Monday, April 7, 2014

Leading the Nation in Clean Energy

Massachusetts is leading the nation in clean energy and energy efficiency. Not only do we have a great record of decreasing our state fossil fuel emissions, but we are investing in innovative green technology practices. We are attracting clean energy tech companies to our Commonwealth, and we are creating clean energy jobs right here in Massachusetts.

Our Green Communities Act is working; a recent report projects that it will result in $1.2 billion in economic benefits, 16,000 jobs and a decrease of 31 million metric tons of fossil fuel emissions. In 2006, Massachusetts had the capacity to produce 3.5 megawatts of solar power. Today we can produce 464 megawatts of solar, enough to power 70,000 Massachusetts homes.  Massachusetts-based nonprofit Green Schools, has joined our STEM education efforts to engage over 200,000 students in clean energy and technology programs to better prepare Massachusetts’ youth for our future energy climate and workforce needs.

Thanks to Governor Patrick, Democratic leaders in the legislature and our wonderful activists, Massachusetts is creating innovative energy policy that will have both economic and environmental benefits for generations to come.

But as always, we need your help to continue to push your communities forward. Is your community eligible to become a Green Community? Should you consider putting solar panels on your home or business?

To continue to lead and innovate, the Commonwealth needs everyone engaged and at the table.

John Walsh
Executive Director
Together PAC

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Let's change the way we view addiction

Catherine was a 13-year-old in a middle class family, when she used Oxycontin for the first time at a party. Her friends took prescription drugs, and she thought it was the way to socialize. Within weeks, she was dependent on Oxycontin and spent years stealing and borrowing to feed her habit. Eventually, she moved to heroin — it was cheap and easy to obtain. For years she used heroin, falling deeper and deeper into an addictive spiral. Fortunately, after years of drug addiction she found the strength to get help. She has been sober for 10 years and is now raising two children. 

Not everyone’s story ends this way. 

Today we face a tragic and unprecedented health care epidemic fueled from the rapid rise of addiction to powerful narcotics, which are plentiful and highly addictive. This health crisis stems from the medicine itself. And, regrettably, we have been here before. Heroin itself was legally sold on the market briefly in the early 1900s as a cough suppressant until it was outlawed as addiction became widespread. We have recreated this tragedy with oral narcotics 100 years later. And, it may get worse with the recent approval of an even more powerful narcotic, Zohydro. The abuse of these prescription drugs has skyrocketed over the past 15 years and has precipitated a crisis of opiate and heroin addiction among young people throughout our Commonwealth. According to national survey data, in Massachusetts 9.6 percent of our citizens age 12 and older were either dependent on or abused drugs or alcohol. That figure was 23.4 percent for 18-to-25 year olds. 

Hundreds have died of heroin overdose deaths in Massachusetts since November. This is only the tip of a very large and destructive iceberg growing out of sight in many of our communities. 

Massachusetts has often been a leader in treating addiction problems in the past, but we are overwhelmed with the rapid rise and huge scale of this epidemic. Why?

We are failing to treat this crisis with the urgency and mobilization of resources it needs, because as a Commonwealth, we are still not seeing this tragic epidemic for what it truly is. Addiction is a public health issue, but still carries the stigma of many of our outdated prejudices. Too many of us still view addiction as a character flaw, or a moral failing, or a failure that stems from poor parenting or poor values. These old attitudes borne over generations die hard, and exhibit themselves in subtle but obstructive ways. Because addiction is a health issue, it is just as if someone has diabetes, heart disease or suffers from cancer. The stigma of addiction traps us in antiquated thinking and prejudice, preventing us from radically changing our approach to prevent further destruction. 

Our “old way” of thinking about addiction is costing us too much.

Families struggle to find where their loved ones can get treatment and are oftentimes denied access by insurance.

County jails are full of youths with minor non-violent drug offenses often related to their addiction, yet they are held at a huge cost to the Commonwealth, without getting the proper treatment they need while incarcerated.

We do not have enough beds in our treatment facilities of all types across the Commonwealth.
Current medical practice is often inconsistent regarding replacement drug therapy versus full rehabilitation, often leading to confusion and ineffective treatment. 

Insurance coverage presents too many barriers to proper rehabilitation and often interferes with the much needed continuity of treatment, sending our young ones back into a cycle of using and addiction.

We must have widespread re-education of physicians on pain control and proper use of narcotics. 

We need to dramatically increase our efforts to educate our students and encourage discussion in our communities on the dangers of prescription drugs and heroin.

