Happy Labor Day

There are so many things to write about on labor day.   The contributions of organized labor to this country are profound and so ubiquitous that many don't even know whom they should thank.  (weekends, 8 hour work days...etc)

My favorite job of all time was as a union rep at the musicians union.  Everyday was creative problem solving, everyday was helping working musicians.  I think it was this experience that makes me want to be city councilor.  


I thought it might be fun to tell one of my favorite stories from my days as a union business representative. 

my old stomping grounds in Hollywood

my old stomping grounds in Hollywood

I was a live performance business representative for the Los Angeles chapter of the American Federation of Musicians (LOCAL 47!).   One day I got a call from a woman, let’s call her Deb, who was upset that a gig she had at a local restaurant was cancelled two days before it was supposed to happen.  I told Deb that what she is describing would violate the terms of the live performance contracts.  I asked if she had already filed the contract with us or, if not, could she forward me the signed contract.  She then told me that she had never joined the union, but was hoping that there might be something we can do.

I will admit for a second there I was stumped.  I had never had a non-member call and ask for assistance before.  But I quickly realized that the union exists to help musicians. Period.  I told her that I would see what I could do, but I managed her expectations.  The employer was under no contractual obligations to offer any relief.
 

I called the restaurant and spoke to the person Deb said she was dealing with.  The manager of the restaurant was actually very willing to talk.  She said that Deb was understandably upset and that there conversation never got anywhere because Deb was angry, got a little profane and hung up on her.  I said that she’d have to understand that, for a self-employed musician, a lost gig could mean the difference between rent and no rent.  The manager explained that the owner of the restaurant had decided to allow a last-minute event at the same time they had scheduled Deb, that the new event did not require music and so she had to cancel.  

I said that I understood.  I also said that had this been a union engagement she would have been required to pay Deb 100% of her wages for a last minute cancellation (the more notice you give to cancel, the lower the amount you owed).  I said that while she was under no obligation to offer relief to Deb, many musicians call my office to ask about live performance venues and that I’d be obligated to say that her establishment has been known to cancel with little notice.  I also said that I really don’t want to do any such thing because I appreciate that they hired live musicians at all. I told her that it would be much better to tell musicians that the venue had been known to reschedule at the last minute.  The manager appreciated that I wanted to find a compromise and she told me to have Deb call for immediate rescheduling for the following week.

I called Deb and she was very relieved to have the gig back on the books.  She said that she didn’t really know the union did this for its musicians.  She was under the impression that they just take 3% of her gig.  I said the union provides health insurance, pension, contract enforcement, job placement, breaks, overtime, etc.   I told her that she should talk to other union musicians and not get all her info from employers.  Deb said she was interested in joining. But, it was at the end of my time there and we moved to Quincy a couple weeks later.  I hope Deb joined.

Unions exist to help all workers, not just their members.   Happy Labor Day!

Quincy is Everything Q&A


Candidate Name: Joseph Murphy (Joe)
Years in Quincy: 10
Occupation: Assistant Director for Administration, MIT Center for Bits and Atoms
Political Party: D
What are you running for? Quincy Ward One, City Council

Yes or No or Neutral: I want to abide by the “Yes, No, Neutral” format, but please do see notes below.

Should Quincy be a Sanctuary City? Yes 

Is Global Warming real? Yes

Do you favor Cannabis Shops? Yes

Do you believe “Sober Houses” belong in residential neighborhoods? yes

Should Jaywalking be enforced? yes

Should the city be doing more for addicts? yes

Is Quincy on the right path to success? No

Should Quincy have a full time water ferry to Boston? Harbor Islands? Yes

Should low income housing be mandatory for new construction? Yes

Notes: 
Sanctuary City: Please read my full answer here: https://www.votejoemurphy.com/blog/sanctuary-city
In short, the current QPD policy is good, I want those who would be affected by this issue to know this policy.  If we decide not to make this designation, a discussion on it will go a long way to making this policy known.

