I spent both yesterday and today attending the Massachusetts Municipal Association’s annual meeting, which was held virtually this year. They employed a platform that was markedly better than my usual Zoom meetings.
Heard a couple of inspiring speeches about leadership, heard a couple of programs about implicit bias, one on state finances, got addressed by both the Lt. Governor and the Governor, and learned about the MIIA price increases for the town’s insurance (5% for health insurance). Because it was all virtual, I can go back for the next month to listen to more of the programs – the MMA usually runs 5-6 concurrent workshops at a time, so one has to pick wisely.
I found it most interesting when Jeff Beckwith, the Executive Director of the MMA asked the Governor a series of questions after the Governor’s remarks, as they were personal questions aimed at how the Governor was doing with the world turned upside down by covid, and the Governor did speak quite personally. The Governor said he used to leave home at 5AM and get home at 9PM because he was usually driving home from some far part of the state, but in a covid virtual meeting world he gets done at 7PM and then walks from his home office to his kitchen to see his wife, and now has time for walks with his wife and reading books.
The Governor recommends reading Lincoln on the Verge (Baker said there was almost no United States left for Lincoln to govern between the time of Lincoln’s November election and his March 3 swearing in), watching Ted Lasso (a comedy on TV), and said:
“public life is a team sport”
“the founders wanted people to have to work together with people with whom they disagree to get things done”
“state and local people are judged by what they accomplish, not by what they oppose”
The Governor and Lt. Governor were both select board members before holding state office, so the MMA is especially fond of them for that and also because they have financially supported municipalities.
The Massachusetts Municipal Association has made The Beacon, its monthly magazine, a PDF and now distribute it digitally. This month I especially took note of:
the discussion of the new police reform legislation
that the “Department of Revenue projects a drop in tax collections of about 6%”
the housing and transportation bills enacted this week
Here’s the January 2021 issue of The Beacon – packed with the latest budget and COVID-related news, updates about the MMA Annual Meeting & Trade Show, information about local and state pandemic response efforts, and details about late-session legislative activity and member group webinars.
By publishing The Beacon as a PDF, we can ensure that we get you the very latest information that you need ASAP. (If you did not receive this email directly, please share your email address with us – along with name, title and city/town – at email@example.com.)
Best wishes to all of you during this challenging time.
MMA Manager of Publications and Digital Communications
Meredith Gabrilska Digital Communications Coordinator
Hello Members! Here’s the November 2020 issue of The Beacon – packed with the latest budget and COVID-related news, updates about the MMA Annual Meeting & Trade Show, information about local and state COVID response programs, and details about our robust member group webinar offerings this fall. Link to the November 2020 issue of The Beacon (no login required) By publishing The Beacon as a PDF, we can ensure that we get you the very latest information that you need ASAP. (If you did not receive this email directly, please share your email address with us – along with name, title and city/town – at firstname.lastname@example.org.) Best wishes to all of you during this challenging time. John Ouellette MMA Manager of Publications and Digital Communications Jennifer Kavanaugh Associate Editor Meredith Gabrilska Digital Communications Coordinator
See the article which I think contains a photo of Medfield’s Jeremy Marsette, DPW Director in Natick –
I attended an on-line Massachusetts Municipal Association program on reopening schools and police reforms. The Massachusetts Municipal Association has now made the program available to hear, so I am sharing the link to do so, as I found it instructive.
Gus and I heard a presentation on institutional racism by Clarence E. Anthony, CEO and Executive Director of the National League of Cities in January 2020 at the Massachusetts Municipal Association annual meeting. I recommend that one clicks on the this link https://youtu.be/ERnSi8s3Oyk, and listen to Tim Wise explain institutional racism in three minutes (starts at about 10:50). The email below came today –
Dear MMA Members,
We are sharing a special message from Clarence Anthony, the CEO and Executive Director of the National League of Cities, providing support for municipal leaders through the Race, Equity and Leadership (REAL) Program. This important initiative was highlighted at our Annual Meeting in January, and is more valuable than ever as a resource for cities and towns, here and across the nation.
