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News

“One Love” inspires many acts of kindness

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Last Saturday the town came together under the roof of the Meeting House to welcome Lynnfield’s newest group, “Lynnfield for Love,” and to spread a little kindness. Led by around a dozen community members, the group put on an event that encouraged Lynnfielders to get out and support the community and one another.

Driven largely by “stations,” guests made their way around the room and participated in a variety of activities, such as creating “love letters” to veterans and refugees, painting rocks to decorate MarketStreet and dropping off teddy bears and nonperishable food items for people in need. California Pizza Kitchen donated refreshments.

Jenn Lupien, one of the leaders of the group, was enthusiastic about the high turnout for the event. “We’re just trying to connect the community and spread some kindness,” Lupien said.

The “One Love” event was the first for the group, which was formed earlier this year in response to a visible increase in violence and negativity following the U.S. general election. In the future they hope to hold more similar events that promote kindness and reject hate. To find out more about Lynnfield for Love, visit www.facebook.com/lynnfield4love.

By Melanie Higgins


 

Town Administrator presents annual report ahead of Town Meeting

Town Administrator Jim Boudreau offered no big surprises at his presentation of the annual budget report last Monday at the Merritt Center. Boudreau reiterated the town’s three main goals: “develop a sustainable, balanced, budget,” “maintain aggressive capital spending” and “continue to build reserves for economic downturn.” The report details budgets and forecasts for fiscal year 2018 and will be presented at the upcoming Town Meeting in April.

He also offered a few facts. State aid is projected to increase 1.79 percent, which he termed a “slight increase.” Health insurance is expected to rise 5%, the school department budget 4%, increased pension costs 8% and funding for increased field maintenance to the tune of $125,000. In the latter realm, Boudreau chalked the increase up to new DPW Director John Tomasz’s “concerted effort” to bring the town’s facilities up to snuff. On the subject of facilities, Boudreau also outlined aggressive capital projects spending, which totals $1,796,418.

Boudreau also left space in the budget to fulfill a salary increase for Recreation Director Julie Mallett. The move brought the discussion of Mallett’s pay back into the spotlight, which has been a topic of debate among selectmen recently.

According to data, Mallett’s salary is on the low end compared to nearby towns. Mallett received a 20% pay increase last year, and the Recreation Department is asking for a 27% increase this year. Board of Selectmen Chairman Phil Crawford had argued – and maintained his argument at Monday’s meeting – that increasing her salary two years in a row sets a poor precedent, and besides that passes over town employees who have dedicated their services for many more years.

In the end, it did little to sway the opinion of Chris Barrett and Dick Dalton, whose votes allowed the measure to pass, 2-1. The passed vote includes and increases the budget to $13,432 to meet the commission’s request.

By Melanie Higgins


 

Modest increase, upgraded positions characterize school budget

The School Department will not be seeking any drastic changes, according to Superintendent Jane Tremblay at last week’s Finance Committee meeting on March 6. Tremblay outlined her plans for the school district’s budget before the 11-member panel in a series of presentations, the last one going before the Board of Selectmen on February 27. In her presentation Tremblay asked for a modest 4% increase from last year’s budget, which she called “comparatively low.” The appropriation request is for $23,780,038.

The increases reflect a few changes within the school district: one being the need for more teacher coverage, the other being changes in contracts. According to Tremblay, contracts for items such as transportation and special education costs have risen 2.5 percent. On the other front, the current part-time school psychologist is being overwhelmed by the increase in volume of students seeking attention. To remedy this problem, Tremblay is seeking to increase the psychologist’s hours from part-time to full-time. She is also seeking to transform a part-time foreign language position into full-time at the middle school to meet the foreign language needs of students.

To accommodate these changes, Tremblay said, the schools would be eliminating one classroom at the Summer Street School. Overall, Tremblay said that the changes are necessary to helping maintain Lynnfield’s status as a town that produces top students.

“The budget always comes back to the basics of our mission and vision,” said Tremblay.

The Finance Committee will convene later this month to go over the budgets of numerous town departments and make their final recommendations to the Board of Selectmen before April Town Meeting.

