Sunday, April 29, 2012

The end of large scale biomass? New regulations put on the brakes

I suspect the residents of Springfield think biomass is a dead issue, but we-- Stop Toxic Incineration in Springfield--  continue to take whatever steps  necessary to keep Palmer Renewable Energy from constructing s biomass incinerator in Springfield.

We're appealing the Dept. of Environmental Protection's air permit (along with the Toxics Action Center and the Conservation Law Foundation) and preparing a defense in Land Court as a result of the Zoning Board removing the building permit issued to PRE.

But always, in the back of our minds, we've been waiting for the Dept. of Energy Resources to release its new regulations about biomass, and whether the plants proposed in Greenfield, Russell and Springfield will be eligible for the state's subsidy program, the Renewable Energy Credits.

Well, finally!  Here's a summary:  

DOER is going to require 50% efficiency to be eligible for RECs, while the proposed plants are struggling to reach even 25% efficiency-- just one of the reasons we oppose these plants.

Keep in mind, however, that Palmer Renewable Energy has said that it doesn't need RECs to operate profitably-- although I'm sure PRE wouldn't turn down the money if eligible.  So we can't let our guard down.

Greenfield recorder; By RICHIE DAVIS

Recorder Staff

The state Department of Energy Resources on Friday released revisions to its regulations for how Renewable Portfolio Standards would apply to biomass generating plants.

This set of revisions, which comes almost exactly a year after draft regulations that were severely criticized as too rigid by developers of the wood-fired generators, incorporates recommendations made last
June by the state Legislature’s Joint Committee on Telecommunications,Utilities, and Energy.

Mary Booth, a major critic of large-scale biomass plants, said with the new rules, the state “sorted out fact from fiction (and) sided with science, and with the people of Massachusetts.”

The proposal would apply to pending projects, including a 47-megawatt wood-fired plant planned for Greenfield by Madera Energy Inc. of Cambridge. His plant would be built in the I-91 Industrial Park.

Madera Principal Matthew Wolfe declined to comment on the latest proposal Friday, saying he was a “just sifting through” the new document. The project, he said, has been in limbo for two years pending the new rules, which set the standards for projects that are eligible for receiving green energy tax credits to help make them economically feasible.

“We’re waiting on a resolution to these regs,” said Wolfe, pointing to a public comment period that extends to June 18.

The proposed regulations come after harsh public criticism from environmental groups and a 2010 state-sponsored study by Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences that concluded the wood-fired
generating plants release more heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere per unit of energy than oil, coal, or natural gas — and that the greenhouse gases take a long time for forests to absorb.

The proposed regulations would require that wood-fired generating plants be 50 percent efficient to be
eligible for one-half renewable energy credit per megawatt-hour, — slightly better than a stateof- the-art coal-fired power plant. They allow one credit per megawatt-hour for generators achieving 60 percent efficiency and include harvesting standards designed to protect forest soils.

Facilities must also have 20-year lifecycle and carbon dioxide emissions that are no greater than 50 percent the emissions from a natural gas facility.

Janet Sinclair of Buckland, who leads an antibiomass group based in Greenfield called Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, said Friday “We think burning trees for electricity is a bad idea. And I find it to be
terrible public policy to reward biomass with the public’s money at 50 percent efficiency. A wood stove does better than that. Energy efficiency costs a third as much as biomass for electricity. We should put our money where it will do the most good.

“We will be reviewing the regulations carefully and commenting during the 30 day comment period.

Booth, director of the Partnership for Public Integrity, said “Massachusetts made history today,” calling the proposal “the first science-based policy in the country” and one “recognizing that high-emissions biomass power doesn’t belong in a renewable energy portfolio alongside no-emissions technologies like wind and solar power.”

All written comments on this proposed final regulation should be submitted electronically in PDF format by June 18 at 5 p.m. to

The state expects to have afinal regulation in place this summer.

MegSheehan, chairwoman of the Massachusettsbased Stop Spewing Carbon campaign,called the proposal “an important step to ensuring that when trees are burnedfor energy, it is done in the most efficient way that also preserves ourforests.”

You can reach Richie Davis at or 413-772-0261 Ext. 269

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012


 Quite a bit of bad news from the House of Representatives yesterday for poor families....and a little good news...will write more later.  Meanwhile, seniors shut down the State House yesterday!  One senior did say, "Shouldn't we have spent our time lobbying?"  But hey, Been There, Done That! (and will do again, most likely.)  So when will POOR PEOPLE shut down the State House?

