Representative David DeCoste Supports Legislation to Help Widow of Slain Officer Michael Chesna

Pension, property tax bills in works for Chesna family

 

The widow of slain Weymouth police officer Michael Chesna could be in line for a boosted survivor pension after two key lawmakers on Tuesday gave their blessing to legislation that would allow the city to posthumously promote Chesna to the rank of sergeant.

Rep. Jerald Parisella and Sen. Paul Feeney, who co-chair the Committee on Public Service, said they hoped to quickly advance a bill that would authorize Weymouth retirement officials to pay Cindy Chesna a sergeant's pension.

Michael Chesna was shot and killed in the line of duty this past July. He was a patrolman at the time, and had two children.

While Weymouth Police Chief Richard Grimes posthumously promoted Chesna a day after his murder, officials say legislation is needed to allow Weymouth to pay out a higher pension based on a sergeant's salary.

"I think it's important that we send a message, not only to the Chesna family that we appreciate what they have gone through and the service of Sergeant Chesna but at the same time we're sending a message that in the case of unspeakable tragedy we respect our officers, we respect law enforcement and we will take care of their families in the event of a tragedy," Feeney said at a hearing Tuesday.

Both Parisella and Feeney said they hoped to vote the bill out of committee quickly, and Feeney said it could be recommended "in the next couple of days."

"From my perspective, honored to do it," said Parisella. "I certainly believe that he and his family deserve that honor."

No one testified at the hearing, but the bill's main sponsor Rep. Jamie Murphy submitted a letter to the panel and issued a statement to the News Service.

"I am honored to represent the Town of Weymouth and our entire community continues to show our strong support of Sgt. Chesna's family and all of the members of the Weymouth Police Department," Murphy said. "This piece of legislation has bi-partisan support and I will continue to work with my colleagues Senator Patrick O'Connor and Representative Ron Mariano on passage of this bill. Sgt. Chesna's sacrifice will never be forgotten."

Rep. David DeCoste, a Norwell Republican, said Gov. Charlie Baker is also writing legislation that would give Chesna's family relief from their property tax bill in Hanover.

DeCoste, who represents the Chesna's hometown of Hanover, said the governor's office asked to take the lead on the legislation, and told him Tuesday morning that they were in the process of writing it.

"It should be down here very quickly and that will provide some property tax relief for this fiscal year," DeCoste said.

State law provides for an annual survivor pension equal to the salary a police officer, firefighter or correction officer killed in the performance of their official duties would have received "had he continued in service in the position held by him at the time of his death..."

Committee staff did not know how much higher the pension would be for Chesna's widow if the bill passes, but the Patriot Ledger in Quincy and other media outlets have reported that police officers in Weymouth receive a base salary of about $98,809, while sergeants receive about $112,320.

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Representative David DeCoste Supports Democratic Representative Diana DiZoglio in Harassment Allegations by Colleagues at the MA State House

Source: New Boston Post

 

BOSTON — Some of the gossip and harassment that preceded Rep. Diana DiZoglio’s termination from her job as a legislative aide seven years ago came from elected officials still serving on Beacon Hill today, the Methuen Democrat said in a television interview.

DiZoglio said on the House floor last week that she signed a nondisclosure and non-disparagement agreement to receive severance pay when she was fired by former Rep. Paul Adams, an Andover Republican, in 2011.

In her speech last Thursday, DiZoglio said she was fired after gossip and rumors that she had engaged in inappropriate behavior spread throughout the State House, despite an investigation that discredited them.

On WGBH’s Greater Boston Monday, DiZoglio said she experienced harassment as “a result of the gossip,” which “eventually actually led to my being terminated.”

“I think she was very poorly treated overall,” Rep. David DeCoste, a Norwell Republican, said during his own radio appearance Monday, on WATD.

Asked by host Jim Braude if anyone who subjected her to harassment or gossip was “still in the House today,” DiZoglio said, “I believe so, yes.” She said yes when Braude asked if any of those people were elected officials, and declined to name them.

“I didn’t come forward to accuse or attack anybody,” she said. “I came forward to make sure that the policies change.”

The House on Thursday adopted a package of rules intended to improve how the body responds to workplace harassment complaints, including language restricting the future use of sexual harassment settlement agreements, allowing them only on request of the person making the claim and for a finite period of time.

House Speaker Robert DeLeo, first elected to the speakership in 2009, has said 33 departing House staffers during his tenure signed nondisclosures as part of a process to receive severance. Fifteen of those 33 signed the agreements when they were let go in a round of layoffs in 2009, and none of the agreements were to settle claims of sexual harassment, DeLeo has said.

