Category Archives: Massachusetts

Bay Windows is for sale

New England’s largest LGBTQ+ newspaper is for sale

Co-publishers Sue O’Connell and Jeff Coakley are putting New England’s LGBTQ+ newspaper, Bay Windows (and its sister publication South End News) up for sale according to this post on Facebook, this article in Bay Windows, and this article in yesterday’s Boston Globe.

Jim Hoover was Bay Windows first publisher when the newspaper started printing in 1985. He sold the newspaper in the early 2000s to O’Connell and Coakley who have been the co-publishing this weekly paper ever since. In its heyday this was a weekly publication that everyone read. My personal favorite was the missed connections and personals in the back – they could be hilarious to read. For decades, Bay Windows was the source for openings (and closings), LGBTQ+ events and programming, and news that was important to the community. Case in point, everyone read Bay Windows in the early 2000s when Massachusetts became ground zero in the Marriage Equality debate and those first couple years following the State Supreme Court ruling.

While it is sad to read that Bay Windows is up for sale, and I wonder about its future, I do wish Sue O’Connell and Jeff Coakley much luck. Their work and dedication to this paper helped enrich and enliven the LGBTQ+ gay community, and I feel a debt of gratitude toward them.

48 Mass. companies score 100% in HRC’s 2021 Corporate Equity Index

The LGBTQ+ community once again has a friend and ally in the White House, but equally important is the increasing number of friends and allies we have in the business community. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) recently released their Corporate Equality Index (CEI) for 2021 and the news is good. A recordbreaking 767 businesses met all the criteria to earn a 100% rating and the designation of being a “Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality.” Locally, more Massachusetts businesses earned that distinction as well.

The index, started in 2002, serves as a national benchmarking tool on corporate policies, practices and benefits pertinent to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer employees and serves as a driving force for LGBTQ+ workplace inclusion. There are three key pillars to the index rating that focus on: (1) non-discrimination policies across business entities, (2) equitable benefits for LGBTQ workers and their families and (3) supporting an inclusive culture and corporate social responsibility.

Forty-eight (48) companies in Massachusetts earned a 100% score from the HRC CEI 2021. This represents a 20% increase from the 2020 index when only 40 companies in Massachusetts earned a perfect score.

For details about the CEI or to download the full report visit: Corporate Equality Index 2021.

What Gov. Baker’s rollback means for dining out, gyms etc…

Boston, Mass

In case you missed it, on Tuesday, Governor Charlie Baker announced that due to rising COVID-19 rates, the State of Massachusetts would roll back to Phase 3, Step 1 beginning this Sunday.

What does Phase 3, Step 1 mean?
The rollback will reduce indoor capacities across a broad range of sectors of the economy and tighten several other workplace restrictions. It will require the closure of certain businesses designated as Step 2 industries and capacity limits will be reduced to 40% for places like:

  • Arcades/Indoor and Outdoor Recreational Businesses
  • Driving and Flight Schools
  • Gyms/Health Clubs
  • Libraries
  • Museums
  • Retail
  • Offices
  • Places of Worship
  • Lodging (common areas)
  • Golf facilities
  • Movie Theaters (Maximum 50 people per theater)

Finally additional safety measures will be applied to restaurant dining which will include:

  • a reduction of maximum table size from 10 to 6
  • a 90-minute time limit on tables
  • diners being encouraged to only sit with members of the same household
  • wearing masks at all times except when actually eating and drinking, meaning you cannot take off your masks once seated

You can read the full media release here.

MBTA mulls major cuts

Boston public transportation

A steep drop in MBTA ridership attributed to the pandemic and rising unemployment combined with the need for state budget cuts has resulted in some pretty scary proposed cuts that include halting all ferry service, eliminating a half-dozen commuter rail stops as well as stopping weekend service, cutting 25 bus routes and decreasing subway frequencies.

As a result of the decline in ridership that is similarly impacting transit agencies across the country, the MBTA is now only transporting 330,000 trips on an average weekday – but is continuing to run the same high levels of service as it ran to serve 1.26 million daily trips prior to the pandemic, an unsustainable level of service delivery.

Ferry service is currently running at 12% of pre-pandemic levels. Commuter rail service is essentially the same running at 13% of pre-pandemic levels. Subway and bus service are faring better but also have seen steep drop offs in ridership so the MBTA is proposing fewer trains and ending service at 12 Midnight. Approximately 25 bus routes appear to be on the chopping block. You can see what the MBTA has proposed for changes in bus service, here.

