ORGANIZING NOTES 

August 22, 2023

        When We Organize We Win

Join Community and Labor struggles that make a difference

 

 

The Honorable Lesley Rebecca Phillips passed away Monday, August 14. She was both a renaissance woman and a trailblazer.

 

She was a lifelong Democrat and activist for civil rights, women’s rights and the rights of the LGBTQ community. Earning both undergraduate and law degrees from University of Pennsylvania, she practiced law for a dozen years. A lover of music and Opera, she studied Opera Direction at the Philadelphia Academy of Music. 

 

Feeling a call to the Unitarian Universalist ministry in 1982 Lesley moved to Cambridge to study at Harvard Divinity School and was the first openly transgendered person to be ordained in a mainstream denomination in America. She served several congregations in Massachusetts and was active in the UU denomination at many levels. Though a UU minister, Lesley never lost her connection to her Judaism and served as the President of UU’s For Jewish Awareness for 5 years. 

 

A deep interest in politics was always a part of her life and she served as Chair of her Cambridge Democratic Ward Committee for many years.  She moderated numerous forums for Cambridge City Council candidates and served on the Cambridge LGBTQ Commission from its formation to the present. 

 

The first transgendered person elected to a seat on the Massachusetts Democratic State Committee, she has served for 16 years and was elected a delegate to both state and national party conventions including twice for Bernie Sanders. She was a co-founder and served on the governing Board of Our Revolution Massachusetts and in 2020 was the first transgendered person in Massachusetts to be elected a Presidential Elector which granted her the title “Honorable!” She is survived by her spouse, our colleague, Linda Pinti.

There will be a graveside service for Lesley, Monday, August 21st at 11 am at Cambridge Cemetery, 76 Coolidge Ave, Cambridge, followed by an informal lunch at the S&S Deli, 1334 Cambridge St, Inman Square, CambridgeIn addition, there will be one evening sitting Shiva on Tuesday, August 22nd at 7pm at the home of Sara Mae Berman, 23 Fayette Street, Cambridge and a Memorial service for Lesley will be held on October 15 at the First Parish Church (Unitarian Universalist) 3 Church Street in Harvard square where she was ordained 35 years ago. Details TBA.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Lesley’s honor and memory may be made to:

  • First Parish Cambridge (Unitarian Universalist) 3 Church St., Cambridge, MA 02138,

  • The Massachusetts Democratic Party, 11 Beacon St, Suite 410, Boston, MA 02108,

  • Our Revolution MA (ORMA) c/o Michael Gilbreath, Treasurer, 7 Jennison Rd, Wayland, MA.

The Larry Rosenberg

Memorial Webinar Series:

  • Nuclear Power: Expensive Menace or Low-Carbon Solution, Sept. 7th 
  • Green Banks: Financing Climate Solutions, Sept. 20th
  • Creating Sustainable Systems: Soil, Carbon, and Food, Sept. 28th

           All Webinars are at 7:30 PM

 

Larry Rosenberg was a lifelong progressive activist. From union organizing to central American solidarity work, from advocating for a just Middle East peace to pushing for climate action, his insightful analysis and enduring commitments made him a meaningful contributor to positive change. His sharp intellect also led to jobs programming wind farm software, leading an anti-military weapon proliferation research team, and supporting health-focused international development projects. He was an early member of both 350 Massachusetts and the Elders Climate Action MA chapter. After years of living with lymphoma, shortly after the COVID pandemic began, Larry’s cancer turned virulent. He died in 2022 after arranging to donate his body to the U.Mass Medical School. The three webinars described above are a tribute to Larry.

 

TWO OPPORTUNITIES TO SEE BERNIE IN NEW ENGLAND!

“The Agenda America Needs” 

Please join Bernie in Manchester, NH

Saturday, August 26

Doors Open at 1:00 p.m.

New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College, 10 Saint Anselm Dr., Manchester, NH 03102

Rally in Providence with Aaron Regunberg and Senator Bernie Sanders

Saturday, August 27

Doors Opem at 12:00 p.m.

Columbus Theatre

270 Broadway

Providence, RI 02903

 

Where Do the Candidates Stand?

 As dedicated volunteers, you have the power to engage local legislators in meaningful conversations that address our concerns. In an effort to maximize our impact we are creating questions for you to have ready when the time presents itself.  Let’s come together and ask our local leaders thought-provoking questions that delve into the heart of our most pressing issues.

CLIMATE:

Green Development

 

Q: We are facing crises in both housing and climate-change at every level (local, state, national, and global). Yet proposed housing solutions routinely fail to follow green-development designs and practices that require preserving green infrastructure for buildings that are cooler, use less energy, and cause less flooding. If elected, what will you do to ensure that all legislation (or policies) for housing requires the best green-development practices?

