Massport Officially Kicked Off Boston Harbor Dredging Project

On Friday, September 15th, the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) officially kicked off the Boston Harbor Dredging Project – a three-year, $350 million state and federally funded multi-phase project. Governor Baker, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Edward Markey, Congressman Stephen Lynch, local elected officials and representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) were there to highlight the economic impacts the project will have on the Commonwealth and the entire New England region.

The Boston Harbor Dredging Project will continue to support growth at the Conley Container Terminal, which has had three consecutive record breaking years for volume, including over 256,000 Twenty Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) in Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 – a 3.9 percent increase over FY 2016. The Port and Terminal generates $4.6 billion in economic activity each year, supports 7,000 direct jobs and services exports and imports for 1,600 businesses across Massachusetts and New England.

The entire project will cost approximately $350 million, with $130 million from Massport and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and $220 million in federal funding, including $18.2 million allocated in the USACE’s FY 2017 work plan and $58 million included in the President’s FY 2018 budget.

Last year Governor Baker signed economic development legislation that permitted $107.5 million for Massport infrastructure investments at Conley Container Terminal that included the construction of a new berth and procurement of three new cranes to accommodate new larger cargo ships.

The project will be completed in two phases. The first phase that will continue through the end of the year consists of maintenance dredging, including the construction of a Confined Aquatic Disposal (CAD) Cell just off the shore of the Autoport in Charlestown, which will safely hold tons of sediment from the floor of the harbor. The second phase of the project, which is scheduled to begin in mid-2018, will deepen the Outer Harbor Channel, from 40 to 51 feet; the Main Shipping Channel, from 40 to 47 feet; and the Reserve Channel, from 40 to 47 feet. When the project is completed Conley Container Terminal will be able to handle up to 12,000 TEU vessels an increase from the 8,500 TEU ships that it can currently handle.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has contracted with Great Lakes Dredge and Dock to perform the work.

The Premiere of In the Name of Peace: John Hume in America

By: Tom O’Neill 

Last night was truly an honor. I had the privilege of sitting beside friends and family and watching the story of my dear friend John Hume play out on the big screen in the U.S. premiere of In the Name of Peace: John Hume in America. The feature documentary was the opening night selection for the Boston Film Festival.

This film is the most succinct narrative on the history of Northern Ireland spanning from Bloody Sunday to the Good Friday Agreement I have seen. It depicts the involvement of each individual in the peace process clearly and precisely. The director, Maurice Fitzpatrick, paints an incredibly accurate picture of Hume, my father, the roles of other key political leaders and the struggles of the North of Ireland.

Following the screening, there was a panel discussion with MSNBC Hardball host Chris Matthews, The Boston Globe’s Kevin Cullen, director Maurice Fitzpatrick and myself. We were all actively involved in politics or journalism during John Hume’s peace efforts. As such, we were well versed and passionate about John Hume as a person and peace for the North of Ireland.

We discussed Hume’s politics. Chris Matthews describing Hume as being a “down-to-earth” politician who explained his views in a way that anyone could understand. He used an example of John discussing the economic needs of Northern Ireland. He believed that if peace could replace the bombings and violence then tourism would grow, more jobs would be create, and all households would benefit.

We discussed Hume’s party, the Social Democratic and Labor Party (SDLP). “The SDLP was John Hume” Kevin Cullen said before going on to talk about how John’s actions essentially signed a “death warrant” for the party.

We discussed the future of Ireland. With the Brexit decision taking effect, Ireland’s peace will be put to the test. Given this, Maurice Fitzpatrick believes there is still a need for U.S. involvement in Ireland politically and economically.

I believe the atmosphere of the room last night can be summed up in a single moment. During the audience Q and A, one attendee declared to Maurice, “[Hume’s story] has got to be on the screen and you put it there.” I could not agree more. It was also special that John’s son Aidan joined us with his own son for this premiere. The story of John Hume’s fight for peace in Ireland is one everyone should know. My father used to say he had three role models in life: President Abraham Lincoln, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John Hume. Hume is a symbol of peace, civil rights and the effectiveness of international relations. He is truly an inspiration to all.

