Tag Archives: Massachusetts

Rosanne Bacon Meade to head committee against physician-assisted suicide

 

BOSTON – The Committee Against Physician Assisted Suicide today announced that Rosanne Bacon Meade, former president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association and progressive activist, would chair its efforts to defeat the ballot initiative legalizing assisted suicide in the Commonwealth.   The initiative petition will appear on the November Massachusetts ballot (Question 2).   If approved, it would become law on January 1, 2013. 

 “Given my personal involvement in end-of-life care for both my mother and mother in-law, I am honored to lead the effort to defeat Question 2,” said Meade.  “No matter your philosophical views on end of life decision-making, this initiative petition is poorly written, confusing, and flawed.  With Massachusetts as the center of modern medical advances and treatment for those who are seriously ill, we can do better than pass a ballot question that would take us backward, not forward, in how we deal with end-of-life treatments.”  

 Meade said the Committee, which has already attracted the support of doctors, nurses, hospice workers, and religious leaders, will launch a vigorous campaign to defeat the measure.

“This ballot question allows a patient to obtain a lethal prescription without a mental health evaluation, without a consultation with a palliative care expert, and without family involvement,” said Meade.  “A person could act on their own at a terribly vulnerable moment, without the help and support they need.”

“An initiative petition is the worst possible way to decide end-of- life treatment options,” Meade said. “But, the proponents put this issue on the ballot instead of asking the legislature to bring healthcare experts together to thoughtfully advise state policy makers.  We will do whatever we can to help voters understand the ballot questions shortcomings and lack of effective safeguards.”

Many of the leading local and national health organizations, including the Massachusetts Medical Society, the Hospice & Palliative Care Federation of Massachusetts, the American Medical Association, and the American College of Physicians oppose physician assisted suicide.

“Patients don’t need to commit suicide to achieve peace and dignity,” said Dr. Alexandra Cist, a physician and clinical ethics consultant at Massachusetts General Hospital and a Harvard Medical School faculty member.  “Instead, they need better advance care planning and increased early entry into palliative care and hospice so a patient can benefit profoundly from the right treatment and support.”

 The Vote No on Question 2 Coalition already includes doctors, nurses, members of the disability community and religious leaders from all faiths.

 “Jewish leaders, ethicists, and rabbis have advocated on behalf of ever more effective palliative care because they recognize the ethical and practical dangers of permitting assisted suicide,” said Rabbi David Meyer of Marblehead. 

Meade said the coalition plans to continue expanding its membership and its fundraising base in the next several weeks.   

“I am struck by how many people have no idea this question is on the ballot,” she noted.  “We need to make people aware that Question 2 is seriously flawed and deserves a no vote on November 6th.”  

 In addition to serving as MTA president, Meade was also a member of the National Education Association’s executive committee.  Over a 38-year career, Meade taught middle school English.  She also ran the Teach Boston Program in the Boston Public Schools and taught in the Graduate School of Education at Cambridge College.   In addition to her role as educator, she has helped spearhead a number of progressive causes in Massachusetts over the past three decades.  

 To find out more, please visit www.stopassistedsuicide.org. On social media, also visit http://www.facebook.com/StopPhysicianAssistedSuicide on Facebook or @stopasstsuicide on Twitter.

 

Five things you won’t hear Scott Brown say (i.e. the truth) about his tax record

By Jason A. Stephany, MassUniting

At a noon press conference in Randolph on Tuesday, US Senator Scott Brown delivered what his office claimed would be a “major policy speech” on taxes. To the surprise of few in Massachusetts, Brown’s remarks turned out to be nothing more than the stereotypical, failed tax rhetoric of his Republican colleagues in Washington. More telling were the facts Brown failed to mention about his voting record on taxes. Here are five true statements we didn’t hear from the junior senator in Randolph:

1. “I voted to give tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas.”

Scott Brown voted to filibuster the Creating American Jobs & Ending Offshoring Act, a bill would have ended tax breaks for companies that outsource jobs or build plants and offices offshore to replace American facilities. The vote came as thousands of American workers face impending layoffs while training their replacements from China, India, and elsewhere. (US Senate roll call vote #242, 9/28/10)

 

2. “I gave $24 billion of your tax dollars to Big Oil.”

In the face of drastic budget cuts, Scott Brown voted three times to give more than $24 billion in taxpayer funds to the oil industry over the next decade. The top five Big Oil companies – BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell – are amongst the most profitable corporations in the world, posting $137 billion in profits in 2011 alone. (US Senate roll call votes #187 6/15/10; #72, 5/17/11; #63, 3/29/12)

 

3. “I’d really like to take more money out of your paycheck.”

Scott Brown voted to filibuster legislation to extend the payroll tax cut for working families – holding low and middle income workers hostage to shield the wealthiest Americans from a small surtax on income over $1 million. In effect, Brown cast a deciding vote to raise taxes on 113 million working families. In Massachusetts, the surtax would have affected just 0.6% of taxpayers with an average income of more than $2 million. (US Senate roll call vote #219, 12/1/11)

4. “I support tax breaks for millionaires…just not middle class or low-income families.”

