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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Sunday, April 14, 2024

News | Local


COVID-19 increases obstacles for Somerville residents with disabilities

As the world enters a second year of the pandemic, immunocompromised people and individuals with disabilities continue to face systemic and social detriments to their health and well-being. While many able-bodied individuals are lowering their risk potentials, people with disabilities often have little choice but to remain vigilant. This is not unfamiliar to residents of Somerville, who have expressed frustration over the difficulties that individuals with disabilities continue to experience even as the pandemic wanes. 


Uyterhoeven's PILOT reform bill under review in Mass. State House

Proposed legislation to reform the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) program is currently under review in the Massachusetts state legislature by the Joint Committee on Revenue. Bill H.3080, which was filed in February 2021 by State Representative Erika Uyterhoeven of Somerville, would give municipalities the option to opt into a PILOT payment program requiring property tax-exempt organizations with more than $15 million in property holdings, such as Tufts University, to pay the city or town the equivalent of 25% of what their property tax would be were they not tax exempt.


Tenants Union protests LaCourt Realty, claims exploitation, negligence

A group of 20 tenants, organizers and local supporters holding signs reading “Somervillain” and “LaCourt Lies” marched from the Davis Square T stop to the office of Mouhab Rizkallah, owner of LaCourt Realty and The Braces Place in Somerville, on Feb. 3. The protesters, organized by the LaCourt Tenants Union, demanded Rizkallah withdraw his lawsuit against former LaCourt tenant Alona Brosh, whom he has sued for $28,875 of “unpaid rent,” according to a demand letter to LaCourt Realty. Brosh was not present at the protest and did not respond immediately to a request for comment.


Proposed bill would pause prison construction in Mass. for 5 years

A bill proposed last year in the Massachusetts state legislature would enact a five-year moratorium on the design and construction of prisons and jails in Massachusetts. The bill was reported out favorably from the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight on Jan. 24 and is now being considered by the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, bringing it one step closer to Governor Charlie Baker's desk.


Proposed tenants' rights legislation would mitigate housing affordability crisis in Somerville

State Representative Erika Uyterhoeven of Somerville recently petitioned Bill H.4208 in a joint committee in the Massachusetts General Court. The bill, one of many recent Tenants’ Opportunity to Purchase Acts, would permit Somerville to create a program where tenants of a property would be given the chance to purchase it jointly before it is put on the market. Uyterhoeven’s petition comes after an earlier version of the bill previously passed through both chambers but was vetoed by Governor Baker.


Baker-Polito administration announces emergency orders to mitigate hospital staffing shortages

The Baker-Polito administration announced a series of emergency orders to address waning hospital care capacity onJan. 14, following a surge of COVID-19 cases statewide. The measures focus on reducing unnecessary emergency room visits andincreasing the flexibility of hospital workers who have been subject to staffing shortages, given the rapid escalation of cases. 


Medford police department to implement body cameras

The City of Medford released a statement on Jan. 10 announcing they will begin using body cameras across the police department, beginning tentatively in fall 2022. According to the statement, the city and police department signed a five-year deal with Motorola Solutions, a data communications company, for the cameras to equip Medford's 100-person police department. The contract is reported to have cost $330,000.


MBTA begins testing trains on GLX

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) has begun testing trains along the Green Line Extension (GLX), which was originally stated to open by the end of 2021 and is now scheduled to open in summer 2022. Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, along with Somerville Mayor Katjana Ballantyne and former Mayor Joe Curtatone, rode a part of the GLX on Dec. 30, 2021, reflecting the Somerville community's anticipation of the project's completion.


Somerville recognized as one of 95 global climate action leaders

The city of Somerville, one of Tufts’ host communities, was recently recognized as a global leader in the fight against climate change. The Carbon Disclosure Project, a nonprofit, ranked Somerville as just one of 95 cities around the globe working transparently to stave off the effects of climate change in 2021.