By Kyle Cheney and Michael Norton

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, APRIL 24, 2012…..Senior citizens frustrated with theLegislature's handling of transportation and other public policy issues disrupted House budget deliberations Tuesday, prompting House leaders to declare a recess and instruct court officers to clear thepublic galleryof protesters.

"We got kicked out. I've never been kicked out of anyplace," Cathy Laroche, 70, of Fall River told the News Service while standing outside the gallery with her sisters, Ruth Grant, 76, and Claire Karl, 75.

The protest began shortly after 3 p.m. with House Speaker Robert DeLeo presiding. As protesters began to express themselves, Rep. Paul Donato(D-Medford) took the gavel and asked them “respectfully” to quiet down. When they didn’t, Donato quickly declared a recess, after which courtofficers swarmed the gallery, shouting at the protesters, including some in wheelchairs, and directing them to the exits.

As lawmakers resumed work on the budget, protesters outside the gallery warned of life-threatening consequences of pending fare hikes on theMBTA.  Assembled by the Massachusetts Senior Action Council and the TRiders Union, the noisy but swift protest was the tensest moment of largely staid budget deliberations that began Monday and have
primarily unfolded behind closed doors.

The protest, involving about 200 seniors, transit rider advocates and their supporters, occurred as lawmakers milled about the chamber waitingto begin afternoon deliberations on transportation amendments to the$32.3 billion state budget proposal.

“It’s an emergency situation for people with disabilities and seniors because they’re facing fare hikes that could endanger their living situation,” said John Robinson, a Somerville resident and member o fSenior Action Council. Robinson said seniors and disabled residents might be forced to choose between paying for rides to work or their medical appointments and putting food on their table.

As they were ejected, protesters serenaded lawmakers with a rendition of“God Bless America” and then resumed chanting outside the House chamber,yelling “Banks got bailed out. We got sold out.” The Senior Action Council’s slogan, according to the group’s web site is, “Don’t just take it. Take charge!”

Protesters were equipped with a list of budget priorities assembled  by the council.  The priorities include investing in public transportation and blocking planned service reductions, ending the waiting list for homecare services, restoring a program intended to help seniors pay forprescription drugs, and raising revenues and taxes.

“Massachusetts is facing a nearly $1.5 billion budget deficit yet theservices and programs that help keep our communities strong are needed now more than ever,” according to the council.  “We must take a balanced approach to the fiscal crisis and raise additional revenue so that we canmaintain the services we need and value.  We support tax reforms thatwill raise substantial new revenue while holding down increases for lowand middle income families.”

The House budget, unlike the spending plan unveiled in January by Gov.Deval Patrick, includes no new taxes or fees, with House leaders sayingtheir approach is aimed at keeping down tax burdens as Massachusetts looks to accelerate its economic recovery.

Other council priorities include ensuring that a personal needs allowance for nursing home residents is maintained at $72.80 per month, reinstatinga policy that allows MassHealth nursing home residents to keep their beds if they leave for a hospital stay, increasing supports for councils onaging to help those organizations cope with an increasing elderly population.

About 15 minutes after it began, the protest subsided and seniors began filing out of the State House. Some visitors criticized their tactics as“disorganized” and said they would have been better off taking theirmessage to reporters. “They have to learn how to hit the media, but itdoesn’t just mean disorganization,” complained Mary Crozier, an elderly Boston resident who ripped the prosters’ tactics.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Brian Dempsey (D-Haverhill) told colleagues at the outset of this week’s budget debate that the House’s budget proposal “maintains essential services while at the same time charges the administration with the responsibility of continuing to provide and deliver those services as efficiently as possible.”

But Tuesday’s protest underscores the fact that many in Massachusetts disagree.

The protest is largely an outgrowth of a decision by the MBTA earlier this month to embrace a budget-balancing plan that asks disabled riders to, in some cases double the amount they pay for the T’s RIDE service.The board of the MBTA, facing a projected $160 million budget shortfall in the upcoming fiscal year, backed a plan that would raise subway and bus fares, impose modest service cuts and eliminate a subsidy on ferryriders. The cuts could go deeper, T officials have warned, if theLegislature doesn’t back the agency’s plan to draw $51 million from a motor vehicle trust fund surplus.

4/24/2012 Print Friendly and PDF

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Lawn care workshop at Better Life Whole Foods

Let me tell you why I (Michaelann) am promoting this event:
-- First, I was asked to do so by a woman who has worked hard to stop biomass in Springfield.
-- Second, Better Life is, to the best of my knowledge, Springfield's only health food store.
-- Third, Better Life is one of the hundred and fifty businesses in Springfield who spoke out in opposition to biomass.
-- Fourth, if you're going to have a lawn, do it organically!  (Think of the bees.)
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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Another front in war on women

Another front in war on women,Posted:   04/19/2012 12:06:12 AM EDT, North Adams
The bumper sticker on our car reads "Stop the War Against Women." Maureen Dowd's April 11 column ("Many fronts in war on women") identified several "fronts" in this war, but not this one. 

