Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Media alert: On the Air with Fox 25

In approximately 5 minutes I will be interviewed live on the Fox 25 evening news to discuss the legislature's upcoming 2014 agenda.


In Case You Missed It...

I was an in-studio guest on the Fox 25 News last night to discuss the troubling case of 5-year-old Jeremiah Oliver of Fitchburg, whose family has been receiving services through the Department of Children and Families since 2011 and who has gone missing since September. Please click on the video below to view the segment in its entirety.


Monday, December 30, 2013

Statement on DCF Missing Child Case

I released the following statement today, following a press conference by Department of Children and Families Commissioner Olga Roche updating the department’s response to the disappearance of 5-year-old Fitchburg resident Jeremiah Oliver:

“Today’s press conference by DCF Commissioner Olga Roche exposed more troubling details about the failure of the department to protect 5-year-old Jeremiah Oliver. While the commissioner is right to discharge those at fault from state employment, and to order better scrutiny of certain cases, the situation deserves more.

First, a system that tolerated falsified reports and lies needs to be reviewed independently to ensure that there are no other children who are vulnerable due to lack of home visits or other forms of oversight. In addition, we must all collectively determine what reforms are needed to ensure that no other child goes for months without needed home visits. And we must also continue to hope and pray for the safe return of this young boy.”


MEDIA ALERT: On the Air with Fox 25

I will be appearing live on Fox 25 this afternoon to discuss the disappearance of 5-year-old Fitchburg resident Jeremiah Oliver, whose family has been receiving services through the Department of Children and Families (DCF) since 2011 but who has been missing since September 14th.

During the segment, I will be providing my reaction to today’s press conference by DCF Commissioner Olga Roche and Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary of Children, Youth and Families Kathy Betts announcing “action steps” the agency is taking to “help strengthen families and ensure a safe and secure environment for children.” Earlier this month, I joined with my colleagues in the Senate Republican Caucus in calling for an independent investigation by Auditor Suzanne Bump and/or Inspector General Glenn Cunha into DCF’s failures regarding Oliver’s disappearance.

The segment will air live on Fox 25 today at approximately 4:57 p.m.


Sunday, December 29, 2013

On the Air with NECN

On Friday I was interviewed by NECN Reporter Peter Howe regarding a bill I filed that would authorize Massachusetts' Division of Marine Fisheries to establish a Massachusetts Seafood Marketing Program. To view Friday night's segment please play the posted video below.


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” -Charles Dickens

Christmas is the one time of year where everyone has the opportunity to feel like a child again.  It is a special day where strangers become friends, and where loved ones are honored and 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 home and overseas protecting this great nation.


Friday, December 20, 2013

Senate Republican Caucus Press Release Regarding DCF

Today the Senate Republican Caucus distributed the following press release regarding a letter sent by the caucus to Auditor Suzanne Bump and Inspector General Glenn Cunha, urging them to begin an independent investigation regarding the services provided by the Department of Children and Families:

Senate Republican Caucus Seeks Independent Investigation of DCF Services

Immediate Review of All Cases Warranted for the Welfare of Children

Boston- Responding to recent reports of the disappearance of a missing 5-year-old Fitchburg child, the Senate Republican Caucus, led by Senator Don Humason (R-Westfield), who is the republican member serving on the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities, is calling for an independent investigation by Auditor Suzanne Bump and/or Inspector General Glenn Cunha into the failures of the Department of Children and Families (DCF) regarding the disappearance of Jeremiah Oliver.

Since September 2011, Jeremiah Oliver and his family have been receiving services from DCF, however, the supervisor and social worker assigned to the family failed to conduct monthly, mandated household checks.  Sadly, Jeremiah Oliver was last seen on September 14th, and his whereabouts remain unknown.

In the December 20th letter to Auditor Bump and Inspector General Cunha, the Senate Republican Caucus wrote “Increasingly, as our understanding of the department’s failure to carry out its mandate expands, there are further growing concerns for all other children in the DCF system.”

On Thursday, December 19th, Commissioner Olga Roche of DCF announced that the department will conduct its own internal review into as many as 40,000 cases, however, citing the need for an independent review, the caucus wrote, “We request and encourage a full review and examination independently or in concert (by the auditor and the inspector general), of the DCF’s practices and procedures so that we can prevent any other similar abuse or problem from occurring.”

The Senate Republican Caucus requests that the investigation include:

·         collecting as much information as possible to assess the risk and safety issues for children in the system;

·         determining how many children have not had direct, monthly contact with a DCF case worker;

·         determining the adequacy of the 110 CMR 6.00 and other pertinent regulations relative to case review procedures for children in foster care and non-foster care settings;

·         determining the adherence to standards in comprehensive assessments and family service plans;

·         determining the Department’s adherence to procedures established under 110 CMR 13.00 for the Case Investigation Unit;

·         assessing the number of service plans initiated as a result of a 51A child abuse or neglect filing or court order;

·         collecting information as to the standard number of cases assigned to social workers and the average number of children assigned to social workers;

·         determining if there has been public access to appropriately redacted reports of the Department's Case Investigation Unit;

·         determining if case management activities and other services provided to children and families were adequate and appropriately adhered with DCF policies and regulations; 

·         referring any relevant finding of a criminal nature to the Attorney General;

·         providing recommendations that may improve the DCF’s policy, regulations, training, or contracted services; and

·         providing procedural recommendations, that when adhered to, will require that DCF acts in a manner that is accountable and open to oversight.

