Hey Look: State Senate Takes a Step for Revenues and Tax Progressivity

Senate 1, House 0. - promoted by Bob_Neer

The State Senate began debate on the annual budget today, and lo — it came to pass that the Senators voted (29-11) to adopt an amendment that will raise additional revenues and will do so in a progressive way!

The amendment freezes the state income tax rate at the current 5.15 percent, repealing a formula enacted in 2002 that automatically reduces the income tax rate when certain fiscal benchmarks are met. This formula has reduced the income tax from 5.3 percent to 5.15 percent since 2002. (Our friends at MassBudget have prepared this excellent analysis of the reasons that this formula compounds the problems of recent declines in state revenue.)

The amendment allocates some of the new revenue resulting from the income tax freeze to increasing the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit program, which helps low-income individuals and families meet the high cost of living in Massachusetts. The amendment also increases the personal income tax exemption, which benefits all taxpayers. Pending some more number crunching, I’ll speculate that for most taxpayers, the increase in the exemption will offset the freeze in the tax rate. The taxpayers for whom the increase in the exemption is least likely to offset the freeze in the tax rate are those at the upper part of the income spectrum.

So, good on the Senate. Will the House go along when the Senate and House meet to reconcile their respective budgets? As of now, the signs are not so good. Speaker DeLeo is vexed at the Senate for even debating tax policy when, in his view, the House did not relinquish its sole power to originate what our State Constitution calls “money bills.” He’s even threatening to go to court over the whole thing. For real. Details here.

In any event, it’s a sure thing that the Speaker won’t go along unless his members convince him to do so.

(Cross-posted here).

Not That Bad Is Not Good Enough: More Reasons to Oppose TPP

An interesting issue. And in a related story, check out the Globe piece on Elizabeth Warren's increasing influence - at the expense of the president. TPP figures heavily. - promoted by david

Noah Smith, an economist I’m accustomed to considering not crazy, says the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal is no big deal. Although he writes enough about liberals and conservatives to make me think he’s some sort of moderate, but he’s generally readable and typically sensible. He’s in favor of the TPP. His defense of TPP is interesting:

[The TPP] is mostly about trade with Japan and South Korea, which has asked to join the pact. These are rich countries, with tons of capital and very high labor costs. In fact, Japan’s labor costs are so high that Japanese auto manufacturers now build a lot of factories in the U.S. American workers are not going to lose out to the Japanese and South Koreans.

Yes, TPP might include a few poor countries, such as Indonesia, which has expressed interest in joining the accord. But compared with China, those countries are small potatoes. Very few manufacturing jobs will be lost to low-productivity Indonesia that haven’t already been lost to medium-productivity China….

There is one type of activity that is very hard for U.S. companies to send offshore: innovation. But when Asian countries can just ignore U.S. patents, innovation becomes less profitable. Stronger international IP protection will help U.S. companies export more, which makes them hire more American workers, which increases the amount that those workers spend on the local economy. Yes, there are many problems with the U.S.’s intellectual property laws. But international harmonization of IP wouldn’t exacerbate these problems.

According to Smith, TPP isn’t a big deal because the damage of globalization has already been done. Economically, it’s easy enough to brush aside this job loss. But how many jobs are “very few’ to an economist? There are approximately 12 million manufacturing jobs left in the United States. What’s a few? 100,000? 1,000,00? 15? What of his claim that intellectual property protection will help U.S. companies export more? Perhaps this is true. My hero Paul Krugman, who is a “lukewarm opponent” of the TPP, sees it less as a trade deal than a deal about intellectual property and dispute settlement (the ISDS that Elizabeth Warren keeps talking about). some provisions would lead to the even stronger, government-granted monopolies called patents. As Krugman writes,

we should never forget that in a direct sense, protecting intellectual property means creating a monopoly – letting the holders of a patent or copyright charge a price for something (the use of knowledge) that has a zero social marginal cost. In that direct sense this introduces a distortion that makes the world a bit poorer.

There is, of course, an offset in the form of an increased incentive to create knowledge, which is why we have patents and copyright in the first place. But do we really think that inadequate incentive to create new drugs or new movies is a major problem right now?

Even if the TPP weren’t a threat to American workers, the beneficiaries aren’t average Americans, but rather corporations. In the 1950s, Dwight Eisenhower might have been able to say without irony, what’s good for General Motors is good for America. Few of us would say that today. As Dean Baker notes, the regulatory structures being developed in the agreement would “largely benefit U.S. corporations, since they would get more money for the patents and copyrights.” Does that help the rest of us? Not much.

