DiZoglio Secures Funding for Merrimack River District Commission, CSO Pre-Notification

State Senator Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) has secured through the FY20 Senate Budget funding toward several initiatives around addressing the health of the Merrimack River.

Among the amendments adopted into the budget are two pertaining to a Merrimack River District Commission – one amendment toward its creation and a second amendment of $50,000 funding the commission.

This commission will ultimately bring together a variety of stakeholders along the river — from environmentalists to elected officials — to address issues around pollution, including discharge from combined sewer overflows (CSOs). The commission will advise on next steps, developing a plan to clean and maintain the river moving forward.

“The Merrimack River is one of the single biggest economic and cultural drivers of our region,” said DiZoglio. “By creating and funding this commission, we are working to preserve this natural treasure that has given so much to our state — and to ensure that it remains a clean, safe piece of our region for generations to come.”

Additionally, DiZoglio secured $100,000 toward a pilot program to create and implement a pre-notification alert system for CSOs in the Merrimack River. The program will utilize physical and virtual means to notify residents of potential CSO concerns, in the form of flagging and through a mobile app and website alerts.

“We live along a river that has a long, proud industrial history, but many of the cities that line the Merrimack have an aging water infrastructure that puts the river at risk of combined sewer overflow,” said DiZoglio. “This funding will greatly help in the development of a flagging system that will inform the public of potential hazards and ensure they are able to enjoy what the Merrimack has to offer without fear of illness from pollution.”

“The Merrimack Valley Planning Commission is excited to serve as the host of the Merrimack River District Commission, as it is squarely within our mission to facilitate this important conversation regarding the current and future health of our region’s most important natural resource, the Merrimack River,” said Karen Sawyer Conard, executive director of the MVPC. “We look forward to coordinating the effort of the District Commission and its key stakeholders moving forward.”

“I believe that the river communities in the Merrimack Valley have come together to strongly support these initiatives,” said Newburyport Mayor Donna Holaday. “While we work to address the infrastructure needs in our cities, it is so important that we notify swimmers and boaters using the river of CSOs.”

Star Sprinter Honored for Successful Sophomore Year at Central Catholic

Katharine Duren

Katharine Duren, a sophomore hurdler on the Indoor and Outdoor Track & Field teams at Central Catholic High School in Lawrence, was recently recognized by the Massachusetts State Senate for her stunning successes over the last two years.

A Haverhill resident, Duren won the Merrimack Valley Conference championship in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 14.57 seconds on Saturday, May 18, breaking the meet and school records.

This winter, Duren won the Division II indoor state championship in the 55-meter hurdles, setting a regional and school record of 8.35 seconds on February 15, a week after she broke the previous school record at the Merrimack Valley Conference indoor championship with a time of 8.43 seconds en route to receiving All-Conference honors.

“Katharine is one of the brightest athletic stars in the Merrimack Valley,” said State Senator Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen), who invited Duren to the State House for a celebration in her honor. “Her impressive dedication has served her and her fellow Raiders well and it is my hope that she continues her success collegiately at the highest level in the coming years.”

Asked of how she felt earning a standing ovation in the Senate Chamber after receiving an official citation in honor of her accomplishments, Duren said it was a great experience to be there with her parents David and Khristine, her sister Janessa and her grandfather, David Sr.

“It was an honor to be there today, representing my school,” said Duren. “It was really fun and I especially enjoyed being there with my family. They’re my biggest supporters.”

DiZoglio Pushes for Campaign Finance Reform on Beacon Hill

Among the legislation filed in this session by State Senator Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) is a bill to increase transparency in the Commonwealth’s public elections.

Senate Bill 399, An Act enhancing disclosure of campaign finance activity by expanding the depository reporting system to include legislative candidates, requires legislative candidates in Massachusetts participate in a depository reporting system.

The benefit is designed to be twofold – the legislation allows for any disparity to be identified by the Commonwealth’s Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF) early on so that candidates can review records more immediately to clear the issue and it allows for more transparency in government.

Common problems encountered with the current non-depository system include missed deposits, data entry errors, balance issues and uncashed checks – issues that would be remedied through a depository system. Where non-depository reports are filed merely two or three times per year, depository reports are filed twice monthly by the candidate’s bank, an independent third party.

Recently, DiZoglio testified before a public hearing of the Joint Committee on Election Laws in favor of the legislation.

“Virtually all candidates, including statewide officers, county officers, Governor’s Council, mayors and councilors in cities over a population of 65,000, participate in this depository reporting system today – except for legislative candidates,” said DiZoglio. “This bill enhances government transparency, assuring the public that the information they review on the OCPF website is accurate, and makes it easier for OCPF to do its job by having the ability to promptly address campaign finance reporting issues. In the event of a problem that needs to be addressed, a notification would come quickly, as opposed to several months down the line.”

“Expanding the depository system to include more candidates makes good sense,” said Pam Wilmot, executive director of Common Cause Massachusetts. “It will increase the accuracy and completeness of campaign finance information and that is a win for voters and candidates alike.”

“Many legislative candidates have contacted OCPF over the years to self-report that their balances do not reconcile to their actual bank balances, usually due to errors that have snowballed over several years,” said Michael J. Sullivan, director of OCPF, in testimony delivered to the committee. “Some of these issues include errors when entering credit card contributions, bounced checks, not entering all expenditures that clear the account, previously reported expenditures that never clear the account, and not accurately carrying the ending balance from the last report as the beginning balance for the next report. Most of this won’t happen if legislative candidates are in the depository system. If this bill passes, OCPF looks forward to working closely with all House and Senate candidates to transition from the non-depository system to the depository system.”