“The nature and scope of these developing circumstances demand independent investigations.  Only through well-developed inquiry can we determine how to best help the staff and management of DCF to protect the lives of children,” the Caucus wrote.



Thursday, December 19, 2013

Honoring Our Firefighters

Today I had the honor of attending the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security’s 24th Annual “Firefighter of the Year” Award Ceremony.  Governor Deval Patrick, Secretary of Public Safety and Security Andrea Cabral, State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan, and I were all on hand to support and honor firefighters across the Commonwealth for their acts of heroism and bravery.

Among today’s recipients were members of the Gloucester Fire Department: Captain Joseph Aiello, and Firefighters Jonathon Sanger, Charles Scola, James Burke, Robert Rivas, Frank LeClerc, James Hannon, and Paul Hudson, who were recognized for their bravery in trying to rescue a 15-year-old girl in April during a house fire on Summer Street in Gloucester, and three other fires throughout the city earlier this year.

I am deeply appreciative of the efforts of the members of the Gloucester Fire Department and all of those in the fire service throughout our state for their personal commitment and sacrifice on behalf of our safety and well-being.

Posted below are two photos of Gloucester’s firefighters at today’s ceremony; one with Governor Deval Patrick during today’s ceremony, and one with Mayor Carolyn Kirk and myself.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Media Alert: On the Air with Fox 25

This evening at approximately 6:30pm I will once again be a guest on the Fox 25 News.  I will be discussing the disappearance of a 5-year-old Fitchburg child, and the recent firing of two employees of the Department of Children and Families, who were assigned to monitor his family upon allegations of abuse, but failed to do so.

Please tune in to see tonight’s discussion.


Monday, December 16, 2013

Media Alert: Greater Boston with Emily Rooney

Tonight at 7:00pm WGBH’s Greater Boston with host Emily Rooney will be broadcasting a special report on sand erosion.  Last week I was able to sit down with reporter Rupa Shenoy about a sand erosion special commission I sponsored, that is now law, and what actions Massachusetts needs to take to support coastal communities.

Please tune in to Channel 2 at 7:00pm and again at 12:00am tonight to watch Rupa’s special report.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

North Shore Holiday Toy Drive is Tomorrow!

Tomorrow starting at 6:00am I will join with North Shore 104.9 in our annual North Shore Toy Drive.  We will be broadcasting live from 10 different locations throughout the day in an effort to collect as many toys as possible for area charities to go to local children.

This exciting event brings together community officials, local talent, school systems, and even Santa and Mrs. Claus all in the spirit of giving.  All the broadcasts are open to the public, and we would love to see as many new faces as possible this year.

The final broadcast, which is the Cape Ann Savings Bank on Main St. in Gloucester, will even feature special guests for children!  Come for the food, for the entertainment, or to take pictures with Santa Claus, but most importantly please come to drop off a toy or gift card.  Through all of our hard work, we can truly make a child’s Christmas a special one.

To view all of the live broadcast locations, please click the schedule above.  To read a recent press release that I distributed earlier this month, please click here.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Collecting Toys for North Shore Children

For the past several years I have worked in partnership with local radio station North Shore 104.9 FM to conduct a month long toy drive to benefit children of the North Shore, and on Thursday, December 12th we will be broadcasting live from 6:00am-6:00pm throughout the North Shore for one final push to collect toys before the holidays.  This year we hope to collect more toys than we have in the past due to the increase in need.

Toys collected will all be provided to the charities in the communities from which they are donated.  Some of those charities include Toys for Tots, Beverly Bootstraps, Action, Inc., and others.  I’d like to encourage all of my constituents to stop by at one of the locations and join in on the festivities.  The day will include music, interviews of state and local officials, food, and special guests.  All are welcome to attend and to even take pictures with Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus!

Posted below is the press release that I released today.  It contains a complete schedule and toy drop-off locations.  I hope to see you on the 12th!

North Shore 104.9 & Senator Bruce Tarr Hit the Road for 18th Annual North Shore Holiday Toy Drive
Toy Drive Expected to Collect Thousands of Toys for Charities on the North Shore

Beverly- With the need for toys at an all-time high for local children, Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) and North Shore 104.9 will once again broadcast live all day from several locations on the North Shore to collect as many toys, gift cards, and monetary donations as possible to fulfill that need.

This year’s Holiday Toy Drive will take place on Thursday, December 12th from 6:00am to 6:00pm from ten locations on the North Shore. The live broadcast will feature local entertainment, school choirs and bands, great food, and interviews with local officials.  Even Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus will be lending a helping hand to support the cause!  The Paper Store has also partnered once again with Senator Tarr and North Shore 104.9 to present the 18th annual North Shore Holiday Toy Drive broadcast.

