CEO Thomas P. O’Neill III Congratulates the Class of 2018

Dear Friend,
Commencement season is once again upon us. It is an exciting time but one that is often met with mixed emotions as students face uncertainty when looking towards the future. Notable speakers will provide encouragement and advice to graduating classes as students enter the next stage of their lives. As I think of words of wisdom to share with aspiring graduates, I am reminded of the commencement address Former First Lady Barbara Bush gave to the Wellesley College Class of 1990, which is considered one of the top 100 American speeches of the 20th century by university scholars.
 Mrs. Bush discussed the importance of remaining true to oneself. She offered three pieces of advice: get involved in the movements that will shape your world, find joy in life no matter the path you choose, and invest in your relationships with others. My grandfather offered similar guidance upon my graduation: “Meet someone new every day” and, “It is nice to be important, but it is more important to be nice.” That advice has served me well. Building new relationships and making connections are important -in politics, in business, and in life- but it is essential, too, to nurture your relationships with those who matter most.
Similarly, finding success takes time, hard work, and commitment. I recently had the pleasure of joining the graduating students of Cristo Rey Boston High School at their Academic Signing Day where they revealed their college selections. Many Cristo Rey students are the first in their families to attend college, and all Cristo Rey Boston graduates are accepted to college. Their life journeys thus far are defined by challenge, audacity, and determination. Over the years, I have had the pleasure of watching Cristo Rey students graduate high school, then complete undergraduate and graduate school, and go on to do incredible things. I look forward to seeing how they will change the world.
To me, the most important trait students can learn is to never stop being a student – of work, of politics, of the news, and of the world. Keep an open mind in all aspects of your life, embrace new experiences, new challenges. Being a lifelong learner will allow you to better understand others and help you establish your place in the world. Opportunity abounds. Now is the time to take risks, seek adventure, and chase your dreams.
I wish congratulations to the Class of 2018 and their parents for all their hard work and success in achieving this impressive accomplishment. To echo the words of Mrs. Bush in her commencement address, “May your future be worthy of your dreams.”

 

Sincerely,
Tom O’Neill

Cristo Rey Boston High School Academic Signing Day 2018

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CEO Tom, COO Shelly, VP of Operations Nairi, pictured with former O’Neill and Associates Cristo Rey corporate work study student Angela (second from right)

Academic Signing Day is one of the most anticipated highlights for the graduating class of Cristo Rey Boston High School. The day culminates with a celebration where the five top-performing seniors reveal their college decisions by donning a hat emblazoned with their selected college’s logo. Their chosen destinations: UMass Lowell, Bentley University, UMass Amherst, UMass Boston, and Boston College. The jubilant moment is filled with shouts of praise and tears of joy. And, while the event’s main attraction is the unveiling by these extraordinary seniors, the night celebrates the entire graduating class of Cristo Rey Boston High School, exceptional in that every graduating senior goes on to a four year college. Many of them are the first in their families to graduate high school.

The path from freshman year to graduation is not easy for Cristo Rey Boston students. Many first year students come to the school with skill levels that are below average for their grade and age. Over the course of four years of accelerated academics, nearly all the students graduate at the appropriate skill level. Along with classroom work, the school requires students to take on a work study at a local business to gain insight into what it is like to work in a professional setting.

Cristo Rey utilizes a unique educational model and multipronged approach for success: active participation by family, faculty, and corporate sponsors. The students, who often come from limited means, must first have a family who is willing to steer them to the private school and encourage them along the way. Balancing challenging academics and a work study is rigorous and support at home is essential. At school the faculty works with each individual student, giving them personal attention and instruction. There are no shortcuts to success, but the path to graduation is paved with such caring classroom teaching teams. Lastly, corporate sponsors play an integral role in the lives of the students. Beginning in their freshman year, companies takes on students and mentors them over the next four years by providing guidance and teaching valuable skills that will benefit them in all future endeavors.

In the end, the true success behind Cristo Rey Boston is the resolve and commitment of the students themselves. The students must want to succeed. Despite all the incredible support of family, faculty, and corporate sponsors, these students still need to make the most of the opportunities in front of them.