See more questions HERE:

 

As we head into the next legislative session we want to take advantage of the summer break to explore upcoming issues. Advocacy involves persuading others to support our cause or viewpoint. A strong understanding allows us to communicate complex concepts in a relatable and understandable manner.  

Why Are There Three Rent Control Bills Before the MA Legislature?

In 1970, state legislation was passed that allowed cities with over 50,000 residents to adopt rent control. It was adopted by Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, Lowell, Lynn, and Somerville.  Lynn and Somerville ended it just a few years later. The remaining cities defeated local attempts to vote out rent control again and again. Finally, the real estate industry funded a statewide ballot in which voters who were homeowners and/or rural would decide the fate of cities. Millions of dollars in advertising were spent and, by a 51 to 49 margin, rent control was banned across the state.

New calls for rent control emerged as we entered the 21st century. As the shortage of housing deepened into the housing crisis of the 2020s a demand for rent control emerged. However, the 1994 ban prevents any city from adopting it. A bill introduced by Reps Mike Connolly and Lindsay Sabadosa (H.1304) would end the ban and allow municipalities to adopt their favorite rent control plan. A second bill, H.2103, introduced by Rep. David Rogers and Senator Pat Jehlen, would end the ban by allowing municipalities to adopt a form of rent control that allows annual increases of no more than 5% or the cost of living increase, whichever is lowest.

There is a third bill, introduced by Rep. Sam Montano of Boston. This asks the legislature to approve a home rule petition that would allow Boston to implement a limitation on rent increases to the increase in the consumer price index, plus six percent, or a maximum percentage increase of ten percent, whichever is lower.

Although the details differ between the bills, all bills would exempt small units, in, for instance, owner-occupied buildings, and in new housing for several years. Support for the statewide bills is split, with some groups favoring the single, statewide plan. Others say that the imposition of a statewide standard is far less likely to be passed than a simple ending of the ban that allows local initiatives and plans is much more likely to pass.  Further, advocates of the Boston plan, which is supported by 11 of 14 City Councillors as well as Mayor Michelle Wu, claim that this strong local legislative support gives it a chance of passing. Others say that the amount of rent increase it allows imposes too great a burden on low-income renters.

While the inclusion of an extension of the Covid-era ban on no-fault evictions in the new state budget provides relief to some people, there is an acute need to end the 30-year ban on rent control. It will take a unified pro-housing movement to win this victory. Even that would not end the housing crisis as rent control does not build even one of the 200,000 new housing units that are needed. Rent control is a critical step forward for the housing movement but guaranteed adequate housing for all must still be our goal.

 

A BATTLE WON FOR SAFE HOUSING!

During the pandemic more than 100,000 cash-strapped Massachusetts families received rental assistance, thereby avoiding eviction and long-term housing instability.   This was possible, in part, because the legislature passed a temporary eviction and foreclosure moratorium.  The federal government provided over $800 million dollars to the state to cover some of the costs of this protection. Governor Baker allowed that moratorium to end, and the legislature passed a temporary moratorium that ran for two and a half years, ending only on March 31 of this year.

Tenants, and other housing advocates working in groups such as Lynn United, City Life/Vida Urbana, and Homes for All, demanded further protection.  Now, Representative Mike Connolly, who for several years has made the legislative case for protection, has joined with other legislators to successfully include permanent protection in the recently passed state budget.  This is a significant victory.

“Boston is excited for ranked choice voting. 62% of Boston voters supported Ranked Choice in 2020, and our coalition of supporters keeps growing. RCV is easy, equitable, and will give voice to all voters,” said RCB Director Ed Shoemaker.

RANKED CHOICE VOTING RALLY

 

Campaign Director Ed Shoemaker and Co-Chair Cheryl Clyburn Crawford, Executive Director of MassVOTE led a Ranked Choice Boston rally of close to 200 hundred people the evening of 8/17, in front of Boston City Hall. Organizations that have endorsed ranked choice voting in Boston thus far include:

The Boston Teachers Union, Jamaica Plain Progressives, Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance, MassLandlords, MassVOTE, New England United 4 Justice, Our Revolution Massachusetts, West Roxbury-Roslindale Progressives, RoxVote Coalition, and South End-Roxbury Partnership. 

 

      If you would like to work with ORMA Members on

  • Climate Change
  • Community-Based Alternative Emergency Response Teams
  • Ranked-Choice Voting
  • Housing For All       

ORMA depends on your support to continue Bernie’s Political Revolution to create a society, a politics, and an economy that works for everyone, not just billionaires, corporations and the political elite.

If you value Organizing Notes and its twice a month distribution schedule, please make a donation to ensure its continued existence.

Invest in Change Now!

 

Please send requests for action items, articles or upcoming events

for the next Organizing Notes to 

beccobrien.orma@gmail.com by Thursday, August 31st.

We’d love to have you send us your favorite pictures of Bernie here in MA!

 

Campaigns End, Movements Endure


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