LETTER: Chair of Progressive Watertown Endorses State Rep. Candidate

I ask you to vote for Democratic State Committee member Steve Owens in the Middlesex 29th District State Representative race. I have known Steve since 2012 and have come to know his wife Pia and their two sons over the years. They are dedicated parents raising their boys to become curious, confident, standup adults and citizens. Even among all of this chaos, they remain steadfast. As a representative, Steve will be exceptional for several reasons.

LETTER: Town Councilor Endorses State Rep. Candidate

Dear Voter,

It is with great enthusiasm that I join Representative Hecht in endorsing Steve Owens as the next Representative for the 29th Middlesex District. I urge you to join us in voting for Steve in the Democratic primary election on Tuesday, September 1. I have known Steve for nearly twenty years and we have worked together on many local, state, and national political campaigns during that time. I have benefited from his wisdom and political acumen as he has served on my campaign committee since 2009. A long-time Watertown resident, Steve is credited with revitalizing the Watertown Democratic Town Committee and has served as its Chair for the last twelve years. He also has twice won election to the Democratic State Committee.  

I am supporting Steve and asking you to do the same because he is a progressive activist and proven leader ready to take on the many challenges facing Massachusetts. As our State Representative he will champion the issues that the Legislature must address with a commitment to transparency and equity. 

He will join other progressive legislators in supporting policies that combat climate change and create environmental sustainability. He will be an advocate for affordable housing for tenants and homeowners and for public education from pre-kindergarten to college. As a professionaltransportation expert, Steve knows how important safe, reliable public transit is for workers and businesses.

LETTER: Steve Owens Has Put in the Work

I’m writing to urge my friends and neighbors to vote for longtime Democratic Town Committee chair Steve Owens for state rep this primary. Other letters have touted Steve’s progressive commitments and his impressive command of the issues facing our state. In this letter I want to focus instead on the work Steve has put into this race. Regardless of your policy views, I think we can all agree that we want a representative who will be energetic about using his powers of office to stand up for us and help our community and our town. Steve is the only candidate who has a campaign website where he has written about issues that are important to him and what he intends to do in office, a key piece of transparency that other candidates have chosen not to provide.

LETTER: Steve Owens Would Be a Transportation Minded State Rep

Many Watertown voters have traffic, congestion and public transportation at the top of their list of concerns. Many of us rely heavily on MBTA service to get to work and other essential life functions. The majority of us are deeply concerned about the environment and climate change. If you want an advocate who will be committed to addressing these concerns in the State House, then Steve Owens is your best choice for State Representative. Steve is a transportation professional by trade and understands the complication of going from policy to complex nuts and bolts operations.

LETTER: Don’t Move Polling Location to Senior Housing, Risk Spreading COVID-19

Dear Editor Charlie Breitrose and Others To Whom It Concerns:

I am a senior who lives at 100 Warren Street in Watertown MA, which is SENIOR HOUSING.  

We learned this weekend that Watertown is moving its voting location for District 11 and 12 elections for 2020 to be held in my residential building. “Pursuant to Section 11 of Chapter 115 of the Acts of 2020, the City Clerk has prepared the following report relative to moving the polling place for Precinct 11 & 12 from the Cunniff School 246 Warren St to the E. Joyce Munger Apartments 100 Warren St: Report on Precincts 11 & 12 Polling Place Change Dated 08/06/2020”

The seniors, handicapped residents and people of color who live here represent the highest risk population for COVID-19. It is not acceptable to have the elections in our building, period. It should never have been considered. This cannot be made “safe” no matter what we are told. The way for us to be “safe” is for it not to happen at all. To force residents to accept this decision is to be without compassion and conscience and shirks the implied duty of persons in authority to protect those in your care. This is our home! During this virus crisis, many people have been very creative in making lives work well in a deadly unwell environment. For example, since March all sorts of certifications and guidelines have been relaxed statewide to achieve desperately needed results. Surely our state and local officials can find a way to do that in this situation – another site needs to be found. How about a tent?

OP-ED: School, General Government Aid Will Not be Cut

State Sen. Will Brownsberger

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

The legislature and the Governor recently announced a joint commitment to avoid cuts in state aid to municipalities in the current fiscal year despite the state’s own loss of revenues. While critical information from the federal government is still needed in order to finalize a full fiscal year budget for the Commonwealth, the Baker-Polito Administration and the Legislature are committing to no less than the Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) level of funding for UGGA and Chapter 70 education aid as a baseline amount for FY21 funding.The FY21 funding commitment also includes Chapter 70 increases for inflation and enrollment that will keep all school districts at foundation, under the law as it existed for FY20, providing an additional $107 million in aid over FY20. This increase comes in addition to approximately $450 million in new federal supports for K-12 schools to assist with educating students during the pandemic.   Division of Local Services Alert, July 30, 2020. This commitment reflects our shared belief that the services municipalities provide are truly essential. As we struggle through the pandemic, now is not the time to reduce support for police, fire, and schools. 