“The holiday season gives us all a chance to show just how much we care about our neighbors and the children in our communities,” said Senator Tarr.  “By joining together this year as we have in the past we can make a real difference in the lives of children who need to know that we think it’s important for them to have a happy holiday.  It’s about more than a toy; it’s about knowing they’re not forgotten.”

North Shore 104.9 President Todd Tanger stated, “We are thrilled to be a part of this wonderful event. The North Shore Holiday Toy Drive is such an exciting event that brings holiday joy to deserving children right here in the North Shore. We thank everyone for their overwhelming generosity and kind contributions, especially Bruce Tarr for his continued efforts and energy year after year. We appreciate listeners and clients allowing us to break from normal programming to broadcast this event and hope they help us bring some holiday joy to the lives of children on the North Shore this holiday season.”

The scheduled live broadcast locations, which are open to the public, are as follows (times are subject to change):

6:00am Capitol Diner 431 Union Street, Lynn, MA
Family & Children's Service of Greater Lynn, Inc.

7:30am Devereux House, Marblehead 39 Lafayette Street, Marblehead, MA
Toys being collected for: Marblehead Counseling Center

8:15am The Paper Store, Swampscott 435 Paradise Road Swampscott, MA
Toys being collected for: Toys for Local Children (The Paper Store in Swampscott will only collect toys on December 12th.)

9:00am Flint Public Library, Middleton 1 South Main Street, Middleton, MA
Toys being collected for: Neighbors in Need

10:30am Dawson’s True Value Hardware 50 Enon Street, Beverly, MA
Toys being collected for: Beverly Bootstraps

12:00pm First Ipswich Bank 31 Market Street, Ipswich, MA
Toys being collected for: Action Inc./ Ipswich Caring

1:15pm Woodman’s of Essex 121 Main Street, Essex, MA
Toys being collected for: Action Inc.

2:00pm Manchester Athletic Club 8 Atwater Avenue, Manchester, MA
Toys being collected for: Pathways For Children

3:30pm Shalin Liu Performance Center 37 Main Street, Rockport, MA
Toys being collected for: Action Inc.

5:00pm Cape Ann Savings Bank 109 Main Street, Gloucester, MA
Toys being collected for: Action Inc.

In addition to the above broadcast locations, the below locations are welcoming any and all donations for the Annual North Shore Holiday Toy Drive. Please note that North Shore 104.9 will not be broadcasting from the below locations:

Wenham Museum

Cape Ann Savings Bank, Manchester

Marblehead Community/Aging Center

Abbott House, Lynn

Rosewood, Peabody

Align Credit Union, Danvers

First Ipswich Bank: Essex, Rowley, Gloucester

Honey Dew Donuts, Danvers

Delande Lighting, Salem

Beverly Chamber of Commerce

Additional toy donation locations listed at www.NorthShore1049.com.

Toys can be dropped off at any of these locations now through Friday, December 20th.  For further information, please call JoAnn Gillette at North Shore 104.9 at 978-927-1049 extension 19 or Senator Bruce Tarr at 617-722-1600.


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Media Alert: WBZ Radio’s “Nightside” with Dan Rea

Tonight at 9:00pm I will be joining “Nightside” host Dan Rea to discuss the tragic case of Puppy Doe, and the PAWS Act, the comprehensive legislation I have filed to address animal abuse.  If you have any questions or comments please call in during tonight’s segment by dialing (617) 254-1030.

To learn more about Puppy Doe and the PAWS Act, please click here to read a previous post regarding the issue.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

"Perhaps no custom reveals our character as a Nation so clearly as our celebration of Thanksgiving Day." – President Ronald Reagan

On this Thanksgiving Day, it is my hope that we all take a few minutes to appreciate the many blessings in our lives, and let us not forget the many Americans who are currently serving overseas away from their family and friends to protect this great nation.  May you all have a safe, healthy, and happy Thanksgiving!


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Hanukkah!

“May the lights of Hanukkah usher in a better world for all humankind.” ~Author Unknown

To all of my Jewish friends and constituents, I wish you all a happy Hanukkah celebration.  May you all enjoy eight days of peace, happiness, and joy with your loved ones.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Commemorating Thanksgiving in North Reading

On Sunday, November 24th I had the honor to once again co-host an annual Thanksgiving dinner for North Reading Seniors with House Minority Leader Brad Jones and his wife Linda. The turnout was fantastic, with hundreds of people from the community coming out to enjoy the feast. Sunday's dinner afforded us the opportunity to join in the spirit of thanksgiving and the appreciation of what we have in our lives. Posted below are a few photos from the dinner.


Friday, November 22, 2013

Remembering a Great Man

“My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” -John F. Kennedy

On this day 50 years ago, President John F. Kennedy was tragically assassinated during a parade through Dallas, Texas.  Even though his time in office was short, the Massachusetts-born president advanced civil rights in America, committed the country to the Apollo program, and created the humanitarian organization, the Peace Corp.  President Kennedy endeared himself to the world due to his dedication of serving others.  Upon his death, then-United Nations Ambassador Adlai Stevenson said “All of us will bear the grief of his death until the day of ours.”

