WILMINGTON, MA — Wilmington Apple is asking weekly questions to the seven candidates running in contested primaries for the Wilmington/Tewksbury State Representative seat (19th Middlesex).Below, in her own words, are the responses to this week’s questions from candidate Judy O’Connell (D-Wilmington).#11a) Do you feel Massachusetts residents are over-taxed?Yes.#11b) How will you balance the need to provide government services to the taxpayers & fund the government with most taxpayers’ desire for no tax increases?There is no easy or short answer to this question as the Massachusetts state budget approaches a total of $41 billion dollars a year. In January 2018, the Baker-Polito administration submitted a FY19 budget proposal that attempted to keep state spending in line with revenue growth, to minimize reliance on non-recurring revenues, and to avoid tax or fee increases to balance the budget, while investing in key areas such as local aid, education, workforce development, substance misuse, mental health, housing, and transportation. Massachusetts has started the next fiscal year without a permanent budget in place after lawmakers were unable to reach an agreement in time. The 2019 fiscal year began July 1 and the Legislature passed an interim budget which will fund the state through the end of July. With the passing of this interim budget, there will be no disruption of any services in Massachusetts. As State Representative and member of the House of Representatives, I would be an active participant in this process and I would be advocating for the 19th Middlesex District with the taxpayers in mind while ensuring Wilmington and Tewksbury receive their fair share and any possible increases if possible in Chapter 70 funding and Unrestricted General Government Aid. These funds are critical to both communities in helping assist local government with providing the suite of services that people and families have come to expect and deserve. I would advocate for any available state grant money for any projects or initiatives that pertain to either community within the District on an annual basis.As a prior elected official on the School Committee and Board of Selectmen for the Town of Wilmington, I have always been fiscally conservative and have attempted to strike a balance in meeting collective bargaining agreements, supporting capital improvement projects, continuing the highest level of municipal services possible, supporting smart economic development within the community, maintaining a strong free cash position as recommended by the town’s financial advisors and supporting the Board of Selectmen annual vote of the maximum tax shift classification to help lessen the tax burden on the resident population. I intend to take this same balanced approach to Beacon Hill while recognizing we need to look at strategic ways to fund current and future services not always on the backs of taxpayers.#11c) Can you point to anywhere in the state budget where you believe there is waste, fraud or abuse? What will you do about it?As State Representative, I would become a scholar of the state budget and would always keep a watchful eye in looking for areas of improvement regarding waste, fraud and abuse. There are documented cases of abuse such as overtime costs, employee benefit cases, etc. for example and one could analyze areas of wasteful spending in every budget which I intend to do on a regular basis. Regarding fraud, I will be reviewing consistently the work done annually by the Office of the Inspector General for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts which is an independent agency charged with preventing and detecting fraud, waste and abuse in the use of public funds and public property. This Office investigates allegations in these areas at all levels of government; reviews programs and practices in state and local agencies to identify system-wide vulnerabilities and opportunities for improvement; and assists the public and private sectors to help prevent fraud, waste and abuse in government spending. There have been various reports released from the State Auditor’s office. For example, in April 2018, State Auditor Suzanne Bump released the annual report for her office’s Bureau of Special Investigations (BSI), which identified a record $16.9 million in public assistance benefit fraud in FY 2017, a 9% increase over the previous year. This marks the seventh straight year of increased findings according to the report which is not an indication of more fraud in these programs, but rather a reflection of the growing effectiveness of the agency and the expanded use of data analytics to identify fraudulent activities. According to this report, Bump’s office identified over $16 million in fraud, spread over 1,150 completed investigations. The majority of the fraud which was approximately $10.3 million or 61 percent was identified in the Mass Health program. There are other reported areas of fraud and as State Representative, I would do my part in helping to ensure these public benefit programs continue to be designed to provide the needed assistance to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged residents who truly need the help as many of the beneficiaries of these programs are children, disabled adults, veterans and seniors.