Checking out the MA-5 candidates’ voting records, via Progressive Massachusetts

I enjoyed watching the online debate featuring the five MA-5 candidates seeking to succeed Ed Markey.  But I’m not sure I learned a lot that I didn’t already know, other than that Will Brownsberger is staking out yet another iconoclastic and perhaps disqualifying position, this time on Social Security (he says chained CPI isn’t a cut; the others disagree).  This can be a problem with debates: good candidates know who their audience is on any given occasion, and are often good at glossing over areas where they may disagree with that audience.  I appreciate Brownsberger’s unwillingness to pander; however, since I think he’s wrong on some big issues, I probably won’t vote for him.

Anyway, to gain a little more insight into where the candidates really stand, I thought it would be useful to check out the excellent resource compiled by Progressive Massachusetts.  ProgMA selected 37 Senate roll-call votes from the 2011-2012 session, assigned a “progressive position” to each of them, and then laid out how every state Senator voted – including, of course, MA-5 candidates Will Brownsberger, Katherine Clark, and Karen Spilka.  Brownsberger only got to the Senate in January of 2012, so he did not participate in 17 of the votes.  [UPDATE: data from 13-14 scorecard added - see below.]

It’s important to state at the outset that one can certainly disagree with ProgMA’s assessment of what the “progressive position” is.  Nobody, even progressive champions Jamie Eldridge and Sonia Chang-Diaz, voted the way ProgMA would have liked 100% of the time.  Nonetheless, we can learn a lot from ProgMA’s work.  All of these issues are important, and regardless of how ProgMA thinks legislators should have voted, it’s very useful to know how they actually did vote.

So here are the three sitting state Senators’ voting records, according to ProgMA.  Click the image for a larger view.  A  ”+” indicates agreement with ProgMA’s assessment of the progressive position; a “–” indicates disagreement; “NV” indicates “did not vote.”  The index to the numbered votes, which explains what the issue was and the vote that ProgMA prefers, is available here.

Most interesting, of course, is where there is disagreement, which is as follows, in each case quoting ProgMA’s description of the issue:

11 (“Pension reform – Vote on an amendment to make the Massachusetts pension schedule slightly more generous. Roll Call #67 S2010 Progressive position: yes.”) Clark voted no; Spilka voted yes.

13 (“Casinos – Vote was on engrossment of expanded gambling legislation. Roll Call #102 S2015.  Progressive position: no.”) Clark voted yes; Spilka voted no.  [Brownsberger and Sciortino voted "no" in the House - see below.]

15 (“Criminal justice reforms -Vote on amendment to reduce the required distance for more severe penalties for drug crimes around school zones from 1000 to 250 feet.   Roll Call #114 S2054.  Progressive position: yes.”) Clark voted yes; Spilka voted no.

17 (“Single payer – Vote was on amendment to study the efficacy of a single payer system for healthcare. Roll Call #178 S2260.  Progressive position: no.”) Brownsberger and Clark voted no; Spilka voted yes.

26 (“Criminal justice reforms -Vote was on final passage of the “three strikes” crime bill. Roll Call #243 H3818. Progressive position: no.”) Brownsberger voted no; Clark and Spilka voted yes.  [Sciortino also voted in favor of this bill in the House - see below.]

28 (“Transparency -Vote was on amendment that would have required tax increment financing data for municipalities to be available on publicly searchable websites. Roll Call #256 S2350. Progressive position: yes.”) Brownsberger voted yes; Clark and Spilka voted no.

32 (“Citizens United – Vote was on bill to direct the state congressional delegation to support a federal law overturning Citizens United. Roll Call #273 S772. Progressive position: yes.”) Brownsberger voted no; Clark and Spilka voted yes.

34 (“Undocumented immigrants – Vote to override the Governor’s veto of a law using the Registry of Motor Vehicles for searching for undocumented immigrants. Roll Call #291 Progressive position: no.”) Brownsberger voted no; Clark and Spilka voted yes.

37 (“Bottle Bill – Vote was on an amendment to send to study –effectively killing, the updated Bottle Bill. Progressive position: no.”) Brownsberger voted no; Clark and Spilka voted yes.

