106 and counting. That's how many citizens, so far, have signed on as cosponsors to the Vaccine Equity Act after state Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz implored people to do so. Chang-Díaz (D-2nd Suffolk) is a lead sponsor of the bill with Sen. Becca Rausch. People of color account for 51 percent of COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts, but only 15 percent of those who’ve received vaccines to-date, according to statistics cited by Chang-Diaz. The bill would do the following things:
Require the governor to appoint a vaccine equity director whose sole focus is addressing vaccination disparities rooted in racism, government mistrust, and disparate access to information and resources
Require a robust outreach and communications campaign, both via mass media and direct grassroots tactics (like door-to-door canvassing), aimed at hardest-hit communities
Create a mobile vaccination program for communities with highest COVID rates
Expand Stop the Spread sites to all Gateway Cities
Require transparency about vaccine distribution and implementation plans, including tracking the 20 percent additional doses committed to most-vulnerable communities, the number of unused doses, and key demographic data on vaccinations
The coalition petition also asked Governor Charlie Baker to immediately direct $10 million to trusted community organizations for outreach and engagement in communities of color.
Since Jan. 6's attempted coup at the Capitol a lot has happened in Washington DC, and at our state capital. Our Congressional representatives impeached the president, and our local state officials fought for a climate change bill vetoed by the governor. This is the last week in social media. Both of Jamaica Plain's Congressional Representatives Ayanna Pressley and Stephen Lynch voted to impeach President Trump for inciting insurrection.
State Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz was one of the two senators who led the new police reform legislation from the Senate that Governor Charlie Baker signed into law on New Year's Eve. Along with Chang-Díaz (D-2nd Suffolk), State Sen. William Brownsberger (D-2nd Suffolk and Middlesex) was the other lead sponsor of the bill that the Senate proposed. Massachusetts' House and Senate had separate bills, and the governor came back with changes to their proposed legislation. Ultimately, Massachusetts' legislative and executive branches worked together to create legislation that creates numerous firsts to defeat structural racism. Chang-Díaz commented on the bill after Baker signed it into law.
Racial profiling continues to be a problem in Massachusetts and throughout our country, as people continue to be prejudged because of the color of their skin. Often, police officers will attack first and ask questions later. According to the ACLU Massachusetts, Black and Latinx motorists are significantly more likely to be stopped and have their vehicle searched. A 2018 analysis of Boston court data showed that Black motorists are nearly 15 times more likely to be charged with a motor vehicle offense in certain parts of the city. In the movie The Hate You Give two innocent Black teens are driving on a back road at night enjoying each other’s company when they get pulled over by police for being Black.
Due to the pandemic the MBTA is experiencing a huge decrease in riders this year. That puts a huge dent into their budget, and thus they are proposing service cuts across the board. Last year, MBTA riders took 1.26 million daily trips, and in October 2020, riders took 330,000 daily trips. That's 26 percent of daily ridership compared to 2019, according to the MBTA. Yet, the MBTA has continued to operate at 2019 service levels despite a decrease in ridership.