Monday, December 28, 2015

Essex Designated as New Green Community

The town of Essex has achieved the official designation of a Massachusetts Green Community by the Baker-Polito Administration. The town, and eighteen others, will share $3.1 million for local clean energy and energy efficiency projects.

“The Green Communities program demonstrates state and local governments can work together to save energy and taxpayers’ money, while making the Commonwealth a healthier place to live,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “These nineteen communities will be able to invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy, reducing energy costs and reducing their carbon footprints.”

All Green Communities commit to reducing municipal energy consumption by 20 percent over five years. 155 communities in the program have collectively saved the equivalent of heating and powering nearly 17,000 homes, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 203,538 tons.

“As Massachusetts residents prepare for the lowering temperatures of winter and the rising costs of energy bills, there is good reason to welcome these Green Communities grants,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester). “Essex will receive $130,000 to help fuel its efforts to reduce energy consumption. This partnership allows us to take greater control of our energy future so that we can move away from a reliance on foreign non-renewable energy sources.”

Essex can now apply to the Green Communities Division for approval to use the funds for projects. Funding for these grants is available through proceeds from carbon allowance auctions under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and Alternative Compliance Payments paid by retail electric suppliers that do not meet their Renewable Portfolio Standard compliance obligations through the purchase of Renewable Energy Certificates.

“Through the Green Communities program, DOER is able to work with municipalities to find clean energy solutions that reduce long-term energy costs and strengthen local economies,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Beaton. “The commitment and hard work of these 19 communities to reduce their energy use and undertake clean energy projects will help Massachusetts continue its leadership in energy efficiency, renewable energy and emissions reductions.”

A city or town must meet these five criteria to be designated a Green Community:
• Provide as-of-right siting in designated locations for renewable/alternative energy generation, research & development, or manufacturing facilities;
• Adopt an expedited application and permit process for as-of-right energy facilities;
• Establish an energy use baseline and develop a plan to reduce energy use by 20 percent within five years. • Purchase only fuel-efficient vehicles for municipal use;
• Require new construction to reduce lifecycle energy costs (i.e., adoption of an energy-saving building “stretch code”).


Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas To All

The culmination of weeks of preparations and planning have brought us to this special day.  I am so very thankful for the opportunity to wish you the very best Christmas.  May the blessings of Christmas be with you and your family today and always. 

The gifts that we give and the gifts that we receive are truly special because each reflects an expression of kindness.  In that spirit, it is my hope that you will also take a few moments today to acknowledge our men and women in uniform who are currently on duty and away from family.  Their service on our behalf is also a gift.

On this very special day I wish you peace, good health and happiness.

God bless.


Thursday, December 24, 2015

A Constitution and a Christmas Eve

The excitement of the holiday season has many of us moving about our days quickly. We take note of time well spent with family and friends and our preparations for the special days of Thanksgiving, Hanukah, Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

In the Massachusetts Senate, we also mark time and occasions unique to our legislative body, while some are grand and ceremonial some others are much less so. Today, our Senate session on Christmas Eve brought focus to our legislative functions in the State House and it brought a reminder of a process defined by our Constitution.

John Adams gifted our Commonwealth the authorship of what is now the oldest constitution of any government in the world. His insistence that our government be founded first in establishing the rights of citizens, including religious freedoms, was fortified in the charge to serve those citizens by having the Senate meet at least once each 72 hours, even when that day is Christmas Eve.

With Senate Clerk William Welch and Majority Whip Anthony W. Petruccelli


Greater Boston - Year In Review

Jim Braude, host of WGBH's Greater Boston, invited former Judge Nancy Gertner, Business Columnist Shirley Leung from the Boston Globe and I to take look back at the some of the top issues that were talked about in Massachusetts in 2015.


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Media Alert

Please tune in tonight to WGBH Channel 2 for the public affairs program Greater Boston, where I will join host Jim Braude and other guests to discuss the major news events of 2015.  The show airs at 7PM.


