DiZoglio Pledges Scrutiny of Pay, Diversity and Police Anti-Bias Rollout if Elected Auditor

Sen. Diana DiZoglio during online press conference. (Screen capture.)

Sen. Diana DiZoglio, a candidate for state auditor, last week outlined her plans to report on pay equity, diversity and inclusion in agency contracting; equity in the cannabis industry; and the implementation of anti-bias training for police.

Accompanied by Sens. Adam Gomez, Lydia Edwards and Julian Cyr for an online press conference, the Methuen Democrat rolled out what she called her “social justice and equity audit plan,” saying, if elected, she would “be an auditor who opens state government to everyone and shifts the balance of power back to the working people.”

“Massachusetts government is great at making progressive promises, but too often it fails to actually live up to those ideals,” she said.

Regarding cannabis and the original promise of fairness, DiZoglio noted “only 8% of businesses are owned by social equity participants and the industry remains dominated by former medical marijuana companies, which were not subject to any equity goals.” As auditor, she said, she will report on the Cannabis Control Commission and other state agencies to make sure they are actively encouraging diversity and equity. DiZoglio also said she would monitor licenses to ensure investors who partner with social equity applicants actually live up to their promises.

DiZoglio added she would also report on the disparity between where cannabis money was intended to go and how it has actually been spent. She said, “State government gets 17% of revenue in taxes. Among other things, the money is intended to be spent on education, substance addiction prevention programs and supporting social equity in cannabis. Currently, it is difficult to track how that revenue has actually been spent and voters deserve to know whether the legislature is keeping its promises about cannabis revenue.”

She said she supported the criminal justice reform act of 2018 and police accountability bill of 2020 aimed at local, state, MBTA, environmental and UMass campus police officers and deputy sheriffs who perform police duties. “I will report on whether the measures we voted for in those bills are being implemented appropriately, starting with implicit bias training for all law enforcement trainees.”

Other areas DiZoglio said she would highly rank include examining how state agencies act on recommendations from groups like the LGBTQ Youth and Asian American Commissions, making sure the Mass Save energy efficiency program is reaching underserved communities, following up on past audits of the Department of Early Education and Care and auditing use of non-disclosure agreements by state government.

DiZoglio has pushed to restrict the use of such agreements since joining the Senate in 2019 and before that as a member of the House, where she served for six years.

She discussed her personal background while describing her interest in auditing programs that support affordable housing. DiZoglio said she grew up “housing-insecure” and that she and her mother, who was 17 when DiZoglio was born, would “couch-surf” and stay with friends and relatives.

“That was my situation back then,” she said. “That was due to my family circumstances, but now you have families that are working two or three jobs and still cannot find housing, and Sen. Cyr and I have actually talked about this multiple times, that working families working two or three jobs can still not afford to live in the communities that they serve, that they’re working in. That’s unacceptable.”

Gomez, who is Afro-Latino, called DiZoglio “the candidate for people of color,” and Cyr said she would “make sure the commonwealth is living up to our obligations and that we are not only putting our money but our money and our programs and our policies where our mouth is.”

“The fact of the matter is we have plenty of wonks in government,” Edwards said. “We have plenty of people who know a lot of good things. What we need is more workers. What we need is an auditor that actually reflects the viewpoint of working people.”

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