March 19, 2007

Listen Up Or Get Zapped!

Listen Up Or Get Zapped!

[This was originally published in the February 2007 edition of The Bridge
their web site was not up and working as of March 18, 2007.]

Cambridge Police Commissioner Ron Watson wants to acquire Electro-Muscular Disruption Technology -- called stun guns or TASERs. There is a large family of less-lethal weapons. The report of the December 12, 2006 meeting of the Public Safety Committee was unavailable as of the deadline for publication.
The Cambridge City Council remains silent about three recent police abuses: (1) 19 murders and other crimes by FBI informants in Boston; (2) the murder by Cambridge police of Daniel Furtado in his own home contrary to law. He was an elderly man with a disability. (3) The FBI frame-up of four Boston men for murder, whose trial is going on now.
The police want to use high tech electrical weapons to control civilians. The City Council shows no indication that it will hold the police accountable for any abuses. The City Manager defers to the Police Commissioner. The City Council is either in a coma when it comes to police abuses or they accept the false assurances of the Healy-Rossi autocracy.
The Council is clueless about electrical weapons. The Council ignored my complaints for 16 years about high tech electrical weapons being used in Cambridge. The City tolerates harassment using such weapons for provocations for punishment and to intentionally inflict emotional and psychological stress on vulnerable citizens.
The Arizona Republic, [...] identified 167 cases in the United States and Canada of death following a police Taser strike since September 1999.” (Robert Anglen, “167 cases of death following stun-gun use,” The Arizona Republic, January 5, 2006) Tasers “are used by almost 10,000 police departments in the United States, and internationally.” A study showed that shocks from the guns cause the hearts of healthy pigs to stop beating.”
Tasers fire barbs up to 35 feet, “delivering a 50,000 volt shock. [...] Tasers are not regulated by the Bureau of Tobacco, Alcohol and Firearms or any other federal agency.” “Nationally, more than 100,000 police officers carry Tasers. [...] human rights groups and scientists have questioned their safety. [...] The company’s primary safety studies [...] consist of shocks administered to one pig and five dogs.” (Monica Davey and Alex Berenson, “Chicago Rethinks Its Use of Stun Guns,” New York Times, February 12, 2005, page 9)
“Britain has not approved Tasers for general police use. [...] A Canadian study found that it might cause cardiac arrest in people with heart conditions.” Police “volunteers usually receive a single shock of a half-second or less. In the field Tasers automatically fire for five seconds. [...] And suspects are often hit repeatedly.” “Taser has significantly overstated the weapon’s safety, say biomedical engineers [...] Its name stands for ‘Thomas A. Swift Electric Rifle.’ [...] its current can jump through two inches of clothing.” “In June [2004] alone, six people died.” (Alex Berenson, “As Police Use of Tasers Soars, Questions Over Safety Emerge,” New York Times, July 18, 2004, page one)
“Recently, police officers in Miami shocked a 6-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl in separate incidents. One man “died after [...] an officer stunned him nine times with a TASER, and he wasn’t on drugs or alcohol [...] by the count of CBS News 10 [people died after being TASERed] in August [2004].” (“TASER Danger?” CBS NEWS, October 12, 2004)
“Gan Golan of Los Angeles, a protest veteran and recent MIT grad who did his thesis on the increasing use of such devices [...] contends ‘The fact that these weapons are called “Less Lethal” only makes them more likely to be used.’ And they can still be lethal. A Boston Red Sox fan [Emerson College student Victoria Snelgrove] celebrating a 2004 playoff victory died after a pepper spray projectile hit her in the eye. She wasn't even protesting anything.” (Marty Levine, “Amongst Their Weaponry ... are fear, but no surprise, when it comes to policing protestors,” Pittsburgh City Paper, MARCH 30, 2006) URL for this story:
The Omega Foundation and the Centre for Conflict Resolution at the University at Bradford in the UK [in 2004] have both released studies that highlight the dangers and deaths associated with all less than lethal weapons. These studies have emphasized the dangers associated with these weapons and made recommendations for their safe use that have so far been ignored by the US media and US law enforcement. Other less than lethal weapons are being used and newer products are coming on to the market all the time. When these weapons are used for crowd control, and as the technology improves, their effect becomes more political and less safety oriented. A line needs to be drawn between their use against criminals and their indiscriminate use against crowds.” (Pete Stidman, “Less-Than-Lethal?” INDYMEDIA.BOSTON, 23 Oct 2004)
The Hawthorne, CA police department uses less-lethal weapons that emit high-power electrical pulses with no wires attached. They can knock a person down at 15 feet. Pulsed microwave weapons are used for harassment purposes. Like ultra–sound they are difficult to perceive. Used persistently over a period of time they can cause lethal harms. Lasers can blind a person.
The International Committee of the Red Cross banned these devices. Extreme Low Frequency sound devices can affect thoughts and emotions. The U.S. Air Force has a heat generation device, which makes a person’s skin feel hot when they enter an area. Others cause digestive discomfort for crowd control.
The Cambridge police request should be denied until they are studied carefully and in depth. Police need training and strict procedures for their use. Criminals obtained these weapons and use them for political, personal and economic purposes. Few officers are trained in how to stop the criminal use of such non-lethal devices.
Massachusetts has a firearms statute, which prohibits possession of electrical devices. Chapter 140, Section 131 J states No person shall possess a portable device or weapon from which an electrical current, impulse, wave or beam may be directed, which current, impulse, wave or beam is designed to incapacitate temporarily, injure or kill. [There are exceptions.]
In 2001 I wrote a bill for the MA legislature, to increase penalties for possession. In 2003 the legislature rewrote the law. The statute does not require proof of use. Possession or sale is the crime. Rep. William R. Keating wrote the bill, which became law in 1986. Keating is now District Attorney for Norfolk County in Massachusetts. My several attempts to contact him to learn why he wrote the bill were not answered. This seems to verify that police use these devices for extra-legal punishment without due process.
There are numerous web sites devoted to stopping abuses of the testing and illegal use of non-lethal weapons. Some of these include:
International Committee on Offensive Microwave
Cheryl Welsh is a UN Representative for less lethal technology.
Eleanor White’s two sites includes archived radio files, and many links to larger and alternative views of the abuses in the U.S. and Canada.
Some observers believe that psychiatrists use of these high tech weapons for psychological testing and abusive treatment. Academic and military researchers use unsuspecting civilians as human subjects. They want to test the limits of human tolerance by provoking violence and trying to drive people insane. Relatively few people know of their existence and do not believe that they are used on civilians without their consent.
But even when medical researchers are exposed experimenting on vulnerable populations there is no outrage from civilized citizens of this country. No lawyer comes forward until after the researchers admit their abuse 40 or 50 years after the fact. Then the lawyers appear to take 30 to 40 percent of the damages awarded to the victims.
Those who speak up about the abuses are often regarded as having a psychiatric disability with all of the negative biases that accompany such perceptions.
Until there is a thorough investigation of all of the electrical devices being developed and used of civilians the City Council should prohibit the use of Tasers or any other electrical devices, which can be used for hidden harms.

Roy Bercaw, Editor
Cambridge MA USA

Cambridge Police Want to Use TASERs

Cambridge Police Want to Use TASERs

[This was published in the February 2007 edition of The Bridge
Their web site is not up and working as of March 18, 2007.]

