BDTC Meeting Nov 29th 2023
In Attendance (work in progress; list of those signed in has not yet reach the Secretary): Linda
Levin-Scherz (Chair), Michael McNamara (Secretary), Cambell Ames (Vice Chair)., Vera
Iskandarian (Treasurer)., Kim Haley Jackson (Nominee for BDTC Affirmative Action Director),
Debbie D., Robert McGaw, Marc Sacks, Jeff L.S., Mike Crowley, Ted Dukkas, Joanne C.,
Barbara, Molly Aalyson, Richard W., Helen Bakeman, Dan Barry, Dan D., Steve Shestakofsky,
Dick M, Frank F., Peter G., Jean Mooney, Ruth S., Kathy Q, Angus A., Anne Q., Will
Brownsberger (State Senator), Dave Rogers (State Rep.), Geoff Lubien (Select Board Candidate)
a) Holiday Party Dec 19th at Belmont Media Center
b) Debbie Deutsch is kicking of Belmont For Democracy.
i) Gathering group of supporters and building a team in MA
ii) We plan to do phone-banking in NH, VA, PA, GA, NC, NV, FL, TX, et
iii) Debbie was an Organizer for Obama in 2012 and worked on Biden 2020
Campaign going to NH to canvass, host phone-banks, and organize voters.
c) In January, we are having the authors of “How Democracies Die”, and their new
book about how we got here and how we can claw our way back from the
brink/work our way out of this terrifying anti-democracy right-wing movement.
2) Vote on a new Belmont Democratic Town Committee (BDTC) Affirmative Action
a) Angus A. was our old Affirm Action Outreach Director, but as a college student,
he has a lot of personal responsibility to his studies and his community organizing
in college. He has been very active in recruiting young people to go to the MA
state convention and getting them involved in our BDTC. Including people from
different racial and ethnic backgrounds.
b) Linda L.S. nominates Kim Haley Jackson to be the BDTC Affirmative Action
c) Kim Haley Jackson- Chair of the Belmont Human Rights Commision (HRC),
head of the Diversity Task force in Belmont and a member of the implementation
d) Kim H.J. notes Democracy is on the line, and she wants to make sure we are
reaching out and talking to all sorts of people to help protect our democracy. She
is honored to be nominated and would be glad to serve.
3) Comments before vote
a) Angus A. notes that he is happy to step aside, though he was glad he was able to
do youth outreach and talk to young voters and get them involved. He notes Kim
H.J. is even more qualified and he will do everything he can to aid her work.
b) Barbara notes that this vote is only for all *Full* Members And all *Lifetime*
Members (those who have served for decades on the committee are included as
voting members on these votes). All can participate, however, in the discussion.
c) Molly Aalyson asks Kim H.J. about plans to reach out to young people and
voters. Kim H.J. notes that her roles as HRC chair and working with BAR
(Belmont Against Racism), has led to her interacting a lot with younger students
and folks who she can work to outreach to.
d) Hellen Bakeman adds that we need to keep folks, especially younger voters
involved and, in the loop, (including keeping them coming to meeting or getting
involved in our active events or listening to our guest speakers).
e) Michael M. notes we need to reach out to new demographics, and people who see
the world from a different perspective and have had different experiences. And
we really need to make sure they can come into our group and see other people
like them who share that experience, and common identity, including in our
leadership (which currently, like our town, is not as representative as it can and
f) Kim notes that this is a good point, but that we have this issue across our town,
and she would like to address this by having more social events, preferably
small(ish) gatherings where people could meet in a low stress and friendly
manner. We should also aim to do voter drives in Belmont Gardens and other
social events that include the community and voices that often don’t get
highlighted in town, and in town government/place of power. She notes we should
improve our outreach and build awareness in place and with groups that often
have not seen a lot of attention and care.
4) Comments and Vote:
a) Jean Mooney notes that we could also work to make sure that non-voters or those
who can’t vote yet (younger folks under 18) could still offer to help by doing
canvassing, or phone-banking, or talking to their neighbors, or doing post cards to
b) Linda L.S. Notes a lot of those folks may have specialized services or skills that
the campaigns could use. She notes there have been “Dorm Storming” where
young folks have organized voter drives and organized College Dorms to get out
the voter or do canvassing. She also notes there are folks with specific language
skills that could be in Spanish, Korean, Arabic, Farsi, Vietnamese, or many, many
others that a campaign, especially at the National level, would really, really like to
have. Or who have skills in the culture(s) of people who the party wants to
c) Vote happens, Unanimous Support from Full and Life Members for Kim Haley
Jackson for BDTC Affirmative Action Director!
5) Additional business and a Vote on our Budget
a) Linda notes that we are also working with Belmont Helps to get gift cards from
various Belmont Helps approved businesses to help give families in need the
option of where to spend those resources best for their families.
b) Linda L.S. asks for a motion/vote on $250 (in total $325) to be spent by the
BDTC for a location and space for the 2024 elections in town. This would give us
a dedicated space to do phone-banking, hold events, and have a physical location
to have volunteers come in or just those curious.
c) Debbie D. notes that we have done this in the past (as a note to new members) for
Biden’s 2020 election. Also, the Belmont Media Center is a great place to have
this space, and it is a good deal.
d) Linda L.S. agrees and notes that the space can hold events and accommodate a lot
e) Steve S. notes that it is important and a good investment, especially as the
Belmont Library is going to be temporarily closed due to the rebuilding, and a lot
of town groups will be missing that public space to hold events and meetings.
f) Motion passes Unanimously.