Some of the cuts to the commuter rail and ferry could be phased in as soon as January, but the changes to rapid transit and bus service would not be expected until the spring of 2021.

Where to vote in Boston

man at voting booth.

If you are a registered voter in Boston and you have not participated in early voting or by mail-in ballot, please make time on Tuesday, November 3rd to get to the polls. If you are a first time voter, new to the area or cannot remember where to vote, I’ve got you covered.

Click here to learn where to vote in Boston on November 3rd

In addition to voting for your candidate, Massachusetts has two state-wide ballot initiatives that you will be asked to vote for in this election.

Massachusetts Question 1, “Right to Repair Law” Vehicle Data Access Requirement Initiative

A “yes” vote supports requiring manufacturers that sell vehicles with telematics systems in Massachusetts to equip them with a standardized open data platform beginning with model year 2022 that vehicle owners and independent repair facilities may access to retrieve mechanical data and run diagnostics through a mobile-based application.

A “no” vote opposes requiring vehicles beginning with model year 2022 to be equipped with a standardized open data platform that vehicle owners and independent repair facilities may access to retrieve mechanical data and run diagnostics through a mobile-based application, thereby maintaining that vehicle owners and independent repair facilities may access mechanical and diagnostic data through a personal computer.

You have to flip your ballot over to read and vote on Question 2.

Massachusetts Question 2, Ranked-Choice Voting Initiative

A “yes” vote supports enacting ranked-choice voting (RCV) for primary and general elections for state executive officials, state legislators, federal congressional and senate seats, and certain county offices beginning in 2022.

A “no” vote opposes changing the existing plurality voting system to ranked-choice voting for primary and general elections for state executive officials, state legislators, federal congressional and senate seats, and county offices.

For what it is worth, I plan on voting YES for both Question 1 and 2, but regardless of whether we agree or not, I’d like to encourage everyone to make sure they vote.

Early voting at Fenway Park

I have voted in every Presidential election since I’ve turned 18 years old but this year I participated in early voting for the first time. I have to compliment Mayor Marty Walsh, The Boston Red Sox and all the volunteers at Fenway Park for how they managed early voting last weekend. According to Boston’s public radio station, WBUR-FM, 4,000 people voted there.

I wanted to vote early and the opportunity to do this at Fenway Park was just too tempting. Early voting was available at Fenway Park last Saturday and Sunday and turnout was through the roof. When I arrived at Fenway Park just prior to the polls opening, the line nearly wrapped around the entire ballpark. I was unsure what to expect and was pleasantly surprised that I was able to vote in less than 1 hour despite the hundreds of people queuing.

My compliments to Mayor Marty Walsh, The Red Sox organiztion and volunteers who made voting at Fenway Park so easy and accommodating.

There is a common saying in Boston that “Fenway is where I pray”, and I did although this time my prayers were not focused on the Red Sox. My prayer went something like this, “I hope Donald Trump loses by historic proportions and the Republican party loses seats in the US House of Representatives as well as their control of the US Senate. Lastly, I prayed Americans will not look away after November 3rd and will remain engaged to hold our politicians accountable for their actions, because elections matter.

All who voted were given a parting glimpse of Fenway Park

For more information about early voting in Massachusetts, which runs from October 17 through October 30th visit my earlier post, Early voting in MA starts October 17, 2020.

Make sure you speak to your friends and family and remind them to vote.

Early voting in MA starts October 17, 2020

Motley tshirt
Send a message and vote out every Republican this November

I’m going to ask readers of this blog who live in Massachusetts to share this information to raise awareness about the upcoming election and voting options that make it easier to participate in this process. Registered voters in Massachusetts do not have to wait until Tuesday, November 3rd and can vote early from October 17 through October 30.

ABOUT EARLY VOTING: Boston City Hall is the main early voting polling location for the city and it will be open Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., and on Tuesday and Thursday, City Hall will remain open until 8 p.m. for early voting. For more information about additional places to vote in Boston visit boston.gov/early-voting. Any registered voter in Boston can vote. You don’t need an excuse or reason to vote early. It is your right so exercise it.