DiZoglio, who had pushed for a ban on nondisclosure agreements, said she’s “very happy” with the policies that were ultimately adopted.

“We need to find a better way to make sure that the confidentiality of the victim is protected, without allowing public tax dollars to be used to protect not only the reputation of politicians and their staffers who might be conducting or involved in these inappropriate behaviors, and I think that that was the point that we were able to get across and we still need to address moving forward,” she said.

During the debate on the new rules, Rep. Angelo Scaccia said the House should call on Attorney General Maura Healey to investigate the use of nondisclosure agreements.

Healey said Sunday that her office had not been asked to look into the matter.

“I don’t have the details of that and I’m not sure that we know specifically what’s been alleged or what the details are there,” Healey said.

DiZoglio said on WGBH that the decision whether to investigate was up to Healey.

“If she chooses to investigate, I would encourage her to do so,” DiZoglio said. “I’m a state rep, I did my duty. I came forward and shared my experience to try to help.”

DeCoste said that Scaccia “certainly asked the Attorney General Healey to take a closer look at everything that’s going on.” Speaking to the nondisclosure agreements, DeCoste said, “Really we don’t know what they’re about,” including how much was paid out to former employees.

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Representative David DeCoste Supports MA Foster Parents

Mass. Foster Parents Band Together for Bill of Rights, Say DCF Must ‘Stop Playing God’

Source: Huffington Post

 

(Click on the image to view content on original site)

 

For Quira Dang, the last straw that caused her to quit the foster-care system was the loss of the 14-month-old foster son she had hoped to adopt. A Department of Children and Families caseworker failed to inform her of an upcoming court date to terminate his biological parents’ rights, and a distant relative of the child’s attended the trial and ended up with custody.

“We wanted more than anything to adopt him,” says Dang, 31, who had cared for the boy since he was six weeks old. “He identified us as his parents, and he was bonded to us. They took a happy, healthy, well-cared-for child, and they moved him to a stranger with no parenting experience. There’s no way you could say that was in his best interest.”

Dang is one of a group of former and current foster parents seeking to formalize foster parents’ rights in Massachusetts. Barbara Papile, founder of the 70-member group, Massachusetts Foster Parents UNITED, is spearheading an effort to get a Foster Parent Bill of Rights passed in Massachusetts.

The group is fighting for information about their charges, including behavior and health concerns, and respect as members of the child’s care team, which they say DCF routinely denies them. The bill they hope will change that is currently being debated in the Joint Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities.

To date, 17 states have passed a version of the bill, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Massachusetts effort comes at a time that stories about foster-care system failings surface in the media on a near daily basis.

“It’s a system that is under-resourced and stigmatized, and we need to have reforms that are more systemic because continually putting Band-Aids on hasn’t worked and will not work to solve the big problems,” says Adam Pertman, founder of the National Center on Adoption and Permanency and author of “Adoption Nation” (Harvard Common Press, 2011). “We need to move from a child-placement model to a family-success model, and that means reallocating budgets and rethinking how we do our jobs.”

A longtime foster parent, Papile says DCF blacklisted her Rockland home more than a year ago after the agency removed a four-month-old baby in her care who had failure to thrive syndrome. She says she made every effort possible to get the baby to eat and that DCF recanted the FTT diagnosis and removed the baby after Papile expressed frustration at the situation.

“DCF has been out of control for decades,” says Papile, 56, who since 2009 has fostered 17 babies and toddlers, including a one-month-old girl who came to her with 30 broken bones. “They have to stop playing God! Their tactics and ultimatums that are not in their playbook are truly hurting these kids in their care.”

The proposed bill comes amid a number of disturbing allegations against DCF, including an incident last June in which DCF social workers stormed the home of longtime foster parents Meg and John DeMalia at midnight and strip-searched their four biological children. The motivation: A tiny bruise, possibly the result of a bug bite, on their three-year-old foster child’s ear had been reported. The DCF workers also insisted that the biological children be taken to the hospital for medical clearances. When the DeMalias tried to call the police, a caseworker threatened to remove their biological children, according to Meg. The couple closed their home to foster children after the incident.

Foster parents say that as a result of such abuses of power, the children suffer by being moved from home to home and the state loses qualified foster parents whom it has already spent time and money training and licensing. In July, DCF announced a $250,000 initiative to recruit more foster parents, irking experienced foster parents who say the agency should be working to retain the homes it already has.