Although on this day in 1963 will forever live in infamy, President John F. Kennedy’s legacy will forever live on.  Posted below is President Kennedy’s famous “City Upon a Hill” Speech, which was delivered to the Massachusetts General Court as his last formal address before his inauguration as president.

"City Upon a Hill" Speech (January 9, 1961)
-John Fitzgerald Kennedy

"I have welcomed this opportunity to address this historic body, and, through you, the people of Massachusetts to whom I am so deeply indebted for a lifetime of friendship and trust.

For fourteen years I have placed my confidence in the citizens of Massachusetts—and they have generously responded by placing their confidence in me.

Now, on the Friday after next, I am to assume new and broader responsibilities. But I am not here to bid farewell to Massachusetts.

For forty-three years—whether I was in London, Washington, the South Pacific, or elsewhere—this has been my home; and, God willing, wherever I serve this shall remain my home.

It was here my grandparents were born—it is here I hope my grandchildren will be born.

I speak neither from false provincial pride nor artful political flattery. For no man about to enter high office in this country can ever be unmindful of the contribution this state has made to our national greatness.

Its leaders have shaped our destiny long before the great republic was born. Its principles have guided our footsteps in times of crisis as well as in times of calm. Its democratic institutions—including this historic body—have served as beacon lights for other nations as well as our sister states.

For what Pericles said to the Athenians has long been true of this commonwealth: "We do not imitate—for we are a model to others."

And so it is that I carry with me from this state to that high and lonely office to which I now succeed more than fond memories of firm friendships. The enduring qualities of Massachusetts—the common threads woven by the Pilgrim and the Puritan, the fisherman and the farmer, the Yankee and the immigrant—will not be and could not be forgotten in this nation's executive mansion.

They are an indelible part of my life, my convictions, my view of the past, and my hopes for the future.

Allow me to illustrate: During the last sixty days, I have been at the task of constructing an administration. It has been a long and deliberate process. Some have counseled greater speed. Others have counseled more expedient tests.

But I have been guided by the standard John Winthrop set before his shipmates on the flagship Arbella three hundred and thirty-one years ago, as they, too, faced the task of building a new government on a perilous frontier.

"We must always consider," he said, "that we shall be as a city upon a hill—the eyes of all people are upon us."

Today the eyes of all people are truly upon us—and our governments, in every branch, at every level, national, state and local, must be as a city upon a hill—constructed and inhabited by men aware of their great trust and their great responsibilities.

For we are setting out upon a voyage in 1961 no less hazardous than that undertaken by the Arabella in 1630. We are committing ourselves to tasks of statecraft no less awesome than that of governing the Massachusetts Bay Colony, beset as it was then by terror without and disorder within.

History will not judge our endeavors—and a government cannot be selected—merely on the basis of color or creed or even party affiliation. Neither will competence and loyalty and stature, while essential to the utmost, suffice in times such as these.

For of those to whom much is given, much is required. And when at some future date the high court of history sits in judgment on each one of us—recording whether in our brief span of service we fulfilled our responsibilities to the state—our success or failure, in whatever office we may hold, will be measured by the answers to four questions:

First, were we truly men of courage—with the courage to stand up to one's enemies—and the courage to stand up, when necessary, to one's associates—the courage to resist public pressure, as well as private greed?

Secondly, were we truly men of judgment—with perceptive judgment of the future as well as the past—of our own mistakes as well as the mistakes of others—with enough wisdom to know that we did not know, and enough candor to admit it?

Third, were we truly men of integrity—men who never ran out on either the principles in which they believed or the people who believed in them—men who believed in us—men whom neither financial gain nor political ambition could ever divert from the fulfillment of our sacred trust?

Finally, were we truly men of dedication—with an honor mortgaged to no single individual or group, and compromised by no private obligation or aim, but devoted solely to serving the public good and the national interest.

Courage—judgment—integrity—dedicationthese are the historic qualities of the Bay Colony and the Bay State—the qualities which this state has consistently sent to this chamber on Beacon Hill here in Boston and to Capitol Hill back in Washington.

And these are the qualities which, with God's help, this son of Massachusetts hopes will characterize our government's conduct in the four stormy years that lie ahead.

Humbly I ask His help in that undertaking—but aware that on earth His will is worked by men. I ask for your help and your prayers, as I embark on this new and solemn journey."


Monday, November 18, 2013

Senate Republicans Seek Fair Wages, Economic Competitiveness

Today I distributed the following press release regarding tomorrow’s Senate debate on the minimum wage bill:

Boston- In the midst of an unexpected and rushed attempt to put Massachusetts on a path to having a highest-in-the-nation $11 minimum wage, Senate Republicans are working to achieve a more balanced approach with a fair minimum wage and economic competitiveness to create jobs and growth in the face of an uncertain recovery.