Cannabis shops: I am in favor of legal marijuana.  I believe it reduces the amount of people being arrested for possession, cultivation, and distribution.  This saves jurisdictions significant money that comes from the criminalization of marijuana.  It also adds tax revenue and keeps the substance safer. 
That being said, we have to demand that dispensaries are extremely good citizens.  They should go above and beyond to make their neighbors comfortable.  Their properties should be immaculate and their landscaping and exterior should add to the neighborhood.

Sober houses: are an important part of our battle against addiction.  By ostracizing addicts and making them live away from “mainstream” everyday society in a sterile or institutional setting, we risk pushing them into a subculture that finds itself often in a revolving-door spanning recovery and relapse.
Again, it is incumbent on these sober houses, and their residents, to be exemplary neighbors and contributors to the community. 

Jaywalking: Egregious, dangerous, or obstructive jaywalking should be fined like other traffic violations.  We all need to share the road and think of others as we traverse the city.

Housing: We need affordable housing in Quincy.  If elected, I will work to make sure truly affordable housing (some of what is considered “affordable” by government regs is still too high for many people) is available in Quincy.  But I will stand against developers who try to pervert the 40b housing laws to push in a project that does not fit with the integrity of our neighborhood. 

Is Quincy on the right path?  Not totally.  While we are doing some good things in Quincy, our priorities are often out of whack.

Question and Answer: 

1. How will you encourage the strengthening and enforcement of city regulations to make businesses, tenants and homeowners to keep their property clean? Not pave over their lawns and shovel their walks.

Neighbors should be able to easily and anonymously report properties that they are concerned about.  If you notice someone preparing to pave over a lawn, you should immediately be able to contact inspectional services who will investigate the situation promptly to see if this is an approved project and shut it down if necessary. Folks should be able to report troubling maintenance issues so that the city may be able to warn a homeowner before it reaches the level of blight.
Many homes are in disrepair because of financial hardships.  It is my hope that in the tight-knit communities we have in Quincy, neighbors may be able to help neighbors avoid the fines that can come from leaving a property in a blighted condition.  
We should also encourage our young people to get into this level of work and help with yard cleanups and lawn and snow maintenance for homeowners that can’t afford to hire a professional and are unable to do it themselves. Not only is this a win/win but that experience is good for our youth. 

2. Is the QPD doing a good job? If not, what will you do to make sure that there is more police presence in our neighborhoods to ensure our safety?

I think QPD does a very good job.  I think any police force benefits from information.  We, as citizens, cannot ignore issues in our neighborhoods and expect the police to know via a crystal ball.  People should obviously call 911 in an emergency, but also avail themselves of QPD’s non-emergency number, 617-479-1212, for lower-level real-time issues.  If you see fresh graffiti, someone yanking on car handles, or generally acting suspicious.  Call it in!   You can also contact Quincy via email and social media with general thoughts and observations that are not time-sensitive.  Quincy PD uses data to set up patrols and deployment.  We need to be their eyes and ears so they can accurately set their officers up for success.

3. What steps will you take to address an alternative education program (Vocational or skilled trade) for High School drop outs with the school committee?

I’ve been championing makerspaces in my campaign since the beginning.  These are digital fabrication laboratories that are accessible to users of all levels.  You can learn about computer programming, CNC design, laser cutters, 3d printing, carpentry, electronics, hand tools, etc.  These skills are marketable.  A makerspace is like shop class for the next century.  https://www.votejoemurphy.com/blog/makerspace
Through my work at MIT, I have help deploy many of these makerspaces throughout the world. I know how to do it and I know the impact they have on communities. 

4. Some argue that the influx of low income residents from out of Boston has caused our school system and social welfare organizations to reach the breaking point. In your opinion, does the state of Massachusetts and the Federal government provide the necessary financial resources to properly meet the need of these newcomers to our city? What can the city council do to improve this situation?

The state and federal government can always do more to fund education.  It might be the most important thing we do as a society.  
Quincy is strong city that will welcome new residents, we need to make sure the state and federal government funding follows these new children here.  
The City Council should also make sure that we have the budget to hire paraprofessionals, specialists, and other staff,  to make sure our dedicated teachers are not overburdened.