ProgMA set up a similar tool for the House of Representatives’ 2011-2012 session, where one can learn a bit more about Brownsberger’s record, and also something about Carl Sciortino’s.  Unfortunately, most of the issues don’t line up precisely with the Senate roll-calls, so there’s little opportunity for direct comparison.

But some of the issues do line up, as follows: Brownsberger and Sciortino voted against the casino bill (agreeing with Spilka; disagreeing with Clark); Sciortino voted against overriding the Governor’s veto of the RMV/undocumented immigrants bill (agreeing with Brownsberger; disagreeing with Clark and Spilka); and Sciortino voted in favor of a “three strikes” bill (disagreeing with Brownsberger; agreeing with Clark and Spilka).

Also worth noting about Sciortino: the only instances in which he deviated from ProgMA’s “progressive position” were on criminal sentencing bills.  In addition to the “three strikes” bill, Sciortino voted in favor of a bill denying parole to habitual offenders.

Does any of this help you narrow things down?  What issues matter most to you?  Where are you leaning at this point?

UPDATE: Thanks to alert reader afertig, who made me aware that ProgMA has begun 2013-14 scorecards.  So, here’s the 13-14 comparison of the MA-5 candidates currently in the Senate:

As before, let’s check out the differences, again quoting ProgMA’s descriptions (ProgMA’s descriptions of all the issues are available at this link).

2 (“Corporate influence, transportation, revenue: Vote was on an amendment to require the MBTA to develop a comprehensive advertising plan that included selling or leasing the naming rights of MBTA stations to corporations. (Roll call #25, Bill S1766, 4/13/2013, Progressive Position: No)” Brownsberger voted no; Clark and Spilka voted yes.

3 (“Revenue, investment, transportation: Vote was on an amendment to further increase the gas tax if the revenue generated was inadequate to fund MBTA operations and capital projects. (Roll Call #68, Bill S3, 5/23/2013, Progressive Position: Yes)” Brownsberger and Clark voted yes; Spilka voted no.

10 (“Welfare reform:   Vote was on an amendment to the welfare reform bill requiring the State Auditor to conduct a cost-benefit analysis prior to the implementation of photo IDs on EBT cards.”) ProgMA’s “progressive position” was yes; Brownsberger and Spilka voted no; Clark voted yes.

And what were votes #7 and #11, on which all three voted the “wrong” way, per ProgMA?  Vote 7 was “on an amendment to the FY 2014 budget that would require disclosure of compensation of mutual company executives” – that one actually got a lot of “yes” votes from Dems, so I wonder why these three all went the other way.  Vote 11 was “on engrossment of the welfare reform bill,” on which only Senators Chang-Diaz and Eldridge voted no.

As before, the issues in ProgMA’s House rundown don’t line up with those tracked for the Senate, so we can’t easily compare Sciortino’s record to those of the sitting Senators.  For whatever it’s worth, Sciortino is so far 9-for-9 with ProgMA on votes that ProgMA is tracking.


43 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Looking for

    Information that compares the body of work of the candidates? Any takers?

    Who has sponsored and worked to get good legislation through? I am interested in outcomes as well as political ideology. For instance, the municipal vote on transparency (#28 above.) For those who understand the burden on municipalities of unfunded mandates it would be a wrong position to take given the impacts of a “good” law that comes without resources. I wonder about the votes to override the Governor’s veto on proposal to use RMV to search undocumented immigrants (#34 above)… there a better proposal in the legislature?

    I see a couple of talkers, a couple of workers and one who has positioned himself as an outlier. Temperament and tenacity count.

    Progressive record is a huge help/tool. BTW, Koutoujian is no where to been seen. Why does he want to leave his new gig as the Big K and become a peon in the US House?

    Thank you.

    • A Dream

      In 2005 when Deval was running for Governor, I asked Peter Koutoujian why he did not run for Lt. Governor and be positioned to be Governor. He
      told me that he did not want to be the Governor that his dream has always been to go to Congress. When an opportunity to go for your dream arises, you go for it.