Three times in 2010 and again in 2012, Scott Brown voted to kill measures that would extend tax cuts for the middle class. Like his vote for payroll tax hikes, Brown used the same rationale to justify his votes to raise taxes on middle and low-income families: those making $250,000 to $1 million or more each year shouldn’t have to pay their fair share like the rest of his Massachusetts constituents. (US Senate roll call votes #258 & #259, 12/4/10; #275, 12/15/10; #184, 7/25/12)

 

5. “I filibustered tax credits and loans that help small businesses grow and create jobs.”

Despite his claims of supporting job creators, Scott Brown repeatedly filibustered and opposed major legislation that helps small businesses grown and create jobs. Brown twice voted to filibuster the Small Business Jobs & Credit Act – a bill that connected growing small businesses to credit through community banks and offered significant tax credits to small firms that create American jobs. When his filibuster failed, Brown voted again to kill the legislation. The Massachusetts Bankers Association stated that failure to act on the bill “would be a missed opportunity that our struggling economy cannot afford.” (US Senate roll call votes #218 & #221, 7/29/10; #237, 9/14/10)

 

Per usual, Senator Brown took no questions from constituents or reporters, ducking out a back door immediately following his speech. But anyone who takes issue with Brown’s out-of-step voting record on taxes – or any other issue, for that matter – may contact his office at (617) 565-3170.

November ballot question #2: One view point

By Steven R. Maher


“It was once said that the moral test of Government is how that Government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.” – Hubert H. Humphrey.

Assisting the elderly, the sick, the needy and the handicapped to kill themselves is not what Hubert Humphrey had in mind as a moral government.

A question on the November 2012 ballot would legalize suicide in Massachusetts, in which a physician would prescribe a drug whose sole purpose is to kill someone. It is opposed by the American Medical Association, the American College of Physicians, and the Massachusetts Medical Society.

Under the act, two witnesses will say the patient is capable, acting voluntarily, and not being coerced. Two doctors will certify that the person has been diagnosed with a terminal illness and is expected to die within six months. After a 15 day waiting period, the patient will communicate a second time their desire to commit suicide. Then the doctor will be allowed to prescribe drugs to the patient, who must ingest this poison voluntarily without assistance. “The death certificate would list the underlying terminal illness as the cause of death,” says the act.

Deep flaws

This law has several deep flaws. In several instances, what it doesn’t say is more important than what it does say. Some highlights:

• Family members need not be consulted. Two strangers will suffice under this act to witness the patient’s request to commit suicide. If you’re the parents, spouse, sibling, or children of the patient, they can kill themselves without you being informed, and because the death certificate will list the underlying terminal disease as the cause of death, you’ll never know your loved one killed themselves – or be given a chance to stop it.

• The law does not mention medical proxies. The person you have deemed – presumably when you were of sound mind – most suitable to make your medical decisions when you are emotionally or physically incapacitated, need not be consulted under the act.

• Beneficiaries of the suicidal person’s estate are specifically allowed to be one of the two witnesses under the act. There will undoubtedly be cases of “assisted murder” where an estate beneficiary will pressure a medically weakened patient to “end their pain and suffering” – and then help themselves to the decedent’s assets. Undoubtedly, there will be cases where a witness will be motivated by greed, not love for the person whose suicide they are authorizing.

• What if the medical diagnosis is incorrect? Well, that will just be too bad for the dead person and their loved ones. The law immunizes those involved in helping a person kill themselves “for actions that comply with the law, including actions taken in good faith that substantially comply.”

The act specifically bans euthanasia, the intentional medical ending of a life by a third party. But once we start down the slippery slope of allowing a person diagnosed as terminally ill to get permission to kill themselves, euthanasia is where we’re heading as a society. This act allows the patient to request suicide.

After we’re used to that, the next act will allow family members to get doctor’s permission to medically end their relative’s life. Then the final act will be to allow the medical establishment to make the decision on their own.

This wasn’t Hubert Humphrey’s vision of a moral government.

Is it yours?

Open letter to Governor Deval Patrick

July 30, 2012

Governor Deval Patrick
Massachusetts State House
Room 280
Boston, MA 02133

Dear Governor Patrick,

On behalf of thousands of Massachusetts families whose lives are impacted by foreclosure – and all Bay State residents and consumers harmed by the ongoing economic damage of this mortgage crisis – we ask that you take action to eliminate harmful measures included in the pending foreclosure abatement legislation, House Bill 4323.

As an attorney who cut his teeth advocating on behalf of homeowners in the last, comparatively small, foreclosure crisis, you know firsthand the life-wrecking stress experienced by families facing foreclosure and eviction. And as an elected leader, you have dealt directly with the devastating impact the mortgage crisis has had on communities throughout the Commonwealth.

With this experience in mind, we ask that you not sign this legislation as-is, but that you step in to amend and address damaging provisions included within. Among the actions necessary to restore the integrity of this bill:

Remove language that will otherwise extinguish Massachusetts homeowners’ rights to sue to get their homes back in the case of certain illegal foreclosures.

Correct the arduous and unworkable negotiation process proposed for subprime loan modifications – a process that has consistently failed lenders and borrowers across the country for years.

Ensure Bay State families are able to remain in their homes by renting post-foreclosure properties now.

