On gun control
Eight weeks have passed since the horrific shooting in Parkland, Florida sparked a national conversation about community safety. In Massachusetts, we are lucky. Our state is one of the safest, with 3.5 gun deaths per 100,000 (Source: Boston Globe), but a gap in our laws could enable a Parkland style shooting here leading representatives in the Massachusetts State House to consider House Bill 3610 enacting Extreme Risk Protective Orders or ERPO. This bill, which must be acted on before April 15, enables the removal of weapons from individuals deemed dangerous to themselves or to others and is a critical way to reduce gun violence.
From its earliest days, the United States has held itself as a special place, a kind place, where people come to thrive. Our founding documents seek to “promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity,” and these are words we value as part of our national character. But as I tell my students, words must be backed by action, and currently, our nation is not ensuring domestic tranquility or securing life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for some of its most vulnerable citizens.
Our children’s daily life includes traumatizing lock down drills due to increased school shootings, exercises that are only part of the impact of gun violence in our communities. American women are 16 times more likely to be shot and killed due to domestic violence than women in other economically advanced nations (Sources: Everytown for Gun Safety, Fortune), and though we pride ourselves on being the home of the brave, we are also the land of the fearful. We lead the world not in education, healthcare, or upward mobility, but in gun deaths, by a long shot. We are statistically more likely to be killed by guns than by drowning, fire and smoke, stabbing, choking on food, airplane crashes, animal attacks, and natural disasters combined (Source: Business Insider). Instead of striving for change, some want to normalize gun exposure by increasing the number of armed individuals rather than enacting sensible legislation aimed at reducing access to weapons by dangerous people. Too often, in the wake of a traumatic event, family members recount warning signals and how they were helpless to prevent impending carnage. This bill establishes a fair way for family and household members to initiate a due process for the removal of weapons, which not only reduces the risk of a mass shooting, but also prevents domestic tragedies and suicides.
As a teacher, wife of a professor, mother of a preschooler, teacher’s daughter, I urge our state representatives to pass this legislation to make our schools, neighborhoods, and public spaces safer, to prevent suicides, and to reduce the fear faced by domestic abuse victims. I also urge concerned citizens to join one of the many local organizations working to get reasonable gun legislation passed to provide for the general welfare and the common defense, so we are all at liberty to pursue happiness, without fear.
Jamaica Plain resident
When will these companies and politicians realize that “plausible deniability” is no longer a viable tactic! Sooner or later, a company’s failure in one endeavor or another will be exposed. There is no way upper management at FB can explain its behavior in trying to cover this up. Having failed to own up to this egregious and inexcusable breach of trust with its members, Facebook is just beginning to see the repercussions. More will be revealed! That they would suspend a whistle blower in a world that calls for transparency should offend even the most calloused observer. It suggests that for all his genius, Mr. Zuckerberg is truly out of touch!
Michel L. Spitzer
Jamaica Plain resident
Friends of Kelly Rink thanks sponsors
The Friends of Kelly Rink have just concluded our nineteenth season at the “temporary” outdoor Kelly Rink on Marbury Terrace, behind the Stony Brook T Station. While the DCR manages the ice rink, we, the Friends, provided very affordable rental skates for thousands of skaters as well as an 8-week, US Figure Skating Association sanctioned learn-to-skate program. At the same time we are continuing to work with our friends at Urban Edge to make an indoor ice rink a reality as part of the proposed recreational facility in Jackson Square.
We depend upon financial support to maintain our fleet rental skates and pay the young people who work in our rental trailer. We would like to publicly thank the local businesses and organizations who supported us this year: Ace Hardware City, Acme Body & Paint, Boston Building Materials Coop, Brookside Health Center, City Feed & Supply, East Boston Bank, El Oriental de Cuba, Fresh Hair, Hatoff’s, Hyde Square Task Force, JP Knights of Columbus, JP Licks, JP Regan Youth League, JP Seafood Café, JPNDC, the Kevin Fitzgerald Memorial, Mann & Rogers Funeral Home, Mike’s Fitness, the Mintz-Levin law firm, Morrison’s Auto Rite, Sign Post, Southern JP Health Center, Stanley Service, the Stone Family Trust, The Power Company, Urban Edge, Whole Food Market, Yumont Hardware, and Zoo New England, as well as elected officials City Councilor Matt O’Malley, Clerk Magistrate Maura Hennigan, Re. Liz Malia, and Rep. Jeffrey Sánchez.
