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Scenes from

The Greater Boston Tea Party Rally
Saturday, April 13, 2013

"Unburdening The Next Generation"

Page 2

My Email Message to:

City of Boston
Parking Clerk Office
Boston City Hall, Room 224

Hours: Monday through Friday, 9am to 4:30pm.
Phone:  617-635-4410.

I came into Boston today (Saturday) to attend and photograph an event at the Parkman Grandstand on Boston Common.  Since the Boston Common Underground Garage was full, I found a metered space on Beacon Street.  I parked and filled the meter with ten quarters for two hours' parking.  I took my camera equipment and hiked across the common to the event.  As it stretched on, I hiked back to my parked vehicle.  The meter still had 11 minutes on it. I fed the meter another ten quarters then hiked back to the event.

When I returned to my vehicle to head home, I found a parking ticket on its windshield but still had 46 minutes remaining on the meter!

I took some photos of the situation as evidence. I also spoke with some passersby, showed them my ticket and the time remaining on the meter. One of the gentlemen told me he'd recently had a similar experience that I'd now need to appeal the ticket (wonderful!) that he had his overturned.

While putting my camera equipment away, I seem to have misplaced the ticket or left it in the hands of that passerby. I've torn my vehicle and camera equipment bag apart looking for it both there in the parking space and back home. I cannot find it.

As I recall, the ticket noted "violation 99 overtime parking." I believe the fine was $25.

So I suppose I'll need you to generate a copy so I can then appeal it.

Please send me a copy of the fraudulent parking ticket so we can get this nuisance procedure moving.

Thank you for my inconvenience and yours.

Chip Ford
Marblehead, MA
[Further details provided not included here]

The Boston Globe
Sunday, April 14, 2013

Tea Party activists gather in Boston with diverse views
By Dan Adams

Hundreds of Tea Party activists waving signs and Colonial-era flags gathered on the Boston Common on Saturday afternoon to hear antitax crusader Grover Norquist and other speakers at a rally protesting government spending and taxation.

“The Tea Party is America awakened,” Norquist said to the cheering crowd. “What’s the Tea Party done? Changed the direction of the country for the good, and I think on a permanent basis.”

Norquist, best known for the antitax pledge he asks members of Congress to sign, was the keynote speaker at the “Tax Day” event, which also included gun rights leaders, Panera Bread cochief executive Ron Shaich, author Dr. Keith Ablow, newspaper publisher Tom Duggan, and conservative commentator Jeff Katz.

Turnout for the annual event, which in past years has drawn household-name speakers like Sarah Palin and Tim Pawlenty, was moderate, though the mostly white and middle-aged crowd swelled slightly as the weather warmed up throughout the early afternoon.

Issue-driven factions of the Tea Party set up tents around the Common’s Parkman Bandstand promoting gun rights and the repeal of the federal health care overhaul, which activists represented with a towering stack of paper tied with red tape.

One group had an unusually specific niche: The “Tea Party in Space” tent showed attendees a slickly produced video arguing for a large, privately funded space program that would “strengthen America as the vanguard of freedom and opportunity as we spread throughout the solar system.”

The ideology of rally participants was diverse, as single-issue diehards mingled and debated with moderates like 66-year-old Virginia Barberie of Dracut, who said she came to hear new ideas.

“I’m just here to listen and see what they’re going to say,” Barberie said. “I’m not opposed to taxes. . . . My concern is waste, fraud, and abuse.”

Barberie said she didn’t expect to agree with the Tea Party on every issue, but hoped the group will be taken seriously. “I hope people listen to each other more,” she said. “We can disagree, but let’s be respectful.”

Speakers at the event acknowledged the crowd’s range of views, urging attendees to focus on issues they agree on.

“There’s a lot of people here for a lot of different reasons,” Norquist said. “But what we want, each one of us . . . [is for] the government to leave us alone.”

Clark Patterson, 49, of Fitchburg, was glad to see the movement coalescing around a core value.

“The government’s too big, and it’s causing more problems than it’s solving,” Patterson said, echoing the concerns of many in attendance.

Despite last year’s election, the results of which caused some commentators to say the Tea Party was losing influence and momentum, Patterson sees cause for Massachusetts conservatives to be hopeful.

“Most people, if you really sit them down and make them think, they’re not as liberal as they thought,” he said. “All it takes is for 20 percent of people to get together and move on some common ground. Others will put their finger in the wind, and all of a sudden, you have a majority.”

