April 28, 2011
I have read with interest and frankly, a little surprise, recent coverage of US Senator Scott Brown's call to establish "a new congressional district centered in Suffolk County that creates a majority-minority seat under the Voting Rights Act..."
I am compelled to state the obvious. The 8th Congressional District (CD) of Massachusetts already is a majority-minority district that centers around and encompasses the majority of Suffolk County. That has been the case since 2001, after district lines were redrawn and approved by the state legislature of which now US Senator Brown was a member as a State Representative.
Here are the facts:
- The 8th CD contains the cities of Chelsea, Cambridge, Somerville, and 71.94% of Boston's population.
- Based on the 2010 Census, the 8th CD is home to 660,414 people. Of that total, 53.15% are non-white. People who self-identify as "Black" make up 19.85% of the total, people who listed themselves as "Hispanic" make up 18.82%, "Asians" 9.85% and all other non-whites (which include multi-racial people, Pacific Islanders, and others) total 4.63%.
When the 8th CD was drawn after the 2000 census by the State Legislature, the goal was to create a majority non-white district. It was a goal I believed in and wholeheartedly supported. I still do today. When the current 8th CD was drawn after the last census, it was the first majority non-white CD in the Commonwealth.
And as far as a "Suffolk County centered" district is concerned, we already have that too in the 8th CD which contains 66.4% of the total Suffolk County population. In fact, Suffolk County accounts for almost ¾ of the 8th CD.
The numbers quite clearly speak for themselves. The current 8th CD is a majority non-white district centered in Suffolk County.
Senator Brown is entitled to share his opinion on redistricting. But he is not entitled to his own facts and the facts could not be clearer. Hopefully, in the near future I can persuade Senator Brown to take a tour with me in the current majority non-white Congressional District that is centered in Suffolk County, and one that meets every possible legitimate concern – geographic compactness, contiguity, one-person-one-vote, and equity.
District Work Week
The House is just ending a District Work period, which allowed me to spend some extended time in the neighborhoods of the 8th. I met with constituents on a wide range of issues and have summarized some of them for your information.
Over the Patriots’ Day weekend, I had the opportunity to serve breakfast in Charlestown to a group of injured veterans who were participating in the Boston Marathon. It was truly an honor to meet with them and to hear a little about their experiences. They have sacrificed so much for our country and it was inspiring to see how willingly they served and how bravely they carry on.
Last week, I toured the new Social Security Field Office in Cambridge and met with staff there. I was impressed with how Social Security is making use of technology to simplify and speed up the process of filing a claim. I was also impressed with the energy and commitment of the men and women working in the office. All too often during the recent debate over shutting down the government, it was easy to forget that federal employees are real people working hard to do their job, help the public and support their families. I really enjoyed meeting and talking with this group of dedicated professionals.
Cambridge Center for Adult Education
I spent some time at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education, touring the facility, learning more about the classes offered and participating in a question and answer session with a group of students. We had a thoughtful and substantive exchange about the issues facing our country. Not surprisingly, students are concerned about the state of our economy and the impact that recent budget cuts will have on their lives. I enjoyed listening to what they thought about how to best address the issues confronting our country.
I also attended the Savings Bank Financial Literacy education program at the Christian Life Center of St. Paul AME Church in Cambridge. This is a class administered by staffers at Cambridge Savings Bank for homeless children. I spoke with bank staffers who are involved with the program, as well as the students and their parents. This great program teaches young people how to open a bank account, balance a check book and establish a savings. It helps give students the foundation for a healthy financial future.
Last week I joined Mayor Menino at the official launch for the City of Boston's bike share program, Hubway. This initiative will make 600 bikes available at 61 locations throughout the city. Those interested can sign up for membership, which will then make the bikes available for use. A rental under 30 minutes will be free and for a nominal fee the bikes will be available for longer periods of time. This program will make bikes available to city residents who may not have the space to store their own bike, occasional riders, and tourists. Boston joins Paris and other great cities in an environmentally friendly and healthy initiative.
I met this week with Nam Pham, Executive Director of Viet AID, the only Vietnamese American Community Corp in Boston. We talked about the range of economic development programming being offered by Viet AID. We discussed their efforts to expand existing training programs and their English as a Second Language services.
I also met with representatives from the T Riders Union (TRU) of Alternatives for Community & Environment (ACES) to talk about the next transportation reauthorization bill and how the level of funding for public transportation agencies could be impacted. We also discussed environmental justice issues.