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Save The RIDE: April 24 at 2 PM, State House, 3rd Floor


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April 24: Speak Out to Save The RIDE, State House, 3rd Floor, 2 PM

April 18, 2012

T fares are going up 23% on average, but for the seniors and disabled who use the Ride, it’s as much as 150%! $10 round trips will hurt those on limited incomes. Join the Massachusetts Senior Action Council (MSAC) and the Boston Center for Independent Living (BCIL) on Tuesday, April 24, at 2:00 p.m. on the 3rd floor of the State House for a speak out for fair fares and full services for people with disabilities and seniors. Keep up the fight for independence in our communities!

Contact BCIL (617-338-6665) or Karen Schneiderman (kschneiderman [at] bostoncil [dot] org) for more information.

April 17: Tax Day Boston March & Rally, Dewey Square, 5:30 p.m.

April 15, 2012

Camp Charlie, Occupy MBTA’s 10-day occupation of the State House, has come to a close, but the fight continues.

On Tuesday, April 17, Occupy Boston will be joining Mass Uniting and dozens of other organizations for the Tax Day Boston March & Rally starting at 5:30 p.m. at Dewey Square.

A number of Boston-area corporations, including Bank of America, Verizon and GE, consistently dodge their tax obligations and pay effective tax rates of near 0% or less. If these corporations paid their taxes, the 99% of Massachusetts would have the revenue we need for public transportation and other vital public services.

Come march and rally on Tuesday evening to demand an end to rampant tax dodging by Boston companies. Download the flyers (Flyer 1, Flyer 2) or click here for more information.

Friday & Saturday at Camp Charlie (and Other Exciting Places)

April 13, 2012

Come celebrate the last two days of Camp Charlie with education, activism, and fun!

FRIDAY APRIL 13 – TEACH-INS AND SLUMBER PARTY!

From Occupy to Revolution: The Importance of Keeping a Radical Perspective
10:30 AM at Camp Charlie

Radical scholar, Marxist intellectual, and long-time social justice activist, Professor Barbara Foley (Rutgers-Newark) will be giving a short lecture and facilitating a discussion, under the working title: “From Occupy to Revolution: the importance of keeping a radical perspective,” between 10:30 and 11 am this Friday, April 13th at Camp Charlie.

Ride the Rails
4:00 PM at Camp Charlie

Come Ride the Rails with us to spread the word to Boston’s subway riders about Camp Charlie, the Occupy MBTA campaign, and the broader Occupy Boston community. We’ll be meeting at Camp Charlie at 4:00 PM for a brief training, after which we’ll be setting out in teams to connect with Boston’s rush-hour commuters and recruit them for the movement through speaking, leafleting, and distributing copies of the Boston Occupier. Let’s seize the unique opportunity to engage thousands of T commuters about the issues that could immediately impact them — the cuts, hikes, and layoffs — as well as the deeper issues that they raise for us all. See you there!

Race and Class Inequality: Fighting for a People’s T
6:15 PM at Camp Charlie

The recent fare hikes and proposed service cuts are only the most recent effort to divide public transit across race and class lines.   Join us for a crash course on the history of the T — how urban planning choices changed its shape and layout, and how those choices affect the demographics it serves.

“But What Can I Do About it?” Looking Up, Looking Forward
7 PM at Camp Charlie
The T is $5.5 billion in debt.   The legislature is fighting over $51 million in funding for the entire state.   What can you do about it?  You can decide to act.   A teach-in on how to think about action in the face of overwhelming odds, how to get yourself organized and start thinking at the granular level — person by person – about what you can do to make a difference.Signs for Santorum @ OB Queer DA Meeting
8:30 pm at Camp Charlie

Join Occupy Boston Queer Trans DA for a sign-making in preparation for this Sunday’s Mass Tea Party’s Patriot’s Day Rally.    Help us greet Santorum and Scott Lively in style!

Occupy Slumber Party!
10 pm onward at Camp Charlie

Bring a sleeping bag, a sleeping pad, and help celebrate the last night at Camp Charlie!

