April 2015
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Month April 2015


Dear Janine, When you reached out last year and asked me to be the manager/consultant for your Wakefield School Committee re-election campaign I pledged my support to help you succeed — both by staying on the ethical/legal high road and by resisting the temptation of going negative on our opponents. I was a tough taskmaster and I pushed you hard but you did everything I asked. I’ve never seen a client candidate work harder for the kids she championed every day. We bonded early on, I suspect, because we’re both cancer survivors. When we met the first time three years ago I couldn’t believe you were campaigning after recently recovering from brain cancer. How could I refuse such a courageous fighter ? You see, my late Dad was a Golden Gloves boxing champion and he taught me how to fight. And my late Mom was a proud union public elementary school teacher. They taught me the Golden Rule at an early age and the truth is I did this to honor their memory as much as I did it for you. My only regret is I couldn’t protect you against the eleventh hour sucker punch your opponents swung at you. […]

Bernie Sanders runs for President

Guardian: Bernie Sanders immediately distanced himself from Hillary Clinton on trade, foreign policy and the environment as he announced a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination that represents her first serious challenge from the left…. Asked how he would differ from Clinton, Sanders claimed he would not run a negative campaign but highlighted three issues where the former secretary of state has been vague since announcing her frontrunner bid earlier this month – and more conservative since long before then. “I voted against the war in Iraq, and not only did I vote against it, I helped lead the effort,” he said. “I am helping right now to lead the effort about the trans-pacific partnership because I believe it continues a trend of horrendous trade policies which have cost us millions of decent paying jobs.” “I helped lead the effort against the Keystone pipeline, because I don’t think we should be transporting some of the dirtiest fuel in the world and have got to be really vigorous in terms of transforming our energy system,” he added. “Those are some of my views and we will see where secretary Clinton comes back.” Fox employee and O’Reilly Factor booster Dennis Kucinich, redux?


In light of recent low voter turnout nationwide I’d like to share Congresswoman Katherine Clark’s acceptance speech of the Eleanor Roosevelt Award from Ann Roosevelt highlighting the importance of voting: Last night, I was honored to receive the Eleanor Roosevelt Award from the Massachusetts Democratic Party. I’m incredibly proud to be a Democrat, and even prouder to be a Massachusetts Democrat. I’m so fortunate to bring our Massachusetts Democratic values to Congress, but I’ll be honest, I sometimes get discouraged. Last fall’s midterm election results were dispiriting, and it can be difficult to see signs of progress in Washington.But when I went to Selma in March, I gained a new perspective on our work for progress. I realized that when John Lewis and the other marchers walked over the Edmund Pettus bridge on that day 50 years ago, because of the bridge’s steep rise, it wasn’t until as they crossed the center of the bridge that they could see the state troopers standing there waiting. It took an immense amount of courage and conviction to push through the fear they must have felt as they faced those troopers. An incredible belief that the right to vote is the birthright of every […]

Recycled Solar: Double-Glazed Solar Hot Cap Cloche

I was cleaning out my storeroom the other day and came across another recycled solar device that I was fooling with a few years ago. A one liter clear plastic bottle makes a good hot cap or cloche when you cut the bottom off it. Plant a seedling, pop the bottomless clear cap over it, and you protect the seedling from the cold. It probably adds between 5 and 10 degrees F over the outside temperature by protecting the seedling from the wind and by capturing sunlight in a small, closed space. My twist on this idea was to find different sizes of clear plastic bottles which could nest one inside the other making a double-glazed hot cap cloche. A double-glazed hot cap cloche might be able to protect the seedlings even better, keeping that small, closed space even warmer than the outside air. This afternoon, I planted two tomato seedlings in my garden using this device. We’ll see whether it works.


I am ashamed to announce to my progressive friends that the neo – cons won two seats on the Wakefield School Committee last night defeating the only liberal in the race.  The scary right – wing legacy of Scott Brown, Richard Tisei and DINOISM ( Democrats in Name Only) wackamole phoenix rose up from the ashes. I am today announcing the formation of P.O.W.E.R. ( Progressives Organizing Wakefield to Elect Reformers ) whose mission will be to actively  recruit , mentor, support and endorse progressive candidates and causes - like the graduated income tax – up and down the ballot; but especially on the local level. Fred Rich LaRiccia        

