ONE Massachusetts
Weekly Roundup
April 1st, 2010
CNN: Hudson River Plane Crash
CNN: Hudson River Plane Crash
As people across our state deal with flooding in their communities, I am reminded of the media response to the terrible Hudson River Airplane Crash just over a year ago.

Though the situation was clearly different - a very short-term, localized emergency event - the coverage seems familiar.

Nationwide coverage and popular response focused almost entirely on Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger, the heroic pilot who landed the flight, but in large part, failed to fully-recognize  the carefully-coordinated efforts of private and public employees working together to make sure the safe landing stayed a positive story.

Ferry drivers, Coast Guard and Fire Department members, paramedics, nurses and doctors all followed plans from emergency coordinators with practiced contingency plans - built in advance so that tragic events can go as smoothly as possible.

CNN: Northeast Flooding 2010
CNN: Northeast Flooding 2010
Reading through flood coverage - and seeing it covered on both local and nationwide news footage - I see a lot of the same reaction. People on every channel and in every publication are shocked by the road-rivers flowing past homes and are worried about losing power to pumps working hard in their basements. People are shown being rescued from homes and vehicles by emergency workers and checking into their flood insurance policies.

And while all of these are very important stories, not enough people are speaking publicly about the historic causes and long-term planning we need to do to protect our communities for future natural disaster such as these floods. How are we going to repair and maintain the structures in our cities and towns that keep us safe?

One example of someone who is talking about the short, medium, and long-term plans to avoid the worst effects of future flooding is State Representative Will Brownsberger:

"We need to look hard at ways to reduce the flow of waters into local rivers. That means a variety of detention and storage strategies. They have to be integrated into land use and development plans all over the watershed if they are to be meaningful. The amount of water involved in a big storm (flow equal to an acre-foot of storage every thirty seconds at the Aberjona in this storm) is such that local projects to increase storage will will not solve the problem. It may be more feasible to help local homeowners invest in measures to make their properties more storm resistant."

It is only by working together that we can build long-term, coordinated plans to build a safer, healthier state - plans that include not only water routes, but also the medical, financial, and educational well-being of everyone in our state.

Do you know of friends, neighbors, and elected officials working on these types of plans? Drop me a note, write us a tweet, or leave a comment on our Facebook page to share!


Harmony Blakeway
Director of Operations, ONE Massachusetts
Civic Engagement | Revenue | Government Reform

Goal: By 2013, a fair, adequate, and stable tax system will be implemented. It will raise sufficient revenue so that state and local governments can fund the array of services needed.

  • SALES TAX: Ballot Initiative. Political leaders are planning a major effort to defeat a ballot question this year that would slash the state's sales tax, saying it would mean devastating cuts in state and municipal services and programs. Two years ago, teacher unions and other opponents spent a near-record $7.3 million to help drum up votes against a ballot question that sought to abolish the state income tax. They are expected to again spend heavily this year on an advertising campaign against the proposed ballot question to cut the sales tax. [Springfield Republican]

  • Roulette TableCASINOS: Report. According to a report released today by the Center for Policy Analysis at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, Bay State residents spent an estimated $968 million at casinos and slot-machine "racinos" in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Maine, up 5.3 percent from 2008. Both sides of the casino debate see significance in this new report saying Massachusetts residents boosted their spending at New England casinos and slot parlors in 2009 even as overall spending on gaming continued to decline. [Enterprise News]

  • CORPORATE TAXATION: Tax Amnesty. About 36,000 business taxpayers will be excused for unpaid penalties and interest associated with unpaid taxes if they agree to settle their liabilities with the state under a two-month program set to launch on Thursday, April 1, 2010, state revenue officials announced Friday. The program is not for individual income tax payers and only applies to business taxpayers who receive bills from the state. [SHNS]

  • JobsJOBS: State and Local Government. State and local government jobs have traditionally provided a haven during economic downturns. But as states have struggled to close growing budget gaps, job cuts have spread. Economists are pointing to the states' budget problems as a potential threat to the economic recovery. In addition to job cuts, states are reducing services and raising taxes to close their deficits. [Boston Globe]

  • STATE DEFICIT: Midyear Adjustments. About two weeks after Patrick budget aides identified a late-year budget gap they said could hit $295 million, the administration pegged the gap, opened by rising caseload demand for Medicaid and other human services, at the low-end estimate of $195 million, about $80 million of which they said could be solved with federal reimbursements. The remainder requires $50 million in diverted "surplus" transportation funds, $38 million in spending cuts, and $30 million in Medicaid savings that had been marked for the state's reserve fund, according to a deficit reduction proposal released late Tuesday. [SHNS]
Goal: By 2013, the voice and input of the state's multi-racial, multi-ethnic communities will create a counterweight to the currently dominant voice and will be tangibly reflected in the public decision making process.
  • April 2nd, 2:00-3:00pm - Planning Meeting: Immediate Responses to Citizens' United and Unlimited Corporate Money in Elections - What Can We Do? Evaluate the steps that organizations and individuals can take in the next 2-3 months to mitigate the US Supreme Court's Citizens' United decision

    MassVOTE, 41 West Street, Suite 700, Boston, 02111
    RSVP to

  • Make my vote countApril 2nd, 3:00-4:45pm - Workshop: "Thinking Big - Background to Election Reform and Democracy Building In Massachusetts." Share knowledge and ideas and learn about past election reform campaigns in Massachusetts. This event is capped at 40 people and will fill. $5 dollar contribution to cover materials requested.

    MassVOTE, 41 West Street, Suite 700, Boston, 02111
    RSVP required to 

Goal: By 2013, a transparent, accessible and accountable state and local policy-making process will be in place.
  • GBIO - Jan 2007TRANSPARENCY: Budget Legislation. State Rep. Lori Ehrlich of Marblehead joined forces with more than two dozen lawmakers to co-sponsor House Bill 2972, titled "An Act relative to the Massachusetts Revenues and Expenditures Transparency Act." The bill directs the Secretary of Administration and Finance to create and maintain a searchable Web site detailing the costs, recipients, and purposes for all appropriations, including contracts, grants, subcontracts, tax expenditures and other subsidies funded by the state government. [Marblehead Reporter]

  • TRANSPARENCY: Corporate Tax Breaks. A state economic development board approved more than $45 million in state and local tax breaks yesterday for Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., Coca-Cola Co., and about a half-dozen other companies that promised to build or expand facilities and add jobs in Massachusetts. [Boston Globe] Critics yesterday objected that the board wouldn't say "how much they plan to award the companies - or what the firms have promised to do in return - until after the board votes on the proposals, when, critics say, it's too late to object."

    "This is the public's business, and it needs to be conducted in public,'' said Pam Wilmot, executive director of Common Cause Massachusetts, a nonprofit that has fought for stronger open meeting laws. "Sometimes decision makers want to hoard the information so they don't embarrass themselves. But that what's it means to live in a democracy.'' [Boston Globe]

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