Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone officially kicked off his reelection campaign Wednesday night.
Curtatone, who has been mayor since 2003, held a campaign kickoff party at the Armory. Here's the text of his speech:
Let me start off by thanking everyone who’s here today. I cannot do my job as mayor alone. It’s because of your support that we are able to accomplish the things we do. And it’s real easy to show up every day and do our work when we get to serve a city as great as Somerville.
Looking over at my sons, it reminds me that I’ve been at this for a little while. You’ll notice they’re not little kids anymore. All of them have their own things going on. And they just keep growing. It’s a good thing we passed the Urban Agriculture Ordinance because I don’t know how else we’re going to feed them.
Main thing is, ever since they can remember, I’ve been Mayor of this great city. Now I haven’t been at this as long as Tom Menino in Boston or Mike McGlynn next door in Medford, but I am proud to say that we’ve had more than our share of major achievements over the past 10 years.
And it’s customary for an incumbent mayor to kickoff of a reelection campaign by listing all the great things he or she has done in office. Well … I’m not going to do that.
If you’re here today I don’t need to list our accomplishments and awards during the past decade for you. You know that list. You’ve heard that list. You’ve lived that list.
Instead I want to talk to you about what’s happening in Somerville today and where that has us headed in the future. Because the reason I’m running for Mayor again is what’s happening in Somerville right now has me so incredibly excited.
If you drive around the city -- or better yet, if you walk or bike around the city -- you’ll see neighborhoods with tree-lined streets and smart-looking homes. You’ll see busy city squares. You’ll see parks and playgrounds, and people of every race, creed, color and age walking around with smiles on their faces.
When people visit from other cities, states and countries, they rave about what a pretty place Somerville is. And when people who haven’t been to Somerville for a few decades see what it looks like today, they can’t believe it’s the same place.
Probably the most effective campaigning I could do is to hold walking tours around the city. You can see how this city is flourishing with the naked eye.
You can feel the positive vibe coming from the people of Somerville when you go out and speak with them. These are very good days for Somerville.
And I could take that walking tour over to Assembly Square where people can experience a beehive of activity. It’s one of the biggest and most active construction zones anywhere in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Within another year we’ll open the first new T station anywhere in the Commonwealth since 1987.
They’re building new city blocks around it, which will feature thousands of new homes and offices and retail establishments that provide thousands of jobs.
It will put what I call the New American Dream within reach for more people in this city: the ability to work close to where you live, to spend more time with family and friends, to win back some quality of life from the daily grind.
They’re also building parkland along the Mystic River, reclaiming the waterfront we lost during the industrial buildup of the early 20th century.
And then you can walk over to East Somerville, where we’re giving East Broadway a complete makeover. The transformation of that area, including Harris Park, has attracted world-renown restaurateur Frank McClelland. We’ve also seen Mudflat Studio build an absolutely gorgeous facility along Broadway.
Once upon a time people referred to East Somerville as the forgotten corner of Somerville. Well, nobody’s forgetting it anymore. And I haven’t even gotten to the best part of East Somerville yet.
This fall we reopen the East Somerville Community School. That school is the beating heart of that section of our city. It’s a gathering place and community center.
It’s also a symbol of our continued commitment to education and to moving Somerville forward for all the people in our city, not just isolated pockets here and there.
From there you can go to Washington Street and to Union Square, which sit on the verge of a major transformation because the Green Line extension is under construction.
We’re not talking about the Green Line extension as if, maybe, some day in the future it will happen. No, it’s happening right now. We’re not fighting to get started anymore. Yet we do need to remain vigilant and insistent that the project get done on its current timeline.
I know I didn’t spend more than a decade of my life fighting daily to get construction underway just to see it stop. I promise you that I will give every fiber of my being and every last ounce of energy I possess to make sure we’re riding Green Line trains from one end of Somerville to the other during this decade.
And the good news is the state really is committed here. I wish I could tell you that the prevailing wisdom of running the region’s main mass transit system through New England’s most densely populated city is what did the trick here.
I wish I could tell you that the environmental improvements the T will bring or the social justice of giving our working class population easier access to jobs and cultural institutions is what tipped the scales.
Yet the truth is it makes too much business sense. Somerville is the next frontier in the expanding greater Boston job market.
