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They aren’t content with just manipulating government. Now they want to *be* the government.

A bill known as Chapter 40T is moving swiftly through the legislature that would enable real estate developers to create their own special purpose governments within cities and towns. This allows critical functions of local democratic government to be replaced by the rule of unelected developers with personal financial interests to advance.

Developers and bond lawyers (who authored the bill) would be allowed to use government powers to enrich themselves. By eliminating accountability, transparency, and public participation in critical decision-making, Chapter 40T would strike at the heart of New England grassroots democracy.

Specifically, 40T allows developers to be put in charge of ¡§Special Development Districts¡¨ [i] which would effectively constitute new developer-run municipalities.[ii] Within these Districts, a governing committee, handpicked by the developers,would take on critical functions of elected municipal officials. Developers could raise taxes (¡§assessments¡¨) to pay for infrastructure[iii]for their private projects without regard to Prop 21/2.[iv]They could pass their own bylaws, fine violators, and enjoy liability protection. The bill exempts the District from many public interest safeguards ¡V oversight by the Department of Revenue, public records law, prevailing wage standards for service contractors, laws governing public construction, civil service, conflict of interest and more. This creates an open invitation to self-dealing and the abuse of power.

Last year, your calls and letters convinced Legislators to let Romney¡¦s veto of a similar 40T bill stand. Now it is up to the grassroots once again to stop this assault on our democracy and our pocketbooks ¡V before it is rammed through in the waning hours before the summer Legislative recess.

CALL YOUR STATE LEGISLATORS IMMEDIATELY. They might vote on it before end of session on July 31. Mention all three bill numbers/names ¡V H159, S146, Chapter 40T.

  • INSIST THAT A PUBLIC HEARING BE HELD ¡V with adequate public notice ¡V by the Joint Committee On Bonding, Capital Expenditures And State Assets.
  • SPEAK WITH HOUSE SPEAKER DIMASI AND SENATE PRESIDENT MURRAY, and ask them to defeat this privatization effort, once and for all.
  • VOTE AGAINST THE BILL if a vote is called.
Please pass this alert along to others in your community who might be interested. Thanks for standing up for healthy communities and democracy!

Upward, Jill Stein
Massachusetts Coalition for Healthy Communities, [email protected], www.masschc.org, 617-821-1453

PS. For further information, visit our Chapter 40T issue page or email [email protected]. To find the addresses for your legislators, click here .

PPS. Please copy us on your letters to the legislators and any replies you get. This helps us plan more effective outreach.

i. After an initial one-time approval by a majority of the municipal executive body, the District would exist for 40 years. Short-term fiscal pressures, lack of full information, and developer-lobbying and influence can easily produce an approval that does not represent a carefully scrutinized and democratically-based decision.

ii. The bill creates special development districts, which are also empowered as ¡§local improvement districts, each a body politic and corporate and political subdivision of the Commonwealth¡¨. (Sec. 1a, 2a)

iii. Such “infrastructure” could include sports stadiums, garages, transportation equipment, and other non-public works. (Sec. 1) Casinos may also potentially fall under the definition of infrastructure/improvements that residents could be forced to pay for with new property taxes (“assessments”).

iv. A careful reading of the bill reveals that Prop 2 1/2 is not considered in establishing the new taxes (“assessments”) to be paid by the residents of the District. The bill also exempts the developer-government (but not the taxpayers) from paying state and local taxes on infrastructure and property owned by the developer-District. (Sec. 7)

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