DID YOU APPLY TO VOTE BY MAIL? If you plan to return your ballot in person instead of mailing it, we will have dedicated dropboxes across the City, including two at Boston City Hall. You have until 8 p.m. on Election Day to drop off your ballot. You can also drop off your ballot at any early voting location listed below during the City’s early voting period.

Below are links to early voting locations and the times these places are open in surrounding communities as well as a link for all cities and towns in the state. Please share.

Cambridge, MA – Early voting information

Chelsea, MA – Early voting information

Medford, MA – Early voting information

Quincy, MA – Early voting information

Revere, MA – Early voting information

Somerville, MA – Early voting information

Watertown, MA – Early voting information

Wintrhop, MA – Early voting information

All other Massachusetts cities and townsEarly voting information

Your vote counts

Voting by mail has suddenly become politicized with unfounded claims of voter fraud. At the same time the Postmaster General has been accused of intentionally underfunding the US Post Office and removing mail sorting machines to slowdown mail processing. All of this makes me feel sick to my stomach. I will admit I’ve taken my right to vote as a given, but now I feel like that is being tampered with, and I really don’t like it. Considering our history of setting up barriers to minorities and immigrants to vote, I suppose I’m getting only a taste of what some have had to deal with for generations.

I will admit in the past I’ve taken my right to vote as a given.

I don’t really care who you plan to vote for, but I do hope you will vote. If you have decided to vote by mail, I suggest you vote early. The State of Massachusetts recommends voters submit an application for a November ballot no later than October 20th. You can register online here. It only takes a couple of minutes and is easy to do online.  If you know people who plan to vote by mail, follow up and encourage them to vote early (mail your ballot by Tuesday, October 20th if possible). By mailing your vote in two weeks prior to election day it stands a better chance of being tallied on election day.

For those of you in Massachusetts, bookmark this early voting – in person or by mail web page. Additional guidance on voting locations will be updated no later than October 9th.  In-person, early voting in Mass. will be held October 17 – 30.

Share this information with anyone who may find this helpful.

Fall daytrip: Check out a corn maze

Last week I published this post, Plan a New England foliage daytrip this fall. A BosGuy reader from Maine wrote, asking why I snubbed Maine, which also has beautiful fall foliage. The snub was unitentional! Maine was not listed in the USA Today Reader’s Choice poll which inspired my blog post, but I want to make that up to everyone who loves Maine by sharing this post which features Treworgy’s Corn Maze – the longest continually running corn maze in the US.

Checking out a corn maze might be more fun if you’re looking to stretch your legs a bit and enjoy the beautiful fall weather. Also noted in a recent survey of best corn mazes was the Great Vermont Corn Maze in Danville, VT.

If those drives are a bit longer than you would like (let’s face it they are waaaay up north), New England Foliage has recently published a list of the Best Corn Mazes in New England.

If you have any recommendations based on past visits please share in the comments section.

How to vote by mail in Massachusetts

Motley tshirtI believe that voting is a civic responsibility incumbent upon all of us. However, voting during a pandemic can be tricky so I apprerciate that Governor Charlie Baker signed a bill into law earlier this month, allowing all registered voters in Massachusetts to vote by mail in the primary and general elections this fall.

How to vote by mail in Massachusetts

Voting by mail in Massachusetts is easy, requiring you to do the following: 

1 – Fill out the 2020 Vote By Mail application

2 – Send the ballot back via postal delivery, email or fax. For the Sept. 1 State Primary, your application must arrive at your local election office by Aug. 26 and for the national election on Nov. 3 it must arrive by Oct. 28.

Note: Your signature must be visible and everything legible and complete to ensure your ballot is not disqualified.

MAILING ADDRESS:
Election Department
One City Hall Square
Room 241
Boston, MA 02201

EMAIL: absenteevoter@boston.gov

FAX: (617) 635-4483

vote, elections, midterm elections, gay votemassachusetts online voter registration

If you are unsure if you are registered or would like to register, you can easily do this online at Massachusetts Online Voter Registration System.

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Support the arts community with H.4879

cultcha, ahts, ICA, institute of contemporary Art, MFA, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, bosartsContact your state rep about h.4879 today

Massachusetts legislature is currently considering an important bill that will help provide relief for the arts and culture sector in Massachusetts, which includes organizations large and small that enrich our life and need your legislators support to provide funding for artists, local museums as well as students to gain access and experiences from our local arts and cultural organizations.