SATURDAY — MARCH AND PARTY AT E5

Closing March and Rally: Uniting the 99 percent!
12:15 PM at Converse Hall, 88 Tremont Street
Meet at Camp Charlie at 11:30 AM
To celebrate the final day of the occupation, Occupy MBTA will join hundreds of members of SEIU Local 615 and community allies to honor the centennial of the famous Bread and Roses Lawrence Textile Strike. Join us as we take our message to the streets. We are ready to stand for the 99%!

Benefit for E5 at Spontaneous Celebrations!
8 PM at Spontaneous Celebrations
45 Danforth Street, Jamaica Plain
Dance Prequel to E5′s Dance-a-thon with rockin’ DJs, cool art and great food.   Latin Meets Rock N Roll, Boogaloo, chicha, salsa, latin garage, plena, and biguine music, kuduro, kwaito, hipco, soca, baile, cumbia, Spanish dancehall, reggae, reggaetón, ska, merengue, salsa kid, blend of Soul/House/Latin/Hip Hop/Afro-Beat, soul/funk/afrobeat/hip-hop, electrópica, cumbia digital, latin house, moombahton… There is a $20 – $5 (sliding scale) admission (which covers the registration cost of the Dance-a-thon in Sept.) Join us and move your body for the movement!

From Occupy to Revolution: What It Means to Keep a Radical Perspective

April 11, 2012

This Friday, April 13, from 10am to 11am at Camp Charlie (on the steps of the Massachusetts State House), radical scholar, Marxist intellectual, and long-time social justice activist Professor Barbara Foley (Rutgers-Newark) will give a short lecture and help stir a discussion about what it means to maintain a radical perspective in the present political situation.

Following the talk, there will be an informal discussion over lunch, from 11am to 12pm, to be held either on camp or at a nearby establishment. (Details on lunch TBA).

For more information, please contact Joe at jgramsey@gmail.com.

Professor Foley’s impressive list of politically engaged publications can be found here: http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~bfoley/

April 11: Today’s Events at Camp Charlie

April 11, 2012

Please join us anytime on the State House steps!

8:00 AM — Greet the Commuters

We’ll be at Park Street Station with banners and flyers to greet morning T commuters and engage them in conversation about the Occupy MBTA campaign and the larger fight for transit justice. Meet at Camp Charlie at 8:00 AM — if you’re not already there from the night before!

NOON — Screen Printing

The Occupy Boston Screen Print Guild will be holding a public screen printing workshop. Bring anything that you’d like to have printed — t-shirts, fabric, bags, etc — and join in on the fun!

4:00 PM — Ride the Rails

Come Ride the Rails with us to spread the word to Boston’s subway riders about Camp Charlie, the Occupy MBTA campaign, and the broader Occupy Boston community. We’ll be meeting at Camp Charlie at 4:00 PM for a brief training, after which we’ll be setting out in teams to connect with Boston’s rush-hour commuters and recruit them for the movement through speaking, leafleting, and distributing copies of the Boston Occupier. Let’s seize the unique opportunity to engage thousands of T commuters about the issues that could immediately impact them — the cuts, hikes, and layoffs — as well as the deeper issues that they raise for us all. See you there!

Please note: Ride the Rails will meet every day at 4:00 PM at Camp Charlie until the occupation has run its course.

6:00 PM — Crash Course on The MBTA Budget Crisis

Over the years, the MBTA’s financial viability has been wrecked by Big Dig debt, forward funding, and interest rate swaps ($26 million owed annually to Wall Street banks). The MBTA now possesses a total debt load of $5.2 billion and counting. How did the MBTA get into this position? What are the current proposals on the table? And how does this occupation fit into this plan? Come join us to find out!

Today: March and Reoccupation Party at Camp Charlie! (Plus Other Upcoming Occupy MBTA Events)

April 10, 2012

Following last night’s state-ordered temporary dismantling of Camp Charlie, Occupy MBTA will be returning to the State House today to reoccupy and continue our fight for a public transit system that works for the entire 99% of Massachusetts.

