CEO’s Corner: February/March 2017

220px-Thomas_P_O'Neill_IIICampaigning is different than governing. President Trump recently unveiled his budget blueprint and in doing so formally, he made clear his policy plans for our country. At the state and municipal level, the proposed budget doesn’t bring good news. If adopted, the budget would dramatically impact the ability of America’s urban mayors to continue to operate healthy, thriving communities. This was the message I delivered in an op-ed that ran in CommonWealth Magazine last week.

At the intersection of policy and budget are real people – yet his proposal fails to make that connection. This long tally of crucial cuts will affect cities from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine. The reductions don’t just weaken or eliminate essential federal programs intended to help disadvantaged families, but they strike at the very core of America’s cities – the places that drive so much of our current innovation and economic development – and their ability to function and thrive. After all, the private sector cannot prosper when basic public services such as transportation become severely hobbled.

From a $6 billion cut to Housing and Urban Development that will devastate affordable housing, development and public parks, to the elimination of Amtrak subsidies, to a massive $16.2 billion cut to public transportation – taken together it is a recipe for stopping cities in their tracks, stymying growth and development and throwing a wrench into the engine that makes our country run – our great urban centers. Take one example: a $2.3 billion cut to matching federal funds for new or expanded public transportation projects that are co-funded by cities. More than 40 cites, from Albany to Tempe, will lose new subway systems, tramways, light rail and assorted other carbon-cutting, people-moving job creators.

Some of the cuts directly impact households. A cutback of more than $4 billion will decimate Health and Human Services programs, including Home Energy Assistance. So, what is the plan when the elderly and poor in Chicago and Boston and Seattle cannot afford to heat their homes next winter? Section 8 landlords will lose tenants, urban hospitals will lose grant dollars, urban colleges will see huge cuts, and public housing will suffer catastrophic drops in funds for everything from vouchers to maintenance and construction money. The list goes on.

Federal budget impacts will be locally significant and very real. However, submitting a budget is much easier than persuading Congress to pass it. States, municipalities and individuals must carefully scrutinize the president’s proposal and make their voices heard in Congress – just as they did in the failed attempt to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act. The time to engage Congress is now.

 

Business LifeCycle Video Series on MurphyKing.com

Murphy & King Business Lifecycle Pic

So, you want to be the next Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg? Chances are one in a million (or more) that you will be successful and create that new business model that will change the world.  According to the latest U.S. Census data, 452,835 businesses were born in 2014, well below the 500,000+ that were born every year from the late 1970’s to mid 2000s. The good news, according to the Labor Department’s 2015 numbers, is that startup (defined as being in business 1 year or less) births (240,000) are significantly outpacing deaths (206,000).

For all those thinking of establishing a new business, there are some fundamentals that you need to know.  Attorneys at the Boston-based boutique law firm of Murphy & King decided to share their knowledge of building a business, from startup to sell off, through a series of new videos they produced, available on their website www.murphyking.com. Additionally, Murphy & King attorneys will be featured on video segments and podcasts moderated by Radioentrepreneurs.com providing more in-depth information on specific business issues. Business LifeCycle video episodes debut every other Tuesday, www.Radioentrepreneurs.com segments run every other Thursday.

The “Business LifeCycle” series reviews various issues businesses face including starting a business, dealing with complex challenges while running a business, and selling or closing a business. The series highlights the firm’s attorneys’ expertise in assisting their clients in “unraveling complexity” for seemingly impossible and complicated cases in a straightforward manner.

Harold B. Murphy, co-founder, shareholder and attorney at Murphy & King said that the Business LifeCycle video series provides practical information for anyone interested in starting a business, growing a business, or exiting a business. “Our attorneys are the best in the business at unraveling complex situations and creating opportunities for our clients to be successful. We felt it was important to share our expertise,” said Murphy.

Murphy & King continues to be at the technological forefront of mid-sized law firms with its new “Business LifeCycle” series, following the launch of the first video series in September 2016.