We need political leaders who will aggressively push the FDA and the pharmaceutical industry to develop and approve safer drugs that are much less addictive. We must say no to the FDA on Zohydro.

The ability to stop this tragic epidemic is within our means. But, it must start with removing the stigma. Changing our approach virtually pays for itself, and can save the lives of so many of our fellow citizens. We need a call to arms. Strong leadership from our political leaders is necessary to lead us to this new understanding, and away from the old attitudes which are holding us back. When we recognize this tragic disease for what it is — a preventable health problem — we will be able to put the pieces together to truly change the world for tens of thousands of families in our Commonwealth.

Joe Avellone is a Democratic candidate for governor. Steve Tolman is president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Joe Pacheco for State Representative Fundraiser

Please join The Committee to Elect Joe Pacheco for an upcoming fundraiser.

Date: March 27, 2014
Time: 5:30-7:00 PM
Location: Harry's La Casa Mia

Suggested donation is $100.00. You can donate online by clicking here.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Joe Pacheco for State Representative

Two weeks after acknowledging that he was reaching out to local residents, leaders
and families and conducting a poll to gauge support for a state campaign, Raynham Selectmen
Chairman Joseph R. Pacheco announced that he is officially entering the race for State
Representative for the 8th Plymouth District.

“As a leader who has always been proud to call our communities home, I’m running for state
representative to bring a stronger voice for Bridgewater and Raynham families to Beacon Hill,” said Pacheco, who last year was elected to his third-term on the Raynham Board of Selectmen.
Pacheco, a self-described moderate Democrat, said this campaign will be about leadership and
delivering for the district. He noted that he has received overwhelming and bipartisan support from
residents in both communities over the past month who praised his common-sense approach to
grow jobs, to hold the line on spending and to consistently stand-up for local families.

“We need a representative who delivers and puts the needs of our families and communities first.
We need a representative who will fight for jobs and economic development, for business growth
and prosperity, for stronger educational opportunities and for the health and safety of every
resident,” he added. “I’m running for state representative because we can do better and because
this is the work that I’ve always been proud to do.”

A vocal supporter of the redevelopment of Raynham Park, Pacheco has been a tireless advocate
for the job growth and economic benefits such a project will bring, but added that the two
communities missed a huge opportunity because they haven’t had a dedicated partner advocating
for the same needs on Beacon Hill.

“Bringing expanded gaming to Raynham Park has been a top priority for local residents, officials
and the entire region in terms of a strengthened economy, hundreds of jobs, millions of dollars in
revenue and more support for local businesses, but our current representative was nowhere to be
found when it came to carrying the ball in state government,” said Pacheco. “He was silent when it
came to weighing-in on one of the most important issues of our time.”

As selectman, Pacheco has built a reputation as a tireless fighter for local residents and businesses.

He has helped to craft conservative municipal budgets that have preserved core services and
invested in town and school infrastructure, and he has also worked to attract and spur enhanced
business growth in Paramount Park and along the Route 44 business corridor.

He stressed that these experiences would allow him to bring a local perspective to the State House
to bring home results for the two communities.

“You really need to know the pulse of our communities to be an effective leader. You have to listen,
you have to be accessible, and you have to be working all the time,” he added. “The bottom line is
that you have to care. That is what I’ve always been about, and that’s why I look forward to
continuing my conversations with Bridgewater and Raynham families so I can earn their vote and be their voice on Beacon Hill.”

Pacheco plans to officially kick-off his campaign with a fundraising event next month. Those
interested in reaching out to him with any questions or to get involved in the campaign can reach
him at or on Facebook at Joe Pacheco for State Representative.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Emily's List Endorses Maura Healey

Dear Friend,

Great news – I’ve been endorsed by EMILY’s List!

This week, as we continue to celebrate women’s contributions to our public life, I’m also honored to announce that two remarkable women have joined my campaign as co-chairs of our Women’s Steering Committee, Barbara Lee and former federal Judge Nancy Gertner.

Barbara and Nancy have made women’s rights, fair pay and access to health care central causes of their lives. I am honored to have them on my team.

I’m also thrilled to announce that I’ve been endorsed by the Feminist Majority. See our press release for more details.

These women and organizations know that we need an Attorney General who will take on the tough fights for women and make sure that Massachusetts continues to lead the nation.

Please sign up here to join EMILY's List, Barbara Lee, Judge Gertner and the Feminist Majority in contributing to our campaign!

Thank you for being part of this,

Maura Healey

Candidate for Attorney General