Monday, December 21, 2015

Festive Community Weekend

Although we may not have a white Christmas this year, we can still have a festive holiday season that brings people of good will together, that’s what I had the pleasure of enjoying this weekend.

Saturday morning at Gloucester City Hall we celebrated the life of Abdullah Khambaty. Ab was an inspiration to many, a former Gloucester City Council President, School Committee member, and an active citizen; he gave more than 30 years of service to the people of Gloucester. This ceremony marked the beginning of an Extraordinary Service Award in Ab’s memory.

On Saturday afternoon, Gloucester Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken and I greeted holiday shoppers and rang kettle bells for the Salvation Army at Market Basket in Gloucester.

Sunday I joined with City Councilor Bob Whynott and his family, Councilors Greg Verga and Paul Lundburg, former State Representative Tony Verga and a hearty band of carolers for the Whynott family’s annual traveling Caroling Party. With stops at Seacoast Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and the Curtis Clark Building the event was a great chance to share the holiday spirit with many of the community’s seniors.

I also had fun caroling Sunday night throughout the East Village of Boxford for the Grand Illumination. The event started at the town library’s field with a holiday bonfire and the lighting of the Christmas Tree on the Community Center lawn. Carolers were led by the Boxford Historical Society, we moved through the neighborhood from home to home singing carols and asking each homeowner to light their home’s Christmas lights. We ended at the Holyoke French House with warm drinks and cookies.


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Community Compacts Build Partnerships

Astute observers know that people are best served by their government when legitimate needs are clearly understood and resources are judiciously applied in response. With a goal of improving municipal services, Governor Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito have established an initiative, the Community Compact, which will help local governments set and achieve priorities valuable to individual communities.

Yesterday, I was pleased to join Gloucester Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken and Representatives Brad Hill and Ann-Margaret Ferrante, and local officials from Ipswich and Gloucester to welcome Lieutenant Governor Polito to Gloucester City Hall for the signing of community compact agreements.

For Ipswich, the agreement, signed by Selectmen Chairman Nishan Mootafian, will help the town with financial planning and to review the long-term financial ramifications of policies and programs. Gloucester’s mayor pursued a compact that moves the city forward with their complete street project. The effort will enhance sidewalk accessibility, provide safer routes for pedestrians and bicyclists.

These agreements are grounded in the concept of developing constructive partnerships among and between local governments and the state; an approach that I have advocated for strongly over the years in the Senate. Taxpayers will benefit from the municipalities’ access to state technical assistance, the requirements to use best practice methods, and state financial assistance. The Governor and Lieutenant Governor, having each served as selectmen, are encouraging cities and towns to leverage state resources, in turn, the administration will actively seek to remove obstacles, regulatory and otherwise, that state governments and school districts have often unfairly imposed.

The approach of the Community Compact initiative will include points of contact in each of the executive secretariats and agencies and include clear standards that will measure progress. 78 communities have now entered into a two-year agreement with the state, I look forward to the positive results that each of these cities and towns deserve.


Monday, December 14, 2015

Coastal Erosion Commission Report Released

In the state budget for fiscal year 2014, I authored and sponsored legislation to create a Coastal Erosion Commission to research the issues surrounding erosion, and develop strategies to address these issues. Specifically, this effort was intended to move the Commonwealth to a proactive posture toward storms and erosion, and away from a reactive approach that has all too often resulted in decisions and actions being made and taken in the crisis environment of coastal storms, the impending loss of public and private property, and threats to public safety.

Often these decisions and actions have been less effective than they could have been, because of the absence of proper planning, engineering, and research. Hence, the importance of the report and changes in approaching issues of erosion.

Worthy of note is that the communities of Salisbury, Newburyport and Newbury have successfully been building and implementing a proactive model for addressing erosion issues since 2008 through the Merrimack River Beach Alliance. My experience with MRBA inspired the legislation which created the Commission, and its membership has worked hard to inform the process undertaken by the Coastal Erosion Task Force.