Murphy & King’s Executive Director Bob Perry said it was imperative to the firm to continue to provide fresh video content and new information that will be of interest to the legal and business communities, and others interested in what it takes to start a business.

 “The response to the videos has been very positive as viewers get to know our attorneys and their expertise on a more personal level. We have a very high standard of delivering the best service to our clients and that standard also extends to the content we produce on our website and share on our social media,” said Perry.

Murphy & King worked with media consultant Greg Stone to produce the videos.  Greg said that professional services firms are increasingly looking for innovative ways to connect to their audiences, and video is one method that works.

“Pictures take words into a new direction, and moving pictures augment the impact farther.  A well-produced video can showcase your brains, charm, charisma or experience,” said Stone.

Radioentrepreneurs.com is another online platform that delivers high quality content targeted to the business community.  Jonathan Freedman, host of the Murphy & King business-related podcasts, says that attorneys have a great opportunity to get their message out there through the podcasts and video segments that are produced by Radioentrepreneurs.com

“Radio Entrepreneurs provides a platform for business people and business advisors to share their experience, knowledge and tell their stories with a worldwide business audience.  The attorneys at Murphy & King have utilized the Radio Entrepreneurs network to showcase how they distill and solve complex business issues on behalf of their clients.  In a short segment, the attorneys at Murphy & King have been able to differentiate their offerings and broaden exposure for their unique capabilities.  Radio Entrepreneurs distributes content across numerous social media platforms, gaining extensive exposure for guests,” said Freedman.

Law firms, just like other businesses, know that they need to have a professional presence online.  Murphy & King has taken that to another level by producing high quality content and videos with practical information that people can use in their latest video series “Business LifeCycle.” Look for more innovative marketing initiatives from Murphy & King in the future.

Washington Post’s Marty Baron Speaks at Tufts Medical Center Working Wonders Gala

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By Vice Chairman Cosmo Macero Jr. 

With a Trump Administration that creates its own reality, and a White House communications strategy of undermining public confidence in the Fourth Estate, it’s a sad state of affairs that Americans, perhaps more than ever, need powerful reminders of the importance of a free press.

And so Washington Post editor Marty Baron delivered just that on Tuesday night at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. The former Boston Globe editor – flanked by many of his former colleagues from the Pulitzer prize-winning Globe Spotlight Team – was in town to receive the Ellen Zane Award for Visionary Leadership at the Tufts Medical Center Working Wonders Gala.

“The President has said (the White House) is at war with the press. Well I’m here to tell you we are not at war,” Baron told close to 900 attendees at the annual event, which this year highlighted the groundbreaking work of Tufts MC’s CardioVascular Center. “We are at work.”

The fundamental mission of the press remains unchanged, Baron said, even as technology and digital media platforms have had a dramatic and challenging impact on the news business. The job of the Post and other media holding the Trump White House accountable is straightforward: “Find truth. Verify. And publish,” Baron said.

Baron, who in addition to steering the Post newsroom through an unprecedented period in presidential and political history, is also charged with maintaining high quality journalism while the business evolves rapidly and sometimes unpredictably in a digital media age. He credited Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who owns the Washington Post, with respecting the generations-old culture of the news organization while still encouraging innovation. He said the Post has a “commitment to experimentation” and noted that its digital presence is now rivaling that of the New York Times.

“The internet is a fundamentally different medium. News organizations that want to succeed must tell stories in new ways,” Baron said. “We are becoming technology organizations. But “no matter how our business changes, our values stay the same.”

Cure Alzheimer’s Fund Saw Significant Growth in Research Spending in 2016

Lab imageLast year, Cure Alzheimer’s Fund, a non-profit organization dedicated to funding the most promising research to prevent, slow or reverse Alzheimer’s disease, saw significant growth in the grants it gave out to researchers who study the disease.  It was yet another indication that we are at a promising moment in bettering our understanding of Alzheimer’s, and developing effective ways to treat it.