We’re planning on adding 30,000 jobs by the year 2030. Ultimately that’s billions of dollars a year in general economic activity and hundreds of millions flowing into the state coffers.
It’s also going to be a transformation in terms of local taxes. Those new businesses will help fund our consistently-improving schools, street and neighborhood improvements, public safety, senior programs, environment initiatives, and recreational activities. It will alleviate the local tax burden on our residential taxpayers.
I really want to stress the schools part of that. Make no mistake about this, the growth we envision in the economic opportunity zones near the new T stations is going to have direct impact on how well our schools tackle the current baby boom.
We’re climbing to almost 1,000 births a year for Somerville residents. We haven’t seen numbers like these in decades. This isn’t just happening in Somerville, it’s happening nationwide. The Millennials are a big generation and they’re hitting their prime breeding years.
Other cities and towns have been slashing teachers and programs in recent years. Not Somerville. We’ve been improving and expanding educational opportunities for our students.
Yet Millennials are a huge chunk of our local population and we’re going to need a larger commercial tax base to ensure we continue to move forward in our schools.
This is our window of opportunity to truly redefine what an urban school system is capable of delivering. This is our chance to turn to young parents in Somerville and tell them they’d be crazy to leave a flourishing city like Somerville when so many other school systems continually find themselves making painful cuts.
Economic growth is an essential component to delivering educational excellence in this city.
I’m passionate about this because I have four major investments entrusted to our school system. Mayor Joe answers to Daddy Joe on this one.
There is a big picture here and the people with the most to gain or lose are the families of Somerville. I’m working as hard as I do today to make sure they see that gain and not the loss.
And today, in the here and now, we’re making plans to rip down the McGrath overpass and replace it with a boulevard that brings together the sections of our city it split apart decades ago.
We’re also working to take down the old trash transfer station by the end of this year. We’re redesigning Beacon Street so that it can be a thriving residential and commercial corridor.
We’re putting together plans for the next round of streetscape improvements in the wild success story of Davis Square. We’re determining the future of the Powder House School site.
We’re beautifying Teele Square and Ball Square and Magoun Square and Winter Hill, and we’re fielding business interest in all of those areas.
We just broke ground on the expansion of the Community Path from Cedar Street to where it will meet with the Green Line extension at Lowell Street.
And I can make you the solemn vow that we will figure out how to extend it all the way to Boston.
Today, right here, right now, we are building a bright and beautiful future for our city.
We are taking our destiny into our own hands and not chancing our future on the notion that maybe something good will come our way.
Daily I am awed by the creativity, passion, energy and activity of the people of Somerville and the people I work with every day.
It is a privilege that I get to work on building our common future with all of you and that is why I am running for reelection.
I love what we’re doing today and I can’t wait to see what we get to do tomorrow.
Thank you for your support.
The Green Line Extension project is edging toward two key milestones in its long term development: Selecting a contract manager and general contractor, and submitting an application for over $500 million in federal funding, officials said Wednesday.
State project officials updated the MassDOT's board of directors on the project's progress Wednesday.
Although federal funding remains up in the air, state Transportation Secretary Richard Davey has remained committed to fully funding the entire project, and continued to voice that stance Wednesday.
Funding has been set for the replacement of Lechmere Station, and the construction of new stations at Washington Street and Union Square in Somerville, Davey said. If the state loses out on a federal New Starts grant, then other projects will take a back seat in order to fund the extension of the Green Line, he said Wednesday.
"That probably means some other project doesn't get done, or gets pushed off," Davey said.
In March, the state requested proposals from three joint venture groups that had submitted letters of interest last year in overseeing the construction management and being general contractor for the project.
State officials used a computerized model that weighted the technical and cost elements of the three proposals, and are close to making a recommendation the the MassDOT board, Mary Ainsley, the state's director of design and construction for the project, said Wednesday.
Details of the the proposals and how they scored will be submitted to the MassDOT board next month, and a recommendation will be submitted in July, Ainsley said.
"Right now we're reviewing everything that's submitted to make sure it's all in line," she said.
The project will extend the Green Line about 4.5 miles from its current northbound terminal station at Lechmere in Cambridge through Somerville to College Avenue in Medford. The line will follow the rail bed of the Fitchburg Commuter Rail Line, along with a spur to Somerville's Union Square.
