Joe Gravellese to host Live Stream with State Representative Lori Ehrlich to discuss gas leaks and energy policy

On Thursday, July 2 at 6 PM, Joe Gravellese, a candidate for State Representative in Revere, Chelsea and Saugus, will host a Virtual Town Hall on Facebook Live with State Representative Lori Ehrlich (D-8th Essex), one of the Legislature’s leading energy and environmental policy experts, and a lead sponsor of a several bills that are now law that tackle the issue of gas leaks in terms of public safety, labor, environment, and consumer protection.

“Every year, leaking gas pipes add to our utility bills, kill trees, and needlessly put methane into the atmosphere, contributing to pollution and climate change. Thanks to the work led by Rep. Lori Ehrlich when I worked in her office, utility companies are accountable to track these leaks publicly, and work to speedily repair some of the most dangerous leaks. But even under Massachusetts’ aggressive law, thousands of leaks across the state remain unrepaired every year,” said Gravellese, who was legislative director in Ehrlich’s office from 2013-2016.

“The new 2019 gas leaks map is out, and it shows that there are 271 gas leaks that we know about that remain unrepaired in Revere, Chelsea, and Saugus. There are actually a few in Revere that date back to 2003, including one on Washington Ave and one on Park Ave,” he continued.

“The fact that we even know about these leaks at all is in part thanks to the law Rep. Ehrlich wrote. She and I will continue to fight on Beacon Hill to make sure that even the leaks the utility companies deem to be “low grade” and supposedly not dangerous to buildings are repaired, because even the ones that aren’t at risk of imminently blowing up buildings still cause pollution and increase your gas bills.”

The video will be streamed live on Gravellese’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/joegrav, on Thursday at 6 PM, and will later be shared on YouTube.

My letter to the Revere City Council and School Committee concerning education budgets

To the Mayor; to Ward 6 Councilor, Mr. Serino; to the Councilors-at-Large, and to the School Committee:

I am writing in support of a motion pending before the City Council to reinstate Whelan School educators Heather Kantrowitz, Katie Cochrane, and Victoria DeVincent, who were recently non-renewed. All three held vital positions which will surely be filled in some capacity this fall – two elementary school teaching positions, and one K-5 counselor – and all three had exemplary reputations with students and parents. 

Residents of our community have consistently supported labor and collective bargaining rights, and we must continue to do so in this instance. I appreciate that many of you have been among those who have championed labor rights and hope that your support will extend to Revere’s educators. In light of the budget crunch Revere will face in coming years, it would be self-defeating for the city to rack up legal fees in a protracted fight with Revere educators – especially ones with such positive reviews, occupying positions that must be filled. 

Beyond Monday’s council motion, I also want to go a step further and ask the Council to make sure ongoing budget conversations in the coming weeks focus on how we can prevent cuts to education, both in FY21 and beyond – especially in light of DESE’s guidelines for fall school reopening. 

The guidelines laid out are incredibly staff-intensive, and if anything, will require new hires. Additionally, economically disadvantaged students in our community are particularly vulnerable to disruptions in learning caused by the COVID-19 crisis, and need the support of teachers and school counselors to get back on track academically. Protecting Revere Public Schools from any layoffs should be our city’s first budget priority. 

All across the Commonwealth, cities and towns are reckoning with big, long-term questions about budget priorities, and how we can shift our focus away from outdated policies around incarceration and punishment, and toward policies that invest in and support youth. We have not really seen a similar conversation here in our community yet during the budget process so far. That needs to change. 

As a community with a high percentage of low-income students and students of color, our local officials should also be leading the charge on state-level conversations about how to make public education more well-rounded and child-centered, and pushing the state legislature to adopt forward-thinking budgets that provide the revenue needed to center education and community investment. 

I know these types of processes can and should be deliberative, and I also know that much of our budget fate is not directly within the city’s control. But these conversations need to start somewhere – and this moment of reckoning in terms of both our budget and our priorities seems like a good time to start.