#12) Former State Representative Jim Miceli was known through the district for his extraordinary constituent services. Do you pledge to provide a similar level of constituent services if elected? How will you be responsive to requests for help from residents of Wilmington and Tewksbury?Yes, if elected, I do pledge to provide the same extraordinary level of constituent services that State Representative Miceli provided that the people of the Wilmington and Tewksbury are accustomed to while looking for ways to enhance and improve these services provided in any manner possible. State Representative Miceli should be applauded for his hard work, commitment and dedication to constituent services on behalf of the 19th Middlesex District for decades and I would be honored to carry on his legacy in this regard if elected as the next State Representative.As State Representative, there are many ways to be responsive to the communities within the 19th Middlesex District. First, I will hold regular offices hours in both Wilmington and Tewksbury to be available to the public. I would make sure my contact information is widely publicized and my commitment is to be accessible and responsive to anyone within the District at all times. Some constituent service matters are highly sensitive and confidential and must be treated with the proper care and compassion they need and deserve. Sometimes in addition to taking care of the business at hand, people need a leader who listens and one who is trustworthy and provides a level of human service that goes beyond just being an elected official. I am committed to providing this kind of constituent service as I believe it is the right thing to do in taking care of the people and families that make up the fabric of our district that I have been entrusted to serve. Additionally, I intend to be very visible in both Wilmington and Tewksbury by attending as many events, community activities and town meetings as possible. I will be an active listener, a strong voice for the people and I will be willing to assist the residents of the 19th Middlesex District relative to any matter or need that they have. Constituent services can span across many areas and I would use the full weight of the office to be a supporter and advocate for the entire District including residents, local businesses and municipal town government. Providing the highest quality of constituent services as the next State Representative is of critical importance to me and I will work tirelessly on behalf of the 19th Middlesex District every day I am in office.(NOTE: Do you have a question for the candidates? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and it may be asked in a future Q&A or in a debate.)Like Wilmington Apple on Facebook. Follow Wilmington Apple on Twitter. Follow Wilmington Apple on Instagram. Subscribe to Wilmington Apple’s daily email newsletter HERE. Got a comment, question, photo, press release, or news tip? Email email@example.com.Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading… RelatedSTATE REP RACE Q&A: Pina Prinzivalli Discusses Taxes, Being Responsive To ConstituentsIn “Government”STATE REP RACE Q&A: Judy O’Connell Discusses State Rep Pay, Environmental IssuesIn “Government”STATE REP RACE: Judy O’Connell Addresses Allegations Of Federal Tax Liens On Her HomeIn “Government”
17 Photos Bloodhound may look familiar to Borderlands fans… Jason Parker/CNET Rumors had been swirling that Respawn had a new battle royale game to showcase, and on Monday, the developer officially revealed Apex Legends during a live stream. We didn’t even have to wait: It was available for free immediately on PC, PS4 and Xbox One. After playing through several matches (with one win!), it clearly has the fundamentals in order. It has a crisp, colorful art style, great shooting mechanics and a familiar, fun battle royale experience. But the biggest difference between it and Fortnite, PUBG and other also-rans is that it gives you eight unique character classes to choose from. Other games like Realm Royale already dabble in this, but don’t have the same cachet as a developer like Respawn does, having won over fans with its Titanfall series.Playable Legends make all the differenceApex Legends keeps to the battle royale conventions in most ways — 60 players drop into a large map in squads of three, search for weapons, armor and other useful items, then battle it out with other squads as a wall of death closes in. But it really shakes things up with eight different “Legends” (character classes) to choose from, each with unique abilities that let you pick your role based on your play style. There is Bangalore, who provides cover for her team with a smoke canister gun and has a passive ability that speeds up her movement when being