5. With all the new high-end condos/apartments building built, do you think it will bring in enough revenue to curb the annual property tax increases?

Partially, but I support facilitating the influx of a variety of new business, as in not more of the same types of business that we tend to have in Quincy, to increase our commercial tax base.  

6. What will you do to drive Quincy’s tourism?
As I stated before, we need a variety of new business types in Quincy.   We need activities that increase quality-of-life, and enrich the Quincy experience.  We should tap into our wonderful coastline with guided and unguided kayak and canoe rentals,  we should tap into our rich history with ghost tours, guided walks, and interactive theatre.  We could have mystery dinners, concerts, community theatre, and local art shows.  Let’s stop outsourcing all our activity to Boston and other communities.

7. Are you a team player or prefer to work by yourself? Team.  I’ll get it done on my own if I have to, but the results are usually better with help.

8. In your own words, your FINAL THOUGHTS, feel free to speak your mind.

I don’t expect everyone to agree with all my answers, but I promise that I will never be afraid to tell you what is on my mind.  And you will always have the chance to speak with me and change my mind if You feel I am wrong.  I will be very accessible as a city councilor, including weekly office hours in locations around ward 1.  If we can’t agree, you will know that I will always take constituent-input seriously.  
I will not hide my view to gain votes. 

I decided to run for office because I love working together with people to help them and solve problems.  Although not a lifelong Quincy resident, my wife and I chose Quincy as our home and as the place to raise our girls.  We come to Quincy with fresh eyes.  That means I don’t have all the shared experiences that many of you may have from growing up here.  But, I also don’t owe anyone a favor.  I don’t think we have to keep doing the same things over and over again while expecting better results, just because that’s how it’s always been.  And I'm not going to worry about which “important” person I have to please to gain (or stay in) office.  I'm not afraid to lose doing while doing what's best for my ward and my city. 
While you’d want much of your city council to be staffed by long-term residents, there should be a place for fresh ideas.  I have lived in several parts of the country and can be a source of a new perspective, while still loving Quincy, while still wanting my daughters’ home town to be the best it can be.

9. What's your website?
www.votejoemurphy.com or www.facebook.com/votejoemurphy

10. What's your fondest memory of Quincy?
Well, both my daughters are from Quincy now.   So all the usual milestones, birthdays, Christmas times, first steps, first days of schools, and such have made Quincy the most important place in the world to me.    But I will never forget buying our home in Houghs Neck, opening up that door for the first time and looking out the kitchen window at the Ocean.  It flashes through my mind everyday.


 

Merrymount Association Candidate's Night, Ward 1

Had a great time presenting to a nice ward one crowd at Merrymount Ward One Candidate Night.  Special thanks to the Merrymount Association and its president, Mark Sauter for a great event.  

FullSizeRender.jpg.jpeg

 

Video of my presentation is here, thanks to "Quincy Taxpayers Association" youtube channel. 

I also brought along an issues board for the attendees to peruse.  My issues flyer is in a smaller format below, if you can't view it click here

Communicating with constituents

As I have mentioned before, one of the areas I want to see improvements on is communication. How many times have you read in the paper that a community meeting is that very night?  You have no one to watch the kids, or you already committed to another event, and your voice will not be heard at that meeting.   You are left to hope that someone expresses similar thoughts to your own.  Sometimes you don't realize a meeting has happened till you read the meeting recap in the Ledger or Sun.  Meetings are usually posted but it's not always easy to know where to look for them.  

Sometimes, knowing when a meeting is being held in Quincy feels a bit like this.

Sometimes, knowing when a meeting is being held in Quincy feels a bit like this.

If I'm elected, I plan on keeping a comprehensive calendar of all public meetings with a special emphasis on ward one relevant meetings.  This calendar will be in a static web address that you can bookmark and easily find.  For our citizens who have trouble with the internet, the calendar will be mailed out.  The calendar will also be posted in various public locations.  I want every citizen to have the opportunity to be informed and weigh in on these important issues.

