October 24, 2014
American Council of Engineering Companies
I met recently with members of the American Council of Engineering Companies of Massachusetts (ACEC). We discussed the current status of the Highway Trust Fund as well as the possibility that Congress will pass a long term transportation authorization. The ACEC was also interested in my recent work on the Committee on Transportationís Special Panel on Public-Private Partnerships (P3s). We are in agreement that our nationís infrastructure needs attention and there isnít enough money to address all of our transportation needs. While P3s can certainly play a role in advancing certain transportation projects, more federal funding must be dedicated to infrastructure. As I discussed with ACEC members, the chances of passing a long term transportation authorization bill will largely depend on generating sufficient revenue to pay for it. While I am hopeful that the House and Senate will eventually come to agreement on transportation funding, I donít expect quick legislative action when Congress returns next month.
This week I had the pleasure of meeting with Groundwork Somerville, the local branch of Groundwork USA. The Somerville organization works with Shape Up Somerville to give students opportunities to learn about healthy living and the environment. Groundwork Somerville encourages students to be involved in the planting and harvesting of food. On our site tour, we saw pumpkins, tomatoes, grapes and kale being grown. Students involved in the program study the science behind their work as well as the benefits of a healthy diet. The organization also provides job training for Somervilleís youth through their Green Team. Working with the city, the Green Team raised a new urban garden on South Street. The produce from that garden is sold by students at local farmers markets. Though their various programs, from garden development to tree planting and area clean ups, Groundwork Somerville works to support a sustainable community.
I met this week with constituents representing J Street, an organization that identifies itself as ďpro-Israel and pro-peace.Ē The group included two students from Tufts as well as a member of the Boston Workersí Circle. We discussed the prospects for a two-state solution, coexistence between a secure and democratic Israel and a stable and democratic Palestine. The discussion focused on achieving this goal in the aftermath of the recent Gaza conflict, and in the context of continuing violence in the wider Middle East. Good outcomes will not come easily but we must never stop working for them.
It was my pleasure to attend the groundbreaking ceremony for the Lynch Family Skatepark. Despite the rain, supporters gathered yesterday morning to celebrate the beginning of the construction phase of the park. Many of us have waited a long time for this day. The land transfer necessary for this project was outlined more than two decades ago as part of Big Dig mitigation. I look forward to the transformation of this former brownfields site to an urban recreational jewel where skateboarders and other athletes can showcase their talents. Iíd also like to extend a special thank you to Renata von Tscharner, founder of the Charles River Conservancy, who never wavered from her vision of what this tract of land could become.
I also met with representatives of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), an organization long committed to civil rights and human dignity. The ADL is deeply engaged in voting rights, immigration reform, and issues impacting the GLBT community. We discussed the troubling increase of anti-Semitic incidents, locally and globally, and the mortal dangers faced by too many religious minorities in too many places at this moment in history. I deeply respect the work the ADL does and I appreciated their time.