Cristo Rey Boston is special to everyone at O’Neill and Associates. CEO Tom O’Neill served as Board Chair of Cristo Rey Boston and its predecessor, North Cambridge Catholic for nearly three decades. In addition our office has employed work study students since the program’s inception in 2004. The staff here knows the work study students personally and we are invested in their success. It is a privilege to be a part of the Cristo Rey Boston story. Our sincere congratulations to the Class of 2018.

CEO Thomas P. O’Neill III on the Federal Court System

220px-thomas_p_oneill_iiiDear Friend,
Last week saw the exit of yet another high profile Trump administration official. The departure of David Shulkin, Secretary of Veteran Affairs, was no surprise after weeks of damaging headlines and rumored controversy between him and President Trump. Secretary Shulkin is one of a long list of senior officials to be ousted – the latest act of a President who seems to take actions as a means of distraction, drawing attention away from the fact that this administration is accomplishing little of what it campaigned on.
While the media stay transfixed by the weekly cascade of firings, turmoil, and policy fits and starts of this administration, one area where the conservative agenda has moved forward with efficiency is the Federal judiciary. President Trump inherited an unusual number of court vacancies, including many judicial emergencies that required immediate attention. Those vacancies existed because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell used a variety of procedures to delay or prevent confirmation of virtually all of President Obama’s judicial nominees. In contrast, under the GOP-led Senate, President Trump has moved quickly to fill federal seats across the country. In fact, this President has appointed more appellate judges in his first year than any president before him. Confirmations are moving fast, but not all are assured. In a few instances, the president’s nominees were so unqualified the Senate was compelled to force their withdrawal.
This ability to flood the federal courts with conservative appointees will impact US public policy for years to come as federal judges are entitled to hold their positions for life. Generations of Americans will be affected if these nominees refuse to recognize the protections organized labor provides working men and women, that love is love no matter your gender, and that women have the right to make decisions about their bodies free from government interference. Presidents come and go, but federal judicial rulings transcend elections.
With the significant shift to the right in the courts, I believe it is more important now than ever to embrace the empowered civil commitment of our youth. Throughout our nation’s history, and especially at our most pivotal moments, it has been young people who have answered the call and taken a position at the forefront of progress. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led the civil rights movement, but the involvement of young Americans, black and white, were the engine of his force for change. Yesterday marked the 50th anniversary of his assassination. Reflecting on his legacy I am reminded of his message that, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” The recent success of the #MarchForOurLives and the many student walk-outs confirm the next generation will again force change. Their political courage has fostered substantive discussion about gun control and even influenced the passage of the STOP School Violence Act of 2018 – increasing funding to further secure schools against gun violence as part of the recent bipartisan Omnibus Bill passed by Congress.
On the night of Dr. King’s assassination in 1968, Presidential candidate Senator Robert Kennedy said, “What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness; but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or they be black.”
This call to action rings as true today as it did 50 years ago. The youth will again lead us forward.
Sincerely,
Tom O’Neill

The Family Pantry of Cape Cod Sees Rise in Clients Following Back to Back Nor’Easters

By: Tom O’Neill 

downloadAs we await the arrival of the fourth Nor’easter this month, it is critical to keep in mind the devastating effects this winter weather has had on our neighbors and the increased damage that may result from more winter storms. Areas such as Cape Cod are especially prone to additional damage following extreme cold, high winds, prominent flooding, and days of power outages caused by back to back storms.

During the difficult times, many in the area are turning to the Family Pantry of Cape Cod for assistance. As Cape Cod’s largest food pantry, it serves over 9,300 clients and in 2017 alone distributed over 73,000 bags of groceries and over 30 tons of gently-used clothing. Year-to-date the number of clients the pantry serves is up 11 percent and new clients are up 7 percent largely due to the onslaught of storms and January’s brutal cold snap. Many times those who find themselves tight on funds will lower the heat in their homes in an effort to reduce spending. However, January’s bitter temperatures reached historic lows forcing many families to spend more on heating to keep pipes from freezing.

