BDTC Executive Meeting Notes (09/23/2021)

Attendance: Linda L. (Chair), Jeff L., Bob McGaw, Jeanne Mooney, Cabell Eames, Stephen Shestakofsky, Dan Barry, Ted Dukkas, Frank Frazier, Debbie Deutsch, Karen Freidberg, Carolyn Schwartz, Ruth Smullin, Lauren Mattison, Robert Rifkin, Richard Waring, Vera Iskandarian (Treasurer), Rep Sonia Chang-Diez (Guest Speaker), Lt. Gov Canidate Tami Gouveia (Guest Speaker), Molly Aalyson, Kathy Quirk, Helen Bakeman, Julie Wu (Aff. Action Coordinator), Michael McNamara (Secertary), Russ Lieno, Senator Diana DiZogli (Guest Speaker)

  1. Robert (Bob) McGaw talks about having about 2,000 dollars at minimum in the Belmont Democratic Town Committee coffers.
  2. Vera says we have about 7,400 dollars in our Coffers as of now (but we haven’t done a ton of spending due to COVID).
  3. Debbie notes we need to have line items or some way to track our spending/budget so we can both keep track but also note our accomplishments (like on the scholarship we are offering).
  4. Jeannie notes we should also think about Mid-term and Presidential budgeting so we see how we want to budget things. We could also do fundraising for special causes, and efforts to help Democrats in key battleground states.
  5. Debbie notes we need to be careful with our spending so we have the resources on really important races or key issue. Linda agrees and notes that our reserves may look artificially high
  6. Tami Gouveia (Canidate for Lieutenant Governor) speaks before us
    1. Mom, social healthcare workers, doctor, Master in Public Health, certified social worker Doctorate in Public Health
    2. Criticized Gov. Baker for kicking people off of Mass Health, and also his privatization schemes
    3. Her family were pretty fortunate (her dad was the head of a carpenter’s union), they were ok. But many of her friends were not as lucky, also many people who fled the Khmer Rouge (and faced a language barrier, health inequities, and health disparities).
    4. She has fought against Vaping, and smoking (She worked for Anti-tobacco groups).
    5. She was a single parent, and knew the pains of balancing her budget, and the struggles of those who are living paycheck to paycheck
    6. Supports Debt Free education (She notes that she is still paying off her student loans, and she knows a lot of people who really struggle).
    7. Supports (and help write) the Clean Energy Strech Code (that helps greenify our housing).
    8. Supports Medicare for All
    9. Bob McGaw’s Question: “He likes her presentation, but the one concern is that one group of people wants government to help, and another group who wanted to limit government and have big business do most things and less fortunate people just are left to their own ends.
    10. Tami Notes that there are a lot of unenrolled who liked her as a person and what she stands for. Her honesty and her personality and willingness to say “I don’t know” helps persuade those on the fence. She is not part of the establishment and is willing to criticize her own party when it comes to big issues (often progressive issues, that help working class folks and those left behind).
    11. Notes Charlie Baker has arrogance, especially on the Holyoak nursing home (notes it can be a bi-partisan issue of arrogance).
    12. Tami notes she wants to reach out and go to the cities that are often ignored and disheartened by Charlie Baker and Polito’s Administration. The communities are looking for leadership and want the Democrat to show up and do the work to help them.
    13. Michael M. Asked about how you would hit Gov. Baker, you need to drive down his approval rating among Democrats. You need to hit him for his actions on the Holyoak Soldiers home, about the Police corruption scandals.
    14. Tami notes she wants to give people a reason for voting for her. She will attack Baker over his scandals but want to tell people what she will do for them. She wants to advocate for better schools, healthcare, and justice and equity.
  7. Sonia Chang-Diez: She talks about her childhood about being a girl/woman of color growing up in a very white, and wealthy community. Her dad was an immigrant from Costa Rica, who though the help of his teachers and others at school excelled and become a U.S. Astronaut. Her mom was a social worker who worked for women and girls her whole life. She had to stretch their budget. She had soup nights and powered milk. Her mom was able to, with what little they had, to give to other in a less fortunate situation. They saved enough to move to Newton where Sonia could get a great education. Her family was not as wealthy as most other families, but the great education she got, aided her in her life. She became a social worker, and went to help communities that were being left behind. She saw students who didn’t have winter coats in the Winter. She saw supply closets that didn’t have enough paper. She became an activist, and grabbed a clipboard to get involved. When that was not enough, she ran for office and against difficult odds, won. She worked to address and pass key legislation that helped push Belmont Forward. On Trans rights, health equity, vaccine reform, police/justice reform. Fought Baker and won.
    1. She notes we need to pass a millionaire tax. We need to pass legislation to greenify our state housing and state building, working to address health equity, working to provide more funds for education in the forgotten place of Mass.
    2. Stephen S. asks about other in our BDTC who have asked for a clear difference between Baker and our Democrat Governor Canidate. We need to highlight the political corruption in the State Police Dept, the Holyoak soldiers home scandal, and other key state department.
    3. Sonia notes that she has pushed for an independent ombudsman to vet the administration and key state agencies. Baker and Politio hired a different ombudsman (a crony) who reporters noted made some really bad health decision in the administration, that lead to the deaths of a patient. She said Baker is openly ignoring the state legislatures legal authority and stonewalling and just openly defying them by appointing his own folks to do oversight.
    4. Michael M. notes that there a lot of people (White Working-Class Whites, people of color, Rual communities, urban centers) who are just disenchanted with government in general and don’t vote or feel it doesn’t matter. They feel forgotten or helpless. How can you reach out and give them hope and a willingness to get up and vote for you?