shot at. Like all other characters, she charges up an Overwatch-like ultimate ability: in her case, a wide-ranging airstrike. Bloodhound takes on a different role as a Technological Tracker, with abilities that let him briefly see enemies in his field of view and footprints showing where enemies have recently been. 2:42 3 Apex Legends is here: How to download the new Titanfall battle royale.Resident Evil 2 review: A joyous return to zombie-infested Raccoon City. Video Games Next is Caustic, a character that currently either requires a ton of free or paid currency to play, who has gas-spewing traps and grenades you can use to control the battlefield near you. If you know an opposing squad is in a small building, for example, you can fill the place with noxious gas to flush them out.Lifeline, the Combat Medic, can heal the squad with drones. Lifeline also has a passive ability that makes her the speediest healer and reviver of all the characters. Another healing plus: She automatically drops a shield while she revives her squad mates.There are four more classes with Gibraltar (Shielded Fortress), Mirage (Holographic Trickster), Pathfinder (Forward Scout) and Wraith (Interdimensional Skirmisher), but you’re starting to get the idea. Each of these varied classes means you can assemble a team of specialists that work well together and maybe give you an advantage on the battlefield. Though there are other royale games that include classes, it’s not a mechanic found in the most popular games in the genre like Call of Duty: Blackout, Fortnite or PUBG, setting Apex Legends apart. Jason Parker/CNET Squad is the only way to playMost battle royale games offer a number of different game types, letting you play solo, with a friend or as part of a squad. As it stands right now, you can only play Apex Legends in a three-person squad. It makes sense, since you have the ability to choose your class and create a team that works well together. But not everyone (including myself) is in love with playing with random team members. Perhaps Apex Legends will eventually suggest characters to help balance a team to have the best chance of winning. We’ll have to wait and see if other game types are introduced in the future, but it makes sense to launch the game as squads-only for now.To Respawn’s credit, one thing that makes joining random squads more bearable is Apex Legends’ ping system that allows for effective communication with teammates. When you want to signal where you think the squad should go next, you simply move your target reticle to the location and hit the ping button, sending a target everyone can see. You can also call out specific items, highlighting a gun that’s available in your location or a grenade a teammate might need that you don’t. So far, it works pretty well with random squad mates, even when it’s just a replacement for opening up the map and pinging a target location. New ways to bring back your teammatesIn games like Fortnite and PUBG, when a squad member goes down, you have a limited amount of time to bring them back, leaving you stuck out in the open while you wait for a progress bar to complete. You can do the same in Apex Legends (with some advantages if you’re playing as Lifeline), but there’s another interesting option. You can also grab your downed player’s “Banner,” then bring that to a reviving station elsewhere to bring them back into the game once you’re out of danger. Of course, this means that opposing players could keep an eye on reviving stations to kill you in the process, but you can also camp around these stations to revive teammates later when it’s less dangerous. Jason Parker/CNET Yes, there are loot cratesAs an EA-published, free-to-play title, no one’s probably surprised there are loot crates. But all I’ve seen so far are loot crates that hold cosmetic items like skins for your guns, new banners, tons of character skins and unlockable audio quips for Legends. Our sister site GameSpot talked to Apex Legends’ project lead Drew McCoy about loot crates during a preview event prior to the game’s launch. “We’ve seen from games like Battlefront II, how much paying for any kind of advantage is so bad,” McCoy said. “I actually think that Battlefront is a really good game mechanically, and they did a lot of great things and it got overshadowed by some of those choices, but it’s a really good spotlight to shine on why those kind of systems are so problematic.” With this in mind, Respawn is trying to be transparent with the system by posting the drop rates for its loot boxes both in the in-game store and on its website. You’re guaranteed at least a rare item with every crate and they won’t give you duplicates. “We just hope that you find a large enough player base that likes what we’ve built and wants to show off and decides to spend some money in the game,” he said. “But if not, free players who spend their time are just as important to us. We take that very seriously. Time and money are the two most precious things in any humans life. And in fact, they’re choosing