September 28, 2012
I met this week with members of the community group Livable Streets. This organization is focused on efforts to balance the transportation system so that it works for all of us – drivers, pedestrians, cyclists and transit users. We had a good and substantive conversation about the need for a long term regional plan that recognizes traffic changes in one community have an impact beyond that community. The group was specifically interested in talking about the future of McGrath Highway in Somerville, which is in the process of being repaired. State transportation officials are studying how to maximize the roadway, including whether to take down the existing overpass. We agreed that whatever the final design, the determinative factor should be based on making the road better for as many people and transportation modes as possible. In fact, we were in agreement on many aspects of transportation, including recognizing the reality of the state’s fiscal situation when it comes to transportation funding. I appreciated their time and their perspective on the state’s regional transportation needs.
As co-founder and co-chair of the Sudan Caucus, I recently expressed my grave concern over the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the southern Sudanese states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile. Along with a number of my colleagues in the House, we relayed that concern in a letter to Ambassador Susan Rice, the United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations. We highlighted the Government of Sudan’s unresponsiveness to Resolution 2046, which was adopted by the UN Security Council in May of 2012. That resolution outlined the need for humanitarian access to both South Kordofan and Blue Nile. Despite signing a memorandum of understanding, the Government of Sudan has still not provided humanitarian access to the region. In our letter to Ambassador Rice, we urge the Security Council to be vigilant and follow through on a commitment to impose sanctions if the Government of Sudan refuses to meet the conditions outlined in Resolution 2046. Their refusal is endangering lives.
In a related piece of news, South Sudan and Sudan signed new agreements this week that set the stage for resumed oil production that will bring income to both countries (another aspect of UN Security Council Resolution 2046). The deal also provides for a demilitarized border zone, which is, in theory, a good step forward. There are a number of troubling omissions from the agreements, though: the contested border region of Abyei is left out, as is border demarcation and any mention of the crisis in South Kordofan and Blue Nile. It should be noted that Omar al-Bashir’s government in Khartoum has signed over 40 “agreements” and followed through on almost none. I am eager to see progress in the negotiations between South Sudan and Sudan, but I view this week’s developments with some skepticism.
Last night I joined Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD) at their Community Volunteer Celebration. ABCD is a non-profit organization that helps low-income families in a variety of ways. From home heating aid to job training and housing assistance, ABCD has made a real difference in the lives of so many. Their work would not be possible without a dedicated staff and the support of many volunteers. Last night, 20 volunteers were recognized for their efforts. I was proud to be part of the celebration and pleased to have had the opportunity to thank the volunteers and staffers for all that they do to improve the lives of others.