Monday, January 31, 2011

Fox 25’s “Monday Morning Quarterbacks” Segment

Today I made a guest appearance on Fox 25’s “Monday Morning Quarterbacks” segment with former Attorney General Scott Harshbarger. Scott and I discussed a wide range of topics with host Gene Lavanchy, including the turmoil in Egypt, the Governor’s budget proposal, reforming the parole and probation departments, and the recent forecast of snow for later this week. To see the segment please play the video below.

Monday Morning Quarterbacks:


Friday, January 28, 2011

Media Alert: On the Air with Fox 25

On Monday, January 31st at approximately 7:15am I’ll be analyzing four of the top State and Federal issues from this week on the Fox 25 Morning News segment “Monday Morning Quarterbacks” with former Attorney General Scott Harshbarger. Please tune in to watch what is certain to be a lively discussion.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Media Alert: “Nightside” with Dan Rea

Please tune in to “Nightside” with Dan Rea on WBZ NewsRadio 1030AM to listen to Dan and I discuss a bipartisan and bicameral bill that I filed reforming the Massachusetts State Parole Board and criminal sentencing. To listen to our lively discussion please tune in at approximately 9:00pm or click "here" to listen online.


Recent Appearance on Fox 25

Recently I had the opportunity to discuss with Fox 25 News a legislative package that I filed that would reform the Massachusetts Parole Board and criminal sentencing. Posted below is a video from that appearance. To read the text of the actual language of the bill, which was co-sponsored by members from both parties and both branches, or to read the section by section summary please click “here” to view a past post about the legislation.

Lawmakers seek parole changes after cop killing:


A Recent Editorial by the Gloucester Times

A recent editorial in today’s Gloucester Daily Times discusses the need for parole board reform and highlights a legislative reform package that I filed with many of my House and Senate colleagues that would do just that. Today’s editorial is posted below.

Gloucester Times Parole Editorial1.26.11


Monday, January 24, 2011

Media Alert: On the Air With Fox 25

Tomorrow morning I’ll be discussing parole board reform with State Senator Richard Moore on the Fox 25 Morning News. Please tune in at 8:00 am to watch our lively discussion about the bipartisan reform package that we filed with many of our senate colleagues.


Media Alert: On the Air with Fox 25

Please tune in to tonight’s Fox 25 News broadcast at 10:00pm, where I’ll be discussing legislation that I filed with many of colleagues reforming the Massachusetts Parole Board and criminal sentencing.


Reforming the Parole Board

Today I joined with a coalition of Senators to announce the filing of legislation to reform the operations of the Massachusetts Parole Board and to strengthen our state’s sentencing laws for repeat offenders. The materials we distributed at a 1:30 p.m. press conference are posted below. Also posted is the video from today's press conference that State House News Service taped.

Press Packet for Parole Board Legislation Press Conference


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Votes to Note: Senate Rules Re-Districting Amendment

Today the Massachusetts Senate has begun debate on the Rules for the 2011-2012 Legislative Session. One amendment that the Senate Republican Caucus filed ordered the establishment of an independent re-districting commission. The commission would strengthen the redistricting process by including an independent perspective with the drawing of new congressional and state district lines, unfortunately it failed by a roll call vote of 5-34.

To view the text of the amendment or the actual vote taken by the members of the Senate please click the “Read more” link. Below is also a recent State House News article further detailing the debate establishing an independent re-districting commission.

Senate Dems Scuttle Independent Redistricting Panel

Relative to establishing an independent redistricting commission

Messrs. Tarr, Knapik, Hedlund and Ross move to amend the order (Senate, No. 6), by inserting after joint rule 1G the following new rule:

“1H. An independent redistricting commission, herein referred to as the commission, shall be convened and shall divide the commonwealth into congressional districts, 160 representative districts, 40 senatorial districts, and eight councilor districts. The federal census shall be the basis for determining congressional districts for the ten year period beginning with the first Wednesday of the third January following the commencement of the taking of said census. All districts shall comprise contiguous territory, shall be equal in population to the extent required by law, and shall comply with federal constitutional and statutory requirements. No district shall be drawn for the purpose or with the effect of diluting the voting strength of any group based on race, ethnicity or language minority status, or for the purpose of augmenting or diluting the voting strength of a political party, or any individual. In drawing district lines, the commission shall not consider residential address, party affiliation, or partisan voting history of any individual or groups of individuals, except to the extent necessary to avoid dilution of voting strength based on race, ethnicity or language minority status. In addition, to the maximum extent possible, district boundaries shall be drawn so as to: (1) maintain the unity of well-defined municipal neighborhoods; (2) observe municipal boundaries; (3) establish senatorial districts that follow representative district boundaries; (4) establish councilor districts that follow representative district boundaries and (5) promote geographic compactness of districts. If it is not possible to draw district boundaries that fully comply with these criteria while also complying with the mandatory requirements set forth herein, then districts shall be drawn to optimize the criteria in the order of priority set forth hereinabove. The commission shall also consider communities of interest in determining which cities, towns, or neighborhoods thereof to aggregate into a single district.

Within 30 days of the passage of this act, the following offices shall each appoint one member of the commission: the governor of the commonwealth, who shall appoint a dean or professor of law or political science or government at an institution of higher learning in the commonwealth; the attorney general of the commonwealth, who shall appoint a retired justice who resides in the commonwealth; and the secretary of the commonwealth, who shall appoint an expert in civil rights law who is a resident of the commonwealth.

By the same date, the house speaker, the house minority leader, the senate president, and the senate minority leader shall each nominate three individuals. The appointees chosen by the governor, attorney general, and secretary of the commonwealth shall then select one of the three nominees named by each said official within 7 days of their nomination.

If nominations or appointments are not made within 30 days of the passage of this act, the office responsible for making the appointment or nominations shall forfeit its rights under this section and the remaining direct appointees shall then make an appointment to fill the vacancy within 7 days. Nominations and appointments shall reflect the geographic, racial, ethnic, gender, and age diversity of the commonwealth to the maximum extent feasible and shall be selected on the basis of civic involvement and knowledge of redistricting policy, civil rights, political science, demographics or statistics, election expertise, voting rights, community organizing, or law. No person nominated or appointed to the commission, in the five years preceding such nomination or appointment, shall have held Congressional, state legislative or statewide elective office, or shall have served as mayor or city councilor of a city in the commonwealth, governor’s councilor, or shall have been elected to a state or federal party committee; or shall be a current employee, agent or family member of any of the above; or, in the two years preceding such nomination or appointment, shall have been a legislative agent. The commissioners shall agree: (1) not to stand for election to the general court, congress, or the governor’s council until districts are redrawn following the next census; (2) to apply the provisions of this article in an honest, independent, and impartial fashion; and (3) to act at all times so as to uphold public confidence in the integrity of the redistricting process.

The commission shall be convened no later than 60 days following the passage of this act. The commission shall disband only upon final adoption and exhaustion of judicial review of challenges to representative, councilor, and senatorial districts.

The commission shall hire staff and may retain experts to assist it in the performance of its duties. The commission shall establish rules governing its operation and procedures. Commissioners may receive compensation for actual time spent on commission duties and shall be reimbursed for reasonable and necessary expenses. The budget of the commonwealth shall provide adequate funding for the operation of the commission.

A member of the commission or an appointing authority may petition the supreme judicial court to remove a commissioner on the grounds of neglect, misconduct, or inability to perform the duties of a commissioner. A vacancy so created shall be filled by the office which appointed the removed commissioner or by the nomination and selection process set forth in section 6, as applicable.

All meetings of the commission shall be open to the public, consistent with the laws of the commonwealth concerning open meetings as of the date of the adoption of this Article. All documents produced by or for the commission shall be public. The commission shall hold public hearings in at least five geographically disbursed counties. The public shall be afforded the opportunity to submit proposed maps for consideration by the commission and the commission shall make map-making software available for public use. The commission shall take all steps necessary to ensure that the public can exercise its right to review and comment on proposed district maps before they are approved and shall publish all preliminary and final plans in publicly accessible forums that are free of charge and that ensure wide public distribution. Proposed districts shall be presented in both graphic and narrative form.