The Wellesley-based non-profit provided $13.5 million in research spending grants to medical scientists around the world.  Those grants represent 34 percent growth from the year before in the organization’s research spending. The organization funded 56 projects in four countries in total in 2016.  Since its founding in 2004, Cure Alzheimer’s Fund has surpassed $50 million in research spending, a milestone the organization hit near the end of 2016.

“Our donors are aware that their dollars will go directly to researchers working to find a cure,” said Tim Armour, President and CEO of Cure Alzheimer’s Fund.  “So we’re pleased to let them know that we are supporting some of the most groundbreaking scientific work to address Alzheimer’s disease that is taking place in labs and hospitals across the country and around the world.”

Projects funded in 2016 included a study that will use “big data” methods to examine looking at the relationship between women and the risk for Alzheimer’s disease; research looking at the dynamics between genes, brain activity and the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease; and an examination of the early role of microglia in synapse loss in Alzheimer’s disease. Also in 2016, Cure Alzheimer’s Fund teamed up with Rotary and Move for Minds to co-fund a groundbreaking research project to search for female-specific genetic and other factors contributing to women’s risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

“Individuals and families around the world struggle to deal with the challenges that come with Alzheimer’s disease and other related dementias,” said Dr. Rudy Tanzi, Chair of Cure Alzheimer’s Fund’s Research Consortium. “It is exciting to see how far we’ve come in understanding the nature of Alzheimer’s disease but that excitement is tempered by the knowledge that we have a lot more work to do to develop effective treatments for it.  Cure Alzheimer’s Fund has become an important part of that work.”

In addition to funding crucial projects, Cure Alzheimer’s Fund also provided critical early stage dollars to important research published in 2016.  In May 2016, Drs. Rob Moir and Rudy Tanzi of Harvard Medical School published a study in Science Translational Medicine that suggested that Alzheimer’s disease may arise when the brain perceives itself to be under attack from invading pathogens and launches amyloid formation.  In July 2016, Sangram Sisodia, Ph.D. of the University of Chicago and his co-authors released a paper in Scientific Reports that indicated that treatment with broad spectrum antibiotics over a long period of time decreased the levels of amyloid plaques and triggered the development of inflammatory microglial cells in the brains of mice. Both research projects received grants from Cure Alzheimer’s Fund.

Cure Alzheimer’s Fund is a non-profit dedicated to funding the most promising research to prevent, slow or reverse Alzheimer’s disease. Since its founding in 2004, Cure Alzheimer’s Fund has contributed over $50 million to research, and its funded initiatives have been responsible for several key breakthroughs – including the groundbreaking “Alzheimer’s in a Dish” study. Cure Alzheimer’s Fund has received a score of 100 percent regarding its overall financial health from Charity Navigator and a four star rating from the organization five consecutive times.  With 100 percent of funds raised going directly to research, Cure Alzheimer’s has been able to support some of the best scientific minds in the field of Alzheimer’s research.  For more information, please visit http://www.curealz.org/

Healthcare Workers Hail Withdrawal of AHCA

Healthcare workers, providers and advocates hailed a recent move by the House to withdraw the proposed American Health Care Act (AHCA) last week.

The bill, promoted by Congressional Republicans, would have negative consequences for Massachusetts – threatening healthcare coverage for up to a half a million residents, costing the state billions of dollars and jeopardizing the state’s largest industry and one of its most important economic drivers. Just as concerning, the legislation would have cut Medicaid funding, weakened insurance protections and threatened addiction recovery services.

“The withdrawal of this bill is a recognition of its near universal opposition by healthcare providers, workers and advocates across America and an affirmation of the power of advocacy,” said Tyrék D. Lee Sr., Executive Vice President of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, the state’s largest and fastest growing healthcare union.