Since 2015, DCF has reportedly closed 609 foster homes, and 841 foster parents have opted to leave the system. Currently, Massachusetts has 3,855 licensed foster homes and about 10,000 children in foster care, according to published reports. That figure soars to about 18,000 when combined with children in residential-treatment centers and group homes. Last year, DCF granted nearly 300 homes waivers to exceed their capacity, creating overcrowded conditions in which as many as nine people may share one bathroom, a situation this reporter witnessed in an Easthampton foster home.

Having foster homes with a track record of safety is crucial given the high incidence of abuse and neglect of children in state care. In fiscal 2016, 35 children died in DCF’s care, 256 were victims of abuse and neglect, and 263 were neglected or abused, according to DCF.

DCF didn’t respond to a request for comment for this story.

Papile thought she had found her calling after her son left home to join the Air Force eight years ago and she decided to use his empty bedroom to foster children. “I love taking care of the babies,” says the grandmother of six, including a set of one-year-old and four-year-old twins. “I’m more effective with the babies. You love them and nurture them, and you can give them a good start because they’re not coming with so much baggage.”

That all changed after Papile told DCF she was worried about the four-month-old’s refusal to eat and the agency removed the child. “A four-month-old who weighs eight pounds can tank pretty quickly,” Papile says. “I told them I was concerned that the placement might not be a good fit, and they translated that into my being unable to care for the child.”

Fear of retaliation and removal of their placements keep many families silent, foster parents say, but as negative stories about DCF continue to air in the press, more families are being emboldened to come forward.

“Our going public with our story has brought forth a landslide of foster parents with similar stories of abuse by DCF workers,” says former foster parent Elaine Cleaves.

A common thread in these stories is how they confronted a culture of deception at DCF, either through omission of key information about their charges or through outright lies.

In Cleaves’ case, a social worker’s failure to reveal a 12-year-old boy’s sexual predation history ended up with her then-four-year-old daughter being sexually abused four years ago. Cleaves, 68, of Chelmsford, has fostered about 500 children since the late 1970s and adopted two, including the girl who was abused. She filed a lawsuit against DCF and retired from fostering.

“You read your child a bedtime story and kiss her good night, and she wakes you because she had a very bad dream and insists there is a monster in her room,” Cleaves says. “You go in and do the flashlight thing, assuring her there is no monster, only to learn she was right and the monster was placed in your home by the very agency whose charter it is to protect children.”

Cleaves is waiting for a judge to decide whether the case can go forward, or as DCF has claimed, it is immune from liability because the act was committed by a third party. Cleaves believes granting DCF immunity in such cases basically gives the agency a license to lie: “They can make false charges, lie if it is convenient, strip-search children, place sex offenders in our homes and not tell us, and claim immunity when bad stuff happens.”

She once considered foster parenting her profession but now focuses on parenting the nine-year-old daughter who, she says, bears a host of psychological scars from the abuse. “Foster parents are the backbone of the foster-care system, yet we do not have a voice,” Cleaves says. “We need to be given a voice, we need to have a sense of security in the system, and we need to know all the children in our homes are safe. We need to have confidence in our DCF workers and know that DCF is held accountable for its actions.”

Rep. Joseph McKenna (R-Worcester), a co-sponsor of the Foster Parent Bill of Rights, says the legislation would address breakdowns in communication and help DCF retain more qualified foster parents. “We, as legislators, hear frequently that basic and necessary pieces of information, like medical records, behavioral concerns, allergies, medications, even occasionally the foster child’s name, are not provided to foster parents,” McKenna says. “It is nearly impossible to provide adequate care and services to a child whom you literally know nothing about.”

Regarding communication issues, he says, “foster parents have incredible difficulty reaching DCF if they have any questions or concerns or any critical emergency with the child arises. They often have trouble reaching DCF if they require respite. These foster parents are putting themselves out there for these children and are unfortunately being ignored and not treated as partners in this fostering relationship.”

In addition to the Foster Parent Bill of Rights, two bills pending in Massachusetts’ Legislature would help address some of the issues raised by foster parents. An “electronic backpack” bill would create a database of every foster child’s school records. The other bill would establish an independent foster-care review office to oversee the state’s foster-care system, make policy recommendations, review individual cases, and ensure accountability and transparency.

