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Proposed bill would allow two parties to endorse the same candidate, giving voters more choices
A bill proposing to repeal the Commonwealth's ban on "cross endorsement" voting was filed in the House of Representatives on December 1. It is titled "An Act Providing Voters with More Ballot Choices."

Lifting the ban would allow two political parties to nominate and vote for the same candidate. This type of voting helps minor parties to build their strength, while avoiding the common pitfalls of the winner-take-all, two-party system. Supporters of a minor political party's platform are often reluctant to waste their vote on a candidate with no chance of winning - or in a close vote - inadvertently defeating the major party candidate who more nearly shares their views.
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09 Dec 2004 | Filed under: News / Politics
Candlelight vigil at city hall in support of the Community Stabilization Act
Despite the cold wind and dripping rain, over 60 people gathered outside City Hall on Tuesday night for a candlelight vigil organized by City Life/Vida Urbana in support of the Community Stabilization Act (CSA), which the city council will vote on, Wednesday.

The CSA would provide protections for tenants against rent gouging and unfair evictions by empowering elderly, disabled and low-income tenants to protest rent increases of over five percent. All other tenants would be given the right to protest rent increases of over ten percent. The bill would also provide protection against foreclosure for small homeowners.

[Update: The CSA lost 8-5 in the City Council vote.]
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08 Dec 2004 | Filed under: News / Human Rights : Organizing : Politics : Social Welfare
Why I Support the Somerville Divestment Initiative: An Israeli's View
As an Israeli immigrant living in Somerville, I strongly support the Somerville Responsible Investment Resolution, which urges all investors in the city to divest from companies involved with Israel's human rights violations and from Israel Bonds. I am sad to see my country of origin hurling itself down a path of self-destruction and I feel a responsibility to stop it. The Israeli people are good people, you just have to shake them up and awaken them to the fact that they are heading in the wrong direction. And this is what this divestment initiative will do.

[Update: The Somerville Divestment Initiative failed to pass a vote by the city's Board of Alderman.]
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02 Dec 2004 | Filed under: Commentary / Human Rights : International : Politics
City plays catch-up with Boston's bicycle activists
Back in September city councilors appeared surprised by the number of attendees at a hearing for crosswalk safety and the amount of anger they brought to the meeting. After last nights hearing, called to consider both bike safety in general and the appointment of a “bike czar” for the city, they should now realize that they have awoken a sleeping monster. Activists and citizens packed the Ianella chamber and instead of a line of individuals sounding off the hearing began with a well-organized power point presentation to the councilors by an informal organization of bicyclists and pedestrians. A comprehensive bike safety plan was requested and drawn out in detail for the councilors.
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24 Nov 2004 | Filed under: News / Education : Environment : Organizing : Politics : Social Welfare : Technology
Fixing Broken Promises; City calls hearing on Bike Safety
The flowery, warm prose of the Bicycle Friendly Communities 2003 awards report would make a Boston bike commuter’s heart skip a beat.

“The [bike path] network grew to over 240 miles… More than one-quarter of the city’s arterial streets have striped bike lanes or shoulders… bicycle access is fully integrated into the city’s light rail and bus system... Bicycle parking is provided [everywhere]… Motorists and bicyclists are educated to share the road…” What kind of utopian village is this? Well it’s not in Scandinavia, but it is in Boston’s U.S. polar opposite attitude-wise, Portland Oregon, land of the smiley happy people.

It may be hard to view the streets of Boston through the golden lenses of Portland’s bicycle La-La land, but there are still a few folks who can catch a wink of it if they squint and throw off their eye focus on a bright sunny day. These are Boston’s bike visionaries. They see Boston in terms of how it could be. Some have 10, 20, 30 years of advocacy under their belts, and precious little city-built biking infrastructure to show for it. “Getting a few ribbon racks takes ten years.” Says Carl Kurz, Organizer of Bikes-not-Bombs, “In the twenty years that I’ve been here there’s been a little over two or three blocks of bike lanes put in on the actual streets.”

Back in 1999, Boston was rated the least bike friendly city in the country by Bicycling magazine. The city council reacted. Mayor Menino jumped. The mayor vowed to fix the problems by instating a “Bike Czar” to address pedaler’s grievances. But the title wasn’t official. And other responsibilities were folded into the job description. Paul Shimeck, the man with the job, felt like his hands were tied. Then he was laid-off. Now Maura Hennigan, Boston City Councilor at-large and Menino-critic number one, wants the mayor to fulfill his original promises.

Tonight, [Monday Nov. 22nd 5:30pm-see below] Councilor Hennigan and the rest of the Council will hear the communities problems, misgivings and suggestions on the topic of Bike safety and whether t reinstate the Bike Czar.
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23 Nov 2004 | Filed under: News / Environment : Politics : Social Welfare : Technology
A Failed Policy? Boston Debates the War on Drugs
Boston, Massachusetts, USA - "We have a public policy crisis: we are spending billions of dollars to fight a war on drugs and we don't seem to be able to stop the flow of drugs into this country. We are spending more and more public dollars on housing men and women who are involved with the drug trade, drug addiction seems to be increasing, and yet we don't seem to have the money to help those who want to turn their lives around and recover from addiction." With these words, Boston City Councillor Chuck Turner started the public hearing to investigate the war on drugs. He called the hearing "just the beginning of a long dialogue in Boston to see how we can move forward".
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19 Nov 2004 | Filed under: News / Human Rights : Politics : Social Welfare
Public hearing to investigate the War on Drugs
bars.jpgThis Monday, November 15th, the Boston City Council will hold a hearing to investigate the effectiveness of our nation's War on Drugs, and the Boston component of it. The questions to be raised and addressed will include how much money has been spent nationally and in Massachusetts since 1973 and in the last ten years on the "war," this will include drug rehabilitation paid for by the state in this year's budget. The information gathered from these and other questions will be used to attempt to answer the ultimate question of this hearing, which is whether it is now time to admit that the War on Drugs has failed and that it is time to develop a new and more effective approach to the use of drugs in this country.
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14 Nov 2004 | Filed under: News / Politics
Tensions rise as BU inches closer to a Biosafety Lab in Boston
interconnectej.jpgFaneuil Hall was home to a public forum Wednesday night on the biosafety lab that is currently scheduled to be built in the South End's Boston Medical Center. The forum opened with a ten minute overview presented by Boston University officials, including Boston University Senior Vice President Richard J. Towle, which was interrupted by a woman demanding that the lab be referred to as the "proposed lab." After the somewhat contentious presentation was over, the hall became open for Bostonians to voice approval or disapproval about the proposed lab. Advocates and concerned citizens voiced their opinions, but drew no real conclusions, besides an agreement that the conflict is far from over. Attendees argued passionately for an open question and answer session with both sides of the conflict, and "more information and more respect" to be shown by Boston University towards concerned Boston residents.
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12 Nov 2004 | Filed under: News / Environment : Organizing : Politics : Race : Social Welfare : Technology
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