Summer into Fall 2014 – News, changes, and getting involved with Rebekah Gewirtz Ward 6 Alderman Community Newsletter

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

There is a lot happening in the city right now and I wanted to take this chance to give you an update. I apologize for the lack of a winter and spring newsletter this year. It has been
unusually busy for me since I started a new full time job in January. I have continued working hard on the Board of Aldermen to advocate for issues important in the ward and beyond.

You may have noticed that renovations are underway at Kenney Park! (across from the Rite Aide on Highland Ave). And just this past Thursday night, the Board of Aldermen approved additional funds to support the Davis Sq Streetscape Project, which will break ground in the late spring/early summer of next year.

More below on some of the hot issues on the Board of Aldermen right now, including a comprehensive campaign finance bill we have been working on for over a year. I am chairing the committee that has deliberated over the bill and the first debate on it was this past Thursday (concluding in a 7-4 vote in support). More details in the Constituent Corner section about why one more vote is needed for it to pass and how you can get involved to help!

It is also a state election year this year. My friend and fellow member of the Progressive Democrats of Somerville, Christine Barber, is running for state representative to fill the seat vacated by Carl Sciortino. Carl’s shoes are so big they are very hard to fill, but if anyone can do it, it’s Christine. This is why I am actively supporting her campaign. I hope you’ll join me. Here is a link to her website for more information.

On a more personal note, and in keeping with the title of this newsletter about changes brewing, my husband Andrew and I are expecting a baby in November (on Election Day, of all days). For the first time, I’ll be voting absentee. It seems a better bet than risking a birth in the polling place. We are very excited!

As always, if you can’t make it to monthly alderman meetings but you’d like to watch online, you can do so through the city portal by clicking here. Regular alderman meetings stream live on the web and are broadcast on local cable access.

If you have events or information you would like me to include in a future e-newsletter, please send me an email to:

Happy summer… into the fall!

Constituent Corner

In this section of my newsletter, I’m looking to hear from you on pressing issues before the Board of Aldermen. Feel free to write to me about these issues or any others at any time! I can be reached by email at: or by phone: at 617-718-0792.

1) Developer contributions – campaign finance reform on the city level
Over the past year, the committee on legislative matters, which I chair has been deliberating over legislation that would limit campaign contributions developers can make to elected officials in the city. We finally decided to move forward on a bill that would limit contributions to $250 (from the current $500) from developers of properties over 10,000 sq feet. This would have no impact on ordinary residents or those looking to make home improvements. In a moment when there is so much large-scale development in the city, we wanted to be sure developers aren’t having undue influence. The issue came to a vote on the Board of Aldermen on Thursday night 7/10 and was approved 7-4. The mayor has promised to veto the bill should it reach his desk. In order to override a mayoral veto we need 8 votes. Click here to watch the debate from Thursday night and let me know your opinion on this issue (starting at minute 1:29:50). Also: will you be able to attend the alderman meeting on September 12, 2014? What is your overall take on this issue? I’m curious all thoughts and opinions.

2) Street repaving – the new algorithm?
Recently, I have requested that several streets in Ward 6 be paved since residents have let me know there are potholes or larger problems with the roadway. For the first time in my tenure on the board, I’ve been told that what the people on the street say actually isn’t relevant. Streets will only be repaved in accordance with a new city algorithm. I’m working on getting to the bottom of how this algorithm works. Do you live on or near a street that needs to be repaved but hasn’t been for quite some time? Let me know, I’m compiling a list.

3) Speed bumps and traffic – your honest thoughts
Recently, with the uptick in new speed bumps around the city, I’ve begun to wonder what residents think. Do you think there are too many, just the right amount, or we need more? To my mind, there is always a fine balance between promoting safety by slowing traffic, and allowing traffic to move so we reduce pollution of idling and decrease driver frustration. Let me know your take!
Art Beat 2014 – Hatching!

This year’s Art Beat festival in Davis Square will be NEXT WEEKEND, starting July 18 at 6pm and ending Saturday July 19th at 10pm.

The theme of the festival is “Hatching!” in honor of Somerville as a giant incubator, “one in which ideas, dreams and art percolate and ultimately, hatch”. This year’s ArtBeat theme is a celebration of Somerville’s creative endeavors. “Hatch” evokes many things: chirping chicks breaking out of their shells, emerging creative projects and scientific break-throughs, and indie businesses busting onto the scene.