6) Geoff Lubien speaks to us about his Bid for Select Board
a) Geoff say “Hello” and notes he wants to work with us (one of our members is part
of his campaign). He notes we all want to preserve the best of Belmont and keep
our school system and other town services strong.
7) State Senator Will Brownsberger talks to us and gives a presentation on Housing.
a) Talks about working to build apartment housing, as that will be the most
economical, and environmentally friendly option to get the most people in the
most affordable and least carbon polluting housing. Apartments are really a good
potential option, but the debate is still about the best way forward.
b) Dave adds that he has worked to find ways to provide rent relief to working
families in MA. Also notes he was open to Rent Control as a potential way to
keep rents affordable and keep folks in their homes. Also, he is working on a bill
to provide renters with legal representation if they are going to court to prevent an
c) Vera I. notes that Rent control is a potential option that could work to keep folks
in their homes and that it would prevent landlords from taking advantage of
vulnerable and low-income folks.
8) Open questions from the BDTC members and audience
a) Steve Shestakofsky asks about public health. He notes that local health
departments often are responsible for making health policies in towns but lack
dedicated revenue streams which is a bad combo… not great.
b) Will B. notes that this will be worked on, and that he is looking to the legislature
to push some bills that might be able to help.
c) Helen B. notes that the right-to-shelter laws in MA need some attention and help
after the recent influx of refugees and migrants into MA.
d) Will B. notes that they are working on fixes to the law and providing funding for
emergency shelters to help with those who are unhoused/suffering from
e) Jean Mooney asks about the recent State Democratic Committee voting to
endorse MA auditor Diana Dizoglio push to audit the state legislature. Jean M.
notes that this vote was a bit misleading…
f) Will B notes MA AG Andrea Campbell has said that her office likely does not
have the statutory authority to enforce an audit of the state leg. And she will not
join the MA state auditor if she seeks to enforce that in court.
g) Will B. also notes that AG Campbell has hinted that this effort is likely going to
run into constitutional issues, as there is a major separation of powers argument
that the state auditor is part of the Executive branch, and the State legislature is
separate, and this would usurp its authority potentially.
h) Will B. notes this does not preclude the state auditor from placing this issue on the
ballot for a statewide referendum, but it may get a ruling from the MA Supreme
Judicial Court (SJC) that it is unconstitutional due to separation of powers
i) Will B. notes he is for transparency, and he pushed to have the legislature have an
audit of its budget and every bill it passes in the Senate (and Dave Rogers says the
same for the House). Will B. does note that there can be a bit of a loose or
informal process in the committees, when voting on matters, but that these bills
still face an audit when they pass in the House/Senate.
j) State Representative Dave Rogers notes as Will B. said, that there are real
Separation of Power arguments that would undermine this law. He also notes that
this has come across as very personal, or almost vengeful from the state auditor
who has not had a good relationship with the Senate or House. He also notes that
the Open Checkbook law means all budget votes in the House/Senate are visible
to the public.
k) Michael M. notes (in a very long and winding question), that if the audit would
have serious constitutional concerns, wouldn’t it be best to have the SJC of MA
rule on this issue of Constitutionality *before* voters vote and that would prevent
public anger or distress over having a vote be in vain? Also, what do they make of
a cross ideological alliance of progressive groups and conservative groups seeking
to audit the legislature and is there more the legislature could do to assure these
groups that they are acting in good faith and honestly?
l) Cambell Ames notes that she worked with Act on MA (Angus A. also was a part
of this group) who have had issues with the state legislature over transparency,
but she says that the old legislature was not transparent and had issues with
committee votes not being clear to the public. But the new leadership has
drastically improved this and that this effort by the MA state auditor has gotten a
lot of criticisms from liberals as it has gotten support/push from very conservative
groups and even Trump friendly donors. It seems to Cambell that this is not going
to lead to the outcomes that are being stated, and that this might lead to a
challenge to the MA state Auditor from groups inside the party next cycle.
m) Cambell and others notes that this effort seems to come across as deeply
personal and the MA legislature has viewed it as more personal than such an
effort needs to be.
9) T (MBTA) issues:
a) Helen B. ask about T (MBTA) issues, how do we fix the MBTA, and make sure
people who want to use it can do so successfully?
b) Will B. notes that the MBTA is building out capacity and has ordered new trains
to make riding easier and faster. One of the issues is that the manpower needed to
address the working schedule has been difficult. The Govenor Maura Healey has
done a very good job in appointing an engineer to be the head of the MBTA, and
not an accountant. This is part of an effort to make the MBTA run better.
c) State Rep. Dave Rogers notes that fixing and eliminating slow zones is a high
priority, as the most complaints he has had talking to the public is about the slow
zones. They have also improved working conditions for MBTA workers, so you
don’t have workers working 20-hour shifts and having accidents.
d) Both he and Will B. have worked to make sure the MBTA budget is audited and
follow best accounting practices.
e) Also Dave R. and Will B. have worked to get an audit of the MBTA pension
10) End of Meeting
a) Vote to adjourn, seconded and voted in the affrimative.