Monthly Archives: November 2014

Change Is Upon Us – Tracking Governor Baker’s Appointments

We’ve been scouring the news around here for information about our next governor.  We are interested to see what policy changes, will come with the change in leadership.  For now, we’ve been keeping track of Governor-Elect Baker’s appointments as we look forward to working with them in the coming years.  Here is a breakdown of his selections by position, starting with his complete transition team and followed by his chief of staff and the cabinet members named thus far:

Transition Team

Team Head – Jim Peyser – the Managing Director of NewSchools City Funds at NewSchools Venture Fund’s Boston Office.  He served as Chairman of the Massachusetts Board of Education for seven years under Governors Cellucci and Romney and as Undersecretary of Education and Special Assistant to the Governor for Charter Schools for Governor William Weld in addition to working for more than seven years as Executive Director of the conservative think tank Pioneer Institute.

State of the State Committee – Michael O’Brien is the lone remaining chair of this committee after the other individual selected, former transportation secretary Richard Taylor resigned.  O’Brien is Executive Vice President at Winn Companies and former city manager of Worcester.

Human Resources Committee – co-chaired by Deb Hicks and Danroy Henry.  Hicks is Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and formerly worked at Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care (HPHC) where she was instrumental in helping HPHC move from receivership to profitability.  Henry is Chief of Human Resources and Corporate Social Responsibility at child-care provider Bright Horizons and formerly worked in HR roles at Pepsi and Reebok International and executive roles with Staples, Blinds To Go Superstores, and Fleet Boston Financial.

Better Government Committee – co-chaired by Stephen Goldsmith and Steve Poftak.  Goldsmith is the Daniel Paul Professor of the Practice of Government and Director of the Innovations in American Government Program at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.  He previously served as mayor of Indianapolis and deputy mayor of New York, as well as chief domestic policy advisor to the George W. Bush campaign in 2000.  Poftak is Executive Director of the Rappaport Institute at the Harvard Kennedy School and former Director of the Center for Better Government at the Pioneer Institute.  He has researched and written scholarly articles on topics such as transportation policy, government efficiency, municipal finance, and job creation.  Prior to his work in academia he served in the Executive Office for Administration and Finance under Governor Romney.

Community Committee – co-chaired by Robert Lewis Jr. and Chrystal Kornegay.  Lewis Jr. is best known for his work in nonprofits and under Mayor Tom Menino.  He recently left his position as President for Programs at the Boston Foundation to start a new nonprofit called Home BASE, which leverages sports to engage boys and young men in Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan.  Kornegay is President and CEO of Roxbury nonprofit Urban Edge, which works to produce and preserve affordable housing for rent and purchase as well as offering educational programming on housing and financial issues.

Schools Committee – co-chaired by Martin T. Meehan, Jr., and Beth Anderson.  Meehan is a former Congressman and current Chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Lowell.  He served in the US House of Representatives for over a decade representing Massachusetts 5th Congressional district, which at that time included the Lowell area.  He was best known for his advocacy on campaign finance reform and was a leader on gay rights issues, including the repeal of the so-called “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.  Anderson is founder and Chief Executive of Phoenix Charter Academy Network.  This nonprofit runs two schools in Chelsea and Lawrence for disadvantaged youths and is looking to start a third in the Springfield area.

Healthcare Committee – co-chaired by Deb Enos and Keith Hovan.  Enos is the former CEO of Neighborhood Health Plan, who stepped down earlier this year.  She previously held positions at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Cambridge Eye Doctors, and the Hospital Corporation of America.  Hovan is President and CEO of the Southcoast Health System.  Prior to joining Southcoast, he was Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Danbury Hospital in Danbury, CT.

Jobs and Economy Committee – co-chaired by Jay Ash, Roger Crandall, and Karen Kaplan.  Ash is the City Manager of Chelsea.  He is a former State House aide to Majority Leader Richard Voke, former president of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council and founder of the Metro Mayors Coalition.  Roger Crandall is Chairman, President, and CEO of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, where he has worked since 1988.  He serves on the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors.  Kaplan is Chairman and CEO of advertising firm Hill Holliday, where she rose through the ranks after first starting as a secretary in 1982.

