ORGANIZING NOTES

May 1, 2024

        When We Organize We Win

Join Community and Labor Struggles That Make A Difference

 

 

Why Trees Matter for Green Development

With Sen. Markey & State Sen. Cream

The Trees as a Public Good Network (founded by ORMA) recently hosted the “Why Trees Matter for Green Development” forum, co-sponsored by 56 advocacy organizations and 24 Democratic Committees.

 

This webinar, attended by 240 participants (over 535 registered), focused on making development climate friendly by preserving trees’ crucial eco-services. As Senator Ed Markey said, “Climate action can’t be an either-or; …. We need new and old trees, solar panels and forests, dense housing and accessible green space.” 

 

Professor William Moomaw, a lead author of the 2007 Nobel Prize–winning IPCC report, asks if we want our forests managed “passively” for the best climate solutions or “actively” (logged) for economic profit? “Cutting older trees and planting younger trees will never surpass the carbon accumulation by larger trees that continue growing.” 

 

Massachusetts has enough previously disturbed and or developed land to site solar and meet all our state’s solar needs. Yet we allow the corporate destruction of globally rare forests in SE Mass–one of only three Pine Barren ecosystems in the world. Meg Sheehan of the Community Land and Water Coalition documents the clearcutting of thousands of acres for industrial-scale sand mining then installation of solar arrays–all under the ruse of creating cranberry bogs. Sign CLWC’s petition for a moratorium on sand mining; write to your legislators and sign the petition for responsible solar siting; donate to CLWC. 

 

Linda Coombs of the Aquinnah Wampanoag tribe reminds us that the “relentless… murder of our [tree] relatives” continues. “We need a paradigm shift. Indigenous people lived in relation to the world, with everything having a right to its own life. I ask you to think about that.”   

 

State Senator CIndy Creem’s Municipal Reforestation Act will address the inequitable and significant loss of trees in cities and towns across the Commonwealth. Heat disparities will grow worse;, “the state needs to step in ….” Sen. Creem’s goal is to achieve 60% tree cover in every Massachusetts city and town because “trees are essential infrastructure for climate resilience and environmental justice.”

 

Dr. Zbigniew Grabowski of the University of Connecticut asks whether the urban future can be equitable, denser AND greener. “Yes, if communities adopt wise land-use planning such as green infrastructure.” In a recent study, Grabowski found, “Cities in general have not done a good job of framing their environmental improvements around equity principles,” so, methods for “including communities in decision making and urban planning are often perfunctory….”

 

President of the Hyde Park Neighborhood Association, Mimi Turchinetz, explains residents are concerned about the Squares + Streets initiative. The City promises affordable housing and public space improvements, yet rubber-stamps plans with “no tree protections, … no protections from… heat island creation; [and] no specific protections for deeply subsidized affordable housing, historic preservation, [or] BIPOC and legacy small business displacement.”

 

Dorchester resident Aalana Feaster, founder of the Environmental Health Is Wealth Advocacy Coalition notes “a lot of lip service…. There is a gap between stated commitments to Environmental Justice and actual actions.” She identifies specific needs for lowering the State’s MEPA thresholds to trigger full environmental reviews; and requiring MassDEP to perform cumulative impact analyses in EJ communities. Sign the Morton St petition, and watch the Environmental Action Summit organized by Boston community advocates.


Learn more about the Trees as a Public Good Network here.

 

The Biden Campaign Gets Even The Small Things Wrong

Millions of people fear a Trump victory in November will mean the country will fall to fascism. Of course, it will take a Biden victory to prevent that.

But Biden hasn’t found a way to address the economic issues that concern working people. He hasn’t found a way to end student debt as promised. Or to shore up the protections Black voters need in many parts of the country. Or to end US military aid for Israel’s genocidal war, and back an immediate long-term ceasefire, as the great majority of Americans do. 

His campaign even makes significant errors doing the small things.  Here in Massachusetts, Nazda Alam was an Obama Democratic Convention delegate in 2008 and 2012. A Clinton delegate in 2016. A Biden delegate in 2020.  She has served for years as a national organizer of Muslims for Democrats.  She was nominated to run as a Biden delegate in 2024.  She never even got to run.  Why?

Here is the letter that ended her run.

Nigel C. Simon
Senior Political Director | Massachusetts Democratic Party

Dear Fellow Biden Supporter,

Thank you sincerely for your interest in running to be a Biden-Harris District Delegate. We were truly humbled by the overwhelming response from Democrats across the state. After careful review, we found that your application did not meet all the necessary requirements to qualify as a candidate for a Biden-Harris district-level delegate so your application could not be considered.

Think about that.  The Biden campaign finds that a Muslim woman who qualified four times to be a Convention delegate is not qualified in 2024.  What could be the difference this year?  Why is it no surprise that the Biden campaign which supports Netanyahu’s war and accepts millions of dollars from the American Israeli Political Action Committee (AIPAC) finds a Muslim woman unqualified?

How insulting and disheartening when it will take every possible vote to defeat Trump.

 

Let Steve Kerrigan, Chair of the Massachusetts Democratic Party, know how you feel about this: To: Steve Kerrigan <steve@massdems.org>

 

By Erin Leahy

 

State House Scoop

The House releases the FY2025 budget proposal, debate is beginning.

Last year, our lawmakers were swimming in a revenue surplus (remember those 62f tax rebates ?). In fact, they were so rich with our tax dollars (plus remaining ARPA money from the federal government) that they decided to pass permanent tax cuts and give $1 billion of it away annually, mostly to the top 1% wealthiest Bay Staters. 