Holyoke Schools Declared Level 5, State Takes Control

Via Michelle Williams of MassLiveNews.com: “BREAKING: The state board of education declares Holyoke Public Schools a ‘chronically underperforming’ Level 5 district, under state control.” As Peter Balonon-Rosen reports for WBUR, Holyoke has had trouble meeting state standards in part due to its demographics: Nearly half of Holyoke students do not speak English as a first language and nearly 30 percent are English-language learners. Standardized tests, which have been a major factor in determining achievement in Holyoke, present a number of challenges for English-language learners (ELLs). Research suggests that although such tests intend to assess subject-area knowledge, many ELLs can find themselves required to take assessments before their English language skills are developed enough to comprehend the tests. Eighty-five percent of Holyoke students come from low-income households. Recent research shows that poverty may be the largest factor that affects academic achievement and likelihood of dropping out of school. I’ve weighed in before on state takeovers in general: We let our children grow up in communities with high unemployment, low-paying jobs and high crime rates, then when they don’t do well on tests, we declare the school, principal & teachers “failing.” Here in Massachusetts, our “failing” schools are all located in inner-city Boston, Fall River, Holyoke, […]

Our meeting with Mayor Walsh: Boston 2024

Ryan already summarized the 90-minute meeting Sabutai, Hysterprynne, he and I recently with Mayor Walsh at his City Hall office to discuss Boston 2024 and other issues of the day. Esteemed BMGer Joyce Linehan, Walsh’s Chief of Policy — the woman who “convinced Elizabeth Warren to run for Senate” according to Boston magazine — arranged the confab. As Ryan wrote, prime takeaways related to the Olympics included the need for Boston 2024 to “be competent,” “be different,” “be inclusive,” and have explicit financial commitments. Read his full post here, along with commentary by Sabutai. I’ll just add a two additional points that struck me. First, Boston 2024 is a private organization distinct from the Mayor of Boston. Media coverage typically presents “the Olympic bid” as a fused public-private effort, with an implication that elected leaders support every detail of the bid, from clear-cutting the Common for a temporary volleyball court to straightening the Charles River for crew competitions (I jest). As Adam Vaccaro wrote on Boston.com in February, “That setup created the impression that the city and Boston 2024 are at this point in lockstep as it applies to the bid. That’s not quite a new dynamic—Walsh described the city’s relationship with […]

Sensible, frugal Cambridge bans plastic bags

Kudos to Cambridge for adopting a bottle bill for bags: banning plastic bags and requiring that retailers charge a fee for paper bags starting in March 2016. This responsible legislation will reduce litter, better align the costs of trash creation to those who create it, and reduce the existing effective public subsidy to establishments that contribute to trash across the city without helping to pay for its clean-up. Boston and other cities and towns should follow their common sense example, and that of California. WBUR on 31 March: The Cambridge City Council voted Monday night to ban single-use plastic bags in the city. The ban goes into effect in March 2016. The OK’d ordinance says “the reduction in the use of disposable checkout bags by Retail Establishments … is a public purpose that protects the marine environment, advances solid waste reduction, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and protects waterways.” According to City Councilor Dennis Carlone, Cambridge is now the largest city on the East Coast with such a ban. The Cambridge measure, which had been studied there since 2007, passed by an 8-1 vote. The ordinance also requires retailers charge a fee for paper bags. Carlone says Cambridge is the first […]

Anti GMO food = Climate denier?

A provocative NYT Op-Ed “How I Got Converted to G.M.O. Food” by Cornell Alliance for Science researcher Mark Lynas, asserts that GMO opponents are intellectually equivalent to climate deniers: After writing two books on the science of climate change, I decided I could no longer continue taking a pro-science position on global warming and an anti-science position on G.M.O.s. There is an equivalent level of scientific consensus on both issues, I realized, that climate change is real and genetically modified foods are safe. I could not defend the expert consensus on one issue while opposing it on the other. … The environmental movement’s war against genetic engineering has led to a deepening rift with the scientific community. A recent survey by the Pew Research Center and the American Association for the Advancement of Science showed a greater gap between scientists and the public on G.M.O.s than on any other scientific controversy: While 88 percent of association scientists agreed it was safe to eat genetically modified foods, only 37 percent of the public did — a gap in perceptions of 51 points. (The gap on climate change was 37 points; on childhood vaccinations, 18 points.)

The right response to the Baltimore Riots is empathy

No words better convey a proper response, than these from Dr. Martin Luther King: “But it is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the negro poor has worsened over the last twelve or fifteen years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.”-