Recently the Commission released its report, and while there remains a great of work to do, let’s hope it begins a new era of dealing with erosion in Massachusetts.

You can read the report by clicking the link below.

Coastal Erosion Commission Report December 2015


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

A Hanukkah Wish

“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 a happy Hanukkah celebration. May this season of beauty and light fill your heart and home.

Happy Hanukkah!


20th Annual North Shore Toy Drive

Santa is on the way. With your help, North Shore 104.9 and I will make the 20th annual North Shore Toy Drive a success.  Tune in to 104.9 FM on Thursday the 10th from 6 AM to 6:30 PM or come and visit us at one of nine broadcast locations throughout the North Shore.  To learn more, get connected to bid on our auction, or make a donation please visit


Thursday, December 3, 2015

Media Alert: WBZ Report on the Andrew Bridge Audit

Tune in today to WBZ TV News for their report on a now complete state audit that I requested on the costly delays and poor project management of repairs of the A. Piatt Andrew Bridge in Gloucester.

Reporter Brayn Kath talks with me about why the audit was warranted and what it revealed. 


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Audit of A. Piatt Andrew Bridge Project Finds MassDOT Could Have Saved $2.6 Million & Delays

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) could have avoided excessive, multi-year delays and saved as much as $2.6 million on the rehabilitation of the A. Piatt Andrew Bridge in Gloucester, according to an audit released today by the Office of the State Auditor.

“Our audit found that MassDOT overspent and experienced delays because it failed at the outset of the project to do an updated assessment of the bridge’s structural deficiencies,” said Auditor Suzanne M. Bump. “As a result, the project was marred by expensive change orders and cost overruns, and excessive delays.”

Because MassDOT would not pay for a new inspection, the contractor had to rely on outdated information from 1999 and 2005 to begin work. When subsequent work uncovered the need for significant structural repairs, Phase One of the project required eight change orders for extra work totaling $2.6 million. The amount of additional work and cost led MassDOT to competitively bid for Phase Two work, rather than continuing to use change orders. This process added time to the project, which is now slated to end in April 2016, but was originally scheduled for completion in June 2011.

“The collection, use and maintenance of reliable and up-to-date data is essential not just for MassDOT, but all of state government,” said Auditor Bump. “Without it, agencies cannot craft effective, long-term plans that take into account their comprehensive needs.”

Senator Bruce Tarr and Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante requested this audit in an effort to ensure public tax dollars were spent in the best interest of their districts. Representative Ferrante and Senator Tarr also raised concerns about the negative economic impact the lengthy construction process had in the region as well as the worsening of quality of life of residents in the area.

“Keeping the A. Piatt Andrew Bridge safe and accessible is critically important, and there have been too many haunting questions about the time and money it’s taking to get it repaired properly,” said Senator Bruce Tarr. “Now, thanks to the work of the Auditor’s Office, we have some important answers and a meaningful reform that prevent lost time and money in the future. That reform has already gone into effect, creating a positive change.”

“The mismanagement of taxpayer’s dollars and the detrimental effects on residents, travelers, and businesses found in this Auditor’s report are unacceptable. I will continue to work with Senator Tarr, my legislative colleagues, and the Governor, to make sure that these oversights are remedied immediately. I am encouraged that MassDOT has already begun to reform its practices and protocols. I am also pleased that Auditor Suzanne Bump and her staff did a thorough job in investigating the lapses in MassDOT’s bid process and planning” said Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante.

In the audit report, Auditor Bump called on MassDOT to allow its contracted design engineers to perform inspections of bridges that need repair in order to develop proper scopes for work. MassDOT has indicated this is now its current practice.

“Taxpayers expect construction projects to be done with expedience and with an eye toward maintaining public safety and containing costs,” said Auditor Bump. “Better project planning will produce better results in the future.”

The Office of the State Auditor conducts technical assessments and performance audits of state government’s programs, departments, agencies, authorities, contracts, and vendors. With its reports, the OSA issues recommendations to improve accountability, efficiency, and transparency. The Office of the State Auditor has identified $1 billion in savings and potential recoveries for the Commonwealth since 2011 and auditees have implemented 95 percent of the OSA’s recommendations.

