Thursday, April 27, 2017

Better representation. It's time.

Senator Ken Donnelly was good and kind. His heart and skill as a legislator were matched by his passion and dedication as a public servant on behalf of the People of the 4th Middlesex and beyond. His legacy lives forever in our hearts and in the lives he changed. His genuine interactions with people inspired me in my own public service, and to find an office and run for it.

A Special Election has been called to fill this important seat. I enthusiastically announce my candidacy because I want to provide the best representation to the people of the communities across this district.

Today, people want to be more engaged. But they often don’t understand how the system should work for them. It can be difficult to navigate a complicated established structure to even reach the level where conversations can begin.

We need people in state government who have come up from the ranks, who know what it means to truly represent constituents – at the level of your elementary school or town meeting, where you are accountable to your neighbors. This is where change can happen, and I’ve been there and I’ve listened to people, and heard and understood the needs and hopes of families – from the high achievers to those who struggle to get attention for students with special needs. And then I led my schools through the worst financial crisis many of us have seen.

Politics at the national level have become uncertain. Better representation is essential and it’s urgent. Now is the time for changing the system to work for all of us, the way government should, with a hands-on, open-minded approach. That’s why I’m in this race.

As I’ve been gathering signatures in the five communities across the district, people have shared their personal, moving stories: Charlotte talked of her love and devotion for the diverse community she has embraced. Susan wants me to know that there are gaps in community employment for her adult son with special needs, even after transition planning. Pete is still feeling the pain of the recession.

Their concerns are mine, too. I look forward to a campaign that focuses on the critical issues we face in the district and across the Commonwealth: the need for revenue; for paid family and medical leave for modern families and workers; addressing climate change and securing a clean energy future; protecting access to reproductive rights, mental health, and health care, while making it more affordable; sustaining and strengthening our schools and communities; improving our transportation infrastructure; protecting the most vulnerable among us; and more.

Over the course of my career in public service, I have sought and served in progressively higher leadership positions that allowed me to represent parents and members of my community in ever wider circles.

I was first elected to my children’s elementary school site council and later served as local PTA co-president, then as president of the Massachusetts PTA. I’ve served my town of Lexington in Town Meeting, then was elected twice to the School Committee, including a term as chairwoman.

Currently as the Parent Representative on the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, I continue to advocate on behalf of parents across the Commonwealth for the funding and policies that will ensure our public schools’ continued and improving quality, and so that they serve the diverse needs of all families.

I have led the battle for adequate financing for transportation and public schools as an original signer of the Fair Share Amendment petition, which is moving toward final passage.

Additionally, I worked as Director of Education and Programs for children, youth, and families at a small church in Newton for ten years and currently teach at Middlesex Community College.

My values are clearly represented throughout my work, and I will continue to stand up for those values in the Senate in my drive to improve people’s lives. I’m approaching this campaign with a sense of optimism, purpose, and direction. I look forward to continued opportunities to hear from you.

The Special Primary Election will be on Tuesday, June 27 for the 4th Middlesex District (Arlington, Billerica, Burlington, Woburn, and Lexington, precincts 1,2,4,5,6 and 7).

It would be an honor to serve as this District’s State Senator and I ask for your consideration.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

ATM Continues: Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Back in Battin Hall for the sixth night of 2017 Annual Town Meeting.
Articles, Reports, and Presentations to Date
Live-blogging to begin once we're in session.

7:30 PM
Madam Moderator has called the Meeting to Order.
Updating as we go.
Brief recess for Town Manager announcements
Pat Goddard, Director of Public Facilities to retire this summer - this is his last Town Meeting. Town Manager and Superintendent taking a moment to celebrate and thank Pat for his 10 years of service. Many School and Town staff here.
Standing ovation from Town Meeting for Pat.

