Lynch Introduces Legislation to Develop Electronic Version of U.S. Dollar

On Monday, U.S. Representative Stephen F. Lynch (MA-08), Chairman of the Task Force on Financial Technology, introduced H.R. 7231, the Electronic Currency and Secure Hardware (ECASH) Act, which would develop an electronic version of the U.S. Dollar for use by the American public.
This innovative legislation would promote greater financial inclusion, maximize consumer protection and data privacy, and advance U.S. efforts to develop and regulate digital assets.  U.S. Representatives Jesús G. “Chuy” García (IL-04), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) and Alma Adams (NC-12) of the Committee on Financial Services are original cosponsors of the bill.
“As digital payment and currency technologies continue to rapidly expand and with Russia, China, and over 90 countries worldwide already researching and launching some form of Central Bank Digital Currency, it is absolutely critical for the U.S. to remain a world leader in the development and regulation of digital currency and other digital assets,” said Rep. Lynch. “By establishing a pilot program within Treasury for the development of an electronic U.S. Dollar, the ECASH Act will greatly complement and advance ongoing efforts undertaken by the Federal Reserve and President Biden to examine potential design and deployment options for a digital dollar.  Importantly, this pilot program will also preserve a role in our financial system for smaller anonymous cash-like transactions which are currently transacted in physical dollars and which have seen a rapid decline in use.”
“My neighborhood in Chicago is home to one of the strongest immigrant business districts in the country, and it couldn’t run without cash, “said Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04). Cash remains our strongest tool to promote financial inclusion while preserving privacy and security, and new digital tools should emulate it– not replace it.  Our government can provide digital assets that are both secure and accessible, and this bill is an important step in that direction.”
“Our current financial system has too often served as a barrier for Black, brown, and low-income communities to build and sustain wealth,”said Congresswoman Pressley, Vice Chair for the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions. “Ensuring economic justice means advancing innovative solutions that will promote financial inclusion and trustworthiness while protecting consumer safety and privacy. I am proud to co-sponsor the ECASH Act to ensure we have strong consumer protections and improve financial access and equity.”
In January of 2022, the Federal Reserve released its white paper on a potential U.S. central bank digital currency and other digital payment methods – underscoring the importance of exploring a wide variety of design options.  More recently, President Biden issued his Executive Order on Ensuring Responsible Development of Digital Assets – providing that the Administration places the “highest urgency on research and development efforts” into digital dollar design, including assessments of financial inclusion, possible benefits and risks for consumers, existing payment systems, and national security.
In line with these guidance and directives, the ECASH Act would establish a two-stage pilot program led by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to develop and issue an electronic version of the U.S. Dollar that promotes consumer safety and privacy, financial inclusion and equity, and anti-money laundering and counterterrorism compliance.  In order to maximize consumer protection and data privacy, the bill requires Treasury to incorporate key security and functionality safeguards into e-cash that are generally associated with the use of physical currency – including anonymity, privacy, and minimal generation of data from transactions.  In the interest of expanding financial inclusion, e-cash must also be interoperable with existing financial institution and payment provider systems, capable of executing peer-to-peer offline transactions, and distributed directly to the public via secured hardware devices.  Moreover, the bill specifies that e-cash would be regulated similar to physical currency and subject to existing anti-money laundering, counterterrorism, Know Your Customer, and transaction reporting requirements and regulation.
The ECASH Act has been endorsed by the following organizations and experts:
Americans for Financial Reform / Demand Progress: “We support the introduction of the ECASH act because it would offer a public option for digital payments that would improve financial inclusion and security for all Americans, especially those who’ve been left behind by the traditional financial system,” said Mark Hays, Senior Policy Analyst with Demand Progress and Americans for Financial Reform.  “The ECASH Act can also help ensure the introduction of a public digital dollar doesn’t come at the expense of our rights to privacy, and could forestall other digital payment schemes that might expand mass surveillance, not curtail it.”
Rohan Grey, Assistant Professor of Law at Willamette University and Research Director of the Digital Fiat Currency Research Institute:  “The E-CASH Act is the world’s first legislative proposal to create a digital dollar using secured hardware technology that replicates the privacy-respecting, peer-to-peer, and offline-capable features of physical currency,” said Grey.  “Until now, the conversation over CBDCs and cryptocurrencies has been divided between proponents of centralized and distributed ledger-based designs. By contrast, e-cash is unique in that it does not involve any common ledger whatsoever.”
Raúl Carrillo, Yale Law School; Director, Public Money Action “The E-CASH Act is the most critical component of a broader effort to ensure that the future financial system preserves the accessibility, privacy, and security of our day-to-day transactions,” said Carrillo.  “In a world of private payments technologies that do not sufficiently protect financial data, especially the data of people in poor and marginalized communities, this public innovation will set new standards for civil rights within the financial technology sector as a whole.”