I appreciate your urgent attention to these matters, and hope for your continued support for public education. Our public school system has been a consistent point of pride for our city, but we can only keep it strong by properly investing in it, and by maintaining positive relationships with those who serve our students. 

Sincerely,

Joe Gravellese

37 Sweeney Ave #2

Revere 

Fighting For Workers’ Rights: My Agenda For Labor

In an election year, everyone claims to support working people. The way we can truly show we care about workers is by supporting ambitious policy that defends collective bargaining rights, ensures workplace safety, and fights for fair wages and better opportunities for working families.

I’m proud to introduce my campaign’s agenda to fight for working people if elected State Representative by the voters of Revere, Chelsea, and Saugus on September 1:

Cracking down on wage theft: We need legislation that holds large contractors accountable for hiring subcontractors who stiff workers, undercut unions, and shirk safety rules. We need zero tolerance for this behavior and must pass the wage theft bill that continues to languish in the House each year. 

Emergency paid sick time: Essential workers like grocery store workers, healthcare workers, bus drivers, and others on the frontlines of COVID-19 should be covered by emergency paid sick time until the pandemic is over. Nobody should have to choose between feeding their families and staying home when they’re sick, especially when they risk spreading a deadly virus.

Harnessing investment in Greater Boston: When commercial projects like the Suffolk Downs development take place, we need to make sure labor agreements include funding for job training, to help build the pipeline to union jobs for residents of that neighborhood.

Building the pipeline: We need an ambitious plan to clear the waiting list for vocational and technical education. Thousands of students want to learn skills that can help them enter a trade, and we need to unlock their ability to do so.

A voice in safety regulations: Labor must be represented on all boards that set safety requirements on job sites. A key priority for Operating Engineers is to have a voice in determining who is eligible for a hoisting license. Labor leaders across the state fought to have frontline workers represented in discussions on safely restarting economic activity. We must always include worker representation in these discussions.

Affordability and transit: Working people can’t get ahead if they can’t afford to live in communities with adequate access to jobs and transportation. We need regional rail, better bus service, repairs to the subway system, and other investments that will reduce traffic and increase equitable access to jobs and housing. These investments will also help us tackle escalating cost of living.

Structural reforms: Every year at the State House, popular legislation – like the bill cracking down on wage theft – dies without ever coming to the floor for a public vote. I am the only candidate in this race to sign the Act on Massachusetts Transparency Pledge, pushing to make more votes public so more well-supported ideas can get to the Governor’s desk and into law.

If elected this fall, I’ll keep all of these items on the forefront as I work in the Legislature.

I’ve demonstrated my commitment to working families not only through my policy agenda, but also through my work in the trenches of state government. As Legislative Director to Rep. Lori Ehrlich when she was vice chair of the Labor and Workforce Development committee, I played a role in passing a bill that protects workers from exploitative noncompete agreements, and pushing for legislation that prevents workers from being unfairly classified as independent contractors.

I have a long, well-documented history of standing up for what I believe in – not just what is politically expedient. What I believe in is fighting for the working families of Massachusetts. You can count on me to do just that if elected as your next State Representative – and this agenda will be at the core of living up to my promise.

Revisiting the agenda for Clean Air, Clean Water, and a Healthier Massachusetts

*Repost:

Harvard’s School of Public Health recently published a study proving what those of us living in Revere, Chelsea and Saugus already know – that even small increases in air pollution lead to dramatically higher risks from COVID-19. This is part of why working-class neighborhoods like ours are the hardest hit. 

Even before this pandemic, air pollution has been linked to tens of thousands of deaths annually – a toll that has only increased as the Trump administration has rolled back critical air quality protections.

Revere, Chelsea and Saugus are especially vulnerable to environmental hazards. 

