Speak Out for More Transparency on Beacon Hill

Action of the Week

~ If you do nothing else this week, this is the action that can make a difference. ~

Special Joint Committee on Initiative Petitions/Legislative Transparency on the Agenda

Tuesday, March 26, 10am
State House Rm A2

The Committee is holding a hearing on the ballot question authorizing the Auditor to audit the Legislature. ( Bill H4251, An Act expressly authorizing the Auditor to audit the Legislature.)

It’s too late to register to give oral testimony but written testimony can be submitted to the Committee via email at SpecialJointCommitteeonInitiativePetitions @ malegislature.gov. The deadline to submit written testimony is Saturday, March 30 at 5:00 PM.

You may contact Committee staff with any questions at Mary.Cecconi @ mahouse.gov or Elizabeth.Berman @ masenate.gov. There are no Lowell legislators on the Committee, but Senator Cindy Friedman, of Billerica, is the Senate co-chair of the committee. Billerica SL members can reach her at CindyFriedman @ masenate.gov.

Standing up for this ballot initiative is one way of fighting for transparency in the legislature. If this ballot initiative is successful, the Massachusetts legislature’s poor NATIONWIDE rating on transparency CAN be changed.
h/t Indivisible Acton

The hearing comes just after Sunshine Week highlighted the lack of transparency in our Legislature. In this WGBH video, https://www.wgbh.org/news/politics/2024-03-15/2023-was-a-banner-year-for-government-transparency-on-beacon-hill-and-not-in-a-good-way Erin Leahy, Executive Director of Act on Mass, explained why Massachusetts has “a reputation for being one of the least transparent legislatures in the country” and called 2023 a ‘banner year’ for that.

And in this article, Sunshine Week meets shade on Beacon Hill, https://www.recorder.com/Sunshine-Week-meets-shade-on-Beacon-Hill-54403262 Jonathan Cohn, Policy Director at Progressive Mass, documents the dramatic drop in the number of roll call votes this session compared to past years. The article also mentions the Sunlight Act that MA Indivisibles lobbied for earlier this year.

Solidarity Lowell Events and Actions

Emergency Housing Coalition Meeting

Sunday April 7, 6pm
UML Center For Women And Work, 150 Wilder Street, Lowell

Join us in this coalition effort from LLAMA, Merrimack Valley Project, Sacred Sun Project, and Solidarity Lowell.

Continuing the work of advocating for humane treatment of our unhoused neighbors and for affordable housing. If you have questions about the agenda or the past meeting, please contact Felix Brown at felixfab62 @ gmail.com

Next Solidarity Lowell Meeting

Sunday April 28, 5:30-7pm 
Status: Hybrid OR Zoom to be determined closer to date
Topic/speaker: Coordinating Committee Elections and TBD

Unpacking Whiteness

Individuals committed to exploring their own racial biases are invited to participate in an Unpacking Whiteness Dialogue Group. The purpose of the group is to engage in supportive, structured dialogues with others to explore whiteness in contemporary society, especially to better understand the legacy and impact of white supremacy, white privilege, explicit and implicit bias, systemic racism, and microaggressions. There will be five sessions total.

Sign up at http://bit.ly/uw-signup

For more information, please contact Marissa Dupont: marissa@solidaritylowell.com

Support Needed for Asylum-Seeker

Lilian, an asylum-seeker from the Dominican Republic, finally moved into an apartment! She can use assistance with furnishing the place.

Donations and gift cards are appreciated. These can be given to Marissa Dupont, who will pass them along to Lillian. CashApp: $gollygee17   Venmo: @owlnerd

For checks, cash donations, or gift cards, email marissa@solidaritylowell.com to coordinate drop-off.

Lowell Events & Actions

Next City Council Meeting

Tuesday, March 26 at 6:30pm, at City Hall and online

Meetings are usually held weekly Tuesdays at 6:30pm with public welcome. Occasionally meetings are canceled due to holiday weekends. Attend in person or by using remote participation as follows: Members of the public may view the meeting via LTC.Org (Online; Live Streaming; Or Municipal Cable Channel 6).

To speak, you must register by 4pm the day of the meeting. Those wishing to speak regarding a specific agenda item must register to speak in advance of the meeting by sending an email to the City Clerk indicating the agenda item and a phone number to call so that you may be issued a Zoom link to the meeting if you wish to speak remotely. Email Address is MGEARY@LOWELLMA.GOV. If you have no access to email you may contact the City Clerk at 978-674-4161.