Dear NLC Members,
I write to you today as the CEO of the National League of Cities, as your colleague, and as your friend.
As CEO, I want you to know that the National League of Cities is here to support you during this challenging time. As your colleague, I want you to know that I am acutely aware of the leadership demands you are facing right now. As your friend, I want you to know that I am tired of violence towards African Americans by members of law enforcement. I am tired of implicit and explicit racial biases that permeate our society. And I am tired of the inequities in healthcare, finances, education, housing, nutrition and other basic needs.
We have a crisis of humanity in this country, and we’re seeing this crisis reach its boiling point right now. The current situation in America is not just about the murder of George Floyd at the hands of police officers. This is about communities that have been left behind for hundreds of years.
This is about the communities that have been hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. This is about a lack of hope and a lack of agency that is felt throughout the Black community. In the words of civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer, “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired” – that is the feeling of many African Americans in our nation.
You ran for office and work in local government to make a difference in your community. Now, your residents are looking to you for answers, guidance and support.
You have a great power and a great responsibility that no one else in this nation has. You, as the person elected by your neighbors and community members, can make a real difference right now – and your residents are looking to you right now for leadership.
I challenge you to use the power of the pulpit to heal your community and chart a path forward that prioritizes equity and humanity. I challenge you to look to your colleagues in other cities for support and unity. I challenge you to educate yourself on the history of race in your own community and state, because it affects more than the African American communities, it affects all communities of color. And I challenge you to advance policies and programs that will make a difference in the lives of every person of color that rely on you to lead.
In 2014, the National League of Cities created our Race, Equity and Leadership department to strengthen local leaders’ knowledge and capacity to eliminate racial disparities and divisions and to build more equitable communities. It has been an honor to work with many of you over the past six years to advance this mission in your cities.
In the coming days and weeks, we are continuing this work and are working to provide you with the support you need. I encourage you to read and share the resources enclosed below. If you have any questions or feedback, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at email@example.com.
Things will get better. However it is up to us to ensure that we make it better by working together.
Clarence E. Anthony
CEO and Executive Director
RACE, EQUITY AND LEADERSHIP RESOURCES
Responding to Racial Tension in Your City: A Municipal Action Guide
A guide that includes important contextual and tactical information to support your municipality’s efforts to respond effectively. LEARN MORE
Advancing Racial Equity in Your City: A Municipal Action Guide
Compiles six immediate steps for improving outcomes for all residents. LEARN MORE
Repository of City Racial Equity Policies and Decisions
Review examples of concrete policy and budgetary changes local elected officials have made to prioritize racial equity in their cities, towns, and villages. LEARN MORE
My Brother’s Keeper Landscape
City leaders respond the My Brother’s Keeper Community Challenge by tackling the disparities that face our nation’s boys and young men of color (BYMoC). LEARN MORE
Learn how 12 cities and their elected leaders around the country are advancing racial equity in their communities. LEARN MORE
Yesterday afternoon, Gov. Charlie Baker issued an executive order that allows Phase 2 businesses to immediately reopen their physical workplaces to workers in order to conduct preparations for a safe reopening.
Preparations include, but are not limited to, completing a COVID-19 Control Plan, implementing sector-specific protocols, and complying with Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards.
The order also details further requirements for the safe resumption of outdoor dining and amateur youth and adult sports. …
The Massachusetts Municipal Association provides huge amounts of information to municipalities, provides opportunities to share experiences, and publishes a monthly magazine, called the Beacon, which has become a digital document this month – read the May 2020 edition here MMA_Beacon_May2020.
Legislature Enacts Bill to Facilitate Municipal Governance and Budgeting During COVID-19 Emergency
Governor to Sign the Bill Today
April 3, 2020
Last night, the House and Senate enacted a key bill to assist cities and towns with a broad range of governance and budgeting issues during the COVID-19 emergency. This act has an emergency preamble, and will take effect immediately when signed by the Governor, which is expected today. The MMA worked closely with lawmakers and the Baker-Polito Administration on these measures, and deeply appreciates the passage of these important provisions.