As you can see from my social media accounts, blog, and website, I enjoy communicating over the web.   Every constituent who has emailed me, whether supportive or not,  has received an email back from me.   Online communication keeps us up to date and saves on resources like paper and postage.  

However, I won't just rely on the internet to keep in touch with you.  I would welcome handwritten letters, postcards, phone calls, videos, songs, skywriting or interpretive dance. But I'm also thinking of adding an old classic that I am reminded of every day at my job at MIT. Office Hours!

Each week, I will devote a two-hour block to meeting with constituents.   That's eight 15-minute blocks of time.  I will let you know where I'll be (restaurants, parks, etc.) and you can sign up for a 15-minute slot, or if it's slow you can just drop on by.   This face to face time will allow people a chance to vent, to give their opinion, to seek help, to share an idea.  As your city councilor, I want to be available because this whole thing is about helping you.

We will be a better city when everyone gets to participate.   So, if I'm elected, I hope you'll stop by and let me buy you a soda or iced tea and help me get these problems solved.

The Quincy Sun Announcement

The Quincy Sun, a legendary paper in Quincy, announced my candidacy today.  It was thrilling for me.  This campaign has been real for me for a couple months, but today was special.  

The Quincy Sun, May 4, 2017

The Quincy Sun, May 4, 2017

I hope you'll allow me to cheat with this blog post.  I'm working on a couple different topics for in-depth articles like you've seen with my sanctuary city post and mbta post, but I'm still collecting data and writing.  

Today, I'm going to make it easy for you to read the statement I submitted to Mr. Bosworth of The Quincy Sun.  If you are local, I encourage you to pick up a copy of the paper, It is organized and presented much better there.

It is my candidacy in a nutshell and I'm happy to share my thoughts as I presented them to the paper. 

My name is Joe Murphy and I am running to be Quincy’s Ward One City Councilor. My campaign is about enriching life in Quincy, encouraging innovation, reducing waste, and facilitating productive partnerships between the government and private enterprise.  My ideas would better the lives of the people of Ward One and Quincy as a whole.

Originally born in Philadelphia, I discovered the Boston area when I attended the Berklee College of Music.  After graduating, I moved out to Los Angeles to be a professional musician.  I worked as an orchestrator, arranger, and copyist on dozens of major motion pictures, albums, variety shows, and several seasons of American Idol. I was director of Quincy Jones' Score Library and was a union rep for the Los Angeles chapter of the American Federation of Musicians, Local 47. While in LA, I met my wife, Cheryl, a New England native.

Cheryl and I left LA in 2007 when she was accepted to a graduate program at Emerson College. With any community around Boston to choose from, we chose Quincy to be our home.  We rented apartments in Quincy Point while starting our family, and then purchased our own home in Houghs Neck in 2012.

Since coming to Quincy, I have worked at MIT and I am currently Assistant Director for Administration at MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms.  My responsibilities encompass all operational management, from budgeting and grant supervision to intellectual property and corporate sponsor relationships.

With my job at MIT, two energetic young daughters, and an old house that is constantly calling for attention, it would have been easy to sit on the sidelines a bit longer.  But I was inspired to get involved by some recent developments:

Quincy is in the midst of a huge revitalization.  We are seeing unprecedented investment by the city and by real estate developers. In the past several years we have seen our hospital shut down, the last remaining theater gone, and Quincy Center's MBTA parking garage sitting condemned and abandoned for five years.   We are building new schools because the population demands it, but what is being added to enrich our cultural fabric?  

If we are not careful, we could wake up to find a city completely stuffed with high-end apartments, some restaurants, no parking, and absolute gridlock.  Quincy needs to not just make room for housing, it needs to also attract businesses and organizations that enhance the life here.  I will meet with any real-estate developer to discuss their plans, but I will not be accepting contributions from developers in this campaign.  