      • That's good.

        It’s great that you’ve joined us to support your candidate.

        An, “I Have A Dream Speech,” has already been written but the timing is great. Anyone else hear about this dream? Sorry to be cynical but you just joined BMG for the express purpose of supporting your candidate (and perhaps dissing Carl Sciortino and dogging me) and it tells me nothing that you allegedly heard Peter Koutoujian’s dream(s). As I stated down-thread:

        Big K – affable guy – not as smart as the rest of the pack and not the WOW factor for Congress IMHO… disrespect intended

        Just my take and I’m sticking with it.

        • Sorry you are wrong

          I have been a member of this group for a very long time. I don’t often post, but when I feel something strongly, I post. Yes I want my candidate to get some play in this arena. Yes, I am irritated at Carl for his recent poll in which at the end he has something negative to say about each of the candidates in the race, much of which is a distortion of their records. As for you, I responded to a post that I felt and still feel is highly dismissive and offensive about “my candidate” as well as my friend. I am really surprised by your cynicism.

  2. Actually

    You say:

    Nobody, even progressive champions Jamie Eldridge and Sonia Chang-Diaz, voted the way ProgMA would have liked 100% of the time.

    That’s true in the Senate. Take a gander at the House votes here and look up Sciortino:

    Looks like he voted Progressive Mass’s way 100% of the time.

    • Not quite.

      This post is based on the 2011-2012 scorecards. In that session, Sciortino voted in favor of 3-strikes bill, and against parole for habitual offenders, in the House – both votes ProgMA didn’t like.

      However, thank you for pointing me to the (obviously work-in-progress) 2013-14 scorecards, which I hadn’t seen. There, you’re right that Sciortino is so far with ProgMA all the time. In the Senate, Chang-Diaz and Eldridge are so far in perfect agreement with ProgMA. I’ll update the post to include the 2013-14 votes later tonight.

  3. Bottle bill --- arggh!

    How on Earth do progressive candidates vote against the freakin’ bottle bill? It reduces waste, it reduces litter, it reduces costs for municipalities, and it’s as progressive a fee as imaginable, in that it’s voluntary (like the lottery) but not associated with addiction and irrational hope (unlike the lottery).

    I’m not arguing that it is the most important vote on that list — but that it just doesn’t seem to have the nuance and complexities of other things on the list.

    • I'm with you, but I'd go further

      Katherine Clark even wrote an editorial explaining why she supports the bottle bill. But then when push comes to shove, she voted (with Spilka) to send it to study just a year later. I don’t get that. Especially when 15 other legislators voted to support the bottle bill (a no vote to send it to study). If 6 more legislators voted the right way, the bottle bill would not have been sent to study. Had Clark, who laid out the case for why she supports the bottle bill, voted for the bottle bill, that would have brought the number to 5.

      And check this out: Senator Spilka was a co-sponsor of the Bottle Bill during the 2011-2012 session. So if she had voted the way she co-sponsored, then we’d only need another 4 votes.

      It is maddening to me that progressive legislators — who I genuinely respect and think are great people — don’t vote the way they say they believe. It’s one thing to disagree with somebody and know it. I disagree on many things with Steve Lynch, for example, but I know where he stands most of the time and respect his opinion. On issues like the Bottle Bill, Clark and Spilka made it clear they support it — until they didn’t.

      • staying in line

        When push comes to shove, they don’t want to rock the leadership’s boat. I’m sure either would be a very reliable dem vote in Congress, but neither will push the envelope. Brownsberger & Scortino are far more likely to stick with, and even push, progressive ideals in the face of establishment dem oppositin, IMHO.

        • Don't know about Brownsberger

          He supports citizen’s united, supports Keystone XL, and now we know he doesn’t consider Chained CPI to be a cut to social security. So, I don’t think he’ll be a reliable progressive vote in Congress.

          • I agree

            I think Brownsberger and Sciortino would be the most likely to be independent and break with the Dem leadership on some issues. I think the other candidates would be reliable partyline votes. The big difference I see between Brownsberger and Sciortino, is that in addition to being independent, Sciortino would be a strong leader and reliable progressive. Brownsberger would be an idiosyncratic Congressman with some terrible positions (as expressed in regards to Citizen’s United, Keystone, chained CPI, etc.) and some great ones (like pushing for limited incarceration as the answer to criminal issues).

