January 2012
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Month January 2012

Seamusgate: Romney may not have told the truth

Reporter Hunter Walker in Politicker: Mitt Romney may not have told the whole truth about the scandalous tale of his Irish Setter, Seamus, being strapped to the roof of his car during a 12-hour family road trip to Canada. According to a trusted Politicker tipster, two of Mr. Romney’s sons had an off-record conversation with reporters where they revealed the dog ran away when they reached their destination on that infamous journey in 1983. Mr. Romney’s wife, Ann, has previously said Seamus survived the trip and went on to live to a “ripe old age.” As of this writing, Mr. Romney’s campaign has not responded to multiple requests for comment on this story. The article also does a nice job of reviewing the various ways in which this story has dribbled down into the national consciousness: The Globe initially presented the story as an example of Mr. Romney’s “emotion-free crisis management,” but the incident has enraged many animal lovers and caused many issues on the campaign trail. Seamus inspired an attack ad from Mr. Romney’s Republican rival Newt Gingrich, a “Google bomb” coining “Romney” as a verb meaning “to defecate in terror,” a mocking Tweet from President Barack Obama’s advisor, David Axelrod, and, of course, an angry statement from […]

Washington and Scott Brown Don’t Get It

One of the biggest problems with Washington is that it’s rigged for those who’ve already made it, like successful corporations and billionaires, instead of small businesses and the middle class. I’m all for people succeeding and becoming millionaires, but everybody willing to work hard ought to have a fair shot at it. And once they make it, they ought to pay their fair share to help the folks behind them get ahead. This is one of the places where Scott Brown and I see things differently. Just last week, Scott Brown said in an interview that he thinks Mitt Romney and Warren Buffett should get special tax breaks that are not available to most Americans. I don’t think that’s fair. Senator Brown opposes what’s called the Buffett Rule, which would get rid of the special tax breaks that allow a billionaire like Warren Buffett to pay taxes at a lower rate than his secretary. President Obama, in his State of the Union speech, called on Congress to enact the Buffett rule to require people making more than $1 million a year to pay at least 30 percent in taxes. Senator Brown told a newspaper that higher taxes would hurt millionaires. […]

Missing the bus

Thankfully, the MBTA’s proposed cuts have produced outrage and panic among mayors and city councils throughout the Commonwealth. Menino is now piling on; joining other municipalities from Winchester to Waltham in decrying the cuts. You’re probably at least somewhat aware, but I’d like to quote the MBTA’s “Scenario #2″ for proposed bus cuts that would spare a large fare increase: Bus Route Reductions: Eliminate Routes (all days): 4, 5, 14, 18, 27, 29, 33, 37, 38, 40, 43, 45, 48, 50, 51, 52, 55, 59, 60, 62, 64, 67, 68, 74, 75, 76, 78, 79, 80, 85, 90, 92, 95, 96, 97, 99, 100, 105, 106, 108, 112, 119, 120, 121, 131, 132, 136, 137, 170, 171, 201, 202, 210, 211, 212, 215, 217, 230, 236, 238, 240, 245, 275, 276, 277, 325, 326, 350, 351, 352, 354, 355, 411, 424, 428, 429, 430, 431, 434, 435, 436, 439, 441, 448, 449, 451, 456, 459, 465, 468, 500, 501, 502, 503, 505, 553, 554, 555, 556, 558, CT3 Uh, right. So we have communities all over Greater Boston that have grown up predicated on the availability of public transportation, and now we take those away. Nutty. So this won’t work. […]

MA leads nation in ‘Pay For Success’ Social Innovation Contracts

Kudos to Secretary of Administration and Finance Jay Gonzalez for experimenting with a new financing structure that has the promise of increased efficiency. This is one reason Massachusetts has one of the most successful economies in the nation, and why Governor Patrick remains very popular: our government is willing to try new things. Wikipedia on Social Impact “bonds.” A study from the Center for American Progress. And the Press release: Massachusetts First State in the Nation to Pursue ‘Pay For Success’ Social Innovation Contracts Commonwealth to seek performance-based investments to spur innovative solutions to social issues, achieve better outcomes and save money BOSTON — Wednesday, January 18, 2012 — The Patrick-Murray Administration today announced a first in the nation initiative to allow Massachusetts to enter into “pay for success” contracts designed to encourage innovative solutions to social problems, improve the performance of government and save taxpayer money. The Executive Office for Administration and Finance (ANF) today issued Requests for Response (RFRs) as a next step in pursuing these social innovation financing contracts. “Social innovation financing is a tool that helps us tackle long term social issues with innovative methods,” said Governor Deval Patrick. “These initiatives will help us change the delivery of […]

Gov’s budget continues cuts to intellectually disabled

(Cross-posted from the COFAR blog) With a few exceptions, Governor Patrick’s proposed budget for the coming fiscal year, which he unveiled last week, appears to continue the trend in recent years of cutting funding for care for the intellectually disabled. We see little to change our longstanding contention that the Department of Developmental Services community-based system, in particular, is not benefiting from the closures of four developmental centers.   A few years ago, Health and Human Services Secretary JudyAnn Bigby promised that as a result of the phasedowns and closures of the Fernald, Monson, Glavin, and Templeton developmental centers, some $45 million a year was going to be plowed back into the community-based system of care. There’s no question but that the developmental centers line item (5930-1000) has been cut deeply as the state facilities have been phased down in recent years.  Under the governor’s FY 13 budget, this line item would be cut by an additional $20 million next year, a 13.1 percent reduction.  This brings the total cuts in funding for the developmental centers to $55 million since FY 09.  But that found money does not appear to have benefited key community-based accounts such as Adult family supports, Turning 22, and the Salary Reserve to increase the […]

