Entries by Harris Foulkes

MBTA Exhibits Worrying Vehicle Revenue Miles Trend

Along with Philadelphia’s Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), the T is the only other US transit agency that operates all five major types of terrestrial mass transit vehicles: light rail vehicles (the Ashmont-Mattapan High Speed and Green Lines); heavy rail trains (the Blue, Orange, and Red Lines); regional rail trains (the commuter rail); electric trolleybuses (the Silver Line); and motor buses (MBTA Bus). Therefore, the T has an enormous responsibility to the public as a vast amount of commuters rely on it on a daily basis. Given its vast network, the MBTA is and should remain under constant scrutiny. A vehicle revenue mile is defined as one vehicle traveling one mile with revenue passengers are on board, and is one […]

MA Short-Term Rental Tax is a Big Win for Cape’s Wastewater Management

Massachusetts lawmakers recently passed legislation to extend the 5.7 percent surtax on hotel and motel room occupancy to short-term rentals. The legislation will also give towns the option of adding an additional 6 percent onto the tax; 9 percent if an owner rents out two or more units in the same community. The primary objective of the legislation is to capture revenue from rooms rented through online services like Airbnb. The bill will make Massachusetts the first state to track short-term rentals via a statewide registry. While Governor Baker returned the bill to Beacon Hill for more work because of his feeling that homeowners who rent their homes for less than 14 days a year should be exempt from the […]

Cape Cod’s Struggling Workforce

Cape Cod welcomes about four million tourists a year thanks to its standing as a top summer destination. To accommodate this influx of people, businesses on the Cape hire an estimated 20,000 temporary seasonal workers. With many towns having a small and aging population, employers, primarily from the restaurant and hotel industry, have to turn to foreign nationals to meet their seasonal labor needs. However, after visa laws were revised in 2018, a current shortage of these workers stands to threaten the Cape’s summer businesses. The H-2B non-agricultural temporary worker program allows U.S. employers to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary non-agricultural jobs. The amount of H-2B visas that can be issued nationwide is decided annually […]

Questions Surrounding Recreational Marijuana on Cape Cod

Through a 2016 ballot initiative, Massachusetts joined a small group of states that allow the sale of recreational marijuana. However, as the state gets closer to the opening of its first recreational pot shop, many regions in the Commonwealth are second guessing the sale of cannabis within their boundaries. In fact, about 70 communities have a recreational marijuana ban in place, and about 160 more cities and towns have a moratorium of some sort. Cape Cod’s towns have similar feelings, as many questions have arisen over the future of pot shops in the region. Residents on Cape Cod have been hesitant to introduce any type of legalized marijuana, primarily because of the concern that easier access could lead to increased […]

National Park Service Attracts Cape Cod Summer Visitors

The Cape Cod National Seashore (CCNS), located in the towns of Chatham, Eastham, Orleans, Wellfleet, Truro, and Provincetown, was created by President John F. Kennedy in 1961. The land encompasses over 43,000 acres and nearly 40 miles of seashore. The National Park Service (an agency of the Department of Interior) is responsible for maintaining the Seashore’s pristine condition. The Department’s work is critical to the all-important Cape Cod tourism industry as there were two million National Seashore visits last summer. The importance of Cape Cod’s beaches is reflected in the number of Department of Interior employees located on the Cape who work to adhere to the Department’s mission of “Protecting and managing the Nation’s natural resources and cultural heritage.” In […]

Cape Cod’s Battle Against the Opioid Epidemic

In recent years, opioid-related deaths in Massachusetts have increased much faster than the national average. While steps are being taken to combat the problem, the crisis has challenged all the Commonwealth’s communities. Cape Cod has especially struggled. Of Massachusetts’ 14 counties, Barnstable had the fourth highest opioid overdose death rate of 31.39 per 100,000 people in 2017. One of the main factors contributing to the development of Cape Cod’s opioid problem was a high opiate prescription rate. In 2012 Cape Cod had an opiate prescription rate about 24 percent higher than the state average. While opioid-related overdose deaths decreased by nearly 19 percent on the Cape from 2016 to 2017, rescuers responded to 15 percent more overdose calls last year […]

School Choice Booming on Cape Cod

Each year, millions of dollars flow from one school system to another thanks to a 1991 Massachusetts law that created inter-district school choice, which offers parents the option of enrolling their children in the public-school district of a community other than their hometown. While the law allows each district to decide whether to accept out-of-district students, no district can deny its students the right to leave. Parents on Cape Cod are taking full advantage of the law. Preliminary estimates for the current school year from the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education show Cape schools are educating 2,595 school choice students, 1,127 more than nine years ago. In fact, Cape Cod students who take advantage of school choice make […]

Disappointing Decision Regarding High-Achieving Cape Cod Charter School

In 2004 the Barnstable County Horace Mann Charter School was founded to “Engage, educate, and challenge a diverse K-3 population to achieve the highest level of academic excellence.” The school has its own nine-member board of trustees, principal, and staff that under the Horace Mann format are given greater control over budgetary and teaching decisions than their counterparts in traditional public schools. The school stayed true to its commitment to diversity as English is the second language of 41 percent of the students, and it is the only elementary school in the district that accepts students from all of the town’s seven villages. Furthermore, a majority of the students are from low income households with at least 50 percent of […]

The Reality of Cape Cod’s Population Trend

Cape Cod is known as a bustling tourist location that overflows with visitors eager to get close to the ocean during the stifling summer months. In fact, Cape Cod experiences a 50 percent increase in occupancy level between January and August. While the Cape continues to experience economic growth due to its booming tourism industry, the population trend of its all-season residents is cause for concern. When the summer tourists depart, they increasingly leave behind a dwindling and aging population, which could hamper economic development. Between 2000 and 2016 Cape Cod’s year-round population decreased by 3 percent, though it has stabilized in recent years. The trend is remarkable considering the Cape experienced a 19 percent year-round population increase between 1990 […]