Please join us at the Parkman Bandstand on the Common at 5:00 PM, when we’ll march back to the State House in full force to reclaim Camp Charlie and to demonstrate that stifling our free speech and our right to assembly will only make us stronger. We’ll be rebuilding camp, planning for the final 4 days of this occupation, and showing that our community will not be that easily discouraged. If you’d like to show your solidarity with the Occupiers who were evicted last night by spending the night tonight, then please by all means bring your own sleeping bag!

Also, don’t miss these great Camp Charlie actions and events taking place tomorrow (April 11):

8:00 AM — Greet the Commuters

We’ll be at Park Street Station with banners and flyers to greet morning T commuters and engage them in conversation about the Occupy MBTA campaign and the larger fight for transit justice. Meet at Camp Charlie at 8:00 AM — if you’re not already there from the night before!

NOON — Screen Printing

The Occupy Boston Screen Print Guild will be holding a public screen printing workshop. Bring anything that you’d like to have printed — t-shirts, fabric, bags, etc — and join in on the fun!

4:00 PM — Ride the Rails

Come Ride the Rails with us to spread the word to Boston’s subway riders about Camp Charlie, the Occupy MBTA campaign, and the broader Occupy Boston community. We’ll be meeting at Camp Charlie at 4:00 PM for a brief training, after which we’ll be setting out in teams to connect with Boston’s rush-hour commuters and recruit them for the movement through speaking, leafleting, and distributing copies of the Boston Occupier. Let’s seize the unique opportunity to engage thousands of T commuters about the issues that could immediately impact them — the cuts, hikes, and layoffs — as well as the deeper issues that they raise for us all. See you there!

Please note: Ride the Rails will meet every day at 4:00 PM at Camp Charlie until the occupation has run its course.

6:00 PM — Crash Course on The MBTA Budget Crisis

Over the years, the MBTA’s financial viability has been wrecked by Big Dig debt, forward funding, and interest rate swaps ($26 million owed annually to Wall Street banks). The MBTA now possesses a total debt load of $5.2 billion and counting. How did the MBTA get into this position? What are the current proposals on the table? And how does this occupation fit into this plan? Come join us to find out!

Occupy MBTA Testifies at the State House

April 10, 2012

On April 9, the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Transportation held a hearing on House Bill 4011, which, among other things, would authorize a one-time transfer from the Motor Vehicle Inspection Fund to the MBTA.  The following testimony was submitted on behalf of Occupy MBTA, whose members have been occupying the State House steps since April 4, 2012 to protest the austerity measures in the MBTA’s FY 2013 budget and to demand a comprehensive statewide plan for affordable and sustainable transportation that works for the 99%.  Occupier Katie Gradowski presented a shorter oral version of this testimony at the hearing.  For a .pdf version, click here.

Re: H 4011 – Governor Patrick’s Mini Reform Bill

The Joint Committee on Transportation should support the transfer of $51 million from the Motor Vehicle Inspection Trust Fund to MassDOT, but it must do more than that for the people of Massachusetts.

The 2013 budget approved by MassDOT kills jobs, makes dozens of service cuts, nearly doubles the fare for seniors, and raises fares as much as 150% for riders with disabilities. Worse, the Governor and the Secretary of Transportation have already publicly declared that this is a one-year solution, and that we will be right back where we are next year, with more hikes, cuts, and layoffs.  This is not acceptable governing.  We demand better from our public officials.

Over the past several months, the 99% have flooded public meetings and demonstrated to voice their opposition to the MBTA’s proposals.  They testified, in heartbreaking detail, how the MBTA’s proposals will further isolate and marginalize individuals and communities that are already marginalized and isolated.  But our pleas have fallen on deaf ears.  The MBTA’s final proposal features the same toxic mixture of draconian service cuts and unacceptable fare hikes that the people of Massachusetts clearly oppose.

Secretary Davey has repeatedly said that there is public support for fare hikes, but of the 800 public meeting comments analyzed by the MBTA, only 2.5% favored fare hikes.  We can’t afford a public transit system that only works for 2.5% of riders. We need a solution that works for the 99%.  During the public meeting process, over 30 specific proposals were put forward by groups like the T Rider’s Union, Mass Senior Action Council, the Massachusetts Area Planning Council, and Save the T.  These proposals were ignored in favor of fare hikes that disproportionately target low-income riders, including seniors and riders with disabilities, many if not most of whom lived on fixed incomes.