            • Yes and More

              Yes, I agree with Sciortino for being a reliable progressive vote and Brownsberger has certainly been flaunting his idiosyncratic (eccentric? hyper-intellectual?) nature.
              The record shows that Spilka has also gone against leadership in one of the boldest moves of the session – or in my recent memory, by a legislator when she as the chair of Emerging Technologies & Economic Development, voted against the casino bill they vetted as the final bill was a deficient piece of legislation.
              Does going against leadership not count when you are told not to pursue CHINS reform because it is impossible, but you go ahead and do it?
              Does going against leadership not count when you file Electronic Privacy Act in the face of your opponent who chairs the committee and supports the headline grabbing AG’s bill to expand govt. surveillance?

              Just sayin’ there’s more to the story.

        • If they don't want to rock the leadership boat in the State House...

          …what makes you think they WILL rock the leadership boat in DC?

          • Who thinks that?

            The point is that they probably *won’t* buck leadership in DC. Unlike Sciortino and Brownsberger, who probably will.

    • What's progressive about the bottle bill?

      It’s a 30-year-old law created long before we had curbside recycling. I’ve got a big blue bin for my bottles (and paper and aluminum cans and pizza boxes). Frankly, it’s become easier for me to eat the 5 cents on an empty than keep them all in some separate area for an eventual return.

      Curbside recycling and ample recycling receptacles in foot traffic areas make recycling easy. That’s progressive, turning recycling into part of people’s daily routine. Expecting people to collect and re-transport every plastic bottle makes recycling a chore (and potentially causes people to burn extra fuel), which strikes me as regressive. It’s especially annoying for people in urban areas who don’t have cars.

      I was for the bottle bill expansion back in the ’90s when Lois Pines pushed for it. Now I think it’s a bit of a relic. We’d do better to universalize single stream recycling in the state, or we could just push for biodegradable bottles and plastic cups to become the standard.

      • Do the research

        Curbside works alongside deposits, not in leiu. Places with both have far greater recycling rates than just curbside (or just deposit).

        As for the annoyance factor, you can buy your way out five cents at a time. As for folks without cars (like myself), if you can transport the full containers from the store home, you can (more easily!) transport those same containers empty back to the store. Same volume, less mass after all.

        To answer the question in your subject, I quote myself: “progressive a fee as imaginable, in that it’s voluntary (like the lottery) but not associated with addiction and irrational hope (unlike the lottery).” It allows for progressive goals to be met, and allows folks to choose to pay the nickel or to return to store — which means that those with more modest means have the ability to not pay. I suspect — I have no numbers — that the poorest redeem *more* bottles than they purchase, that more moderate incomes are likely to redeem about as many bottles as they purchase, and that the wealthiest are most likely to put the bottles in the blue bin on the curb. If that’s true, then it is *by definition* a progressive fee, because the amount one pays is increases faster than income.

        • Has anybody done that research?

          Single stream curbside is a fairly new phenomenon (one that causes people to recycle material far in excess of the bottle bill), I’d be mildly surprised if anyone had conclusive data on whether a bottle bill is a meaningful additive to curbside. In a cursory search on the subject I haven’t been able to find it, and the stats used in support of the bottle bill never take emerging recycling patterns into consideration.

          Anyway, pushing a 30-year-old partial fix (the issue is much bigger than bottles and the bottle bill still sees far too many bottles heading into landfills) rather than pursuing more impactful modern solutions strikes me as the antithesis of progressive. I’d prefer to see the left evolve on this issue to pushing more effective solutions.

          • Yes, the research has been done.

            That is, research including single stream. There’s no reason to think that total recycling rates of single stream alone would exceed single stream *plus* deposit, since single stream doesn’t capture 100% of all recyclable beverage containers — not even close.

      • RE: What's progressive about the bottle bill?