In the Name of Peace: John Hume in America

By: Tom O’Neill 

My father, Speaker of the House Thomas “Tip” O’Neill Jr., is famously quoted as saying “All politics is local.” He believed politicians must always be privy to the needs and plight of the people and to immerse themselves in the community they represent. Having been born in an area in North Cambridge, Massachusetts commonly referred to at that time as “Old Dublin,” the community my father grew up in and later represented in Congress was predominantly Irish.  His roots defined him. During the conflict in Ireland my father felt a responsibility to aide in the peace process because “all politics is local” and those struggling in the North of Ireland were his people. This obligation and desire to assist the people of Northern Ireland during The Troubles was only furthered after meeting John Hume. My father had the utmost respect for John and often followed his lead when it came to developing a political strategy for peace in the North. In the late 60s, on his way to Boston and Washington DC to meet with influential Irish leaders at the invitation of my father, I had the privilege of meeting John. Since then, I have supported John and the Social Democratic and Labor Party (SDLP) by acting as a foreign agent and supporting their cause in the United States. To this day, John remains a dear friend of mine. My wife, Shelly, and I have formed a strong relationship with his wife, Pat and their wonderful children. Hume is an incredible man with an incredible story that I am proud to be part of telling.

This Thursday night, In the Name of Peace: John Hume in America, a documentary directed by Maurice Fitzpatrick, premieres in the U.S. as the feature film of the Boston Film Festival. The film chronicles John Hume’s approach to politics in Northern Ireland and includes a wide-range of interviews with pivotal figures in Ireland’s fight for a peaceful resolution, such as President Bill Clinton, President Jimmy Carter, American legislators, and Prime Ministers John Major and Tony Blair who helped to wrest peace from war in Northern Ireland.

Tonight, Maurice and I will be guests on Nightside with Dan Rea on WBZ Radio to discuss the premiere. In the Name of Peace: John Hume in America premieres Thursday at 7pm followed by a panel discussion with MSNBC Hardball’s Chris Matthews, The Boston Globe’s Kevin Cullen and myself. I am very much looking forward to celebrating my friend John Hume and all he has done for Northern Ireland. I hope you will join me. Tickets to the Boston Film Festival can be purchased here.

Case Study: Murphy & King Associates Networking Challenge Gets Results

Local Boston-based law firm Murphy & King, P.C. has come up with a unique way to engage associate attorneys in developing their networking and business development skills. Called Raising the Bar 3.0, the networking challenge spanned five months and involved not only associate attorneys but also shareholders who served as advisors and mentors to each associate. The initiative also coincided with Murphy & King’s business development and marketing plan that involved creating new content for social media, new website videos and other programs.

Co – founder and shareholder Harold B. Murphy said that the initiative was a success. “The networking challenge, Raising the Bar 3.0, benefited not only the individual associates but also the entire firm. We gained new clients and new matters while helping to develop networking skills of our associates. It was a win-win for all of us.”

Raising the Bar 3.0 was set up as a business development initiative where each associate attorney was assigned a secret identity known only to the administrator of the initiative. Each networking and business development activity was assigned a point value and each week the points would be calculated and posted internally by the firm under the secret identities. At the end of the contest, Murphy & King had established 11 new matters, originated 5 new clients, developed 9 new videos, participated in 41 new one-on-one meetings, participated in 37 events and created 150 new contacts.

This is the third time that Murphy & King launched this type of business development initiative, starting with Raising the Bar in 2012, followed by Raising the Bar 2.0 in 2014 and the most recent Raising the Bar 3.0 in 2017.

The winners of “Raising the Bar 3.0” are: Amanda Rettig (1st), Aaron Rosenberg (2nd) and Andrea MacIver (3rd). They all received prizes for their accomplishments. What were the secrets to their success? Amanda, Aaron and Andrea share their experiences in this short video: http://www.murphyking.com/raising-the-bar-3-0/

For more than 35 years, Murphy & King has been “unraveling complexity” for its clients through prompt, practical and cost-effective solutions addressing the legal needs of individuals and businesses. From startup and incorporation, to maintaining day to day operations, to resolving internal and external disputes, Murphy & King attorneys are skilled at effectively and efficiently unraveling the inherent complexities of each client’s business to ensure that it can attain its maximum potential. The firm’s principal areas of practice are Business Litigation, Bankruptcy and Financial Restructuring, and Corporate and Real Estate Transactions.

