Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

“Christmas is not a time or a season but a state of mind. To cherish peace and good will, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas. If we think on these things, there will be born in us a Savior and over us will shine a star sending its gleam of hope to the world.”~Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933), American president. Presidential message (December 25, 1927).

With the crack of dawn that just starts to illuminate the Christmas morning sky, I hope all are given the opportunity to feel like a child once again on this very day. Christmas is the messenger of peace, love, and happiness. It is a day where strangers can be brothers, and where family should be cherished. It is my hope that among all the blessings of this day, that we each take a few moments to honor our servicemen and servicewomen who are currently overseas protecting this great nation.

Remember to be thoughtful and caring of others, and if possible to give a little more to those who are less fortunate.

Merry Christmas!


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Celebrating the Holidays

With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, I have been very active throughout my district attending community events to celebrate and commemorate the holiday season.

What has now become a longstanding tradition, every Christmas Gloucester exchanges a gift with its sister city Shelburne, Nova Scotia, and in return the city receives a beautiful Christmas tree.  This year Representative Ferrante and I are donating a tree to be planted in Shelburne’s downtown area, and in return Shelburne provided Gloucester with a 40 foot spruce tree, and late last month I assisted my brother Brent “Ringo” Tarr and others in the community in decorating the tree and the surrounding area of Kent Circle.  Once the tree was completed, I participated in Gloucester’s Santa Parade and joined with constituents for the annual Gloucester tree lighting that was well attended.

On December 1st, I was able to share in the fun of Santa’s annual journey into Rockport’s harbor by boat, and that evening’s tree lighting.  Hundreds of people came to Dock Square to witness the event, and the spirit of Christmas was on full display.

Since then, I have also attended both the Boxford Council on Aging and the Ipswich Council on Aging Christmas parties.  Both parties featured good food, holiday music, and wonderful conversations with seniors, local officials, volunteers, and others.

Also, I was able to attend the annual lighting of the State House’s Menorah, signifying the start of Hanukkah.  The Governor, members of the legislature and people across the Commonwealth attended the joyous ceremony, and I am honored to have been able to partake in it again this year.

Lastly, on Thursday, December 13th I joined with radio station North Shore 104.9 to conduct our annual North Shore Holiday Toy Drive.  We broadcasted live from 10 different locations throughout the day beginning at 6:00AM and concluding at 6:00PM.  This year marked the 17th anniversary of our joint toy drive, and it was one of our most successful ones.

We gathered thousands of toys for local children, and I want to thank everyone who helped in this year’s drive.  Without the musicians, volunteers, and of course the people who donated, the toy drive would not have been successful.  Your contributions have truly uplifted the spirits of many young boys and girls who otherwise may not have had the opportunity to open a present on Christmas morning.

Events such as these truly bring out the spirit of the season, and I am so very happy to have had the opportunity to attend so many local holiday events.  The unique and long standing traditions that each community hosts are some of the reasons that make living in our region so great.

Posted below are some photos that were captured of the various holiday events.  Remember to click “Read more” to view all of the photos.




Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Statement on the Gloucester Community Arts Charter School

Yesterday I released the following statement regarding the Gloucester Community Arts Charter School’s decision to surrender its charter at yesterday’s meeting of the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education:

“The entire experience with this charter school has proven that when a state agency fails to follow its own rules, that it can cause tremendous adverse consequences for all of the parties involved.

Now that the GCACS Charter will cease to exist, we all have an obligation to work together to move forward to ensure that all students in Gloucester have the best possible educational opportunities, and that innovation, excellence and creativity continue to be pursued with vigor.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education shares in that obligation, and must do all within its power to provide school and city officials with the resources to recover from this experience with strength.  Although we are facing difficult budgetary constraints, that obligation must be recognized and acted upon.

I have spoken in this regard with Commissioner Chester and appreciate his understanding of my concerns.

In turn, today’s actions underscore the need for legislative reforms to prevent events of this nature from happening again.”


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Today I released the following statement regarding the recent indictment of Wakefield resident John Burbine on multiple counts of child sexual abuse:

Senator Tarr’s statement on needed changes streamlining information to the Sex Offender Registry Board

Senate Republican Caucus to file legislation for 2013-2014 session

“The Burbine case has exposed deep flaws in the state’s system for classifying and tracking sex offenders, while underscoring the need for better communication among the state’s public safety agencies to ensure that sexual predators are more closely monitored.  In early January, I will file with the Senate Republican Caucus, and any other interested legislator, comprehensive legislation requiring the timely sharing of information between law enforcement, prosecutors and the Sex Offender Registry Board (SORB) of open investigations of Level 1, 2 and 3 offenders so that individuals like Burbine don’t fall through the cracks where they can continue victimizing our most vulnerable residents.  This bill will include, at a minimum:

           a requirement and authorization for law enforcement agencies and prosecutors to communicate with the SORB in a timely fashion about the commitment of subsequent offenses by a registered sex offender;

           the legal authority of the SORB to re-classify sex offenders based on new information, which was taken away by the Massachusetts Court of Appeals on July 16, 2012 in its ruling in the case of John Doe 16748 v. Sex Offender Registry Board (Docket Number 11-P-308);

           the ability of the SORB to expedite the re-classification process of a sexual offender upon the recommendation of law enforcement and prosecutors; and

           a requirement for the timely re-classification of sex offenders who have committed subsequent offenses

Burbine’s original classification suggested his risk of re-offense was low, and the public would not benefit from the disclosure of his information; however, subsequent facts have proven this assessment was inadequate and needed to be adjusted accordingly.  Since 1989, Burbine has been the subject of multiple investigations that, with due diligence, would have warranted further scrutiny of his classification level and risk to re-offend.

We want to produce as comprehensive a bill as possible.  I am looking forward to engaging in a dialogue with other stakeholders – including law enforcement, district attorneys and other legislators – to craft legislation that will provide better safeguards so predators like Burbine are classified properly and not allowed to continue to prey on innocent victims.”



Special Guests at the State House

On Friday, December 14th, a group of exceptional young individuals stopped by the State House for a tour and met with members of my staff.  Students from the V.O.I.C.E. Program (Vocational Opportunities, Independence, Continuing Education), which is a vocational and life skills program for 18-22 year olds that is based out of Marblehead High School and includes students from other communities such as Manchester and Essex, discussed with my staff the meaningful program they are enrolled in.

The group, led by Program Director Barbara Dennis, had a great time, and I am happy they had the opportunity to explore many of the treasures that the State House features.  I want to thank Brynn Lyons, Rob Coviello, Jordan Lane, Elisabeth Leverone and Danny Dennis for stopping by.

I encourage all of my constituents to come to the State House for a free tour.  Tours are given year round from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, and last approximately 40 minutes. To reserve a tour please call the tour desk at (617) 727-3676. The State House offers both portraits and historical artifacts of Massachusetts’ long and storied history.