Meeting back in order
Motion to take up Articles 37 + 12

Article 37 - Amend General Bylaws - TreesTo see if the Town will vote to amend the Tree Bylaw to provide incentives to preserve large trees and to replant large shade tree species, or act in any other manner in relation theretoi. (Inserted by the Board of Selectmen at the request of the Tree Committee)
  • Description: Because of the time invested iin its growth, a large tree is proportionally more valuable than many small trees. Also, large shade tree species in general provide greater environmental benefits than small ornamental tree species. This article seeks to amend the Tree Bylaw to encourage the preservation of existing large trees in setback areas during major construction, and to encourage the planting of large shade tree species for mitigation of removed trees.
Board of Selectmen (BoS): Unanimously in support
Planning Board (PB): Unanimously in support
Conservation Commission (CC): Unanimously in support
NO mic: Big trees do too much damage to property. They should be taken down.
Q: What happens with trees around the house, branches in danger of doing damage?
Trees: Certified Arborist, if there is really a hazard, there is no penalty.
Requires simple majority
YES - 150
NO - 5
Abstain - 2

Article 12 - Municipal Capital Projects and EquipmentTo see if the Town will vote to appropriate a sum of money for the following capital projects and equipment:

    a) Center Streetscape Improvements and Easements - that this item be indefinitely postponed;
    b) Automatic Meter Reading System;
    c) Equipment Replacement;
    d) Street Improvements and Easements;
    e) Storm Drainage Improvements and NPDES Compliance;
    f) Hydrant Replacement Program;
    g) Comprehensive Watershed Stormwater Management Study and Implementation;
    h) Sidewalk Improvements, Additions, Design and Easements;
    i) Dam Repair;
    j) Townwide Culvert Replacement;
    k) Townwide Signalization Improvements
    l) Hartwell Avenue Ingrastructure Improvements - Supplemental Funds;
    m) Bikeway Bridge Renovations;
    n) Hartwell Avenue Compost Site Iprovements;
    o) Westview Cemetery Building Design;
    p) Westview Cemetery Irrigation;
    q) Highway Sign Machine;
    r) Townwide Phone Systems-Phase VI;
    s) Municipal Technology Improvemet Program;
    t) Network Redundancy & Improvement Plan
    u) Bedford Street at Eldred Street Safety Improvements;
    v) Transportation Mitigation [ADOPTED by TM, 3/27]
    w) Hill Street Sidewalk Design; and
    x) Ambulance Replacement
    and authorize the Selectmen to take by eminent domain, purchase, or otherwise acquire any fee, easement or other interests in land necessary therefor; determine whether the money shall be provided by the tax levy, by transfer from available funds, including enterprise funds, by borrowing, or by any combination of these methods; determine if the Town will authorize the Selectmen to apply for, accept, expend and borrow in anticipation of State aid for such capital improvements; or act in any other manner in relation thereto. (Inserted by the Board of Selectmen)