We look forward to seeing everyone back on the ice next winter.
President of Friends of the Kelly Rink
Representative Jeffry Sanchez shows interest in clean energy
Rep. Jeffry Sanchez hosted an early morning meeting toward the end of March arranged by the Sierra Club. He welcomed eleven constituents from Jamaica Plain, Roslindale and Brookline into a spacious meeting room in his State House office and invited us to sit down for a half hour chat. Two leather couches and comfortable chairs were arranged into a cozy oval.
We were a diverse group ranging from a youngish pediatric nurse to a retired professor wearing a Boston Climate Action Network T-shirt. Rep. Sanchez listened attentively as each of us summarized our concerns about climate change and clean energy. We talked about renewable energy, new technologies, divestment from fossil fuels, interstate pipelines. Aware that healthcare is a legislative priority of Rep. Sanchez, many of us linked his commitment to public health to the environmental threats of climate change, especially within disadvantaged communities. The pediatric nurse, for example, explained that legislation intended to increase positive health outcomes for children is seriously undercut by Boston’s failure to promote clean technology.
The Sierra Club recommended the following policies:
(1) Require the utilities and other suppliers of electricity to increase the percentage of renewable energy they must obtain from sustainable sources such as wind and solar.
(2) Reduce our reliance on natural gas as we transition to fossil-free energy. Tax money should never pay for the construction of interstate gas pipelines.
(3) Increase solar access for all. The Department of Energy should encourage low-income and community-shared solar projects.
(4) Develop a comprehensive plan to reduce toxic emissions by 2050. In 2008 Massachusetts became a national leader in setting binding emissions reductions, but it does not have an adequate plan for meeting its goals.
(5) Require state pension funds to divest from fossil fuels, beginning with coal.
Rep. Sanchez explained his style of bringing opposing parties to the table to find common ground. He gave the example of the Airbnb issue. Traditional opponents – builders and affordable housing activists – saw eye to eye on the need to regulate the expanding market of short-term rentals.
I believe that Boston needs to respond to climate change with vigorous mandates. I am optimistic that our meeting, which Rep. Sanchez generously extended well beyond the agreed-upon half hour, connected the dots between the healthcare policies he advocates and the need for clean energy. Hopefully he will work with the Telecom, Utilities and Energy Committee and others to make the health and safety of Boston residents a top priority.
Jamaica Plain resident
Criminal Justice Reform
I read both State Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz’s commentary and Peter Shanley’s news story [in the Mission Hill Gazette] on a new criminal justice reform bill now headed to the governor’s office for him to sign into law. As a former police officer of 28 years with the state Department of Mental Health, there are some elements of this legislation that I support but there are a number of areas where this bill just goes too far. In her commentary, she states “we need to “repeal some of the ineffective and racist ‘mandatory minimums for nonviolent drug offensives.”
This bill passed both Houses up in the state legislature by wide margins but like I said it goes too far and it is my opinion it seemingly make it easier to be a criminal in Massachusetts. As a retired police officer I still believe the job of criminal justice and law enforcement is to protect the law-abiding but this bill seems to have forgotten this end.
We have an ongoing drug epidemic here in our state sand it is killing people. It takes away mandatory minimums. District attorneys across the Commonwealth opposed this criminal justice reform as counterproductive in the fight against our drug epidemic. Making things better or fairer is a bunch of deleted to me. And what exactly do you call non-violent drug offenses. If people are dying from overdoses, I call that a violent situation, don’t you?
Why save those who traffick in Class B drugs from stiffer sentencing. Once again we seemingly see politicians trying to be law enforcement agents. They are not. Playing politics with the drug epidemic raging all our us is not the answer. Holding the bad actors out there accountable is the answer. Don’t go soft on crime. Don’t forget the epidemic out there. Start protecting the law abiding instead of coddling the law breakers. Stop using the race card too.
Sgt, SAL GIARRATANI (ret)