April 2008
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Day April 23, 2008

Alternative energy in MA; pie for RI

OK, OK, I'll try to blog my way out of the Earth Day doghouse … In the midst of a climate crisis, Massachusetts (among other states) is stepping up to the plate — at least as far as alternative energies are concerned. WBUR is running a nice series this week on the variety of state initiatives — CRAP! WHO'S THROWING THE PIES??! WTF? Seriously … WTF? (??) Ah … seems the little terrorists left a flyer: “Thomas Friedman deserves a pie in the face…,” the flier said, “because of his sickeningly cheery applaud [sic?] for free market capitalism's conquest of the planet, for telling the world that the free market and techno fixes can save us from climate change. From carbon trading to biofuels, these distractions are dangerous in and of themselves, while encouraging inaction with respect to the true problems at hand…”  Uh … did the flyer enumerate the “true problems at hand”, and how precisely to solve them? I'm really curious to know, if only so as to avoid future pie-incidents. Anyway, I'm pretty sure that more oil will decidedly not save us from climate change, so with that, I'm on the Massachusetts alt-energy bandwagon … at least […]

Governor’s Chief Legal Counsel writes to Mass Lawyer’s Weekly – and AmberPaw comments

On April 14, 2008 Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly ran an editorial which was less than favorable as to Governor Patrick and the courts.  The biggest criticism seems to be the rate of judicial appointments.  The article can be found at:  http://www.masslaw.com/subscri… – but you may need to be a subscriber to get it.

As a result, Governor Patrick’s normally low profile Chief Legal Counsel wrote a rebuttal letter, which was not only published, but sent out by the internet.  Here is the rebuttal letter, verbatim – with a few comments from me below the fold:


We wanted to bring to your attention the following letter, written to the editor of the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly.  It is authored by the Governor’s Chief Legal Counsel, Ben Clements, in response to their April 14th editorial.

Liz Morningstar

Deval Patrick Committee


To the Editor:

I write to correct the inaccurate assertions contained in the April 14 editorial (“Patrick and the courts: We’re still waiting”) concerning the level of attention that Gov. Deval L. Patrick has devoted to the needs of the judiciary.  

With respect to the pace of judicial appointments, Patrick reconstituted and revived the Judicial Nominating Commission and nominated 11 judges to the bench in his first 15 months in office, far more than Gov. Romney had nominated and roughly the same number that Govs. Dukakis and Weld had nominated by comparable points in their terms.

Four of the nominations were to the Commonwealth’s two highest courts, with the remaining seven to trial courts, including three to the Probate & Family Court, in recognition of that court’s staffing needs.

All 11 nominations have met with wide acclaim from the bench and bar alike. Members of the JNC are working to their absolute limits to expedite further appointments of equal caliber.

With respect to courthouses, the Patrick administration completed major construction projects in Worcester and Plymouth in 2007, and began other significant courthouse projects in Fall River, Taunton and Salem in 2008.

In addition, Patrick completed a five-year master capital plan and, pursuant to that plan, filed a general government bond bill in January that proposes $500 million for capital improvements to court facilities while also establishing a Courts Capital Project Fund for future projects. The January bond bill is the first court facility bond authorization bill filed in the last 10 years.

With respect to operational needs, the governor’s proposed budget for FY2009 contains $615.2 million for the courts — with significantly enhanced judicial discretion over the disbursement of those funds — and a combined $198 million for legal assistance and public counsel services.

These represent increases of $12.5 million for the courts, $2.4 million (24.75 percent) for the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corp., and $12.3 million (7.1 percent) for the Committee for Public Counsel Services, at a fiscally difficult time when many executive branch agencies are being level funded.

The governor also had an extended — and according to many, unprecedented — meeting with 50 judges from across the Commonwealth in February to hear firsthand their thoughts and suggestions.

On criminal justice issues, Patrick has reconstituted the Anti-Crime Council, filed legislation to reform the CORI system and mandate post-release supervision for all offenders, charged his cabinet secretaries with improving support and re-entry programs, and begun the difficult work to build consensus on sentencing reform.

I underscore the foregoing facts for two reasons.

First, they demonstrate the extent and qualitative depth of the attention that Patrick has, in fact, devoted to “matters that the judicial branch holds dear.”

Second, with all due respect to the editor, they are the types of facts that I would have hoped Lawyers Weekly would consider before leveling the unsubstantiated criticism contained in the April 14 editorial.

Ben T. Clements

Chief Legal Counsel to Governor Deval L. Patrick

Clinton on track to raise $10 million in 24 hours

Hillary Clinton’s campaign has said today that they are on track to raise $10 Million in 24 hours. As of noon today, the Clinton campaign has had 60,000 donors – 50,000 of which were new donors. After Hillary Clinton’s solid win against Senator Barack Obama last night in Pennsylvania, the Clinton website (HillaryClinton.com) reported a major increase in web traffic and donations. Hillary Clinton won Pennsylvania after competing with Obama for 6 weeks since the last primary. She was outspent 3-1 by her opponent, and recent polls had them separated by 4-5 points. This win provides Clinton with the momentum and resources she needs to finish out the remaining contests and head to the Denver Democratic Convention.

Schoolkids Finding Official State Designations Harder to Come By

BOSTON.  The golden dome of the Massachusetts State House has witnessed many a late-night debate over momentous legislation ranging from rights of workers to massive public works projects.  It has also been the scene of many an afternoon session featuring chocolate chip cookies which, under General Laws chapter 2, section 42, are the official cookie of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. “Getting kids involved in the legislative process is a fun way to teach them about their civic responsibilites,” says fourth-grade teacher Lynn Nichols of the Tony Conigliaro Middle School in Swampscott, Mass.  ”It’s also a good excuse for a field trip in the spring, when they can barely keep their fannies in the seats.” But as demands on legislators’ time increase with a fiscal crisis looming and a recent universal healthcare law showing signs of stress, state senators and representatives have had to curtail schoolkids’ easy access to the legislative process and their time. “There’s only so much I can do for you kid,” Rep. Martin Flores of East Boston is saying to Tommy Racunas, who has come to the State House with his fifth grade class from Our Lady of Perpetual Airplane Noise in East Boston to petition for […]

Devack Obatrick strikes again

One of candidate Deval Patrick’s recurrent themes was a complaint about the Democratic Party’s recent obsession with “how to win,” while forgetting to talk about “why we should.”  I guess Barack liked the line.  Here are two short clips, one from Deval in August, 2006, and one from Barack last night. Caveat: the Obama clip is about 10 seconds from a 20-minute speech.  I’m not saying this is “plagiarism,” or that it’s even a big deal.  But I continue to find the rhetorical parallels interesting. Have at it.

Why the continuing campaign speaks to what’s wrong about only two parties

I have to admit that as a confirmed political junkie my tolerance for the endless punditry of this continuing race is wearing thin but in that endless maze  popping across the screen from the Pennsylvania Primary of demographic this, why can’t he (Obama) put her away, why can’t she (Hillary) close the deal, white men out voted 60/40, women 40/60, Blacks when this way, Catholics and workers under $50 K went another, Red states, Blues state, Purple states: why can’t we see what the fundamental problem really  is.

By what stretch of the imagination does anyone think two political parties can remotely represent the greatest experiment in diversity in human history.

It just struck me this morning as I poured my first cup of coffee with the blather in the back ground of Morning Joe, interviewing Deval asking all of the above questions after walking through all of the above charts and exit poll numbers, that what is wrong is that no one candidate ever is going to satisfy the whole constituency of a party if we ultimately can only chose one from only the two parties.