Six new stops will be created and the current Lechmere stop replaced. Mandated through a legal settlement stemming from the environmental impace of the Big Dig project, the extension is expected to cost about $1.3 billion, and the state is hoping it can secure $557 million through the Federal Transit Administration's New Starts program.
The state has been working its way through the application process since 2011, and aims to formally submit a grant application in the first half of 2014, said Andrew Brennan, the MBTA's environmental affairs director. New Starts funds major transit projects that are locally planned and implemented.
The funding pool for New Starts projects has dwindled in recent years, and it is now funded as part of the general budget, which makes it subject to sequestration, Brennan said.
Despite these issues, Brennan said the Green Line project appears to meet many of the goals set out by the FTA.
"We think we can really have a project that is investment grade for the FTA," he said.
There are four other projects in the country in similar position in the application process for New Starts grant money, Brennan said. One in Houston, one in Orlando, one in Portland, Ore., and one in Los Angeles, he said.
Preliminary work for the project on two bridges in Somerville and Medford for the project broke ground in December. New stations at Washington Street and Union Square are expected to open in 2017. The project is expected to be completed in 2019 or 2020.
Lynch, an openly gay man who ran for Somerville alderman in Ward 5 in 2007, earlier this week wrote an open letter to the mayor and the public addressing homophobia in Somerville and related issues.
Tuesday night on "Greater Somerville," host Joe Lynch responds to a recent letter issued by Mayor Joe Curtatone regarding the alleged homophobic slurs against a sitting alderman.
Lynch, an openly gay man who ran for Somerville alderman in Ward 5 in 2007, earlier this week wrote an open letter to the mayor and the public addressing homophobia in Somerville and related issues.
Greater Somerville airs live every Tuesday, at 7:30 p.m., from the Union Square studios of Somerville Community Access Television.
Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone is refuting claims by a local cable TV host that the mayor's recent stand against homophobic slurs was an act of favoritism.
Last week, Curtatone issued a letter admonishing homophobic slurs after newly appointed Alderwoman Courtney O'Keefe said she was the subject of crude comments after entering the public spotlight.
"The intent of my open letter, and the letter written by our [Women's Commission members], was to reinforce that, as a City, we do not tolerate bigotry today, yesterday, or tomorrow," Curtatone said in a statement Tuesday. "It's always the right time to stand up for tolerance, and I will continue to speak up on this issue whenever the need arises. Our LGBT community needs to know we stand with them."
Joseph Lynch, a former candidate for the Board of Aldermen and host of local TV show "Greater Somerville," has criticized Curtatone for not taking a stand in previous situations where public figures were subjected to bigotry.
"Candidates for office in Somerville like me, candidate for alderman Marty Martinez, state Representative Carl Sciortino, and former state Senator Jarrett Barrios before me, suffered homophobic slurs and other insults we should not have in this day and age. But we did," Lynch said in an open letter to Curtatone. "Mayor, we could have used your support then, but no such open letter to the public was forthcoming."
In an e-mail, Jaclyn Rossetti, a spokeswoman for the mayor, said Curtatone and Sciortino had previously met with victims of alleged gay bashing in 2007, and that he has always fought against intolerance of any kind.
"The assumption of 'favoritism' is both untrue and disappointing," Rossetti wrote. "Mayor Curtatone has repeatedly taken a stance against any intolerance-based words or actions, including leading the fight for gay marriage in Somerville, his firm stance on immigration reform, and the creation of the myriad cultural and other celebrations in this city, including the raising of the gay pride flag every year for Gay Pride Week."
The following is Lynch's letter to Curtatone. The response from the Mayor's office follows:
The response from Curtatone's office:
In your May 14, 2013 letter to the Somerville Public, you made clear that homophobia has no place in our Somerville community. I wholeheartedly agree and thank you for that letter.
As an openly gay man running for Somerville alderman in 2007, Iunderstood not everyone is as open as we to the idea of inclusion. Candidates for office in Somerville like me, candidate for alderman Marty Martinez, state Representative Carl Sciortino, and former state Senator Jarrett Barrios before me, suffered homophobic slurs and other insults we should not have in this day and age. But we did.
Mayor, we could have used your support then, but no such open letter to the public was forthcoming.
