OP-ED: Legislation Needed to Fight Systematic Racism

The following was written by Progressive Massachusetts and is endorsed by Progressive Watertown:

The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, David McAtee, and Rayshard Brooks have served as a tragic reminder of the epidemic that is police brutality in the United States. 

Over the past few weeks (indeed, over the past few years), we keep seeing more and more video examples of how widespread, how dehumanizing, and how fatal police violence is and how disproportionately such violence is used against the Black community. Some say the current wave of protests is a historic turning point; we need to make it one. 

It is important to recognize that the graphic imagery of police brutality is just one of the many violent manifestations of systemic racism and white supremacy. The underfunding of schools in communities of color is a form of violence. The denial of health care access is a form of violence. Exclusionary housing policies are a form of violence.

LETTER: Why We Need More Trees in Watertown

The Washington Post yesterday included an article about how climate change is worsening right now during the pandemic. It is not stopping for us to fight the pandemic or for anything else. Despite a temporary clearing of smog, the writer says, “the romantic vision of nature “healing” itself was always an illusion … carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are the highest they’ve been in human history, and possibly higher than in the past 3 million years. The specter of man-made climate change looms all the more ominously over a planet in the grips of a viral pandemic.” The authors go on to talk about “giant plumes of Saharan dust that wafted over the Atlantic …

LETTER: Families Impacted by 4-Alarm Fire Thank the Many Who Helped Them

Dear Friends,

As you all know on January 24th, 2020 a 4-alarm fire forced 11 families to move from our homes. There are so many to thank and we all hope that we are not forgetting anyone. Thank you to the young woman who frantically banged on each of the doors to get everyone out of the houses while Watertown Fire Department rushed to the scene. Thank you, all the Watertown Fire Department, as well as the surrounding towns who responded to the call for help. A special thank you to the fireman that went into a home several times to find a scared cat and Animal Control for taking good care of the animals until we got them back.

OP-ED: Sen. Brownsberger Discusses Voting by Mail in Mass.

State Sen. Will Brownsberger

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

Massachusetts voters will have three options in the statewide elections this fall: They will be able to vote early by mail, vote early in person, or vote in person on election day. The Massachusetts Senate passed a bill providing these options (Tuesday, June 16) and the House has already passed a similar bill. Our hope is that final legislation will be on the Governor’s desk very shortly. The new voting options are intended to reduce the risks of transmitting COVID-19. We hope that many voters will choose to vote by mail and avoid physically appearing at the polls.

LETTER: Local Peace Activists Protest Raytheon’s Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia

Peace activists from Watertown joined a protest against Raytheon for selling arms to Saudi Arabia. On Saturday, May 16, Peace Activists from Watertown Citizens for Peace, Justice and the Environment joined others from Massachusetts Peace Action and from Veterans for Peace to protest local company Raytheon’s continuing partnership with Saudi Arabia in the destruction of Yemen, even in the midst of a global pandemic. The people of Yemen have been enduring famine and war for over 5 years. Now they face the threat of COVID-19 with a public health system that has been horribly damaged by war. Local Activists stood along the sidewalk of Route 2 at Fresh Pond Shopping Center early Saturday afternoon.

Sen. Brownsberger: After Re-opening, Efforts Must Continue to Stop the Spread of COVID-19

State Sen. Will Brownsberger

The following piece was written by State Sen. Will Brownsberger, who represents Watertown, Belmont and parts of Boston. When we begin to reopen, whenever that occurs, we will all need to accept continued personal responsibility for controlling the spread of COVID-19. 

Governor Baker faces difficult judgment calls about the pacing of reopening.  Without expressing an opinion on the particulars of his judgment calls, he is taking fundamentally the right approach – namely, an incremental and data-driven approach.  

For all the reasons that we had to shut down, the potential consequences of re-opening too fast are unacceptable.  Given the risk of a catastrophic second surge, the only safe way to proceed is incrementally.  We will want to open in phases and evaluate the disease statistics daily for any early indication of an upswing. 

As we slowly reopen while the virus is still at large in the community, it will be more important than ever to do the basic things that all the public health professionals tell us will reduce the rate of transmission:  Wear masks, don’t touch our faces, wash our hands frequently and especially after making contact with high touch surfaces, stay home when we feel sick, work from home whenever we can, maintain physical distance from each other. 

Some businesses and employers will need to change their operations to support more distancing.  If the conclusion is that people have to come in, can they come in on some kind of shift system?  Does everyone need to come together at the same time? 

The Governor  bears primary responsibility for pacing the reopening, but it will be on all of us to take the personal precautions that will make the reopening work.  People managing the work of others will bear special responsibility for protecting their employees.  Customer-facing business managers will bear special responsibility for protecting their customers.

LETTER: Full Time Forestry Supervisor Key to Protecting Watertown’s Tree Canopy

On behalf of Trees for Watertown, I want to publicly thank our DPW, and in particular Bob DiRico — who is Acting Forestry Supervisor on top of his already-full-time job as Supervisor of Parks and Cemeteries — for the care they’re taking of our town trees during this extended period both without a full-time Forestry Supervisor/Tree Warden and now with reduced DPW staffing because of the pandemic. As we all know we had a very severe windstorm yesterday. Watertown’s tree canopy took a real beating. Our DPW did a tremendous job responding to this. Bob DiRico and his support team were up until 11:30 last night working on clearing the worst of the damage and already were at it again early this morning.

LETTER: Residents Thankful for Quick Response by Public Works Employees

A Watertown Department of Public Works snow plow. To the Editor:

We are writing to thank the Watertown Public Works Department, and to commend two of its workers for the outstanding service they recently provided to us. On Sunday, March 22 our sewer line became blocked. We attempted to unclog it with no success. About 6:30 p.m. we called the DPW to see if it would be possible for someone to come by the next morning.