I'm talking about the front where the government of Massachusetts takes aim, yet again, at poor women (and their children). The economic recovery has been sluggish and around the country, state governments are slashing budgets. And what a surprise! Programs that primarily serve poor women and their children are at the top of the hit list.

In Massachusetts, the House Committee on Ways and Means has released its budget proposal for the fiscal year that begins July 1. While there are a few modest increases in programs that benefit low income families, several other proposals are likely to cause thousands of families to sink deeper into poverty, to become homeless, and/or to become entrapped in (or forced back into) violent relationships they might otherwise leave.

One of the most dangerous proposals is that House Ways and Means (like the governor) proposes an eight month time limit on stays in emergency shelters for homeless families with children. The state verifies that these families have no other safe place to live and the families already have to comply with strict rules in order to remain in the program, but that will be irrelevant -- they will be evicted after eight months even though they have nowhere else to go. Funding for Emergency Assistance that covers these shelter costs will be cut by $14 million.

Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC, what most people think of as "welfare") is also cut in several ways. A long-standing rent allowance for people who do not live in subsidized housing ($40 per month) is eliminated. Another component of the House attack on poor women and children is their cutting of the clothing allowance for those on TAFDC.

This allowance, created in 1981, has stood at $150 per year since 1987! It has stayed the same for a quarter-century, while prices more than doubled (that $150 is now worth $72 in 1987 dollars). While the full allowance was clearly not enough to buy shoes and other necessities for growing children, the House has slashed it in half to $75. We challenge any legislator's family to try getting by on that!

Outside language of the budget (Section 35) would impose outrageous limitations on benefits paid through the electronic benefits transfer system (EBT). These limitations include that TAFDC recipients would not be able to use their benefits to help pay their rent, buy toothpaste or shampoo, or even pay for a child's haircut.
These are just a few examples from the House budget proposal illustrating how we continue to balance the budget on the backs of poor women and children. They reflect several disturbing, but persistent misperceptions. 1) We can't trust poor women with our hard-earned tax dollars. 2) People are poor because of their personal character defects and need to be punished and shamed more than they need to be helped.

Research shows that two out of three adult welfare recipients are currently or formerly battered women. Do we really mean to make it financially impossible for them to leave their abusers or to stay out once they have managed to leave?

If you are as outraged as we are by this particular "front" in the political and economic war on women, contact your state representatives today and ask him or her to support budget amendments #603, #664, and #842. And while you're talking to them, explain that we are tired of sticking it to the poor because we refuse to tax the rich!

The commonwealth needs to increase revenue and the most equitable strategy is to increase taxes on those best able to pay, our high-income residents and large corporations. Neither the governor nor the House has incorporated this tactic into their budget proposals.

Our two neighbors with the largest populations, New York and Connecticut, have graduated income taxes (which tax higher levels of income at higher rates). So do 33 other states and the District of Columbia. For a state that claims to care for equity -- to be a "commonwealth" -- it is long past time for Massachusetts to demand more from those who have benefited the most from our public investments.

Dr. Susan Birns is board president of the Elizabeth Freeman Center and professor of Sociology/Anthropology/Social Work at MCLA. Dr. Brent Kramer is an economist at the Borough of Manhattan Community College and the Fiscal Policy Institute. Print Friendly and PDF

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Occup-oetry: Deadline April 27th

                            {& Prose, Song, HipHop, etc}
            for Earth Day & May Day
{and the 1st anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster,
and 2nd anniversary of the Gulf Oil spill}

SLAMMIN’ the STATUS QUO (the 1%)
SAVIN’ the ECONOMY,  the PEOPLE, (the 99%)
                  and the PLANET 

Friday May 4             Northampton     Friends Meeting House, 43 Center St.
Wednesday May 9    Greenfield           Arts Block, Main Street 
Friday May 18          Amherst              Food for Thought Books
                                   (all from 6:30 to 9pm)

*  Poetry, prose, and song about war and peace, economic and social justice, environmental protection, racism, women’s/LGBT/human rights, and immigration.   Spoken word that speaks truth to power, and empowers and inspires us.
Authors welcome to submit work by Friday April 27 (maximum of 10 minutes) for consideration by a panel of local poets for the Northampton event.  Deadline is Friday May 4 for Greenfield event; Friday May 11 for Amherst event.  And please share this invite with others who might like to participate or attend.
2 periods when audience can respond to what they've heard.
Poems and lyrics will be available on paper (with poets’ permission) for audience to read along if they wish, and take home

Sponsored by:  Pioneer Valley Climate Action;  Safe and Green Campaign; GreenNorthampton; Grow Food Northampton; Peace and Justice Committee, First Churches of Northampton; Greenfield Community College’s Peace, Justice, and Environmental Studies Program; Center for Environmental Civics; 20/20 Action;
More info:  John Berkowitz, PVCA Director and Poet, 


When the streets are full with homeless people, will the policy people & the poverty pimps finally listen?