DeHate the Debate: Seeking a Common Ground to Disagree Without Disrespect

By: Tom O’Neill 

Few would disagree that there’s a lack of civility today in politics, on many social media platforms and in the public square, especially when it comes to hot button issues. Last night, I had the pleasure of participating in a panel discussion hosted by Regis College called DeHate the Debate: Seeking a Common Ground to Disagree Without Disrespect to look deeper at this subject. WCVB political reporter Janet Wu moderated the discussion with panelists Newton Mayor Setti Warren, Waltham Mayor Jeannette McCarthy, former CNN White House correspondent and owner of Little Park Media Dan Lothian, Gatehouse Media West Regional Director of News Operations Anne Brennan and myself.

While we spoke of the need for new ground rules to help prevent conflict, the media effect of poor political role models, and the challenges that come with the right to free speech, ultimately the discussion came down to social media. From social platforms like Twitter and Facebook to tailored Google results, the way in which people receive news and information has heightened existing frictions among individuals and groups with conflicting beliefs. Social media sites are incredibly good for sharing content, including human interest stories and gossip from non-reputable sources with questionable accuracy. Too often social media users take these stories as fact, especially they play into their political beliefs or agenda.

Our panel was unanimous; the best way to ease tensions and achieve a calmer discussion is to speak with facts – do your research, look at the issue from all sides, and have the conversation face to face or as panelist Mayor Warren put it, “human to human.” Mayor McCarthy in answering a question about whether the rules for public debate have changed, said it best, “There aren’t any rules. That is the problem” because of the lack of face-to-face contact “people say anything they want without repercussions.” It takes little courage to post a controversial statement online, but that’s not the case when one is called out in person. We need more in-person contact with each other.

Thank you to Regis College for giving us the opportunity to have this open, honest discussion about remaining level-headed in the face of disagreement. As I said last night, acceptance of others and their beliefs begins at home, but it is essential that the conversation is continued by educators. As a graduate of a Jesuit institution, I strongly believe in educating the whole person, in learning about an issue from all sides and in being able to discuss those opinions in a civilized manner.  It is the job of all leaders to talk about the importance of civility as a societal standard by which we live. If we can embody that standard through our words and actions, then disagreements would no longer have to be synonymous with disrespect.

CEO’s Corner

Dear Friend,

Like most Americans, I have watched with great concern the devastation that Hurricane Harvey left in its aftermath.  Despite the severe destruction in Houston, we have also witnessed the resilience of the American people.  Neighbor helping neighbor, family helping family, Americans come together in times of tragedy.  We have witnessed many acts of heroism over the past two weeks and one such act surrounds the efforts of paramedic Jesus Contreras who spent multiple days rescuing Houston residents from the dangerous flood waters.  Contreras was doing his job just like thousands of other first responders.  However, Contreras who was brought to the United States at the age of 6, is a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) which allows for a level of amnesty for undocumented children brought into the United States illegally by their parents.

This very week that Americans are coming together to help with the clean-up of Hurricane Harvey and prepare for the potential catastrophic impacts of Hurricane Irma in Florida, President Trump announced his intention to end the DACA program, thereby putting hero, Jesus Contreras’ future in jeopardy.

Established by Executive Order by President Obama, DACA requires these individuals to meet strict criteria in order to receive deferral of deportation such as age restrictions, requirements for continuous years residing in the U.S., education requirements, a clean legal record and more. The DACA population in the United States is more than 800,000 young people. President Trump has given Congress six months to legalize the program, with no clear indication as to the consequences of inaction.

For decades, presidents from both parties have supported versions of immigration reform but achieved only limited legislative results. In 1984, President Ronald Reagan, a conservative icon, said “I believe in the idea of amnesty for those who have put down roots and lived here, even though some time back they may have entered illegally.” This belief became a reality in 1986 when Reagan signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA). The new law allowed nearly three million immigrants living in the United States illegally to gain a path to legalization as long as they have been living in the country continuously for four years.

While this was a push in the right direction, it did not provide security for the spouses and children of those who qualified. President George H. W. Bush implemented the “family fairness” policy, which did just that. Families of undocumented immigrants who qualified for the IRCA were allowed to apply for an extension to remain in the United States. His advocacy for undocumented immigrants and their families may have been the reason in 2000 his son, President George W. Bush, won 35 percent of the Hispanic vote.