Massachusetts’ reputation as a liberal bastion was a hot topic, with Duggan joking that the gathering was a “beacon in the wilderness,” and Katz saying Boston is “solidly behind enemy lines.”

But Norquist said Massachusetts voters “have a certain common sense,” as demonstrated by the 1980 passage of Proposition 2½, which limits local property tax increases.

Katz drew cheers for a line referencing the “optimism” of conservative former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who died last week. He also blasted the Legislature, which met today to debate a proposal that would raise taxes to fund transportation programs and infrastructure improvements.

“It’s one of the most bizarre situations I’ve ever seen,” Katz told the gathering. “The governor is a looking at a half-billion-dollar tax increase and saying, ‘it’s not enough.’ ”

After the rally, dozens of protesters entered the gallery of the State Senate chambers, where legislators were debating a transportation finance bill that would raise taxes. When one senator criticized the tax hike proposals, the protesters erupted into applause and chanted “No more taxes!” before they were escorted out by State House police.

In an interview, Norquist said raising taxes could drive voters away from Democrats.

“The tax increases they’re talking about are like the little darts they throw into bulls to make them irritated before a bullfight,” he said. “This tax bill will just tick people off and be a wonderful organizing tool for the Massachusetts Tea Party and Republican Party.”

Martine Powers of the Globe staff contributed to this story.

The Boston Herald
Sunday, April 14, 2013

Protesters disrupt debate at State House
By Erin Smith

Dozens of angry anti-tax activist briefly interrupted a Senate debate yesterday, prompting Senate President Therese Murray to take the unusual step of clearing the public viewing galleys.

“No new taxes! No new taxes!” shouted several activists just after 4 p.m., halting debate during the rare Saturday session as state senators stopped to stare up at the protesters in galleys.

“Get a real job!” shouted another man as he was escorted from the public viewing galley.

Weymouth resident Donna Cummings, a self-proclaimed member of the Tea Party, said she came to watch the debate to put pressure on lawmakers to think twice before passing tax hikes.

“You only have so much money. You can’t bleed money from a stone,” she said as she and dozens of shouting protesters were escorted from the Senate chambers.

Download a printable PDF copy of Sen. Hedlund's Letter

That combustible environment became evident when dozens of antitax protesters, fired up from a rally on Boston Common, filed into the State House and burst into applause and hoots when Senate minority leader Bruce E. Tarr lambasted his fellow legislators for supporting tax increases.

“But the question is, Madam President, what is enough, and when will it ever be enough?” Tarr yelled.

The protesters erupted into chants of “No more taxes!” and were escorted out of the gallery by State House police.

The Boston Globe
Sunday, April 14, 2013

Mass. Senate OKs $800 million transportation bill
By Martine Powers

The Senate voted overwhelmingly Saturday to approve a transportation finance bill that would funnel more than $800 million into the state’s transit agencies by fiscal 2018 in what seemed a compromise between packages proposed by House legislators and Governor Deval Patrick in recent weeks.

Democrat legislators who voted for the bill sought to offer a more amped-up version of the $500 million House bill, passed Monday, by finding revenue sources that would not require further tax increases.

In addition to redirecting money from a little-known gas tax fund for underground storage tanks and requiring contracts between the state Transportation Department and utility companies, the Senate also voted Saturday to require that transportation and MBTA officials issue a request for proposals on licensing the naming rights to subway, bus, and commuter rail stations.

After the 30-5 vote, Patrick expressed mixed feelings on the bill.

“Today’s Senate bill is a significant step in that direction and I commend them for their work,” he said in a statement. But, he continued, “it is concerning that some of the resources in this bill are diverted from current spending on other needs.”

But Senator Thomas M. McGee, cochairman of the Joint Transportation Committee, said he considered the bill a success.

“I feel good about what we’ve done today,” McGee said, “but it’s an ongoing issue that we need to focus on every year.”

The transportation finance package is far from settled. The bill will move on to a joint conference committee before it makes its way to the governor’s desk. But it’s a coup for Patrick, who was angered when the House proposed a package he deemed too small, threatening a veto and urging legislators to tack other sources of revenue onto the bill.

Patrick suggested earlier this week that he would not veto a transportation finance package close to the halfway point between his and the House’s proposals.