On December 12, 2006 at 10:00 AM, the Cambridge City Council Committee on Public Safety held a hearing on TASERs. My letter filed on December 1, 2006, did not appear in the City Clerk's report. The Police Commissioner recommended use of TASERs.
Some police chiefs get TASER stock to promote the use of their firearms. I have no evidence that Cambridge Police Commissioner accepted anything to make his recommendation.
When Councilor Davis asked about the police killing of Emerson College student Victoria Snelgrove with a less lethal weapon, Police Commissioner Watson said she was killed by a pellet gun not a TASER. Police murdered her due to negligent training, contrary to assurances by the manufacturer that the gun was safe.
When Davis asked about community involvement, the Commissioner avoided the question. He said the Public Safety Committee "needs to be engaged first." Then he said a PIO (A what?) would be published and provided to the Council and to the Police Review Board. The Cambridge Police Review Board is a useless organization with no power staffed by incompetents with little knowledge of police practices. The chairman is a bigoted man who also chairs the Human Rights Commission. He simply obeys the City Manager. He has no ability to think for himself or to protect the rights of citizens.
Deputy City Manager Rossi said "the steering Committee [The what?] included [...] Human Services [...] and the Cambridge Hospital to get a good cross section point of view." Huh? What is the steering committee? Who appoints the city employees? Where are the victims of police abuses or critics?
Lt. Ames said that "There are no after effects." Really? What about the 167 deaths [no after effect?] after being TASERed reported by the Arizona Republic?
Dr. Workman said "The TASER does not affect the heart muscle, but there are ongoing studies." That's reassuring to those who died from heart attacks after being TASERed.
The latest was reported Jan. 9, 2007 in the New York Post. Of course "the company feels that the technology is safe." They FEEL it is safe? What kind of morons make these statements to a government agency? Why do city administrators accept this nonsense?
Ames revealed the focus of the hearing saying "there is no danger to the officer when the TASER subject is incapacitated." What about the civilian? There was no one at the meeting to raise that issue.
John Roberts represented the ACLU. The Boston ACLU works with the Boston police and the FBI. They never criticize the police no matter how badly they act as when the police killed Victoria Snelgrove.
Nancy Schlacter, assistant City Manager said, "pepper spray could cause harm to the police officer." That would be a reason for the officer to be careful. There is no reason for care when using a TASER.
Councilor Sullivan said "this is the beginning of the process of the use of less lethal tools." Notice he did not call them weapons. But it also demonstrates that he ignored my 8 years of written and spoken complaints about illegal use of less lethal weapons in Cambridge contrary to law.
Dr. Workman said, "the manufacturers dispute that TASERs kill. Some suspects were under the influence of drugs and some died due to misuse of the TASERs." Well, duh!
Councilor Toomey said, "If a TASER had been used on Porter Street, a life would have been saved." In July 2002 Cambridge police broke down the door and shot dead in his own home Daniel Furtado, with no court order and no warrant. If the police had not violated state and US law there would have been no death either. The police violated the US Constitution and killed a citizen contrary to law. There's nothing to stop them from violating their regulations misusing TASERs. Toomey's comment is at best misleading.
Continuing to spin the facts Deputy Manager Rossi said, "there is not a lot of force and shootings in Cambridge." I'm sure that is soothing to the family of Daniel Furtado.
Councilor Sullivan said, "five percent of people commit ninety-five percent of the crime." He did not give the figures for the percentage of police who are criminals.

Roy Bercaw, Editor

Cambridge MA USA

March 17, 2007

Senator Fluff Keeps Us Safe?

Senator Fluff Keeps Us Safe?

Cambridge and Harvard Senator Barrios is the chairman of the state legislature's Public Safety Committee. We read about serious negligence, malfeasance at the Medical Examiner's office. It is the latest in a long history of problems in that office, which is under the jurisdiction of the Public Safety Committee. What is the reaction from the chairman? We read about his expertise as a nutritionist in the Cambridge Chronicle in a full page spread. We read about his new bill to keep toxic waste away from young people. We read about his work for same sex marriage in Massachusetts. Is it any wonder why there is no scrutiny of police abuses in the Commonwealth? Why did Traviligni appoint this real estate lawyer to the public safety position?

Roy Bercaw, Editor
Cambridge MA USA

Honcho orders corpse clearout within 2 weeks
Boston Herald
By Laura Crimaldi and Tom Mashberg
Saturday, March 17, 2007

After months of inaction, the state medical examiner’s office has embarked on an urgent top-to-bottom effort to clear decomposing corpses from its cramped premises under stern orders from the Bay State’s chief public safety official. [...]

Police Want to Use TASERs on Disabled

Police Want to Use TASERs on Disabled

The Cambridge, MA Police want to purchase and to use TASERs on persons accused of psychiatric illness. The police supervisor, Robert Ames suggested that a person who is "obviously emotionally disturbed" is a proper target for TASERs at the public hearing on Tuesday, March 13, 2007. The below article about that hearing says that the police want to use the TASERs on mentally ill persons as if they are all dangerous.
Here is the unlawful bias toward persons with disabilities in a headline with no reaction from public officials, or from police. "Cambridge Police Lt. Paul Ames argued that police need Tasers to confront people who are intoxicated or mentally ill and have a high pain tolerance." This comment shows Lt. Ames hatred toward persons with disabilities. I do not believe that he is the only Cambridge officer who holds that opinion. He believes that all persons accused of psychiatric illness are dangerous. He made a similar comment at The TASER Show (see this blog). On a previous occasion Ames also said that a person with a history of mental illness is not a credible witness to a burglary.
It is shameful that the City Council, the City Manager and the Cambridge police have no concern for the unlawful treatment of persons with disabilities in Cambridge. The Handicapped Commission protects City employees. The Human Rights Commission protects the police along with the Police Review and Advisory Board. Currently there are no mechanisms to protect civilians from police abuses.
Regarding the police use of TASERs, please see my two articles in the February 2007 edition of the Bridge at:

Cambridge Cops seek Taser weapons


Listen up or get zapped!

The Cambridge Police Commissioner says he is leaving as of March 21, 2007. The Police Superintendent is accused of assaulting a man who was arrested for stealing from him. There is a fun city aura surrounding recent events.
The ACLU’s position on TASERs is the same as the police position. The ACLU does not oppose police abuses of persons with disabilities. John Reinstein, ACLU retired, boasted of his close relationship with Boston police Commissioner Evans. Who invited the ACLU to attend this meeting?
You can send a letter to the paper at
You can write to the City Council at
You can write to the City Manager at
Robert Healy
You can write to the Cambridge police at
Lt. Robert Ames, Night Supervisor
Frank Pasquarello, Media Relations
Holly Levins, Neighborhood Relations

Roy Bercaw, Editor
Cambridge MA USA

Police want to use Tasers on drunks, mentally ill
By Dawn Witlin
Cambridge (MA) Chronicle Staff
Thursday, March 15, 2007 - Updated: 06:30 AM EDT