 

The theme of this year’s budget season? Tightening our belts. With tax revenues lower than expectations most of the year and prices going up, we’re seeing a fair amount of level-funding and cuts to goods and services. House leaders have also hinted that earmarks for local funding will be limited. 

 

It’s almost as if, and bear with me, we shouldn’t have just cut $1 billion in annual revenue. Radical, I know…

 

So, what’s the deal with this budget anyways? It totals $57.9 billion — a skosh ($150 million) less than Healey’s proposal, but it does increase spending in some key areas; it allocates a little more for universal free school meals, MassHealth’s Personal Care Attendant program, and emergency shelter services than Healey’s proposal. Mainly, however, the big increase in spending over Healey’s proposal is for transit. And can I just say: it’s about Goddamn time. The House budget proposes $555 million for the MBTA and another $184 million for regional transit authorities. This funding includes earmarks for recruiting and training, safety upgrades, and climate adaptation — none of which were in Healey’s original budget. 

 

Now that we’ve lulled you into a false sense of security, an unfortunate reality check: neither budget proposal allocates nearly enough to make a dent in the MBTA’s widening budget gap. It’s ALMOST as if we shouldn’t have just cut $1 billion… *sigh* 

 Link to support Act on Mass Donate   volunteer

Continue reading…

 

Steward’s Folly: Massachusetts’Shame

By Francis Sandy Eaton

 

Actions have consequences. In 1991, Senator Ed Burke (D-Framingham), co-chair of  the Committee on Health Care, pushed through the deregulation of hospital finance,  claiming this would reduce health spending: to “put all the scorpions in one bottle to  see who comes out alive.” He meant expensive teaching hospitals, but scores of  community hospitals have since failed or been absorbed by chains. 

This prompted for-profit hospital chains to enter Massachusetts for the first time. In  1995, the Hospital Corporation of America bought MetroWest Medical Center, with  private citizen Ed Burke then representing HCA. In 1999, Worcester’s Saint Vincent  Hospital was sold to OrNda/Tenet. And in 2010, the Archdiocese of Boston sold its  six-hospital chain Caritas Christi, with surgeon Ralph de la Torre at the helm, to  Steward Health Care, initially a wholly-owned subsidiary of Cerberus Capital  Management, a major global private equity player. 

Steward Health Care and Attorney General Martha Coakley agreed that services would  be maintained for a defined duration with conversion of these Massachusetts not for-profit hospitals to for-profit status. But in 2013 Steward closed the pediatric unit  at Taunton’s Morton Hospital. In 2014, Quincy Medical Center was shuttered.  Steward claimed poverty and no penalties were imposed by any state official, fearing  that Cerberus might abandon the whole system, impacting all of Eastern  Massachusetts. There was no enforcement mechanism in place. 

Steward sold its hospital laboratory services to another for-profit, Quest Diagnostics,  in 2014. Then in 2016 it sold its hospital real estate to Medical Properties Trust so it  could buy more US hospitals, not secure the viability of its Massachusetts holdings. Continue...

 

 

Boston Holds Ceasefire Vote: Voters urged to call Councilors At Large and their District City Councilor

We need our City Councilors to be a voice for its constituents and call on both Senators and all members of the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation, as well as President Biden to take urgent and immediate action.

Urge councilors to commit to voting in support of Tania Fernandes Anderson’s ceasefire resolution at the City Council Meeting on May 1st. Learn More HERE

We URGENTLY NEED YOUR HELP to submit public comments to stop private jet expansion at Hanscom Field and everywhere! It is CRITICAL that we flood MEPA with a tidal wave of public comments BEFORE MAY 10th to demonstrate to EEA Secretary Tepper and the Governor that they have widespread support to stop these plans. 

 

Instructions to write the public comment letter are in an easy template HERE

MARK YOUR CALENDARS

Join fellow activists from across the Commonwealth to build momentum for key progresssive priorities on Beacon Hill!

Never lobbied before? Don’t worry – we’ll have a training session before sending you off to meetings.

Volunteer  at MAPA’s Table for the 45th Annual Wake Up the Earth Festival

May 4th Noon – 5PM

Rain Date: June 1st

There’s a new group in town!

Formed in March 2024 by a group of seasoned gun violence prevention activists, Grassroots4GVP harnesses everyday people-power to free all communities from gun violence. We act to increase awareness, center survivors, amplify partners, and elect leaders who will champion gun safety legislation. 

 

FTC Final Ruling Banning Non-Compete Agreements

In a win for workers, FTC has banned nearly all non-compete agreements (NCAs) to take effect later this year. The FTC estimates that nearly one in five workers are bound by non-compete agreements. The ban will make most existing NCAs unenforceable outside of higher level executives after the ruling takes effect and prohibit employers from entering into new NCAs with employees. This ruling will have a broader impact than just those bound by NCAs as it leads to employers needing to compete for talent and removes barriers for workers to switch jobs. According to researchers from the FTC, Duke, and The Ohio State University, over time this could result in an average earnings increase among workers in the range of 3.2% to 14.2%. 

 

Challenges to this ruling are expected, but the outcome of these challenges is uncertain. However, state level legislation banning or restricting NCAs is also expanding so this is likely the beginning of the end for NCAs.

 

Link to more details: NPR Article on the ban

 

      If you would like to work with ORMA Members on

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

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Please send requests for action items, articles or upcoming events

for the next Organizing Notes to 

beccobrien.orma@gmail.com by Thursday, May 9th

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

 

Campaigns End, Movements Endure


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