But immigration reform has gone from being bipartisan to downright toxic for elected Republicans. In 2001 Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) co-sponsored the Dream Act to protect young undocumented immigrant children. Six years later, despite support from President Bush, a bipartisan Senate filibuster ended the legislation. Another attempt in 2010 saw Dream legislation pass the House, but fell five votes shy in the Senate. In 2012, President Obama bypassed Congress with an executive order, despite its vulnerability to future administrations.

Protecting undocumented children is not a party issue but rather a people issue. A recent poll found that 78 percent of registered voters, including 73 percent of Trump voters, support DACA and giving those who qualify, commonly referred to as the “Dreamers,” a chance to remain in the country permanently. The DACA program is an embodiment of the American Dream. Many DACA individuals have known no country but the United States. They have worked hard to assimilate and create tremendous success for themselves.

DACA not only benefits these dreamers but also our economy. According to the ACLU of Massachusetts, ending DACA would remove an estimated 685,000 workers from the labor force and create a $460.3 billion loss in U.S. GDP over the next decade. In Massachusetts alone, the state would see a $606.8 million decrease in annual GDP with the loss of this program.

The United States was founded on the dream of a better life. From the pilgrims who landed on Plymouth Rock to the countless individuals who passed through Ellis Island, our nation has stood tall as a melting pot of immigrant cultures. I don’t often quote Ronald Reagan but in his final speech as President he said, “I think it’s fitting to leave one final thought, an observation about a country which I love. It was stated best in a letter I received not long ago. A man wrote me and said: “You can go to live in France, but you cannot become a Frenchman. You can go to live in Germany or Turkey or Japan, but you cannot become a German, a Turk, or a Japanese. But anyone, from any corner of the Earth, can come to live in America and become an American.”

DACA is now in the hands of Congress – the place it needs to be if we want to fully and finally address the predicament of these young people. There seems to be support among both parties for a solution. It’s time for Congress to revisit the DREAM Act or at least cast real votes to match their compassionate rhetoric toward dreamers.  America has a place for Dreamers like Jesus Contreras.  He personifies the American spirit.

Sincerely,

Tom

Preview of the Legislature’s Fall Session

By: Lindsay Toghill, Vice President

Massachusetts lawmakers have begun a busy fall session. Their packed agenda contains a lengthy to-do list they will address in the coming months. Below is a preview of items that could catch the Legislature’s attention this fall:

 

  • The State Budget – FY17 finished below revenue projections, though leaders are still trying to assess the consequences. When the Legislature broke for the summer, they still had not dealt with the Governor’s vetoes on the FY18 budget. Though they can tackle these at any time this fall, they’re closely watching the monthly tax collections to see if overrides are sustainable. At the current time, collections are below benchmark so overrides may continue to wait for the foreseeable future.

 

  • Masshealth Reforms – Governor Baker sent the Legislature some suggested reforms to the Masshealth system to go along with the increased surcharge on employers to help pay for significant increases in cost. The Legislature rejected those reforms, choosing to instead pass the surcharge on employers before the summer break. However, because cost containment is necessary to help reduce pressure on the state budget, the Legislature will likely tackle this in the next few months.

 

  • Criminal Justice Reform – Legislative leaders are interested in some reforms that would drastically affect the criminal justice system. On the table for discussion – thought not a done deal – mandatory minimums on bail reform.

 

  • Short Term Rentals – The Senate earlier this year advanced a measure that would tax short-term rentals as lodging establishments. The House is presently looking at another version of this bill, with some expected actions this fall. The issue will gain interest if the state revenues continue to stagnate.

 

  • Initiative Petitions – This week, the Attorney General certified twenty-one initiative petitions as constitutionally compliant, setting up the process for ballot questions for the fall of 2018. Proponents are required to gather thousands of signatures for each initiative petition before the end of November. While the Legislature is not required to take action until early 2018, there will be considerable wrangling and media attention about some proposed ballot questions.

 

  • Marijuana Sales Implementation – The recent creation of the Cannabis Control Commission will officially start the process of developing regulations and a structure for the implementation of retail sales of marijuana in mid-2018. The Legislature will be closely watching this process for its effects on state revenues and their own local communities.

 

  • Opioid Crisis – An ongoing issue, the opioid crisis will require some cooperation from the Executive branch in conjunction with the Legislature. All parties will be watching this issue closely to see if the recent decline in overdose deaths is a temporary or permanent trend.