From the Wheelabrator plant in Saugus, to the continued unchecked expansion of Logan Airport without proper mitigation, to escalating tailpipe emissions due to underinvestment in public transportation, to proposed new fossil fuel infrastructure, working-class communities like ours bear the brunt of environmental burdens. 

As such, the next State Representative for the 16th Suffolk District must push for an aggressive agenda to make Massachusetts cleaner, greener, and more sustainable – for the sake of the environment, and for public health. 

If elected, you can count on me to fight for cleaner air and public health, through these important priorities:

Clean, renewable energy: Massachusetts must move rapidly to 100% clean, renewable energy. By doing this, we can make our air and water cleaner, combat climate change, protect coastal communities, and create thousands of good jobs. 

The manufacturing and installation of solar panels is already one of the fastest growing industries in the country, and we can strengthen it locally by removing unnecessary caps on solar net metering incentives in Massachusetts. We can also become a global leader in offshore wind by improving the permitting process to get those projects online. We need to kickstart these industries and hasten the transition to clean energy by opposing any new fossil fuel infrastructure.

Right now, Massachusetts is only on track to reach a standard of 100% clean energy by 2095. This is not acceptable. Our lungs and our coastline can’t wait until 2095.

Stronger environmental enforcement: When the Wheelabrator plant keeps residents of Revere and Saugus awake at night, remember that these risks increase due to understaffing of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

After the last recession in 2008, DEP was hit by a round of staff retirements, and these employees were never properly replaced. We now have the lowest staffing level in 12 years at the agency whose job it is to make sure our air is clean and our water is safe. This trend continues across other environmental agencies, which receive $50 million less in funding annually now than they did in fiscal year 2001.

We are about to enter into another challenging period with the state budget. But when we get to the other end of this – and we will – we cannot repeat the same mistakes we made after the last recession and keep up austerity budgets. We need to properly invest in environmental protection, and make sure we dedicate at least 1% of the state budget to the environment.

Zero-waste: Massachusetts must pursue zero-waste policies, so there’s less of a need for facilities like a trash-burning incinerator in the first place. There are several tools we could use to do this, such as policies that promote producer responsibility, and those that encourage reuse and recycling. 

Reforming land use and transportation: The average resident of Massachusetts drove 30% more miles per person in 2017 than they did in 1981. Between underinvestment in public transportation, poor land use policies, and the explosive expansion of ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft, pollution from tailpipe emissions is escalating around the state. Smarter land use policies and proper investment in transportation will help make our air cleaner and reduce carbon emissions while making Greater Boston more livable and economically productive. We need reliable regional rail, more frequent and reliable bus service, and repairs to the core subway system.

Defining environmental justice: The state constitution declares that all residents have the right to be protected from environmental pollution. But in reality, low-income communities are likelier than wealthier ones to be home to environmental hazards. We need to define environmental justice in state law, ensuring that lower-income communities aren’t overly burdened by environmental hazards compared to wealthier ones. 

***

By taking these steps, we can create a new generation of well-paying jobs, fight against the impacts of climate change, and make our communities more resilient to public health hazards – from pandemics like COVID-19, to everyday challenges like asthma. 

Unfortunately, the failure to properly fight for environmental justice is a bipartisan one. We have a Democratic supermajority legislature, and they’ve not moved aggressively enough toward a fully clean energy future. We will change that only by electing leaders who put environmental justice and public health front and center.

This plan is more important than ever now in the wake of COVID-19. We’ve always known that air pollution is terrible for kids’ academic performance, for rates of asthma and cancer, and for a score of other public health and safety challenges. Now we’re seeing clearly that living in polluted areas puts you at higher risk from COVID-19 – something people in Revere, Chelsea and Saugus know all too well.

If elected on September 1, you can count on me to be a leader on environmental issues. When I worked at the State House, I worked for one of the Legislature’s leading environmentalists, Lori Ehrlich, and I was part of the team that worked to move Massachusetts away from coal, shut down a polluting coal plant in Salem, and hold utility companies accountable for gas leaks.