Cabinet-Level Appointments (as of 11/25/14)

Chief of Staff – Steven Kadish is the Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Northeastern University.  He previously held leadership positions at Dartmouth College and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in addition to serving as Undersecretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services for Governor Romney.

Energy Environment Secretary – State Representative Matt Beaton of Shrewsbury is an environmental engineer who started his own energy efficient consulting company.

Undersecretary of Finance and Administration – Kristen Lepore is the Vice President of Government Affairs at Associated Industries of Massachusetts.  She is the former Deputy Chief of Staff and Director of Fiscal Policy for Governor Paul Cellucci.

Health and Human Services Secretary – Marylou Sudders is an Associate Professor at the Boston College School of Social Work.  She is the former Mental Health Commissioner and former president of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

Housing and Economic Development Secretary – Jay Ash, who is also serving on the Jobs and Economy transition team and is described above.

We have a keen interest in the process and are watching to see who will be appointed next.  We look forward to working with these and other members of the Baker Administration on issues surrounding the BBA’s mission such as access to justice, funding for the judicial system, and the legal profession.

– Jonathan Schreiber
Legislative and Public Policy Manager
Boston Bar Association

Judicious Partnership: The Intersection of BBA and SJC Initiatives

Just under a month ago, new Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC), Ralph Gants, gave his first annual State of the Judiciary address.  He declared four points of emphasis, all of which have ties to the BBA.  We are already seeing movement in these areas, behind the energetic and committed leadership of Chief Justice Gants.  The following is a rundown of his four stated priorities and the BBA’s involvement with each.

  • Sentencing reform. The Chief called for individualized, evidence-based sentencing and a reconsideration of mandatory minimum sentences.  A long-time proponent of sentencing reform, the BBA has opposed mandatory minimum sentences, and worked to establish fairer graduated sentencing, with heightened judicial discretion, for decades.  We are interested in working with the judiciary to re-examine the current sentencing structure.
  • Civil justice system reform. We are currently working with the courts to reform the civil justice system.  Chief Justice Gants pledged that each Trial Court department that handles civil litigation would convene a working group to develop cost-effective options that parties could agree upon for proceeding with their cases.  Over the last few weeks, the BBA has been asked for nominees to serve on the working groups for various court departments,.  While each request is slightly different, they ask the BBA to name a few members with expertise in the court department at hand to help with the goal of streamlining civil litigation.  Each working group will devise a “menu” of options for litigants, starting with, in the Chief Justice’s words, “the usual three course meal of full discovery, a jury trial. . . and full rights of appeal.”  However, the working groups are tasked with finding other, less expensive and less time-consuming dishes for litigants desiring them.  Examples from Chief Justice Gants’ speech include limited discovery, bench trials, and possible limitations on the right or scope of appeal.
  • Access to justice. We have been at the forefront of  work on access to justice with the BBA Statewide Task Force to Expand Civil Legal Aid in Massachusetts (task force).  In his speech, the Chief Justice referenced the work of the BBA task force directly, saying, “The Report demonstrates that investing in civil legal aid is not only an investment in equal justice, but also a sound fiscal investment, generating savings in public expenditures greater than its costs.”  He urged the Legislature to consider the task force’s request for an additional $30 million in funding for civil legal aid over the next three years.  The   Boston Globe editorial team endorsed the funding request shortly thereafter.  The Globe also published a letter to the editor earlier this week, authored by Jeff Baliban of Alvarez & Marsal, one of the independent economic analysts who focused on domestic violence issues in the task force report.
  • Jury voir dire. We have also been involved with jury voir dire issues.  BBA Council member Mark Smith of Laredo & Smith, currently serves as BBA liaison to the SJC working group on voir dire.  The working group is critical for the Chief Justice’s commitment to establish protocols implementing the new law on attorney voir dire by February 2015.  The group anticipates the release of a draft proposal around the end of this year. The superior court will work to develop pilot programs soon after.  We look forward to seeing what they come up with and to working with the courts on making the new law a success.

In short, we are pleased that progress is already being made in these four important areas highlighted by Chief Justice Gants.  The BBA takes is proud to be a thought leader in the law and a long-time supporter of the judiciary.  We look forward to helping see these efforts through to fruition, as part of our long-standing commitment to advancing justice in our community.