No later than April 20, 2011, the commission shall prepare and publish for public comment a preliminary plan for representative, councilor, and senatorial districts. The public shall have a three-week period to comment on the preliminary district plan. The commission may revise the preliminary district plan in response to public comment and shall, no later than May 11, 2011, submit the revised plan to the special joint committee on redistricting, as created by order of the general court, as adopted by the senate on January 29, 2009 and adopted by the house on March 5, 2009, which shall vote on the revised plan. If the plan is rejected by either the committee or the general court, the commission shall prepare, publish, revise, and submit a second-round preliminary district plan in the same manner as the first within 30 days of the rejection of the initial plan. Following the three-week period for public comment, the commission may revise the preliminary district plan in response to public comment and shall submit the revised plan to the joint committee for a vote no later than July 29, 2011.

With respect to each plan the commission submits to the joint committee for a vote, the vote must be taken within two weeks of submission. No amendments to the plan as submitted may be made. If the plan is approved by a majority of the joint committee present and voting, or if no vote is taken within the two-week period, it shall be submitted to the general court for a vote. With respect to each plan the joint committee submits to the general court for a vote, the vote must be taken within two weeks of submission. No amendments to the plan as submitted may be made. If the plan is approved by a majority of the members of the house of representatives and the senate present and voting or if no vote is taken within the two-week period, then the plan as submitted shall become law.

Original jurisdiction is hereby vested in the supreme judicial court upon the petition of any voter of the commonwealth for judicial relief relative to the establishment of the congressional districts. The general court may by law limit the time within which judicial proceedings may be instituted to challenge any redistricting map."

Roll Call Votes: Yea Nay

Steven A. Baddour: Nay
Frederick E. Berry: Nay
Stephen M. Brewer: Nay
Gale D. Candaras: Nay
Harriette L. Chandler: Nay
Sonia Chang-Diaz: Nay
Katherine Clark: Nay
Cynthia Stone Creem: Nay
Sal N. DiDomenico: Nay
Kenneth J. Donnelly: Nay
Eileen Donoghue: Nay
Benjamin B. Downing: Nay
James B. Eldridge: Yea
Susan C. Fargo: Nay
Barry Finegold: Nay
Jennifer L. Flanagan: Nay
John Hart: Nay
Robert L. Hedlund: Yea
Patricia D. Jehlen: Nay
Brian A. Joyce: Nay
John Keenan: Nay
Thomas P. Kennedy: Nay
Michael R. Knapik: Yea
Thomas M. McGee: Nay
Joan M. Menard: Nay
Mark C. Montigny: Nay
Michael O. Moore: Nay
Richard T. Moore: Nay
Senate President Therese Murray: Did Not Vote
Marc R. Pacheco: Nay
Anthony Petruccelli: Nay
Michael Rodrigues: Nay
Stanley C. Rosenberg: Nay
Richard J. Ross: Yea
Michael Rush: Nay
Karen E. Spilka: Nay
Bruce E. Tarr: Yea
James E. Timilty: Nay
Steven A. Tolman: Nay
James Welch: Nay
Daniel Wolf: Nay


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Objectivity in Redistricting

Today the Senate Minority Caucus released this press release in response to the need for an independent redistricting commission:

Senate Republicans call for independent redistricting commission

BOSTON – Seeking to infuse the redistricting process with objectivity and avoid the legal challenges that have tarnished the process in the past, the Senate Republican Caucus is calling for the establishment of an independent redistricting commission to assist lawmakers in the drawing of new legislative boundaries for members of Congress, the Legislature and the Governor’s Council.

Senate Republicans have filed language to create the new advisory commission, which will be charged with developing a redistricting plan that will be subject to legislative approval prior to its implementation. The Senate is scheduled to take up the proposal as part of its rules debate on Thursday, January 20, but the Caucus will also be filing it as a stand-alone bill for the 2011-2012 session.

“The voting rights of every citizen in the Commonwealth are affected by redistricting, and it requires our strongest efforts,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce E. Tarr. “The commission we are proposing would infuse objectivity and expertise into a very complex process that would benefit from both. Our voters deserve the best we can give to redistricting, and the commission would provide guidance free from the traditional politics that have decided who we send to Beacon Hill and Capitol Hill.”

The League of Women Voters, Common Cause, former Governor Mitt Romney and Governor Deval Patrick have all endorsed the concept of an independent redistricting commission in the past. A MassINC poll released earlier this month shows that 62 percent of Massachusetts residents also favor using such a commission.

“Poll after poll has shown the public has grown tired of the traditional political games surrounding redistricting,” noted Senator Michael R. Knapik. “An independent commission would ensure that districts are apportioned appropriately in an impartial manner guided by principle and rooted in fairness. This legislature should move beyond power plays and parochialism and adopt districts that make historical, geographic, and economic sense.”