I will keep up that fight if you send me to the State House as your next State Representative, and work with other environmental leaders around the state to push for cleaner air, cleaner water, and a healthier Massachusetts. 

Iron Workers Local 7 Endorse Joe Gravellese for State Representative

Iron Workers Local 7 has endorsed Joe Gravellese in the race for State Representative in the 16th Suffolk District (Revere, Chelsea, Saugus).

Local 7 represents over 3,500 workers in New England.

“I’ve had great conversations with the people at Local 7 and truly appreciate their advocacy on the issues we care about – strengthening the pipeline to good union jobs by eliminating barriers to vocational and technical education, cracking down on wage theft, and fixing our transportation infrastructure,” said Gravellese.

“It’s been a pleasure getting to know more about the priorities of Local 7 and I look forward to fighting for them and all working people on Beacon Hill.”

Robert MacNeil, President of Iron Workers Local 7, said that Local 7 “wholeheartedly endorsed [Gravellese’s] candidacy,” referencing the importance of doing “the hard work required, such as bringing people together to have challenging conversations.”

Local 7 is the fourth announced building trades endorsement for Gravellese’s Democratic primary campaign, in addition to Operating Engineers Local 4, Tunnel Workers Local 88, and Bricklayers Local 3.

Let’s put a halt to teacher layoffs & support Revere educators

Last week, I was proud to sign on to a petition in support of Whelan School teachers, particularly those who may have been targeted due to standing up for their collective bargaining rights. I also stand with other Revere educators who may be facing layoffs in the coming months due to the budget crisis, and call on the state to do more to ensure educators’ jobs are protected going into a fall semester where they will be more needed than ever.

Even amidst the COVID-19 crisis, billionaire families in Massachusetts have seen their fortunes increase as the markets recovered, even while the rest of us still struggle. While the biggest blame here falls on Mitch McConnell for preventing needed aid to the states, the Massachusetts Legislature can and should take steps to bring in the revenue needed to retain teachers, especially in cities like Revere where many youth are at-risk.

Massachusetts Teachers Association Endorses Joe Gravellese for State Representative

 Breaking news: The Massachusetts Teachers Association has endorsed our campaign!

Together with the 110,000 members of the MTA we will fight on Beacon Hill for universal pre-K, so that all kids show up at kindergarten with an opportunity to succeed.

We’ll work to make sure public education is well-rounded and dynamic, and not just focused on testing.

Thanks to the MTA for your support. They join the Boston Teachers Union in backing our campaign this week, and will work across Massachusetts on September 1 to elect candidates who will be fierce advocates for education and opportunity.

The moment is now for big, structural change

Back on February 28 – which feels like it was a lifetime ago – I was quoted for the first time in the Revere Journal about my interest in the State Representative race. At the time, I said “Revere, Chelsea and Saugus need leadership to fight for big, structural changes” to address environmental and health challenges, housing and education costs, and other major issues facing Massachusetts’ working families. 

“With the state facing such urgent challenges, the voters deserve a race that focuses on where we stand on the issues [and] how we plan to invest in the future of our Commonwealth.”

Sadly, everything that’s happened in the last 3 months has only made it clearer how much we need serious, structural change. 

COVID-19 hit our communities especially hard, exacerbating problems that were already present.

Our local population was already at-risk to respiratory problems due to environmental hazards, like increasing tailpipe emissions, natural gas leaks, the expanded airport, and the nearby incinerator. These risks contributed to our high rate of COVID-19 infection. Back in March, I laid out an aggressive agenda to address environmental hazards. It’s never been clearer that our next representative needs to get to work immediately on environmental policy. 

Our residents were also vulnerable due to inadequate transportation and overcrowded housing. Maps of COVID infection tracked closely with areas where people rode delayed and cramped buses to work, or lived in crowded indoor settings. Before COVID hit, my campaign was laser-focused on ways to improve our transportation system; these investments are now even more important.

