Showing posts with label transparency. Show all posts
Showing posts with label transparency. Show all posts

Thursday, February 25, 2021

"The Senate now decides how to handle the House’s changes"


"HOUSE LAWMAKERS spent over an hour locked in a tense debate Wednesday afternoon on an unsuccessful transparency amendment to the Legislature’s 2021-2022 joint rules before ultimately adopting a rules package to govern interactions between the two branches that strips a few elements of the Senate’s proposed reforms.

The House approved a rules package on a 128-31 vote that would keep a notice requirement for committee hearings at 72 hours, rather than the one week proposed by the Senate; make public only the names of committee members who vote against favorably reporting a bill, instead of providing a complete accounting of how all members vote, as the Senate version would; and remove Senate language which would have mandated that committees share copies of public testimony when asked by members of the public.

Most of the debate Wednesday centered on an amendment  that would have made details of all committee votes public, mandated a one-week notice for committee hearings, and made public testimony on bills available to the public upon request. The House rejected the amendment on a 36-122 vote with nearly all Republicans and eight Democrats voting in favor."
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Monday, December 21, 2020

Register O’Donnell Discusses Need for Mortgage Transparency

 With the legislative session winding down, Norfolk County Register of Deeds William P. O’Donnell reiterated the importance he places on pending legislation to promote mortgage transparency here in Massachusetts. 

At the beginning of 2019, Register O’Donnell had two bills filed, H.1413 and S.960, which stated that when banks sold their residential mortgages to a different lending institution, that transaction, or assignment, would be required to be recorded with the relevant Massachusetts Registry of Deeds office within 30 days of its execution. 

“During the most recent legislative session,” noted O’Donnell, “both H.1413 and S.960 wound their way through the legislative process. After both pieces of legislation were filed with the Massachusetts House and Senate Clerks offices by lead sponsors Rep. William Galvin (D-Canton) and Sen. John Keenan (D-Quincy)  respectively and given a docket number, dozens of other state representatives and senators signed up as co-sponsors.  The clerks offices then gave each piece of legislation a bill number (H. 1413 and S.960). Then each bill was assigned to the Joint Committee on the Judiciary for further consideration. A public hearing on the legislation was then held where I provided arguments for supporting the legislation. The joint committee on the Judiciary reported the legislation favorably in early 2020. On February 13, 2020, H.1413, accompanied by S. 960, was ordered to a third reading by the Massachusetts House. Unfortunately, no further action has taken place on the legislation. Certainly, the members of the legislature have been dealing with many pressing matters including COVID-19 and the fiscal year 2021 State Budget.”

The Register further stated, “My specific arguments for supporting the mortgage transparency legislation included the fact the legislation would eliminate the possibility that a homeowner may not know who the holder of their mortgage is because an assignment was not recorded. Because some banks have gone out of business in previous years or merged with another lending institution, homeowners are in some instances forced to consult with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation website or the Massachusetts Division of Banks to determine who holds their mortgage. The legislation would make assignments of residential mortgages more transparent to the consumer.”

Another argument for the bill’s passage was that it created a more level playing field between smaller community banks and larger lending institutions. The smaller community banks tend to hold their mortgages while many larger nationwide banks are not diligent in recording their mortgage assignments.

The need for this legislation hit home recently when the Boston Globe published an article by Sean P. Murphy on December 8, 2020 which highlighted the difficulties that can result when an assignment is not recorded. O’Donnell stated, “The article spoke about a couple who had found a home in Worcester which needed work. To finance the purchase and remodeling costs, the couple wanted to sell their condo in Easton. However, a title problem developed with the Easton condo due to a mortgage assignment not being properly recorded. Because the assignment was not recorded at the Registry of Deeds, the lending institution who was the current holder of the mortgage lacked the legal authority to discharge the mortgage. A process that should have taken a few days took several weeks as two large lending institutions could not get their act together and solve the title problem by filing the assignment. After several weeks of back and forth the problem was resolved and the assignment was recorded, but only after the intervention of the Boston Globe.”

“The assignment legislation that has been filed would have eliminated this problem as an assignment would have been required to be recorded 30 days after the mortgage was transferred, or sold, to another lending institution,” stated O’Donnell.

In conclusion, Register O’Donnell noted, “With the legislative session winding down, it is unlikely the legislation, H.1413 and S.960 will advance further. However, I am not giving up the fight to help Massachusetts homeowners. I will once again be filing mortgage transparency legislation in the upcoming 2021-2022 legislative session. I am hopeful our arguments will be persuasive and after years of trying, the legislation will wind its way through the legislative process and onto Governor Baker’s desk for his signature.”