Senate Bill 1925, “An Act to Restore the Minimum Wage”, was reported out favorably from the Senate Committee on Ways and Means last Thursday, largely bypassing the committee process since several minimum wage bills are awaiting action by the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development.  In response to a very limiting deadline for amendments to the bill, the Senate GOP Caucus today offered several amendments, all of which seek to provide fair wages and a better employment climate so that more people will have a job to earn those wages and more.

“If the goal is to make Massachusetts one of the most expensive states in the country in which to try to start or grow a business, then the language of the current Senate bill is appropriate,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester).  “But if we are seeking to boost income for low wage earners and foster job growth, retention and competitiveness, then there is a better and more reasonable approach.”

Avoiding the shortsightedness of the bill, the caucus filed amendments that would encourage job growth, increase the minimum wage to livable levels, and target unemployment by addressing the multifaceted issue from several different angles.  Those amendments include:

  • Raising the minimum wage to $9.50 by April 2016, and basing future raises on several critical factors, such as unemployment rates, rates of neighboring states, and economic competitiveness;
  • Alternatively providing a onetime increase to $9.00 and leaving future increase to legislative action;
  • Helping minimum wage earners with children by expanding resources through the Massachusetts Earned Income Tax Credit;
  • Reforming the unemployment insurance system;
  • Reducing the minimum wage for teens under the age of 18 by no more than 20% of the current rate to increase employment opportunities;
  • Studying the effectiveness of regional minimum wage rates rather than a one-size-fits-all statewide rate;
  • Combating high energy costs; and
  • Assisting employers who offer health care coverage to minimum wage earners.
“Senate Republicans have offered an alternative measure that takes a more balanced approach in moving Massachusetts’ minimum wage amongst the highest in the nation, but yet still allows the Commonwealth’s business sector to remain competitive, while not further burdening small businesses,” said Assistant Minority Leader Robert Hedlund (R-Weymouth).

“When addressing an issue that will have such substantial impacts on the Commonwealth, it is imperative that we take a thoughtful approach and carefully consider all perspectives and proposals,” said Senator Richard Ross (R-Wrentham). “At this time the Senate needs to act responsibly, not haphazardly to effectively improve the quality of life for all of the Commonwealth’s citizens”

“Something as complex as raising the minimum wage to $11 an hour over the course of three years can have several long-lasting, unexpected consequences that could really hamper our economic recovery, particularly small businesses,” said Senator Tarr.  “The legislature should have a conversation to achieve two goals; 1) providing livable wages, and 2) ways to reduce the cost of doing business in Massachusetts.  The Senate Republican Caucus believes we can have that conversation and achieve those goals through the amendments that were filed today.”



Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Recognizing North of Boston Leaders in Tourism

Last Night I was grateful to attend the North of Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau Annual Meeting & Awards Ceremony.  It was a night that featured good food, great conversations, and most importantly, the honoring of those who have contributed significantly to North of Boston’s tourism industry.

Through the years, the honorees have been steadfast in their commitment to not only the success of their business or employer, but to the region as a whole.  Whether that is providing recommendations to travelers; welcoming tourists to the region by serving as ambassadors; or seeking new ways to market the region, these people have demonstrated an amazing willingness to assist and collaborate.

Through hard work and dedication, the North of Boston tourism industry continues to thrive, and I was honored to present official Senate citations to those being honored during last night’s award ceremony.

Picture above is a photo of George Carey of Finz Seafood & Grill in Salem, MA; Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante; and me.  Please click here to learn more about the North of Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau.


Monday, November 11, 2013

Honoring Our Veterans

“This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.” –Elmer Davis

On this day we celebrate and honor our veterans for their service to this great nation. Without their courage and dedication to freedom, liberty, and justice, the United States of America would not be as great as it is today, and it is my hope that we all take a few minutes to reflect on those who have sacrificed so much to preserve the American way.

I wish to thank all those who have served and continue to serve on our behalf.


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Media Alert: On the Air with Fox 25

Tomorrow morning I will be a featured guest on the Fox 25 Morning News segment “Monday Morning Quarterbacks” with former Attorney General Scott Harshbarger.  Scott and I will be discussing with co-anchor Gene Lavanchy Boston’s recent mayoral race and the 2014 gubernatorial race.  Please tune in Monday morning at approximately 7:55AM for what will be a lively discussion.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Celebrating the 150th Anniversary of St. John’s Church

This past Sunday I had the pleasure to present a Senate Resolution with Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante to Gloucester’s St. John’s Church to commemorate its 150th anniversary.  Following its founding, St. John’s Church became a focal point in the City of Gloucester, and it has always been a great partner in the community.

Not only does St. John’s Church provide spiritual guidance, but it tirelessly assists and aids others in need.  Some of the ways the church supports the community, include:

·         Collecting food donations every week to benefit The Open Door Food Pantry;

·         Operating a thrift shop that also provides goods to those in need;

·         Providing sandwiches to the homeless through the Action Shelter, Inc.; and

·         Assisting those with the desire to move out of poverty and into a sustainable life through the Grace Center.