Zoning Board OKs First Recreational Dispensary In Quincy

By SCOTT JACKSON

The Zoning Board of Appeals has given the green light to a proposed marijuana dispensary in Quincy Point, which would be the first recreational dispensary to open in the city.

The ZBA on Tuesday granted a special permit and variance to Cadella LLC, which would allow the company to open the dispensary at 715 Washington St., a property that abuts the rotary at the base of the Fore River Bridge and is currently home to a pool-supply store. Cadella must still get final approval from state regulators before it can open.

Ron Affsa, who owns Hairplace One on Quincy Avenue, would be the operator of the proposed dispensary in Quincy Point, along with Jon Napoli, who operates a dispensary in Northampton.

The city’s zoning code prohibits marijuana establishments from opening within 1,500 feet of a residential zoning district and within 500 feet of any schools, day care, playground and certain other facilities, unless the applicant obtains a variance from the ZBA. Cadella’s proposed location is 1,150 feet from the nearest residential zoning district, according to Valerio Romano, an attorney for the applicant, which is why the company sought the variance it received.

Affsa said he spent several years trying to find a suitable location in which he could open a dispensary. The location at 715 Washington St. was the closest to meeting all the requirements of the city’s zoning code.

“The way the zoning is right now, it’s close to impossible to meet every one of those things,” he said. “This was the closest checking off as many boxes as we could. We’re ecstatic for this location. We think it’s the perfect spot for this.

“Of all the places we looked at, this is by far the best spot.”

Cadella will not be growing marijuana on site and will purchase its products from wholesalers in Massachusetts. Customers will be able to place their orders online on the company’s website and then pickup their order inside the store.

“Generally, people can get in and out of there in a couple minutes that way,” Napoli said. “Even if you’re coming in without a preorder it’s a pretty quick transaction – people don’t need to hang around. They get what they need, they pay for it, and you see them out the door.

“Luckily we have a great parking lot with an easy exit.”

The property at 715 Washington St. contains about 13,000 square feet of land. There are currently 15 parking spaces on site and the applicant plans to create two more spaces by paving over a gravel area, according to civil engineer Ian Ainslie.

Napoli said all 17 spaces would be for the store’s customers. Employees will be provided a stipend to take public transportation – the site is located on two MBTA bus routes – or a taxi or rideshare. Employees could bike to work as well.

If necessary, Romano said the company could provide parking offsite and shuttle employees to and from the store.

Napoli said the dispensary would employ 25 to 27 workers in total and a maximum of 13 would be inside the store at a given time. There would nine stations at which marijuana is sold – though all nine stations might not be open at a given time – plus a manager and one or two security personnel.

Cadella would be allowed to open seven days a week with the same business hours as a liquor store. Those are the hours a dispensary is allowed to be open under the city ordinance.

The state charges a 17 percent sales tax on recreational marijuana sales and Quincy has adopted a 3 percent local tax. Romano said his client has signed a host-community agreement with the city that will provide Quincy with an additional 3 percent of the company’s revenue.

“Quincy is getting six points off the top of this business – it goes back to the city,” he said.

The store will have at least one security agent on site during business hours in accordance with state regulations. All customers must show valid identification before being let into the main sales area. The interior and exterior of the premises – including all entrances, exits, and areas where marijuana is contained – will be surveilled by security cameras around the clock, and the Quincy Police Department will have access to the cameras.

“This is going to be the most secure facility in Quincy probably,” Romano said. “This is more secure than a Walgreens selling oxycontin or a bank.”

Cadella has also reached an agreement with Jay Cashman, who owns the nearby section of the Fore River Shipyard, which will require the dispensary to pay for a police detail on site for the first 90 days it is open. The detail could be extended past 90 days at the discretion of the police department or it could be terminated earlier than that.

Martin Aikens, the chairperson of the zoning board, said the nearby stop light at the intersection of Washington Street and South Street would provide breaks in traffic, allowing ample time for vehicles leaving the site to enter the rotary.

“I think it’s a perfect, perfect place,” Aikens said. “It’s going to work fine.”

Board member John Himmel said Napoli’s dispensary in Northampton is well-run.

“I’ve seen their operation in Northampton,” he said. “It’s tight, it’s clean and well-run.”

One person spoke during the public hearing on the application. John Rodophele, a Grenwold Road resident, said he was concerned there would not be enough parking on site and customers would try to cut across the rotary if they want to head north on Washington Street.

“I don’t think there’s enough parking in that for the customers. I don’t think there is enough parking for the employees,” he said. “I think it’s dangerous when the people leave the parking lot – I think they’re going to be going back to Quincy and cutting across.”