See agenda for details:

2.2. Recognitions:

A. 8th Annual Sustainable Lowell Awards:
Lowell Litter Krewe (Brad Buitenhuys)
UMass Lowell’s Rist Institute for Sustainability and Energy (Ruairi O’Mahony)

B. Youth Climate Change Action Award:
Plastic Waste (Jisella Sanquiche)
Carbon Footprint (Penina Mukundi)
Compost (Tyvohn Matias Mbugua)
Urban Forestry (Disha Patel)


6.4.C. Robinson – Req. City Mgr. Provide Update On Plan To Clean Embankment On The VFW Next To The Aiken Bridge.


9.1.Ordinance – Amend Fee Schedule – Residential Parking Signs
Documents: https://www.lowellma.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Item/27315?fileID=55462

9.2. Ordinance – Amend Parking Rates FY24
Documents: https://www.lowellma.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Item/27316?fileID=55466


10.1. Rules And Election Law SC March 19, 2024.

10.2. Ad-Hoc Subcommittee – Restoration Of Superior Court March 20, 2024.

10.3. Economic/Downtown Development SC March 26, 2024.

How to contact your City Councilor

It’s easy via the Webform above. You can write to as many of the councilors as you’d like, all at once. You can include the City Manager. You can have a copy of what you send returned to you. And you can communicate anonymously if you wish.

Remember. They work for us. You have a right to bring your concerns about the City to them.

Inhabitants: An Indigenous Perspective

Tuesday, March 26, 6:30-8pm
Lowell National Historical Park Visitor Center

Follow the story of Native American Tribes as they restore their traditional land management practices. This 76-minute film is presented by the Lowell Parks and Conservation Trust in partnership with the Lowell Film Collaborative as part of their 2024 Eco-Film Series, which showcases educational eco-themed films on the last Tuesday of every month from January through June.

More information on the series:  https://www.nps.gov/planyourvisit/event-details.htm?id=D921C2A3-B546-EB95-B086E192975F99F7

Hunger And Homelessness Commission Has An Opening

If you are a resident of Lowell or a non-resident affiliated with a Lowell organization or institution and believe in and support the special interests of the hungry and homeless and are willing to work on behalf of the City of Lowell on this issue, this may be for you.

The Commission meets once a month, usually on the first Wednesday, for 60-90 minutes. Meetings are open to the public.

For more information on the Commission opening: https://g.co/kgs/dBzTu77

Support for Our Unhoused Siblings

Life Connection Center could use help with their Night Owl program, 7pm to 12am.

They also need donations, especially cold weather supplies.

Useful items include:

  • Luggage & duffle bags for containing belongings for easy transport
  • Heaters (camping appropriate)
  • Mylar sleeping bags
  • Bottled water
  • Ponchos
  • Jackets and coats
  • Gloves and mittens
  • Umbrellas
  • Gently Used or New Towels for Shower Service
  • Undergarments
  • Socks
  • Toilet paper
  • toiletries
  • Outreach Snacks

That first item is important. We anticipate sweeps will continue. Folks therefore need a way to keep their belongings together and easy to transport on short notice.

Items may be dropped off Monday through Friday 8am-6pm and Sunday through Thursday 7pm-10pm at 192 Appleton Street. (978) 997-0588

You may also contribute through their Amazon wish list at

Opportunities to help at Lowell Transitional Living Center

Amazon wishlist

The LTLC is always in need of volunteers. This is another venue where Solidarity Lowell members can show their support for our unhoused neighbors. 978-458-9888

Eliot Church Day Center

273 Summer St
Provides breakfast and lunch, and day space. St. Paul’s Kitchen serves dinner.

For more information on how you might help: https://eliotlowell.org/daycenter/

Other Events

Touchbase Tuesdays

Tuesday, March 26, 1-2pm
Tuesday, April 2, 1-2pm

Virtual – RSVP: https://www.mobilize.us/activist-afternoons/event/586133/ 

Join Indivisible Acton Area weekly for conversation about local, state, and national current events. Let’s get together to update/review/share/plan news and actions people can take to win in 2024. Some of the brainstorming ideas discussed here turn into take action activities for the Indivisible Acton Area.