to spend either of them with us is incredibly important to us.” Depending on your platform, you’ll also be able to get an initial batch of free cosmetic items if you follow GameSpot’s guide here. How is Apex Legends different from Fortnite and PUBG? Tags Share your voice Is all this enough to win over Fortnite and PUBG fans?Fortnite, PUBG and Call of Duty: Blackout already have huge followings and we’re still waiting for Battlefield V’s take on battle royale, so the marketplace is more than crowded. But what makes Apex Legends stand out from the pack is Respawn’s characteristically tight gunplay mixed with the inspired character classes inspired by games like Overwatch, League of Legends and DOTA 2, making it a game that’s both about survival and creating a synergistic team that can outplay the competition.It’s too early to say whether Apex Legends will gain the kind of following of other big franchises, though the early player counts have been strong. Regardless, it’s compelling to see a top-tier developer make innovative game design tweaks that change what we’ve come to expect in the battle royale genre. We’ll have to continue to play, but from my perspective, Apex Legends is off to a great start. Comments Now playing: Watch this: The 17 most anticipated video games of 2019 Fortnite
Nurul Haque Nur, Md Rashed Khan and Faruk HossainOpposition BNP’s student wing Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal (JCD), the left-leaning student organisations and quota reform movement activists on Monday announced their respective panels for Dhaka University Central Student Union (DUCSU) polls slated for 11 March.Mostafizur Rahman, Anisur Rahman Khondokar and Khorshed Alam Sohel have been named as JCD’s vice president (VP), general secretary (GS) and assistant general secretary (AGS) candidates respectively.The student body’s DU unit president Al Mehedi Talukder and general secretary Abul Bashar Siddique announced their panel at a press briefing at Madhu’s Canteen in the afternoon.The other candidates of the panel are liberation war affairs secretary Jafrul Hasan Nadim, science and technology affairs secretary Maksudur Rahman, common room and cafeteria affairs secretary Quaneta Islam, international affairs secretary Ashraful Islam Uzzal, literary secretary Minhaz Ahmed Prince, cultural secretary Quaiyum Ul Islam, sports secretary Moniruzzaman Mamum, students’ transport secretary Mahfuzur Rahman Chowdhury and social service affairs secretary Touhidul Islam.The panel’s member candidates are Habibul Bashar, Arif Hossain, Iqbal Hossain, Sahab Uddin, Mahmudul Hasan, Safayat Hasnain Sabit, Tanvir Azadi Sakib, Sultan Md Salauddin Siddik, Md Shariful Islam, Imam Al Naser Mishuk and Alamgir Hossain.General Students’ Rights Protection Platform (Sadharon Chhatra Odhikar Sangrokkhon Parishad), which led the quota reform movement last year, has picked Nurul Haque Nur, Md Rashed Khan and Faruk Hossain as their candidates for the posts of vice-president, general secretary and assistant general secretary respectively.The platform declared their panel nominating candidates for 17 out of 25 posts.They will announce the full panel for central union and hall unions within Monday, said the leaders.Other members of the panel are liberation war affairs secretary Nazmul Huda, secretary of common room and cafeteria affairs secretary Sheikh Emilee Jamal, international affairs secretary Habibullah Belali, literary secretary Akram Hossain, cultural secretary Nahid Islam, sports secretary Mamunur Rashid Mamun, students’ transport secretary Razibul Islam and social service affairs secretary Aktar Hossain.The panel’s member candidates are Umme Kulsum Bonya, Raiyan Abdullah, Sab Al Masani, Imran Hossain and Shariar Alam Sumya.Left-leaning student bodies under the umbrella of Progressive Students’ Alliance and Anti-imperialism Students’ Unity jointly nominated Chhatra Union general secretary Liton Nandi for VP, Chhatra Federation’s Umme Habiba Benzeer for GS and Samajtantrik Chhatra Front’s DU unit vice-president Sadekul Islam Sadik for AGS.They picked candidates for all other posts and hall union.Naming their candidates at a press briefing at Madhu’s Canteen on Monday, its leaders said they will press home their six-point demand, including setting the poll stations in academic buildings instead of residential halls.Other members of the panel are liberation war affairs secretary Rajib Kanti Roy, science and technology affairs secretary Ulul Amar Talukder, common room and cafeteria affairs secretary Suhail Ahmed Shuvo, international affairs secretary Mim Arafat Manab, literary secretary Rajib Das, cultural secretary Fahad Hasan Adnan, sports secretary Shuvra Nil Roy, students’ transport secretary Hasib Muhammad Ashik and social service affairs secretary Foisal Mahmud.The panel’s member candidates are Moinul Islam Tuhin, Aminul Islam, Amzad Hossain, Afnan Akhter, Mitramoy, Salman Farsi, Rahatil Rahat, Armanul Haque, Jesan Arka Marandi, Manisha Akhter, Mahir Farhan Khan, Udoy Nafis and Pratnapratim Mehedi.