    MOTION is MOVED by Selectman Pato
    We're hearing about each part; taking Qs. If any TMM wants to vote no, Town Moderator will separate out that part for the Meeting to vote separately on it.
    Capital Expenditures Committee (CEC) supports Part B by vote of 4-1.
    We're at Part H, taking Qs.
    Now we're at Part L, with a revision: "Hartwell Avenue Infrastructure Improvements - Supplemental Funds That the Town make a supplemental appropriation of $2,185,000 for the designing, permitting and constructing improvements to Hartwell Avenue, including replacing or rehabilitating the Hartwell Avenue bridge crossing at Kiln Brook and upgrading the Maguire Road intersection, and to take by eminent domain, purchase or otherwise acquire any fee, easement of other interest in land necessary therefor; and that to meet this appropriation the Town authorize an increase by said amount in the appropriation made under Article 11-h of the 2015 Annual Town Meeting so that the total appropriation authorized by such Town Meeting actions for these purposes by $6,935,000, and further, that the Treasurer, with the approval of the BOS, is authorized to borrow said increase of $2,185,000 under MGL Ch.44, sec.7, or any other enabling authority. Any premium received by the Town upon the sale of any bonds or notes approved by this vote, less any such premium applied to the payment of the costs of issuance of such bonds or notes, may be applied to the payment of costs approved by this bote in accordance with Ch.44, sec.20 of the MGL, thereby reducing the amount authorized to be borrowed to pay such costs by a like amount;"
    YES mic: Chamber of Commerce Board supports 10-L
    YES mic: PB supports 10-L
    CORRECTION to the immediate above: Supporting 12-L
    Taking Qs on 12-m
    Editorial: Oh man - understanding that the traffic on the bikeway bridge over Grant Street will be diverted, as will Grant Street traffic, during maintenance of 12-m bikeway bridge.
    Moving on to 12-n; taking Qs
    YES mic: Rises to applaud the Engineering Dept for their comprehensive and cost-effective approach to 12-n during our capital-straining environment.
    Now we're on 12-o
    Taking Qs on 12-o
    So far, no TMM has asked for any part to be taken up separately
    Request to separate the vote for 12-o
    NO mic: Doesn't want a "posh" space with increased fees for burial
    Q about the purpose for the structure
    Answer is that it is a space for grieving people
    NO mic: Capital projects and capital constraints - what's the line? Doesn't think this project rises to a critical level of need
    Project will be entirely funded through cost of sale of graves, not taxpayer dollars
    YES mic: The state of the current facility is inadequate, urges support
    YES mic: The cost of the project will be entirely covered outside of the tax levy
    Still talking about 12-o, to be taken separately
    NO mic: Capital costs will be covered, but I'm still seeing a $339,000 shortfall. Capital plan has had the Visitor Center since 2011 and this one has only been on it for three years. Doesn't think this is a priority. In reality we are not covered all costs.
    YES mic: For the safety and health of the people who work in that facility, we need to support this project.
    NO mic: TMM Calls the Question
    BOS on 12-o: unanimous in its support
    CEC: unanimous support
    AC: unanimous support
    Voting only on 12-o, which requires a 2/3 majority
    YES - 113
    NO - 38
    Abstain - 7
    12-o is APPROVED
    Now, 12-q
    AC: on 12-q was 6-2-1 --- new information and a New Vote is 7-1-1
    CEC: 3-2 on 12-q
    Moving quickly through 12-r, s
    Qs on 12-s
    Qs on 12-b
    Qs on 12-q
    Request to separate 12-q, but not ready for that yet
    Taking Qs on previous parts of Art.12
    YES mic: PB supports 12-u
    YES mic: PB supports 12-w
    BOS is in unanimous support of 12-w
    YES mic: TMM has been contacted by constituents in support of this sidewalk design (12-w); urges support
    Request for 12-b to be taken separately
    That's 12-b, 12-q to be taken separately
    YES mic: People in this neighborhood asked for a sidewalk four years ago. People walk to public transportation and they need a sidewalk. Also, kids can't walk to or from Diamond middle school without a sidewalk.
    YES mic: I've been waiting 30 years for this one, don't let it get away. Support this one
    We have reached the final part, 12-x. No comments.
    CEC: Supports all parts as presented
    AC: Supports all parts as presented
    BOS: Unanimous on all items
    Voting only on 12-b, which requires a simple majority
    YES - 141
    NO - 9
    Abstain - 4
    12-b is APPROVED
    Voting only on 12-q, which requires a simple majority
    YES - 139
    NO - 11
    Abstain - 5
    12-q is APPROVED
    Voting on remaining parts of Article 12 (not b,o,q,v)
    YES - 154
    NO - 0
    Abstain - 1
    Remaining parts of Article 12 is APPROVED
    Announcement that Al Gentile's last day is this Friday (Lexington Minuteman Newspaper)
    We are adjourned until 7:30 PM Wednesday, April 12, 2017 
    (No Meeting Monday, April 10, 2017 - first night of Passover)
    10:15 PM

    Monday, April 3, 2017

    2017 Annual Town Meeting Continues Tonight, Monday, April 3

    We're in Battin Hall in the Cary Memorial Building
    1605 Massachusetts Avenue, Lexington
    Articles, Reports, and Presentations to Date
    Live-blogging to commence once we are in session.

