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State Rep. Jim Dwyer Answers Your Questions

Dwyer tackles inquiries related to Memorial Day parades, probation, and small business.

State Rep. Jim Dwyer Answers Your Questions

Stoneham Patch, in corporation with  Woburn Patch and  Reading Patch, asked last week what questions you would like to ask State Rep. Jim Dwyer.

Today, we bring you the answers to those questions.

We will continue this cycle each month. So, if today's answers inspire a new question, ask it in the comments section below, or email mark.ouellette@patch.com.

Here are five questions that the state representative answered for this month's installment:

From your experience, what are the implications to the public and to the 'clients' of the proposed merger of state Probation and Parole departments? 

After 34 years in the judicial system as a Juvenile Probation Officer, I was intrigued by the proposal at first. I reviewed the proposal submitted by the Governor with the idea that grouping the Probation Department and the Parole Board would be beneficial because they are both supervisory entities. However, after speaking with former colleagues, current probation officers and legal experts, I have determined that consolidating both responsibilities into the same purview does not make the most sense. Removing the professional relationship and trust that evolves between judges and probation officers in a very demanding and difficult environment would hamper the effectiveness of the court and probation operations. The Probation Department supervises those prior to incarceration and and offers diversion and alternative programs, which if used properly, will prevent incarceration. The Parole Board supervises those who are more habitual criminals who are released from prison under extended supervision. 

With specific regards to the Parole Board, I believe that we need to do a much better job in making sure that the supervision is up to par with the strong standards of public safety that we must have here in the Commonwealth. I am confident, now more than ever, with the appointment of several new members of the Parole Board, a new executive director, and a new supervisory department after recent failings. We cannot force upon Parole a merger that will cause more organizational shuffling that is unnecessary.

The fiscal 2011 budget got by with some cuts but no disaster. What tough choices do you see coming in the fiscal 2012 budget?  

The House and Senate have voted on their own budget proposals over the past two months. Currently, members of the House and Senate are engaged in what is referred to as a Conference Committee to make a joint budget to rectify any differences. The fiscal 2012 budget is a tough one in totality because it is the first budget cycle we have had without stimulus funding. What I have done as State Representative and an active member on the Committee of Ways and Means is review ways in which we can prevent cuts to services that impact the most vulnerable populations like children, seniors and persons with disabilities. This past budget debate in the House, I filed and co-sponsored amendments relative to supporting education funding, making sure that we can keep our Senior Centers open, and restoring funding to programs that service those with the developmental disabilities like NuPath in Woburn and EMARC in Reading. These are extremely tough choices and we know the impact of these cuts firsthand on these fine and necessary programs. Over the course of the next several weeks, I will be advocating to the Budget Conference Committee that we need to preserve funding for the most vulnerable in our communities.

Thank you for your participation in Reading's Memorial Day observance. Participation appears to be down from previous years, including absence of a Police honor guard. What suggestions can you offer to attract more interest and participation for next year? 

My suggestion would be that we make sure that our young people understand the sacrifices and the importance to our community of those who have served in our military, through education in our schools and through our fine service clubs in our communities. I have always thought it to be important that our school communities invite veterans into our schools so that our students can hear their stories and their motivation as to why they served. One undoubtedly cannot teach students to be patriotic, but if we teach them the history of our nation’s call to duty, the sacrifices they and their families endured and show them that we must honor those who have served to protect our freedoms, I believe that we will see a more heightened sense of responsibility in honoring those who have died for our country and those who have served for our country.

What do you hope to accomplish at the ?

My colleagues and I hope to use the small business forum on June 15 as a sounding board for local small business to be able to have a forum where they can let us know firsthand what major issues that are impacting their ability to hire folks and to be successful. Opportunities like these allow legislators to hear about the impact of federal and state legislation, and to look into ways in which the Legislature can make legislative fixes, or even get out of the way, when it comes to small businesses continuing to be competitive. My wife Mary Ellen worked for small business owners for practically her entire career, and I for one have witnessed how they are the economic engine that drives our economy’s success. I think it’s important that area legislators give these small business owners, on a regular basis, the opportunity to express what they need and suggestions on what we can to do to help them succeed and potentially provide much need new job opportunities.

What, if anything, can Rep. Dwyer do to help salvage Woburn's library project?   

In the previous edition of the “Ask your local official,” I received a similar question about what I could do to help the Woburn library project. In that response, and in many responses since then, I have been consistent in saying that I do not believe it would be responsible if I were to immerse myself in ongoing discussions between the Library Board of Trustees, the Mayor and the City Council. It would only serve as a distraction to an issue that needs to be decided on the local level before any action is taken on the state level. I will continue to keep myself apprised of the situation in hopes of ushering it through the grant process on the state level to bring the much needed Library addition and restoration to fruition.

I also want to make it abundantly clear that I have been a consistent supporter of the library having been an active liaison to the library as a member of the Woburn City Council, attending many meetings concerning the addition, and numerous charitable events in support of "our" Library.  Moving forward, I have been in discussions with Congressman Markey and his office to see if there are any federal grants that Woburn’s Public Library would qualify for relative to its National Landmark status. Once a plan is approved by the Mayor and the City Council, I will do my utmost, along with my legislative colleagues, to work diligently at the State level to make "our" library project a reality.

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