With services in high demand and the pantry in its quietest months for donations, Family Pantry of Cape Cod finds itself low on resources to provide essential services. Over the past month the pantry has been forced to cancel two mobile pantry deliveries and two food distributions due to severe weather. Tomorrow’s distribution remains in question.

As the snow begins to fall tomorrow please keep the Family Pantry of Cape Cod and all those they serve in your thoughts. We hope you will consider making a donation.

CEO Thomas P. O’Neill III on Gun Control

 

Since Sandy Hook, classroom doors are always supposed to be locked in my school. Since Sandy Hook, students are not supposed to let visitors into the school in case of hidden threats. I was 13 then; I’m 18 now. This was my childhood. But did it have to be? #GunControlNow

9:18 PM – 15 Feb 2018

There were heartbreaking messages from inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, on Valentine’s Day of all days. The tweet above isn’t one of them. It’s from a Boston area high school student lucky enough to have never experienced the need to hide in a closet or under a desk, or to text her friends and family her good byes.

During my school years in the ’50s and early ’60s we practiced drills. Tensions from the Cold War spurred the federal government to launch a nationwide campaign to inform the citizenry of the dangers of nuclear war. Schoolchildren across the United States were taught to “duck and cover” by a cartoon animal named Bert the Turtle who was very alert and hid in his shell as firecrackers exploded above him. To be honest, we became numb to the training. The threat was real, but amorphous, beyond our control. So we ducked, we covered, we paid attention to where the familiar yellow and black Fallout Shelter signs were. The nuclear threat was real, thankfully the missiles never came.
The threat that today’s schoolchildren prepare for is real, and they know it. I can’t imagine what goes through kids’ minds as they train to use desks as bunkers, to hold text books in front of their faces, to stay silent while armed killers roam their familiar hallways.Younger students are told lies so that the reality of the training isn’t so scary. They’re given imaginary explanations for the exercises, so they don’t get scared. I wonder if the student tweeting above was aware at 13 of the stakes of this training-life or death. And I wonder what she thinks at 18, cellphone in hand, the world’s news at her fingertips, the videos from inside Stoneman Douglas live on her Twitter feed.

The threat in the ’50s was from beyond our borders. The geopolitics that followed World War II seemed intractable and beyond our reach. The threat today is from within. We’re training American school kids to protect themselves from their peers. This is the school experience of an entire generation of Americans.

Instead of a national campaign against this threat, too many in Congress have done what we’re training our kids to do – hide under their desks and stay silent. Too many put the demands of the NRA before the safety of our children.

What the federal government has been unable to do, some states are doing. Massachusetts banned assault weapons nearly two decades ago. Following the Las Vegas shooting, the Commonwealth banned bump-stocks. It’s simply common sense. Last week, Massachusetts joined the states of New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Connecticut as part of a multi-state effort to share information and reduce gun violence. This takes strong leadership. The Massachusetts Legislature, under the indefatigable efforts of House Speaker Robert DeLeo, has boldly moved to strengthen the Commonwealth’s gun laws. In addition, Governor Charlie Baker and Attorney General Maura Healey give thoughtful and consistent leadership on the national stage. Still, as important as these efforts are, they cannot be substitutes for a comprehensive federal effort.


In his inaugural address John F. Kennedy spoke of a generation then coming to power that was “disciplined by a hard and bitter peace.” This generation of students has been raised and disciplined amidst the bitter reality of mass shootings and government’s inaction in response. This generation of students is coming of age and registering to vote. They are accessing the power of assembly and will hold the March for Our Lives on March 24 in Washington, D.C., with sister marches in Boston, New York and dozens of other cities. These students know the answer to the question that began this letter, “Did it have to be?” To paraphrase President Kennedy, let’s do everything in our power to support them to “go forth to lead the land we love.” Godspeed.
Sincerely,
Tom

A Reflection on the Blizzard of 78

By: Tom O’Neill 

Blizzard of 78February 5, 2018 marked forty years since the infamous Blizzard of 78 struck the northeast. In 1978, I was Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts and very clearly remember the challenges former Governor Michael Dukakis and I faced in the wake of such a paralyzing storm.