 

*Cover photo from Boston metro

Five things to know about the Cannabis business in Massachusetts today

  1. The Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) is a new regulatory body established to oversee the marijuana industry in Massachusetts. The CCC is a new independent entity created by Chapter 55 of the Acts of 2017, comprised of a five member board of commissioners. Appointments to the Commission were made by the Governor, Treasurer, Attorney General, and two other appointments were made by a majority vote of the previously mentioned constitutional officers.

The newly appointed Commissioners are:

  • Chairman Steve Hoffman (Treasurer Goldberg)
  • Former Senator Jennifer Flanagan (Governor Baker)
  • Britte McBride (Attorney General Healey)
  • Shaleen Title
  • Kay Doyle
  1. In the coming weeks and months the CCC will be responsible for hiring staff, setting policy and issuing regulations on a wide range of important issues for the adult use industry, including establishing a process for entities interested in pursuing cultivation, products manufacturing and retail licenses.
  1. The “head start” provision for teams that had previously submitted an application for a Registered Marijuana Dispensary, part of the original ballot question, was eliminated by the Legislature.
  1. To operate successfully in Massachusetts, businesses will also need to do important work at the municipal level. While many municipalities previously approved moratoriums for adult use facilities, the new law stipulates that cities and towns that had approved the ballot question with a majority vote must hold a city or town wide referendum to approve such a ban, while cities or towns that did not approve the ballot question with a majority vote may do so through town or city elected officials like a Board of Selectmen or a City Council. Working with residents, local and state elected officials, planning and zoning offices will be crucial in moving any project forward.
  1. The CCC will have to move quickly to meet its statutory deadlines. Under the law, applications must be received by the CCC on April 1, 2018, and licenses will not be issued until June 1, 2018 at the earliest. In comments this week, Chairman Hoffman indicated that the goal is to have business ready to open July 1, 2018. The CCC is expected to meet for the first time next week.

By: Chris Niles, Vice President

OA Welcomes Fall Interns

 

The popular internship program at O’Neill and Associates helps students gain first-hand experience in working on federal and state governmental issues as well as in all facets of modern public relations. September brings a new class of interns. This fall, we are proud to welcome undergraduate and graduate students from Boston College, Boston University, Brandeis University, Suffolk University and Tufts University.

Throughout the semester, these students work closely with specially paired mentors to learn more about the work done for clients in public relations, government relations, community relations, federal relations and marketing. Over the course of the semester interns become immersed in public affairs issues and build relationships that will help guide them as they embark on their future careers.

Disaster Response in the New Economy

By: Anthony DeMaio, Director

As Houston continues to reel from the effects of #Harvey and Florida braces for #Irma, American generosity is once again in full display as individuals, nonprofits and the business community come together to help those in need. In this outpouring of compassion, we are also witnessing a transformation in corporate philanthropy. While many legacy corporations continue to operate business as usual, newer companies, including disruptive technologies, are exhibiting a new kind of corporate citizenship. Delta Air Lines would do well to take a cue from Uber, for example.

The Miami Herald reported today that airfares had skyrocketed in recent hours prompting some consumers to vent their frustrations with the major air carriers on social media with some posts going viral. On the other side of reality are major tech players like Airbnb and Uber. Once again, the hospitality company Airbnb is pushing its Disaster Response Program, encouraging hosts to open their properties to people displaced by the storm, helping them find warmth and safety free of charge. Airbnb’s program launched in 2013 is an outgrowth of its grassroots efforts to aid victims of Hurricane Sandy. Uber is offering free rides to and from Harvey shelters in Houston, Austin, Dallas, and other cities in Texas. According to the company, “No action is required to receive a free ride to or from these locations – the full discount will be applied and reflected in the app when you request UberX.”

To be fair, most legacy corporations, including the big airlines, have robust #CSR operations, contributing valuable support to the relief efforts. In many cases, however, their playbooks could benefit from a refresh. There’s still a need for big checks, aircraft and trucks loaded with supplies, free flights for responders and aide workers, and other traditional response initiatives that only large-scale organizations can muster. But, when compared to the immediate utility of Uber and Airbnb’s contributions, the conventional response programs seem outmoded. And their humanitarian response is largely eclipsed by the negative PR engendered by allegations of price gouging.

Perhaps in the future we’ll see airlines – and other big companies – looking to make a more substantive contribution in the face of a devastating storm. At the very least, they need to know that corporate greed has no place during a natural disaster. Every company should be thinking about their CSR plans.