The services provided by St. John’s Church wouldn’t be a reality if not for the guidance of Reverend Bret Hays, and the support of the members of the church.  Their dedication has been tremendous over the years.

Pictured in the photo above is Representative Ferrante, Rev. Bret Hays, City Councilor Paul McGreary, Kim Prentice, supporters of St. John’s Church, and myself.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Fighting for Our Fishermen

On Monday, I attended a special information session regarding the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act that was held at the Massachusetts State House.  Fishermen, legislative leaders, and industry experts provided compelling testimony that the current system is an example of archaic and arbitrary rules and regulations that have provided few benefits and great hardships at the expense of a once thriving fishing industry.

For years I have advocated for better science to assess the fish stocks off the Atlantic Coast.  The current fish assessment measures are antiquated, and do not provide an accurate description of the groundfish populations.  Yesterday’s session afforded fishing advocates a great opportunity to present their argument to Chairman Mark Beglich (D-Alaska), the Chair of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard.

I am extremely thankful for the Chairman taking the time to visit Massachusetts and hear from the people who are affected by the regulations governing the fishing industry.  I would also like to thank U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren for coordinating the hearing.  Also in attendance were U.S. Senator Ed Markey, Congressmen John Tierney, and Congressman Bill Keating. With the help of fishermen, fishing advocates, federal officials, and state officials working together, it is my hope we can enact real change for effective measures and controls that foster responsible ways of sustaining fish populations.

Please click here to read Gloucester Daily Times Reporter Sean Horgan’s report regarding the information session.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Statement on arrest in ‘Puppy Doe’ case

Yesterday I released the following statement regarding the arrest of 32-year-old Radoslaw Czerkawski on multiple charges of animal cruelty in connection with the infamous “Puppy Doe” case:

“The prosecutors and the police in this case deserve tremendous credit for staying focused and committed and pursuing multiple leads to bring an alleged perpetrator of this horrific act of animal cruelty to justice.  Those individuals who would so callously attack a defenseless animal should be put on notice that their actions will not go unpunished.  Now it is up to the Legislature to do its part by giving police and prosecutors the tools they need to deal with these types of cases in the future by passing the PAWS Act.”



Monday, October 28, 2013

Honoring Some Special People

On Saturday, October 19th, I was able to attend the 45th Annual Massachusetts Italian American Police Officers Association Awards Banquet.  It was a night that featured the retelling of heroic stories, the honoring of loved ones fallen in the line of duty, and the presenting of awards and medals to those officers most deserving.

Fallen MIT Police Officer Sean A. Collier was among those who were honored posthumously during Saturday’s event.  Patrolman Collier died from a gunshot wound during the search for the Boston Marathon bombing suspects six months ago.

Because of the bravery of Patrolman Collier, and of those who serve while putting their lives at risk, we are a better and safer Commonwealth.  Thank you to all of our officers for the service they provide us every day.

Posted above is a photo of myself and MIT Chief of Police John DiFava.  Posted below are two more photos of Saturday’s dinner.  To learn more about the Massachusetts Italian American Police Officers Association please click here.


Friday, October 18, 2013

Senate GOP Press Release Updating the PAWS Act

Senate Republicans’ Animal Cruelty Bill Draws Strong Bipartisan Support

Seventy-five legislators agree to co-sponsor ‘PAWS Act’ to combat animal abuse

BOSTON - A Senate Republican Caucus initiative seeking to strengthen the state’s laws against animal abuse and cruelty has drawn strong bipartisan and bicameral support from Massachusetts legislators.

Since its filing on October 7th, An Act Protecting Animal Welfare and Safety, also known as the PAWS Act, has been co-sponsored by 75 legislators, including 21 state Senators and 54 members of the House of Representatives.  A total of 22 Republicans and 53 Democrats have signed on to the comprehensive bill, which would create a statewide animal abuse registry while increasing the fines and penalties associated with the state’s animal abuse laws.

The PAWS Act was filed in response to the tragic case of “Puppy Doe”, who was euthanized on August 31st after being discovered in a Quincy park starving and suffering from extensive injuries, including a stab wound to her eye; a split tongue; a dislocated shoulder, elbow, wrist, and ankle; and burns to her body.

“I am extremely pleased with the strong outpouring of support for the PAWS Act,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester).  “The co-sponsors of the PAWS Act have proven that animal welfare transcends parties and houses of the Legislature.  It’s heartening to know that so many people are willing to take a stand against those who would commit such heinous acts against a defenseless animal, and I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get this legislation passed and on the Governor’s desk before the end of the session.”