Now that Quincy is revitalizing, the MBTA has deemed us worthy of some long-needed attention. They are spending $100s of millions to refurbish all four Quincy stations in parallel, with seemingly little regard for the impact on residents. If elected, I will work to check the MBTA and make sure that the T’s budgets and convenience are not prioritized over the needs of Quincy's residents.  

My vision for Quincy embraces innovation by fostering makerspaces, tool-shares, and science concerns so our citizens can fabricate locally while thinking entrepreneurially.  We need to improve our technological infrastructure and bring fiber internet options to Quincy. We can have faster internet at competitive pricing.  Then I want to facilitate partnerships with our city’s artists and use their talents to improve the quality of life with theater, art, music, and creativity.  These ideas can be revenue-neutral by partnerships with small business and organizations whenever possible rather than asking for taxpayer handouts.

Let’s support our law enforcement and immigrant population alike by adopting a “sanctuary/welcoming” designation. I want our first-responders, who risk everything, to know that the satellite emergency room can handle trauma and will remain open permanently.  We will make their lives and ours easier by making the streets traversable with enforced parking laws and an improved snow removal plan.

To protect our environment, we should stop big-box retailers from obscenely throwing away unopened product that could be donated to local charities.  We need to expand the rain-barrel program, ban single-use plastic bags, and offer free lead tests to qualifying homeowners to make Quincy water the first lead-free supply in Massachusetts.

At this pivotal point in Quincy's development, we need fresh leadership with a view towards making Quincy a complete city.  It is a time of great investment, but it is not time to let real estate developers and the MBTA cash-in at the expense of Quincy's citizens.  

I look forward to meeting you all and hope we can work together to make Quincy's revitalization citizen-focused.  Please reach out to me with your thoughts at joe@votejoemurphy.com. For more about me and my vision for Quincy visit www.votejoemurphy.com and @votejoemurphy on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.



 

Should Quincy be a 'sanctuary city'?

Yes. 

There is no simple, official definition of a 'sanctuary city.'  What I envision for Quincy is to publicly declare that our current law enforcement policies will not change.   Quincy Police will arrest people if they break our laws but will not act as immigration agents. Immigration enforcement will be left to the Federal government.  Let me state my case: 

Since its founding, Quincy has been a destination of immigrants and we see evidence of that all around town.   Ward One's Germantown got its name from the many German immigrants who came to work in Quincy's glass works in the 18th century.  The Irish came in the 19th century and now we have one of the highest percentage of Irish Americans in the country.  Most recently,  Quincy has become home to many people from East Asia, giving us a tremendous and thriving Asian American population.  Immigrants literally carved Quincy's legacy out of the granite and that rich tradition demands that we protect and honor our heritage of welcoming new contributors.  It is my opinion that Quincy should be a 'sanctuary city' and at the very least consider this designation with public meetings.  I would also like to hear from you as to your personal thoughts on this issue.  This is a nuanced issue and I want all concerned citizens to have their voices heard. 

New England Factory Life-"Bell-time."  Winslow Homer

New England Factory Life-"Bell-time."  Winslow Homer

I know some will argue that I'm conflating immigrants with undocumented or illegal aliens.  That's a fair point.  There are many immigrants who have gone through the strenuous legal immigration process and they should be applauded.  It is my hope that Congress passes legislation that makes it possible for those who are not here legally  to properly register and "get right" with the country.  I do believe the vast majority of people that are here illegally are not acting with malice and I believe they respect America and our laws.  They are simply trying to provide a better life for their families.

The 'sanctuary cities' discussion touches on many pressing issues including:

  • the role of our law enforcement  
  • our budget
  • public safety

We have a great police department in Quincy, filled with decent and hardworking men and women.  We don't want these officers used as de facto federal immigration agents.  It increases the burden of their job and diverts our resources.  Further, contrary to popular belief, studies increasingly show that immigrants commit less crime than US-born citizens.  So devoting Quincy resources to apprehending people who have not committed any other serious infraction does not make sense.  

