Watertown Watertown Teen Joins Attorney General for Announcement of Vaping Investigation

Watertown High School student Shariel Joseph spoke during Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s announcement of the investigation into vaping and e-cigarette companies on Tuesday. Joseph, who will be senior in the fall, has been involved in anti-tobacco efforts as a Watertown Youth Coalition Peer Leader. At the announcement she represented The 84 Movement, a group of youth from Massachusetts fighting against tobacco. During her address, Joseph talked about how “JUULing” (named after the leading vaping equipment company JUUL) became a big thing at Watertown High School, and she saw students using them in school bathrooms, the hallways and even classrooms.

“From the beginning of my junior year to the end there was a huge increase of people JUUL-ing,” Joseph said. “Before there were a few people who JUUL-ed but now it seems like everyone is JUUL-ing, especially since it is summer, now.

Parts of Common Street Closing for Construction Starting This Week

The Watertown Department of Public Works announced that the construction project on Common Street will soon begin, and the street will be closed much of the day. 

The project includes creating a roundabout at the intersection of Common Street, Orchard Street and Church Street. Also, the intersection with Spring Street will be redesigned. The DPW sent out the following announcement:
Beginning Monday, July 23, Common Street will be closed between Mt. Auburn Street and Orchard Street between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., with local access provided to abutters and Middlesex Road residents only. The closure will also include the intersection of Spring Street — there will be no access to Common Street from Spring Street.

Designers Add More Options for Redesigning Watertown Square After Traffic Counts

After taking traffic counts in the area around Watertown Square and along Charles River Road an North Beacon Street, the designers of the Watertown Square Improvement project added more options for how the intersection could be changed. On July 9, the Town of Watertown held an open house to present the latest options for reconfiguring Watertown Square. The last time the project was presented to the public, in November 2017, many residents — particularly those living between Charles River Road and North Beacon Street — opposed the idea of removing Charles River Road from the Watertown Square intersection. Representatives from the Town’s consultant on the project, VHB, said traffic counts would be done before coming back with recommendations for the project. “Based on the traffic counts, rather than reduce the options, we added more,” said Dennis Sheehan, the DPW’s Director of Administration and Finance. “If one solution would have clearly worked best we would have presented less options.”

Group of Mass Residents to Review Patient Safety Ballot Question Before Election

Rep. Jonathan Hecht’s office provided for following announcement:

The Citizens’ Initiative Review (CIR) Advisory Board announced today that Question 1, An Initiative Petition for a Law Relative to Patient Safety and Hospital Transparency, is the subject of this year’s review in a meeting at the Massachusetts State House. Along with the selection of the ballot question, 20 citizen panelists were chosen to participate in a four-day deliberation process on the initiative. The panel will produce a Citizens’ Statement outlining its key findings and the strongest arguments for supporting and opposing Question 1 to aid voters filling out their November ballot. The bipartisan Advisory Board unanimously chose Question 1, one of the three ballot questions considered for citizen evaluation, for the CIR after a public discussion. The Advisory Board members who cast their vote for Question 1 included Rachael Cobb, MassVOTE Board Member and Professor of Government at Suffolk University; Patrick Field, Managing Director of the Consensus Building
Institute; Representative Brad Hill, Assistant Minority Leader; Meryl Kessler, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters; Phil Johnston, former Chairman of the Massachusetts Democratic Party and former Massachusetts Secretary of Health and Human Services; Senator Patrick O’Connor, Minority Whip; George Pillsbury, MassVOTE Board Chair; and Alan Solomont, Dean of Tufts
University’s Tisch College of Civic Life and former US Ambassador to Spain and Andorra.

LETTER: Watertown Republicans Announce Endorsement for Congressional Race

The Watertown Republican Town Committee is thrilled to announce that it has unanimously endorsed Republican John Hugo of Woburn to be the Republican Nominee for United States’ Congress in the 5th Congressional District.We believe that Hugo’s strong embrace of the Republican platform, makes him the best choice for voters in the Sept. 4 Primary. Further his energy and commitment make him the best candidate to take the fight the Katherine Clark, whom Hugo describes as “out of touch with needs of the district” adding: “She missing in action and I doubt if she’s ever read the Constitution … if she has, she’s developed a habit of ignoring it!”

“In world full of scripted career politicians like Katherine Clark, John Hugo is a breath of fresh air. He’s a regular working class person that happens to be civic minded and a true patriot” said John DiMascio, the Watertown Republican Committee Chair. “It’s an honor for us to endorse him and a bigger privilege to call him a friend.”

John Hugo has sacrificed much and worked tirelessly to get himself on the ballot.

LETTER: Planning Board, Town Council Should Reject Amendment to Allow Taller Buildings

I can understand that a Planning Board or Town Council member might be tempted to say, there’s no harm in approving Boylston Properties’ (BP) proposed zoning amendment which would allow BP and other developers to ask for one or more 197-foot buildings. The officials might say, approving the height amendment doesn’t approve any specific building, we can decide about a specific building at a later time, when we see plans, etc. I disagree there is no good reason to amend the zoning, on the contrary there are good reasons to reject their proposal, and there is harm in changing the ordinance. At BP’s request, the Town changed its zoning two years ago to meet almost all of BP’s needs at Arsenal Yards except BP’s proposal that there be no limit how tall a building the Planning Board could approve. After lengthy and at times heated debate a compromise was reached to allow 130 feet, taller than is allowed in any other part of town.

OP-ED: End of Session Crunch in the State Legislature

State Sen. Will Brownsberger (D – Belmont) who also represents Watertown and parts of Boston, provided the following piece:

It has already been a productive legislative session, but negotiations underway have the potential to make it especially significant. In April, we enacted  a transformational set of criminal justice reforms. Last month, we settled a major package to reduce economic inequality — raising the minimum wage, providing paid family and medical leave and also resolving a dispute over the sales tax. Several measures that have significant resonance in the current national political climate have crossed or should shortly hit the Governor’s desk: Extreme risk protective orders to reduce the risk of gun suicides, automatic voter registration and the repeal of archaic anti-abortion laws. Another measure that resonates nationally is still up in the air — “safe communities” legislation that would assure that local police focus on maintaining order and protecting residents rather than doing the immigration enforcement work of ICE. The safe communities measure is pending as part of the state’s budget for fiscal 2019which is now a couple of weeks late.