The Division of Local Services will have a major role in implementing the finance provisions in the bill, and will be issuing a Bulletin to cities and towns with further details within the coming days. DLS has been a key source of information and guidance during the emergency, and MMA appreciates all of their efforts.
Please click here to download the text of the bill:
The following is MMA’s summary of the key sections of An Act to Address Challenges Faced by Municipalities and State Authorities Resulting from COVID-19:
Town Meeting Delay Beyond June 30. Allows Town Meetings to be delayed beyond June 30 if Governor has declared a state of emergency related to public health or safety. (Section 1).
Recess and Continuance of Town Meeting. Allows the Moderator to recess and continue an already-called Town Meeting during (and until 5 days after) a public health, safety or weather emergency for up to 30 days, renewable for up to 30 days at time during the emergency, but not to a date more than 30 days following the rescission of the state of emergency. If a town does not have a moderator, the Select Board may recess and continue Town Meeting accordingly. A public safety or public health official designated by the Select Board shall submit a report to the Attorney General providing justification for the recess and continuance. These changes are effective as of March 10, 2020. (Sections 2, 3 and 4).
Adoption of Temporary Fiscal 2021 Budgets. If Town Meeting is unable to adopt an annual budget by June 30 due to a declared emergency, the Select Board shall notify the Director of Accounts at DLS, and the Director may approve expenditures from any appropriate fund or account of an amount sufficient for the operations of the Town during the month of July of not less than 1/12 of the total budget approved in the most recent fiscal year, pursuant to a plan approved by the Select Board, with such authority continuing for each successive month that the emergency prevents the adoption of a budget by Town Meeting. (Section 5).
Use of Free Cash and Undesignated Fund Balances. If a Town is delayed from adopting an annual budget due to the COVID-19 emergency, the Director of Accounts may authorize the Town to appropriate (for use in fiscal 2021) from the available undesignated fund balance or free cash certified by DLS as of July 1, 2019, including undesignated fund balances in enterprise funds or special revenue accounts. (Section 6).
Amortization of Fiscal 2020 Deficits. Allows cities and towns to amortize its fiscal 2020 deficit resulting from the COVID-19 emergency over fiscal years 2021 to 2023, to be funded in equal or more rapid installments, such amortization to be adopted prior to setting the fiscal 2021 tax rate. (Section 7).
Use of Revolving Funds. Allows cities and towns that are unable to adopt their fiscal 2021 annual budget due to the COVID-19 emergency to expend amounts from revolving funds not to exceed the authorized expenditure in fiscal 2020. The legislative body shall vote on the total amount to be expended from each revolving fund when the annual budget is adopted. (Section 8).
Tolling Required Action on “Chapter” Lands. Suspends the time period that municipalities are required to act, respond, effectuate or exercise an option to purchase Chapter 61 forest land, Chapter 61A agricultural land, or Chapter 61B recreational land until 90 days after the governor’s March 10, 2020 emergency declaration is terminated. (Section 9).
Option to Delay Property Tax Due Date to June 1. Allows the municipal chief executive to delay the due date for municipal property tax bills to June 1. (Section 10).
Option to Waive Interest and Penalties for Late Payments. Allows the municipal chief executive to waive the payment of interest and other penalties on late payments that were due after March 10, 2020 and paid before June 30, 2020, for any excise, tax, betterment assessment, water or sewer bill, or other charge added to a tax. (Section 11).
Non-Termination of Services to Residents Due to Late Payment. Cities and towns shall not terminate an essential service of a resident, including water, trash collection or electricity, for nonpayment of taxes or fees due on or after March 10, 2020 and paid after the due date but before June 30, 2020, if the nonpayment resulted from a demonstrated inability to pay due to the COVID-19 outbreak or the March 10, 2020 emergency declaration by the governor, provided that the inability to pay shall include a demonstrated financial hardship of a resident, including but not limited to loss of employment, serious illness or death of someone within the home. (Section 11).