The corporations that stand to benefit have few, if any, organic ties to the U.S. economy—most have outsourced a large share of production jobs to other countries. The primary beneficiaries will be people from the United States who happen to own stock in these companies. And the greatest benefits will flow to those who own the most stocks, primarily those in the top 1, 5, and 10 percent of the income distribution. So, the TPP and similar agreements will only serve to worsen U.S. income inequality.

Not that bad is not good enough. The Trans-Pacific Partnership has nothing to offer average Americans. We must continue to oppose it.

Full MA House Delegation Voted Against the Budget-Busting NDAA

Military spending is the #1 discretionary item in the federal budget: we spend more on war than the next 10 nations combined. A key line from this excellent post: "Only Katherine Clark and Joe Kennedy voted for Jared Polis’s amendment to reduce the statutory requirement for the number of operational aircraft carriers the Navy must maintain from 11 to 10. The rest of the delegation voted against it." - promoted by Bob_Neer

Yesterday, the House of Representatives voted for the FY 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The NDAA usually wins over the majority of the Democratic caucus. Last year, Democrats voted for it 109 to 85. However, this year, the Democratic leadership encouraged its members to vote against it. The full MA delegation rightfully voted against it. (Most of them typically do so anyway.)

There are a few reasons for that. First, the bill puts money into the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) slush fund in order to bypass sequestration level spending limits. House Republicans, as we know, want to eliminate the sequester on the military but leave it in place for social spending. The House Democratic leadership also opposed it because of its restrictions on closing Gitmo and a provision that bans DREAMers from serving in the military.

The bill would provide for the authorization of funding for the Department of Defense and other related agencies, programs, and operations for Fiscal Year 2016. It authorizes approximately $605.6 billion in discretionary budget authority in total. This includes $495.8 billion for the Department of Defense base budget and $17.6 billion for the defense-related activities of the Department of Energy.

The bill also includes $89.2 billion in discretionary budget authority for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO), shifting $38 billion in funding from the President’s base defense request into the OCO war funding account. This gimmick goes around the sequester-level defense spending cap, while leaving the non-defense sequester-level cap in place……

The legislation maintains the current restriction on domestic transfers of Guantanamo detainees and prevents the use of funds for construction or modification of U.S. facilities to house Guantánamo detainees. The bill reverts to a more onerous certification standard for the transfer of Gitmo detainees and prohibits transfers to any country in which a previously transferred detainee was confirmed to have re-engaged in armed conflict.  It also includes a further restriction on transferring detainees to a “combat zone,” which is defined broadly by an IRS statute.

House Republicans adopted an anti-immigrant amendment, stripping out language that was adopted on a bipartisan vote by the Armed Services Committee related to the consideration of allowing “DREAMers” to enlist and serve in the Armed Forces.  This amendment, which only further damages our broken immigration system, is just another in a long line of Republican efforts to demagogue “DREAMers” – the hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children and know no other home than the U.S. Members are urged to VOTE NO.

The MA delegation unanimously voted against most of the heinous GOP amendments:

  • Jackie Walorski (IN-02)’s amendment to extend the constraints on closing Gitmo for two years (beyond the FY 2016 period covered by the bill), bar transfers to Yemen, and bar use of the Defense secretary’s national security waiver authority to transfer prisoners to combat zones.
  • Doug Lamborn (CO-05)’s amendment to limit funding for implementing the New START treaty, the nuclear arms reduction treaty between the US and Russia signed in 2010.
  • Frank Lucas (OK-03)’s amendment to reverse and prohibit the further listing of the Lesser Prairie Chicken as a threatened or endangered species until 2021 and to de-list the American Burying Beetle as a threatened or endangered species under the Endangered Species Act.
  • Mo Brooks (AL-05)’s amendment to strip out the provision of the bill that would have allowed DREAMers to serve in the military.

And they voted unanimously in favor of two good Democratic amendments (which, unfortunately, were shot down by the House as a whole):

  • Adam Smith (WA-09)’s amendment provide a framework for closing Gitmo by the end of 2017.
  • Jerry Nadler (NY-10)’s amendment to strike the section of the bill that places limits on funding for the dismantlement of nuclear weapons.

However, on three amendments, the caucus split.