        According to Katherine Clark, this:

        Beverage containers account for 20 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions. By updating the bottle deposit law and including more types of containers, we can significantly reduce the amount of trash sent to city landfills and incinerators, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and crude oil use.

        Seems pretty progressive to me. Too bad she co-sponsored it, but then voted to send it to study.

  4. Progressive ...

    My only quibble with your typically fine work is use of the term “Progressive position.” Better might have been “ProgMA’s position.” Because, for example, it is progressive to support casino gambling in MA if you believe that jobs are an important basis for social justice and people should be free to do what they want with their money and spare time, it is progressive to support special penalties for drug crimes near schools if you believe that children warrant special protection from criminals, and it is progressive to study the efficacy of a single payer system for healthcare if you believe that research and learning are the basis of enlightenment. In general, however, like ProgMA itself, this is fine work.

    • wow...

      This seems to open a whole new conversation about what it means to be progressive.

      I suppose you can say you are for something that creates temporary construction jobs, long-term low-wage jobs, poor working conditions, and has proven impacts on addiction, crime, destruction of small businesses, and creating other societal ills and still say that’s the progressive position, just as you can claim that building an urban superstore or using eminent domain for a sports stadium are similarly “progressive” positions. There may be benefits, and some might (ill-advisedly in my opinion) think those benefits outweigh the risks, but I’m not sure anyone argues those are the progressive positions.

      And while there may be benefits again to harsher criminal penalties for dealing drugs near kids, it’s hard to claim a progressive position around more excuses to send more people to jail for more years – especially when we know that urban minorities are far more likely to be impacted by such a law.

      But your point is taken otherwise.

    • With the greatest respect to my esteemed co-editor,

      a closer reading will reveal that I was quite careful about the very point you raise. I devoted a paragraph of the post to explaining that a good progressive could well differ with ProgMA’s views, and later on when referring to the view preferred by ProgMA, I either used scare quotes around “progressive position,” or used a phrase like “ProgMA’s assessment of the progressive position.” I don’t believe I anywhere indicated my own view of what a genuinely progressive position on an issue is, other than saying in the first paragraph that I disagree with Brownsberger on a couple of big ones.

      • Nothing scary about being "progressive"

        So I don’t see why “scare quotes” should be necessary. Regular quotation marks would have been fine. In any event, I did describe my criticism as a quibble.

        As to heartlanddem, I fail to see how a 90-minute drive to CT is a barrier worth anything. People can gamble right now in MA. It’s progressive to capture the benefits of their activity, such as they are, for the Commonwealth.

        • Of course its a barrier

          if the kind of gambling you like is scratch offs or if you’re a Keno addict, then go to the connah store; if the kind of gambling you prefer is betting on the ponies, no drive to Connecticut will help. If you prefer 50-50s, show up at a sports event and throw in. But, if you prefer slots, table games, or poker, you ain’t doing that in Massachusetts, and the 90 minute drive (each way) is most certainly a barrier. It’s not a particularly high barrier to a once-in-a-while jaunt, but it’s a barrier to a many-times-weekly event.

          It is not progressive to capture the “benefits.” Collecting taxes, in itself, is neither progressive nor regressive. Bob, you’re a libertarian on the issue, which is A-OK. But look, given the known and understood impact that gambling has on vulnerable populations and the meager impact casinos have on middle class employment, supporting expanded gambling isn’t a progressive position. A defensible position, but not a progressive one.

        • I've been where you are Bob

          I used to think that the 90 minute drive and the $1B made that anti-casino stands silly. Then I started doing some learning. And thinking.

          - For the average joe, that 90 mile trip is a burden, as compared to a T ride, especially on a weeknight.
          - For the low income gambler who gets preyed upon more than most, access is a huge burden, and we’re now providing easy access.
          - Jamie Eldridge‘s site says it best: Casinos hurt local small businesses.
          - Do we really know the costs?

          Anyway, this has been a diversion from the thread. Again, whatever our justification for liking casinos, I don’t think we can call them progressive. Just my quibble with an overall fair point about progressive positions in general: It’s always in the eye of the beholder.

