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News Briefs: Debate watch parties; ‘Buy Massachusetts’ not implemented

By Wednesday, Jun 26, 2019 News

Berkshire Democratic Brigades to hold debate watch parties

Pittsfield — Political activist Tim Kushi and Lift Every Vote founder Joyce Hackett, under the umbrella of the Berkshire Democratic Brigades, have organized public watch parties for the first Democratic presidential debates of the 2020 campaign season, to be held Wednesday, June 26, and Thursday, June 27, from 9 to 11 p.m. at Methuselah Bar and Lounge. The parties are free and open to the public. An informal ranked-vote choice poll will be taken of attendees each night.

Ten randomly chosen candidates will debate each evening. Candidates polling above 2 percent will be evenly split between the two nights. The nights’ participants are as follows:

To qualify for this first debate, candidates needed 65,000 individual donors or to reach 1 percent in a qualifying poll by June 12. They needed at least 200 donors per state in 20 states. Four candidates, including Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., didn’t meet the threshold. More have since joined the pack: For the next debates, the threshold will be higher and candidates will need 130,000 individual donors.

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Audit reveals Office of Business Development never implemented Buy Massachusetts Program

Boston — In an audit released June 20, State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump revealed that the Massachusetts Office of Business Development never implemented the Buy Massachusetts Program, which was enacted in 1993 by the Legislature. The Buy Massachusetts Program is an effort to connect Massachusetts companies and encourage them to purchase needed goods and services from each other rather than from out-of-state or foreign companies. The audit, which examined the period of July 1, 2015, through June 30, 2017, determined that MOBD never requested funding from the Legislature to establish and operate the Buy Massachusetts Program.

“When the Legislature directs an executive branch agency to implement a program, inaction is not an option. If the agency believes it needs additional resources to do so, it is incumbent on its leadership to seek legislative appropriations or other sources of funding, such as federal grants. Unfortunately for Massachusetts businesses, MOBD has taken none of these steps to implement the Buy Massachusetts Program,” said Bump of the audit. “After more than a quarter-century, it is time to get this program off the ground.”

Additionally, the audit found that MOBD has properly administered the Regional Economic Development Organization Grant Program, which provides grants to REDOs to help facilitate projects that attract businesses to the state and retain them here. REDOs are tax-exempt organizations that focus on regional economic development and service 10 or more contiguous cities or towns. During the audit period, MOBD awarded REDO grants totaling $1,010,000 to nine organizations.

MOBD is within the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development and serves as an umbrella organization for all business development activity on behalf of the Commonwealth. During the audit period, the agency had 11 employees and six regional offices.

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