Designating Quincy as a 'sanctuary city' is good fiscal policy.  Cities are not typically reimbursed by the federal government for the costs of enforcing immigration policy.   The added costs of detention, administration, and person-hours would all fall on the city budget.  Further, the legal costs of civil-rights lawsuits that occur due to honoring the requests of the federal agencies can also fall to the city.

But most importantly, we need our immigrant population, both undocumented and documented, to feel safe interacting with our police department and courts.   We want all people to report when they have become the victim of a crime and we want them to step forward when they witness a crime.  If someone is injured or in need of emergency medical treatment, we don't want them to hesitate before calling for help. Even documented residents can hesitate to contact authorities when there is a chance a friend, neighbor, or relative can get swept up by police responding to help or investigate. 

This discussion has reminded me of something I witnessed back in California.  I was renting an apartment in a large complex in Burbank.  The management company hired a crew of workers to re-tar the roof.   The hired crew were Latino in origin and were going to be on our roofs for several days.  One day, while working from home, I heard an awful scream.  I ran outside to see one of the workers in absolute agony as his back was covered in hot tar. An accident occurred and it had been spilled from above on him as he worked below.  I grabbed a fire extinguisher, as there seemed to be some flames on him and on the tar on the ground, and had a neighbor call 911.  In the midst of his agony he managed to yell "No!" when he heard me ask for an ambulance.  He did not want the police or fire companies to come.  Of course his injuries were severe and some of his friends convinced him to sit down while we probably did all the wrong things to help him.  We debated about whether or not removing his clothes would help or hurt, whether or not we should pour water on him.  His crew supervisor and several others fled.   Many of his co-workers stayed and took their chances, but it became quite obvious that the presence of law enforcement was not going to be good.  He was taken away to the hospital and I don't know what happened to him.  But I'll never forget, as his skin was on fire, he did not want me to call for help.  These are the situations I hope to avoid.

Some of you may be concerned that declaring ourselves a 'sanctuary city' would violate federal law.  This is certainly a matter of discussion.  Attorney General Sessions recently announced that the Department of Justice would act to "claw back" certain types of federal grant money from cities that declare themselves 'sanctuary.'   Just like many of the current administration's ideas, I don't think courts will look kindly on this stance.  Federal law does not require local police departments to prolong detention, nor is the job of our city to enforce immigration law.  The statute our Attorney General cited deals with the sharing of information among law enforcement.  I am not calling for Quincy PD to violate that statute.  I am also not calling for Quincy PD to block federal immigration agents from doing their job here. "According to the Quincy Police Department, officers neither seek out undocumented immigrants nor ask about people's immigration status."    I am calling on Quincy to continue their current policy.

If Quincy's PD is already operating in an acceptable manner, why, you might ask, would we take the next step and designate the city as a 'sanctuary?"  Though their policy now is humane and shows discretion, declaring 'sanctuary' makes clear to those who could be impacted that the policy will not change and that, as long as they don't commit a criminal act, the Quincy Police have no interest in detaining them or handing them over to ICE.  Further, as Attorney General sessions threatens to withhold money for funding that would help keep people safe, it is important that the cities and towns of America not bow to pressure and give up their autonomy. 

Clark & Pearce Stone Shed, http://www.quincyquarrymuseum.org/

Some people feel this topic is just too polarizing.  But just because an issue is divisive and it stokes strong opposing views, that is not a reason not to examine or discuss.   I, and many others, call on the city to rise to this challenge. Let us compile and examine the data and have discussions (you may recall from reading my "why I'm running" page that discussions were quashed recently).  For instance, I'd like the city to let us know how much we have received in the types of grants that are at risk of being "clawed back" if we make this designation?  We have a foreign-born population of nearly 30%, how many do we estimate are undocumented?  Of those undocumented, how many have children here?  Are spouses? Run businesses?   These are the types of concerns we should be thinking about.

Quincy is at risk of finding itself on the wrong side of history.  It is at risk of betraying its heritage and soul. Let us consider this carefully and make a decision that takes into account what is practical and what is right.