A plan to arm Cambridge Police with Tasers has sparked outrage among residents who questioned whether the stun guns would be overwhelmingly used on minorities. But police said they need the electro-shock weapons to subdue drug users and the mentally ill, who police claim have a high pain tolerance. The move would make Cambridge police the first department in the Boston metro area to use the stun guns.
Susan Yanow, a longtime member of the Area 4 Coalition, said her group is concerned that police would mainly use Tasers on minorities, and that the electro-shock weapons are not necessary for the type of crimes committed in Cambridge. “The overwhelming response is that we know Tasers are used disproportionately on people of color and particularly young men,” said Yanow.
“We understand that the rationale for Tasers is so that officers don’t have to use their guns, but we feel there is a low use of guns anyway, and Tasers might increase the willingness of police to use weapons.” A stun gun is billed as a nonlethal weapon that shoots off four barbs, which attaches to a person’s skin or clothing, delivering 50,000 volts of electricity.
Cambridge is interested in purchasing the weapons from a New England distributor for Taser International. According to Amnesty International, more than 150 people have been killed by stun guns since June 2001. There are 27 police departments across the state using stun guns, according to Mark Tucker, the operations manager from Taser supplier Triple Tactical Supply.
The Suffolk County Sheriff’s office uses the guns, but Cambridge would be the first police department in the Boston metro area to use the weapons. Police Commissioner Ronnie Watson said Tuesday he wants to give 27 to 30 cops stun guns to use with special response teams and firearms instructors within the next several months.
The move would cost the city up to $30,000 to buy the weapons and another $22 to replace the gun’s barbs after each time the gun is used. Although Watson has been pushing for Tasers, the outgoing police commissioner has been reluctant when neighbors suggested adding more walking beat police officers to combat gang violence.
In December, City Manager Bob Healy said the City Council’s call for 30 police foot patrol officers — in the wake of more than a dozen shooting incidents last year — could increase city taxes. Healy said he would keep a close eye on next year’s budget planning to see if the additional police officers would increase property tax rates.
School Committee and Port Action Committee member Richard Harding voiced his opposition to the use of stun guns in everyday beat patrol. “I don’t know necessarily the need for the Taser in Cambridge,” said Harding. “There’s going to have to be some issues on policy and procedure on when it’s appropriate to use this method.”
Harding echoed Yanow’s belief that Tasers are used widely against those in the black community. “At the end of the day, I’ve seen across the country that this stuff is used disproportionately on people of color,” said Harding.
Cambridge Police Lt. Paul Ames argued that police need Tasers to confront people who are intoxicated or mentally ill and have a high pain tolerance. “Many times, you have someone who is drunk or intoxicated who can’t feel pain as well,” said Ames. “A baton might not work, pepper spray might not work, but a Taser will work.” The police department faces several hurdles in bringing Tasers to Cambridge.
City Manager Bob Healy must first approve the funding, and then the state Executive Office of Public Safety has to approve the city’s plan of action for using Tasers. Finally, the City Council must vote to approve the stun guns. It is unlikely that Watson would be at the helm of the department if the plan is approved. He is set to step down at the end of this month. Watson said strict review system would be a safeguard against misuse of the stun guns.
Each time a Taser X26 is used by a police officer, the device digitally records the time, date and duration of each trigger pull, which can be downloaded from the device. A camera is also mounted to the device, which will record the incident for posterity. In addition, said Watson, Cambridge Police’s Use of Force Policy requires a supervisor, medical and shift commander to review when the Taser device is used.
“We simply want another tool in our arsenal,” said Watson. “It’s about not having to use deadly force as much as possible.” Flanked by two officers clutching his arms, Cambridge Police Lt. Stephen A. Ahern demonstrated at the meeting the impact of the Taser X26, by standing in the line of the gun’s fire. As the four barbs shot out from the device, piercing his back up to 3/10 of an inch and delivering 50,000 volts of electricity, Ahern slumped to the ground and his legs gyrated wildly. Several seconds after the charge was dispensed, however, Ahern rose to his feet appearing unfazed. “It was the longest five seconds of my life,” Ahern said afterwards. “The electrical current feels like the pulse of a jackhammer.”

Cambridge Police wants to buy about 30 Tasers to use in the line of duty.
(Mark Thomson)
Cambridge Police Lt. Stephen A. Ahern volunteered to be shot with a Taser gun Tuesday night during a public demonstration forum by the Cambridge Police Department.
(Mark Thomson)
Taser2 Police officers inspect the barbs mark on Lt. Stephen A. Ahern after he was shocked with a Taser during a Tuesday night public demonstration.
(Mark Thomson

The TASER Show

The TASER Show

On Tuesday March 13, 2007 the Cambridge Police Department with the support of the TASER Corporation presented a slide show with actual live demonstration of an officer getting TASEd. The audience was mostly police officers about 15 of them. No City Councilor was present. This is fitting with the current de facto policy of the City Manager making policy decisions and deferring to the police department to run itself.
A sprinkling of civilians appeared along with ACLU representatives who no longer protect civilians, but lobby for police interests. One member of the moribund Police Review and Advisory Board was present. Deputy City Manager Richard Rossi was there. The TASER District Distributor, Mark Tucker was also present.
John Roberts was there and announced that the ACLU has always been concerned about the use of deadly force. John Reinstein, ACLU retired, once boasted how close he was with Boston Police Commissioner Evans, who attended his retirement party. I am amazed at how the ACLU can keep a straight face and attend meetings promoting the interests of the police. I said that the ACLU position on TASERs is the same as the police position.
During the presentation Lt. Robert Ames often made the statement there was no other option, than to TASE the suspect. If a civilian is threatened and attacked, he must legally try to retreat. If the attacker follows then he may retaliate for the attacks on him. Why is that not an option for police? I know that a civilian must obey a police officer’s command. But if a person does not know that and does not obey that is what gives rise to the police beginning to use force.
I raised the issue that if a corrections officer or a police officer takes a hostage the police do not attack him. Instead they wait him out sometimes taking two days instead of using deadly force. The TASER-produced video showed a man with a gun, and one video where his wife videotaped the police TASER use. She admonished her husband after the TASER attack. Another suspect had a gun. In all of the situations shown it was a reasonable response for the police to use TASERs.
There were no incidents when young people 6 or 12 years old were TASEd as in Florida. One slide show was of a dog attacking an officer. The dog was TASEd and ran away. One man was TASEd for 30 minutes until backup arrived. One scene was of a 350-pound man who struggled with police. Lt. Ames again made a negative statement about persons with disabilities.
He said in one case the person “was obviously emotionally disturbed.” That is the police term for a person they perceive as mentally ill, EDP. And what if a person is “obviously emotionally disturbed?” Then he is a person with a disability, and the police need to make reasonable accommodations. But they never do. What they do is attack more fiercely due to their hatred of persons with disabilities. Ames also made an irrational statement that they often encounter a person “off his meds.” Here is another misguided opinion by police that if a person stops taking psychiatric medication that they are dangerous. The police and Ames in particular do not know that it is the medications that cause the violence. When people stop taking the drugs their body reacts and makes the person irrational. Whether knowingly or unwittingly Lt. Ames is a lobbyist for drug companies.
It must have taken Lt. Ames some time to view and to be prepared for his presentation. This was an effort to persuade the City Council to approve the use of TASERs. But no City Councilor was present. Who paid for the time that Lt. Ames spent preparing for this presentation? When I entered the Senior Center for the meeting at about 6:30 PM there was a table set up with literature.
Holly Levins the police PR flack was sitting there. I asked if I could leave some of my handouts. She looked at the police officer. One said no. The Police Commissioner was there too. He said it was OK. Then he said to me, “Just don’t disturb the meeting. I said I was going to video it too.
The Police Commissioner said that each TASER gun casts $1,000. He said they wanted yellow guns so everyone knows what it is. He said, “We want compliance.” He said only about 10 percent of the city’s officers would carry TASERs including the Special Response Team, and Firearms officers. He said there are about 272 officers at present with the force being about 15 under full count.
He said there were 15 new officers being ready to go into training. He boasted that about 15 officers were lateral transfers, Cambridge getting the best officers from other departments. He said there would be a review of the use of TASERs after one year. He said that 27 of the 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts use TASERs. The Commissioner explained that New Jersey and Massachusetts were the last states to approve the use of TASERs.
The TASER distributor said that there were 160 studies, and 90 independent studies. There was no proof of any deaths by TASER. He did not say, but I did, that the United Kingdom and Canada did not approve the use of TASERs. He said that TASERs do what they are supposed to do. He said there was 100 percent accountability. He meant that when a TASER was fired, the TASER itself makes records of the gun being fired. He gave me two CDs and a book about the TASERs.
The bulletin board in the window of the Senior Center announces the meetings each week. This meeting on TASERs was not on the bulletin board. It did appear on the e-line announcement list of the city.
The Commissioner frequently mentioned the Police Review Board. When I said it was a useless board he tried to silence me. He said that the PRAB meets monthly with Lt. Chris Burke. I realized that here were more examples of the City violating the Open Meetings Law. The Commissioner also said that Internal Affairs division would regulate the use of the TASERs. I suggested that the department could purchase net guns, which are less lethal and do not cause deaths as TASERs do. The Commissioner said “ We don’t have net guns.” I did not ask him, “Are you sure?” Or why the City doesn’t purchase those weapons.
The Commissioner said there was only one death by guns in Cambridge since 1950. I asked about the shooting in 2002 of Daniel Furtado. The Commissioner said I shouldn’t use his name. I said, “He’s dead. He can’t be slandered.” When I said that the police entered his home in violation of the US Constitution and state law, the Commissioner interrupted me and said he would not discuss that issue and called on another person.
Mo Barboza thanked the Commissioner for having the meeting. He asked what other weapons can be used instead of lethal force. He also asked about discrimination by police, who might be tempted to use the TASERs on persons of color. No one thought that Ames' statement that an "obviously emotionally disturbed" person was a likely target for a TASER shot unusual.
Mark Tucker said that the TASER mimics how the brain works telling the muscles what to do. The TASER interferes with that communication. He revealed that a pepper spray capsule costs about $13. But there are additional costs. The officers must clean up the suspect after he sprays him or her. He said that the Town of Green Bay, Wisconsin did a report on the use of TASERs. The Police Commissioner said that the objective is to prevent harm to officers and to civilians. The Police Commissioner emphasized that the officers are repeatedly told to be reasonable.
After my third round of questions the Commissioner asked me if I wanted to volunteer for a test. I declined his invitation and suggested that the Mayor preferred that the Cambridge Chronicle reporter be the target. As he described the weapon, the Commissioner pointed it at Dawn Witlin. I said she should duck now. She was already bending over in her seat.
There was little opposition expressed to the use of TASERs. These meetings are dominated by police. Few persons who have been harmed by police are willing or interested in attending meetings with police officers.