State Income Tax Deadline Delayed. Postpones the deadline for filing Massachusetts state income tax returns and payments from April 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020. (Section 12).
Sale of Alcohol by Take-Out Restaurants. Allows restaurants licensed to sell alcoholic beverages on-premises may sell sealed containers of alcoholic beverages for off-premises consumption as part of take-out food transactions. (Section 13).
Facilitating Return to Service by Retirees. Allows state and municipal employees to return to work for the state or a municipality regardless of mandatory retirement ages or a statutory limit on hours worked and earnings received, to help with workforce needs. Those on disability retirement are not eligible. (Section 14).
Remote Meetings for Shareholder Corporations. Allows public corporations (private shareholder entities) to hold annual or special meetings of shareholders remotely for up to 60 days after the termination of the March 10, 2020 state of emergency. (Section 15).
Provisions for Nonprofit Corporations. Allows nonprofit entities (incorporated under Chapter 180) to conduct or postpone necessary business and meet remotely for up to 60 days after the termination of the March 10, 2020 state of emergency. (Section 16).
Tolling Municipal Requirements on Permits and Quasi-Judicial Public Meetings and Hearings (the “constructive approval” issue). Tolls required municipal actions on permits until 45 days after the termination of the COVID-19 emergency, and no permit shall be considered granted, approved or denied, constructively or otherwise due to the failure of a permit granting authority to act within timelines that would otherwise be in effect. This section also clarifies that permit granting authorities may conduct meetings and public hearings remotely during the COVID-19 emergency, consistent with the Governor’s March 12 Executive Order regarding the Open Meeting Law. This section also applies to the conduct of public meetings, public hearings or other actions taken in a quasi-judicial capacity by all local boards and commissions during the emergency declaration by the governor. (Section 17).
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health reports that the risk of COVID-19 to the general public in Massachusetts remains low.
In response to the coronavirus outbreak, the DPH has:
Established an Incident Command Structure to facilitate regular dissemination of information from federal and state partners to statewide stakeholders
Launched a new website that provides up-to-date information on the status of novel coronavirus for all residents (www.mass.gov/2019coronavirus)
Developed and disseminated clinical advisories to all Massachusetts health care providers and issued guidance to hospitals, health systems and Emergency Medical Services
Scheduled calls with other key health care partners including local boards of health
On Feb. 28, the Massachusetts State Public Health Laboratory received approval to begin testing patients for COVID-19, in accordance with guidance from the U.S. CDC. Only those who are experiencing flu-like symptoms and have recently traveled to China or have had close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 should be tested, according to the DPH.
Those who have traveled to affected areas within the past 21 days are advised to contact their local board of health or health department. Those who have recently traveled to affected areas and are experiencing lower respiratory illness symptoms, such as, but not limited to, fever, cough, and shortness of breath, are advised to also contact their health care provider immediately.
Clinicians who have patients they think may have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 should contact the DPH via the 24/7 EPI line (617-983-6800).
Individuals who are in voluntary self-quarantine continue to be monitored by their local boards of health.
Currently, there is no vaccine available to prevent COVID-19 and no medication available to treat the disease. Treatment is supportive care and relief of symptoms.
Local officials are encouraged to remind residents and businesses of the following best practices to avoid exposure to the virus:
Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds at a time.
Using alcohol-based hand rubs and gels.
Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
Avoid sharing food utensils, containers and other personal items.
Those who have any cold or flu symptoms can help others by:
Staying home when you are sick.
Covering your cough or sneezes.
Wearing a mask if you leave home and have a cough.
This is a rapidly evolving situation, and this information may change as updates are available from the DPH and U.S. CDC.
I started this blog to share the interesting and useful information that I saw while doing my job as a Medfield select board member. I thought that my fellow Medfield residents would also find that information interesting and useful as well. This blog is my effort to assist in creating a system to push the information out from the Town House to residents. Let me know if you have any thoughts on how it can be done better.
For information on my other job as an attorney (personal injury, civil litigation, estate planning and administration, and real estate), please feel free to contact me at 617-969-1500 or Osler.Peterson@OslerPeterson.com.