Addressing language that harms victims of illegal or fraudulent foreclosure is of the utmost importance. First, a new section, inserted at the last minute without notice, transforms this legislation into an anti-homeowner bill and overturns a recent Supreme Judicial Court decision that affirmed a legal protection that has existed for over a century. This new language irrevocably extinguishes the right of all homeowners to sue to get their homes back in cases where lenders have sold properties to third parties – despite not having the legally required promissory note. In Brockton, Springfield, Worcester, and many other communities hardest-hit by the foreclosure crisis, on-the-ground experience shows real estate investors are the overwhelming majority of third party purchasers – not everyday citizens looking for a place to live and raise a family. Few potential homeowners qualify to meet today’s tight lending rules and banks consistently prefer the cash offers of investor-developers. Should this language remain intact, thousands of present homeowners’ rights will be extinguished the day of the auction if a third party purchase occurs at foreclosure.

Second, to the credit of its authors, this legislation would require lenders holding legally unfair, predatory loans to test if they lose more money foreclosing on a homeowner than by offering that family a truly affordable modification. Unfortunately, this protection was coupled with an unworkable process to negotiate and receive that loan modification – one that is by mail only, includes unrealistic deadlines, and offers no concrete notification to the borrower of their opportunities or potential loss ofprotections in this process.

For example, a bank conducts a now-mandated cost analysis; it shows they lose more money by foreclosing than renegotiating loan terms, and the lender must contact the homeowner about a loan modification. The homeowner, however, has only 30 days to prepare all necessary application documents and have them accepted by the bank. Lenders rarely accept an application as complete on the first try; families nationwide submit documents an average of six times to be deemed complete. In short, these processes and deadlines will block most homeowners from accessing the very protections this bill attempts to create.

Third, this bill also creates a task force to draft a measure to grant homeowners the right to rent their homes post-foreclosure during the bank’s ownership, but requires no real action from that committee until 2013. Permitting homeowners to pay fair market rent will dramatically reduce the rising number of empty, foreclosed properties that drive down property values in communities across the Commonwealth – and shrink the number of homeless families as well. You first spoke in support of this law in spring 2007, at the beginning of the crisis, and each year since, some 8,000 more homeowner households have been needlessly evicted. The task force needs to complete its work by the end of 2012, not 2013.

Even the positive changes in the bill will offer protection to an ever-dwindling number of Massachusetts families. The new loss analysis, for instance, covers only subprime loans. Federal Reserve figures show less than 30% of the Commonwealth’s foreclosures were of subprime loans in 2009, and that number has been dropping since. At best, an estimated 500 families would benefit from the new protection each year, compared to thousands who will loose a key right to regain their home due to the last-minute language additions mentioned above.

Governor Patrick, we ask that you prioritize immediate action to save the key right of all Massachusetts homeowners, going forward, to regain their homes. In addition, we hope that you will correct the loan modification process to work for those facing foreclosure due to unfair, subprime loans – and that you call for an end-of-year deadline for writing right-to-rent legislation that will help keep Bay State families in their homes.

Sincerely,

Nadine Cohen
Consumer Rights Unit, Greater Boston Legal Services

Lee Goldstein,
Chair of Massachusetts Foreclosure Task Force, National Lawyers Guild

Eloise Lawrence
Harvard Legal Aid Bureau

Grace Ross
Mass Alliance Against Predatory Lending

PATRICK, MURRAY AND GROSSMAN RECEIVED BAIN DONATIONS

First this:

http://articles.boston.com/2012-06-15/news/32257240_1_grand-jury-investigators-authority-employees

Now this:

By Steven R. Maher

Massachusetts Governor Deval L. Patrick, Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray, and Treasurer Steven Grossman are among the Massachusetts Democratic leaders who received campaign donations from employees of Bain Capital, the investment company Republican nominee Mitt Romney presided over.

Patrick, a long time political ally of President Barack H. Obama, shocked many in the political world when he told CNN Bain was not a “bad company”. Patrick’s comments have reportedly appeared in Romney campaign advertisements in battleground states.
Obama and most of the Republican candidates had portrayed Romney’s Bain as a corporate predator, taking over and selling off other companies’ assets, or leveraging them to the hilt for profit. In the process, Bain was alleged to have devastated entire communities with massive layoffs.
State law requires campaign donations over a certain amount to include the name of the donor’s employer. So we went to the website of the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF) which allows a search of campaign donations by a donor’s employer, and then sub-search by candidate. We searched Contributor Employers containing the name “Bain,” sorted by candidate.

Like start up

Deval Patrick received 31 donations from Bain employees totaling $11,500. The fascinating thing about this support is that 65% of it came at the time Patrick needed it most: prior to his first election as Governor in 2006. Patrick received 14 donations totaling $4,900 prior to the September 26, 2006 Democratic primary and another 7 donations totaling $2,500 before the November 2006 general election. It may not sound like much, but for a struggling gubernatorial candidate without spectacular personal wealth of his own, such amounts go a long way in the early stages of a campaign.