    7:30 PM

    Madam Moderator has gavelled us in and we're in session.
    Updating as we go.
    Tribute to Senator Ken Donnelly of Arlington, who passed away yesterday due to complications from brain cancer. Moment of silence.
    Checking electronic voting devices.

    Article 19 - Getting to Net Zero To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate a sum of money necessary to hire consultants to provide advice and analysis to the Getting to Net Zero Task Force and Town staff, determine whether the money shall be provided by the tax levy, by transfer from available funds or by any combination of these methods, or to act in any other manner in relation thereto. (Inserted by the Board of Selectmen at the request of the Sustainable Lexington Committee)

    • Funds Requested: $40,000 
    • Description: The Getting to Net Zero Task Force is exploring the possibility of reducing our buildings' emissions to net zero over the next 25 to 35 years. Lexington's buildings are currently responsible for 66% of Lexington's greenhouse gas emissions. The task force is composed of a broad range of stakeholders including local buisinesses, commercial and residential property owners, subject matter experts, Town staff, and appropriate Town committee members. The task force, with the assistance of consultants, will develop strategies, plans and recommendations to achieve an annual balance of zero greenhouse gas emissions from building operations for approval by the Town.
    Selectman Pato moves the MOTION
    Asks to recognize Mark Sandeen of Sustainable Lexington

    Board of Selectmen (BOS): Unanimous

    Appropriation Committee (AC): 7-2
    Citizen mic: Asks TM to take the next step by continuing to fund the Getting to Net Zero Task Force; if we are not part of the solution, we are part of the problem
    YES mic: TMM urges colleagues to support
    Q: Wants to know the progress, if any, on renewables
    Mark Sandeen: We just got notified that we are approved
    Q: Wants concrete examples of how this Task Force will implement change
    Sandeen: Running "Lexington Energy Challenge" - based on info that will implement specific programs for each type of building (historic, residential, commercial, etc). Currently building to "LEED Silver". Will impact new Hastings Elementary School, Fire Sation, Police. Looking to "green" our electrical supply. These all play together.
    Q: Money for replacing windows in Monroe - how can this help with that?
    Sandeen: I would suggest that this is a historic building, perhaps wait for the CPA Article to come up.
    Requires simple majority
    YES -148
    NO - 4
    Abstain - 3

    Article 18 - Visitors Center (Citizen Article) To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate a sum of money for planning, constructing, originally equipping and furnishing a new Visitors Center, or for planning, remodeling, reconstructing and making extraordinary repairs to the existing Visitors Center, and for the payment of all other costs incidental and related thereto; determine whether the money shall be provided by the tax levy, by transfer from avialable funds, by borrowing, or by any combination of these methods; or act in any other manner in relation thereof. (Inserted by Dawn McKenna and 9 or more registered voters)