Roy Bercaw, Editor
Cambridge MA USA

March 15, 2007

I'll Speak for Them

I'll Speak for Them

The Director of Cambridge and Somerville Elder Services (CSES), one of thousands of non profit corporations funded by taxpayers speaks for all elders. He thanks politicians for their largess with taxpayer funds. (John O'Neill, "Thanks to pols, elderly have a choice," Letter, Cambridge Chronicle, August 24, 2006) There is no questioning why relatives toss their parents and siblings into nursing homes. "I don't have time to care for the elderly."
The costs of caring for the elderly can be reduced by allowing them to live in their homes. It is cost effective to stop denying freedom and liberty to elderly persons. Institutionalized denial of freedom is acceptable in Cambridge where the best and the brightest live. "But it is cheaper to allow them their freedom!"
The best and the brightest say, "Groovy let's save money." There was never any concern by CSES employees that I ever spoke with about the basic rights of elder persons. Here, as with persons with disabilities, elder persons are considered a health care issue. Elder persons and persons with disabilities are thought of as clients, consumers, and subjects for human experiments.
Human services corporations are the largest contributors to the legislature's campaign funds. Professional care givers, drug companies, academic researchers, the human services corporations and all of their PR flacks, control the public discourse and how laws are written concerning how elders and persons with disabilities are to be treated. Who besides Mr. O'Neill denies to elders their voice to say what they want and to tell how they are treated? Are no elder persons capable of speaking in sentences?
Why are elders (and persons with disabilities) treated as if they were incompetent, ignorant and unable to speak? Is it because of the way that politicians think of them? "I don't want to be bothered speaking with elder persons. Is it campaign season? OK, then I'll go to their dinners. What are they serving?"

Roy Bercaw, Editor
Cambridge MA USA

Thanks to pols, elderly have a choice As the executive director of Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services, I am intimately familiar with the problems facing older people and people living with disabilities. These groups face so many unnecessary hurdles in their attempts to get health care and other supportive services.
They must struggle with incomprehensible bureaucracies. They must shoulder exorbitant costs. To add insult to injury, they have to deal with outright discrimination that is written into law. I am happy to report, however, that because of the hard work of our local legislators, one of those hurdles has been removed.
For years, MassHealth has effectively forced people into nursing homes with a set of discriminatory rules which made it far more difficult to receive care at home. With the recent passage of Equal Choice legislation, this regrettable era is coming to an end. Older people and people with disabilities will now be able to choose the setting where they receive care. According to the Romney Administration, this will save the commonwealth $134 million in the first five years after implementation.
I am deeply thankful to the legislators who represent Cambridge. Without their unanimous support, Equal Choice would not be a reality: Senate President Robert Travaglini, Sens. Jarrett Barrios and Steven Tolman and Reps. Timothy Toomey, Byron Rushing, Martha Marty Walz, Alice Wolf, Rachel Kaprielian and Anne Paulsen.

JOHN O'NEILL Executive Director Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services

March 14, 2007

New Cambridge Police Commissioner's Expertise

New Cambridge Police Commissioner's Expertise

Institutionalized discrimination toward persons with disabilities by police remains unaddressed. Is it unreasonable to expect the next police commissioner
will have some familiarity with the needs of persons with disabilities? Is it
unreasonable to demand that the next police commissioner know the requirements
of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Rehabilitation Act of
The current city leadership is clueless regarding those laws. They say that
they do not discriminate based upon disability. But those are just words. The
reality is that PWD remain denied basic rights under the city government. The
leadership prevents achieving equality under law. The handicapped commission is
led by timid persons who do what they are told to do by the Manager.
A second area of essential expertise for the next Commissioner is high
technology, and protecting citizens from high tech crimes. That would include
identity theft by tampering with computer transmissions. That is a felony under
the U.S. Code. But local police remain untrained in how to identify, how to
investigate and how to address such crimes.
A related area is the use of electrical less lethal weapons. The current
police commissioner submitted a report on the proposed use of Electro Convulsive
Technology. That includes the family of stun guns. State law prohibits
possession of such illegal firearms (M.G.L. Chapter 140 Sec. 131J), but permits
the use of some forms of electrical firearms for corrections officers to control
prisoners. But as with all technology the new devices always fall into the hands
of private criminals who use them contrary to law for their own purposes.
Cambridge police claim they are unaware of the use of those firearms. They
say they have no way of investigating when the weapons are used. It is not clear
why the police are unable to investigate possession of such illegal firearms. It
is one of the few areas where the burden is placed on the victim to investigate
and to prove the crime.
Eliminating these forms of high tech criminal abuses of citizens requires
that the next police commissioner be familiar with computer crimes and the use
of electrical firearms contrary to law.
The next Commissioner must immediately end the practice of allowing
corporate lobbyists to train police how to treat persons with disabilities. The
state and US constitutions provide sufficient guidelines to define the rights of
persons with disabilities. Psychiatric and pharmaceutical corporations do not
protect rights and have no obligation to protect and to defend the Constitution.
The next police commissioner must end the use police powers to enforce
psychiatric diagnoses, which are often no more than personal opinions.
Psychiatry must be recognized for what it is -- an art form masquerading as
science. A dedicated observation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990,
the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Mass General Laws Chapter 151 B will provide
many of the protections that are currently denied to citizens with disabilities.
The next police commissioner must have sufficient integrity and a strong
character to withstand any effort by the City Manager to permit Harvard
University and MIT special police to usurp the state police powers that the City

Roy Bercaw, Editor
Cambridge MA USA

Work is a Four-Letter Word

Work is a Four-Letter Word

This essay honoring Labor sounds like the phrase over the entrance to
Auschwitz concentration Camp, "Work makes you free." (James Carroll, "The joy of
working," Boston Globe, September 4, 2006) Carroll does use the qualifier "work
freely chosen."
But he leaves no room for dissent on the effects of one's labor. In whose
eyes is the work of Donald Rumsfeld his "small part in the human effort to make
things better?" Does the work of the suicide bombers in the Middle East have
that same inspiration?
What about the manufacturers of those gas guzzling SUVs made in Japan? What
contribution to making things better do the child and sex slave masters in
Eastern Europe and Africa contribute? Carroll's one-sided view of work is

Roy Bercaw, Editor
Cambridge MA USA

The joy of working
Boston Globe
By James Carroll
September 4, 2006

LABOR DAY is a marker in time, the end of a season and the beginning of one. As
agrarian societies defined their calendars by events of the farm, the school
gives shape to the year in contemporary America. Today's holiday originated as a
labor movement observance intended to honor the worker with a break from work,
yet it has evolved into the signal that the time of leisure, or simply the
slacking off of August, is over. Pencils sharp, shoes shined, show up: September
is here. Back-to-school is in the air, and everyone breathes it.

I am often struck by how hard everyone is working. Harder than before, it seems.
To be stuck in rush-hour traffic in the early morning is to be surrounded by
people who are dutifully making their ways to desks and benches and counters and
nursing stations and keyboards and cement mixers and cash registers and stools.
At the wheels of their vehicles, they may be blank-eyed or dazed; they may be
nodding to the music of the radio; they may be dreamily watching nothing but the
bumper of the car ahead. But what diligence they display! What patience! Workers
of all kinds -- pick up trucks and limos in the same daily snarl -- are exactly
alike in this. The whole population is driven by the discipline of work, with
everyone taking the clock's demand for granted.