Audit Report - MassDOT Restoration of a Piatt Andrew Bridge - Gloucester MA


Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

We are grateful for our abundant harvests and the productivity of our industries; for the discoveries of our laboratories; for the researches of our scientists and scholars; for the achievements of our artists, musicians, writers, clergy, teachers, physicians, businessmen, engineers, public servants, farmers, mechanics, artisans, and workers of every sort whose honest toil of mind and body in a free land rewards them and their families and enriches our entire Nation.” - - President Ronald Reagan

We have frequently been reminded that we would do well to set aside this special day to reflect on the blessings in our lives and to give thanks. As we do so, it is important to also keep in mind that many brave men and women will be away from their families and unable to share time with loved ones. As we gather at tables to serve ourselves, these courageous people will be on duty here and around the world serving us all. I am thankful for them, their sacrifices, and the sacrifices of those who served before them to keep us safe and our American values preserved.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Propossed Commuter Rail Schedule Changes Delayed

Because so many commuter rail riders have contacted my office with deep concerns about schedule changes that were planned to take effect on December 14, we have been working with the leadership of the Executive Office of Transportation and the MBTA to avoid significant problems those changes could cause for people depending on the Rockport, Newburyport, and other lines.

Through the collective efforts of area legislators and others, our actions produced positive changes, as Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack announced in a letter released last night that the changes will not go into effect as planned. Instead, the MBTA will take the prudent step of carefully considering schedule changes, and doing so in light of concerns that have been raised, and the difficulties they could cause.

Secretary Pollack’s letter is posted here, so you can read it in its entirety.

The letter, indicating a course of action that produces a new plan for changes to be implemented in May, makes it clear that we all have to remain focused on this issue and work together to ensure that the commuter rail system is responsive to the needs of the people it serves. I am committed to continuing that effort, and appreciate Secretary Pollack giving us that opportunity.

Thanks to the Secretary and everyone who got involved and made a difference on this important issue.


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Governor Baker Signs Fentanyl Trafficking Law

Today, I joined Governor Charlie Baker, AG Maura Healey, Speaker DeLeo and Senate President Stan Rosenberg for the signing of a bill that creates, for the first time in our state's laws, a penalty for trafficking fentanyl.

Although fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, is significantly more potent than drugs such as heroin or morphine, under existing law traffickers can only be charged with the lesser crimes of possession.

Without this law, prosecutors could not charge fentanyl distributors with penalties that reflect the dangerousness of the drug. Under the new law, convictions for trafficking could result in up to 20 years in state prison.


Monday, November 23, 2015

North Andover Senior Center Visit

This morning I had the pleasure of joining several legislative colleagues at the North Andover Senior Center for the “Meet Your Legislative Delegation” event. The Senior Center and the Northern Essex Registry of Deeds have partnered together to create a lecture series; this morning we also had time for a lively questions and answers segment.

Register of Deeds M. Paul Iannuccillo offered introductory remarks and began our discussions. Joining me for the conversation were Senator Kathleen O’Connor Ives, Representative Diana DiZoglio, and Representative James Lyons.

The seniors asked insightful questions on education issues, road safety, and the Meals on Wheels nutrition program.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Senate Republican Caucus Secures Child Exploitation Protections

My State House office distributed this press release today -

Boston- The Senate Republican Caucus today succeeded in securing an amendment that will raise awareness of child abuse and exploitation in a bill that changes the state’s sexual health education law.

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) authored the legislation which directs the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to include among sexual health curriculum, guidelines for child exploitation awareness education for school districts.

“Sadly, experience has taught us that some in our society will put children at risk for abuse, neglect or maltreatment,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester). “Tens of thousands of suspected child abuse reports are filed with the state each year and child safety experts confirm that raising awareness of the warning signs of exploitation can make a significant difference in keeping children safe.”