Joint Committee on Ways and Means FY25 Budget Public Hearing

Tuesday, March 26, 11am
Gardner Auditorium
RSVP here to sign up to attend or submit written testimony:
Watch the hearing at https://malegislature.gov/Events/Hearings/Detail/4897

This hearing will include other budget-related items, including funding higher education, and any bills that require funding that have passed out of committee, which includes Access to Counsel.

Access to Counsel testimony
Fact sheet: https://www.massrtc.org/uploads/2/7/0/4/27042339/access_to_counsel_bills_fact_sheet_2-15-24.pdf

We are at a critical moment. With both a line-item for Access to Counsel in Governor Healey’s FY25 budget and the full Access to Counsel bill H. 4360 (new number) in the House Ways and Means Committee, it is the time to push hard for the line-item to be passed in tandem with the full bill.

Please include in your testimony the following paragraph:
We respectfully urge the Joint Committee on Ways and Means to include in both the House and the Senate FY25 budgets $3.5 Million (Line-item 0321-1800) to fund an Access to Counsel program, alongside the full Access to Counsel bill language contained in S.864/H.4360, which provides the framework for a statewide program. Without representation, the majority of tenants face eviction alone. Without legal representation, many tenants risk becoming homeless. The time is now to start a statewide Access to Counsel program.

Submit Written Testimony: By Wednesday, March 27 at 5 pm, by email to Emerson.Gagnon @ masenate.gov and Kerry.Rugenstein @ mahouse.gov. Address your testimony to Senate Ways and Means Chair Michael Rodrigues and House Ways and Means Chair Aaron Michlewitz. Below is a sample letter you can make your own and mail or email to Chair Rodrigues and Chair Michlewitz.

Sample email
The Honorable Michael J. Rodrigues
Chair, Senate Committee on Ways and Means
State House Room 212, Boston, MA 02108

The Honorable Aaron M. Michlewitz
Chair, House Committee on Ways and Means
State House Room 243, Boston, MA 02108

Dear Chair Rodrigues and Chair Michlewitz,

Thank you for all your work to prevent homelessness and housing insecurity. Without legal representation, many tenants risk becoming homeless. Laws are complicated. Courts are complicated. And most tenants are unrepresented and face eviction alone. The time is now to start a statewide Access to Counsel program.

We urge the Joint Committee on Ways and Means to include in your FY25 budget $3.5 Million (Line-item 0321-1800) to start an Access to Council program in tandem with the full Access to Council bill language in S.864/H.4360, which provides the framework for a statewide program.

[Add a sentence about your organization, why this is important to you/your organizations, or a story that you know of someone who faced eviction alone]

Thank you,
[Your name, email address]

Rep. Vanna Howard is a member of the Committee AND a co-sponsor. Constituents, make sure she knows where you stand regarding Access to Counsel.

The Truth About Crisis Pregnancy Centers

Tuesday, March 26, 2024, 7:30-8:30pm 
Virtual – RSVP: https://secure.everyaction.com/uHE4Kp7aXE6sPvrDg5uLTA2
Sponsor:Indivisible National

Crisis pregnancy centers pretend to help women seeking healthcare, but in reality they use deceitful practices and spread disinformation with the goal of ending abortion access. Did you know that your tax dollars even fund them? Join us to learn who operates these centers, how they mislead vulnerable women and what we can do to fight back. Our friends at Grandmothers for Reproductive Rights organize against these centers and will share the tactics they use to successfully expose them.

GAI Bi-Weekly Postcard Action Hour

Wednesday, March 27,  6-7:30pm
Panera, 58 Peters St, North Andover
Sponsor: Greater Andover Indivisible
RSVP: https://www.mobilize.us/indivisiblegreaterandover/event/565734/

Leading up to the 2024 elections, we’ll be writing to voters in key swing states/districts with messages about must-win candidates, progressive issues, Democrats’ accomplishments and urging unregistered likely-Dems to register and vote!

Introduction to Deep Canvassing: The Proven Method to Change Hearts and Minds

Tuesday, March 27, 6-7pm
Sponsor: People’s Action
Virtual – RSVP: https://www.mobilize.us/peoplesaction/event/604454

Immigrants’ Day at the State House

Thursday, March 28, 9am-1pm
State House
RSVP: https://miracoalition.org/news/immigrants-day-at-the-state-house-2024/

Each year hundreds of immigrant and refugee constituents from across the Commonwealth come together in the State House to celebrate their contributions and advocate for their legislative and budget priorities. Join MIRA this year to advocate for new arrivals, language access, the Safe Communities Act, and internationally trained physician licensure.