Romney received only two Bain donations worth $700 in 2007, the same amount in 2008, one Bain donation of $200 in 2009, $1,200.00 in five donations in 2010, and none at all in 2011 and 2012.
Bain looked at Patrick the way an investment company looks at a start up company with an attractive new product: a good investment, providing seed money for a struggling political entrepreneur. For Mitt Romney, the payback he received from the Bain donations was enormous: staggering under the blows from Obama’s attacks on Bain, he got a rebuttal from an African American supporter of Obama. It was a return on investment, in political terms, that was priceless, a working man’s equivalent of having a winning Power Ball ticket.

Other notables

Patrick was not the only high level Massachusetts Democrat to benefit from Bain employees’ largesse:

• Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray received ten donations worth $4,350 from Bain employees, all but one of which were made in 2006.

• Treasurer Steven Grossman received six donations totaling $2,350.• Boston May Thomas Menino received $500 in 2005 from a Bain employee.

• In 2008 Massachusetts Speaker of the House Sal DiMasi, now in jail, received a $250 donation from a Bain employee.

• The Massachusetts Democratic State Committee received $35,000 in donations from Bain employees.

• Former Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly received $1,000 in contributions from Bain employees.

• Former State Senate President Robert E. Travaglini received $700 from Bain employees.

BATTLE ROYALE: MOORE, SIMONIAN STATE SENATE RACE GETTING NASTY

By Steven R. Maher

Auburn Selectmen Chairman Doreen M. Goodrich’s February 2012 private reprimand of fellow Selectmen Steven R. Simonian was, depending on your point of view, either a commendable class act by someone attempting to be ladylike, or a sneak attack by a calculating political operative. Simonian is the Republican challenger to 2nd Worcester District State Senator Michael O. Moore; Goodrich is Moore’s Director of Constituent Services.

Goodrich is also Chairman of the Auburn Democratic Town. According to the Worcester Telegram report of February 14, 2012, in a letter provided privately to Simonian, Goodrich said Simonian approached her after a January 9, 2012 executive session “..in an intimidating manner”, pointing his finger at her, and speaking “..in an agitated and aggressive manner…” Labor Counsel Dee Moschos, Town Accountant Edward K. Kazanovicz, and Town Manager Julie A. Jacobson reportedly witnessed the incident.

“I will not tolerate your aggressive and antagonistic behavior toward me or any other board member,” continued Goodrich, as reported by the Worcester Telegram. “This letter serves as a warning to you that I will not allow belligerent and aggressive behavior or inappropriate conduct between select board members.”
In a telephone interview, Goodrich said Simonian had literally gotten in her face, and was right up close to her.” Goodrich claimed that Moschos urged her to write a letter to all Selectmen saying that such behavior was unacceptable. It was sound advice, but Goodrich rejected it. Instead, she privately reprimanded Simonian in a private letter she left in his envelope slot at the Town Hall.

“I was trying not to embarrass him, I didn’t want it to become a public thing,” explained Goodrich. “

Moore supporters

Goodrich was elected Chairman of the Board of Selectmen on May 23, 2011 with the help of two other Moore supporters: the longest serving member of the board, Robert S. Grossman, and the newest member, Denise H. Brotherton.

According to OCPF records, Grossman or a member of his household made donations to Moore’s campaign committee on the following dates: October 19, 2012 ($100.00); October 20, 2008 ($100.00); February 28, 2009 ($100.00); April 28, 2009 ($100.00); April 28, 2009 ($100.00); January 31, 2010 ($100.00); January 31, 2010 ($130.00); August 22, 2011 ($100.00); and November 7, 2011 ($100.00).

Brotherton, whose husband was one of the six firefighters who died in the December 1999 Worcester Cold Storage Warehouse fire, was elected a Selectman in May 2011. She gave Moore a $100.00 donation on October 15, 2011. Brotherton received donations for her 2011 Selectman campaign of $500.00 from the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts, $100.00 from Local 1009 (Worcester fire fighters union), and an “in kind” donation of $118.00 from former Auburn Fire Department Chief Roger Belhumuer for printing campaign flyers.

Dee Moschos, the lawyer who recommended to Goodrich that she write the entire board that behavior like Simonian’s was unacceptable, donated to Moore as well: October 16, 2008 ($100.00); April 30, 2009 ($100.00); November 7, 2009 ($100.00); March 23, 2010 ($125.00); March 22, 2011 ($100.00); and August 22, 2011 ($100.00).

We wanted to see what, if anything, Moschos was paid for his advice to Goodrich. A public records request was sent to Auburn Town Manager Julie A. Jacobson for a copy of Moscho’s bills for January and February 2012. What we received looked sanitized. The bills showed Moschos billed Auburn taxpayers $9,996.64 in January and $9,720.95 in February, but the invoices were coded with account numbers such as “General Counsel” rather than a detailed breakdown of the hourly billings.

Usually the town of Auburn stamps on invoices the date received, to prove at a later date the bills weren’t paid late; neither Moschos bill was dated stamped.
Denies knowing

It took no small amount of courage for Simonian to buck a board chaired by Moore’s Director of Constituent Services, a majority of whose members were Moore supporters, backed up by a high powered, blue chip law firm attorney who had donated generously to Moore for four years. Simonian asked that Goodrich’s letter be put on the agenda at the February 13, 2012 meeting. “I find the timing of her letter suspect, since she wrote it right after her boss found out I had formed an exploratory committee to see what kind of support I had to run for a 2nd Worcester senate seat,” Simonian was quoted by the WorcesterTelegram as saying. “I find the timing and content suspect.”

