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.  

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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.