LETTER: Library Trustee Candidate Shares His Vision

Watertown Free Public Library

Dear Watertown Residents,

My name is Theodore (Teddy) Kokoros and I am running in the November 5th election to become a Watertown Free Public Library Trustee. Even though I am running unopposed, (there are 3 candidates for 3 open Watertown Library Trustee positions) I wanted to share with you 10 of my priorities if I become a Watertown Library Trustee because you deserve information on every candidate on the ballot so you can make an informed decision on election day. 1. Help the Watertown Library survey as many Watertown residents as possible to get feedback from the Watertown community about what the library does well, what it could do better, and big ideas for The Watertown Library’s future. 2.

OP-ED: Looking at Gov. Baker’s Temporary Ban on Vaping

The following piece was provided by State Sen. Will Brownsberger, D – Belmont, who also represents Watertown and parts of Boston. On Sept. 24, Governor Baker declared a public health emergency and temporary ban on the sale of all vaping products in response to a multi-state outbreak of unexplained lung illnesses associated with vaping. In effect until Jan. 25, the ban seeks to provide medical experts time to properly investigate the dangers associated with the use of electronic nicotine and marijuana products, which will assist the state in developing a response that could include new legislation or Department of Public Health (DPH) regulations.

OP-ED: Raising Our Rate of Investment in Transportation

Buses like this one on the 71 bus will get priority heading toward Harvard Square on Mt. Auburn Street in the new Cambridge-Watertown Bus Priority Pilot program. The following piece was provided by State Sen. Will Brownsberger, D – Belmont, who also represents Watertown and parts of Boston:

The MBTA’s Board heard a presentation last week from leaders of Toronto’s regional rail system. What was really stunning was how rapidly Toronto has been investing in all forms of transit improvement and expansion. 

Since 2008, Toronto’s regional leadership has been engaged in a series of transit expansions which will add up to a total investment of approximately $60 billion by 2028. Annual spending has reached a level over $4 billion in some years. Four billion dollars in well-managed transit investments within one year represents staggering progress. In Massachusetts, we have struggled to raise our annual investment to $1 billion per year on transit. In private and public meetings officials ask constantly whether we can move more quickly, but again and again the answer has been that we don’t have the planning and management capacity to do so.

LETTER: This Monday, Let’s Remember What Really Happened

It is 2019 and the Commonwealth is still celebrating a man whose crews carried out mass genocide, enslavement, and rape of indigenous people in the West Indies. While many of us have the day off from work or school, most people probably don’t think about Christopher Columbus or his legacy on this holiday — they’re just glad to have the day off, or to get sales at their favorite stores. So why are many cities around the state and country changing the name of this holiday to Indigenous Peoples Day? Much for the same reason that confederate statues and the place names of known racists are being removed. It is not to erase these people from history — rather, it recognizes that these people should not continue to be honored.

OP-ED: Improving Rail Service Can Reduce Congestion at Rush Hour

The following piece was provided by State Sen. Will Brownsberger, D – Belmont, who also represents Watertown and parts of Boston:

A closer look at recently-reported traffic numbers offers hope that expansions of rail service can make a real difference in rush hour congestion. I was discouraged by two analyses that came out over the summer. MassDOT’s report, Congestion in the Commonwealth, showed that daily vehicle volume dwarfs daily commuter rail ridership along the major radial commuting paths into the core of the Boston area. Around the same time, preliminary results from the Rail Vision model showed that even major expansions of commuter rail service outside 128 would garner ridership increases apparently too small to make a dent in vehicle volume. For example, the Congestion report shows at page 89 that on I-90 (the Massachusetts Turnpike), there are roughly 150,000 vehicles per day as compared to only 18,000 daily riders on the parallel Worcester line.

OP-ED: Education Reform Bill Would Provide More Funding

State Sen. Will Brownsberger

The following piece was provided by State Sen. Will Brownsberger, D – Belmont, who also represents Watertown and parts of Boston:

Friday, the legislature’s Education Committee released the Student Opportunity Act, a very significant education reform bill. It is an especially promising bill because the House and Senate leadership teams are already in agreement on all of its details. 

The bill targets more aid to communities with the highest concentrations of low income students, but schools in every community will benefit. The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) computes a budget for each school system in the state, known as the “Foundation Budget.” DESE also computes an amount that the school system should be able to contribute towards that budget. The state then sends the difference between what the community can afford and the Foundation Budget as education aid. Unfortunately, the Foundation Budget computation has not kept up with rising school costs. On average, communities need to spend approximately 30 percent more than the Foundation Budget to run their schools. The poorest communities in the state are unable to spend at that level and are therefore spending much less than the more affluent communities in the state.

LETTER: Boylston Properties Responds to End of Agreement with Town Over Arsenal Park

A view of the planned renovation of Arsenal Park. The following letter is in response to the Sept. 11, 2019 story “Partnership Between Town, Arsenal Yards to Renovate Town Park Over Before it Began”

Editor,

I want to clear up the facts of the state of our partnership with the Town on the Arsenal Park renovation, and to also put into context the recent exchange between the Town and Boylston Properties that you detailed in your piece. Mark Reich has been a great contributor to our early progress in this hoped for partnership, but his letter to the Town was a one-sided summary of that process. As you know, we firmly believe that Arsenal Yards will be of great benefit to Watertown.