Me and Amanda at Weds. press conference - Photo John Morris
This might be a long post because I am going to work backwards in time, and go from the specific to the general, but I hope readers will bear with me because there is just so much to tell.

I'd intended to work at home today but then remembered that our work study student, Rachel, was bringing in a fellow student to see about working with us in the fall.  But in the fifteen minutes before they arrived, I answered the phone and found myself dealing with an extremely distraught woman in shelter with her husband and two toddlers, who, after having spent some years in prison, some of them in solitary confinement, found herself emotionally unable to tolerate the 10' by 10' room in which they were placed.  (Much more to their story, but....)

I don't usually deal directly with the Dept. of Housing and Community Development, the state agency now in charge of sheltering homeless families, but couldn't reach a lawyer, and decided that maybe a direct appeal would help. Well, it didn't help, and I found myself in a larger conversation about the shelter cuts proposed in the current House Ways and Means budget (more on this further down.).  I was told that there simply isn't enough money in the budget to cover both the front end-- prevention-- and the back end-- shelter, and that families having to live doubled up with other families was not necessarily a bad thing, because they can share expenses.

There's some truth in that, of course; I've lived that way most of my adult life and my kids and I wouldn't have fared as well otherwise.  But my situation was mostly planned, and very different from what happens when a woman with three kids moves into the two-bedroom apartment already occupied by her sister, husband and two kids. Most landlords won't put up with that because it puts the landlord, the apartment and its residents in violation of the state sanitary code. 

In any case, you now have the state's official policy about allowable overcrowding.

Yesterday, Thursday, I and Arise VP Ruben Santiago and member Devon brought our poster-sized postcards from the April 2 rally to the mayor's office and the governor's office,  where again I found myself in conversation with a state employee who wanted to cast Gov. Patrick in the broadest possible terms: as a good man and a good governor.  People with institutional power-- or those who represent them-- often think that because I'm a reasonable person, I will understand their perspective and agree with them.  Well, I understand their perspective, all right-- and I know what I know about the thousands of homeless and unstable households in this city, and the effect that instability is having on our community.

On Wednesday, Arise, Community Legal Aid, Safe Passage Women's Shelter and  homeless Arise member Amanda Bermudez held a press conference on the House Ways and Means budget in front of the Liberty St. welfare office.  We had no more than started to get set up when a dozen people came out of the welfare office to talk to us.

"DHCD says I'm not eligible and that if I don't leave the office, they'll call the Dept. of Families and Children to come and take my kids," one woman told us, tears in her eyes.

"DHCD says i'm not eligible even though I'm six months pregnant and sleeping in my car."

DHCD, DHCD, blah, blah, blah, and if things are bad now, wait until the state budget passes-- unless we can change it, of course.  We have one week, and I'm asking anyone who's read this far to go to Mass Coalition for the Homeless and then call your legislator.  There's more bad news and more action you can take at the end of this post.

62 Bay St.
On Tuesday, the Springfield Office for Housing held a "viewing" of three houses to which it holds title in the McKnight Historic District-- and one of them just happened to be the house I lived in for 30 years.  Half a dozen Arise members  went to my old house at 62 Bay St., and held signs for the viewing: "This should be the people's house" and "This is MY house!"

me in what used to be my garden
It was a very bizarre experience.  I could not help but feel a resurgence of anger toward the man who had owned the house when I lived there, who cheated us out of our dreams of a housing coop (long story), who defaulted on the mortgage and I didn't know it until men in suits knocked on our front door and auctioned the house (no bidders) and a mortgage company assumed the mortgage, then the company failed, then the ownership passed back to the landlord who I didn't know was still the owner and who didn't collect rent for ten years, and avoided any repairs that needed to be made (and we weren't allowed to make repairs, because we weren't the owners), until the chimney was falling and the roof was caving and we had to go

And I also remembered that only a month ago, on March 21, I sat with Gerry McCafferty, Housing Director, talking about the state of housing in Springfield..  I mentioned that my old house, which had been auctioned off by the city a couple of years ago, seemed not to be undergoing rehab, and she said she suspected ownership had reverted back to the city, when in fact I'm sure the "viewing" of my house was already in the works.