Essential workers like grocery store employees, healthcare workers, and bus drivers found that the government was quick to clap for them and arrange flyovers, but slow to acquire needed PPE or give them representation on discussions about how to reopen. We are still waiting for the Massachusetts Legislature to pass additional emergency paid sick time, to ensure that essential workers don’t have to choose between getting a paycheck and going to work with symptoms while COVID is still with us.

The national outcry over the killing of George Floyd put another crisis on our plate. This one has been especially traumatic for our young people and our communities of color. The ensuing dialogue has forced us to look hard not only at our public safety policies, but also at how lack of access to education and opportunity has entrenched inequalities. 

Why are thousands of kids sitting on waiting lists to attend vocational schools? Why do we not have more programs like ROCA in Chelsea, which connects at-risk local youth to job opportunities to help them get on the right path? Why is our transportation system limiting access to good jobs for working-class people? Why are we letting lower income communities get their school budgets devastated by funding cuts, when higher-income communities will be shielded due to their property tax base?

I stand by my comment back in February that we need big, structural change. Recent months have made it clear. If we respond to this moment of crisis correctly, we can build a Commonwealth that is stronger, healthier, and more equitable – but we need leadership willing to fight to make it happen. If elected on September 1, I pledge to work with leaders across the Commonwealth to transform our education, transportation, and public health policies. 

Boston Teachers Union Local 66 Endorses Joe Gravellese for State Representative

The Boston Teachers Union Local 66 has endorsed Joe Gravellese for State Representative in the 16th Suffolk District (Revere, Chelsea, Saugus). Gravellese is a candidate in the Democratic primary election on September 1.

The BTU represents over 10,000 teachers, school nurses, guidance counselors, and other public education professionals. 

“The Boston Teachers Union is proud to endorse Joe Gravellese to represent Suffolk’s 16th,” said Jessica Tang, President of the Boston Teachers Union.

“Joe has demonstrated a commitment to ensuring every child has access to a well-rounded, high-quality public education, and tackling the inequities that prevent many students from reaching their full potential. He understands that top-down policies and privatization harm those they are supposed to help.” 

“I’m grateful for the support of the hard working educators of the Boston Teachers Union,” said Gravellese, a 2006 graduate of Revere High School.

“In my campaign, I’ve advocated for policies our students and educators need to thrive. Alongside the BTU, we’ll fight to ensure funding for arts, music, and the humanities; break down inequities in access to education; and invest in the future of all students.”

Sunrise Movement Boston Chapter Endorses Joe Gravellese for State Representative

Joe Gravellese’s campaign for State Representative was endorsed this week by the Boston chapter of the Sunrise Movement, a youth-led organization that seeks to protect the environment, create new jobs, and address the climate crisis, in order to invest in the next generation.

Gravellese is running in the Democratic primary on September 1 in the 16th Suffolk District (Revere, Chelsea, Saugus).

“Joe has extensive experience in both state and city government, achieving environmental legislative accomplishments – including legislation to repair gas leaks, and being part of the team that successfully fought to close the polluting Salem Coal Plant,” said the announcement from Sunrise Boston.

“Joe is centering climate and justice issues, highlighting the connections at every opportunity. He is the candidate in this race truly speaking to the important issues that face young people in Massachusetts today.”

“I’m proud to be endorsed by Sunrise Boston,” said Gravellese. “High school students, college students, and other young leaders are demanding that politicians address their concerns, and invest in their future.” 

“Revere, Chelsea, and Saugus have been particularly hard hit by environmental hazards like increasing tailpipe emissions, polluting fossil fuel infrastructure, and the nearby trash incinerator,” he added. “This added to COVID-19’s horrible impact on our communities. This endorsement reflects the fact that my campaign has made it a priority to address environmental and public health hazards.”

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