Mayor’s Weekly Column

MeninoFacePicFrom the Desk of Thomas M. Menino

8/9/10 As the Massachusetts legislature concluded its 2009-2010 Formal Session, more than 25 important initiatives from my legislative package were sent to Governor Patrick to be signed into law. While I am proud of all of these legislative accomplishments, I want to highlight a few initiatives that will have a significant impact on our city and our residents. Working with the legislature, we successfully advocated for bills that will reform our CORI system, prevent foreclosures, reduce prescription drug abuse and fraud, and improve insurance coverage for autism. I congratulate the Governor and legislature on a successful session and thank them for their dedication to these important issues.

I was pleased to join Governor Patrick last week as he signed into law a crime bill that includes important reforms to our Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) system. Boston has long been considered a leader in its hiring policies for individuals with criminal records, and many of our city’s provisions are reflected in this legislation. CORI reform is not about allowing those who commit serious crimes to escape the consequences of their actions, but rather it is about helping those who make mistakes and pay their debt to society become productive members of our communities. CORI reform has worked in Boston and now it will work for the entire state.

Boston, like many other cities, has been hit hard by foreclosures over the past few years – forcing homeowners, tenants, and entire neighborhoods to suffer the impacts. While Boston’s Foreclosure Prevention and Reclamation Initiative has helped at the city level, additional tools are needed to stabilize our neighborhoods. I have been working with community organizations and Boston Reps. Kevin Honan and Liz Malia on an important housing bill that the Governor signed into law this weekend. Now, we can ensure that we are able to protect tenants living in foreclosed properties, preserve homeownership, and revitalize our neighborhoods.

This year, my office and the Boston Public Health Commission have also been working hard to help individuals and families that have been impacted by prescription drug abuse, which continues to be a significant concern to the citizens of our city. New legislation passed by the House and Senate will help reduce prescription fraud and misuse of prescription medications by enhancing the state’s ability to track prescriptions and investigate situations where drugs are being improperly prescribed. Another important measure that will help Boston families is a bill requiring that insurance companies cover the costs of therapies for individuals with autism. This will ensure that families, and in part, school districts, that previously shouldered this financial burden will have access to the resources they need and deserve.

I was also proud to sponsor other important pieces of legislation that have passed during the last week of Session. These bills will enable:

  • The establishment of a statewide food policy council that will improve the distribution, availability and affordability of local agriculture and other fresh, healthy food for all residents;
  • The transliteration of ballots into certain languages for state and federal elections;
  • The expansion of a new elevator and better ADA accessibility at the Park Street MBTA station in Boston Common;
  • The authority to enter into extended leases in order to revitalize the abandoned “Duck House” and “Pink Palace” properties in Back Bay and Boston Common; and,
  • The future development of the Fort Point Channel, allowing public access to the Channel with boating programs, touch-and-go docks, and other recreational and cultural activities.

I would like to thank Governor Patrick as well as our legislators, city councilors, and the many activists and residents who fought for and supported these important legislative changes. Their tireless dedication is appreciated and their efforts will be seen and felt by people across the City and Commonwealth.