One might think that when a house has no mortgage, and the only debt on a house is back property taxes, that the city might offer that house to the tenants-- which would have been me, six years earlier, before so much damage was done to the house.  But no.  Or one might think that the Office for Housing director would at least be honest with me about what was in store for the house.  But no, again.

At that meeting with Gerry, I found out that not only does the city not have a housing plan, but also lacks the basic knowledge about our housing stock-- the real vacancy rate, median rents by neighborhood, the number of substandard units by neighborhood, the number of foreclosed properties or properties at risk, et cetera. 

But of course, there is a housing plan, and the plan is to continue to promote home ownership, whether it still makes sense to do so or not.  Gerry said that whatever comes out in the "Rebuild Springfield" plan, which is supposed to be the product of meetings in tornado-damaged neighborhoods, is what the mayor intends to support.  And when will the plan be released?  Within a week or two, Gerry said.  Yet whenever I call the Rebuild Springfield office, I hear that the plan is still undergoing final editing-- and, I was told, Gerry contributed heavily to the housing sections. 

One more step back in time, to Monday, April 2, when 200 of us rallied in Court Square to stop the criminalization of poverty and homelessness.  We made a simple demand that day to Domenic Sarno, Mayor of Springfield: to create a housing task force consisting of at least 50% low and moderate income renters and homeowners.  We won't wait forever for an answer.  Joe Oliverio's video frames it well.  If you want to fight for housing justice in Springfield, don't stand back.  Call us and join us.


1. TAFDC - Amendment 664: This amendment would restore the annual September clothing allowance to $150 per child, and preserve the $40/month rent allowance and the $40/month transportation allowance.

2. EBT Restrictions - Amendments 635, 502 and 842: These amendments eliminate unreasonable restrictions on use of cash assistance benefits – Lead Sponsors Toomey, Rushing and Conroy.
Amendment 635 would remove the most egregious provisions of HWM outside section 35
to ensure that low-income residents of the Commonwealth can pay their rent and taxes and purchase basic necessities;
- Amendment 502 would strike out section 35 and replace it with the recommendations of the recent EBT Commission, which are much less harmful, but include disqualification if benefits are wrongfully used; and
- Amendment 842 would strike out section 35 and
direct the Inspector General and the Auditor to file reports about any potential EBT abuses before any restrictions are adopted.
3. Amendment 603 - Emergency Assistance shelter (7004-0101) – Lead Sponsors Representatives Wolf and Rushing: This amendment would (a) eliminate the proposed 8-month time limit on shelter stays that would kick families with children out of shelter with no place to go; (b) ensure that families at risk of sleeping in places not meant for human habitation, including cars or the streets, remain eligible for shelter; and (c) delay any new shelter restrictions until at least January to allow time to evaluate the impact of new housing resources on shelter demand. A fact sheet with the amendment number is attached.
Other Amendments to Support: Amendments 694, 696, 701 – Asset Development Commission recommendations to allow education and training to count for TAFDC Work requirement for all 24 months and require DTA to give time limit extensions to allow completion (694), make one car per licensed driver in TAFDC and EAEDC households non-countable (696) and make $10,000 of lump sum income non-countable if used for responsible purposes or put in an account for later such use (701) – Lead sponsor Rep. Khan: These amendments would help lift families out of poverty and were all recommended by the Asset Development Commission.

1. Amendments 804 (O’Connell) and 774 (Rogers) would bar cash assistance recipients from accessing any assistance as cash! These harmful amendments would allow TAFDC and EAEDC recipients only to access benefits as vendor rent and utilities or at point of sale. Recipients would have access to NO cash assistance, leaving them unable to pay rent where landlords or those they are doubled-up with do not accept vendor rent and unable to pay for babysitters, school fees, etc. where point of sale payments are not possible.
2. Amendments 414 (Cabral) and 660 (Kane) would deny homeless families in shelter as of January 1, 2012 the right to new MRVP vouchers (7004-9024) to move out of shelter and instead adopt vague language authorizing creation of supportive housing units while barring families in shelter from receiving any priority for the new MRVPs. Given the proposed restrictions on access to emergency shelter that Amendment 603 seeks to redress to some extent, the one bright spot for homeless families in the budget was that some of them could get the new MRVP vouchers that are proposed.  Ask the House to say no to these amendments.
Here are the full lists of sponsors and co-sponsors for the TAFDC and EA amendments as of April 16, 2012:

Amendment 664 – TAFDC Clothing, Rent and Transportation Allowances
Representatives Khan of Newton, Aguiar of Fall River, Cabral of New Bedford, Farley-Bouvier of Pittsfield, Hecht of Watertown, Kocot of Northampton, Provost of Somerville, Schmid of Westport, Swan of Springfield, Timilty of Milton, Turner of Dennis, Wolf of Cambridge, Lawn of Watertown, Smizik of Brookline, Sciortino of Medford, Fox of Boston and Andrews of Orange.
Amendment 603 – Striking 8-Month EA Time Limit and Sheltering Children Otherwise on the Street
Representatives Wolf of Cambridge, Rushing of Boston, Fox of Boston, Canavan of Brockton, Aguiar of Fall River, Sullivan of Fall River, Hecht of Watertown, Schmid of Westport, Turner of Dennis, Kocot of Northampton, Provost of Somerville, Farley-Bouvier of Pittsfield, Cabral of New Bedford, Basile of Boston, Brady of Brockton, Ross of Attleboro, Smizik of Brookline, Swan of Springfield, Atkins of Concord, Lawn of Watertown, Forry of Boston, Malia of Boston, Andrews of Orange, Khan of Newton, Balser of Newton, Sciortino of Medford and Campbell of Methuen (not listed but also O’Day).
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Friday, April 20, 2012

Connect the Dots-- Stop Climate Change!

Climate Impacts Action Day:  Connect the Dots-- Stop Climate Change!  
{Sign up now by replying to this email.}

** More and more weird, extreme weather here in New England--  tornado, hurricane, October blizzard followed by a nearly snowless and record-breaking warm winter.
** And around the U.S. and the world-- droughts, floods,   heat waves, forest fires, tornadoes, melting Arctic and glaciers, warming oceans, species going extinct, huge number of bees dying, etc.

Time to connect all these "Climate Dots", and act to stop climate change!
{Sign up now by replying to this email, and indicate which time slots you'd like to commit to being there.}

Every day between Monday April 30 and Saturday May 5, during rush-hour from 8 to 9am and 5 to 6pm,  groups of 10 or more people will stand on the sidewalk of the Coolidge Bridge between Hadley and Northampton.  
    We’ll hold large signs & banners calling for President Obama and Congress to stop climate change by rejecting the Keystone Tar Sands pipeline, oil drilling offshore and in the Arctic, and continued reliance on coal and nuclear energy;  and by supporting much larger investment in renewable energy sources and energy conservation and efficiency.
    To ensure safety, children under 12 along with their parents will be asked to not stand on the bridge’s narrow sidewalk with other demonstrators, but to hold signs and stand on or walk along the sidewalk off the bridge, which is still very visible to passing motorists.

   “Get up, stand up,  stand up for your rights . . .  to a safe climate and clean energy future!”
   “Get up, stand up, don’t give up the fight . . .  for your kids, grandkids, and all life, we must act now!!”

Sponsored by:  Pioneer Valley Climate Action, GreenNorthampton, Grow Food Northampton, and other organizations.   
More info:  John Berkowitz, PVCA Director,  413-625-6374  ,  
and on Facebook
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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

May Day: Voices of Working People’s History

Space is limited!  Reserve a seat in advance by simply emailing

Celebrate International Workers’ Day
with Western Massachusetts Jobs with Justice

Voices of Working People’s History
 dramatic readings ~ lots of songs ~ from people who make history happen
but are usually left out of history books ~ with emphasis on Western Mass. voices
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
7:00-9:00pm {doors open 6:30}
221 Appleton St, Holyoke
Heritage Park parking lot across from the Police Station; free garage nearby
Sponsor the Program/Song Book: $50 per person or $100 per organization.
Donations to the Warren J. Plaut Charitable Trust Jobs with Justice Fund (or WJPCT/JwJ) are tax deductible. Send to Western Mass. Jobs with Justice, PO Box 296, Granby MA 01033.
Western Mass Jobs with Justice
640 Page Blvd #101
Springfield MA 01104
(413) 827-0301
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Monday, April 16, 2012

Worst Farm Bill Ever?

Good thing some people are full-time activists on this issue.  Most people  have no idea that the Farm Bill will have such an impact on our health and the health of our planet. 

Tom Phillpot has an article in Mother Jones calling this year's "Farm Bill " The Worst Farm Bill Ever." Print Friendly and PDF

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Springfield police to talk to the community about their use-of-force policy

Springfield police to educate

 public about 

department's 'use-of-force' 


 Let’s see if what the police say about 

their use-of-force policy matches up to 

our experience in the community!!