Senate Republicans have proposed creating a seven-member redistricting commission, which would be comprised entirely of non-elected individuals who would be selected based on their civic involvement and their knowledge of redistricting policy, civil rights, political science, voting rights and other areas of expertise. The proposal also requires that the members reflect, as much as possible, the geographic, racial, ethnic, gender and age diversity of the state’s population.

Under the proposal, the Governor would appoint a dean or professor of law, political science or government from a Massachusetts institution of higher learning, while the Attorney General would select a retired justice and the Secretary of State would name an expert in civil rights law. To ensure bipartisan balance on the commission, the four remaining members would be chosen from a list of nominees submitted by the House Speaker, House Minority Leader, Senate President and Senate Minority Leader.

“The concept of an independent commission clearly favored by Massachusetts residents, will take the politics out of the process and in so doing help to ensure fairness and integrity in our electoral process,” said Senate Minority Whip Robert L. Hedlund.

The Caucus proposal calls for the commission to hold public hearings across the state, and to release a preliminary redistricting plan for public comment no later than April 20, 2011. A final, revised plan would be submitted to the Legislature’s redistricting committee by July 29, 2011.

“It is imperative that the redistricting process not only be fair but free of political influence,” said Senator Richard J. Ross. “By establishing an independent redistricting commission, I believe we will be able to obtain the best legislative districts possible while making sure all constituents are well represented.”


Monday, January 17, 2011

Remembering Dr. King

Today provides us with an opportunity to reflect on the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. During a difficult time in the history of our nation he stood firmly upon the belief first expressed by President Lincoln that "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal" and confronted oppression and intolerance with faith, character and perseverance.
The struggle to advance civil rights was long and persistent, and yet even as his own life was at risk, Dr. King marched forward peacefully with his head held high and with a clear, powerfull voice for positive change. That vision for change was immortalized in his "I have a dream " speech, delivered at perhaps the height of racial tensions in March of 1963 to thousands gathered at the Lincoln Memorial. His dedication, sacrifice and risk made that dream a reality in America and has inspired others around the globe.
An excerpt from that now famous speech still echoes with truth and relevance:

"Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children”

May we all reflect today on Dr. King's contributions to our nation and the ways we can each provide support for freedom and equality.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Emergency Preparedness Starts at Home

There’s a major Nor’easter approaching and my office has gathered several documents and emergency contact numbers that may be of assistance. The best way to combat an emergency is to plan before one strikes to minimize the threat of danger to health and property.

All households should have a contact list of emergency numbers posted next to a working phone. In case of a power outage, most cordless phones may be unresponsive so it is advisable to keep a backup phone with a cord in a close and safe place. While emergency calls should be directed through 911 it is a good idea to keep other numbers in an accessible location. Some numbers to be placed on that list include your local non-emergency numbers for the police and fire departments, nearest hospital, town hall, and your electricity and gas provider’s area telephone number. National Grid’s emergency number is 1-800-465-1212. Comcast can be reached at 1-800-266-2278 and Verizon’s help service line is 1-888-553-1555.

Marine related emergencies may require contacting the U.S. Coast Guard. The best number to contact Coast Guard Station Gloucester is (978) 283-0705 and Station Merrimac River is (978) 462-3428. You can also call Sector Boston’s emergency line at (617) 223-5750. Boaters on the water and in need of immediate assistance can radio through a “Mayday” distress message. It is best to either use MF 2182 kHz or marine VHF-FM radio channel 16 (156.8 MHz) because these channels have been designated for emergencies and are closely monitored by the Coast Guard.

Other important precautions to take before a storm are;

• Learn where gas pilots and water mains are located and how to safely shut off all utilities.
• Keep an amount of money on hand just in case there is a power outage and ATM’s are unable to operate.
• Know your community’s emergency shelter locations if an evacuation becomes necessary.
• Have a plan for all family pets in case an emergency shelter does not allow their presence.

Below are several documents produced from several state and federal agencies that might be of help to you. The documents include a family communications plan, a disaster preparedness kit checklist, the National Weather Radio stations listings in Massachusetts, tips for people with disabilities requiring additional assistance, tips for business owners, and a family pet disaster preparedness plan.