To notice this most mundane fact of life is to be amazed by it. The morning
commute puts on full display what makes this nation so productive.

How did human beings come to this ingenious mode of organization? The myth is
that life ``by the sweat of the brow" was a consequence of the Fall, the wages
of sin, in which case work is defined by obligation and necessity. Work is
burdensome, a defiance of how we're meant to be. If we could just keep August
going forever, that's what we would do, no? But why, then, is September so
universally marked by the burst of energy with which tasks are resumed? The
thrill of the fresh start. Disclaimers aside, not even schoolchildren regret the
return to class.

Work is by definition arduous, and when working conditions are unfair, work can
be a kind of despised bondage. The labor movement, after all, was born in
resistance to conditions of work that were crippling, exploitative, demeaning.
Perhaps such misery is what the author of Genesis had in mind, and perhaps for
the vast majority of humans down through history, work has had exactly that
dehumanizing character. Perhaps for the majority alive today, it still does. Is
America different in this, as in so much else? A privileged meaning of work? In
honoring the American labor movement with a holiday, aren't we honoring the
liberation of labor from just such a past? Unions, after all, as the bumper
sticker says, invented the weekend. And August, too, for that matter.

The readiness with which Americans embrace September each year, and return to
the job each morning, suggests that work freely chosen, and freely accomplished,
is essential to the good life. The real meaning of the weekend, it turns out, is
in how it changes the experience of the weekday. Can it be that liberated work
is better than play? Is this what we mean by happiness? The poet Donald Hall
locates that sensation in ``absorbedness," the being taken up in -- or taken
over by -- the task at hand, whether a writer's task or a bank teller's. Hall
associates the experience with looking up from one's work and finding that the
hours have flown by. Why is there joy in that?

Everyone reads the newspaper over coffee and, confronted with evidence of
relentless misery in the world, wishes for a way to make things better. But the
wish is vague, and apparently pointless. Then we leave the house, plunging into
the morning traffic, never thinking that by going off to work, we are doing
exactly that -- our small part in the human effort to make things better.

The economy is organized to enable us each to live a decent life, while
simultaneously contributing to an overall creation of the common future.
Injustices continue to mar this picture, and the economy obviously sets winners
against losers -- which is why the task of the labor movement is not finished.
But work, considered individually (absorbedness) and socially (productivity), is
a marvel of adaptation to the contingent and, yes, dangerous condition of life
on the glorious earth.

Happy Labor Day.

James Carroll's column appears regularly in the Globe.

This Story Has No Legs

This Story Has No Legs

Two Boston academics weigh in on news legs. "It doesn't belong on a news
show [...] Showing off someone's legs is probably not a good message to be
showing the viewers," said Belle Adler.
"A person who is an anchor is trying to describe the news and her legs have
nothing to do with it," Balser said. "It demeans her ability to communicate the
news well to people [...]" It's "so out of order" she added. (JESSICA HESLAM, "GAM SHOW MAY BE KATIE'S LEG-ACY, Critics won't skirt the issue," Boston Herald, September 7, 2006)
It is extremely curious that these two Boston academics state the obvious
with respect to Katie Couric. But they remain silent when child of Andy Rooney,
Emily shows her leggy legs nine out of ten daily shows she does on the PBS
station. She does what many call news also. So why is there a pass for Rooney
but not for Couric? Can someone explain that to me? Is it OK to show legs on non
profit TV, but not on for profit?

Roy Bercaw, Editor
Cambridge MA USA

Boston Herald (MA)
Critics won't skirt the issue
September 7, 2006

She's got great legs and CBS knows how to use them - but women scholars are
divided on whether Katie Couric should keep her sexy stems behind the anchor
Wearing stilettos and a skirt, Couric's toned and taut legs made their first
appearance before the first commercial break Tuesday evening during Couric's
"CBS Evening News" debut.

"It doesn't belong on a news show - making somebody a little bit sexual. Showing
off someone's legs is probably not a good message to be showing the viewers,"
said Belle Adler, an associate professor of broadcast journalism at Northeastern

Diane Balser, a professor of women studies at Boston University, said
objectifying a woman anchoring the evening news is "so out of order."

"A person who is an anchor is trying to describe the news and her legs have
nothing to do with it," Balser said. "It demeans her ability to communicate the
news well to people because it points their attention to the objectification of

Couric's shapely legs were front and center as she interviewed New York Times
columnist Thomas Friedman face to face shortly into her first network newscast.
The usual third-place CBS news show clinched the No. 1 spot that night, with
13.6 million people tuning in.

The legs were much less prevalent last night. When the 49-year-old Couric
co-hosted "Today," her tanned legs and short skirts were practically a show

CBS spokeswoman Sandy Genelius said "they shot her (Couric) as you would shoot
any anchor on a news set." As for those who say CBS is playing up Couric's legs,
Genelius called it "bunk."

Carol Jenkins, a former TV anchor and Women's Media Center board member, said
"the more women the better, whether they show their legs or not."

Jenkins said Couric's debut was a milestone and women across the country were
thrilled. Actress Marlo Thomas held a viewing party and feminist leader Gloria
Steinem - founder of the Women's Media Center - cried.

"We have to get used to seeing women's legs without falling down and pointing
and giggling like we haven't seen women's legs before," Jenkins said. "We just
have to get over it."

He Earned It?

He Earned It?

Joan Vennochi said of Chris Gabrieli, "it's not like someone handed him
millions at birth or through marriage." (Joan Vennochi, "Passing the competence
test," Boston Globe, September 8, 2006) At the panel discussion (some call
it a debate) at Harvard Gabrieli lamented that he had to drop out of medical
school to save the family business, "my family was on the brink of
financial ruin."
In Lisa Wangsness, "Perseverance drives a political ambition," Boston
Globe, May 22, 2006, she states "His aging parents, Hungarian immigrants who
had invested their life's savings in his father's scientific research, were
edging closer to bankruptcy. [...] some financiers agreed to put up some money
-- as long as the young Gabrieli quit medical school and started what became a
medical software business."
Not to negate what he did. But he did not start from nothing. He was
"given" money by backers. He was "given" a business. That is something that
Harvard people must learn early, i.e. how to use other people's money. It is a
matter of degree, but I think that Vennochi uses skewed standards.

Roy Bercaw, Editor
Cambridge MA USA

Passing the competence test
Boston Globe
By Joan Vennochi
September 8, 2006

CHRIS GABRIELI looked and sounded like he could be the next governor of

He was calm, collected, and competent. Indeed, competence, not ideology, was the
heart of Gabrieli's presentation during last night's debate.

That did not work for Michael Dukakis when he was running for president in 1988;
but in 2006 it could be the antidote to 16 years of Republican governors in

Deval Patrick is the candidate who would most shake up the Bay State political
establishment; he is a true outsider, and quite obviously not the face of your
father's Democratic Party. Patrick had some fine moments during the debate,
showing flashes of character, grace, and eloquence -- even to the point of
helping his opponent when Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly targeted Gabrieli
for attack. But the question posed by WBUR's Bob Oakes underscores a legitimate,
post-primary concern: Is Patrick too far to the left, too liberal, to win a
general election?

Patrick gave a strong response. ``I'm not running as a label," he said. He
talked about his broad experience in the public and private and non profit
sectors and said the key question should be, ``Can we change the culture on
Beacon Hill?" But fairly or unfairly, this newcomer to the Massachusetts
political scene has less than two weeks to fight the label of tax-and-spend
liberal. And every time he backs away from the positions that won him an adoring
voter base over the past year -- for example, his initial refusal to jump on the
income tax rollback bandwagon -- he jeopardizes that base on primary day.

Responding to the same question, Gabrieli said voters do not care about
Democrats or Republicans, left wing or right wing. What matters, he said, ``is
if someone can do the job . . . if they can ``build a tunnel that doesn't fall
on people's heads."

Mitt Romney promised a version of non ideological competence in 2002, and it
worked well against Democrat Shannon O'Brien. Then Governor Romney got Potomac
Fever, and in his effort to woo Republican primary voters, veered right -- past
the ideological comfort zone of many Massachusetts voters.