The Tarr amendment was inspired by Erin Merryn, a childhood sexual assault survivor and the namesake of Erin’s Law.

Erin’s Law requires public schools to include a prevention oriented child sexual abuse program. Tarr’s amendment will better inform school personnel about child sexual abuse, assist parents in recognizing the warning signs of child abuse, and empower children to guard against exploitation.

Following debate on the matter the Tarr amendment was adopted by the Senate by a unanimous vote of the members.

If signed into law by Governor Baker Massachusetts would move into a majority of states which have adopted it. 26 states have adopted Erin’s Law and it is currently pending in 17 others.


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Media Alert: Fox 25 News Talks With Me About Social Media Privacy Protection

Kathryn Burcham of FOX25 News and I spoke about legislation that will be voted on in the Senate tomorrow. Senate Bill 2034, an act relative to social media privacy protection, will prohibit employers or schools from requiring a person to disclose a user name or password for personal social media accounts.

Watch Fox 25 News to learn more about this bill.


Final Formal Legislative Session Bills for 2015

On Wednesday, lawmakers on Beacon Hill will bring to a close the formal legislative session for 2015. The legislature will continue to hold sessions through the end of the year to advance bills that do not require debate or roll call votes in what we often refer to as informal sessions.

A number of bills have been advanced in House and Senate chambers; I want to provide you with an opportunity to become aware of the bills that we expect to see scheduled for debate in the Senate.

There are five significant bills which honor the valor and contributions of our veterans and military members, they are:
• H. 3243 - An Act providing free park access to Purple Heart Recipients,
• H.3173 - An Act relative to the removal of veterans, police and fire, commemorative flag holders,
• H.1306 - An Act relative to veterans' grave markers,
• H.1600 - An Act providing further penalties for intentional loss or damage to a gravestone or other gravemarker,
• H.1641 - An Act concerning the false representation of military status, stolen valor.

Other bills that will likely be voted on in the session include:
• S.757 – An Act regulating notaries public to protect consumers and the validity and effectiveness of recorded instruments (Notaries)  Sets forth the terms, qualifications and requirement for notaries. Prohibits a notary, who is not an attorney, from - advising clients with regards to immigration issues, real estate closings, or providing legal advice. Creates fines for initial and subsequent violation of law up to $5,000 and up to one year in jail.

• S.2052 – An Act establishing the Massachusetts Paint Stewardship program (Paint Stewardship)  This bill creates a program to collect, reuse and recycle post-consumer architectural paint. The bill requires retailers to collect an assessment on the sale of paint on containers of less than five gallons. Requires paint producers to submit to the Department of Environmental Protection a plan to implement paint stewardship

• S.2053 – An Act supporting military leave (Military Leave)  Provides an individual employed in the state who serves in the Army National Guard ,the Army Reserve, the Marine Corps Reserve, the Naval Reserve, the Air National Guard, the Air Force Reserve, and the Coast Guard Reserve the same rights and privileges given under the federal uniformed services employment and reemployment act.

• S.2054 – An Act relative to social media privacy protection (Social Media)   Prohibits employers, or school from requiring a person to disclose a user name or password for personal social media accounts.

• S.2048 – An Act relative to healthy youth (Healthy Youth)  School districts that offer sexual health education are required to provide content that is medically accurate and age appropriate. Mandates that all schools must adopt a written policy ensuring notification to parents and guarantees an opt out mechanism for them to withdraw a child from the program without penalty.

• S.2047 – An Act to promote quality physical education (Physical Education)  Age appropriate physical activity, fitness and nutrition are included in the definition of physical education. Updates the requirements that physical education be taught in all public schools including charters.

• H.3854 – An Act relative to solar energy (Net Metering) Net metering allows customers of electric distribution to generate their own electricity resulting in an offset in their electricity consumption and allows customers to receive credits for any electricity that they generate but do not use. Increases the current cap in utilities ownership of solar generation, creates a new “market net metering credit”, increases the private net metering cap from 4% of utilities’ peak load to 6%. Increases the public net metering cap from 5% to 7%.

