Press Release

OPENING STATEMENT OF
AT-LARGE BOSTON CITY COUNCILLOR
MAURA HENNGIAN

Monday, March 08, 2004

As we all know and are proud of, Boston is a walking city. And as a walking city, the City of Boston has an obligation to ensure that our streets and sidewalks are safe for pedestrians as well as their pets. It is clear to me that stray current hazards exist on our streets and sidewalks. As I said above, a day like today is an example - where people find increased risk because of the weather.

Now there are many reasons stray current exists:

1) Erosion of infrastructure,
2) Damage to lines,
3) Exposed connections,
4) Poor or faulty workmanship,
5) Neglect,
6) Etc.

Clearly NStar is charged with providing electricity to Boston residents and for the maintenance of its infrastructure, but the City of Boston is also responsible to monitor NStar or any other public or private entity that operates in our streets. City of Boston must hold public and private entities accountable for maintaining their infrastructure and for ensuring their work meets safety standards.

The tragic loss of 30-year-old Jodie Lane in Manhattan, the recent death of Oscar (a Labrador retriever) in Charlestown, Lazlo in the Southend, Fenway owned by Julie Daniels in South Boston, as well as numerous other incidents (in the Back Bay, North End, Downtown Crossing, etc.) tells us this situation is a citywide problem.

And the electrocutions and/or shocks that have taken place not only affect the dogs, but also injure their owners - physically, mentally, and in seeing eyes for the blind - financially. Any animal shocked or killed on a Boston street is unacceptable to me as a Boston city official. We should not have to wait for the tragic death of a young woman, Jodie Lane, as occurred in New York to put the necessary protections, regulations, and accountability in place.

I, therefore, am calling upon NStar to:

1) Check its entire infrastructure for stray current and give a report on the condition of its infrastructure.
a. This report is to be made public and a copy sent to this city council committee, Mayor Menino and myself.
b. The report should indicate all incidents of stray current, the location, the voltage, the origin or ownership, the reason for the current, and the action taken to address it.
2) Provide for an ongoing monitoring system of its infrastructure and put a system in place where every work site is checked before the job is completed.
3) Provide a specific hotline and website for people to report occurrences and create a public record of the report and the resolution.

I am also calling upon the City of Boston to:

1) Check all its electrical infrastructure and make a public report of its condition;
2) List any hotspots and the remedy taken to address them;
3) Provide for an ongoing monitoring program of its infrastructure;
4) Monitor all that have access to our streets and sidewalks and hold them accountable for the safe operation of their sites;
5) Must evaluate all utility's worksites for current and must check (if applicable) their infrastructure;
6) Require private and public contractors to sign an affidavit, under the pains and penalties of perjury, that they have not damaged infrastructure in our streets and sidewalks while they are working on site.
7) Coordinate with Digsafe and stiffen penalties to the maximum allowed under state law.

IN CLOSING, Stray electrical current is a matter of life and death. All of us must work together, not just today, but on an ongoing basis to identify stray voltage where it exists and remedy the situation before an injury/death occurs - before not after the fact.

Again, thank you all for attending on this cold and wet day and I look forward to your testimony.

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Paid for By:
The Committee To Elect Maura Hennigan
P.O. Box 31
West Roxbury, MA 02132
(617) 524-3100