But the idea of a competent, non ideological businessman who will make sure the
Big Dig stops falling on our heads still has its appeal.

Reilly, who wasted much too time on attacks, has been trying to turn Gabrieli's
personal fortune into a political albatross. The problem: Gabrieli does not look
or sound like your stereotypical fat-cat millionaire politician. He is a more
than a little geeky and actually appears most human when someone attacks his
hefty bank account. Asked by WCVB's Janet Wu whether he is trying to buy his way
into the governor's office, he listened to the roll out of money he has put
behind various electoral bids and quipped ``sorry" to his wife, who was in the

Yes, Gabrieli is ``buying" exposure via an onslaught of paid political
advertising. But it's not like someone handed him millions at birth or through
marriage. It turns out he is a smart man who built a wildly successful business.
That is hardly a crime; indeed it is the American dream.

The AG had one good moment. That was when he stood up for the University of
Massachusetts and the notion of investing in the state university system to
promote stem cell research. But Gabrieli had a good rejoinder: investment, he
said, should be based on merit, not politics.

Merit, not politics. Competence, not ideology. That sounds like the language of

Joan Vennochi's e-mail address is

Romney and Khatami

Romney and Khatami

Professor Alan Dershowitz is a logical thinker and writer. His argument
to allow Khatami to speak at Harvard is a good one. (Alan Dershowitz,
"Universities and tolerance," Boston Globe, September 9, 2006)
The issue that brought media attention was Governor Romney's refusal to
employ state police to provide security for Khatami's visit. Harvard, a private
corporation, often invites unpopular speakers with little press coverage.
The issue ignored by Dershowitz is why should taxpayer funds be used to
provide security? Harvard has an endowment of $26 billion, more than enough
to provide their own security details.
Romney made the correct decision. If there is insufficient funds to provide
police protection to Boston neighborhoods flooded with violence why should the
same police be provided to protect an advocate of violence? If Cambridge police
and Boston police have nothing to do why not do eliminate illegal weapons from
the community? Why not learn to distinguish the good guys from the bad?
Harvard could hire the hundreds of constables who seize autos from owners
who don't keep up payments. Private security firms employ hundreds of former
police officers to provide security for events like Khatami visit.

Roy Bercaw, Editor
Cambridge MA USA

Universities and tolerance
Boston Globe
By Alan Dershowitz
September 9, 2006

THE KENNEDY SCHOOL of Government at Harvard University should not cancel the
scheduled speech by former president Mohammad Khatami of Iran. Universities must
never submit to censorial pressures by individuals or groups that disagree with,
or are deeply offended by, a speaker's ideas.

This does not mean that those who invited Khatami to deliver a lecture on the
``Ethics of Tolerance in the Age of Violence" -- a subject on which, based on
his lifetime of intolerance, he has nothing to contribute -- made a wise
decision. Would they have invited David Duke to lecture on racial harmony or the
late Meir Kahane to educate our students on the proper way to protest? I doubt

Khatami is somewhat different, of course, having been president of Iran
(whatever that means ). But he is no longer in a position to influence Iranian
policy or to answer hard questions about, for example, Iran's current nuclear
program or its latest purge of secular faculty members. He could, perhaps,
explain why the ``ethics of tolerance" did not inspire him to do anything when
hundreds of dissident students were arrested and tortured during his tenure.

Derek Bok, acting president of Harvard, is right when he says that ``a wide
exchange of views" is essential to a university. But there are only two tenable
positions a university may take in this regard: the first is that they have no
substantive standards for who should be invited -- in other words any speaker
who wishes to engage in ``a wide exchange of views," and who is invited by any
student or faculty group, must be entitled to stand on the Harvard podium. Under
this ``taxi cab" approach -- a cab driver must accept any rider who can pay the
fare -- Duke and Kahane would have to be invited to speak if there were students
or teachers who wanted to hear them, regardless of who might be offended. The
second alternative is to have substantive standards -- such as academic
achievement or political prominence -- that are applied rigorously and equally,
without regard to whether the speaker is left or right, offensive to Jews or to
Arabs, etc.

Most universities fall into the uncomfortable middle. They have implicit
standards, but they refuse to articulate them or apply them with what I call
``ism equity." The truth is that Duke is not getting invited to Harvard any time
soon, but Khatami has been. Is the only reason for this difference that Duke is
a failed politician who lost his bid for election in Louisiana, while Khatami
was ``elected" (appointed? anointed?) in Iran? I don't think so. The difference
may relate, at least in part, to the relative unacceptability in this university
community of their substantive views. Duke would offend more members of the
Harvard community than Khatami would. If this is even partly true, it is

If offensiveness were ever to be recognized as a basis for distinguishing among
the acceptable and unacceptable, then any group could exercise the equivalent of
a ``heckler's veto." If offensiveness to some groups were to be deemed more
deserving of consideration than offensives to other groups, that would be unfair
discrimination. For example, if a speaker offensive to Muslim students were
permitted to speak, while a speaker offensive to Hindu students were not
permitted, that would constitute bigotry against Muslims. But if offensiveness
to any group were sufficient to ban a speaker and if ``ism equality" prevailed,
then in this age of the thin-skinned and easily offended, only the most
inoffensive and boring speakers would be heard.

Both Duke and Khatami are racists with extremist and violent designs for
repressing political dissent and ethnic opposition. Only Khatami, though, has
had a chance to put his designs into effect. Khatami, however, is seen as a
virulent enemy of the US administration, and therein may lie some of the
discrepancy in receptiveness afforded by the Kennedy School.

I won't catalog Khatami's long history of hateful deeds and proclamations. I'm
eager to hear Khatami's explanation for his and his country's treatment of
women, homosexuals, secularists, Baha'i, and student reformers. And I am
confident that Harvard's student body will have the courage to ask Khatami the
sorts of questions that mainstream media interviewers have either avoided or
have let Khatami evade with empty platitudes.

At the end of the day, Khatami will speak at Harvard, because Americans believe
in and enjoy the sorts of academic liberties and openness to ideas that Khatami
himself did so much to squash when he was in power. That's as it should be. I
only hope that those in the Kennedy School who invited Khatami did so out of a
genuine commitment to unqualified open dialogue, rather than the belief that
offensiveness to some groups is more deserving of solicitude than is
offensiveness to others, or worse yet, substantive agreement with some of
Khatami's oppressive worldview.

Alan Dershowitz is a professor of law at Harvard University. His most recent
book is ``Preemption: A Knife that Cuts Both Ways."

Right to Housing

Right to Housing

Rachel Bratt says, "Without a guaranteed right to housing in
the United States, thousands of households are struggling to find and keep
housing they can afford." ( Rachel G. Bratt, "Americans deserve a right to housing,"
Boston Globe, March 13, 2007)
The New Jersey Constitution states a right to be housed. Yet there are lots
of persons without homes in New Jersey. Having a right is one thing. Being able
to enforce the right, or to redress the violation of a right is another matter.
There must be a way to force compliance, not just stating a right. Knowing
how the Americans with Disabilities Act works shows that paper rights are

Roy Bercaw, Editor
Cambridge MA USA

Americans deserve a right to housing
Boston Globe
By Rachel G. Bratt
March 13, 2007

RECENTLY, THREE stories about housing were in the news. Although they may seem
unconnected, they are closely linked and we need to pay attention to the
messages they convey.

First, both the French prime minister and president announced support for a
legal right to housing .

Following the lead set by Scotland, France would elevate housing as a social
right, on a par with education. Despite calls for a right to housing in the
United States, notably by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1944 as part of what he
called a Second Bill of Rights, this country has only articulated a national
housing goal: "a decent home and suitable living environment for every American

But this rhetoric has not translated into a commitment to action.

In the absence of the political will to supply consistent and sufficient public
resources, federal, state, and local governments have taken an indirect route by
providing incentives to the private for-profit sector as an enticement for them
to enter the realm of "affordable" housing. This brings us to the second story.

Since 1969 Massachusetts has articulated the need for all cities and towns to
have at least 10 percent of their housing stock dedicated to affordable housing.
In communities that are short of this goal, Chapter 40B allows developers to
petition to over ride local zoning if at least 20 to 25 percent of the units are
reserved for affordable occupancy.