Highlights of the PAWS Act include:

the establishment of an anonymous animal abuse tip hotline;

the expansion of the Homeless Animal Prevention and Care Fund to include the rehabilitation and care of abused animals, and the addition of a special state police officer from an animal humane organization and a member of local law enforcement on the board that administers the fund;

fines of up to $1,000 for any veterinarian who knowingly and willfully fails to report a suspected act of cruelty to an animal;

expanded penalties for cruelty to animals, or maliciously killing, maiming, disfiguring, or exposing them to poison, which would increase from the current $2,500 penalty to a fine of between $2,500 and $10,000, in addition to imprisonment in the state prison for not more than 5 years or imprisonment in the house of correction for not more than 2 ½ years;

increased penalties for a second or subsequent offense, ranging from 5-10 years state imprisonment and a fine of between $5,000 and $20,000;

added discretion for the courts to expand these penalties for up to 5 additional years imprisonment and an additional $10,000 fine based on certain aggravating factors, including but not limited to: the number of animals involved; the degree of premeditation or planning; whether the abuse occurred in the presence of a child; whether the abuse occurred as a result of acts undertaken for financial benefit (i.e., dogfighting); and whether the abuse was systematic or isolated;

provisions allowing district attorneys to file a petition asking the courts to order a defendant to post a security or bond for the care of animals that have been impounded as a result of abuse or cruelty;

enhanced penalties for a hit and run conviction involving a cat or dog when the driver fails to notify the animal’s owner or the local police department, which currently carries a $50 fine but would increase to a fine of up to $2,000, up to 60 days in a house of corrections, or both a fine and imprisonment;

the creation of a statewide registry of individuals convicted of animal abuse crimes, which all animal shelters, pet stores and animal breeders would be required to check prior to offering, selling, delivering, or giving an animal to any individual; and

the establishment of a 9-member commission to review the state’s animal cruelty laws, many of which date back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The PAWS Act will now be referred to a joint legislative committee, which will schedule a public hearing on the bill for a future date.



Thursday, October 10, 2013

The PAWS Act

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”  - Mahatma Gandhi

Like most people, I was horrified to learn of the tragic case of a two-year-old pit bull found in a Quincy park with extensive wounds that included burns on her face, lacerations scattered on her body, skull fractures, half starved, dislocated joints, and what may be worst of all, a split tongue to look like a serpent’s.  ‘Puppy Doe’, as she is commonly referred to, was tortured to an extent most of us cannot even fathom.

When Puppy Doe sought love, she received hate; when she sought compassion, she received cruelty; and when she sought comfort, she received pain.  The individual or individuals who perpetrated these crimes against her are nothing at all, if not monsters.  They are subhuman, incapable of accepting the unconditional love gifted from animal to person.

Sadly, as I type these words, monsters, such as the ones who cowardly abused ‘Puppy Doe’ relentlessly, continue to commit acts of cruelty.  Often times, our laws refer to animals as little more than property, but we are a great society, and our society does not accept this notion.  Dogs, cats, and other animals become a part of our families, and have become a significant presence that we share our homes and our lives with.

On Monday, October 7th, the Massachusetts Senate Republican Caucus filed “An Act Protecting Animal Welfare and Safety”, or the “PAWS Act”, to address our antiquated animal cruelty laws, some of which date as far back as the 19th and 20th centuries.  The PAWS Act increases the penalties both in terms of jail time and fines, but it also creates an animal abuse registry of those convicted of animal abuse crimes.  Furthermore, the registry would obligate animal shelters, pet stores, and registered breeders to crosscheck the names on the registry prior to an animal exchanging hands. 

Importantly, the registry would be accessible to private citizens by visiting law enforcement agencies, such as a municipality’s local police department, and empower private citizens who list animals in classified ads with the tools to combat against those who habitually troll Craigslist ads for further animal victims.

We are a great people, but we must not sit idly by.  We must stand together, speak in unison, and declare that these actions, these crimes against animals cannot and will not be tolerated in our communities.  At this moment the PAWS Act has 43 total sponsors.  I ask everyone to call their State Senator and State Representative and urge them to sign onto the PAWS Act.

On a parallel note, I want to thank everyone for the tremendous amount of support I have received regarding the filing of the PAWS Act.  People from Massachusetts and across the nation have been extremely supportive, and I thank you.


Monday, October 7, 2013

Senate Republicans File ‘PAWS Act’

Today the Massachusetts State Senate Republican Caucus filed “An Act Protecting Animal Welfare and Safety”, or the “PAWS Act”.  The measure aims to increase the penalties of those convicted of abusing animals, such as the case of “Puppy Doe”, a two-year-old female pit bull who was discovered in a Quincy park suffering from long term, irreversible damage to her body, which included a stab wound to her eye; the splitting of her tongue to look like a serpent; dislocated shoulder, elbow, wrist, and ankle; burned, and starved.  The ‘PAWS Act’ also provides safeguards against the future sale of animals made by those convicted of animal abuse by creating an animal abuse registry.

The heinous and abusive acts committed against animals are serious and criminal offences, however, our laws do not adequately reflect the gravity of such crimes. With the passage of the PAWS Act, those who choose to abuse animals will receive the just punish they deserve, and Massachusetts law will serve as a model for the nation.

The Senate Republican Caucus is seeking broad support from members of both parties and both branches by urging all of the members of the legislature to sign onto the bill.  The deadline for co-sponsorship is Tuesday, October 15th at 5:00pm.

