to ensure that fire hydrants are in working condition, and to identify those hydrants that need repairs. When hydrants are tested, the sediment that collects in the city’s water mains may be disturbed. This may cause your water to take on a rusty color for a period of several hours. Discolored water does not normally pose a health risk, but the Cambridge Water Department recommends that anyone who has doubts about the safety of rust-colored water should not drink it. The discoloration will disappear in a matter of hours, but you may wish to store a gallon or two of water for use on the day of the testing.
Residents should be aware that discolored water may stain clothes, and water should be checked before doing laundry on the day of the test.
Testing and maintenance will occur in Central Square, Area IV, and MIT beginning on April 30 and will continue through May 11.
Testing and maintenance will occur in East Cambridge from May 29 through June 8.
Testing and maintenance will occur in the Inman Square area from June 11 through June 22.
You may call the Cambridge Fire Department between 8:00 a.m. and 8:45 a.m. at 617-349-4780 for a daily list of precise testing locations.
If I can be of any assistance or you require more information about hydrant testing, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me via the contact link on the menu above.
Please see the flyer below for information about the next East Cambridge community crime prevention meeting:
Wednesday, April 18th, 2012
East End House
105 Spring Street,
Cambridge, MA 02141
Join us for a discussion with local officers about crime in our community,
including a review of the most recent Community Crime Report!
We Hope to See You There!
Pizza and Light Refreshments Will Be Served
Questions? Contact Tim Severyn at the East End House at firstname.lastname@example.org or 617.876.4444
*Sponsored by the East End House, the Cambridge Police Department, and the East Cambridge Business Association*