MAURA HEALEY’S EXCELLENT YEAR

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^ campaigning with her people : Maura Healey (in orange jacket) with Boston City Councillor-elect Annissa Essaibi George (on left)

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In last year’s state election, we supported Maura Healey for Attorney General. She won her election, and since taking office in January has amassed exactly the sort of activist record we hoped for. She views the office of Attorney General as being “the people’s lawyer,” and sees herself as a vanguard or us. Given the 62 percent of the vote that chose her, clearly Massachusetts agrees.

Occasionally we have disagreed with some of Healey’s activism — did she really need to put her two cents into the Tom Brady “deflategate” situation ? — but for the most part she has moved against targets that well deserve her push back.

She has defended Planned Parenthood, sued wage thieving employers, and convened community conversations about all kinds of topics important to “the people’s Lawyer,” the opioid addiction epidemic especially. Recently she took on two targets that surely merit a spanking : debt collectors and gun dealers.

Two days ago she announced sueing one of the state’s biggest debt collector law firms, Lustig & Glaser (disclosiure : this firm has sued me seeking to collect on two old debts, one that i ackowledge), charging tem with what is all too common among debt collection irms : suing on debts that aren’t proved, or have expired, or for which the firm has no documentation. I do not know if this is the case with Lustig & Glaser, but it has been scandalously so for others, many of which firms use scare tactics — such as purporting to hold an arrest warrant, or claiming they will garnish your bank accounts — to frighten people into paying up. Other firms violate Federal law by calling you at work, or repeatedly, and being nasty on the phone till you wnat to cry. These practices have to stop.

Fact : the “arrest warrant” such firms may hold, called a “capias,’ is a civil arrest only. The sherif or other court officer holding the actual “capias” paper — if he doesn’t have it, he can’t act against you — brings you into court. No more. Also fact : no debt collector can garnish your bank account, or anything you have, until it has a judgment against you AND also a second judgment, from a follow up case called “Supplementary Process,” the gist of which is determining your ability to pay. Do not be fooled or harrassed into agreeing with any caller who claims otherwise. (NOTE : some of your assets are exempt from attachment. Look at M.G.L. c. 235 for a list of exemptions, which include your automobile up to a value of about 10,000.)

The recent recession forced many millions of people into economic distress that left them unable to pay even legitimate debts. Healey’s office is holding seminars to inform people about how to file a bankruptcy case, and why; she explains to attendees  the exemption of almost all student debt from bankruptcy provisions — an exemption which she decries. We agree, and we applaud her for her stance.

Meanwhile, the suit against Lustig & Glaser goes forward.

Healey also recently notified the state’s licensed gun dealers that she will closely monitor their gun sales. She suspects that many have surreptitiously transacted guns of types that Massachusetts law does not permit private persons to own, and that dealers may have sold weapons without performing our state’s required background checks. There isn’t mch that even the Attorney General can do about weapons dealing, given the absolutist frenzy now going on in favor of univeral ownership of whatever weapons you choose; but Massachusetts has very strict wepons ownership controls, they are not going away soon, and Healey has put dealers on notice that her office will enforce state gun laws to the fullest.

Again we applaud her diligence. In some states more people die by guns than by vehicle; whatever we can do to cut back gun ownership by irresponsible people, we should do. I would like to see Healey, as the state’s chief law enforcement officer, file legislation to require — at the very least — that gun owners obtain liability insurance, just as our state requires of vehicle owners. And why not legislation to reuire that a written record be kept of every weapons sale in the state, naming the seller and buyer, as we do of every real estate transcation ?

Don’t bet against Healey doing just this. She has had a formidable year, and everything I know about her gives me confidence she will do just as well in her next three years in office.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

Author: hereandsphere

Here and Sphere is an online journal of news, opinion, reviews, advice, & bits n' pieces of everything else - from HERE to SPHERE...... Co-founded by Michael Freedberg, a long-time Boston Phoenix journalist, and Heather Cornell, a South Coast Massachusetts columnist and editor.

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