Recent court victories in other states have bolstered the foster-care reform movement. After years of high-profile abuse cases and foster-parent attrition, Washington State recently created a new agency — the Department of Children, Youth and Families — to administer child-protective and foster-care services. Last year, a California federal appeals court ruled that social workers who lied to remove a girl from her mother’s home weren’t entitled to immunity.

During her three years as a foster mother, Dang, of Billerica, says she “experienced many issues regarding DCF.” The issues ranged from being given an incorrect first or last name for a child, not being told that a child only spoke Spanish, and learning of a child’s diagnosis by finding medicine in the child’s bag.

In written testimony supporting the Foster Parent Bill of Rights, Dang states, “Through this whole experience, I have never felt like part of the team or that my opinion and experience matter. We’ve been treated like babysitters. It’s one thing to not have control over what happens to a child, but it’s another thing to not be given the information that is available.”

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Representative David DeCoste Applauds Town of Hanover for Initiating Traffic Issues along Route 139

After various meetings with the Town of Hanover, at the Board of Selectmen meeting last night. Town Manager Joseph Colangelo announced that they will begin the initial study to resolve issues along route 139, and has requested funds. 

With the numerous complaints and traffic problems regarding this area in the center of Hanover, many constituents within the town are pleased that studies will soon begin so that there will be smoother and more efficient transportation.

 

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New England Commissioned Officers Award Presented to Representative David DeCoste for his Continued Support

New England Commissioned Officers Association presented Representative David DeCoste of the 5th Plymouth District an award for his continued support of their legislation and mission to help protect and serve the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

 

 

 

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DECOSTE SUPPORTS PENSION, PROPERTY TAX BILLS IN WORKS FOR CHESNA FAMILY

Just posted in the State House News Service:

 

Early this afternoon at the Joint Committee on Public Service, legislation to support Officer Chesna and his family were introduced and looked upon favorably by members.

 

 

PENSION, PROPERTY TAX BILLS IN WORKS FOR CHESNA FAMILY

By Matt Murphy
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, OCT. 9, 2018......The widow of slain Weymouth police officer Michael Chesna could be in line for a boosted survivor pension after two key lawmakers on Tuesday gave their blessing to legislation that would allow the city to posthumously promote Chesna to the rank of sergeant.

Rep. Jerald Parisella and Sen. Paul Feeney, who co-chair the Committee on Public Service, said they hoped to quickly advance a bill that would authorize Weymouth retirement officials to pay Cindy Chesna a sergeant's pension.

Michael Chesna was shot and killed in the line of duty this past July. He was a patrolman at the time, and had two children.

While Weymouth Police Chief Richard Grimes posthumously promoted Chesna a day after his murder, officials say legislation is needed to allow Weymouth to pay out a higher pension based on a sergeant's salary.

"I think it's important that we send a message, not only to the Chesna family that we appreciate what they have gone through and the service of Sergeant Chesna but at the same time we're sending a message that in the case of unspeakable tragedy we respect our officers, we respect law enforcement and we will take care of their families in the event of a tragedy," Feeney said at a hearing Tuesday.

Both Parisella and Feeney said they hoped to vote the bill out of committee quickly, and Feeney said it could be recommended "in the next couple of days."

"From my perspective, honored to do it," said Parisella. "I certainly believe that he and his family deserve that honor."

No one testified at the hearing, but the bill's main sponsor Rep. Jamie Murphy submitted a letter to the panel and issued a statement to the News Service.

"I am honored to represent the Town of Weymouth and our entire community continues to show our strong support of Sgt. Chesna's family and all of the members of the Weymouth Police Department," Murphy said. "This piece of legislation has bi-partisan support and I will continue to work with my colleagues Senator Patrick O'Connor and Representative Ron Mariano on passage of this bill. Sgt. Chesna's sacrifice will never be forgotten."

Rep. David DeCoste, a Norwell Republican, said Gov. Charlie Baker is also writing legislation that would give Chesna's family relief from their property tax bill in Hanover.

DeCoste, who represents the Chesna's hometown of Hanover, said the governor's office asked to take the lead on the legislation, and told him Tuesday morning that they were in the process of writing it.

                                                      

"It should be down here very quickly and that will provide some property tax relief for this fiscal year," DeCoste said.

State law provides for an annual survivor pension equal to the salary a police officer, firefighter or correction officer killed in the performance of their official duties would have received "had he continued in service in the position held by him at the time of his death..."

Committee staff did not know how much higher the pension would be for Chesna's widow if the bill passes, but the Patriot Ledger in Quincy and other media outlets have reported that police officers in Weymouth receive a base salary of about $98,809, while sergeants receive about $112,320.

