Speak With State Sen. Brownsberger’s Staff at the Farmers Market

State Sen. Will Brownsberger

State Sen. Will Brownsberger’s office sent out the following announcement:

Staff from the office of Senator Will Brownsberger will have a table at the Watertown Farmer’s Market on Wednesday, August 31 from 2:30-6:30 p.m.

The event is being held at Saltonstall Park, located at 149 Main Street, Watertown, MA 02472. The farmer’s market will take place rain or shine. This is a great opportunity to meet our district staff and connect with us about any state-related issues that are on your mind. We are available to discuss legislative topics, such as policy interests or specific bills in the Massachusetts Legislature, as well as any state-related personal issues, such as navigating the unemployment system or the RMV. Please reach out with any questions.

State Sen. Will Brownsberger Seeks Applications for Summer Internships

Wikimedia Commons / ChensiyuanMassachusetts State House. The following information was provided by State Sen. Will Brownsberger:

The Office of Senator Will Brownsberger is accepting applications for part-time, unpaid, summer 2022 internships. All applicants must have a permanent residence or attend school in the 2nd Suffolk and Middlesex District (which includes all of Watertown). 

Legislative internships offer a variety of professional experiences, including policy research, constituent services, and legislation and budget analysis. Daily seminars on different aspects of state government are scheduled by the Senate. Internships require a commitment of 8-20 hours a week for a minimum of five weeks, with possible added research work outside of scheduled hours.

State Rep. Owens, State Sen. Brownsberger Hosting Joint Virtual Office Hours

State Rep. Steve Owens (left) and State Sen. Will Brownsberger will host joint office hours. The following announcement was provided by State. Rep. Steve Owens’ office:

State Representative Steve Owens will be hosting Joint Office Hours alongside State Senator Will Brownsberger next week on Tuesday, January 11th. The event will be virtual and begin at 5:00 p.m. EST and end at 7:00 p.m. EST. Both legislators are looking forward to hearing from constituents on state-related legislative or personal matters.

OP-ED: Keep Health Care Workers in Mind, System Strained by More Than COVID

State Sen. Will Brownsberger

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

Please keep our health care workers in mind as you make decisions about what COVID risks to take over the coming weeks. As of Tuesday, December 14, there were 1411 people hospitalized with COVID in Massachusetts, of which 326 were in the ICU and 176 were intubated. That is well below the level in the first April 2020 surge when hospitalizations peaked at almost 4,000, yet for a combination of reasons, the hospital system is feeling a lot of strain. Steve Walsh, President of the Massachusetts Hospital Association testified at a hearing on December 16 about the state of the hospital system. He made the following points in his testimony:

Like many employers across the country, hospitals are having difficulty recruiting staff — nurses and behavioral health specialists are most in demand, but all hospital jobs are hard to fill.Caregivers are exhausted and burnt out — many are leaving for other fields or retiring.In the early days of COVID, it was possible to recruit travel nurses — acute surges were happening in only a few states.

OP-ED: Legislature’s Bill Includes Money for Greenway, Replacing Pipes, Wayside Program in Watertown

State Sen. Will Brownsberger

The following piece was provided by State Sen. Will Brownsberger:

We are pleased to announce that the state’s positive financial position combined with additional federal support has allowed the legislature to make new contributions to Watertown’s health, housing, and environmental programs. 

We have just approved a $4 billion one-time spending bill, funded from $2.5 billion in federal relief and $1.5 billion in state surplus.   

Statewide energy and environmental programs receive $370 million in the package. We were able to additionally allocate $150,000 directly to Watertown to help replace lead pipes that connect service lines to water mains and to conduct a public outreach campaign targeted to all residents and property owners served by lead pipes so that they know to take appropriate precautions, most importantly flushing their faucets in the morning before drinking. 

We additionally allocated $250,000 for the construction of stormwater infiltration systems to reduce flooding of the Watertown-Cambridge Greenway in the vicinity of Cottage Street. The Watertown-Cambridge Greenway is the new bike path segment starting on Arlington street in Watertown and connecting through to Fresh Pond. The project was delayed to address drainage issues at several points along the path in both Watertown and Cambridge. The path design had to be modified to include flood control structures, but it is finally nearing completion.   

Unrelated to the current bill, but also in the environmental-good-news category, the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation is finally moving forward with a set of sidewalk improvements, river path improvements and landscaping improvements along Charles River Road. This project is funded in part by $500,000 that Simmons College provided as part of its compensation to the state for use of the Daly Field across the river in Brighton.   

The bill devotes $1.15 billion to statewide public health and health care systems. Of that amount, $400 million is devoted to behavioral health, including $122 million to help young professionals who commit to the field. Behavioral health and public health remain centrally important as the COVID pandemic continues. 

We were able to invest $125,000 directly to support behavioral health efforts in Watertown through the Wayside Youth and Family Support Network. Wayside is the nonprofit which houses the Watertown Social Services Resource Specialist positions as well as the Watertown Youth Coalition. 

Of the $617.6 million that the bill devotes to housing and homelessness, $150 million will go to local housing maintenance needs statewide. We were able to additionally allocate $57,000 directly to the Watertown Housing Authority to conduct a feasibility study for the redevelopment of the Willow Park family public housing development in East Watertown. 

The bill also devotes $1.578 billion to supporting workers and businesses statewide. It allocates $500 million to support front line workers through premium pay, $500 million to support businesses through relief for their contributions to unemployment insurance and $578 million to a range of other economic development and work force measures. 

Finally, the bill provides $271 million for education on multiple levels, including $100 million for HVAC upgrades to protect health in local public schools.  