Bill Keating and Stephen Lynch voted for Mike McCaul (TX-10)’s amendment to amend 10 USC 2576a to include border security activities to the list of preferred applications the Department of Defense considers when transferring excess property to other federal agencies. 10 USC 2576a currently gives preference to counter-drug or counter-terrorism activities for small arms and ammunition (as well as other military property) transfer. The rest of the delegation rightfully voted against it.

Only Katherine Clark and Joe Kennedy voted for Jared Polis’s amendment to reduce the statutory requirement for the number of operational aircraft carriers the Navy must maintain from 11 to 10. The rest of the delegation voted against it.

Only Katherine Clark and Mike Capuano voted for Earl Blumenauer (OR-03)’s amendment to end the budget gimmickry of the Sea-Based Deterrence Fund (explained here). The rest of the delegation voted against it.

Joke Revue: Anthropologists Discover Ancient Greek Super PAC That Helped Shape First Democracy


Anthropologists Discover Ancient Greek Super PAC That Helped Shape First Democracy

ATHENS, GREECE—In a finding that provides new insight into the roots of Western civilization, a team of anthropologists from Cambridge University announced Monday the discovery of an ancient Greek super PAC that helped shape the world’s first democracy. “At the same time Cleisthenes first instituted a representative form of government in Athens, it appears that a group of wealthy citizens and merchants created an organization to influence these new voters by bombarding them with around-the-clock political messages,” lead researcher Daniel Rogers said of the early political action committee, named Athenians for a Better City-State, which is said to have received millions of drachmas’ worth of funding in gold, lambs, dates, loaves of bread, and slaves from Athens’ largest and most influential trade groups. “While the committee was prohibited from coordinating directly with candidates seeking public office, AFBCS nevertheless spent astonishing sums on orators hired to stand in the Agora and recite the negative traits of politicians that the super PAC opposed, as well as on writers who were hired to pen slanderous epic poems.” Researchers also reportedly found evidence that the early super PAC’s influence extended beyond elections, noting that it was the driving force behind a number of laws that lowered business taxes, protected the worship of the gods in schools, and authorized war against Sparta in an effort to plunder their geographic rival’s large olive oil reserves.


Bush Says Iraq Question Unimportant Since He Clearly Will Never Be President

TEMPE, ARIZONA (The Borowitz Report)—After several days of controversy over whether he would have authorized an invasion of Iraq, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush said on Thursday that the question was unimportant since it is now painfully clear that he will never be President.

“Look, I can understand people wanting to know where I stand on this Iraq business if I actually had a chance of being elected,” he told an audience in Arizona. “But since I’ve pretty much pissed that away, what’s the point, really?”

Bush urged those who sought out his opinion on policy matters to take a look at how poorly his campaign is going “and get a reality check about the odds of me ever being President, which are hovering in the vicinity of zero.”

“I’m tied with Ben Carson in the polls, folks,” he said. “You heard me. Ben-freaking-Carson. A neurosurgeon. If you’re running in a Republican primary and can’t beat a scientist, you might as well put a fork in it.”

When asked by a reporter what he would do to grow the economy, Bush laughed ruefully and said, “Well, I guess if I said that I’d do exactly what my brother did and drive the whole thing straight into the crapper, you folks would have a field day with that, wouldn’t you? But let’s get serious. You want an answer to that question, ask someone who actually has a chance at winning this damn thing. I’m sure Scott Walker would love to talk to you good people.”

Daniel Kurtzman:

“Happy Mother’s Day. Yesterday, President Obama personally called three mothers who had written him letters recently. Man, do I feel sorry for any of their kids who forgot to call.” –Seth Meyers

“The mother would say, ‘Oh, you didn’t have time to call. Do you know who did have time? The president — of the United States of America — yeah, that president. So no, flowers on Wednesday does not make it OK.’” –Seth Meyers

“A house panel in Texas has approved full marijuana legalization for the state. Yeah, meaning Texas could go from having dude ranches to ‘Dude, ranches.’” –Jimmy Fallon

“A new poll finds that the majority of GOP voters say they can’t see themselves supporting Chris Christie. The trick is to lift with your legs, not your back.” –Seth Meyers

The Prosecution Betrayed Our Commonwealth's Values

Here's the thing for me: Dzokhar Tsarnaev doesn't *deserve* any better, nothing better than Timothy McVeigh, say. But that's the wrong question. It's what we do as a community to demonstrate our sense that life is not cheap. - promoted by charley-on-the-mta

The verdict is in. Tsarnaev is sentenced to death.