Since the enactment of 40B, more than 47,000 homeownership and rental units have
been created; about half of this housing is affordable to households earning 80
percent of area median income or less. In recent years, 40B has been responsible
for 30 percent of housing production in the state and 80 percent of housing for
low- and moderate-income households in suburban communities.

In addition, the majority of 40B housing is good to look at, blends in well with
its surroundings, and is an important community asset.

There have been many critics of 40B even though these developments are typically
constructed with little or no public funds. Affordability is typically attained
by the market rate units cross-subsidizing those reserved for the less affluent
households. Most recently, a report released by the inspector general disclosed
that a number of developers of 40B housing had realized inappropriate profits.
Of course, in market-rate housing, developers have no limit on their profits.
Under 40B, however, any profit in excess of 20 percent of total development
costs must be returned to the towns for affordable housing purposes.

The inspector general's review of five 40B homeownership developments found that
three exceeded the 20 percent profit limitation and that two did not. However,
in each case the developers are disputing these findings, arguing that the
inspector general is retroactively applying new rules to these older
developments and that they therefore do not owe money to the towns.

Whether or not the inspector general's analysis will prevail, there is a much
larger story, which brings us to the third news item: Decent affordable housing
is a great concern all across Massachusetts. The Donahue Institute at the
University of Massachusetts recently released the results of a survey indicating
that about two-thirds of Massachusetts residents rated the cost of housing as a
significant concern, up from less than half the population just a year earlier.
Also alarming is that nearly 36 percent of those surveyed indicated that they or
members of their immediate family "have seriously considered moving out of
Massachusetts because of the cost of housing."

This story brings us back to the first. Without a guaranteed right to housing in
the United States, thousands of households are struggling to find and keep
housing they can afford.

In the absence of sufficiently well-funded public programs that provide
long-term assistance, we will continue to grapple with how to squeeze housing
out of inadequate funding. Despite inappropriate profits, we need to exercise
restraint about condemning a proven strategy for producing decent affordable

A well-funded, multifaceted federal right to housing program would enable us to
meet needs of residents of this state and across the country. Chapter 40B is
only part of this complex agenda; Massachusetts could be a leader in
articulating the goal of a right to housing for all residents -- and then
delivering on this promise.

Rachel G. Bratt is professor and chairwoman of the Department of Urban and
Environmental Policy and Planning, Tufts University, and a fellow at the Joint
Center for Housing Studies , Harvard University.

March 13, 2007

Security for Iranian President Khatami's Visit

Security for Iranian President Khatami's Visit

Laura Crimaldi says, "Grandstanding Gov. Mitt Romney has denied Khatami state police protection." (Laura Crimaldi, "Security beefed up for Khatami visit," Boston Herald, September 10, 2006) The argument to allow Khatami to speak at Harvard is a good one. Governor Romney's refusal to employ state police to provide security for Khatami's visit is correct.
Harvard, a private corporation, often invites unpopular speakers with little press coverage. The ignored issue is why should taxpayer funds be used to provide security? Harvard has an endowment of $26 billion, more than enough to provide their own security details. If there is insufficient funds to provide police protection to Boston neighborhoods flooded with violence why should the same police be provided to protect an advocate of violence?
If Cambridge police and Boston police have nothing to do why not do eliminate illegal weapons from the community? Why not learn to distinguish the good guys from the bad? Harvard could hire the hundreds of constables who seize autos from owners who don't keep up payments. Private security firms employ hundreds of former police officers to provide security for events like Khatami visit.

Roy Bercaw, Editor
Cambridge MA USA

Security beefed up for Khatami visit
By Laura Crimaldi
Boston Herald
Sunday, September 10, 2006

Cambridge police will be staging a perimeter around the Harvard University hall where former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami is scheduled to speak today, a police spokesman said yesterday. “We will address the outside with the perimeter and inside if need be. We have worked out a security plan with (Harvard) that’s not being released,” said the spokesman, Frank Pasquarello. “We have adequate coverage.”
Khatami will give a talk titled “Ethics of Tolerance in the Age of Violence” at 4 p.m. at the Kennedy School of Government as part of a two-week U.S. visit personally approved by President Bush. Grandstanding Gov. Mitt Romney has denied Khatami state police protection, but that move has no effect on his stay because the State Department had already promised to provide the security.
A Boston Police Department spokesman yesterday confirmed it would assist the State Department during Khatami’s visit. “Diplomatic Security is doing the arrangements,” said State Department spokeswoman Janelle Hironimus. “We’ve been coordinating with the local authorities since the beginning.”

March 12, 2007

Bigotry for Thee But Not for Me

Bigotry for Thee But Not for Me

A media watch group and the Boston Herald continue to marginalize 20 percent of the population, persons with disabilities. (Jesse Noyes, "Few women, nonwhites own TV stations," Boston Herald Business, September 21, 2006) Why do journalists and public officials ignore the pervasive prejudice toward persons with disabilities? It is an unlawful as bias toward persons of color and toward women.
Under the Code of Mass Regulations the definition of minority excludes persons with disabilities. Elected officials simply ignore them. It shows that bigotry is institutionalized. For some it is OK to discriminate is the message of media and government contrary to laws and public policy.

Roy Bercaw, Editor
Cambridge MA USA

Few women, nonwhites own TV stations
By Jesse Noyes
Boston Herald Business Reporter
Thursday, September 21, 2006 - Updated: 07:38 AM EST

A Massachusetts media watchdog group released a study yesterday showing a widescale lack of diversity in television station ownership throughout the country.
Even though women make up 51 percent of the national population, only 67 TV stations, or less than 5 percent, are owned by women, according to a report by Free Press.
Minorities only own 44 stations, less than 4 percent of the total, the study said.
Those figures are in stark contrast to the 1,033 stations run by non-Hispanic white owners, who dominate the market.
The report’s authors said the small number of women- and minority-owned TV stations is due to heavy consolidation of media and to Federal Communications Commission’s policies. The FCC is currently examining whether to implement less stringent media ownership rules.
The level of minority-owned TV stations hasn’t improved since 1998, the study found.

Massachusetts State Rep. Marie Parente

Massachusetts State Rep. Marie Parente

The Globe editorializes (like its parent corporation) in its news and headlines. The two letters and the article to which they refer (Andrea Estes, "VOCAL FOE OF SAME-SEX MARRIAGE OUSTED - PARENTE ONLY INCUMBENT LEGISLATOR TO BE DEFEATED," Boston Globe, September 20, 2006) show clearly that the headline is misleading as Carmenker says.
Marie Parente was the most fierce advocate for the rights of vulnerable persons in the state! She spoke vigorously to protect foster care children and against the human services industrial complex as she referred to the caring professions, which the Globe idolizes. That was not mentioned in the article or by the letter writers. (Brian Carmenker, September 21, 2006; ED KEATING CHRIS GOSSELIN, September 26, 2006)
I am a great admirer of Parente although she is not my Rep. I did not know her position on same sex marriage. So much for that being the reason she lost.
Howie Carr quoted (September 22, 2006) a Parente supporter who said to her, "You're old." to explain his vote against her. Ageism is not as important as homophobia to the Globe headline writers. It shows once more the solitary focus of the homosexual lobby, and the misguided support for the Marshal Court's flawed court decision which violates the state constitution.
For more than forty years politicians use the pages of the Boston Globe for propaganda.