To learn more about these and other Registry of Deeds events and initiatives, like us at or follow us on and/or
The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds is located at 649 High Street in Dedham.  The Registry is a resource for homeowners, title examiners, mortgage lenders, municipalities and others with a need for secure, accurate, accessible land record information.  All land record research information can be found on the Registry’s website  Residents in need of assistance can contact the Registry of Deeds Customer Service Center via telephone at (781) 461-6101, or email us at
Register O’Donnell Discusses Need for Mortgage Transparency
Register O’Donnell Discusses Need for Mortgage Transparency

Sunday, March 10, 2019

"Of the 62 public requests filed, only about half were successful"

From the Milford Daily News, articles of interest for Franklin:

"Sunshine Week: These are the highest-paid employees in the Milford area"
"How much do municipal workers make? 
Across the globe, governments are publishing more of their records online, putting information in the hands of citizens who could help improve the public sector. 
But in the era of big data, when any piece of information seems a Google search away, try finding the salary of your local police chief. 
With more limited resources, cities and towns often lag behind in making their records available to the public. To help narrow the gap, the Daily News will launch an effort today to provide readers more insight into spending in their own backyards."

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Editor note: I hesitated to post this as more information is needed for a worthwhile comparison. While the article and payroll tool provides salary and compensation data, it does not provide the context on the size of the community and budget or work load to help make the comparison fair. Simply using the data provided is comparing apples to oranges. As a result of multiple discussions over the years on making the case to position Franklin appropriately with communities of its size and operational scope, this is not an easy task. So while the real picture is not available, be aware, that at least some data is.

I would rather have had the focus on the fact that 55% of the information requests were actually fulfilled. For a Sunshine week impact, there is not a lot of sun shining.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

In the News: Cantoreggi remains in Franklin; MA House debates rules and transparency

From the Sun Chronicle and the Milford Daily News, articles of interest for Franklin:

Cantoreggi decides to stay in Franklin
"Selectmen had planned to approve a contract for a new town administrator Tuesday, but learned that morning the winning candidate no longer wanted the job. 
Robert “Brutus” Cantoreggi, director of the department of public works in neighboring Franklin since 2005, informed town officials he had decided to remain in his present post. 
“It happens sometimes,” selectmen Chairman James Lehan said. “We were in the process of negotiating a contract. He was well established in Franklin, a longtime employee there and enjoyed his job. He said it was a family decision and he thought he wanted to stay in Franklin.”

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DPW Director Robert Cantoreggi presenting to the Franklin Town Council Jan 30
DPW Director Robert Cantoreggi presenting to the Franklin Town Council Jan 30

MA House debates rules and transparency
"People come up to Somerville Rep. Denise Provost at parties, she says, asking her to explain what an informal session is. 
Rep. Jack Lewis of Framingham starts his week at a senior center, where he freezes up when he’s asked, “Jack, what do you think is coming up?” and doesn’t know what bill he’ll be voting on two days later. 
And freshman Rep. Maria Robinson, also of Framingham, says she gets questions during YMCA visits about how a bill becomes a law. 
House lawmakers shared these and other stories of constituent encounters as they made the case Wednesday for new rules they said would add transparency to state government, ultimately coming up short in most of their efforts during a session that stretched into the evening and featured spirited debate on House operations."
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Friday, January 11, 2019

"the Commission was unable to come to an agreement on joint recommendations"

From the Milford Daily News, articles of interest for Franklin:

"After holding on to their public records law exemption in a landmark 2016 reform law aimed at making government more transparent, lawmakers assigned to come up with ways to open up the Legislature have now blown past two deadlines and are entering 2019 without consensus recommendations. 
In late 2017, as a statutory deadline approached for a commission tasked with studying the public availability of legislative records and information, the group had yet to meet, and lawmakers gave their colleagues on the panel another year to complete their work. 
The extra year, however, did not lead to the delivery of recommendations. The group of six representatives and six senators charged with examining legislative transparency and whether to apply public records law standards to the state Legislature is entering the 2019-2020 session, and near-term rules debates, with no report."

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For access to information on the Legislative Branch (both House and Senate)

Find information on the Legislative Branch of the Massachusetts state government
Find information on the Legislative Branch of the Massachusetts state government

Saturday, December 8, 2018

“When we took the pledge, we made a statement”

From the Milford Daily News, articles of interest for Franklin:
"When Democrats Maria Robinson and Becca Rausch were in the throes of campaigning for a seat in the Massachusetts legislature, they took a pledge – if elected, they would work to achieve greater transparency in state government. 
Both were victorious in last month’s state election - Robinson, of Framingham, is headed to the House, where she will represent the 6th Middlesex District. Rausch, of Needham, will serve in the Senate representing the Norfolk, Bristol and Middlesex District. 
That means the pledge lives on, and at its heart is a demand that every vote at the Statehouse be done by roll call. It gives constituents a clear picture of how their elected officials vote and where they stand on the issues."
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