1199SEIU and its partners have been working hard to preserve the gains made possible by the Affordable Care Act – which has given Massachusetts the lowest uninsured rate in the nation. In March, workers participated in an event at the Old South Church in Boston to highlight the damage that repealing the ACA would do to Massachusetts. 1199SEIU joined leaders from the Massachusetts Medical Society, Planned Parenthood, Health Care for All and other organizations to discuss how the ACA improved on Massachusetts’ groundbreaking 2006 healthcare law under Governor Mitt Romney.

Despite the victory, advocates are continuing to fight to protect the ACA and closely monitoring new efforts that may arise in Congress to repeal the law.

“Pulling the bill is a positive step – but we must remain vigilant to ensure that the Commonwealth can protect the major health and economic gains resulting from its pioneering efforts on universal healthcare,” added Lee.

March Madness: American Health Care Act

“I’m just a bill, sitting here on Capitol Hill..” 

Schoolhouse rock Bill

The American Health Care Act of 2017 was pulled before a probable defeat on the floor of the House of Representatives today. Here’s a recap of its journey.

After months of anticipation and secrecy, the American Health Care Act of 2017 plan was released by House Republicans on March 6th consisting of two bills. One bill was introduced into the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the other to the House Ways and Means Committee.  The bills passed both committees the next day on a party-line vote and without a Congressional Budget Report (CBO) cost analysis.  It wasn’t until March 13th that the CBO released its budget estimates. The CBO report is often used as a tool for debate prior to any votes. On March 16th the bill passed the House Budget Committee with a vote of 19-17.  It’s important to note that three Republicans on that committee joined the Democrats in opposition.  The bill, HR 1628, then went to the House Rules Committee which sets the terms for the final debate when the bill comes to the House floor for a vote.  The committee approved a provision that allows for the “same-day” rule (or often referred to as martial law), essentially allowing the bill to be voted on the same day even as it is still having changes made to it before being voted out of committee.

In contrast to the fast movement of the American Health Care Act, the Affordable Care Act during the Obama Administration underwent months of negotiations, markup, and debate before its final passage.   It was introduced by Speaker Pelosi in July of 2009 and passed in the House November 2009 and was ultimately not signed into law by then President Obama until March 23, 2010.

Here’s a visual recap of its journey:

AHCA HR 1628.png

Teamsters Local 633 Right to Work Campaign

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This past January, O’Neill and Associates was approached by Teamsters Local 633, a New Hampshire-based labor union of employees in the transportation and delivery industry.  The Teamsters were concerned by the pending passage of “Right to Work” legislation in the New Hampshire State House. The proposed bill was expected to significantly weaken the strength of labor unions in NH. With only a few weeks until a final vote, O’Neill and Associates was able to launch a high-impact, month-long campaign to mobilize the Teamsters’ 4,700 members against Right to Work. O’Neill and Associates, in collaboration with the Teamsters, focused engagement efforts on three areas: traditional media, social/digital media, and member-to-member communication.

O’Neill and Associates helped generate news stories and editorials urging the House of Representatives to vote Right to Work down by targeting outreach to reporters, editors and freelance journalists on the hazards of the bill.

In addition to targeting traditional media outlets, O’Neill and Associates helped Teamsters Local 633 leverage their Facebook account to create and maintain online activism – motivating supporters and providing them with easy-to-understand action items. The Teamsters’ Facebook page was used to post low-dollar paid promotions as well as organic content, and served to amplify the key messages of the campaign and convert awareness into targeted action.

Finally, O’Neill and Associates was able to engage the union’s own members through an internal email campaign.  This campaign provided members with news updates, calls to action and contact information for key legislators.

The energy and enthusiasm throughout this one month campaign against Right to Work paid off.  On the day of the vote, a significant minority of New Hampshire House Republicans joined almost all House Democrats to block passage of the bill, in spite of a last-minute lobbying push by the Governor and Speaker of the House. The final outcome in New Hampshire was an outlier to the national trend of Republicans efforts to successfully implement Right to Work in many states, This campaign can now be a model for other labor unions around the country on how to defeat Right to Work in their communities.