The Senate may also take up H3798 – An Act relative to the trafficking of fentanyl. This bill updates the state’s drug trafficking laws to include a penalty for trafficking fentanyl. Although fentanyl is significantly more potent than drugs such as heroin or morphine, under existing law, traffickers can only be charged with the lesser crimes of dispensing. Convictions for trafficking could result in up to 20 years in state prison.

Our sessions, be they formal or informal, are always open to the public and records of our actions are available free of charge at our Website – You may contact my office for information about these and other bills that are of interest to you.


Monday, November 16, 2015

Standing With the People of Paris

Senate President Stan Rosenberg joined me in the Senate Chamber today to place a bouquet of flowers at the marble bust of the Marquis de Lafayette to show our support for the people of France.

As a courageous teen, Lafayette left France and enlisted in the Continental Army. He service under the command of George Washington and his efforts to secure independence and liberty in America, and in his native France, will forever be remembered.

With the support of Lafayette and the people of France, our capital city is known throughout the world as the cradle of liberty.   Boston and Paris share similar values in that we honor peace and the essential freedoms of an open society.   The violence and terror that was inflicted on innocent civilians will not dim the city of light – just as Bostonians stood strong after the Marathon bombing so too will Paris find that its friends and allies will stand shoulder to shoulder for liberté, égalité and fraternité.


Friday, November 13, 2015

Discussing Renewable Energy and Partnership

This morning I had the honor of joining Governor Baker in welcoming Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard to Massachusetts and the State House. Mr. Couillard was elected as Premier in 2014 and is leading the province toward further development of its hydroelectric generating capabilities, which are already substantial. Together we discussed the tremendous potential for our state to receive the benefits of this renewable, reliable, cost-effective and environmentally friendly electricity as part of an energy portfolio that needs these elements.

The possibilities for extremely beneficial partnerships in renewable energy between Quebec and Massachusetts were highlighted again this afternoon at the 23rd Annual Energy Trade & Technology Conference  where I again met with Premier Couillard for a luncheon and he delivered the keynote address to business and government leaders from the Eastern United States and Canada. 

I am confident and optimistic that by working in partnership, Quebec and Massachusetts can together help to build a future with energy that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and fosters energy independence in ways that help our economies and our environment.


Thursday, November 12, 2015

Libraries Lead The World-Wide Way

Massachusetts has been at the forefront of the nation in many areas, one particularly important example is our state’s library system. Chapter 347 of the Acts of 1890 established the Free Public Library Commission, the first of its kind in America. The Board of Library Commissioners held a State House event recently to celebrate the many accomplishments of contributors from across the state in this the 125 year of the commission.

The Massachusetts library community developed quickly with 36 new libraries having been established after only one year of the 1890 law. Each of the New England states, having witnessed the success of our system, followed our lead and also created library commissions. Quickly the idea spread not only across the nation it leaped the Atlantic and sparked a new movement of public access to books and knowledge across the European continent.

Today, citizens of Massachusetts continue to take great pride in their libraries and embrace the notion that more than books, libraries are about people. More people visit their local library each year than attend entire seasons of the Celtics, Patriots, Bruins, and Red Sox games combined. And what they find are helpful library staff, books, periodicals, eBooks and computers in each and every library in the state. In fact, more than 44 million items are available at the click of a mouse. Libraries are available in our schools, home towns, and in our state colleges and universities, they are world-class and leading the way.


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Happy Veterans' Day

Join me today in remembering, and showing respect for, our nation’s veterans.  

I salute the brave men and women who serve today, and those who have ever worn our nation’s uniform, their combined efforts have protected our freedoms and preserved our democracy. 
Massachusetts families have, since the Revolutionary War to today’s conflicts in Iraq and in Afghanistan,  offered the country strong, thoughtful, and brave men and women who have defended and secured our freedoms and protected those around the world from tyranny.
To protect the American way of life our Army soldiers, Navy sailors, Air Force airmen, Marines, and Coast Guard guardians accepted challenges and missions that required extraordinary actions.  Thank you for your service.