Snow began to fall on a Sunday afternoon at over an inch an hour. I was at the Garden, where Boston College was playing in the first round of the Beanpot Tournament, losing 12 to 5 to Boston University, our longtime rival. As I watched the defeat of my alma mater, neither I nor the fans around me realized the disastrous conditions that awaited us outside. I was fortunate enough to be able to make it out of the Garden, but hundreds of Beanpot spectators ended up stranded there for days, unable to leave because of the debilitating weather and whiteout conditions. On the precarious trek back to Beacon Hill, I stopped frequently to help stranded drivers push their cars out of snowdrifts. The state soon implemented a travel ban to help protect any more individuals from becoming trapped in their cars away from shelter, as many were.

Early the following morning I boarded an Army helicopter with the Federal Disaster Assistance Administration (today known as FEMA) to spend the week crisscrossing the Commonwealth, checking in with towns and cities as they dug out, and seeing first responders and volunteers help stranded motorists. Despite advance warnings, most in Massachusetts could not fully anticipate the intensity and duration of the storm.  As I traveled the state, I had the privilege of witnessing firsthand the lengths that residents across the Commonwealth would go to in order to help friends, neighbors, and even strangers in times of need.

Over the past year we have seen similar selfless acts following devastating natural disasters. There was Darryl Hudeck, who rescued a mother and her 13-month-old son from flood waters in Houston following Hurricane Harvey. Then there was Massachusetts State Police Sergeant Christopher Sanchez, who deployed to Puerto Rico and helped a young, disabled girl find a new wheelchair after losing everything in Hurricane Maria. These simple acts of kindness that transcend generations from the Blizzard of 1978 to present day, reminding us that even in the snowiest of winters, or the most challenging of storms, we are one community.

CEO Thomas P. O’Neill III on the 2018 State of the Union address

Dear Friend,

Like many Americans, I watched President Trump give his State of the Union address on Tuesday evening. In his address, the President called for unity.  The words, when read from a Teleprompter, offered the impression of a changed man. But the call stood in stark contrast from the policies his administration has pursued. In his single year as president, we have witnessed passionate resistance provoked by the actions and tweets of the President. From the Women’s March and Black Lives Matter to those who protested against the violence in Charlottesville and voted to change a senate seat in Alabama, people in blue states and red states are organizing anew and taking a stand for American ideals. True to the old saying, the President’s divisive actions speak louder than his rehearsed words about unity. Calls to set aside differences mean nothing if not backed by action.

In contrast, while Representative Joe Kennedy III’s response to the State of the Union invoked a similar message of unity, his words were backed by a compassionate policy platform that seeks a better life for everyone in this country.  Kennedy’s call to leave no American behind was uplifting and inspiring. He rejected the impulse to pit groups against each other, the notion that policy outcomes are a zero-sum game in which some must lose if others are to succeed. His words carried meaning because his plans support them.

Elected leaders should commit that 2018 be a time to search for opportunities to set aside differences. Words are not enough. It’s time to do what’s right for all our people.

Sincerely,

Tom O’Neill

O’Neill and Associates Celebrates New Book by Chris Matthews

Last month, O’Neill and Associates hosted a special evening at the Boston Harbor Hotel to celebrate the release of the new book Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit by best-selling author and MSNBC Hardball host, Chris Matthews.

This NYT best seller provides a revealing portrait of the life of Robert F. Kennedy. From his early life to his tragic run for president, Matthews sheds light on the public and private life of Bobby Kennedy in what is bound to be a political classic.

Chris Matthews and TPO

(Chris Matthews and Tom O’Neill)

Before signing books for guests, Matthews offered a passionate speech about the life of RFK remarking that Bobby would have been the politician we need in today’s climate to unite the country. Chris boldly stated that if Bobby were to run for President today, he would surely win.

Over one hundred books were sold. Guests included Kathleen Matthews, Senator Ed Markey, Brookline Bank CEO Darryl Fess, CEDAC Executive Director Roger Herzog and former WCVB news anchor Kelley Tuthill.

Will Democrats Regain Control of Congress in 2018?