Since COVID-19 arrived in force in March, three fundamental uncertainties have made it impossible for the state to plan its overall budget for the current fiscal year (Fiscal 2021, which began on July 1).   

First, no one knows what the course of the pandemic will be. By now it does seem clear that we are in for a long struggle, but no one knows exactly what that means.   

Second, no one knows how the economy will respond to the epidemic itself and to the shutdown orders issued in response to the epidemic. How many businesses will fail? Will people find employment in newly needed services? 

The state’s available revenue depends very directly on the health of the economy. Most of the state’s major revenue sources – income taxes, sales taxes, corporate profit taxes – go up and down as the economy goes up and down.   Economic recession means state revenue loss. 

Even in good times, states depend heavily on aid from the federal government, especially to support the Medicaid program. With falling revenues for state governments across the country, all eyes are on Washington for relief. The decision from Washington is the third major unanswered question for budget planners. 

We expected an answer by May or June and congressional Democrats did put forward a strong bill in May. The House bill would fully protect Massachusetts and its municipalities from service cuts 2021. As of this writing, negotiations between the Democrats and the White House continue. I hope that as you read this, we will have an interim answer, but the longer-term outlook depends to some extent on the outcome of the fall elections. 

In the absence of a major infusion of federal aid, the total revenue losses for Massachusetts in Fiscal 2021 might approach $6 billion, a big chunk of the $45 billion budget. There is every reason to believe that Fiscal 2022 may also be grim. 

Like me, many legislators have previously served in local government and know the fundamental value of the services provided by municipalities. We also know that local governments function within a very tightly defined financial box: They can only raise the revenues authorized by state law and can only do so within the parameters of Proposition 2.5, the tax limitation law. Additionally, many town governments have a rigid budget planning cycle built around the annual town meeting – it is hard for them to make mid-year course changes. 

Conscious of these factors, legislators are always eager to make a strong commitment to local aid that communities can rely on early in the spring. This year we were unable to do that, first due to COVID-19 and then due to the delays in Washington.   

As July came to an end with no answer from Washington and with schools struggling to make plans for the fall, we decided we had to make a commitment to municipalities and resolve to meet that commitment regardless of the unknowns. We do have a rainy-day fund that now stands at $3.5 billion, although our hope has been not to use it all in the current fiscal year. Jointly, the House, the Senate, and the Governor concluded that we could, perhaps with other sacrifices, avoid cuts for municipalities and that is the announcement that came forward. 

Budget planners in some communities were surprised.  Indeed, for months, we have been warning that aid could be cut. Some planners were suspicious that there might be some hidden catch.  

Our budget leaders are acting after great deliberation and with great appreciation for the work that municipalities do. Local planners should feel safe relying on this commitment for Fiscal 2021. 

Fiscal 2022 is another story. But our actions this year should signal how much we value the work of the police, the firefighters, the teachers, and other municipal public servants. That appreciation will continue to guide our actions in 2022. 

LETTER: History Author Responds to Discussion of Bombing of Hiroshima, Nagasaki

Dear Editor,

I was dismayed to read the responses to the Watertown Citizens’ article about the importance of commemorating the 75th anniversaries of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki A-bombings. These comments reflected ignorance of history and passion for vengeance. As we know, the refusal to learn from history means that it will be repeated, often in a disguised form. Most important to know is that the A-bombs initially killed approximately200,000 innocent children, women and men, with many more dying from cancer and other radiation diseases in the years that have followed. In time, it will be broadly understood that the Asia-Pacific theaters of WWII were the result of clashing empires: Japanese, U.S. and British.

LETTER: Watertown Group Commemorating Bombing of Hiroshima, Nagasaki

Candleboats float on the Charles River in Watertown in memory of those who died in the nuclear bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Watertown Citizens for Peace Justice and the Environment is holding a commemoration of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on Sunday, August 9, the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki. NEVER AGAIN – NO MORE HIROSHIMA and NAGASAKI – NO MORE VICTIMS – ABOLISH NUCLEAR WEAPONS

7:30 PM – Silent Vigil – Watertown Square8:00 PM – Music and Testimonials8:30 PM – Launching of the Candle boats on the Charles River