Massachusetts voters approved the legalization of recreational marijuana in a November 2016 referendum. Statewide, 53.6 percent of voters backed the measure, and 51 percent of voters in Quincy did so as well.

While Cadella would be the first recreational dispensary to open in Quincy, a medical marijuana dispensary, Ermont, has been open on Ricciuti Drive since 2016.

Orlagh Gormley’s Record-Setting Basket – Quincy Sun Photos/Robert Bosworth

Shown below is a sequence of photos by Quincy Sun photographer Bob Bosworth showing North Quincy’s Orlagh Gormley scoring a layup to set a new city record of 56 points in one basketball game. Orlagh’s 56 points broke the record of 54 scored by North Quincy’s Brian Ross in 1998.

Orlagh’s record came during the Red Raiders’ Div. 2 tournament win over Masconomet at NQHS March 5. Her record game was one for the ages as she played only a little more than 26 minutes (high school basketball games are 32 minutes – 8 minutes per quarter). She scored 22 points in the first half and had 39 at half time.

In the game against Masconomet, Gormley made 23 field goals from 40 attempts, was 3 for 8 in three-pointers and made 7 out of 10 free throws. She also had 10 rebounds, 9 steals, 8 deflections and 4 assists. Gormley is nearing the 1,000 point plateau for her high school career. She finished the season with 963 career points – 37 points shy of the 1,000 mark. She has amassed the 963 points in 38 high school games (25 this year and 13 during her freshman season). This past season Orlagh scored 698 points averaging 27.9 points per game.

Here is a look at Orlagh’s drive to the basket when she scored her record 56th point.

Quincy Votes! Group Aims To Increase Turnout, Civic Engagement; Announce Logo Contest

QUINCY VOTES! co-founders Maggie McKee (left) and Liz Speakman (right) say the newly formed group will strive to increase civic engagement and turnout in future local elections and has five working groups: voter education and engagement, voter registration, community building, data, and youth. Quincy Votes! is non-partisan and will not be endorsing candidates in future campaigns, the founders said. Quincy Sun Photo/Robert Bosworth

By SCOTT JACKSON

Last fall, fewer than 17 percent of Quincy’s registered voters went to the polls in a municipal election that included contested City Council and School Committee races. A new group formed following the election hopes to change that.

Liz Speakman, who ran for School Committee last year, and Maggie McKee, a volunteer on Speakman’s and other campaigns, formed the group Quincy Votes! following the November 2021 election in which 16.9 percent of registered voters cast ballots. The group, which is non-partisan and will not be endorsing candidates in future campaigns, was established to help increase engagement and turnout in future elections.

“I was just kind of heartsick when I saw how few people were voting in this municipal election,” McKee recalled in a recent interview. “I was trying to post on social media – Facebook and stuff – to be like, ‘OK, this is today, this is voting day, this is preliminary day,’ and a lot of people didn’t know about it and to find out fewer than 17 percent of people turned out – I was watching the results come in and I was like ‘no!’

“Whoever they vote for, we both just want people to be more engaged in the process and following local news and stuff.”

“I moved here in 2009 and for the first few years really didn’t know anything about Quincy, didn’t really follow local politics. I was just sort of commuting to work,” McKee continued.

“Thanks to The Quincy Sun and other groups that I’ve gotten involved with, I’m starting to understand more about the city, and I think we just felt like this was really needed – some way of engaging more people in the process of voting and just paying attention, and also just community building.”

While she was on the campaign trail last year, Speakman said she learned many residents aren’t tuned into what is happening locally.

“When I was running for School Committee, similar to Maggie I learned how many people just didn’t know what was happening locally whether it was Cleaner, Greener cleanup days or the City Council meetings that were happening that people could watch virtually. I think a lot of parents got more involved in School Committee and watching those meetings when COVID hit and paying attention to decisions that we’re being made,” Speakman said.

“But, it feels like there is a small group in Quincy who know everything about what’s going on and then a big group in Quincy who know almost nothing about what’s going on locally. We really want to expand that and figure out ways to not only let people know about what’s happening locally in terms of civic engagement but also get them excited about participating and feel like they have ownership and they can make a difference in their community.”

“I don’t think it’s just Quincy that a lot people just feel like their vote doesn’t matter, their voice doesn’t matter, politics is useless to get involved in,” Speakman added. “[We’re] really wanting to shift that narrative and have people feel like it does matter when you write a letter to the editor or you write a letter for open forum to a meeting or you run a campaign.”

When asked why people might not vote in a local election, based on her experience last year, Speakman said even some regular voters were unfamiliar with the School Committee, its members, and who was running in the election, while other residents felt their vote did not matter.

“My campaign had access to the voter database and so we primarily knocked on doors of people who were regular voters. Even those folks who vote like every time in a municipal election didn’t know really what the function of School Committee was, and they didn’t know who was running, they didn’t know how long the terms were, they didn’t know who the incumbents were. So even among regular voters, there was just a real lack of information about the specifics,” Speakman said.