    • Funds Requested: $100,000
    • Description: The Visitors Center was built over 50 years ago for the Battle of Lexington Bicentennial visitors. It is the information gateway for tourists, residents, newcomers, and corporations considering locating in Lexington. Last year, 120,000 people entered the building, making it one of the most heavily used buildings in Lexington; they spent $190,000 in the shop underwriting the cost of operations. Lexington collects $1.4 million in annual hotel and meals taxes. The building has become outdated and is not fully accessible. When originally built, it was staffed by the Chamber of Commerce. Today the Town occupies, manages, and staffs the Visitors Center. it has become the hub of the Liberty Ride. Many who use the Minuteman Commuter Bikeway benefit from the facility as well. As we approach the 250th Anniversary of the Battle of Lexington, and implement the Battle Green Masterplan, this article would fund the design and construction of a 21st century Visitors Center providing new economic growth opportunities.
    Dawn McKenna for the MOTION
    Asks to recognize Jon Himmel, Tourism Committee (also on Permanent Building Committee)
    Jon Himmel: Money for Design Process, specifically Schematic Design and Design Development, followed by Value Engineering, BOS review. Project is not eligible for CPA funding.
    Asks to recognize Fred Johnson, Tourism Committee
    Johnson: Lexington has Untapped Potential. 4th most visited community in Massachusetts. Lexington Hotels have had visitors from over 40 countries. Tourism creates jobs - 744 in Lexington. Need a 21st c Visitor Center.
    Asks to recognize Dawn McKenna
    McKenna: Building is inadequate in many ways. Unwelcoming. To piggy back on the previous presentation, it's an energy hog. Not fully accessible. Urges support.
    BOS: 3-2
    AC: 9-0
    CEC: In favor of the project at funding level for schematic design; Jill Hai Chair, asks to AMEND the appropriation to $21,000 instead of $100,000 (by a CEC vote of 4-1)
    • MOTION to AMEND:
      • McKenna - Opposed to this MOTION
      • BOS: 3-2 in Support
        • Selectman Kelly speaks in Opposition to the AMENDMENT
      • AC: 0-9 in Opposition
        • Citizen mic: Lexington Historical Society wants to see the project completed, which is what we voted to do
        • Q: Do the members of BOS support and oppose in the same ways?
        • Barry: No - different people.
        • Q: Timing of this project a concern?
        • McKenna: Want to be ready to come forward at STM this fall and not wait until next year's ATM.
        • NO mic: We have waited a long time to do anything to the VIsitors Center
        • YES mic: CEC is in favor of updating the Visitors Center, but TM doesn't know what the total cost will be, which is why we want the project to come back to TM to evaluate the dollar scope, not go to the BOS for a decision
        • Citizen mic: Jim Shaw, Vice Chair of Chamber of Commerce, we support the original MOTION and vote no on this AMENDMENT
        • NO mic: I have seen so many projects come before TM and get approved. This structure is needed
        • YES mic: Support this AMENDMENT, stick to the process.
        • Q: for CEC - policy to require all docs be approved at the same itme?
        • CEC: No. our practice has been to approve in three phases, but is not policy
        • NO mic: We have an obligation to provide good facilities. Time is of the essence
        • Q: If it passes, will BOS be in support of the AMENDED MOTION
        • BOS: It would be 4-1
      • YES - 82
      • NO - 69
      • Abstain - 3
    AMENDED MAIN MOTION open for discussion
    Q: Applaud the passion and persistence of Tourism Committee. What is the thinking on "pre-fabricated solutions"? and What about swing space?
    McKenna: On pre-fabs - those decisions would come during the schematic phase. Swing space - three steps forward, two steps back; need to clarify. We don't know.AC: 8-0 in support of the new MOTION (one is absent)
    YES mic: Jerry Michelson for Center Business - in support
    Q: Is Economic Dev Director
    Melissa Tintocollis: Have been learning a lot about the visitor-based economy. I understand Tourism is to have a vital center we need foot traffic and visitor spending. Tourism does that.
    by VOICE VOTE: the Ayes have it to close debate and take the vote
    YES - 150
    NO - 6
    Abstain - 2

    Article 2 - Community Preservation Committee - to receive the report of the CPC and place on file.
    VOTE taken by VOICE VOTE: the MOTION passes and the report is placed on file.

