March 28, 2008
The House has not been in session for the last two weeks so I had an opportunity to spend some extended time in the district. I thought you might be interested in learning more about some of the meetings I attended during that period:
Wentworth Institute of Technology
Last week I spoke with students attending a political science class at the Wentworth Institute of Technology. I talked about what is happening in Washington currently and then opened the floor for questions. The students touched on a broad array of topics ranging from the availability of student loans to research into alternative fuels and the importance of civic engagement. I always enjoy visiting classrooms and talking with students about the issues that matter to them.
I attended a meeting of the National Lawyers' Guild, with Suffolk University law students and faculty, to talk about civil liberties in wartime. I have fought to preserve the constitutional separation of powers and the safeguards of the Bill of Rights, and I encouraged the law students to commit themselves, as attorneys and as citizens to freedom and the rule of law. Many questions were raised about electronic surveillance and I talked about my opposition to the most recent FISA legislation: I am concerned that so-called "basket warrants," which are overly general authorizations for surveillance, fail to preserve Fourth Amendment protections against "unreasonable search and seizure."
Mattapan Community Health Center
I recently met with staff of the Mattapan Community Health Center to discuss the health issues facing Mattapan and Hyde Park residents, including their concern over the increase of diabetes cases. Officials from the center shared their strategies for improving the health status of those who use their facility, which focuses on providing care to our underserved and most vulnerable populations. We also talked about plans to build a new facility that will offer additional patient services.
Area B-3, Mattapan/Dorchester Neighborhood Association
During the district work period, I had the honor of appearing as a guest speaker at the Area B-3 Mattapan/Dorchester Neighborhood AssociationŐs community meeting. After brief opening remarks, I talked with participants about many issues, including the recent rise in home foreclosures, Social Security and the rising cost of gas. We also talked about the situation in Washington and the fiscal challenges we are facing.
Hyde Park Main Streets Networking Breakfast
I also participated in a networking breakfast hosted by Hyde Park Main Streets. Local business owners, residents and other elected officials, including Councilor Rob Consalvo and State Senator Marian Walsh, attended the meeting. We talked about economic development, particularly as it relates to small business owners. We also discussed the need to maintain our current stock of affordable housing as well as create additional affordable housing opportunities.
Boston Bar Association
I met also with the Immigration Lawyers' committee of the Boston Bar Association. We had a wide-ranging discussion about immigration and the prospects for comprehensive reform, which are not good in this Congress. Immigration has become a bitterly divisive issue, although not along partisan lines. Some Democrats and some Republicans favor changes in our laws that will create a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented persons. Other members of both parties oppose what they regard as "amnesty." The problem now, as I explained to the lawyers, is that some in Congress refuse to consider incremental reform which, I believe, offers the only realistic hope at this time.
This week I toured two recent additions to the East Boston community, Bremen Street Park and the YMCA. Both are situated on an old industrial railroad yard. The Bremen Street Park is a beautiful 4 acre community open space that stretches along the elevated highway. It serves as a buffer for the residents of Bremen Street from the congestion of Logan Airport and its roadways. The East Boston YMCA's new permanent home is located in an old railroad engine house that was converted into a state of the art gymnasium and childcare care center.
I also met with the Sociedad Latina in Mission Hill, a youth organizing group whose primary mission is to cultivate the next generation of leaders. I toured the facility and received an update on their Mission Enrichment Program (MEP). My office was able to secure $97,000 for this after-school program, which provides academic support and programming for middle school students. This is a collaborative effort between Sociedad Latina, the Mission Grammar School and the Mission Hill School, providing services for 90 students per year.
What's Up Next
The next votes in the House are scheduled for Monday March 31st.