The Senate bill, which was debated in a rare Saturday session because many legislators will be on vacation next week, called for the same revenue sources in the House version: a 3-cent gas tax, a $1 tax on cigarettes, and $244 million in utility and business-related computer fees.

But the Senate version also rerouted a little-known 2.5-cent gas tax originally dedicated to underground storage tank cleanups. And the bill established a consistent process for the Transportation Department and the MBTA to enter into leases with telecommunications and utility companies that use their property.

Those additional funds could be used for capital projects such as the South Coast Rail, a South Station expansion, the extension of the Green Line, and new cars to replace the MBTA’s aging fleet — though the extra cash would not be nearly enough to fund all of them.

According to a study by Northeastern University’s Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy, the Senate version provides about $265 million in fiscal 2014 — just $5 million less than Patrick’s proposal prescribed — but ramps up less steeply than the governor’s plan, reaching $805 million per year in 2018, rather than the governor’s $1.1 billion.

Over the next five years, the Senate’s plan would allocate $600 million per year on average in new revenue to transportation, short of the average $800 million Patrick’s plan would have provided, according to the Dukakis Center.

Some transportation advocates worry that legislators’ estimates on the measures included in the Senate plan could prove to be less lucrative than suggested on the Senate floor.

“The difference between the Senate and the House bill is really not that huge,” said Rafael Mares, staff attorney at the Conservation Law Foundation, a transportation and environmental advocacy organization. “It’s a little bit like a blanket that’s too small, and you’re not sure what part of the body is going to be covered.”

Senator Stephen M. Brewer, a Democrat of Barre and chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, praised members of the Senate for their work on trying to find a compromise in a politically tense environment.

“There’s been a lot of emotion and a serious case of hard-ball politics during the last couple of weeks,” Brewer said.

That combustible environment became evident when dozens of antitax protesters, fired up from a rally on Boston Common, filed into the State House and burst into applause and hoots when Senate minority leader Bruce E. Tarr lambasted his fellow legislators for supporting tax increases.

“But the question is, Madam President, what is enough, and when will it ever be enough?” Tarr yelled.

The protesters erupted into chants of “No more taxes!” and were escorted out of the gallery by State House police.

The Senate’s bill closes operating budget gaps for the MBTA next year, and requires that the Department of Transportation transfer personnel costs from its capital budget to its operating budget in the next three years.

The bill would allow the state’s 15 regional transit authorities — bus systems that serve communities outside of the MBTA’s reach — to pay their yearly budgets in advance, rather than borrowing their operating costs each year. The regional transit authorities would also receive an additional $12 million per year in funding — an 18 percent increase over what they currently receive.

Senators also voted to pass an amendment that would reinstate tolls on the western portion of the Massachusetts Turnpike, which had been eliminated in the 1990s. The revenue would be directed exclusively to transportation projects in that part of the state.

Many of the amendments focused on pushing for accountability within the state’s transportation agencies.

The legislation mandates that the MBTA conduct a review of fare collection policies; the Transportation Department publish job titles and salaries of employees moved onto the operating budget; regional transit authorities publish annual ridership data; and officials interview the 23 companies that expressed interest in bidding on the state’s gargantuan commuter rail contract, but did not ultimately submit.

The Senate rejected a proposal to establish a special legislative task force to hunt for cost-saving measures within the MBTA.

One of the most heated debates came on a further increase to the gas tax, as well as MBTA naming rights, with legislators arguing that they were fearful the amendment would result in “Dunkin’ Donuts Copley Station.”

“What is the price tag that we can appropriately put on our history, on our identity as a state, and on our identity as a public sector?” asked Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, a Democrat of Boston.

Others, such as Senator Michael F. Rush, a West Roxbury Democrat, maintained that considering the dire financial situation of the state Transportation Department and the T, every possible revenue source that did not tax residents had to be pursued — even the painful options.

Rush said naming rights contracts would be pursued at the less-historic stations and stops within the T and commuter rail system.

“We do not have the luxury of turning our back on easy money,” Rush said.

The Senate voted down two amendments, one to increase and one to decrease the growth rate of the 3-cent gas tax, and rebuffed a proposal that would legalize fireworks in Massachusetts.

During a speech in opposition to the gas tax trigger, applause erupted from the gallery, and Murray directed court officers to clear the crowd, during which time “Don’t tread on me” flags were displayed and criticism rained down on the senators as some chanted “No new taxes.”