Monday, November 9, 2015

Fifty years ago today, on November 9th 1965, the northeastern United States was pitched into a night of darkness. As commuters began to make their way home at the end of the work day, a shocking absence of electricity left millions without light or power. Commuters found themselves stuck on subways, drivers were unaided by traffic lights, and workers were stranded in elevators.

The Great Northeastern Blackout, sparked by a power station failure near Niagara Falls, impacted southern Canada and major cities along the eastern seaboard – New York, Boston, Hartford and Providence. Thirty-five million people across 80,000 square miles waited and wondered why the power went out and when it would return.

The nation had never experienced a wide-scale blackout like this before and few citizens, despite cold war calls for civilian readiness, were prepared for it. Times have changed and our electric grid is monitored and maintained as never before, yet, I encourage you to take the time and steps necessary to be prepared. While September is known as National Preparedness Month, you will do well to follow the link and find helpful information that can help you and your family stay safe from power outages during cold weather and beyond.
Associated Press file photo Boston November 9, 1965


Friday, November 6, 2015

Temporary Power Outage for West Gloucester Saturday

Approximately one thousand electric utility customers will be without power Saturday in West Gloucester, according to National Grid. A work crew will be making utility repairs and improvements to a substation between the hours of 6 and 8 AM. For more info contact National Grid's outage line at 1-800-465-1212.


Thursday, November 5, 2015

Senate Creates Child Safety Net

Ends Improper Custody Transfers
In response to growing national media accounts and government reports of children being handed off to strangers through Internet sites such as on Facebook and Yahoo, the Senate today took action today to end the practice by adopting a bill co-sponsored by Senator Jennifer Flanagan and Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr.

“We have a solemn obligation to prevent children from being put in jeopardy by being transferred outside the safeguards and accountability of our well-developed adoption system,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R – Gloucester). “This bill reflects that obligation by creating a serious and appropriate range of penalties for those who would put a child in another’s hands without regard for safety and well-being.”

Re-homing, a word associated with pet owners looking for new homes for their animals, has been used to describe the practice of transferring custody of a child without the knowledge or authorization of a court or licensed adoption agency. Increasingly, children of parents no longer willing or interested in caring for them have been offered up in makeshift undocumented adoptions, sometimes to homes with sex offenders and abusers.

A recent U.S. Government Accountability Office report on re-homing found that unregulated exchanges often occur because people were often unable or unwilling to meet adoption agency protocols. Absent agency background checks, children have been placed in dangerous situations.

“By addressing the issue of re-homing , which poses exceptional dangers for one of our most at-risk youth populations, we are building on bipartisan efforts to strengthen protections for children across the Commonwealth,” said Donald Humason (R-Westfield), a member of the Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities. “It is also important for us to take steps to ensure that adults interested in adopting can utilize the safest and most capable legal adoption services the Commonwealth can provide to discourage involvement in unregulated practices like re-homing.”

The bill includes criminal penalties for anyone, other than a duly authorized agent licensed placement agency, who places an advertisement to either acquire or receive a child. In addition, placement agencies will be required to provide a prospective parent with all relevant information about a child so that he or she can knowledgeably determine whether to accept the child for adoption.

Members of the Senate Republican Caucus offered several amendments to the bill including a stiffening of penalties for those who would advertise alternative placement of a child for money or those who place or receive a child. First offenders will be subject to fines up to $10,000 and up to 2 and a half years incarceration. Second and subsequent offences will be subject to fines of $50,000 and $100,000 respectively. Other amendments included amendments examined options for mandated reporters to alert authorities of re-homed children, and a measure to create a commission to study barriers to adoption. While reports of re-homing have focused on disrupted adoptions, sponsors of the bill noted that the law, in its current form, does not ban the practice from occurring for biological offspring.

November is National Adoption Month and Senate backers of the bill are hopeful that the House will schedule the bill for a vote prior to the legislative recess November 18.