Thomas P. O’Neill III, CEO of O’Neill and Associates, was a Sunday guest on NECN‘s DC Dialogue with Eileen Curran and James T. Brett, President and CEO of the New England Council, to review the current state of politics from Boston to Capitol Hill. Tom discussed Roy Moore and the Alabama Senate race, Democratic victories in the recent Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial elections, and partisanship and the upcoming Congressional midterms.

 

TPO NECN

Link to full interview: here!

 

CEO’s Corner: Inaction On Gun Control Can No Longer Be An Option

220px-thomas_p_oneill_iiiIn the last 35 days our nation has seen two of the deadliest mass shootings in United States history. Political leaders offer their “thoughts and prayers” for the victims, their families and friends. I don’t doubt the sincerity of their condolences, but the killings at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs were committed in a house of worship. The victims were there to pray. While we mourn the victims, we’re compelled to point out that our prayers won’t return the dead, our prayers won’t erase the memories of the survivors, churchgoers who no doubt witnessed horror that will remain with them the rest of their lives. This small, close-knit town lost almost five percent of its residents at Sunday Mass.

Republican elected officials, in particular, reject immediate calls to action. The talking points have been distributed– it’s too soon to talk about gun control; we need to let these families mourn.

The New York Times November 6, 2017 editorial “It’s Not Too Soon to Debate Gun Control” offers a forceful, graphical rebuttal to this claim. While we are within days of the killings in Texas, we are 36 days removed from the Las Vegas shooting, 513 days removed the Orlando Nightclub Shooting, and 1,789 days removed from the slaughter of children at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. If new horrors await us regularly, “it’s too soon” can always apply. The claim is hollow. The memory of the victims should demand that we act.

This Fall, Republicans in Congress are attempting to fast-track a tax plan that rearranges the entire economy and skews cuts to corporations and the wealthy. President Trump, Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker Paul Ryan declared that Congress must act before the end of the year, tax cuts are so important. But 40 days after more than 500 were wounded or killed in Las Vegas, and only days after more than two dozen were killed in Sutherland Springs, Texas, there is no urgency—in fact there is no effort at all by President Trump, the Senate Leader, or the House Speaker to address the prevalence of military-grade assault weapons in the United States and the horror for which those tools of death are responsible. Let’s be clear, the time isn’t “right” for gun legislation, it is tragically overdue. To think that partisanship, and fear of the NRA, would be more important than the obligation of elected officials to ensure the basic safety of our citizens is simply unforgivable to me as a former public official.

According to a 2016 study, states with stricter gun laws see fewer gun-related deaths. I am proud to say that Massachusetts is leading the way in gun control—the first state to introduce and pass a law banning the sale of bump stocks, the accessory used by the Las Vegas shooter that allowed him to shoot more than 500 people in a matter of minutes. The effort was introduced by the overwhelmingly Democratic legislature in the wake of the Las Vegas massacre but was met with bi-partisan support and ultimately signed into law by the Baker administration on November 3rd. Fully automatic assault weapons have been banned in the United States since 1935. Many semi-automatic assault rifles, including the the AR-15, were banned from 1994-2004, but in 2004 Congress allowed that law to expire. The AR-15 is manufactured by Colt’s Manufacturing Company in Hartford, Connecticut. Since 2004, an AR-15 was used by mass murderers in Sutherland Springs, in Las Vegas, in Orlando at the Pulse Nightclub, in San Bernadino, in Sandy Hook, and at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. When is it not “too soon”?

Congress should take its lead from the bipartisan approach of effective and thoughtful leadership on gun control in MA. Inaction can no longer be an option.

A few years back I gave a speech in Denver, Colorado where I was asked about my stance on gun control. As a Democrat I feared what reaction the crowd would have to my response. The goal of gun control laws is not to strip individuals of their 2nd Amendment Rights. Individuals are welcome to own and house guns as well as use them for appropriate uses, hunting, skeet and target shooting. No, the goal of gun control is centered on the safety and protection of all. As I finished my statement I braced myself but was pleasantly surprised when I was met with applause. While the 2nd Amendment is a right given to individuals, no one can argue that we also have a right to safety and a feeling of security. By failing to act, Congress leaves the citizens of the United States vulnerable to future attacks. Legislative action is necessary and it must begin today.