• On Wednesday, February 23rd the Office of State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump (OSA) released an audit that found inadequacies in the state’s Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM) processes to ensure equal opportunity staffing requirements of its contractors for women and minority participation. State guidelines say construction contracts should call for 6.9% of the construction hours to be performed by female workers and for 15.3% of the hours of construction work to be performed by minority workers. But Bump's office said that 120 of the 127 construction contracts active at DCAMM during her office's two-year audit period did not meet the women's workforce participation goal, including 78 projects that reported zero hours worked by women. Eighty-one of the 127 contracts did not meet the minority workforce participation goal and 36 of those projects did not have any hours worked by minorities. The audit, which reviewed the period of January 1, 2019, through December 31, 2020, also found that DCAMM’s internal control plan was not updated with a coronavirus pandemic component as required by the Comptroller’s Office, and employees’ cybersecurity awareness training certificates were not retained by DCAMM. This audit is one in a series of performance audits that focuses on equitable access and equitable results for services and programs provided by state agencies and their contractors.


  • On Wednesday, February 23rd, the State House News Service noted that Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty filed paperwork with state political finance regulators changing the "office sought" on his campaign account from city council to the Senate's 1st Worcester District, which is currently represented by retiring Senator Harriette Chandler. In November, Mayor Petty won reelection to a sixth term and a 13th term as a councilor-at-large in Worcester, which has a "weak mayor" form of government and delegates most chief executive duties to its city manager. His OCPF paperwork lists him as a Democrat; however, Petty has yet to make a formal announcement about his candidacy. Chandler, a 25-year veteran lawmaker who led the Senate during a period of upheaval in 2017 and 2018, announced in January that she would not seek reelection.


  • On Wednesday, February 23rd, four-term City Councilor Judith Garcia announced she will run in the 11th Suffolk District, which lawmakers redrew in the decennial redistricting process as an incumbent-free district covering Chelsea and a chunk of eastern Everett. Garcia, who works as communications manager at The Neighborhood Developers, became Chelsea's first Honduran-American city councilor with her first victory in 2015. She has also served as a surrogate for U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former Congressman Joe Kennedy III, and Vice President Kamala Harris's national security team tapped Garcia as an advisor for Honduran affairs, according to her campaign. Garcia is poised to face off against Chelsea School Committee member Roberto Jiménez-Rivera, who launched his campaign for the 11th Suffolk seat in January, and fellow City Councilor Leo Robinson, who filed paperwork in December to convert his campaign finance account to the 11th Suffolk Race. Jiménez-Rivera, who works as an organizer for the Boston Teachers Union, first won election to the School Committee in 2019. The newly created 11th Suffolk District covers all of Chelsea as well as Precincts 1 and 2A in Everett's Ward 2, according to the secretary of state's office. Lawmakers who crafted the maps said Hispanic residents will represent a majority in the new Chelsea district, a step aimed at maximizing the opportunity for a candidate of color to win. 


  • On Friday, February 25thJames “Chip” Harrington launched his campaign for the 7th Hampden district, entering the race for the open House seat vacated by state Representative Jake Oliveira. Harrington, a program manager at the Massachusetts Department of Correction, lost to Oliveira in the 2020 election. Harrington, a Republican, said he’s focused on tackling issues in the 7th Hampden district and not worrying about party affiliations on Beacon Hill. Harrington now faces Aaron Saunders, who’s also a former Ludlow selectman and worked as chief of staff to former state Senator Gale Candaras, and is now the senior vice president of Boston-based public affairs firm Benchmark Strategies. The redrawn 7th Hampden district, based on 2020 census data, underwent major changes since Harrington last ran for the seat. It now stretches all the way up to Franklin County, encompassing Ludlow, Belchertown, New Salem, Pelham and Wendell. The updated district shed Chicopee and Springfield. 


  • The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources announced they will hold five virtual public hearings to receive comments on its Straw Proposal for Stretch Code update and New Specialized Stretch Code released on February 8th. The Hearing Focus will include the Western Region on March 2, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm, the Metro Boston and Northeastern Region on March 3, 9:00am – 11:00am, Environmental Justice Communities on March 4, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm, the Central Region on March 7th, from 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm, and the Southeastern Region on March 8, 3:00 pm – 5:00pm. DOER will provide a brief presentation to respond to clarifying questions received in advance of the public hearing, however, the majority of the time is reserved to hear public comments. Public comments will be limited to 3 minutes per person to ensure all participants have a chance to provide comments.