Total Wine & More Shrewsbury Opening

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Attention all wine and beer lovers! On February 23rd, Total Wine & More opened its newest store in Massachusetts, located in the White City Shopping Center on Route 9 in Shrewsbury. The chain’s newest addition is its third store in Massachusetts.

Total Wine & More, the nation’s largest independently owned retailer of fine wine, spirit and beer, opened to the public on Thursday, February 23, but held a sneak peek preview event on Wednesday evening, bringing out more than 300 people to the new store. Customers and guests were encouraged to browse the aisles filled with more than 8,000 wines, 3,000 spirits, and 2,500 beers while enjoying beer and wine samplings.

The grand opening celebration include music, free wine and beer tastings, and catered hors d’oeuvres.  A champagne toast, courtesy of Moet Chandon, was offered as store management celebrated the ribbon cutting, officially opening the store for business.

To celebrate the Shrewsbury store’s grand opening, Total Wine & More partnered with the Worcester performing arts center, Mechanics Hall, which received 10 percent of all wine sales from the store’s opening weekend. Over the past year, Total Wine & More has worked with over 8,000 non-profit charitable organizations across the country, providing nearly $7 million in-cash and in-kind donations that has helped their partners raise more than $35 million for great causes.

Total Wine & More is optimistic that its new opening in Shrewsbury will help the community as a whole, bringing more than 50 jobs to the area as well as great offerings for customers including affordability and an unparalleled selection and expertise about beer and wine to Central Massachusetts.

Total Wine & More currently has stores in Natick, Everett, and Shrewsbury, in addition to over 170 stores nationwide.

One Charlestown? Yes, Please

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My name is Mimi Tovar and for 27 years I have lived in the Bunker Hill Apartments (BHA) or “projects” as it is also referred to. I, along with many other residents of the BHA have been negatively impacted by the crumbling infrastructure of the projects and for many of us, living here has caused many health problems – including anxiety, fear, anti-social behavior, asthma, depression – and much more. But it’s all we can afford.

As we are all aware, Boston is changing and growing. As a result, many low-income families have been relocated because they can no longer afford to stay in their homes – and been pushed out by developers. However, One Charlestown is different. Corcoran-SunCal has made a commitment to residents here. They want to keep current residents and invite new ones, because they understand that a thriving and enriching community is found in diversity. The team has been considerate and involved from day one, seeking opinions and input on the project. They have seen, with their own eyes, the horrid conditions we live in, and they want to change that – for us and for Charlestown. I fully support the redevelopment project and cannot wait until I can finally call it home. And many of my neighbors feel the same way.

One Charlestown will be better for all of Charlestown, not just BHA residents. ‘One Charlestown’ breaks down barriers of class and income, and will help everyone get to know each other as people, and come together as a community.

We’re looking forward to finally raising our children in a safe and united community. A place that we don’t have to worry about letting our kids play outside because of exposure to used needles or what lies in our hallways. We don’t want to fear the next overflow of sewerage water because of old plumbing or worry about mold creeping in our walls because of poor ventilation – while waiting six months to get hot water. We no longer want to be prisoners in our own homes and we don’t want to continue to be pushed aside because we live in the projects.

Like everyone else, we want what is best for our children, for them to live productive and safe lives. One Charlestown will give our children a fighting chance because they will no longer have the stigma of being rejected or judged because of the location they live in. Our children will no longer be known as just the “project kids” and that will open doors for them.

We are eager to be part of the Charlestown community. We believe this is what we have waited for, for many generations. So it is with arms wide open that I welcome, support and encourage the rebuilding of our lives through this new redevelopment project of One Charlestown.

Mimi Tovar is Founder of weROCnews.com and a resident of the Bunker Hill Apartments