The Somerville News Newstalk for Wednesday, October 31, 2007, allowed commenters to post vile, hateful, and homophobic on-line comments leveled at me, Alderman Gewirtz, Alderman White, and candidates Fred Berman and Rachel Heller, and still you stood by with no open letter to the public. And to this day, you continue to write a column for the Somerville News, the newspaper that has chosen to keep every word of those homophobic, vile, and hateful posts in place.
Fast forward to today when we see an unusually high number ofincumbent Somerville aldermen stepping away from elective office. Alderman Taylor's decision to not seek re-election has been met with profound sadness and nothing but gratitude and love to him and his family. The sudden resignation, however, of two aldermen, the announcement of another to not seek re-election and the possibility of more to come, has been met by the Somerville community with puzzlement and concern. You have publicly supported the appointment of a friend of yours to fill one of those sudden resignations. The appointed alderman in question is controversial not for her politics, her gender or her sexual preference, but for the fact that her appointment, fully supported by you, has bypassed the traditional route of appointment.
It is odd that you have chosen this moment to become an advocate for the rights of city officials and candidates for office. While I could never condone hateful slurs of any kind, as you allege, now is not the time to be cagey. If sunlight is indeed the best disinfectant, let's be open with each other. As a gay man, I've told some pretty funny gay jokes. And within my LGBT community, we even make fun of each other. And if any member of the LGBT community, including the alderman in question, tells you any differently, take that with a grain of salt.
Mayor, I’ve lived with and fought against homophobia for the last 50 years. I've been the target of homophobic inspired verbal and physical assaults. At first, I found your letter to be confusing, somewhat disingenuous and had a not so subtle whiff of political opportunism.
But after some thought, my more rational side has taken hold. Once again, I say thank you for finally reminding us that homophobia has no place in Somerville.
Mayor, if your aim in issuing your letter is to deflect attention from a brewing situation at City Hall, Somerville may be a bit too smart for that. If your aim is to condemn homophobia, you may be a decade or so too late.
l and others could have used your support in the past, but I guess we just weren't your friends.
The timing of the Mayor’s statement coincided with one thing: the alleged slurs that were brought to his attention by a member of the Women’s Commission, who alerted the Human Rights Commission. In response, both the Mayor and Commission members wrote open letters to the public condemning the use of homophobic slurs.
“The intent of my open letter, and the letter written by our Commissioners, was to reinforce that, as a City, we do not tolerate bigotry today, yesterday, or tomorrow,” said Mayor Curtatone. “It’s always the right time to stand up for tolerance, and I will continue to speak up on this issue whenever the need arises. Our LGBT community needs to know we stand with them.”
In November 2007, the Mayor and Rep. Sciortino met with victims of an alleged gay-bashing. He stood up against hate then as he does today. The assumption of “favoritism” is both untrue and disappointing. Mayor Curtatone has repeatedly taken a stance against any intolerance-based words or actions, including leading the fight for gay marriage in Somerville, his firm stance on immigration reform, and the creation of the myriad cultural and other celebrations in this city—including the raising of the gay pride flag every year for Gay Pride Week.
As to Alderman O’Keefe’s appointment process, it did not bypass but followed the traditional route of appointment by the City Charter. Those who disagreed with the City Charter brought their concerns to the aldermen, who have voted to create a new process for appointment.
A Somerville nonprofit is organizing a rally in Boston Wednesday, demanding that the Green Line Extension project include construction jobs devoted to local workers.
Somerville Community Corporation is organizing the rally at the State Transportation Building, and representatives will testify at Wednesday's MassDOT board meeting.
The corporation plans to request a meeting with transportation secretary Richard Davey, a signed agreement from the Department of Transportation outlining a plan for hiring Somerville residents, and to have working meetings with the general contractor for the project, once it is selected, according to an announcement.
The rally will be held at 12 p.m. outside the State Transportation Building at Park Plaza.
All 27 Somerville business tested in an alcoholic beverage purchase law compliance check passed, according to the city.
Conducted by the Somerville Police Department and Somerville Cares About Prevention, teenagers were sent into package stores, bars, and restaurants that had full liquor licenses to try to purchase alcohol.
In a statement, police Chief Tom Pasquarello said he was pleased with the outcome of the check.