Roy Bercaw, Editor
Cambridge MA USA

Result hardly a referendum on gay marriage
Boston Globe
September 21, 2006

THE STARK headline of your Sept. 20 post-election article "Vocal foe of same-sex marriage unseated" (City & Region) seems intended to give the reader the impression that the defeat of state Representative Marie Parente, of Milford, was a mini referendum on the same-sex marriage issue. Is that wishful thinking on the Globe's part? In fact, as the article itself says, the victor, John Fernandes, said the major focus was on ``pocketbook issues" such as property taxes and Big Dig spending. It's entirely possible that most of the voters didn't even realize there was a difference between the candidates on gay marriage. The Globe should save its editorializing for the editorial page.
* * * * *
Gay marriage was indeed put to vote
Boston Globe
September 26, 2006
Sept. 21 2006

``Result hardly a referendum on gay marriage," in response to the article about Representative Marie Parente's primary defeat, appears to express his own ``wishful thinking." It is an accurate statement that Marie Parente has been opposed to equal marriage rights for gays and lesbians. Many gays and lesbians live and vote in Parente's district.
Over the last three years several of us have had multiple conversations with her asking that she reconsider her position . But she would not budge, and she continues to support an amendment that would alter the Massachusetts Constitution enabling discrimination. What Mr. Camenker would have you believe is that voters in Parente's district would not cast their votes based on this issue.
We and many others in the district cast our votes for John Fernandes because of his support of equal marriage rights. This issue bore considerable weight.
* * * * *
Boston Globe
Andrea Estes,
September 20, 2006

Outspoken state Representative Marie Parente of Milford, one of Beacon Hill's most conservative voices for more than 20 years, was defeated yesterday in her bid for another term. She was the only incumbent legislator to lose a primary fight. John Fernandes, a lawyer and former Milford selectman, beat Parente throughout the district, chalking up decisive margins in every neighborhood of Milford, Upton, and Mendon. He will face Republican Robert P. Burns in November. Parente, who was first elected in the early 1980s, is a vocal and staunch opponent of same-sex marriage and extending benefits to undocumented workers.
Now 78, she frequently spoke of retiring, but ran for reelection time after time. "What it says to me is that people were ready to transition to new representation and responded to the positive campaign I tried to run in this race," said Fernandes last night.
Also yesterday, Willie Mae Allen, 69, a neighborhood activist and veteran member of the Democratic State Committee, defeated William R. Celester Sr., a former Boston police commander who served two years in federal prison after pleading guilty to fraud charges while serving as Newark's police chief. They battled over a House seat left vacant by the retirement of longtime Mattapan state Representative Shirley Owens-Hicks. "It was a clean fought fight, " said Celester, who once served as a Boston police deputy superintendent. "Willie Mae has been a friend of mine for 40 years. and she'll remain so . ... We had an organization, but no money."
In the Parente race, Fernandes held different positions than his opponent on gay marriage, stem cell research, and immigration, but he said his major focus was on "pocketbook issues. We talked more about the impact of property taxes and the Big Dig on spending priorities." Fernandes, who is of Portuguese and Italian descent, said immigrant issues were not central in the campaign, though Milford has a large and growing Portuguese and Brazilian immigrant population.
Ali Noorani, executive director of Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, called Parente's defeat "a stunning remark on a representative so willing to talk about immigrant issues. "While we disagreed on many issues," said Noorani, "I personally have respect for her as an individual. She was a passionate advocate for her constituents."
Aside from Parente, other incumbents survived primary challenges -- including state Senator Robert Havern of Arlington, majority leader Representative John Rogers of Norwood and Representatives Antonio Cabral of New Bedford, John Fresolo of Worcester, Robert Correia of Fall River, Benjamin Swan of Springfield, Joyce Spiliotis of Peabody, William Pignatelli of Lenox, Mark Falzone of Saugus, and Paul Kujawski of Webster. The fiercest contests were for 12 open seats given up by lawmakers who decided not to seek reelection.
Voters picked successors for Senators Andrea Nuciforo Jr. of Pittsfield and Brian Lees of East Longmeadow; and Representatives Shirley Gomes of South Harwich, Virginia Coppola of Foxborough, Philip Travis of Rehoboth, Arthur Broadhurst of Methuen, Emile Goguen of Fitchburg, Mark Carron of Southbridge, Gale Candaras of Wilbraham, and Daniel Keenan of Agawam. Nuciforo, Lees, and Candaras are running for other offices. Voters in Everett chose Stephen "Stat" Smith as the Democratic candidate to replace the late Representative Edward Connolly, a Democrat who died in May.
State Representative Marie St. Fleur also won her primary. Same-sex marriage supporters, who had been actively campaigning on behalf of key candidates across the state, last night claimed victory in several races and said they expect to pick up new supporters on Beacon Hill. MassEquality, which distributed 250,000 pieces of mail to primary voters, zeroed in on seats being vacated by two of the most vocal opponents of gay marriage -- Philip Travis of Rehoboth and Emile Goguen of Fitchburg.
In the race for Goguen's seat, MassEquality backed Stephen DiNatale, who won the Democratic nomination. The group also supported Steven D'Amico, who won the Democratic nomination to succeed Travis. They also worked on behalf of Rosemary Samblin, who won the Democratic nomination for Candara's seat in Agawam, and for incumbent Senator Dianne Wilkerson, St. Fleur of Boston, and Falzone.
Copyright (c) 2006
Globe Newspaper Company
Andrea Estes, GLOBE STAFF
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‘Too old,’ genuine public servant shown the door by loyal Democrats
By Howie Carr
Boston Herald Columnist
Friday, September 22, 2006 - Updated: 08:26 AM EST

Rep. Marie Parente of Milford opposes gay marriage, abortion and free college tuition for illegal aliens. How do you suppose she did in the moonbat-dominated Democratic primary Tuesday? “I feel a winner,” she was saying on the day after, but of course, she wasn’t. At the age of 78, after 26 years in the Legislature, she was dumped, beaten by a Milford lawyer.
Marie gets the bum’s rush just eight months after what may have been her finest moment in the Legislature. Marie was part of what started as a tiny band of solons determined to stop another handout for illegal aliens - in-state (i.e., free) tuition at public colleges. As usual, even though the illegals supposedly all have jobs, somehow large numbers of them were able to gather at the State House on a weekday in a brazen attempt to extort yet more money from the stupid gringo taxpayers.
Marie Parente looked up at them in the gallery with scorn. “If I were in a foreign country illegally,” she said, “I think I’d be hiding. I wouldn’t be in the capitol, demanding more money.” The illegal-alien welfare bill was crushed, 96-57. Thank you, Marie.
On Tuesday, one of Parente’s allies in the anti-gay marriage movement drove out to Milford to hold a sign for her. But just as she was pulling into the parking lot at the precinct, the woman’s car was broadsided. “She got hit,” Marie said, “by an eight-months pregnant illegal alien. Totally demolished the car. How’s that for an omen?”
Of course it wasn’t primarily the moonbats who were responsible for Marie Parente’s defeat. Her main problem was, she got old. I first realized Dapper O’Neil, the Boston city councilor, was in trouble when I was standing with him one Saturday in the Roche Bros. parking lot in West Roxbury getting signatures. He was maybe 77 at the time. When the shoppers coming out kept telling him, “You knew my grandfather,” I knew it was over.
You can survive being the age of the average voter’s father, but not the grandfather. Your voters who aren’t dead have moved to Florida, or into a nursing home. “I still have the energy,” Marie Parente was saying. “I went door to door more than my opponent. I was knocking on doors as late as Saturday, climbing the hills of Mendon. I spent over $50,000.”
But when it breaks against you, everything goes, all at once. “I must have spent 15 or 20,000 on newspaper ads,” she said. “Just one half-page ad cost me $3,700. And the paper endorsed my opponent.” You can’t trust newspaper people, present company excluded of course. Marie didn’t seem bitter on Wednesday, just slightly disappointed by the fact that people she’d done favors for over the years suddenly decided they didn’t want her at the State House anymore.
“I wish I had a dollar for everyone who said to me, ‘I’ll never forget you as long as I live.’ People I’d made a call for when they got behind on their mortgage, or who needed help visiting their kids who were with their ex. But there they were Tuesday, some of them, holding signs for the other guy. I went up to a couple of them and asked, what’s going on here, and they said, ‘You’re old.’ ”
And so another lunch-bucket Democrat bites the dust. Only this happened in Milford. The only moonbat I ever knew from there was Charles Laquidara, the disc jockey at the old WBCN, and he moved to Hawaii years ago. “Everything’s changed, but it’s a bad change,” Marie said. “People think abortion anytime is OK, man marrying man, or family marrying family, everything’s fine. But you know, I had a great ride - 214 laws bear my name.” I told her she did a great job. “Thanks,” she said. “I guess I’m just a dinosaur." That makes two of us, Marie.