We are particularly outraged that MBTA and MassDOT refuse to address the issue of toxic interest rate swaps that are costing the agency $26 million this year – and will cost the T another $287 million by 2031.  This is on top of the tens of millions already lost on these deals over the last decade. In 2008, the Auditor found that these risky financial instruments had cost the T $55 million from 2000 through 2005 alone. In the years since, these harmful swaps have cost the T at least another $80 million. At the same time the MBTA is asking riders with disabilities to pay as much as 150% more to use The RIDE, the agency is paying between $8 million and $9 million each to three bailed out banks: UBS, Deutsche Bank and JPMorgan Chase. Yet, if the MBTA tries to cancel these swaps, it will have to pay over $100 million in termination fees to the banks. Given that UBS, Deutsche Bank and JPMorgan Chase were bailed out just 4 years ago with hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars, shouldn’t these banks be called on to do their part, by renegotiating the terms of these swaps and waiving their termination fees?

The Committee should approve the $51 million transfer, but it must do much more than that.  It must provide the additional funding to stop the devastating fare hikes from taking place on July 1.  Fare increases are, in effect, regressive taxes on workers who rely on public transit to get to work, on students who use the T to get to school, and on seniors and riders with disabilities who rely on public transit to get everywhere, including to needed medical care.

After providing the funding to avert these disastrous fare hikes, the Committee must begin the long overdue process of finding a way to fund public transportation adequately throughout the entire state.  Let us be clear.  The current mess that the MBTA finds itself in – burdened by more debt than any transit agency in the country and plagued with breakdowns, delays, aging vehicles, and maintenance that is chronically behind schedule – is – the direct result of inadequate funding by this Committee and the entire Massachusetts legislature.   Forward funding does not provide enough revenue to run a first-class urban transit system, even if the MBTA had not been “born broke,” and saddled with over billions in Big Dig debt.

If the situation is dire here in Boston, it is even worse in the rest of the state.  The Regional Transit Authorities are chronically underfunded.  Bus riders in Springfield are facing huge fare increases, with no increase in the currently insufficient level of service.  It is past time to stop treating the RTAs as an afterthought and develop a comprehensive statewide plan for affordable and sustainable transportation that works for the 99%.

In addition to providing more funding, the Committee should investigate the MBTA’s debt.  The MBTA spends over one million dollars every day on debt service payments.  For the last ten years, almost every single dollar collected in fares has been spent on debt service, and it’s because the MBTA has the highest debt burden of any transit agency in the country.  This is not an acceptable way to run our public transit system.  We demand better.

MassDOT’s 2013 budget does nothing to solve the debt problem.  They don’t even appear to be trying.  The Governor promised to fix public transit debt when he was elected.  That was six years ago, and nothing has changed.  It’s up to this Committee to investigate who holds the MBTA’s debt, where these debt service payments are going and how they can be reduced or eliminated.  Can any part of this debt be renegotiated to reduce the principal and the payments?  Will banks agree to waive or reduce fees?  These are the questions this committee should be asking.

As the Committee develops a statewide transportation plan, it must resist calls to privatize public transit resources.  We note with alarm that the new Chief Financial Officer of MassDOT is Dana Levenson, who oversaw the privatization of Chicago’s Skyway Toll Road and 4 of that city’s parking garages, before going on Royal Bank of Scotland, where he advised governments on how to privatize public assets, and investors on how to buy them.  The 99% of Massachusetts will not allow similar privatization to happen here.

Finally, we strongly support the provision of H 4011 that will expand the MassDot board from 5 to 7 members.  This provision, however, should be amended so that one of the new board members is an expert advocate for public transportation riders.  As the hearing process these past few months clearly demonstrated, riders need more of a voice in the decision-making process at the MBTA.

In sum, we urge the Committee to support the $51 million transfer, find alternative budget solutions before July 1 to prevent hikes and cuts, and begin working immediately to a create a comprehensive, sustainable public transportation plan that adequately funds not just the MBTA, but public transit throughout the Commonwealth.

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