“I didn’t know that,” Goodrich said of Simonian’s candidacy. As Simonian continued talking, responding to a member of the audience, Goodrich slammed the gavel down and went on to the next item on the agenda.

Moore admitted he heard rumors that Simonian was running but both he and Goodrich assert they did not discuss the Simonian reprimand before Goodrich sent it. “We never talked about it,” an adamant Moore said.

We could find no evidence to support Simonian’s claim that his senate candidacy was known prior to the February 13, 2012 Selectmen’s meeting. A search of the Massachusetts Office of Campaign & Political Finance (OCPF) website for paperwork submitted by anyone with the last named of “Simonian” turned up nothing. “Exploratory committees” are usually formed for Presidential candidates, not Massachusetts state senators. Nether the Worcester Telegram nor the Auburn News, a weekly newspaper, reported prior to February 13, 2012 that Simonian was a Senate candidate. Nor did two websites which report frequently on Auburn events, www.thedailyauburn.com and the www.golocalworcester.com

The next clash between the two candidates took place in April 2012, when Simonian showed up at a fundraiser for the Leicester Food Pantry and Leicester Library sponsored by Moore and his 1998 opponent, Leicester Selectman Douglas Belanger. Simonian claimed that he went to make a donation and after fifteen minutes was asked to leave “in a condescending manner” by a Moore office worker, according to a report in the www.thedailyauburn.com.

“He was not kicked out by any of my representatives,” responded Moore, who called Simonian’s claim “ridiculous”. Moore said in a phone interview that he conducted no investigation to determine if someone in his campaign had ordered Simonian out.

We wanted to ask Simonian if going to an event sponsored by his opponent wasn’t a little provocative. He did try to return a phone call requesting comment for this story, but the author was away working at another job.

Two patterns seem to be emerging in this campaign. First, Moore is washing his hands of responsibility for actions against Simonian by his supporters. He didn’t investigate the Leicester incident and claims he didn’t discuss the “reprimand letter” with Goodrich. Second, Simonian seems to be putting himself into positions where he provokes Moore’s supporters, and then runs to the media to present himself as the injured party.

Simonian’s platform

Simonian boils his campaign platform down to four key issues:

• Putting his district first. Simonian alleges that Moore in 2011“had the opportunity to advocate for our communities to receive a portion of unused budget money; however, he failed to do so.” Moore disputes this, saying he voted against an amendment for the funds in the budget process but that the final budget contained the funds Simonian was referring to.
• “The legislative and judicial branches of state government must adopt regulatory and taxation policies that promote a competitive business environment,” says Simonian. “It is imperative that that our legislature spare no effort in reversing the current business climate in Massachusetts, and restore it to one of the top states in the country in which to do business.”
• Simonian supports the Department of Homeland Security’s “Secure Communities” in which state and local communities share immigrant finger print data. “[It] is not about immigration,” maintains Simonian. “All too often tragedies have occurred at the hands of immigration law violators. In some cases, people had previously violated state law and no action was taken based upon their illegal entry into our country and state.” Moore said he always supported the “Secure Communities Act” and his office emailed us a version of the law Moore himself co-sponsored.
• One party control of state government. “For more than half a century, one party has controlled the Massachusetts legislature,” contends Simonian. “I believe that government service as an elected official should be an honor and not a means to supplement or create a pension.”

This last item touches on what may be the deciding factor in this election: the question of “double dipping”, of accepting two incomes from the state government.

Whatever the issues, this campaign is getting incredibly nasty. In April 2012, one blogger said on the Worcester Telegram website for Auburn http://cf.telegram.com/town_portal_includes/display_full_flash_messages.cfm?TOWN=Auburn, that a candidate for Selectman had hired a private investigator to do background checks on their opponents. There have been allegations of infidelity by some candidates, and on April 23, 2012 allegations of misconduct by nuclear members of the Simonian and Goodrich families were posted but quickly taken down by the Telegram.

Goodrich denied she ever hired a private investigator to look into her opponents’ background. “Never,” she said. “I’ve never even posted anything on the TelegramTowns website.

Double dipping

In the ethics statement that he filed upon taking office, Moore forthrightly disclosed that he was receiving a $2,320 state tax-free pension from the state in addition to his $75,485 after tax income as a State Senator. The process is known as “double dipping”, which means Moore has two sources of income from state government. In a Worcester Telegram article by Shaun Sutner, Moore defended his pension, saying that if he had waited until he was 55 he could have collected $75,000 a year, so in the long it actually saves taxpayers money, and that the pension was capped at the current amount. “My pension is capped and I will not receive a second pension after I leave the state senate,” who stressed his taking the pension at the time was the best deal for taxpayers.

In donations to three campaigns Goodrich listed under occupation/employer “CLERK UMASS MEMORIAL: in a March 11, 2012 $25.00 donation to Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray; in a September 26, 2006 $300.00 donation to the Democratic State Committee’s federal fund; and in a March, 2006 $75.00 donation to the Democratic State Committee’s state fund.