– Jonathan Schreiber
Legislative and Public Policy Manager
Boston Bar Association

Another Point of View: Looking at the News from a Legal Aid Perspective

Earlier this week we were pleased with the Boston Globe editorial on our recent task force report, “Investing in Justice: A Roadmap to Cost-Effective Funding of Civil Legal Aid in Massachusetts.”  The Globe shares our view that “[t]he Legislature should find a way to increase funding for civil legal aid in the next budget.”

As we’ve discussed before, the report is the culmination of 18 months of hard work by leaders from around the state and independent economic analysts.  It makes a compelling argument that we need to increase funding for civil legal aid in order to help people in our society secure basic rights to life necessities such as shelter and protection from an abuser.  The Globe agreed, endorsing the report and concluding that its statistics on cost-savings – a return of $2 to $5 for every dollar spent on certain areas of legal aid – more than justify our call for increased state investment.  As the editorial board concluded, “It’s far better to invest money now for legal aid than it is to bear the costs later.”

The Task Force report itself has been the subject of recent media coverage in a variety of forms.  But once you’ve read the report, it’s remarkable how many other stories in the news register as tangentially related – stories about the growing ranks of poor, homeless, and abused among us.  While increased funding for legal aid is not a panacea for all of these tales, it would certainly make a difference by keeping people from being wrongfully evicted, securing them deserved federal benefits, and helping them escape a cycle of domestic abuse.

Part of the problem we discovered was simple supply and demand.  The number of people qualifying for legal aid, with income at 125% of the federal poverty level has increased to nearly one million people in Massachusetts, while the number of legal aid attorneys has decreased over the last seven years due to declines in funding.  As the Boston Globe reported earlier this week, the current poverty rate in the state is at its highest point since 1960.  It is no wonder, then, that 64% of qualified individuals seeking legal aid are turned away, as the Task Force discovered.  There are simply not enough attorneys to meet the demand.  This situation results in individuals incurring more debt to meet their daily needs, plunging them into further debt and poverty.  Though many of these people likely qualify for some sort of federal benefits, it is often very difficult for them to navigate the complex system and paperwork without the help of a legal aid lawyer.

In late October, CNN Money reported on debt and credit issues facing victims of domestic violence.  We know from our work on the Task Force Report that concerns about finances are a major factor in domestic violence, and often a trigger of abuse, particularly when there is an income disparity that creates a dependence of one partner upon the other.  Ideally a domestic violence victim will leave their abuser, but with no money and no place to go, this can be a daunting task.

Only a couple weeks later, the New York Times reported that shelters nationwide report that nearly ¼ of all families cite abuse as the cause for their stay.  Civil legal aid providers can help domestic abuse victims by aiding them in securing restraining orders, demanding funds, such as child support payments from abusers, to help promote the victim’s independence, and working with shelters to assure a placement.

Homelessness presents its own difficulties, as recent stories demonstrated just how easy it can be to fall into homelessness and the dire need for shelters, especially after the recent closure of the Long Island bridge.  From our Task Force we learned that 56% of eligible people with housing problems in Massachusetts were turned away from legal aid, and a significant number of them were likely facing wrongful eviction that could have been prevented.  The result is increased costs for the state from police to health care, and shelter expenses, not to mention the long-term costs resulting from children growing up without stable homes and the increased difficulties in finding a job while living in a shelter.  In assessing such situations, the Task Force’s independent economic analysts calculated that every dollar invested in this area likely saves the state nearly three dollars.

Civil legal aid is a sound investment for the state – one that will create a positive return while also helping those individuals most in need.  While it can’t, in isolation, solve our problems of domestic violence, homelessness, and poverty, it will change many lives, and hopefully that will be the news we get to read about in the future.

– Jonathan Schreiber
Legislative and Public Policy Manager
Boston Bar Association

2014 Election Wrap-Up

The BBA’s Government Relations Department regularly works with legislators, the executive branch, and the judiciary, but the landscape in which we do so will be quite different at the start of 2015 from the past four years, with a new Governor, Attorney General, Senate President, Senate Ways and Means Committee chair, and House co-chair of the Judiciary Committee.