The schedule for the Springfield training sessions
Tuesday, April 17, Rebecca Johnson School, 55 Catharine St., 5:30 pm.
Tuesday, May 1, Christian Life Center, 1590 Sumner Ave., 5:30 pm.
Thursday, May 10, Pynchon Apartments, Edgewater Community Room, 101 Lowell St., 5:30 pm.
Tuesday, May 15, Greenleaf Community Center, 1188 Parker St.,
Want to get involved with Arise’s Coalition for Community Justice?  Call 734-4948
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Friday, April 13, 2012

Songs of Peace, Protest, and Struggle

Songs of Peace, Protest, and Struggle
from the People’s Movements
Friday April 20  6:00-10:30pm
WWII Club, 50 Conz Street, Northampton
Evelyn Harris, Jay Mankita, Lara Shepard-Blue & Joe Oliverio,
Los Hijos Unicos, Tom Neilson, the UAW All Stars, and more.
Suggested donation (to Western Mass. Jobs with Justice) $10.
Info: Ron Patenaude, (413) 534-7600 (UAW Local 2322),
Union Labor Donated
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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

1 in 5 U,S. combat deaths in Afghanistan caused by Afghan security forces

 it's the war that keeps on taking...U.S. lives, Afghan lives...and that we barely notice anymore.  Come on, do something.  From United for Peace and Justice.
One in five U.S. combat deaths in Afghanistan this year were caused by Afghan security forces who turned their American-provided weapons on their U.S. “allies”.  The recently publicized horrors in Afghanistan committed by U.S. soldiers are not exceptions but sadly reflect the cumulative effect of war and occupation.   
Koran burning protestThe situation is so bad that we now fear that the Afghan security forces, our supposed partners, will kill U.S. soldiers while they sleep. In order to protect the troops from their Afghan colleagues who live and work on their bases, Gen. John Allen has assigned U.S. soldiers, called “guardian angels,” to guard sleeping troops.  What more needs to be said?  This insanity must end now.  
Americans are overwhelmingly against the war in Afghanistan – a recent CBS poll shows a record 69% of Americans think the U.S. should not be involved in Afghanistan.   Click Here to tell President Obama, your Senators and House Representative to listen to the American people - we want our troops home now.  
In good conscience, how can anyone ask the troops, who we are told are fighting for us, to continue to risk their lives, limbs and emotional well being for this endless, futile war?  The troops don’t get to choose the wars they fight.  We must not expect them to sacrifice for no good reason.  It is our responsibility and duty to demand our politicians end this war.  Silence is an affirmation for continued war.  
Click Here to tell President Obama, your Senators and House Representative that we want our troops home now!  Ask them to co-sponsor HR 780 in the House, and introduce parallel legislation in the Senate.  HR. 780, the Responsible End to the War in Afghanistan Act, would end combat operations in Afghanistan and limit funding to the safe and orderly withdrawal of all U.S. troops and military contractors.  Or call your member of Congress toll-free at 877-429-0678.
The military strategy has failed.  The illusion that there can be a military victory in Afghanistan has prevented the vital diplomacy necessary to bring about a regional solution in Afghanistan while decimating our economy.  Everybody is losing.      
We need to keep the pressure on our president & elected officialsthey need to listen to the American people.   The vast majority of Americans want:   
· a safe and swift troop withdrawal
· a diplomatic surge bringing stability to Afghanistan and the region
· take warlords, drug lords and the Taliban off US payrolls
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Friday, April 6, 2012

TWO opportunities for solidarity this Monday

THIS IS THE BIG ONE! Charles Wilhite's next hearing is this Monday, April 9th at 9 am. It is an evidentiary hearing for the 25(b)2 Motion, for which there are four possibilities (below).  For those of you unfamiliar with the case, Charles is currently behind bars for life due to a wrongful conviction of murder in the first degree.  Those of us involved in his campaign for freedom are positive that he is innocent.  Now, the judge is starting to reconsider his position.  Judges RARELY consider 25(b)2 motions.   Here are the possibilities:

1) Judge Velis denies the motion; we go back to square one
2) Velis reduces the sentence 
3) Velis orders a new trial 
4) Velis sets aside the guilty verdict to a non-guilty verdict 

Charles' daughterAs you can see, there is A LOT resting on this hearing. We had 70 people at his last hearing - let's double our presence at this hearing!! Charles' daughter just celebrated her 5th birthday. Let's PACK THE SIDEWALKS AND THE COURTHOUSE on Monday, SPREAD THE WORD FAR AND WIDE, and WRITE LETTERS to the DA to make sure that Charles can be there for his daughter's 6th birthday!!

