By John Lynds
Last Thursday evening at East Boston High School, U.S. Congressman Michael Capuano held a town hall meeting to field questions and address concerns from his constituents in East Boston.
Capuano, who is serving his tenth term in Congress from Massachusetts 7th Congressional District, started off thanking Rep. Adrian Madaro, City Councilor Sal LaMattina and Sen. Joseph Boncore for their support and reaffirmed their close working relationship on issues affecting the neighborhood.
Before taking questions, Capuano gave a brief description of the realty for Democrats in Washington D.C. right now.
“Thank you for coming and I know there are a lot of anxious people in the country today and I’m sure it’s no different here,” said Capuano. “One of the reasons I hold these meetings a few months into a new administration is to give that administration some time and gage were they want to go. I think we can see where this administration wants to go.”
Capuano said that having a Republican Majority in the House and Senate has and will make life difficult for Liberal Progressive Democrats like himself.
“Not a single Democrat amendment was allowed or taken into committee during the Health Care debate,” said Capuano. “I can file a bill but the likelihood of it getting to the floor for a vote is minimum. It’s important for you to know the process and the politics. We have no choice but to compromise with our own team and on occasion with the other team but the other team has made it clear that they do not believe in compromise.”
The first question of the night came from Bernadine Joslin who was concerned about her inability to get into senior housing and worried about the soaring cost of rent in her hometown of Eastie.
Capuano said there is not enough affordable housing in Boston or Greater Boston for that matter.
“It’s true around the city and most, not all, but most housing funding comes from the Federal Government,” said Capuano. “But since the Reagan Administration, Republicans have been trying to squeeze that commitment and the people running Washington now feel society does not owe you anything. I’m a Progressive Democrat who feels as a member of society we owe each other and no one should be denied an affordable and decent place to live, or denied health care or education but the majority now feels differently.”
With escalating tensions in the Middle East and on the Korean Peninsular, Capuano said he thinks Congress should always be consulted before military action is taken like the 50 plus tomahawk missile launched into Syria two weeks ago.
“I really think the Constitution is clear only the Congress can declare war,” said Capuano. “They have a right to oversee the military once war is declared and defend us if there is imminent danger. That wash;t the case in Syria. There was no imminent danger to our security or our interest…maybe to our psyche but not to us. The danger really is you have Russians on the ground and tinderbox in the Middle East so do you really think it should be up to one person to take us into WWIII? That includes Barack Obama (who Capuano sued for military action in Libya)..no one person should have that authority on their own. That’s what we did in Iraq and throughout history.”
Capuano also took questions concerning Logan Airport and increase in noise.
“I’ve been fighting with Massport and the FAA since I took this job,” said Capuano. “Lately the fight has been about the way they have came up with more concentrated flight paths. That issue does;t really impact East Boston because no matter what you are going to get airport noise to some degree. But part of it is to finally get Massport and the FAA to work with the communities to do something. Massport is now more open to some discussion looking at what can be done. I’m not asking the impossible. There are always going to be planes so we can’t stop that. My argument has always been that you (Massport) are here but don’t have to be the bad guy. But it’s a matter or flight take off and landing timings, alerting the neighborhoods to changes in flight patterns and what is going on. They have gotten better, they are not great yet but they are getting better.”
U.S. Congressman Michael Capuano at last week’s town hall meeting in Eastie.