    5. Sonia says that she has gone to and visited and has organizations in cities and towns all over Massachusetts. She has a track record of taking slings and arrows to fight for average folks. She said her organizing of all folks to push for education reforms and for criminal justice reform.
    6. Bob notes you need to show that Charlie Baker is not doing a good job governing. He notes that the average voter in Mass think that we got out better than most other states with COVID, and also that he has not had as much chaos around him. You need to say “here are three things that I would do better running Massachusetts than Baker”
    7. Sonia notes that she would talk about Baker saying he was passing major education reform, and making a show of having kids of color behind him when he signed the legislation, but then not funding it, and watching as kids in school with very little funding falling further behind. She wants to call out Baker, and say I would fully fund these education reforms and make sure that those funds go to communities that have been left behind, and surge funds into those schools.
  8. Senator Diana DiZoglio: Born to 17-year-old single mom, she split time between Methun and Lawrence, (she was a nursing aide) she went to Wesley college (she only could go because of a full scholarship). She worked for the united teen group, where she led as Culture arts coordinator, she worked at a home that helped girls who had been abused or suffered emotion and physical abuse (she was an advocate for them). She owned a green cleaning company She got a position working in a local community job as she was from the area and also spoke Spanish. She became a state aide. She saw the good that the House of Reps in Mass. However, she saw the darkness there too. She was sexually harassed, and she was forced to sign a Taxpayer funded non-disclosure agreements. She lost her job, but ran for State Rep, and won. She fought for the families being left behind. She fought to end the Taxpayer funded non-disclosure agreements. Governor Baker stonewalled that legislation. She also called Baker to come before the committees in the House of Reps in Mass to be accountability for the Holyoak Soldier homes, and force Baker to come back and answer under oath (especially after his false testimony earlier). She criticized Baker for having no-bid contracts for Vaccine Center that were privatized and left too many people behind. Folks with disabilities, those without cars, those who are elderly. She also argued Baker has tainted his administration with his accepting money from McKennize group which represented the Sacklers pharmaceutical group that flooded our state and cities and towns with opioids. Calls for him to return the money and stop dealing with them.
    1. Ruth Smullin asks about getting people to care about the state auditor position. She notes that it’s a position of real power, and wondering about it being used more aggressively to keep both the governor and the state/house accountable.
    2. Senator DiZoglio notes that she wants to hold Baker accountable and push for investigations into Holyoak Soldiers home, and she wants to hold the house and senate responsible for sexual harassment and abuse. She will also tell Democrats uncomfortable truths, and not shy away from speaking truth to power.
    3. Jeanne Mooney asks about how the role of State auditor can be used to fight for the powerless and hold people accountable for waste, fraud, and abuse. And hold people to account, and hold Baker and other accountable.
    4. Diana notes that her role will be as administrator, she is like a quality control manager, she notes and makes sure things are running as they should. She ferrets out corruption, identifies issues, and brings them to light. She notes her non-disclosure agreements and how she was once a person without power being taken advantage of by the system and power that be.
    5. Michael M. Asks (a sort of long winded) question about helping at risk communities and groups who feel they are too weak or not important enough to get help. Also, how can you use media (Boston Globe et al) to highlight these issue and work in tandem with their muckraking efforts. And he notes that it means being slightly feared, as a good state auditor is meant to push ugly truths and scandals out into the light.
    6. Diana appreciates the question and notes that you touched on many key points in my speech. She notes that she wants to fight for those who feel left behind, and wants to fight for folks who just want to be on a level playing field. She also notes that she needs to be a bad cop as well, and push government to be accountable. She says that she wants to expose corruption and abusive pratices. She notes media can be an important aspect of the job and get out the message.
    7. Russ Lieno asks about the civil service workers, who often are doing their best in a very challenging circumstance, and especially in COVID. How can you use your power in a way that doesn’t lower the morale of the workers trying to do the often-thankless job of running the state. Also, what about the issues of abuse for an auditor who would target folks in an inappropriate way?
    8. Diana notes that former Auditor Bump worked with the legislature and with the civil servants to make sure that they were accountable, but just because the auditor is looking at something does not mean that something was wrong. The job is to keep government accountable, make sure things are working effectively/efficiently and to spot trouble spots. She has fought for PILOT (Payments in lieu of taxes) payment that were more accurate and companies were not avoid paying their fair share. Also fighting for increased COLA payments for Civil servants, and fighting for them too.
    9. Julie Wu: Asking for what Senator DiZoglio would do (As Auditor) to reduce Bakers/executive power? You said that Baker got too much power when COVID hit, how would you address that?
    10. Senator Diana DiZoglio notes that having power decentralized power and shared leadership with the governor’s office will rebalance the branches of state government. Baker or another governor could call for a state of emergency, and get drastically increased power. The state of emergency was proper after/during COVID, but they should be used for emergency actions, not for longer term legislation. The legislature should pare back some of the governor executive power under the emergency decrees.
    11. Debbie asked about Qualitative verses quantitative. Usually, the auditor is more about numbers and figures. So, Debbie wanted to ask about ways that you can go to the voter and say “this affects you in your daily lives and I am making it better, more accountable, equable/fair”. Like the website to sign up for COVID shots. Our website took a really long time that affected everyone. Also, fairness because a lot of people could not drive to the mass vaccination sites.
    12. Senator DiZoglio notes that the website and mass vaccination sites had a lot of issues, she notes that she tried to pass a bill that would have had a waiting system that would have provided a fairer and more just system to help those elderly and at risk. She also notes when DCS dropped the ball of a disabled boy who DCS noted was at risk and looked like he was being abused. But he was returned to the home where he was at risk and was killed. She notes that by auditing the emails, and looking at the qualitive issues (putting aside the finances) and how to improve DCS, and then add the finance part with how the state can boost their budget to help folks.