It’s hard to oppose the death penalty. Harder still as a member of a community that knew so many victims and sadly, knew the assailants as well. Harder still as someone who never knew his grandpa because of a violent crime. But, I will always oppose it because it runs counter to my faith and my values, is a colossal waste of money and time, and does nothing to deter crime or terrorism. At the end of the day, we are making a martyr out of someone who would’ve been forgotten behind bars. The people of the Commonwealth and the victims families overwhelmingly understand this, I wish our leaders did.

Going Solar: A Massachusetts Journey

I'm re-promoting this terrific post for its relevance to the solar cap issue right now. I gather from Lynne's experience is that it's pretty much a financial slam-dunk currently to go solar. The Baker administration's position is that the subsidies are more generous than they need to be in order to keep the solar wave going -- that you could get more bang for the buck even with less generous incentives. I'm open to that -- you need to find the right point on the cost-benefit curve. But consider a few things: 1. It's absolutely a critical interest of the state to move to a post-carbon economy, as quickly as possible. 2. Economic development thrives on stability and predictability. 3. We don't really know how difficult this is for utilities, but generally they don't have a good track record of transparency and openness to this potentially disruptive development. Are these technical problems, or business model problems? Scrutiny is in order. In any event, we need actual leadership from the Baker administration, not stalling. - promoted by charley-on-the-mta

(What follows is a very long, comprehensive post filled to the brim with everything I’ve learned about going solar. Our installation is now feeding green energy into the grid, I obsess about cloudy days, and I’m looking forward to our new investment paying us back in both money, and in knowing we’re contributing a great deal towards a green future. Cross-posted on my blog, Left in Lowell.)

The flurry of activity in and around my homestead during two days in the week of October 7th was very disturbing to my poor dogs, but exciting for us. After a journey of more than five years in researching and planning (more on that in a bit) the contractors we hired, NuWatt Energy Inc, were on our roof installing our 4.16kWh solar electric system. A system that, it is estimated, will be providing around 80% of our current electricity usage.

Why did it take us so long, and how did we finally decide on the path we did? The answer to that, I’m hoping, will give other people a shortcut to the knowledge we got the hard way, and give you several paths to solar for your own home or business if you think you’ve got the roof for it.

No Boston Olympics Community Engagement Mtg. - 5/18

Chris Dempsey is one of the Volunteer Co-Chairs of No Boston Olympics. Based on the latest poll that shows 54 percent of Bostonians oppose the bid, perhaps his face should be on the "Who runs this town" cover of Boston magazine rather than John Fish. - promoted by Bob_Neer

Since coming together in a Boston living room in November, 2013, No Boston Olympics has grown to an organization of hundreds of volunteers and thousands of supporters. We suspect that some (though definitely not all!) BMG contributors and readers count themselves among them. Our goal from the start has been to help provide a voice to those across Massachusetts who are skeptical of the Boston2024 cost/benefit equation, and want to see a more balanced and complete discussion of what the bid means for our communities.

This Monday we will be holding a Community Engagement Meeting to bring together residents across the Commonwealth who want to learn more about who we are, what we’re up to, and why we oppose Boston2024′s bid. We welcome people on all sides of the debate, and especially those who have yet to make up their minds.

We would love to have more engagement with the BMG community, so we encourage you to attend and later post with your thoughts — or even liveblog the event!

Please join us on Monday evening at the NonProfit Center near South Station! Meeting details are below and here.

NBO Logo Color

No Boston Olympics Community Engagement Meeting
The NonProfit Center (near South Station)
89 South Street

Doors at 6pm. Program from 6:30-8:30. Learn more and RSVP here.

Solar cap stalls development; Baker disappoints

The Baker administration — and some in the legislature, are stalling and lagging behind the times on solar development. While they refuse to lift the cap on solar development, at the behest of utilities, projects are going unfinished.


Thomas Sweeney, chief operating officer of Clean Energy Collective, which builds community solar projects in Massachusetts, said he has 50 stalled projects in National Grid territory, including 20 in Western Massachusetts. Community solar projects involve putting solar panels in one location, like a landfill, then offering area businesses, residents and governments a chance to buy the credits generated by the project.

Sweeney said the timing of lifting the cap is important, because a federal tax credit for solar projects is set to expire at the end of 2016, and it can take solar developers a year to connect to the electric grid, which is required for the tax credit. So if new projects are not started by the end of 2015, they may not get the federal tax credit.