Unique street festival coming back to Davis Square for 9th year
October 10-12, 2014

This year’s HONK! festival promises to bring even more excitement! Bands are coming from new parts of the world. And as with every year’s festival, there will be lots of opportunities to get involved for the whole family. Check out the HONK website here for more information. I will once again have the honor of issuing the opening honk in Seven Hills Park on Saturday morning. Look forward to seeing you there!
Community Events and Meetings

Neighborhood meeting on the status of the Davis Square Hotel project – late July 2014 (date/location TBD)
There will be another neighborhood meeting about a possible future Davis Square hotel project, which will be the first meeting after the conclusion of last year’s Davis Square by Design project. The date of the July meeting has not yet been set but once it is, announcements will go out via the city and all are welcome to attend.

Community Cooks event at Flatbread Pizza in Davis Square on Tuesday July 22, 2014
Check out the Facebook page for this event to learn more about how to support this great organization and also have fun at their event!

Red Bones Pig Pickin’ event on Chester Street, Monday July 28, 2014 5-9pm
This annual event features live bands and a street party in support of the Somerville Homeless Coalition. It’s one of the most popular events in the neighborhood every year and draws a huge crowd. Last year, I had the chance to talk with Senator Markey at the event. For more information check out the Red Bones website.

Senior Picnic, August 6, 2014 at Powderhouse Park
This yearly event, is free and open to all seniors in the city. The Somerville Council on Aging does a terrific job bringing lunch and entertainment filling up the whole park.

SomerStreets on Holland Ave in Davis Square, Sunday September 7, 2014, 12-4pm
The theme for this SomerStreet is “Strike up the Band”. There will be live musical performances and other activities for the whole family to enjoy.

State primary, September 9, 2014 – All polls throughout Somerville OPEN!
This primary will narrow the field for our gubernatorial candidates and all the consitutional offices. In addition, for those of you living in the 34th Middlesex district, formerly represented by Carl Sciortino, it will be a chance to select the democratic nominee for his seat. As I mentioned above, I am a strong supporter of Christine Barber.

Farmers Market in Davis Square is now open at the Herbert Street parking lot on Wednesdays 12pm-6pm from May-November 2014
What better way to get great produce and support local farmers? The farmers market in Davis Square has a wide variety of fruit and vegetables and other fresh options.

Somerville Homeless Coalition 5K Road Race, Saturday October 4, 2014 9am in Davis Square
This is the 19th annual road race to benefit the Somerville Homeless Coalition. I’m a sponsor of the event as are many local businesses throughout the area. To register, go to the Homeless Coalition website here.

Garden Club Plant Sale, September 20, 2014 9am-1pm in Davis Square in Statue Park
This annual plant sale raises money for the Somerville Garden Club while also providing great deals on indoor and outdoor plants! Check out the Garden Club website for more information. And on how to get involved in the SGA!
November 3, 2014 General Election – we select a new Governor AND have the chance to vote on crucial ballot questions

Here are the state ballot questions and how I plan to vote:

Question 1: Repealing indexing of the gas tax
I will vote NO on this question. Repealing indexing of the gas tax will cost our state as much as $1 BILLION over the next ten years. This is money specifically for transportation. If this repeal passes, it would mean we will have less safe roads and bridges into the future. In addition, loss of this crucial revenue threatens important transportation projects like the green line extension.

Question 2: Expanding the state’s “Bottle Bill”
I will vote YES on this question. Environmental advocates have long sought to expand the so called “bottle bill” to include all non-alcoholic beverage containers. This would increase recycling and offset increased environmental damage.

Question 3: Repealing the expanded gambling law allowing CASINOS in MA
I will vote YES on this question, which would repeal the law allowing casinos to come to Massachusetts. I have concerns that with casinos come increased addiction, crime, domestic violence, and additional threats to local, independent businesses. In addition casinos prey on and profit from people who are addicted and can’t stop gambling. There are better ways to raise revenue – by closing corporate tax loopholes or creating a graduated income tax in MA, to name just a few.

Question 4: Earned sick time for workers
I will vote YES on this question. Over 1 million workers in MA lack a single earned paid sick day. Many of these workers are in the hospitality industry where disease spreads quickly and increases risk to the overall public health. In addition, when workers can’t take a day off to care for a sick child or themselves but must stay home, they risk being fired. This reality increases economic inequality. To get involved in the campaign for earned sick time, check out the Raise up MA campaign.
In and Around our Community
SomerMovie Fest! – Starting July 10 and ending August 28th at parks throughout the city. Check out the Somerville Arts Council website for more: for more information on specific movies, dates, and locations.
Somerville Sunsetters – location kids sing on different streets throughout the city providing free and fun entertainment. Locations for all summer performances have been selected. Again check out the city website for specifics.
SomerStreets on Highland Ave will be July 27th from noon-4pm
What the Fluff?!?!
Festival in Union Square, September 27 from 3-7pm. Click here for more on all the action around the festival.

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