On Saturday April 21, 2012 the University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center switchboard was called. A request was made to be connected with an employee named Doreen Goodrich, with Goodrich’s name being spelled out. We were put through to the OBGYN unit. On April 30, 2012 we contacted OBGYN during working hours. The person in the OBGYN billing department said Goodrich had left a year earlier. Moore said, as far as he knew, the only job Goodrich had was with him.

Goodrich says she used to work at UMMC as a clerk but left the job in 2011 when she went to work for Moore. .

. On April 23, 2012 requests were faxed to the state Human Resources Division and UMass Memorial for copies of Goodrich’s W-2s for the last three years, for both jobs. Since the officials at these institutions have ten days to respond under the state public records statute, no response was received before this newspaper went to press.
Bankruptcy episode

Goodrich and her husband Howard began having financial problems in the mid-1980s:
• On March 18, 1985 the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR) recorded a $4,835.19 lien on Goodrich’s home at 29 Pinehurst Avenue, against Howard Goodrich for unpaid meals taxes.
• On February 26, 1986 DOR placed a second lien on the home for $12,433.36.
• On February 17, 1995 Britton Funeral homes recorded a $3,000.00 attachment on Goodrich’s home.
• On December 3, 1997 a deed was filed in the Registry of Deeds stating: “We, Howard W. Goodrich and Doreen M. Goodrich of 29 Pinehurst Avenue, in consideration of less than One Hundred and No/100 ($100.00) grant to Howard W. Goodrich, individually” the property at 29 Pinehurst Avenue. In other words, Goodrich sold her share of the house to her husband for less than $100.00.
• On April 14, 1998 Doreen Goodrich filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Worcester federal court. Her husband, now the sole owner of the family home, did not. Under oath, Goodrich swore she had no assets to satisfy her unsecured creditors.
• On July 29, 1998 Judge James F. Queenan Jr. issued an order discharging $12,324.80 in unpaid “credit card services.”

“That was the worst year of my life,” said Goodrich. “My husband, who was self employed, had a heart attack and I was at home with two small children. We had no money coming in. We went through hell that year.”

Goodrich also denied that she transferred her interest in the home to hide it from her creditors. “We were trying to refinance the home, but my credit rating made it impossible,” explained Goodrich. By getting her name off the property, Goodrich made it possible for her husband to refinance the property and pay back some their debts.

Uphill battle

Simonian, a first term Selectman, faces an uphill battle to unseat Moore, a centrist Democrat and entrenched political figure. There will be a big turnout in the fall with the Presidential race, so anything is possible. There is only one certainty about this race: it’s going to be nasty.

************

Disclosure: On April 15, 1998, the day after Doreen Goodrich filed for bankruptcy, Worcester Magazine printed a story about the author, Attorney Steven R. Maher. The Worcester Magazine reporter told Maher that Doreen Goodrich had approached the newspaper and asked them to write the story. Maher filed an unsuccessful $12 million, 37-count libel suit against Worcester Magazine. In what was interpreted in some quarters as an apology to Maher, Worcester Magazine in its 30th anniversary issue critiqued the Worcester Magazine’s reporter handling of the 1998 Maher story. In that same issue, Worcester Magazine also designated a 1980 Worcester Magazine cover story authored by Maher entitled “Union Station Con Job” as the best-written and researched investigative story in its thirty-year history.

New rules would open Bay State to more billboard blight

BOSTON – A proposed set of new regulations on outdoor advertising would see Massachusetts go from having some of the strongest billboard controls in the country to some of the weakest, and result in a proliferation of signs all over the state.

Among the changes proposed by MassDOT’s Office of Outdoor Advertising (OOA) are the state’s first proposed electronic billboard regulations, despite the fact that electronic advertising billboards are currently banned under the state’s agreement with the Federal Highway Administration. 

The new regulations would allow an electronic billboard to be erected anywhere in the state or swapped for an existing regular billboard, and do not set forth illumination level restrictions for electronic billboards near residential areas.

The new laws would also exempt from regulation billboards featuring “non-commercial” messages.  This exemption would be extremely dangerous and potentially very costly because regulating billboards based on content opens the state up to a Pandora’s box of first amendment and free speech lawsuits.  The new rules would also allow billboards to be erected without permits, without payment of fees and without regard to other applicable billboard restrictions such as local zoning requirements and spacing and sizing requirements.

“The changes being proposed by MassDOT are unconscionable,” said Mary Tracy, president of Scenic America.  “The new rules would see Massachusetts go from being one of the most scenic states in the country to one of the most billboard-friendly.”

The new proposed regulations also give the Director of the OOA broad new discretionary powers to grant billboard permits for billboards that don’t comply with applicable laws and regulations.  These new exemptions from regulation put Massachusetts at risk of failing to provide for effective control of outdoor advertising as required by the Highway Beautification Act, which would threaten the loss of a portion of the state’s federal highway funding.