If the cap is not raised before the end of the year, Sweeney said, “We’re going to have a lot of difficulty determining whether we’re going to continue to invest in projects or whether to put them on hold.”via State cap stalls Massachusetts solar projects | masslive.com.

The Baker administration is stalling, hemming and hawing, thinking that it might be possible to lower the subsidies for solar – supposedly without disrupting development.

Well, it’s getting disrupted now. They’d better figure it out soon. I’m not against recalculating, necessarily: Perhaps there should be an adjustment of exactly how generous the incentives should be in order to get maximum bang for the buck.

But we need a hell of a lot of bang. A transition to a clean energy economy is an urgent priority for the state, maybe the most urgent. For the first time in history, renewables are actually viable. And we need them now:

  • Scores of projects are stalled right now. These are jobs — not to mention the economic benefit to solar homeowners.
  • A federal tax credit expires at the end of 2016
  • The sooner we get there, the less dependent on fossil fuel infrastructure we will be. With more solar and wind energy on the market, everyone’s energy prices will be lower in the long term, since the marginal cost of sunshine and wind are near-zero.
  • The punishing timeline of climate change necessitates a deploy, deploy deploy strategy. We can lead the nation or follow, but it’s the transition that the crisis requires of our entire economy.

I don’t understand the logic in holding all projects back in the short term, while they figure out a long term plan. That has more than a whiff of sheer obstruction and stalling. Whose side is the Baker administration on — homeowners, or the power companies?

In the meantime, 350Massachusetts is pushing folks to call their legislators to lift the cap:

Note that the following key legislators particularly need to hear from their constituents on this issue:

Representative Thomas Golden, 
Representative Paul Brodeur,
Representative Brian Dempsey,
Representative Ted Speliotis, 
Representative Tackey Chan, 
Representative Thomas Petrolati
and Speaker DeLeo.



New Balance takes Transit into its Own Hands: Builds an MBTA Station

Really remarkable. And a great investment by a company in its own community, to everyone's benefit. - promoted by charley-on-the-mta

From the Atlantic (where Massachusetts innovation is on a roll this week!), New Balance has taken the wise approach of linking public transit to its exoanded headquarters and new development in Brighton. Working with the local community to create a more sustainable transit solution for its workforce, its commercial real estate development, and the community it’s called home for over 40 years.

From the article:

So when athletic company New Balance decided to expand its headquarters and build retail, a hotel, a track, and skating rink in one Boston neighborhood not served by public transit, it didn’t wait for the city to agree to build new train stations or add bus routes, which could have taken years. Instead, it decided to build a commuter rail station itself.

Today, the company is breaking ground on the new Boston Landing station, starting a process that will add another stop on the commuter rail line between Boston and Worcester by the fall of 2016. New Balance is paying to build the station, which will cost between $14 million and $16 million, and will then pay for its maintenance costs for at least the first decade after the station opens.

From a community representative:

“The MBTA can barely manage what they have—building new stuff is almost impossible,” said Ali Carter, the executive director of Brighton Main Streets, a neighborhood-revitalization group. As for New Balance, she said, the company has been proactive, asking for community input about its building plans and making sure the transit station would be accessible for people who could walk from nearby, but that it also wouldn’t overload the neighborhood with cars.

“I couldn’t imagine having a better multinational corporation to be in your backyard,” she told me.

This isn’t a solution to our problems, but it seems like a win win for the company and the community it is located in. And I give them significant props for wanting their workforce to commute in a more sustainable fashion. It would be nice if the rest of the Boston business community could jump on board, if the all powerful biotech community can rapidly kill the tech tax, surely it can pony up some political and financial capital to fix and maybe even expand (!) the Red Line so that suburban workers can commute to Kendall and Southie without having to drive. Surely other businesses can do this as well.

Lastly, sweet proof that getting transit is neither a Herculean nor an Olympic effort, it just requires willpower and leadership.

Simply put, Massachusetts rules

President Obama should have paid more attention to this New England clip before he called Senator Warren wrong on anything. Half a minute of pure pleasure: you’re welcome.

No Contest: Warren Smacks Down Obama

If only Obama had embraced the people who voted for him in 2008 (and again in 2012) rather than pushed them away, he might not have been the disappointing president he has been. - promoted by Bob_Neer

I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.

