The city of Somerville hosted its “Midterm Ceremonies” event on Jan. 3 featuring Mayor Katjana Ballantyne, City Council President Ben Ewen-Campen and School Committee Chair Andre Green. The three officials discussed the progress they made in the past year and their goals for 2023.
For the first time in the city’s history, Somerville will let its residents decide how to spend a portion of the city budget next year. Mayor Katjana Ballantyne has set aside $1 million of the city’s $293-million fiscal year 2023 budget for participatory budgeting, a method designed to fund small-scale community improvement projects while engaging locals — particularly those from historically marginalized communities — in the political process.
Gov. Baker vetoes funds for education campaign about crisis pregnancy centers, disappoints reproductive rights advocatesBy Estelle Anderson | December 8
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker vetoed funds for a public education campaign aimed at crisis pregnancy centers, or anti-abortion clinics that pose as authentic medical centers in order to deceive pregnant people into taking their advice, on Nov. 11. The funding had been part of a significant economic development bill passed unanimously by the state House of Representatives and the Senate on Nov. 3, much of which was devoted to supporting access to reproductive care.
Somerville has made the 2022 Carbon Disclosure Project’s cities A-List, an award for leadership on environmental action and transparency. Only 12% of the 1,002 cities evaluated worldwide received this designation based on commitment to long-term climate action plans, fossil fuel emission reduction targets and local climate risk assessments.
In an election night of historic firsts in Massachusetts, voters elected Democratic gubernatorial candidate Maura Healey as the state’s first female governor and one of the nation’s first openly lesbian governors. Several ballot measures also scored victories, including a tax on incomes above $1 million and a law allowing undocumented individuals to obtain state driver’s licenses.
Tufts announced on Nov. 17 that Sunil Kumar will be the 14th president of Tufts. Kumar will succeed current University President Anthony Monaco, who has held the office for 12 years, beginning in July 2023. Kumar was welcomed to Tufts’ campuses on Thursday and Friday to celebrate the announcement and meet members of the community.
On Nov. 8, COLOR Magazine and Tufts’ Chief Diversity Office sponsored the 12th annual Men of COLOR Leadership Conference. The event was part of Empower Week, a multi-day Boston-based conference focused on empowering professional men of color and leaders in diversity.
The MBTA released an updated draft of its Bus Network Redesign, part of the Better Bus Project, on Oct. 27. Following the release of the first draft in May, the bus map underwent revisions based on community feedback.
This election day, Massachusetts voters will determine the fate of a bill that would allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses. On Nov. 8, Question 4 will ask voters to either accept or reject the Work and Family Mobility Act, a state law passed in June which would allow undocumented Massachussetts residents to apply for driver’s licenses, effective July 2023.
The Somerville School Committee has unanimously endorsed voting “Yes” on Question 1, a ballot initiative proposing the Fair Share Amendment. If passed, the Fair Share Amendment would apply to Massachusetts residents whose annual household income is above $1 million. The so-called “millionaire’s tax” would impose an additional 4% income tax on income above $1 million.
Somerville gathers for annual domestic violence vigil, Ballantyne, advocates call for community actionBy Estelle Anderson | October 28
Members of the Somerville community came together on Wednesday evening for the city’s annual Domestic Violence Vigil, mourning lives lost to domestic violence this year. Held at the West Branch of the Somerville Public Library, the vigil was organized by the Somerville Commission for Women and RESPOND, New England’s oldest domestic violence prevention agency. Mayor Katjana Ballantyne gave opening remarks at the vigil.
Senator Elizabeth Warren chaired a senate subcommittee hearing in Boston on Friday, focusing on management failures within the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority. Senator Ed Markey joined Warren for the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs’ Subcommittee on Economic Policy hearing.
Hundreds of protestors gathered at Boston Common on Oct. 1 in response to the death of Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in Iran. Amini, a 22-year-old who was arrested by Iranian police in Tehran for wearing her hijab too loosely, died on Sept. 16 after allegedly being beaten by police.
On Sept. 21, Maura Healey, the Democratic nominee for governor in Massachusetts, released her policy plan to tackle the housing crisis in the state. The plan focuses heavily on increasing housing production, preserving current housing options and supporting homeless individuals and families through strengthening the state’s rent assistance program.
“Evicted,” an exhibit put on by the Community Action Agency of Somerville, is currently running at the Somerville Armory until Nov. 4. Based on sociologist Matthew Desmond’s novel “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City”,the interactive exhibit explores the reasons for the millions of evictions in the United States every year and their consequences. Somerville is one of the final stops on the exhibit’s national tour. The exhibit is open at the Armory Monday through Wednesday from 4 p.m.–8 p.m. and on weekends from 11 a.m.–6 p.m.
Five families in Somerville are facing eviction and potential displacement after their home was acquired by landlords seeking to raise rents on a property close to the Green Line Extension. The 182–184 Tremont Street home currently houses primarily Salvadoran and Haitian families, some of whom have lived there for more than 25 years.
Somerville City Councilor At-Large Willie Burnley Jr. introduced a resolution on Sept. 22 that calls upon President Biden to remove Cuba from the State Sponsor of Terrorism List and pressure Congress to end the “failed policy of regime change.” Similar resolutions have been introduced by Cambridge, Boston and the town of Brookline in the past year.
The City of Somerville announced that they will establish an advisory committee to create a Pollinator Action Plan. The plan aims to protect pollinator species and preserve the health of the local urban ecosystem.
Tufts held its annual Community Day event on Oct. 2. Students, faculty, staff and community members gathered for a day filled with performances, food, fun activities and thought provoking discussions with organizations on the academic quad.