Following the Justice for Trayvon Walk (which brought out thousands of people), the Justice for Charles campaign held a Community Conversation on Race and Justice in the Springfield Public Library.  We had 40 community members, religious leaders, organizers, and family members join together to discuss their opinions, experiences, and hopes for the future.  We are in an exciting, momentous time in the movement for racial justice here in Springfield, and beyond.  We recognize that this movement is bigger than Charles - and that the more pressure we exert on Monday on behalf of Charles, the more power we will then possess for the next Charles.. and the next Melvin.. and the next Rekia... and the next Trayvon.. 

Please meet us outside the courthouse (50 State Street) at 8:30 am on Monday April 9th.  We will hold signs and rally before going inside to the hearing.   The hearing may last a few hours.  

There should be cars leaving Amherst and Northampton Monday morning for Springfield.  If you would like a ride, please message me on facebook or call me at 617-460-5238 and we'll figure something out.  

With love and solidarity-
Dan Keefe
P.S. feel free to forward this message on to your friends.  


How often do you hear this - an investor owner of a property is offered a check from an occupant - and the investor TURNS IT DOWN! 

Join us next Monday for a rally where we will deliver a rent check and demand that Richard Blaser and Richard Werman accept Tammy Sullivan's rent and stop evicting her after CHASE bank foreclosed on her! 

UN-RENT STRIKE & Rally W/ The Sullivan Family
Targets: Investor Richard Blaser and Foreclosing Bank: JP Morgan Chase! 
16 South Boulevard, West Springfield, MA (MAP)
Outside the Investor's office! - park around the corner on High St. 

Tammy Sullivans Fight Against Chase Bank and Richard Blaser: 

Tammy Sullivan lives with her two daughters in a house they've owned for 14 years and that has been in their family for 31 years! She fell behind on her mortgage after a car accident in February 2011, and tried repeatedly for a modification with Chase bank - submitting the same paperwork 5 different times only to get the run-around from Chase's modification department. 

Last December, prior to the house being foreclosed, Tammy was informed that she had an outstanding loan balance of just under $11,000. Determined to keep her home, Tammy told that bank that she was going to take out nearly double that from her 401K savings that she had been saving from her full time job as a Customer Service Consultant and her part time job as a Sales Associate to pay off the outstanding balance. While in the middle of the process of receiving her 401K, Chase Bank moved to foreclose on her home on December 21, 2011. Get this: Instead of waiting to work with Tammy, Chase spent over $10,000 in legal fees to foreclose on the home, and sold it to a private investor at auction for only $28,000! 

Since then, Richard Blaser - the investor who purchased the property has refused to accept rent and told Tammy he would sell the house back to her for $70,000. The house is only valued at $40,000! Recently, Mr. Blaser moved to evict Tammy and her daughters from their home no-fault! An eviction hearing is scheduled for next Thursday April 12th in Housing Court. 

If Mr. Blaser accepts rent, he can still market the property occupied! Why not accept rent, keep the Sullivan's in their home of 31 years and continue to market the property?

We will not stand for investors or banks who prey on our communities and put profit before people, who would rather evict than accept rent! According to Deed records, Mr. Blaser and his associated have made a habit out of purchasing foreclosed properties and flipping them for profit. Since 2009 they've profited nearly $300,000 on purchasing foreclosed properties in the area. 


We'll see you there! 

Springfield No One Leaves/Nadie Se Mude Campaign

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Martin Luther King, Jr: we need your wisdom now

Cowardice asks the question - is it safe?
Expediency asks the question - is it politic?
Vanity asks the question - is it popular?
But conscience asks the question - is it right?
And there comes a time when one must take a position
that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular;
but one must take it because it is right.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Somehow this madness must cease.
We must stop now.
I speak as a child of God and brother
to the suffering poor of Vietnam.
I speak for those whose land is being laid waste,
whose homes are being destroyed,
whose culture is being subverted.
I speak for the poor in America
who are paying the double price
of smashed hopes at home
and death and corruption in Vietnam.
I speak as a citizen of the world,
for the world as it stands aghast
at the path we have taken.
I speak as an American
to the leaders of my own nation.
The great initiative in this war is ours.
The initiative to stop it must be ours.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Trumpet of Conscience, 1967

The ultimate measure of a man
is not where he stands 
in moments of comfort and convenience, 
but where he stands 
at times of challenge and controversy. 
The true neighbor will risk his position, 
his prestige and even his life 
for the welfare of others.
-- Strength to Love (1963)
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