By Melanie Higgins


   

Beacon Hill Roll Call

THE HOUSE AND SENATE. There were no roll calls in the House or Senate last week. The debate over immigration continues to dominate the news following President Trump’s new version of an executive order restricting travel to the U.S. from six countries with links to terrorism.

Where do local state representatives stand on the immigration issue? This week, Beacon Hill Roll Call researched local representative’s votes on several roll calls on the immigration issue from 2013 through 2016. Here are the results.

The first three House roll call votes involve successful attempts by Speaker Robert DeLeo and his Democratic leadership team to prevent Democratic members from having to vote directly against several Republican proposals to restrict access to state funding by illegal immigrants. The Democrats, with a current 125 to 35 membership advantage, control the House.

Here’s an example of how it works: The Republicans offer a proposal banning illegal immigrant students from paying the preferred, lower in-state tuition rates and fees at Massachusetts state universities. If the Democratic leadership does nothing, there would be a roll call vote on the lower in-state tuition rates. Most Democrats would vote against it and then would have cast a direct vote on a very controversial issue.

To avoid that situation, a Democratic member offers a “delaying” amendment that would prohibit the ban from taking effect until the Baker administration studies the impact of such a ban.

Under House rules, the amendment to study and delay the ban is voted upon first. If it passes, which it always does, no other amendments can be introduced and the original proposal that would simply prohibit the lower tuition rate is dead without ever having a direct vote on it. Republicans say that the studies are a sham because they are never done.

This is all pre-planned by the Democratic leadership. The presiding officer at the podium calls upon a representative who is loyal to him and that member proposes the study. Even if a Republican member is waving his or her hands and shouting to be recognized, he or she will not be called upon because it is assumed he or she would not propose the study.

GOP members have always been wary of this ploy and have spoken out strongly against it. They urged the Democratic leadership to stop purposely trying to confuse the voters and instead allow a vote directly on the issue itself, not a study of it.

The Democrats fall into four categories. Some Democrats favor the ban and vote with the Republicans against the study. Others say they are truly open to the ban but vote for the study because they want to find out the cost first. A third group opposes the ban but also opposes the study because they feel there should be a direct vote on the proposal. Most Democrats who vote for the study acknowledge that it is designed to protect them by preventing them from being required to vote directly on the ban.

Beacon Hill Roll Call urges you to read the roll calls carefully and be aware that on the first three roll calls, a “Yes” vote is for the study and essentially is against the restriction or ban. Conversely, a “No” vote is against the study and generally favors the restriction or ban.

 

STUDY PROHIBITING LOWER TUITION RATES FOR ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS (H 4000)

House 103-46, approved a Democratic leadership-sponsored amendment prohibiting a proposal barring illegal immigrant students from paying the preferred, lower in-state tuition rates and fees at Massachusetts state universities from taking effect until the Department of Higher Education studies the impact of the barring.

Supporters of the study said many of these students were babies when they were brought here by their parents and had no choice about entering the country illegally. They noted some hardworking students are currently required to pay out-of-state tuition rates that are up to five times higher than the in-state rate.

Opponents of the study said sending the bill to a study committee essentially kills it and argued the state should not offer financial rewards to anyone who has broken the law and is in this country illegally. They said it is outrageous to offer low tuition rates to these students while legal citizens from outside Massachusetts, including war veterans, are required to pay higher rates if they attend a Massachusetts state university.

The roll call vote is on the amendment to study, rather than vote directly on the banning of lower tuition rates for illegal immigrants. (A “Yes” vote is for the study. A “No” vote is against the study.)

Rep. Stephan Hay     Was not yet elected

Rep. Bradley Jones     No

Rep. Theodore Speliotis     Yes

Rep. Thomas Walsh    Was not yet elected

 

STUDY LOWER TUITION RATES FOR VETERANS (H 4000)

House 107-42, approved a Democratic leadership-sponsored amendment prohibiting a proposal that would allow honorably discharged veterans to pay the preferred, lower in-state tuition rates and fees at Massachusetts state universities from taking effect until the Department of Higher Education studies the impact of the lower rates for veterans. The proposal would offer the discount to all in-state veterans and to any veteran from across the nation who designates Massachusetts as his/her intended home and moves to Massachusetts within one year of attending a state university.

Supporters of the study said there is no estimate on how much it would cost the state to offer this discount to all these veterans.