"Most of our stores, bars, and restaurants take this responsibility seriously," he said. "We appreciate their cooperation, and their commitment to keeping alcohol out of underage hands."
Somerville's annual street festival series SomerStreets opens with a Carnival celebration on June 2.
SomerStreets Carnaval runs from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. along East Broadway from McGrath Highway to Pennsylvania Avenue. The event features a motion parade, live music and food vendors.
The following is the full schedule of SomerStreets events:
- June 2:Carnaval, East Broadway from McGrath Highway to Pennsylvania Avenue, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
- July 28: Seize the Summer, Highland Avenue from Walnut Street to Cedar Street, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m
- August 18: Shore Drive, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
- September 8: Going Green on Route 16, Route 16, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
- October 20: Monster Mashed Up, Somerville Avenue, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Jeremy C. Fox for Boston.com
About three dozen supporters of same-sex marriage gathered in the Boston Public Garden recently to mark the ninth anniversary of its legalization in Massachusetts.
The Commonwealth issued the first marriage licenses for same-sex couples on May 17, 2004, following a landmark decision by the Supreme Judicial Court the previous November that found that same-sex couples had the right to marry.
Present at the celebration were Ellen Wade and Maureen Brodoff, a Newton couple that participated as plaintiffs in that case, Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, and wed on the first day it was legal.
“We thought our commitment was as good a model of a committed, loving relationship as you’d likely find in any community, straight or gay,” said Brodoff, 61, of their decision to participate in the Goodrich case.
“It’s just thrilling every year when this time comes around, not just as an anniversary for our marriage but what a spectacular day it was for Massachusetts and all its citizens,” she said.
Wade, 64, said she’s not bothered if same-sex marriage has become so commonplace in Massachusetts that residents don’t always stop to appreciate the historic struggle that made it possible.
“It’s great if people take it for granted,” said Wade. “I think there’s a place for appreciating the enormous accomplishment of getting this right, but ultimately that’s what you want.”
Wade and Brodoff recently celebrated Mother’s Day together, having dinner out with their 24-year-old daughter, Kate Wade-Brodoff. They said the one downside to having two mothers is that the adult child has two people deserving special treatment on the holiday.
Massachusetts was the first state in the country to legally recognize marriages between gay couples and remained the only state to do so until Connecticut became the second in 2008.
Just two days before Thursday’s celebration, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton signed a bill legalizing gay marriage in that state, making it the 12th where same-sex couples can marry. It is also legal in Washington, D.C.
Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino had been scheduled to speak at the event, but was unable to attend. Instead, Jullieanne Doherty, who serves as the mayor’s liaison to Jamaica Plain as well as liaison to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community, read a statement from Menino.
In the statement, Menino referred to a pair of cases currently under review by the US Supreme Court: one concerns the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which bars married gay couples from receiving federal benefits, while the other reviews the legality of Proposition 8, the referendum that outlawed same-sex marriage in California.
“It has the chance — and I would say the obligation — to end the discrimination still faced by millions of gay and lesbian couples who simply want to marry the person they love,” Menino said of the court in his statement.
The mayor went on to say that he’d like to invite the justices of the court to Boston to see what is different now. “All that has changed is that Massachusetts now treats all loving couples and their families equally under the law,” he said.
Michael Kelley and Ricardo Rodriguez, both 42, were married seven years ago at a park in the South End. The couple said that they initially had some anxiety about having such a public ceremony, fearing some people might see it and react negatively.
They need not have worried.
“Residents started running out of their houses to scream and yell and throw flowers,” Kelley said.
Jeremy C. Fox for Boston.com
Five meetings will be held in Somerville, Medford and Cambridge in June to review the latest station designs for Green Line Extension stops.
The meeting schedule is as follows:
- Ball Square station: Monday, June 3, 6 p.m.; St. Clement School, 579 Boston Ave., Medford
- Union Square and Washington Street stations: Tuesday, June 11, 6 p.m.; Holiday Inn, 30 Washington St., Somerville
- Gilman Street and Lowell Street stations: Tuesday, June 4, 6 p.m.; the Armory, 191 Highland Ave., Somerville
- Lechmere station: Tuesday, June 18, 2013, 6 p.m.; Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center, 41 Second St., East Cambridge