Despite legal barriers and an increase in hate towards immigrants and refugees, we continue to move forward together, fostering the courage it takes to fuel change.

At Immigrants’ Day you will hear personal stories from political and community leaders, as well as have the opportunity to speak directly with legislators about policies that affect our communities.

Postcards for Democracy

Thursday, March 28, 10:30am-Noon
Kimball Farm Country Store, 400 Littleton Road, Westford
Sponsor: Indivisible Westford
$15 per packet

Join fellow activists every Thursday to write postcards over coffee and conversations.

State Level Actions

Ask your legislators to support independent correctional oversight

Please ask your legislators to support and pass S.1545/H.3956 – An Act creating an independent correctional oversight office to facilitate the recommendations of the Special Legislative Commission on Structural Racism in Correctional Facilities of the Commonwealth

https://secure.everyaction.com/HNovRAJC0EWex1qjZZan3 Q2
h/t Stella Ko, Indivisible Acton

To Contact the Governor

Governor’s Office of Constituent Services (617) 725-4005
Call between 9am and 5pm and leave a message.

Or email the governor, using this form: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/email-the-governors-office#email-the-governor-using-this-form-

Our State Legislators’ Info

Speaker Ronald Mariano Ronald.Mariano@mahouse.gov | 617-722-2500 | Rm 356
Senate President Karen Spilka Karen.Spilka@masenate.gov | 617-722-1500 | Rm 332
Rep. Rodney Elliott Rodney.Elliott@ma.house.gov | 617-722-2000 x7313 | Rm B1
Rep. Vanna Howard Vanna.Howard@mahouse.gov | 617-722-2060 | Rm 33
Local office: 25 Central Street, ground floor, Lowell
Rep. Rady Mom Rady.Mom@mahouse.gov | 617-722-2637 | Rm 544
Rep. Colleen Garry Colleen.Garry@mahouse.gov | 617-722-2380 | Rm 238
Senator Edward Kennedy edward.kennedy@masenate.gov | 617-722-1630 | Rm 109-E
Senator Michael Barrett Mike.Barrett@masenate.gov | 617-722-1572 | Rm 109-D
Senator Jamie Eldridge James.Eldridge@masenate.gov | 617-722-1120 | Rm 511-C
Senator Barry Finegold Barry.Finegold@masenate.gov | 617-722-1612 | Rm 511A
(… or find yours here: https://malegislature.gov/Search/FindMyLegislator)

Massachusetts State House, 24 Beacon St, Boston, MA 02133

National Actions

How to Contact the White House

(Includes a link to send email.)

Our Federal Legislators’ Info

Senator Elizabeth Warren
309 Hart Senate Office Building | Washington, DC 20510 | 202-224-4543
2400 JFK Federal Building | 15 New Sudbury Street | Boston, MA 02203 | 617-565-3170

Senator Edward Markey
255 Dirksen Senate Office Building | Washington, DC 20510 | 202-224-2742
975 JFK Federal Building | 15 New Sudbury St | Boston, MA 02203 | 617-565-8519

Representative Lori Trahan
2439 Rayburn HOB | Washington, DC 20515 | 202-225-3411
126 John Street | Lowell, MA 01852 | 978-459-0101

Representative Seth Moulton
202-225-8020 | 978-531-1669

The RRT (Rapid Response Team) Action List compiles action items from the week and upcoming events into one place. If you would like to add anything to the weekly update, please send it to Dee Halzack at dee@solidaritylowell.com.

Solidarity Lowell is a volunteer group of community members of Greater Lowell working toward social justice by defending the human rights, dignity, and equality of all persons against all forms of hate and discrimination.

Visit the Solidarity Lowell website at solidaritylowell.com

Link to minutes of March meeting

Link to recording of March meeting

See recordings of past Solidarity Lowell meetings in our YouTube channel at:

For positive news visit Solidarity Lowell Upbeat on Facebook:

Solidarity Lowell is a chapter of Progressive Massachusetts. Join at: https://www.progressivemass.com/donate/