Opponents of the study said it is outrageous that the state provides the lower tuition rate for some illegal immigrants but not to veterans. They noted that sending the bill to a study committee is the same as killing it.

The roll call vote is on the amendment to study, rather than vote directly on the lower tuition rates for veterans. (A “Yes” vote is for the study. A “No” vote is against it.)

Rep. Stephan Hay     Was not yet elected

Rep. Bradley Jones       No

Rep. Theodore Speliotis      Yes

Rep. Thomas Walsh     Was not yet elected

 

STUDY REQUIRING THAT SPONSOR PAY FOR IMMIGRANTS (H 3400)

House 128-29, approved a Democratic leadership-sponsored amendment prohibiting a proposal requiring sponsors of immigrants who have green cards (lawful permanent residents) to reimburse the state for any means-tested state assistance the immigrant receives from taking effect, until after the state conducts a study of the current system and receives any federal waivers necessary.

Some supporters of the study said the House should get more information prior to voting on this. Others said they simply oppose the mean-spirited measure meant to hurt legal residents who through no fault of their own need some assistance. They noted that the state shouldn’t be punishing eligible individuals who have become estranged or disconnected from their sponsor.

Opponents of the delay questioned why the state is providing these benefits when each green card holder is required by law to have a sponsor who has promised to be financially responsible for that person.

The roll call vote is on the amendment to study, rather than vote directly on requiring sponsors to reimburse the state. (A “Yes” vote is for the study. A “No” vote is against the study.)

Rep. Stephan Hay     Was not yet elected

Rep. Bradley Jones      No

Rep. Theodore Speliotis     Yes

Rep. Thomas Walsh      Was not yet elected

 

ELIGIBILITY FOR PUBLIC HOUSING (H 3400)

The House considered a GOP-sponsored proposal to require applicants and household members over the age of 18 to provide a social security number upon application for public housing and prohibit anyone who does not supply the number from being eligible for housing.

House 115-44, then approved a Democratic leadership-sponsored amendment replacing the Republican proposal with a new one requiring the state to establish rules and regulations regarding the disclosure and verification of social security numbers for applicants of public or subsidized housing.

The new proposal also requires the Department of Housing and Community Development to study and submit a report on the matter of public housing eligibility by July 1, 2016. The report would include the number of applicants and household members for state-assisted public housing who would be unable to access it if required to submit a social security number on their application.

Supporters of the new proposal said the earlier one goes too far and will not solve any problems. They argued the new proposal is a thoughtful and fair approach to this problem.

Opponents of the new proposal said the earlier proposal is simple and effective: if you don’t provide a social security number, you are not eligible for public housing. They argued it is unfair to provide housing to illegal immigrants.

The roll call vote is on the amendment to study, rather than vote directly on requiring a social security number. (A “Yes” vote is for the study. A “No” vote is against the study.)

Rep. Stephan Hay    Was not yet elected

Rep. Bradley Jones       No

Rep. Theodore Speliotis     Yes

Rep. Thomas Walsh     Was not yet elected

 

PUNISH “SANCTUARY” CITIES AND TOWNS (H 4200)

House 34-124, rejected a Republican-sponsored amendment that would withhold local aid from any cities or towns that do not enforce federal immigration laws. The withholding would also apply to communities that have established themselves as “sanctuary” cities or towns that offer protection in a variety of ways to illegal immigrants.

Amendment supporters said cities and towns that encourage law-breaking are hurting this nation. They argued the state should do everything it can to dissuade those who seek to come here illegally.

Some opponents said the amendment is a mean-spirited political stunt and questioned why supporters would want to punish students by taking away local aid from their schools. Others said the amendment is unenforceable, just like a municipality declaring itself a sanctuary city is nothing but symbolism.

(A “Yes” vote is for cutting off local aid to sanctuary cities and towns. A “No” vote is against cutting it off.)

