Belmont Democratic Town Committee
Date: Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018
Location: Selectmen’s Meeting Room, Belmont Town Hall, Belmont, MA
Full Members Present:
Linda Levin-Scherz (Chair)
Paul Roberts (Vice Chair)
Ted Dukas (Treasurer)
Ryan Sachs (?)
Associate Members Present:
Chair Levin-Scherz calls meeting called to order at 19:08
19:08 LLS calls meeting to order. Present: Chair LLS, VC Paul Roberts not Dovie or Mary.
19:11 BDTC member and Sen. Will Brownsberger talks about outcome of primary vote on Tuesday including the surprise victory of Ayanna Pressley over 10 term incumbent Michael Capuano. Sen. Brownsberger offered congratulations to Jay Gonzalez for his victory in the Democratic primary over Bob Massie and congratulations to BDTC member Cabell Eames for her work managing the Massie campaign. Will said that having a Democratic Governor would make a huge difference in advancing progressive causes in the Bay State including public transportation, civil rights, immigration and the environment.
Sen. Brownsberger talked as well about the tragic death of Sachi Thanawala on August 30. Will called Sachi, the mother of two young boys, a spectacular human being and expressed his deepest sympathies for her husband and family. .
Will talked about the need to invest in public transit and said the governor has been too slow to move on this issue while the threat of a veto “affects the behavior of the legislature.”
Will talked about the need to “clean up” outdated our outright archaic state laws that impact civil rights including those governing the right to marry, reproductive rights, sexual orientation and more. Among the laws governing adultery and abortion are those “punishable by flogging and imprisonment,” Brownsberger noted.
Will talked about the need to get immigration reforms passed and discussed the Safe Communities Act.
On the environment, Will talked about the need for the state to do forward planning to address the impacts of climate change that are foreseeable in the near future (the coming decades).
Will talked about the major criminal justice reform bill he and Rep. Rogers helped pass on Beacon Hill and said there is “more to do” on that issue with the goal of rehabilitation- “lifting up not locking up.”
On housing Will said it “don’t feel like we have great agenda.”
On transportation, Will talked about the need for better transportation to help with housing and to develop more dense housing. He discussed the Mass DOT’s “Rail Vision” study and the possibility of using existing rail lines to function more like street car lines and serve densely populated areas such as Brighton. He said MBTA improvements are in the works including “a total renovation of the Red and Green lines.”
19:30 – Rep. Dave Rogers addressed the committee. He thanked the group for being re-nominated. “I love my job,” he said.
Dave called the recent legislative session the “best session we’ve ever had in the legislature,” but said he was “mindful of the moment” and of the larger political context which he called “hellacious.” Democrats need to keep fighting and to “push back against what’s happening…I’m in the fight with all of you.”
Dave talked about the last legislative sessions accomplishments including passing a “landmark” criminal justice reform bill that reduces solitary confinement, increases the threshold for a felony from $250 to $1,200, reduced mandatory minimum sentences, introduced more diversion and restorative justice and improved education access for those incarcerated.
Dave also noticed the passage of a $15 minimum wage, paid family and medical leave including 12 weeks paid family leave and 20 weeks of paid medical leave. He noted the absence of corresponding federal legislation beyond the Family and Medical Leave Act, which does not mandate paid leave.
He noted the passage of the Pregnant Worker Fairness Act, which he said was the “biggest bill I ever filed.” It protects thousands of women in the workplace. He noted the passage of a civics bill that mandates that civics is taught in every school across Massachusetts. That includes a media literacy piece that Dave fought for.
The legislature also acted to ban the sale of tobacco in pharmacies, boosted funding for the Department of Environmental Protection by 20% in one year and boosted funding for civil legal aid.
Speaking of the Governor’s race, Dave also noted how important having a Democrat and progressive in the corner office would be. He said Gov. Charlie Baker benefitted because compared to President Trump “he’s not crazy.” Still, if we had a “bold, dynamic governor, we could get more done.”
20:00 Will Brownsberger leaves to attend another event.
Belmont resident Don Mercier asks Dave a question about spreading economic opportunity around the state and not just concentrating it in Boston.
There is a question about the fate of the Millionaries Tax ballot initiative.
Paul Roberts comments on the burden facing middle class families through school fees. (“Make public school free again!”)
Rep. Dave Rogers talks about the National Council of State Legislators work on plastic waste. He notes that California just passed a ban on plastic straws. Data on how plastic ends up in our water, in our fish.
Dave said healthcare and hospital reimbursement rates are an issue for the next legislative session, as is an effort to increase local aid for education by increasing the Foundation Budget. “It is fundamentally unfair that children in one zip have a better shot at the American dream than those in another,” he said.
BDTC member Russ Leino asked a question about the community hospital bill .
BDTC member Cabell Eames spoke of the efforts on recycling at Chenery Middle School including the “trash bashers” who make sure students sort their trash when throwing it out.
21:00 Meeting Adjourns