The fight against animal abuse needs people from every party and every district, and we are asking all of our colleagues to join us in that fight.


Friday, October 4, 2013

Media Alert: On the Air with Fox 25

Tonight I will be a guest on the Fox 25 Evening News to discuss the tragic case of Puppy Doe, a dog found cruelly beaten and tortured, and a bill that the Senate Republican Caucus is filing known as the PAWS Act.  Please tune in at 6:00pm to watch this evening’s segment.

To learn more about the PAWS Act, please click here to read a press release the caucus distributed yesterday.


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Senate GOP Press Release Announcing the 'Paws Act'

Senate Repubs Fight for Animal Cruelty Law
‘PAWS Act’ will Justly Punish those who Abuse Animals
Boston- Compelled to take legislative action against those who abuse animals, the Senate Republican Caucus is filing legislation later this week that would increase the penalties, and create safeguards against those who commit horrendous acts of abuse against animals, and are calling on their colleagues of both branches to make the bill a bicameral, bipartisan effort.  On August 31, “Puppy Doe” was euthanized after she had been discovered in a Quincy park suffering from long term, irreversible damage to her body, which included a stab wound to her eye; the splitting of her tongue to look like a serpent; dislocated shoulder, elbow, wrist, and ankle; burned, and starved. 
“Our laws are woefully outdated regarding the subject of punishing those who abuse animals,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester).  “As a society, we need to stand up against those who would inflict pain so ruthlessly and coldheartedly, and tell them these actions cannot and will not be tolerated.” 
The legislation, which is titled “An Act Protecting Animal Welfare and Safety” or the “PAWS Act”, raises fines and penalties, and creates an animal abuse registry.  Highlights of the bill include: 
  • Establishing an anonymous animal abuse tip hotline;
  • Expanding the use of the Homeless Animal Prevention and Care Fund to include the rehabilitation and care of abused animals, and increasing the size of the board that administers the fund to include a special state police officer from an animal humane organization, and a member of local law enforcement;
  • Imposing a fine of up to $1,000 on any veterinarian who knowingly and willfully fails to report a suspected act of cruelty to an animal;
  • Increasing the penalties associated with cruelty to animals, or maliciously killing, maiming, disfiguring, or exposing them to poison from $2,500 to between $2,500 and $10,000 (current law also includes imprisonment in the state prison for not more than 5 years or imprisonment in the house of correction for not more than 2 ½ years); 
  • Increasing the penalties for a second or subsequent offense from 5-10 years state imprisonment and a fine between $5,000 to $20,000; 
  • Increasing the penalty for a hit and run conviction on a cat or dog from a $50 fine to up to $2,000 fine and/or up to 60 days in a house of corrections; 
  • Creating a statewide registry of convicted individuals of animal abuse crimes, and requires all animal shelters, pet stores or animal breeders to check the registry prior to offering, selling, delivering, or giving an animal to any individual; and 
  • Creating a 9-member commission to review the state’s animal cruelty laws, many of which date back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries. 
“Abusing or torturing an animal is a heinous crime and those who commit these crimes need to be held responsible for their actions,” said Senator Robert Hedlund (R-Weymouth).  “As a state and as a society, we need to ensure our laws are designed to adequately punish those who choose to abuse animals.” 
“This long overdue legislation will provide vital updates to the Commonwealth’s animal cruelty laws,” said Senator Richard Ross (R-Wrentham). “It is imperative that we take a stand to protect all those living in the Commonwealth. By sending the message that these atrocious examples of abuse will not be stood for, we are reinforcing the safety of our communities as a whole.” 
The bill, which includes a key provision from H.1243 sponsored by Democratic Representative Linda Dean Campbell (D-Methuen), allows district attorneys to file a petition to the courts ordering a defendant to post a security or bond for the care of animals that have been impounded as a result of abuse or cruelty. 
“Sadly, many of the animals seized by the MSPCA and other humane organizations require extensive rehabilitation and sometimes a lifetime of treatment, which can become extremely costly,” said Representative Linda Dean Campbell (D-Methuen).  “I am thankful to Senator Tarr and his caucus for working so diligently to offer this legislative measure, and it is my hope that as a legislature we can pass this commonsense bill expeditiously.”


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Experiencing a Federal Government Shutdown

Today marks the first time in 17 years the Federal Government has effectively been shutdown due to Congress not passing a federal budget.  While much of government is inactive until a resolution has been made, there are still some key functions that will continue to be in operation.

Those functions and services include: national security and public safety personnel, social security checks, some veterans’ benefits, unemployment benefits, food stamps, the U.S. Post Office, the Federal Reserve, federal prisons, air traffic control, emergency and disaster assistance, and many more.  However, even those Federal agencies could experience delays due to the furloughs of “non-essential” employees.

Attached below is a Veterans Field Guide to the Federal Government shutdown.  Also, please click here to view Federal agency contingency plans regarding the shutdown.  To read about which agencies are affected by furloughs please click here.  If you continue to have problems reaching a specific agency, please do not hesitate in contacting my office at (617) 722-1600.