On her way out, a woman wagged her finger at the chamber below and said, “Think about your children and your grandchildren when you take these votes, you idiots.”

“You might not have seen what was going on, but we were getting Nazi salutes from the people in the corner and some really vulgar language before they disrupted,” Murray told reporters afterwards.

State House News Service
Saturday, April 13, 2013

Senate adopts $500 mil tax plan, steers more $$$ to transportation
By Michael Norton and Andy Metzger

Legislation raising gas, tobacco and business taxes in Massachusetts by $500 million and eventually dedicating up to $800 million a year in new revenues for transportation cleared the Senate 30 to 5 during a rare Saturday session.

With the absence of the contingent of media and lobbyists that would normally be attracted to a debate on a tax bill, Senate President Therese Murray led the charge to pass the tax bill, presiding as the Senate roared through more than 100 amendments to the legislation before approving it with all but two Democratic votes. Senators said differences over amendments had been talked through during a long private caucus.

Gov. Deval Patrick, who chastised the House for a similar tax bill that he vowed to veto, had more congratulatory words for the Senate following the final vote a few minutes before 8 p.m.

“Experts agree that we need approximately $1 billion more a year -- in addition to further operating efficiencies -- to give our citizens a safe, functional, modern transportation system to keep pace with a growing economy,” Patrick said in a statement. “Today's Senate bill is a significant step in that direction and I commend them for their work.”

Supporters of the bill said it would prevent a second major MBTA fare hike in as many years, deliver funds to address regional transportation needs and expedite construction projects, and over three years end the longstanding practice of paying about 1,900 state transportation employees with borrowed funds.

Critics of the bill said the Patrick administration was failing to meet cost saving benchmarks under a 2009 transportation reform law and argued the legislation would further burden taxpayers by pulling more of their money into a transportation system that they said is rife with problems and inefficiencies. Without reforms, they said, the new revenues will not be enough to keep up with MBTA spending patterns.

The push to pass the bill, which cleared the House just before midnight Monday on a 97-55 vote, underscored the pressure that Murray and House Speaker Robert DeLeo are under since the House has already proposed a budget spending revenues from the still unapproved tax hikes and the Senate plans to do the same in May. Differences in the House and Senate tax bill remain to be ironed out by the branches.

The House bill fell just short of the vote required to override a potential veto. The resounding vote in the Senate well cleared the two-thirds threshold required.

After Patrick threatened to veto the original bill offered by DeLeo and Murray, saying it didn’t provide enough new revenues to meet transportation system needs, the Senate pulled money from other areas of state government into the bill to bolster planned new revenues closer to the $1 billion sought by Patrick, who spoke favorably about the Senate plan late this week.

On the tax front, the House and Senate bills raise new revenue from a $1 per pack increase in the cigarette tax and increases on cigar and smokeless tobacco products, new sales taxes on computer design services and software modifications, the removal of a tax exemption for utilities, and a three-cent increase in the gas tax, which would also be indexed to inflation under the legislation (S 1766).

A contingent of liberal senators attempted to include a trigger that would raise the gas tax an additional three cents if projected revenue falls short in 2015, but that vote garnered the support of only 10 members.

“The rest of the body was very careful in how much they wanted to raise, and how much they wanted to tax,” Murray told reporters after the final vote. Asked how it would match up with the House version, Murray said, “It’s the same framework as the House, for taxes, and we just did other revenues that we moved over from other accounts, so I’m hoping that the House will look on this favorably. Hey, the House did the heavy lifting first, and they are our partners, and hopefully the governor will be our partner in this also.”

During a speech in opposition to the gas tax trigger, applause erupted from the gallery, and Murray directed court officers to clear the crowd, during which time “Don’t tread on me” flags were displayed and criticism rained down on the senators as some chanted “No new taxes.”

On her way out, a woman wagged her finger at the chamber below and said, “Think about your children and your grandchildren when you take these votes, you idiots.”

“You might not have seen what was going on, but we were getting Nazi salutes from the people in the corner and some really vulgar language before they disrupted,” Murray told reporters afterwards.

Another amendment, sponsored by Sen. Karen Spilka (D-Ashland) enabling state officials to start discussing with the federal government the idea of establishing tolls on the state’s borders, won approval by a 19 to 15 margin, with some senators who represent border areas saying tolls would hurt their constituents.