A public hearing on the proposed regulations will occur on Tuesday, June 5, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., at the State Transportation Building at 10 Park Plaza in Boston, in Conference Rooms 5 and 6.  Those unable to attend can express their opposition to the proposed regulations to the OOA at 617-973-8470 or via email at OOAInformation@dot.state.ma.usThe proposed new regulations can be found at http://www.massdot.state.ma.us/Portals/8/docs/ooa/711CMR3_revisions.pdf.

Southwick’s tiger and animal sanctuaries

By Rosalie Tirella

The story in the T & G re: Southwick’s getting a truck-load of raw meat for its big cats – and their photo of a tiger eating the “gift” – was depressing. It was a humiliating story/picture- everything that good people are against: Southwick’s and their pretend “animal sanctuary” label and the degradation of gorgeous wild animals who should be hunting and living and procreating in the wilds of Africa or Asia.

Let me tell you about Southwick’s Zoo: They have been shut down by the govt many a times, mostly for the poor housing they provide their wild animals. It used to be called (correctly) “Southwick’s Wild Animal Farm” – a much more honest name to describe exactly what it is: Wild animals that are born to roam hundreds of miles in a week crammed into fenced/penned-in areas.

About 12 years ago, I went down to Southwick’s to do some investigating. I found a chimp (some of the brightest animals on earth) sitting on a bale of hay in a “pretend” cricus car. I cried.

Then: a wasted (utterly skin and bones) lion lying on concrete in the middle of the place. A small fenced in area, like a playground was its “home.” I cried again.

I tried to get a story going – to no avail (which is one of the reasons I started InCity Times a few years later – so I could write about all the animals that I love so much!). But then one of the Boston TV stations received a complaint re: Southwicks, did an investigation and the place was shut down by officials. The govt demanded that the animals living areas (I won;t call them habitats) be more humane. Southwicks built better quarters (not by much) and in a savvy marketing move changed their name.

Cruel, cruel, money-grubbing Southwick’s!

Here is more information on places like Southwick’s that go parading as animal “sanctuaries” but are in fact hell holes for wild animals. Even the best zoos are mere theater – the animals “habitats” are painted/fake rocks, fake foliage a few real trees. It is all made to look like the animals’ natural habitat, when it all really smoke and mirrors set up for zoo visitors.

Why trap a beautiful thing to shove it away somewhere in a cage away from everything it loves? Everything that God intended it to be?

Please boycott Southwick’s this spring and summer! Families, take your kids to other places during vaca times! Here’s the PETA piece:
*************************************
When an animal ‘sanctuary’ isn’t

By Dan Paden

Acquiring an animal means making a lifetime commitment. But what if illness, economic hardship or some other unforeseen circumstance forces you to give up a cherished animal companion? Many well-meaning people unwittingly turn to pseudo-sanctuaries that promise loving care for their animals, but as a new PETA undercover investigation reveals, giving animals away to strangers—even those who make big promises on polished websites and national TV and have celebrity endorsements—is never an acceptable option.

Caboodle Ranch, Inc., was a self-proclaimed “cat rescue sanctuary” in Florida that claimed to give cats “everything they will ever need to live a happy healthy life.” PETA’s investigation found that the “ranch” was essentially a one-person “no-kill” operation that subjected some 500 cats to filth, crowding and chronic neglect.

Cats at Caboodle were denied veterinary care for widespread upper-respiratory infections and other ailments. Obviously ill cats with green and brown discharge draining from their eyes, noses and mouths were allowed to spread infection to other cats. During the course of PETA’s investigation, some cats died of seemingly treatable conditions.

Some cats, like Lilly, whose iris protruded through a ruptured cornea, were left to suffer month after month. PETA’s investigator offered to take Lilly to a veterinarian, but Caboodle’s founder refused, apparently scared that he might “get in trouble” if a cat in Lilly’s condition were seen by others. Lilly eventually died after months of neglect.

Cats are fastidiously clean animals, but at Caboodle they were forced to use filthy, fly-covered litterboxes. Maggots gathered in cats’ food bowls and covered medications and food kept in a refrigerator inside a dilapidated trailer teeming with cockroaches. Cats frequently escaped the ranch, putting the surrounding community’s animals at risk of disease. Prompted by PETA’s evidence, officials seized Caboodle’s animals, and its founder and operator faces cruelty-to-animals charges.

Perhaps the most shocking aspect of this case is that it is not an isolated incident. In 2011, a PETA investigation revealed often fatal neglect of disabled, elderly and ailing animals at Angel’s Gate, a self-proclaimed animal “hospice and rehabilitation center” in New York. Our investigator documented that animals were allowed to suffer, sometimes for weeks, without veterinary care. Paralyzed animals dragged themselves around until they developed bloody ulcers. Other animals developed urine scald after being left in diapers for days. Angel’s Gate’s founder was recently arrested and charged with cruelty to animals.

In another case, in South Carolina, some 300 cats were kept caged, most for 24 hours a day, in an unventilated storage facility crammed with stacks of crates and carriers. PETA’s investigator found that the operator of this hellhole, Sacred Vision Animal Sanctuary, knowingly deprived suffering cats of veterinary care—including those plagued with seizures, diabetes and wounds infected down to the bone. When Sacred Vision’s owner was asked if sick animals could be taken to a veterinarian for help at no cost to her, she refused, instead attempting to doctor the suffering animals on her own. The cats in that case were seized by authorities, and the owner, who was in the midst of sending about 30 of her cats to Caboodle as authorities closed in on her, now faces cruelty charges.

