By Sue Ellen Woodcock
Not only has the Presidential race garnered the interest of Massachusetts voters but so have the initiative ballot questions. On Nov. 8 voters will be faced with four questions covering slot machines, charter schools, marijuana and animal rights. Several people weighed in on the questions.
Question 1 has already drawn a lot of attention in Revere do to a similar question posed to the city on Oct. 18. By a margin of 2-1 the city voted to turn down a request for a zoning change that would have allowed a slots parlor casino and a 400-room hotel to be built on the current site of Lee’s Trailer Park on Revere Beach Parkway.
Question 1 is statewide and would permit the Gaming Commission to license one additional slot-machine gaming establishment at a location that meets certain conditions specified in the law.
Mayor Brian Arrigo has said, “I’ve obviously been an outspoken opponent of Question 1 since the moment I first saw the proposal to build a slot parlor in Revere. I could tell it was unrealistic, unworkable, and poorly thought out. Revere voters spoke resoundingly on this issue last week, rejecting the slot parlor proposal by a 2-to-1 margin. That should send a clear message to the rest of the Commonwealth: we don’t want this here in Revere, and we don’t think this proposal meets our high standards.”
If a license is issued the facility must be located within 1,500 feet of a horse racing facility.
“It is clear by the way this question is written that unless another horse track opens in the state, an additional slot license could not go anywhere other than Revere. Voters in Revere have already rejected this group’s proposal and voters statewide should do the same.” Arrigo said.
The Horse Racing Jobs and Education Committee has been working to pass this ballot question.
“A yes vote on ballot question one on Nov. 8 would mean an estimated $88 million in new tax revenue every year for the Massachusetts local aid fund, a fund that helps pay for schools, police stations, and teacher wages in the cities and town across the Commonwealth. In addition, a yes vote on Nov. 8 would mean thousands of new jobs,” said Jason Osborne, director of Yes on Question 1.
Question 2 asks for the expansion of charter schools in the Commonwealth. A yes, vote would raise the cap and allow up to 40 charter schools to be established. Revere is the only city in the state without a charter school. Right now 258 Revere students are enrolled in charter schools outside of the city. A projected $2,023,121 is spent on Revere students who go to those schools. A yes vote would raise the cap and a no vote would keep things as they are.
“I stand with the entire Revere School Committee, Rep. Roselee Vincent, State Sen. Joseph Boncore, 168 school committees, and many other leaders across the state in opposing Question 2.” said Mayor Arrigo. “Thanks to the hard work of our teachers, administrators, staff, parents and students, we have an outstanding school system – but their continued success requires financial support. Losing more money to charters would put the great work our schools do in jeopardy. Massachusetts’ public school system is the envy of the nation, ranking #1 by almost any metric. Now is not the time to take money out of our traditional public schools.”
But Revere mother of five, Denise Giarla is pleased with the education they’re receiving. Her kids have gone to Mystic Regional Charter School up to eighth grade and then to St. Mary’s in Lynn. She said all of her kids are very smart and did well in the charter school. The oldest is a software engineer, the next one is studying to be an engineer, a third one is in the trades and the youngest two are still in school.
There are several things she likes about the charter school. One is that if a child is in second grade but reading a fifth grade level the school moves them up for that class. She also likes two teachers being in the classroom, the school requires the learning of Spanish in lower grades and Latin in grades 6-8. There is also strict discipline and a requirement to wear uniforms.
Voters will also vote on Question 3 which addresses the condition of farm animals. It would prohibit any confinement of pigs, calves and hens in which they cannot lay down, stand up, fully extend their limbs or turn around freely.
Julie Malvarosa, of the Revere Police Department pitches in as animal control officer. She said she can’t recall any farm animals in the city but she has seen videos of animals being kept in confined conditions.
“The ones I’ve seen can’t move an inch,” Malvarosa said. “I know it can increase the size of a chicken egg and that increases the cost by a penny.”
She said confinement also increases disease, cause brittle bones with no pain medication and four to five chickens put together can lead to salmonella.
“Ten states have already passed similar legislation,” Malvarosa said. “It’s an overdue idea. Anyone can look at this and know it’s prehistoric. There’s no need.”
A no vote would allow the treatment of animals to stay as it is.
When it comes to Question 4 about the legalization, regulation and taxation of marijuana…it was difficult to find an official who would speak about it. Many thought it was a good proposal. One resident opened up about his feelings.
James Arthur, a designer and business owner has lived in Revere for over six years. He consults and manages website design, development, and comprehensive marketing services for small to medium sized businesses and non-profits.
“Prohibition is a known and failed initiative and I’m really excited to see what’s possible in Massachusetts with a yes on Question 4 vote. This will help steer money squandered in the black market into city and state tax revenues and create opportunities in lieu of arrests” Arthur said.