    Marilyn Fenollosa, Chair of CPC, speaks to the report

    Article 10 - Community Preservation 2018 Operating Budget and CPA Projects (except 10-h) To see if the Town will vote to act on the report of the Community Preservation Committee on the FY2018 Community Preservation budget and, pursuant to the recommendations of the Community Preservation Committee, to appropriate from the Community Preservation Fund, or to reserve amounts in the Community Preservation Fund for future appropriations; for the debt servcice on previously authorized financing; for adiminstrative expenses of the Community Preservation Committee for FY2018; for the acquisition, creation, and preservation and, if acquired with Community Preservation Act Funds the rehabilitation or restoration of open space; for the acquisition, creation, preservation, and rehabilitation and restoration of recreational land; for the acquisition, preservation, rehabilitation and restoration of historic resources; and through the acquisition, creation, preservation and support and, if acquired with Community Preservation Act funds, the restoration or rehabilitation of community housing; including, in all cases, rehabilitation or restoration that constitutes capital improvements or extrordinary repairs to make assets functional for their intended use; and to determine whether the money shall be provided by the tax levy, or from estimated CPA surcharges and the estimated State match and supplement for the upcoming fiscal year, by available funds in the CP Fund, from transfer from other available funds, by borrowing, or by any combination of these methods or act in any other manner in relation thereto. (Inserted by the Board of Selectmen at the request of the Community Preservation Committee)

    • Funds Requested:
      • a) Interpretive Signage Project - $38,400
      • b) Parker's Revenge Interpretive and Public Education Signage & Displays - $41,350
      • c) Greeley Village Rear Door and Porch Supplemental Request - $56,712
      • d) Affordable Units Preservation - Pine Grove Village/Judges Road - $1,048,000
      • e) Willard's Woods and Wright Farm Meadow Preservation - $40,480
      • f) Cotton Farm Conservation Area Improvements - $301,300
      • g) Wright Farm Supplemental Funds - $37,900
      • h) Stone Building Feasibility Study - $25,000 (to be taken up at ATM on Wednesday, April 5)
      • i) Munroe School Window Restoration - $620,000
      • j) Center Streetscape Improvements - (recommend IP)
      • k) Community Center Sidewalk - $220,000 (recommend IP)
      • l) Park Improvements - Athletic Fields - $125,000
      • m) Town Pool Renovation - $1,620,000 COSTS are TBD - pulling out until ATM on Wednesday, April 12
      • n) Park and Playground Improvements - $60,000
      • o) CPA Debt Service - $2,404,259
      • p) Administrative Budget - $150,000
    • Description: This Article requests that Community Preservation funds and other funds, as necessary, be appropriated for the projects recommended b y the Community Preservation Committee, the debt service on previously authorized projects, and for administrative costs.
      • Parts to pull:
        • 10-h wed 4/5
        • 10-m wed 4/12
        • 10-j,k IP
      • BOS: Unanimous on all aspects
      • AC: Unanimous in Support
      • CEC: Unanimous in Support
        • YES - 145
        • NO - 0 
        • Abstain - 3
      • MOTION CARRIES to put in the above buckets
    • 10-c Greeley Village Rear Door and Porch Supplemental Request - $56,712 (presentation and discussion for all parts follow)
      • requires simple majority
      • YES - 149
      • NO - 0
      • Abstain - 2
      • Approved
    • 10-a Interpretive Signage Project - $38,400
      • requires simple majority
      • YES - 154
      • NO - 0
      • Abstain - 3 
      • Approved
    • 10-b Parker's Revenge Interpretive and Public Education Signage & Displays - $41,350
      • requires simple majority
      • YES - 119
      • NO - 26
      • Abstain - 5
      • Approved
    • 10-d Affordable Units Preservation - Pine Grove Village/Judges Road - $1,048,000
      • Planning Board (PB): Supports this part, and all parts, of Article 10
      • requires 2/3 majority
      • YES - 146
      • NO - 1
      • Abstain - 3
      • Approved
    • 10-e Willard's Woods and Wright Farm Meadow Preservation - $40,480
      • requires simple majority
      • YES - 137
      • NO - 1
      • Abstain - 3
      • Approved
    • 10-f Cotton Farm Conservation Area Improvements - $301,300
      • requires simple majority
      • YES - 109
      • NO - 23
      • Abstain - 9 
      • Approved
    • MOTION to take up 10-g tonight
    • VOICE VOTE - TM does not approve
    • TM will take up remaining parts of Article 10 this Wednesday
    MOTION to ADJOURN until Wednesday, April 5
    We are adjourned
    10:35 PM

    And that's a wrap!
    - - -