        • I don't give a rat's a$$

          about gambling per se. Have fun!
          It is a predatory industry that does not pay for it’s impacts.
          Progressive Votes in Senate against casino bill relevant to this thread:

          When municipal budgets and local services (where we live and work…public safety, education, infrastructure, raise children, grow old and die) will not and do not benefit from a predatory industry and the middle class pays the tab for overt and hidden costs it does not pass the economic or social justice smell tests. What does welfare for the horsing industry have to do with progressive values? Do you know how the legislation splits the mini-pie of estimated revenues to special interests? $250 million (if that is realized) in a 32+ Billion dollar budget is not worth the lives and small businesses that will be negatively impacted. $25 million is going to be needed just to keep the Mass Gaming Commission in the style they have become accustomed to; regional impacts estimated at $50 million per casino site – (that won’t be allocated because the special interests like the ponies, community college fund, arts, compulsive gambling council all have their hands out for a few millie here and there.) Casinos are smoke and mirrors – Chump change.

          CT casino revenues are below their lottery revenues which are a fraction of the MA lottery revenues. The local low-roller regional casinos that are proposed in MA will not bring a net benefit, the revenue is drawn from the local economies. Market saturation and economic downturn from the hay-day of casinos (2006-2008) ensure that the casino are not going to be “destination resorts” where people fly, or drive significant distances to a novel location. It’s casino math. It’s not about restricting people from their right to gamble.

          If it were not a predatory industry that does not pay its own way and the impacts both economic and social were not so regressive, I’d be all-in.

        • There is no barrier

          As a matter of fact, there are incentives. Buy a bus ticket for $25 and get back more in free food and bets. Local bus stops are everywhere. Imagine how much money this state loses ever single week. It would be far better to bring that money back here.


    ProgressiveMass just announced their endorsement of Carl Sciortino. Apparently he received 75% of the membership vote to endorse.

    • Sciortino's legit

      Not surprising. Sciortino’s so progressive he’s liberal. He’s also a bulldog. If what you want for that seat is a rep who’s ready to lead from the left, then Sciortino is awfully appealing.

    • How many votes were cast

      I asked how many votes were cats and was told “nearly 100.” Surprising because in the days leading up to the vote, there were less than 60 members. I did enjoy the on-line debate.

  6. Race Between Spilka and Clark....

    IMHO. Whoever of the two comes out strongest against NSA snooping and the overreaching federal police like state will win.
    IMHO of course

    eb3-fka-ernie-boch-iii   @   Tue 13 Aug 11:35 AM
    • So Spilka then?

      As Clark has sponsored Coakley’s wiretap bill. Is this based on geography, how well they are campaigning or the fact that try will earn more of the woman vote?

      I don’t live in the 5th and am not voting. From the get to I’ve said I’m a big Brownsberger and Sciortino fan and the more I’ve learned about Clark, Spilka and the Sheriff not bucking leadership in the State Senate the more my choice would come down to these two. I’d be most happy with those two, would be perfectly ok with Spilka and think we can do better than the Sheriff or Clark. Again we are picking the best candidate not the least bad which is a rare privilege.

    • Gotta Go with Senator Karen Spilka's on Snooping

      Not only did she go against the Coakley/Clark duo at the Judicial Committee’s absurd 200+ bill fest “hearing” she submitted Electronic Privacy Act legislation found on Daily Kos and really good Op-Ed highlighting her work with ACLU on this issue here. And for glory, here.

      I disagree with Spilka not bucking leadership. As noted in my comments on this blog:

      Yes and More
      (0+ / 0-) View voters

      Yes, I agree with Sciortino for being a reliable progressive vote and Brownsberger has certainly been flaunting his idiosyncratic (eccentric? hyper-intellectual?) nature.
      The record shows that Spilka has also gone against leadership in one of the boldest moves of the session – or in my recent memory, by a legislator when she as the chair of Emerging Technologies & Economic Development, voted against the casino bill they vetted as the final bill was a deficient piece of legislation.
      Does going against leadership not count when you are told not to pursue CHINS reform because it is impossible, but you go ahead and do it?
      Does going against leadership not count when you file Electronic Privacy Act in the face of your opponent who chairs the committee and supports the headline grabbing AG’s bill to expand govt. surveillance?