Rep. Stephan Hay      No

Rep. Bradley Jones     Yes

Rep. Theodore Speliotis   No

Rep. Thomas Walsh  No

 

HOW LONG WAS LAST WEEK’S SESSION? Beacon Hill Roll Call tracks the length of time that the House and Senate were in session each week. Many legislators say that legislative sessions are only one aspect of the Legislature’s job and that a lot of important work is done outside of the House and Senate chambers. They note that their jobs also involve committee work, research, constituent work and other matters that are important to their districts. Critics say that the Legislature does not meet regularly or long enough to debate and vote in public view on the thousands of pieces of legislation that have been filed. They note that the infrequency and brief length of sessions are misguided and lead to irresponsible late night sessions and a mad rush to act on dozens of bills in the days immediately preceding the end of an annual session.

During the week of March 6-10, the House met for a total of 22 minutes and the Senate met for a total of six minutes.

Mon. March 6

House11:03 a.m. to11:13 a.m.

Senate 11:05 a.m. to11:08 a.m.

Tues.March 7

No House session

No Senate session

Wed. March 8

No House session

No Senate session

Thurs. March 9

House11:03 a.m. to11:15 a.m.

Senate 11:08 a.m. to11:11 a.m.

Fri. March 10

No House session

No Senate session

Bob Katzen
welcomes feedback at
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

A St. Patrick’s Day Reflection

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Homecoming: JFK in Ireland, June 1963

Dublin

Two years ago while in Dublin, I took a tour of Leinster House, a magnificent ducal residence now the seat of the Irish Parliament. At the end of our visit, we were led up an impressive marble staircase. There hung a beautiful green silk ceremonial flag belonging to New York’s “Fighting 69th” Irish Brigade led by Irish patriot Brigadier General Thomas F. Meagher during the American Civil War. Fittingly, the banner was a gift from the American people to the people of Ireland (with the permission of Congress) during the historic four-day visit of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy to Ireland in June 1963.

After leaving Leinster House, Kennedy’s motorcade proceeded through the streets of Dublin, where he was greeted by tumultuous crowds. The same scene would be repeated several times in other cities and towns throughout the country. His party then stopped at the Arbour Hill Military Cemetery in Dublin, the resting place of 14 of the fallen leaders of the 1916 Easter Rebellion, who had been executed at Kilmainham Jail. Later, JFK told his aides that his favorite part of the trip was the wreath-laying and silent drill done by the Irish Cadets at the site.

The home place, County Wexford

The focal point of the sojourn was JFK’s triumphal return to his ancestral home in New Ross, County Wexford. There he was greeted by a sea of American flags and a boys’ choir singing “The Boys of Wexford.” Suddenly Kennedy “broke away from his bodyguards and joined the choir for a second chorus, prompting misty-eyed reactions from both observers and the press.”

Then the President enjoyed tea, cake and homemade salmon sandwiches with his cousin Mary Ryan and other members of the clan, toasting “all those Kennedys who went and all those Kennedys who stayed.” Nor did he forget his maternal forebears, the Fitzgeralds. His great-grandfather, Thomas Fitzgerald, left Ireland during the Great Famine, establishing himself as a cooper in Boston. JFK explained, “He carried nothing except two things: a strong religious faith and a strong desire for liberty. I am glad to say that all of his great-grandchildren value that inheritance.”

Departure

On the last day of his visit, President Kennedy received the “Freedom of the City” award at Eyre Square in Galway City. In describing the strong bonds between Ireland and America, he concluded that “If the day was clear enough, and if you went down to the bay you looked west, and your sight was good enough, you would see Boston, Massachusetts.” The motorcade then headed to Shannon Airport, where yet another emotional throng had gathered to bid him farewell. JFK later remarked that his visit to Ireland had been “the happiest four days” of his life.

Endings

When JFK’s days were cut short by an assassin’s bullet five months later, his widow Jacqueline Kennedy made a request of the Irish government that those “Cadets who so impressed the President on his visit perform the drill again at his state funeral.” And so, “those awe-struck, trembling young men stood inches from the foreign dignitaries from over 90 countries and performed their silent funeral drill” at his memorial service.

The people of Ireland were devastated by the young President’s untimely death. Yet, they could take comfort in having welcomed their countryman “home” months earlier. When leaving, Kennedy had assured his admirers that he and his entourage “feel ourselves at home … and not in a strange country, but feel ourselves among neighbors, even though we are separated by generations, by time, and by thousands of miles.”

More than half a century later, American visitors still feel that the legacy of JFK’s 1963 visit lives on in Ireland.

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By Helen Breen


   

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