“A lot of people know the mayor and they know what the mayor does and they know what that function is and follow along, but almost every other elected office or even appointed office people just didn’t really know much about it.”

“When we were out sign holding…and out at community events talking to a lot of people who don’t vote, they really felt like they either didn’t know enough to make an informed decision about voting or they really felt like it didn’t matter – that there is power that exists in the city, and again, I don’t think it is unique to Quincy, but there is power that exists in Quincy and there is no way to change that, so they sort of disconnect and disengage,” Speakman continued.

“We were really trying to, with my campaign and then with this group, show people that it does matter. There are a lot of people that I talk to who are much more engaged on the state level or national level who feel strongly about big issues that are happening nationally – the presidential election or the governor’s race – and those are the people I really tried to engage locally and say you’re doing all this stuff on a bigger level, this is amazing, we need you here in Quincy too. We need your voice in Quincy, we need your expertise, your skills, your interests, your knowledge in Quincy.”

Following the election, Speakman said she posted on the Facebook page for Quincy For Transformative Change, asking if anyone would like to get together to talk about ways to boost voter turnout and engagement. About 50 people came to a meeting in early December at the Wollaston Congregational Church, the first meeting of Quincy Votes!

McKee said Quincy Votes! has formed five working groups: Voter education and engagement, voter registration, community building, data, and youth. Each of those groups is working to address that particular topic.

The voter education and engagement working group, for example, is compiling information explaining what the City Council and School Committee do. The working group is also reaching out to underrepresented communities and explaining how residents can register to vote in future elections.

Quincy Votes! has grown since December and there are now 110 members signed up for its email list, McKee said.

“We’re still growing, but having been involved in a couple of other environmental groups, I’m really impressed about how passionate people are, really excited to work on these things,” she said.

“Between meetings people are working in the working groups and then give us updates at the bigger meetings,” Speakman added. “I’m so impressed with the amount of work all these volunteers are wanting to do. I feel like there has been this energy and excitement to do something and there just needed to be a structure around it.”

Speakman said that while she and McKee cofounded the group, it has been a team effort.

“We’re not leading it. We’re behind the scenes saying what do you need from us,” Speakman said. “One of our members put together a Discord server so we could all communicate. Another member put together a calendar that has all the city meetings and community meetings that are happening in the next several months so people can access that.

“We are basically saying what do you need from us from a technical standpoint or resources or whatever to help you actualize the ideas that you have. So much of the activism I’ve seen in Quincy has been on Facebook and I feel like it didn’t translate in the election. There is a lot of active people on Facebook that aren’t necessarily voting so my hope, and I’ve been saying this at every meeting, is we need to not just be on Facebook. Certainly some being on Facebook is helpful to get information out, but we need to be in the community talking to people where they are at.”

Quincy Votes! has been meeting on the first Saturday of each month and will meet virtually this Saturday, March 5. McKee said residents looking to join Quincy Votes! can email quincyvotes@gmail.com for more information.

In future elections, McKee said Quincy Votes! plans to put together voter guides, explaining candidates’ positions on particular issues; she had done something similar ahead of last year’s School Committee race, posting them on social media.

The group could also potentially host a candidates night in the future as well, Speakman added.

One thing Quincy Votes! will not do is endorse is candidates.

“We’re not going to endorse candidates,” Speakman said, adding that she would step aside from the organization should she run for office again.

“This group is purely civic engagement, getting people aware of what’s happening in the city, how they can get involved. If they find a candidate that they love, we want them to feel like they know how to help whoever that candidate is, how to get involved, but we are not going to say, ‘you know who you need to support is this person.’ That is not our goal.

“Personally, yes, I am going to support different people and I am going to volunteer and do different things, but that is not the role of Quincy Votes! But we want people to feel like they do know how to plug in if they do decide there is a candidate or campaign or ballot question or something they are excited about.”

Quincy Votes! is also holding a logo design contest.

All high school and colleges students in or from Quincy are invited to design a logo for the new group. The top three designs will win cash prizes, and the winning design will become the group’s new log.

First place will receive $250, second place $100 and third place $50.

The community, including Quincy Votes! members, will vote on the designs, taking into consideration how well the entries represent the group’s goal of encouraging civic engagement in the city of Quincy.

Entries must be original and, if chosen as the logo, must not be used for any other purpose (that is, the designer agrees to turn over the copyright to Quincy Votes!).

Specifications: 300 dpi in .jpg format, 6 x 6 inches in size, CYMK for settings. In additon to any color versions, those submitting entries should include a black and white version on a transparent background.

Entries must be submitted by April 15. Email entries to quincyvotes@gmail.com.