Spilka had said that removing increases in current tolls from the formula the Legislature is using to move the transportation department toward more fiscal self-sufficiency was an essential condition to win her vote on the bill. That amendment passed on a voice vote after the Senate voted down on a voice vote a Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz (D-Jamaica Plain) further amendment that would have also exempted fares for MBTA riders.

“So we can have perpetual gas tax increases, but we can’t look at tolls,” said Sen. Robert Hedlund (R-Weymouth).

Senate Ways and Means Committee Chairman Sen. Stephen Brewer (D-Barre) said the bill also makes $160 million in new tax revenues available to spend in the fiscal 2014 budget he plans to roll out next month. The House budget plan unveiled on Wednesday steers some of those new revenues to education and local aid.

Hedlund said reforms included in a 2009 law were intended to produce $6.5 billion in savings over 20 years, but so far had delivered only $500 million. Of that, Hedlund said, $320 million was attributable to ending interest rate swap practices that were not a focus of the 2009 law.

“Obviously we have discarded the concept of reform before revenue,” said Hedlund.

Rafael Mares, staff attorney at the Conservation Law Foundation, said that the final Senate version devoted more money to transportation than what Senate Ways and Means had proposed by indexing a 2.5-cent-per-gallon underground storage tank gas tax to inflation, and devoting those revenues to transportation.

On Friday night, before some changes were made to the bill in session, Mares calculated that the average amount of money over five years designated for transportation in the Senate bill was $602 million, compared to $504 million in the House plan and $858 million in the governor’s plan.

Kristina Egan, executive director of Transportation for Massachusetts, said the roughly $800 million in transportation revenues the Senate projected to raise by 2018 is “optimistic,” and hoped the bill would be modified to include more gas-tax hikes before reaching the governor.

Six of the more liberal members of the Senate, who all supported the final bill, praised the process and signaled that if substantially changed it would lose their support.

“Through both the work of the Senate Ways and Means Committee and the amendment process, the transportation finance bill passed by the Senate today reaches a level of revenue that allows for meaningful investments in a fiscally-sound, 21st century transportation system. It is for this reason that we vote yes on this bill today,” the six senators wrote in a joint-statement. “We look forward to the bill continuing to the joint House-Senate conference committee. Should the bill be reported out of the conference committee having lost the revenue gains we made, it will also lose our support.”

“There’s definitely more money in this bill,” Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone told the News Service. “I appreciate the work the House did. A week before the House bill, we were at zero. We went from zero to a half a billion. While I appreciate that work it wasn’t enough… This is a huge step forward in that direction.”

Curtatone said he was hopeful that the revenue would be enough to enable matching federal funds for the Green Line Extension to his city, and said it would provide a needed investment for transportation through the whole state.

Among amendments adopted by the Senate were proposals to enable transportation agencies to collect more property taxes from private parties using public land, to require better reporting by the MBTA on its capital projects, and requiring the MBTA to gather information from 23 companies that opted against bidding on the commuter rail operations contract after submitting statements of interest.

Among the amendments rejected by the Senate were calls for a larger gas tax hike, for universities to play a greater role in funding transportation through student pass programs, and to eliminate the indexing of the gas tax to inflation. While Hedlund argued against locking the state into incremental gas tax hikes, Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Thomas McGee said the gas tax would be 9 cents higher per gallon if an indexing measure had been adopted in 1991, with each penny of tax worth $32 million.

Sen. Michael Rush (D-West Roxbury), in a floor speech highly critical of the MBTA and calling for a long menu of reforms, came up short in his bid to prevent the gas tax hike from taking effect until a task force recommended reforms and the Legislature adopted them. His amendment failed 7-24.

During debate, Murray said a proposal calling on the MBTA to contract with taxi companies to deliver RIDE services at lower costs would be dealt with by the Senate in separate legislation. An amendment pushing that reform was offered by Sen. Patricia Jehlen (D-Somerville) but was withdrawn.

A Republican alternative, which Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr said would include potential new revenues from an overhaul of how taxi medallions are administered, fell along party lines with Hedlund, Tarr and the only other Republican in the chamber, Sen. Richard Ross (R-Wrentham) supporting it.

The six senators who said they would not support a final bill with less revenue were Chang-Diaz, Jehlen, Katherine Clark (D-Melrose), Ken Donnelly (D-Arlington), Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton), Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford) and Dan Wolf (D-Barnstable).

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Citizens for Limited Taxation    PO Box 1147    Marblehead, MA 01945    508-915-3665