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Congressman Capuano's
An update from the office of U.S. Representative Michael E. Capuano
7th Congressional District of Massachusetts

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August 10, 2018

Railroad Employee Convention

It was an honor to deliver the keynote address at Monday’s annual convention of Railroad Signalmen. The Trump administration attacks unions at every turn and it’s important that we stand together to support our working women and men. Organized labor built the middle class and helped give families a secure future. Yet the administration actively seeks to weaken unions. Just recently the Supreme Court dealt them a serious blow with its Janus v. AFSCME decision. In that case the Court ruled employees who choose not to join a union do not have to pay partial union dues although the union is still legally obligated to represent them in collective bargaining and in grievance procedures. These partial dues had been known as agency fees and represented what many people, including myself, believed to be a reasonable solution to a classic “free rider” problem. All employees benefit from union activities, which unions must now carry on with diminished resources. This will weaken their effectiveness and jeopardizes the future of all, including loyal dues paying members. I appreciated the invitation to speak at the convention and express my support for the hard work that the railroad workers do every day.

Commissioner Gross

I joined Mayor Walsh, other local officials and community members to celebrate the formal swearing-in of new Boston Police Commissioner William Gross this week at Morning Star Baptist Church in Mattapan. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Commissioner Gross over the years. I know he will serve with compassion and distinction. The City of Boston will be well served by his leadership.

College Bound Dorchester

I met with a group of students from College Bound Dorchester and they encouraged and inspired me. This program helps prepare students for higher education and the workforce by offering academic as well as emotional support. I shared my experiences as a student and talked about some of the challenges I faced as a young man. Participants talked about their own experiences and how the program has helped them with good advice and sympathetic mentorship. We had a great exchange and I appreciated the invitation to spend some time with both the students and advisors.

Fuller Village

I participated in a community meeting yesterday with residents of Fuller Village in Milton to answer questions about the work I am doing in Washington and learn more about the issues that concern them. Fuller Village is an independent senior housing community offering a variety of supportive services — a wellness clinic, community garden, fitness center and café are all available to Fuller Village residents. We had a substantive and wide ranging exchange about a host of issues, from health care and transportation to the challenges of the Trump administration. We also talked about the difficulty of reaching compromise in Washington today and the many bad consequences of the president’s polarizing rhetoric. None of that will help resolve serious problems such as stabilizing Social Security and Medicare.

Smart from the Start

It was a pleasure yesterday to spend time with staff and participants from the Smart from the Start program at Houghton’s Pond in Milton. It is the site of one of their Address the Stress day camps. The program provides expansive services for children and adults. It offers prenatal classes and home visits for parents of newborn babies. Initiatives tailored to toddlers and preschoolers help stimulate learning and prepare children for school. The Baby Basics class presents a weekly support program for new parents and Smart from the Start also manages three summer programs that run for two weeks. All its services and classes are free to participants and Smart from the Start is now celebrating its 10th year. I learned a great deal about the overall program and its mission from talking with the Executive Director.

Behind the Curtain — More House and Trump Administration Actions You Don’t Want to Miss

Here are this week’s additions. If you need to catch up or share with friends, you can find the full list here.

  1. According to a July 2018 National Public Radio report, the U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) gave its biggest contract to a company called Cenveo in a manner that raises numerous red flags. Cento went bankrupt 4 months after it got the contract but the federal government will pay $5.5 million to the company according to terms of a bankruptcy settlement. The $61 million contract was for census related printing, including the form mailed to households to determine population count. The GPO’s Office of the Inspector General recently found that the federal agency failed to conduct adequate due diligence before awarding the multi-million dollar contract. Officials did not, for example, do enough research on Cenveo’s financial health, which would have revealed it was on the verge of bankruptcy. Cenveo was also permitted to lower its bid after all the other bids were known, giving them an unfair, if not illegal advantage. This is a grossly irresponsible managing of federal tax dollars and it places unnecessary pressure on the Census Bureau. At this point, they still don’t have a printer for the 2020 census forms.
  2. According to a July 2018 Associated Press report, the Trump administration is making the dubious argument that tougher fuel standards would make it essentially more dangerous to drive. In a draft report obtained by the AP, one of the points the administration makes is that people would drive more if their vehicles got more miles per gallon so they’d be on the road more with greater opportunity to get in an accident. This is a ludicrous argument against fuel efficiency, cooked up to justify their previous decision to reject the Obama administration’s more stringent fuel standards.
  3. According to an August 2018 Politico report, the Inspector General for the Department of the Interior is investigating Ryan Zinke over plans for a microbrewery in Whitefish, Montana – his hometown. The IG is looking into whether Zinke, the Interior Secretary, was working with David Lesar, the chairman of Halliburton, a major oil services company. Zinke’s plans for the microbrewery go back years. He was even involved in local efforts to update zoning laws to help accommodate that type of business. At the same time, Lesar was also connected to a development in Whitefish that would have included a microbrewery. The administration’s emphasis on rolling back regulations certainly extends to the Interior Department where a company like Halliburton would benefit from fewer regulations.

What’s Up Next

The House is currently in a District Work period. The next House votes will occur on Tuesday September 4th.


Congressman Mike Capuano
7th District, Massachusetts
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
Committee on Financial Services

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