Our animals count on us to do what’s best for them at all times. Unfortunately, there will always be purported “rescues” and “sanctuaries” that deceive people into giving them unwanted animals, who are often left to languish and die, terrified and alone. PETA’s files are full of letters from people grief-stricken over having left animals at these hellholes.

If you truly have no choice but to part with your animals because of circumstances beyond your control, try to enlist trusted friends and family to care for them temporarily until your situation improves. If no other suitable arrangement can be made, taking animals to a well-run open-admission shelter is the kindest option.

Whatever you do, never, under any circumstances, simply hand off unwanted or sick animals to a smooth-talking stranger and hope for the best. The animal companions you love so dearly will pay for it with their lives. And you will be left with a broken heart full of regret.

Dan Paden is a senior research associate for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Interesting website … MassCityStats

Interesting website. MassCityStats collates public safety, economic development, education and fiscal management data from the State of Massachusetts.

The folks from Pioneer generate a lot of unbiased information.

http://www.masscitystats.org/index.php

 

This could be sumptin’ for Worcester City Councilor Tony Economou. I think there’s a category called “forclosure abuse”! Take a seat, Tony, and peruse!!!

Childhood Hunger

By Rebecca Fanion

With more than 300,000 low-income children struggling with hunger in Massachusetts, Project Bread is fighting hunger with its new Healthy School Food for Kids Initiative. This initiative takes the struggle against childhood hunger into schools. With the support of a $1 million grant from the Arbella Insurance Group Charitable Foundation, Project Bread will fund healthy menu development in schools, culinary skills training in school cafeterias, and effective “healthy food” presentation with the ultimate goal of providing children with healthier food that they will eat.

Healthy school food is vital for a child’s growth and wellbeing. Since school meals provide more than 50 percent of a low-income child’s nutrients and calories, school breakfast and lunch programs are a critically important way to combat childhood hunger. Children who are food insecure are members of families that struggle to put food on the table. Being food insecure prevents children from reaching their full academic and physical potential, increasing the likelihood that they will remain trapped in the poverty-hunger cycle. Paradoxically, low-income children in Massachusetts are also two to three times more likely to be overweight and suffer other food-related diseases, such as diabetes and hypertension, because high-fat, high-sugar, and high-sodium foods tend to be more affordable for families on limited incomes. Obesity can lead to chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure, cardiac disease, and type II diabetes.

“When a child has to struggle with these serious physical conditions, he or she is not learning and growing,” explained Ellen Parker, executive director of Project Bread. “And, beyond the human tragedy, all of us will pay the price for a low-income child’s medical care down the line.”

The Healthy School Food for Kids Initiative will involve training school food staff on healthy cooking techniques, educating families and students about healthy food choices, evaluating what children eat and do not eat, and setting up smart lunchrooms that promote healthier eating behaviors. Each part of the program will be subjected to rigorous evaluation by the Harvard School of Public Health.

Project Bread will test a “train the trainer” model to teach scratch cooking methods to school food service staff throughout public schools in certain districts. Many people do not realize that in a lot of schools, scratch cooking has given way to food that can be warmed up and served quickly. To date, Project Bread’s chef-in-residence, Kirk Conrad, has trained the kitchen managers at Salem High School, who are training, in turn, the middle school cafeteria managers. Similarly, Project Bread will provide an additional chef to several schools in Boston to help teach their kitchen staffs culinary techniques that make the most of commodity food.

In conjunction with the Harvard School of Public Health, Project Bread will test different behavioral strategies to determine how food presentation impacts what children select and actually consume. These so-called “smart lunchrooms” employ marketing techniques that require, for example, students to walk past a salad bar before reaching a cashier — a practice that is known to be successful. Given the health implications for these students, Project Bread’s goal is not simply to have the student take the healthy salad, but to evaluate how much of it is actually eaten.

The program will undergo a rigorous evaluation by the Harvard School of Public Health. The findings will serve as the basis for recommendations of how to expand the program across Massachusetts. The Harvard School of Public Health recently performed a study on a precursor to this program, which was called Project Bread’s Chefs in Schools Initiative. This program sought to determine what it would take to make school food healthy, given its reliance on commodity buying and limited budget, and whether or not schoolchildren will eat it. For this study, an evaluation was performed by comparing two Chefs’ schools with two control schools that served traditional meals.

The results indicated that students at Chefs’ schools ate healthier foods in larger quantities than students eating a traditional lunch. For instance, more than three times as many students at the Chefs’ schools ate their delicious, well-presented vegetables as compared to students at control schools. Says Chef Kirk Conrad, “think of it as the difference between making canned corn into a delicious corn medley by including chopped red pepper, a little olive oil, and maybe some sautéed onion, and plopping a spoonful of canned corn on the student’s tray: which would you prefer?”
Through these new initiatives, Project Bread strives to make hunger relief and good nutrition a part of everyday life for children who struggle with hunger.

“People ask if the schools can afford to serve healthier food,” Parker said. “We believe they can’t afford not to.”