A Constitutional Question: Stand for Children’s Ballot Initiative

“Don’t interfere with anything in the Constitution. That must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties.” –Abraham Lincoln Last week, two Teachers of the Year, a nationally known education consultant, the president of the Massachusetts PTA, and the Massachusetts Teachers Association challenged the constitutionality of a controversial ballot initiative. While the media characterized the lawsuit as a fight between teacher unions and Stand for Children, most of the professional education associations in the Commonwealth oppose the initiative. But politics and policy aside, the issues outlined in the suit are both constitutionally legitimate and significant. Although Supreme Court decisions at the federal level are regularly reported on, we are much less likely to hear about such decisions at the state level. But much like the federal Supreme Court, Massachusetts’ supreme judicial court is the final arbiter of cases involving the Massachusetts Constitution. Like the federal Constitution, the state constitution forms the basis of our state government. It is grants authority to and balances the power of our legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government. Ballot initiatives are discussed in Amendment 48 of the constitution. In addition to authorizing the right of people to submit their own laws or constitutional […]

Why 150 People Wore Swimsuits and Snorkels in the Streets of Boston Today

Sure, it has been an unusually warm winter for us in New England, but that’s not why more than 150 activists took to the streets with snorkels and swimsuits today in the financial district. Sporting goggles, flippers and life preservers, demonstrators marched on the big banks today to call attention to the scourge of underwater mortgages. Foreclosure victims lead by City Life and New England’s Bank Tenant Associations were joined by allies from MASSUNITING and the Occupy movement in calling on financial institutions to take meaningful steps to address the mortgage crisis.  Their primary demand of JP Morgan Chase, Fannie Mae, Bank of America and other big banks: reduce the principal owed on underwater homes. “Millions of homes are underwater due to the greed of Bank of America, Fannie Mae, JP Morgan Chase and the rest of the big banks,” said Melonie Griffiths, an organizer with City Life/Vida Urbana. “They’re directly responsible for the mortgage crisis, and it’s about time they did something to clean up their wreckage and help drowning homeowners.” More than 25% of mortgages are underwater nationwide – meaning the amount owed on the mortgage exceeds the value of the home. This growing problem has become one […]

Obama on the commanding heights

Both parties are currently operating as occupiers of the commanding heights. While it looks normal for Republicans to tell everybody else what to do, don’t forget that the Dems have their own fantasies about making the rest of us do what they think is right. From Joseph P Calhoun of the Alhambra Investment Partners, in response to Obama’s state of the union speech: This nostalgia for the post war period is misplaced for another reason. Much of what the President – and other Americans as well – pines for is a myth. The top down, command economy of the 50s was made possible only by years of world war and the conformism of a population accustomed to taking orders. It was a world of big business, big government, big media, big unions and the organization man. It wasn’t a time for taking risks or bucking the status quo. It was a world where order was prized over all else. It was a world where the commanding heights were a comfortable perch for those in charge. And the result, at least economically, was the 1970s, embodied almost perfectly by an insulated automobile industry that produced such memorable products as the Chevy […]

Republicans at Jenzabar: coincidence? You make the call.

As you may know, the GOP’s new chairman, Bob Maginn, heads up Jenzabar.com (a software company specializing in tools for higher education).  A couple of months ago, the Globe reported that, just after Maginn took over the GOP, Jenzabar’s needs suddenly – and, I’m sure, totally by coincidence – required it to bring on as consultants two Republican ex-congressmen, Peter Blute and Peter Torkildsen.  Jenzabar’s spokeswoman confirmed that “both Blute and Torkildsen were brought on as consultants after the chairmanship election,” according to the Globe.  Neither Blute nor Torkildsen has any background in the software business.  But Blute did also agree around the same time to take on the unpaid job of deputy party chairman.  That’s a coincidence, though. Anyway, today’s Globe reports that Rob Willington, of CrazyKhazei fame, is the latest to benefit from Jenzabar’s ongoing largesse.  Entirely by coincidence, Willington has also been hired to update the Mass. GOP’s “digital media plan,” and also works for Scott Brown’s campaign. It’s not implausible that Jenzabar might actually be able to use a guy like Willington, and that hire probably wouldn’t have made the news were it not for the fact that Blute and Torkildsen are already on Jenzabar’s payroll.  As […]

GOP Lies About Jobs

Sorry about the pun, but I can’t resist. The GOP now strives to lionize Steve Jobs, spawning another round of lies to prop up their failed dogma. The lie goes something like “Steve Jobs created more jobs than President Obama’s stimulus package” (the version told by Mitch Daniels) or “Apple should reaffirm for us that American innovation is alive and kicking…Naturally, President Obama has a plan: punish them.” (John Sununu, today’s Globe). The GOP would like to cast Steve Jobs as a “job creator”. Being dead, the late Mr. Jobs is not in a position to rebut the castle of lies the GOP is attempting to construct on his barely-cold body (unless spinning in the grave counts). One awkward truth is that Steve Jobs and Apple was famously and passionately anti-political. Another is that when Steve Jobs did contribute, he gave to Democrats. He gave $50,000 to the Democratic National Committee in 2000, and $26,700 to the DCCC in 2006 (IEEE Spectrum: In the Politics of Innovation, Steve Jobs Shows Less Is More). He appointed Al Gore as an Apple director, and yanked Apple out of the United States Chamber of Commerce in response to the flagrant denialism of that […]