Democracy Happened

In Governor's office, Edward A. Palleschi administers oath to Jerry Halberstadt

When we as citizens get together with our representatives, democracy happpens. Thank you for your support and partnership in the effort to develop a legislative study of the problem of bullying. Your phone calls and letters were a significant factor in convincing legislative leaders to support our bill, S1984. Together we have helped to create national landmark legislation, establishing the Massachusetts Commission to Study Ways to Prevent Bullying of Tenants in Public and Subsidized Multi-Family Housing, pursuant to Chapter 2 of the Resolves of 2016.

This Commission was created by S1984 that we proposed and was sponsored by Senator Joan Lovely and Representative Brad Hill, and supported by many other legislators, including Representative Tom Walsh and Representative Ted Speliotis, as well as the Members and Chairs of the Joint Housing Committee, Senator Linda Dorcena Forry and Representative Kevin Honan, and other key leaders on Beacon Hill such as Senate President Stanley Rosenberg and House Speaker Robert DeLeo. We could have achieved nothing, except that our legislators as well as Governor Charlie Baker listened, understood the importance of the problem, and were sympathetic to our movement to prevent bullying.

Every individual and group who testified, wrote letters, or made calls had a part in this victory. Legislators have told us that we made an impact by the broad scope of our support, including in hearings; in letters and calls that you made from all parts of the Commonwealth. Our partners were many, including: Michael Kane, Director and the board of the Mass Alliance of HUD Tenants; Jack Cooper, Director and the board of the Mass Union of Public Housing Tenants; Mary Margaret Moore, Executive Director of the Independent Living Center of the North Shore and Cape Ann; CHAPA Executive Directors Brenda Clement and Karen Wiener, and Eric Shupin, Director of Public Policy.

After taking the oath to serve as Commissioner, Halberstadt said, "I am honored that Governor Charles D. Baker has been pleased on October 14, 2016, to appoint me as a member of the Commission, in my role as Coordinator of the Stop Bullying Coalition. I will use this opportunity to continue working with and representing the interests of residents and the partners of the Stop Bullying Coalition. I look forward to the work of collaborating with all the stakeholders—housing providers, managers, staff, social services, tenants and advocacy groups, state administrative agencies, and legislators. And I am very grateful for the assistance and support of my colleagues, Jonathan Gale and Publia, and the encouragement of my friend, Margaret."

Together, we will now have the opportunity to better understand the factors leading to or inhibiting bullying and harassing in the multifamily housing environment and to develop appropriate solutions and remedies.The Commission will surely want to hear from you.

Our goal is exemplified by the words of Julián Castro, HUD Secretary—A home should be a refuge where every woman and man deserves to live without the threat of violence or harassment.