HOW YOU CAN HELP: Write or call your legislators at the State House today to voice your support for H.4879, An Act Enabling Partnerships for Growth.

Use this form to quickly and easily contact your representatives on Beacon Hill

The House expects to pass this bill by midnight, so your representative needs to hear from you ASAP. In most cases, the more sponsors an amendment has, the better its chances are for adoption.

Learn more about H.4879

Massachusetts continues to be a leader in public education: Why I think that matters

In an age where many feel like access to a  quality education is only available to the wealthiest it isn’t really surpirsing that many have developed a distrust of our education system.  Over the past 20 years we’ve seen this distrust extend to people who are highly educated and articulate. So perhaps I’m bucking the trend here bragging about Massachusetts recent rankings in US News & World Report of the best high schools in the nation; half of Massachusetts’ high schools are in the top quarter of the national rankings — the highest proportion of any state.

I recognize that there are significant disparities in Massachusetts public education system; those raised in affluent communities absolutely have advantages children in poorer communities do not. However, regardless of party affiliation in this state, there is a genuine commitment to investing in education and it is that consensus that I think helps drives Massachusetts ranking year after year. It is my hope that the “war on education” in our politics and society will stop. Bravo Massachusetts on continuing to excel and your commitment to public education. There is definitely room to improve and addressing inequality in our system ranks fairly high on that list, but kudos for being a leader here.

Massachusetts RMV recognizes “Gender X”

non binary gender option in MassachusettsMassachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles now provides drivers with a third gender option to choose from. The option, “X,” is available for people to select who don’t identify as male or female.

This past Tuesday, during Transgender Awareness Week, Massachusetts state registry of motor vehicles (RMV) started offering residents a non-binary gender designation option for their driver’s licenses and ID cards. This was done as part of a system upgrade at the RMV and makes Massachusetts one of approximately a dozen states in the United States to recognize a third, non binary gender.

Almost on cue Massachusetts GOP Chairman Jim Lyons called this insane and railed against the change. I can appreciate there are people who’s heads spin at the idea of non-binary, but I don’t understand the need to make sure their point of view supersedes others or how decisions like this by the State of Massachusetts impact Mr. Lyons and those who agree with him. It seems like the same failed logic that was applied to opposing same sex marriages.

15 Years ago Massachusetts made history (again)

Gay marriage, same-sex marriage15 Years ago today Massachusetts became the first state in the United States to legalize same sex marriage. Conservatives said Mass. was making a mockery of marriage, yet this state still has one of the lowest divorce rates in the country.

To all those who helped bring about this change here in Massachusetts and elsewhere, congratulations. When Massachusetts legalized same sex marriage they set in motion and made possible the landmark Supreme Court case, Obergefell v Hodges. Make no mistake, same sex marriage would eventually have become legal even if , but I’m particularly proud of the role my home state played in forcing the issue. Below I’ve included an excerpt from that historic ruling, majority opinion that was written by State Supreme Court Justice, Margaret Marshall, which took place the year before. It still moves me today to read it.

Congratulations to all those couples celebrating their 15th anniversary.

Mass DOT Public Hearing for the North South Rail Link project this week

On Monday, December 10th, Massachusetts Dept of Transportation will hold a public hearing on the North South Rail Link, sharing public comments received, the draft report and cost estimation. Long-time residents of Boston may recall, linking both North and South Station was initially part of the “Big Dig” but was later scrapped after poor management of the project led to cost overruns and ridiculous delays.

Mass DOT Public Hearing: North South Rail Link project
Monday, December 10th 5PM – 8PM
10 Park Plaza, 2nd Floor, Conference Rooms 2 & 3

For those unfamiliar with the project, the North South Rail Link (NSRL) project would connect the  MBTA commuter rail networks (South Station and North Station) into one regional system through the construction and operation of a rail tunnel through Downtown Boston. This tunnel would enable through-running of MBTA Commuter Rail and Amtrak trains, increasing system coverage, capacity, and ridership.

Boston transit, Boston Commuter Rail, Massachusetts Bus and Transportation Authority

North South Rail Link Feasibility Reassessment Draft Final Report

I would like to see any project that links these two commuter hubs with a direct link via the MBTA subway system as well, providing a better and more direct connection for people who use the subway.

If interested, you can download and read the entire draft final report here.