-END-

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ADAPTIVE REUSE OF FORMER KENNEDY BUILDING IN HANOVER UNDERWAY

ADAPTIVE REUSE OF FORMER KENNEDY BUILDING IN HANOVER UNDERWAY

                              

 

OCTOBER 2017  Yesterday Archbishop of Boston Seán P. O’Malley and Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts Karyn Polito were joined by The Planning Office for Urban Affairs, NEI General Contracting, and The Architectural Team to celebrate the groundbreaking of Bethany Apartments in Hanover, MA. The project involves an $8.5 Million adaptive reuse of the former dormitory at the Cardinal Cushing Centers into much needed affordable housing for the community.

The Kennedy Building will be converted into 37 spacious units within the former classrooms and other parts of the building. Of the 37, there will be a mix of one, two, and three-bedroom units and the four lowest-income units will be rented with a preference for state Department of Mental Health clients. The design will preserve the historic envelope of the three-story H-shaped brick building and maintain the existing structure. HVAC, plumbing, and electrical systems will be incorporated to ensure long-term functionality of the building.

The redevelopment of the underutilized building will provide bright, spacious new homes to 37 families in the community of Hanover as well as fulfill the Boston Archdiocese’s mission to help create true communities where people with a wide range of incomes and abilities can live together with dignity and respect. NEI is excited to be a part of this project.

 

 

Courtesy of the NEI General Contracting.

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MA State Representative Donates Pay Raise to Charity

MA: State Representative Donates Pay Raise to Charity

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Patriot Ledger Article: PATTY FIORE ALVARADO, Norwell: Thanks to Rep. David DeCoste

Courtesy of the Patriot Ledger:

To get full article, click on the image below.

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BRAVE ACT Passes MA Legislature

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                    CONTACT: Caitlin Favreau (617) 722-2430

MAY 25, 2018

 

Representative David F. DeCoste supports bill to enhance veterans benefits in Massachusetts

 

BOSTON – State Representative David F. DeCoste, R-Norwell, is backing legislation to enhance veterans benefits in Massachusetts.

 

House Bill 4525, An Act relative to veterans’ benefits, rights, appreciation, validation and enforcement, also known as the BRAVE Act, passed the House of Representatives on a unanimous vote of 150-0 on May 23.

 

In addition to doubling state funding assistance for indigent veterans’ burial costs from $2,000 to $4,000, the bill provides for an increase in the property tax exemption available to veterans who perform volunteer work for their home community, raising the cap from $1,000 to $1,500.  The bill also adjusts the residency requirement for veterans and surviving spouses to qualify for real estate tax exemptions, reducing the amount of time these individuals must reside in Massachusetts from five consecutive years to two consecutive years.

 

An additional provision contained in the BRAVE Act gives cities and towns the option to adjust veterans property tax abatements on an annual basis.  The amount of the increase would not be able to exceed the cost of living increase for that year, as calculated by the Consumer Price Index.

 

The BRAVE Act also:

 

  • updates the current military campaign eligibility for the Welcome Home Bonus, and authorizes the family of a deceased service member to receive the $1,000 stipend;

 

  • adds Prisoners of War (POWs) to the list of veterans eligible for a property tax abatement;

 

  • allows municipalities to designate a spot for veterans parking at their city or town hall during normal business hours;

 

  • requires employers to provide employees who are veterans with time off, with or without pay, to observe Veterans Day;

 

  • establishes a special commission to study the cost and feasibility of exempting veterans from tuition and fees when attending a public university, with a report due by December 31, 2018;

 

  • allows combat medics to use their military training and experience to receive EMT certification in the Commonwealth without having to repeat duplicative classes;

 

  • requires the Department of Veterans Services to maintain and publish a list of law firms and organizations that provide pro bono legal representation for veterans;

 

  • allows parents or surviving guardians of veterans who died in service to the country to receive a real estate credit on their property beginning on January 1, 2019;

 

  • authorizes recipients of the Bronze Star to be eligible for Bronze Star License Plates through the Registry of Motor Vehicles; and

 

  • allows qualifying individuals whose vehicles are owned by trusts, partnerships, or corporations to be eligible for Gold Star Family license plates.

 

The Senate previously approved its own version of the BRAVE Act on May 3.  The House and Senate will now attempt to reconcile the differences between the two bills and reach agreement on a final bill that will be sent to Governor Charlie Baker for his signature.

 

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