Disaster Preparedness Kit Checklist

Family Communications Plan

Disaster Preparedness for Pets

National Grid Helpful Tips

National Weather Radio Station Listings for Massachusetts


Monday, January 10, 2011

Recent Appearance on NECN’s “Broadside”

On Friday I made a guest appearance on NECN’s “Broadside” with Jim Braude to discuss my thoughts on the need for reform at the Massachusetts Parole Board. To watch my lively discussion with Jim please play the video posted below.


Friday, January 7, 2011

Media Alert: "Broadside" With Jim Braude

Please tune in to “Broadside” tonight at 6:00pm on New England Cable News (NECN), where I’ll be discussing with host Jim Braude my thoughts on the need for reform at the Massachusetts parole board. “Broadside” re-airs at 8:00pm and again at 3:30am.


Disappointing News From NOAA

Below is a letter from NOAA’s Assistant Administrator for Fisheries Eric Schwaab to Governor Patrick regarding the federal government’s decision to not act on behalf of New England’s fishing communities.

Jan 7 Schwaab to Patrick

NOAA’s refusal to act on behalf of sustaining our fishing families and reconciling the science of fisheries management with practical reality is deeply troubling. This type of blind adherence to the status quo that leaves fish in the ocean that could be sustainably caught and insulates bureaucratic protocols by putting them beyond the reach of reasonable change is characteristic of the problems that have brought fisheries management in New England to a point of dysfunction and our fishing communities to a sense of desperation.

I urge Governor Patrick and our federal legislative delegation to take every available action to confront this decision and reverse it, and I pledge my efforts to support that course of action.


Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Request for a Moratorium on All Parole Board Hearings

Today seventeen senators and I sent a letter to the Parole Board asking for an immediate moratorium on any further hearings conducted by the board until after the Governor’s ordered investigation into the early-release decision of Dominic Cinelli which resulted in the tragic death of Officer John Macguire is complete and thoroughly reviewed by the legislature, the Governor, victim's advocates, and law enforcement.

According to the Parole Board's website, dozens of hearings have been scheduled for the month of January, including the hearings of convicted murderers Katherine Dickson, Manuel Matos and Vann Long.

Clearly there is something wrong in the parole process when someone sentenced to three terms of life can be released. We have seen the consequences of that decision and we cannot allow the chance of another one until the problems here are understood and corrective action can be taken.

According to newspaper reports, Governor Patrick ordered a review of the Parole Board's decision in November 2008 to grant Dominic Cinelli early release. Woburn Police say Cinelli, who had been sentenced to three life terms, allegedly shot and killed Officer John "Jack" Maguire in an attempted robbery at Kohl's in Woburn on Dec. 26. Cinelli, 57, of Woburn, was also killed in the shootout.

To read the letter that we sent today please click “Read more” below.

Parole Board Letter


Today’s Appearance on Fox 25

Today I made an appearance on the Fox 25 Morning News segment “Tolman and Gray” to discuss yesterday’s State House of Representatives inauguration ceremony and the Governor’s plans to travel more frequently outside of the Commonwealth. Please view my lively discussion with former State Senator Warren Tolman and news anchor Gene Lavanchy by playing the video posted below.

Tolman and Gray:


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Media Alert: On the Air with Fox 25

Tomorrow morning I’ll once again be analyzing political issues with former State Senator Warren Tolman on the Fox 25 Morning News Segment “Tolman and Gray”. We will be discussing the inauguration of Governor Patrick, his plans to travel more frequently outside of the Commonwealth, and the Republican Party’s resurgence in the U.S. House of Representatives. Please join us on Fox 25 at approximately 7:15 a.m. for our lively discussion.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Today’s Appearance on Fox 25

Today I made an appearance on the Fox 25 Morning News to discuss the legislative pay process that was approved by the voters and the significance of Governor Patrick’s announced pay cut to legislators and constitutional officers. Please view my lively discussion with Kim Carrigan by playing the posted video below.

Lawmakers pay cut: No raises on the Hill:


Monday, January 3, 2011

Media Alert: On the Air with Fox 25

Tomorrow morning I’ll be appearing on the Fox 25 Morning News to discuss the legislative pay process and the significance of Governor Patrick’s announced pay cut to legislators and constitutional officers. Please join us on Fox 25 at approximately 7:35 a.m.