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Fair share or bait-and-switch?

Fair share or bait-and-switch?

While most of us were enjoying the July 4th weekend, it was extra special for 263 individuals who became new U.S. citizens at a naturalization ceremony in Boston.

Our newest citizens come from 59 countries including El Salvador, Guatemala, Iran, Ireland, Ukraine and Vietnam.

Jesse Costa took some sweet pictures for WBUR.

New tool suggests sites suitable for solar near you 
Helios, the Greek god of the sun, appears to like Massachusetts.

new report suggests that the Bay State has many times more than enough solar energy potential to fulfill its 2050 decarbonization targets and also offers insights into the best sites for solar statewide.

Good thing too because we're going to need to do as much as we can with renewables to offset monstrosities like these.

“The [report's] conclusions come as a relief to clean energy advocates who have worried that shortages of available space could severely hamper state solar energy plans, considered critical to meeting overall climate goals,” writes the Globe’s Sabrina Shankman.

 “And they appear to give the state much more leeway to be selective about how and where to develop solar in coming years, allowing it to avoid controversial developments that could get bogged down in legal disputes and slow its efforts.”

The report includes a mapping tool that allows you to look up your property to see if it might be suited for rooftop, canopy or ground-mounted solar.

There are caveats: WBUR's always helpful Miriam Wasser provides a good explainer.

Fair share or bait-and-switch?

Remember that seemingly endless barrage of ads last summer and fall in support, or opposition, to the Millionaire’s Tax?

Among the claims from the "Yes on 1" campaign was an ad that told voters: Anyone who makes less than $1 million a year doesn’t pay an extra cent.

Other campaign materials from the Yes campaign touted that the new tax would be based on “a person’s annual income” and only “those who earn more than a million dollars in a single year.

There's now an effort underway to change that.

Last month, the state Senate voted 33-5 to change the six-month-old voter approved surtax to apply to the combined earnings of married couples who file taxes jointly at the federal level.

Supporters are calling it a technical fix to close a loophole in the law.

But fiscal watchdogs are calling it a bait-and-switch because the campaign was promoted as applying to “individuals” making more than $1 million a year – not
couples, households or families whose combined income exceeds the threshold, writes Erin Tiernan at MASSterlist.

A Globe editorial this week agreed, calling supporters’ argument "nonsense."
“Voters were told, just a few months ago, that the tax was to be applied to individuals,” Globe editors wrote. “…Even if the proposal didn’t amount to breaking faith with voters, it would be premature without seeing how the new surtax plays out.

The Senate amendment now awaits consideration in conference committee along with the rest of the long-promised, long-delayed tax relief legislation.

Proakis looks to reverse BIG water/sewer bill hit

One year ago this month, the City of Watertown restructured its water and sewer rates.

A change in tiers resulted in rates that were lower than would have otherwise been for many residents -- but higher for many businesses.

This week, businesses and residents were both hit with a 5.5% water and 6% sewer increase, resulting in a combined increase of about $1,300 more annually for the owner of a diner and about $68 for a small residential user.

City Manager George Proakis is asking the city council to reverse that increase by allocating most of the city’s remaining ARPA dollars to finance needed infrastructure improvements to upgrade and repair the aging system

If Proakis' $7.8 million ARPA request is approved, rates would be lowered mid-fiscal year to about 3% across all tiers, and remain at about 3% through fiscal year 2028, as outlined in this memo.

Here's the challenge: The council has received 32 proposals for the $10.5 million Watertown has left in ARPA funds, far more than they can accommodate.

Friday's grab bag 
  • After one dozen years serving as a forum for public discourse, news, events, gossip, laughs and, too often, crankiness and meanness, Village 14, a Newton centric blog I helped launch in 2011 but am no longer connected to, is shutting down.

  • Shake Shack is moving forward with plans to open a 56-seat restaurant in Wellesley Square inside portion of the former GAP store. (Swellesley Report)

  • All eligible Massachusetts residents can now apply for a standard driver’s license, regardless of immigration status. Details and a video.

  • Big thanks to the Needham Channel for reporting on our recent Business Leaders of Color project and why we decided to create our second, expanded edition of our list. Watch here.
  • More than 100 chamber members have already registered for our July 19, 8:30 a.m. Coffee Connect networking event at Arsenal Yards in partnership with the Watertown Business Alliance. It’s free but we ask that you RSVP.

Month-long Needham Street detours starts Sunday

It's not as big a headache as closing the Sumner Tunnel but MassDOT contractors will be reconstructing and repaving Needham Street in Newton from Winchester Street to Tower Road starting Sunday night (July 9).

Expect detours and delays Sunday through Thursday nights, with work starting each night at 8 p.m. and finishing the next day by 6 a.m. All work is anticipated to be completed by July 31.

In addition, that barrier currently on the east side of the bridge on Needham Street over the Charles River will be shifted to the west side, resulting in a temporary shift of the two travel lanes over the bridge starting Monday.

Do you know of an outstanding Needham business or business person? 
Our chamber’s Needham Business Alliance committee is looking for nominations for the Needham-based businesses and individuals who've had a special impact in town in the past year.

Nominations (due July 15) will be forwarded to our awards committee for consideration for awards to be presented at our annual Needham Night, happening Aug,16 at 5 p.m. (Location to be announced soon but, believe me, the place is a trip.)

Also: Needham's Harvest Fair will be returning this fall in conjunction with the Needham Farmers Market. Date and registration TBA.

Who says things slow down around here in the summer? 

Finally, please join us in welcoming our latest new chamber members (along with a few who are returning after a long absence):

Don't see your businesses or nonprofit listed above, or listed here? Everything you need to know about membership can be found here.

And thanks for belonging!

And that's what you need to know for today -- National Dive Bar Day -- unless you need to know which Barbie are you? (I’m Nature Barbie) 

Stay cool, okay? Be back Tuesday. 

Greg Reibman (he, him)
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