Letters:

August 25, 2017
By

Disappointed with Lynch vote

I am deeply disturbed that my Congressional Representative, Stephen Lynch, recently voted in favor of two bills which vilify my immigrant friends and neighbors and are based on false assumptions about them. They would waste taxpayer dollars, shackle local law enforcement and public health efforts to protect the public, and make our nation’s immigration laws even meaner and less reasonable than they already are.

HR 3004, known as “Kate’s Law,” would increase the penalties imposed on undocumented immigrants for reentering the United States after deportation without authorization. This bill is totally unnecessary, as these immigrants are already penalized, and law enforcement has the tools our police need to fight violent crime. HR 3004 would not have prevented the tragic death of Kate Steinle, and her brother has spoken out against using her memory to pass this bill.

In fact, non-citizens commit crimes at far lower rates than citizens. HR 3004 would catch in its dragnet thousands of immigrants who pose no public safety risk in its dragnet, including those have only committed minor misdemeanors such as driving without a license or other traffic-related offenses, and others who have never committed any crimes besides unauthorized entry. It would also penalize persons fleeing persecution who voluntarily present themselves at the border to apply for asylum. Further, HR 3004 would hinder crime prevention efforts by pushing immigrants deeper into the shadows, where they would be be less likely to report crime and cooperate as witnesses.  It seems that the only purpose of this cruel, unconstitutional measure is to continue to associate non-citizens with criminality.

HR 2581, known as “Verify First,” would require that people prove their legal status before they can get affordable health coverage – instead of being able to get medical care while they secure the documents they need. This bill harms immigrants and citizens alike, hitting U.S. citizens born abroad, naturalized citizens and some lawfully present immigrants the hardest. It would deny health care coverage to the most vulnerable who can least afford to pay premiums, including immigrants, homeless people, domestic violence survivors, victims of human trafficking, and others who might not have all their papers on hand. It will also hurt Massachusetts hospitals, which are obliged and committed to provide emergency care to uninsured patients. The president’s administration calls this as an “anti-fraud” bill, but its primary purpose is to slander immigrants in the public eye as thieves.

Our district is home to over 117,000 immigrants. I am appalled that our representative would so vilify some of the most vulnerable and hardworking members of his district.

Judith Goldberger

Jamaica Plain resident

City councilor’s avoidance

I am a children’s advocate and educate others about improving children’s welfare. There is much evidence that early unrecognized developmental experiences that do not satisfy children’s needs can later contribute to personal and social problems including violence when they become adults.
At-large Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley is Chair of the Council’s Healthy Women, Families, & Communities Committee which is concerned with all public health matters including promoting efforts to reduce violence.

On 4/7/17 I emailed Luv Villar, the scheduler of Pressley’s office, saying I had an idea for the Council concerning the welfare of children that I would like to discuss with Councilor Pressley. I asked her to let me know when I could have a brief telephone call with the Councilor. After checking with Pressley, Villar later told me I would be called on Saturday, June 24. While waiting for that date, on 5/31 I asked Villar by email to let me know where Pressley will be appearing at neighborhood events in the near future. I received no response.

On 6/22 I wanted to confirm that I would receive the call on 6/24 and sent Villar an email stating I had left her three telephone messages with no return calls. I asked for a call the next day. There was no response. I called the office 6/23 and spoke to policy director Eric White. He said Villar was out of the office that day.

Later on 6/23 Villar called me and said the Councilor’s “schedule is packed” and she would not talk to me tomorrow. I said I wanted only five minutes. That did not matter. I asked for the first available five minute time to talk to the Councilor. Villar refused to set a time. I noticed that she called on the office telephone. Apparently, White’s statement that she was out that day was false. I asked when she would have a rescheduled date. She said she would call me by 6/29 with a new date for the telephone call with Pressley. Villar did not call me.

I called the offices of other at-large City Councilors and asked how long I would have to wait to receive a five minute telephone call from each councilor. Responses were no longer than a few days.

In July I called Jessica Taubner, Pressley’s chief of staff. She said she would contact me with a response to my request to receive the Councilor’s call. She did not. I called her, and she would not confirm a call date.

On August 10 I sent an email to Villar requesting a response about a call with the councilor. I received no response.

I made other attempts at communicating with Pressley’s office. To summarize, I tried in vain for over four months to share information with Pressley that would serve the interest of public health and her Council Committee. In at least fifteen instances, I received no response from her office, broken promises, and at least one false statement.  Boston residents deserve better.

Ronald Goldman

Jamaica Plain Gazette

Troubled by comments

As an early-career teacher who lives in Jamaica Plain and as a proud Boston Teachers Union member, I am troubled by recent comments that seem intended to refute or downplay the existence of a gender pay gap between the City’s predominantly female workforce of educators and other large groups of municipal employee. The Mayor’s comments on this matter were particularly concerning in the context of current contract negotiations through which members of the BTU have been offered percentage increases below those of other municipal unions.

First, the average Boston teacher makes far less than the fictitious $100K salary figure cited by Mayor Walsh during the JP Progressive forum and quoted in this paper. In fact, Boston teachers barely make the list for the top 20 average teacher salaries in the state and starting salaries begin at $52.6K. One-quarter of Boston Teachers Union members are dedicated paraprofessionals. The vast majority of the paraprofessionals are also women and they are all a part of the current round of contract negotiations. These paraprofessionals make on average $35K per year, starting at $21K — a far cry from the figures thrown around at the forum.

Instead of focusing on teachers salaries or questioning what we are worth monetarily, my hope is that through productive, good faith negotiations, the current administration can help us as a City to rise above national trends and to focus our negotiations on the issues that matter most to our students, families, and communities. This includes fully and appropriately staffing inclusion classrooms across the city to ensure a quality education for all students, especially those with disabilities. Even within this challenging political climate, negotiating a contract that includes pay equity can help give BTU members the confidence and security we need to start the school year with respect and dignity.

 

Emma Fialka-Feldman

Jamaica Plain resident

 

 

 

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