— Maya Angelou

I started laughing before Elizabeth Warren was even quoted this morning. The story characterized the Democratic battle over the Trans-Pacific Parntership as a fight between President Obama and our senator. She had yet to speak, but I knew she would win the battle. Obama has never had much for political chops. I know he’s a dyed-in-the-wool neo-liberal, but God knows why the President wants to go to the mat on the TPP. It makes me wince, but I can’t help thinking of the question some of my psychologist friends are fond of asking, “Is this the mountain you want to die on?” I don’t think Warren wants to hurt Obama. She and the rest of the Democratic Democrats in the U.S. Senate know may eventually lose the war, but in a political battle with our President, it’s no contest.

In the battle over TPP, the best Obama seems to be able to do is call her names: “She and I taught law school, and one of the things you do as a law professor is spin out hypotheticals and this is all hypothetical. Speculative. She and I taught law school, and one of the things you do as a law professor is spin out hypotheticals and this is all hypothetical. Speculative.” The President must have skipped his litigation classes at Harvard Law. Speculative? And hypothetical? Say it isn’t so! Worse than his inability to fight, Obama provides Warren with an open invitation to case turn. How can the court of public opinion decide on a victor when they are deprived of Exhibit A? Warren describes the process necessary for her to even see the deal. It’s a strip search short of a prisoner screening for a Supermax prison. The joke’s on the President. If this morning’s NPR story was game, the Senate’s rejection of cloture on fast-tracking TPP was set. I don’t know if it’s the “stinging” defeat some have made it out to be–the match still has a way to go–but we have Elizabeth Warren to thank for it.

Warren has a case, and she presents it:

Look, I have three objections. The first is that the president is asking us to vote to grease the skids on a trade deal that has largely been negotiated, but that is still held in secret.

The second is that we know that corporations under this deal are going to get to sue countries for regulations they don’t like and that the decisions are not going to be made by courts, they’re going to be made by private lawyers.

And the third problem is that he wants us to vote on a six-year, grease-the-skids deal.

On the investor-state dispute mechanism that would help resolve disputes between countries

Keep in mind, if there’s a labor violation, if somebody doesn’t stick with the human rights promises they made, the consequence of that is not that they get to go to a private group, and get special enforcement. Nope, they gotta go to their own government and try to get it enforced.

So, what’s happening with ISDS is that the world has changed. Those things were in place, gosh, for a long time dating back to the 1950s. But back in the beginning they were used very rarely, fewer than 100 times in more than 50 years, but the corporate lawyers figured out how to make these things very valuable for big corporations. … What really happens here is that big, multi-national corporations can look around and say “I don’t like those regulations. I could make more money if I could beat down new regulations.”

NOTE: Investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) is an instrument of public international law, that grants an investor the right to use dispute settlement proceedings against a foreign government.

Gloucester Leading the Way on Drug Enforcement Reform

The Prohibition of our time. - promoted by Bob_Neer

Happily surprised to see in today’s Atlantic a fascinating interview with Gloucester Chief of Police Leonard Campanello. He started a Facebook post that already has 1.5 million hits, generated a community wide forum that lead to a radical solution to the opiate problem, and has bipartisan support from State Sen. Bruce Tarr, Congressman Moulton, and Senators Markey and Warren-who will all be presenting Campenello’s new strategy for tackling addiction before Congress. The strategy=decriminalize drug addiction and get addicts the help they need.

From the article:

Any addict who walks into the police station with the remainder of their drug equipment (needles, etc) or drugs and asks for help will NOT be charged. Instead we will walk them through the system toward detox and recovery. We will assign them an “angel” who will be their guide through the process. Not in hours or days, but on the spot.

Narcan, the artificial opiate drug to prevent overdose will now be available for free over the counter at Gloucester drug stores to anyone who needs it. The coverage has been paid for using revenues seized from drug dealers.

Highlights from the Interview:

There’s an expectation among the public and even those who use this drug that the health community is there to help and to treat it as a disease, but the police department is there to treat it as a crime. And when we start seeing lives lost because of it, and we don’t see any results from an enforcement standpoint, we have to start looking at it differently.

I think law enforcement in general needs to focus on supply as well, but we need to be doing much more with demand. I think that we’re getting close to really proving that attacking the supply is not working and I think that we need to spend a lot more time on the demand. This initiative is one of the ways that we can be compassionate, progressive, bipartisan, and unilateral, because we’re talking about saving lives, and I think the bottom line is it’s the right thing to do.

Kudos to Chief Campanello and our local policy leaders for this innovative approach to policing and addiction treatment. I am proud to see so many local leaders step up to solve this problem, and to see Massachusetts once again be a leader in public health.