The biggest news from Tuesday’s statewide election is that Charlie Baker narrowly defeated Attorney General Martha Coakley.  Outgoing Governor Deval Patrick was recently honored with the BBA’s Beacon Award for his historic commitment to diversity and inclusion in the judiciary.  The responsibility for nominating judges will now rest with the new Governor.

All such judges must be confirmed by the Governor’s Council, an elected eight-member body, and there we will see little change at the start of the next two-year term, with only one new member in Joseph Ferreira, a part-time attorney and retired Somerset police chief, who spent 36 years as a police officer and is replacing Councilor Oliver Cipollini.

Karyn Polito will chair the meetings of the Governor’s Council, in her new role as Lieutenant Governor.  Since the departure last year of former Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray, Governor Patrick chaired those meetings, though he lacks the LG’s authority to cast the decisive vote in case the Council is evenly split.

Maura Healey, who has served on the BBA Council and Executive Committee, will become the nation’s first openly gay Attorney General.  A first-time candidate, she previously worked under current AG Coakley as Chief of the Business and Labor Bureau, the Public Protection and Advocacy Bureau, and the Civil Rights Division.

The other newly-elected statewide official is Deborah Goldberg as State Treasurer, replacing Steve Grossman, who left the office to run for Governor.  Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin and State Auditor Suzanne Bump will return to those offices.

Massachusetts’ nine-member Congressional delegation will gain Seth Moulton, elected from the Sixth District, on the North Shore, which is currently represented by John Tierney.  U.S. Senator Ed Markey was elected to a full six-year term, having first won election in 2013 to the seat when John Kerry became U.S. Secretary of State.

In the State Legislature, Vinny de Macedo will be one of five new Senators, after winning the South Shore seat that out-going Senate President Therese Murray gave up.  House Representative Ryan Fattman defeated Senator Richard Moore in central Massachusetts.  All other Senators seeking re-election won, leaving the Republicans with six seats in the 40-member body come January, their highest total in ten years.  Three other Senate openings were created by the departures of Senator Stephen Brewer, who declined to run again; Senator Barry Finegold, who opted to run instead for Treasurer; and Senator Gale Candaras, who ran for Hampden County Register of Probate in a race still too close to call. Those seats will be filled, respectively, by House Representative Anne Gobi, former House Representative Barbara L’Italien, and Eric Lesser.

But the biggest changes in the Senate will come at the leadership level: Stanley Rosenberg is expected to be chosen by his colleagues as the new Senate President, when the Senate convenes for the 2015-2016 legislative session.  He will then have the opportunity to name his leadership team, as well as all Senate committee chairs, which will include a new Ways and Means chair to write the Senate’s budget, now that Chairman Brewer is retiring.

In the House, Speaker Robert DeLeo and Ways and Means Chair Brian Dempsey will likely stay in their current positions.  However, the Speaker will name a new House co-chair of the Judiciary Committee, after former Representative Eugene O’Flaherty left earlier this year to become Corporation Counsel to the City of Boston and was never officially replaced.

While final results have not all been determined, it appears that two sitting Representatives, Denise Andrews and Rhonda Nyman, lost re-election bids on Tuesday, to Susannah Whipps Lee and David DeCoste, respectively.  Overall, House Republicans are poised to add at least five seats, and possibly six, to their existing total of 29 out of 160.  Of special note to BBA members, Michael Day of Stoneham, Co-Chair of the Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Section, was elected to the State House, winning an open seat.

One thing we like to keep an eye on when viewing the Legislature is the number of Senators and Representatives who are attorneys.  By our best count, that figure will be 54, out of a total of 200, when the new Legislature is sworn in early next January.  This represents a drop of 6 or 7 from the start of the last two-year session, and it underscores the work we must sometimes do to educate non-lawyer legislators about issues of importance to lawyers, the courts, and the practice of law.

Four statewide ballot measures were also contested: Voters approved a repeal of the 2013 law indexing the gasoline tax to inflation (Question 1) and a new requirement that employers of 11 or more offer paid sick time to employees (Question 4), but rejected an expansion of the Bottle Bill (Question 2) and an effort to repeal the 2011 law that allows casino gambling (Question 3).

We will continue to update you on developments on Beacon Hill, and we look forward to working with the elected officials above on behalf of the BBA.

— Michael Avitzur
Government Relations Director
Boston Bar Association