In selecting programs to benefit from the large amount of funding made available by the federal government and the strength of the state’s economy, the legislature solicited input across the state and deliberated at length as to how to most effectively use the funds. We also kept in mind that the funds are available on a one-time basis and cannot be used to fund permanent program expansions. 

Watertown stands out for the effective financial management that has allowed it to be very self-sufficient in its public investments, but we are pleased to be able to support and complement those investments and we are grateful for the ongoing collaboration we have with Watertown’s very effective leadership team. 

Will Brownsberger is the state senator serving Back Bay, Fenway, Brighton, Allston, Watertown and Belmont.  Steve Owens is the state representative serving much of Watertown, and parts of  Cambridge. 

State Sen. Brownsberger Hosting Virtual Office Hours, See How to Participate

State Sen. Will Brownsberger

State Sen. Will Brownsberger will host virtual office hours for Watertown residents on Saturday, March 13. The meeting, which will be conducted on Zoom, will take place from 2-4 p.m. on March 13. Brownsberger said he plans to have a smaller group discussion during people can raise concerns. See the Zoom meeting information below:

Join Zoom Meetinghttps://zoom.us/j/92820069846?pwd=VEpNbXJWMXMvOFh1c3dCaUtSZ1VnQT09

Meeting ID: 928 2006 9846Passcode: 692210One tap mobile+13017158592,,92820069846#,,,,*692210# US (Washington DC)+13126266799,,92820069846#,,,,*692210# US (Chicago)

Dial by your location        +1 301 715 8592 US (Washington DC)        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 205 6099 US (New York)        +1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)        +1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)        +1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)Meeting ID: 928 2006 9846Passcode: 692210Find your local number: https://zoom.us/u/avt7wQIqp

OP-ED: State Sen. Brownsberger on Proposed Police Reform in Mass.

State Sen. Will Brownsberger

(The following piece was provided by State Sen. Will Brownsberger, whose district includes Watertown, Belmont and parts of Boston)

Shortly, the Governor will decide whether to approve a major policing reform package. 

The legislature sent him the bill after hours of emotional debate, months of emotional negotiation and thousands of emotional comments by people on both sides of the issue. If approved, it will make a real difference in policing in Massachusetts. 

There are many brave and honorable police officers in this state and there are many excellent police leaders as well. Some of them take personally the proposition that improvement is needed. That is unfortunate. We need to keep reassuring them that we do not mean to question their commitment, integrity, or competence. 

At the same time, we need to recognize that we can do better. We need to admit that there are some departments in the state where civilian complaints of mistreatment are badly neglected. One need look no further than the recent United States Department of Justice investigation into the police department in the City of Springfield.   

Citizens — and honorable police officers — do need stronger protection from rogue officers and the package before the Governor will offer that protection. At the heart of the package is a new statewide oversight agency for policing: The Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission (POST).   

The POST will have the power to directly receive a complaint of misconduct from any source. Additionally, all law enforcement agencies in the state will have to promptly report to the POST any complaints that they receive.   

The POST has the power to certify officers and the power to decertify them. Without certification by the POST, law enforcement officers cannot work in law enforcement. In response to serious misconduct, the POST may choose to consider suspending or decertifying an officer. It will be much harder to bury a complaint of serious misconduct.   

That does not mean that officers will be presumed to be in the wrong when a complaint is filed. On the contrary, they will benefit from strong procedural protections. When a complaint is made, officers will usually go through the local discipline process as they do now. But the result of that process will be reported to the POST and the POST will have the resources to independently investigate if it deems it necessary. 

If the POST opens an investigation and concludes that an officer’s conduct merits a suspension or decertification, the POST may impose a preliminary suspension, but only after a hearing and a finding that the weight of the evidence favors a finding against the officer. During a preliminary suspension, an officer may remain on the agency payroll. 

A final suspension or decertification can only be imposed upon “clear and convincing evidence.” That is a very high bar — professionals in other fields can typically lose their license on lesser findings. It makes sense that police officers should have a somewhat higher threshold for losing their license — they are often in an adversarial relationship with people that they arrest and they can draw complaints even when they behave professionally. 

The POST commission will consist of nine members appointed by the Governor and the Attorney General. The commission will include three police officers, three civilians and three additional civilians nominated from lists submitted by the National Association of Social Workers, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, and the civil rights and social justice section of the Massachusetts Bar Association. 

POST commissions, in the other 46 states that have them, are completely dominated by law enforcement officers. Due to their make up and/or their limited powers, POST commissions in other states have allowed tragic abuses to continue, leading to civil unrest.  

In departing from national precedent by creating a majority civilian commission with great power, we hope to give citizens confidence in the commission’s independence and to assure that real transparency and accountability come to law enforcement in Massachusetts.  

More information available here.

Sen. Brownsberger’s Office Helping People Find Assistance to Pay Rent, Mortgage

State Sen. Will Brownsberger

The following message was sent out by State Sen. Will Brownsberger:

If you are experiencing difficulty making rent or mortgage payments — or if you know people who are — my office may be able to help.  

You can contact Alicia Brisson, my District Director, directly by email at Alicia.Brisson@MASenate.gov or by phone at 617-651-1516. RAFT and ERMA are programs that provide financial assistance to renters and homeowners who are unable to make housing payments due to COVID-19.   More information about RAFT, ERMA, and additional emergency housing resources and eviction diversions can be found here. Landlords can benefit from some of these resources. More information about the Massachusetts Housing Assistance Landscape can be found here. As a legislator, it is a top priority of mine to prevent a surge in homelessness in the time of COVID. I want to  make sure the programs are in place to help people stay housed and also to help people access those programs. We really want to help, so please do not hesitate to reach out. Will BrownsbergerState Senator, Back Bay, Fenway, Allston, Brighton, Watertown, Belmont