      Just sayin’ there’s more to the story.
      heartlanddem @ Mon 12 Aug 6:07 PM

      I concur with Spilka and Sciortino being the top tier. Like and respect both albeit for different reasons – mostly to do with personality and effectiveness.

      ps Clark = more surveillance, against bottle bill and cheerleader for casinos. I get it that there were legislators that felt they had to go with leadership (The trifecta were pushing the bill with the grossly exaggerated but effective “jobs” mantra.) I just don’t respect those that took up that mantle and starting preaching pro-casinos – when we all know they are not what has been projected. Clark touted casinos on her Patch Op-eds. So, she’s out. Big K – affable guy – not as smart as the rest of the pack and not the WOW factor for Congress IMHO… disrespect intended. Just keeping it real.

      • Let's be real

        Peter Koutoujian is the favorite son of Waltham, which has the greatest number of votes in the 5th Congressional. One does not win the metro west area without winning Waltham. Waltham is a bellweather City. If Peter wins Waltham by a heavy margin and stays competitive in the other cities and towns in the district, he will win the race. As for not being as smart as the rest of the pack, I suggest you listen to him closely in the debates, or go to one of his many house parties and hear him speak. Actually he is the brightest person in the race and by far the best speaker. Peter has “it.”

  7. Votes on 2011 "Pension Reform" were different

    At about minute 33 of the online forum, Carl Sciortino makes an excellent point. They were talking about general principles such as defending (and maybe even expanding) benefits for retirees. Sciortino specifically referred to votes on the 2011 “pension reform” by the legislature. (See for a description of the state pension system.)

    The “reform” changed not only raised minimum retirement ages but changed the formula in order to lower pension amounts (it’s now based on the last 5 years of service instead of the last 3).

    Sciortino used the phrase about walking the walk. He voted against this cut. Others in the race (e.g., Spilka and Clark) voted for it.

    Sciortino went against the legislative leadership, as he has done at times before. That is not always the right thing to do, of course, but I am glad he brought this up as an illustration of dedication to principle.

    • Link for description of pension system

      The Mass Budget and Policy Center has a good description and analysis of the state pension system. Google “Massachusetts Pension Reform 2011″ for information on that particular set of changes.

    • Good specifics to bring forward

      From a municipal/property tax perspective, as well as the long history of abuse of piling on extra stipends to artificially and therefore deceitfully inflate the last three years for pension formulas, I would have a hard time not voting against reform.

      • Sorry, I don’t understand your last sentence. Did you agree with the 2011 “pension reform,” or do you agree with Sciortino. He voted against it.

        • Double negatives are mire-some.

          I think I would have to weigh changing the three year rule to five years very seriously. Grandfathering those vested into the system perhaps, but five years does make sense to me. I completely disagreed with Romney’s proposals to use the average salary over the lifetime of work for pension formulas. This is one of those what we would like to afford battling with what we can afford. Private sector pensions pretty much rot at this point with many of us not having any at all. How can we fiscally support a system that is currently unsustainable?

  8. Nobody I agree with 100% of the time

    I don’t agree with any of them all the time, but I agree with all of them most of the time. I know four of the five candidates pretty well, and I like all of them.I have met Carl Sciortino once or twice, and I know I would like him just as much as I like the others. If any of these folks win the primary, I would be proud to have them serve as my representative in Congress.

    I’m with Brownsberger. I live in Arlington, and Will used to represent us in the House of Representatives. I thought he was an outstanding representative. He worked hard to maintain a dialogue with the folks in the district, and used his website effectively to solicit opinions, form his thinking, and explain his votes. Though he represented only 2 of our 21 precincts, he worked as if he represented the whole town. When he elevated to the state senate, and no longer had Arlington in his district, he continued to work with Arlington until his replacement was elected to fill his seat.

    Brownsberger gets my vote because I think he will be one of the thoughtful guys that get things done through hard work and diligence. I think his utter wonkishness will serve us well.

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