September 2015
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Month September 2015

College Dems Kick Off Semester at the Boston/Eastern Region Event

All College Democrats, Young Democrats, and Young-at-heart Democrats are welcome to attend! If you’re looking to meet self-motivated, hard-working CDM members, engage in thoughtful conversation and debate with like-minded progressives, College Democrats of Massachusetts eagerly encourage you to come to its Eastern and Boston Regional Kickoff event this Saturday starting at 11:30 AM. Find your way to Boston University’s College of Arts and Sciences Building Room 36B, across from the BU East T-Stop for what promises to be a productive day. The packed agenda includes keynote speeches from Boston City Councilors Ayanna Pressley, Michelle Wu, and Leland Chueng, plus Boston City Council candidate Andrea Campbell. Additionally, CDM’s Black Caucus will be putting on a panel discussing the Black Lives Matter movement titled, “Exploring Ways the Democratic Party Can Advance Racial Equity,” with Wellesley Professor Domingo Morel, Reverend Eugene Rivers, student activist Ashley Clerge, and Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz staffer Anthony Thomas. To follow will be a panel moderated by CDM’s very own Vice President, Brian Hough, on Young Elected Officials featuring three officials and candidates who will impart some campaign tips when running for office. The event will also give members and attendees the chance to exchange ideas on what will make CDM a […]

Joke Revue: “Kochs Hope to Be First to Pollute Water on Mars”

Sorry for the delay, folks! First up, an old cartoon favorite: Borowitz: Kochs Hope to Be First to Pollute Water on Mars WICHITA (The Borowitz Report)—Just hours after NASA revealed the discovery of water on the surface of Mars, a spokesman for Koch Industries said that the company would spend billions to become the red planet’s first major industrial polluter. “At Koch Industries, we are well aware that our practice of spewing over six million pounds of toxins a year into Earth’s water is not sustainable,” said the billionaire Koch brothers’ corporate spokesman, Harland Dorrinson. “That’s why this discovery of water on Mars is so exciting.” The company hopes to conduct the first toxic-dumping mission to Mars by 2030—at a projected cost of three billion dollars, or roughly the price of four Presidential candidates, the spokesman said. In response to a reporter’s question, the Kochs’ spokesman offered no opinion about whether the water on Mars could sustain life, saying only that it would be unlikely to in the future. Daniel Kurtzman offers a raft of papal jokes, old and new: “In addition to the ‘no shaking hands,’ Congress was given a lot of rules about the Pope’s visit. First, there’s […]

Politics as a business

An informative review earlier this month in the NYT by financial journalist James Stewart (“Den of Thieves” and “Tangled Webs,” among others) of fellow-journalist and author Michael D’Antonio’s new biography of “The short fingered vulgarian” (Spy Magazine) The Donald caught my eye the other day. I find the review overall supports my contention that Trump is running as a marketing exercise rather than an expression of real interest in the job of president, but that may just be my bias. Stewart, for one, disagrees: “No one should be surprised that this ambition has propelled Trump into the ultimate contest, which is the race for the White House, or that he’s in it to win.” Here is an interesting passage: This year Forbes pegs Trump’s wealth at $4.1 billion, which, while less than half the $9 billion Trump claims, indeed makes him rich. Much of that wealth comes from the Trump brand rather than deal-making per se. His star turn on NBC’s “The Celebrity Apprentice,” his licensing fees, his books, his speaking engagements, even his men’s wear line, have brought in millions. He’s had good divorce lawyers. But he’s hardly another Henry R. Kravis or Carl C. Icahn. Four of his heavily indebted casino […]

The Dog Ate My Homework: Water Conservation Edition

An amendment to the supplemental budget that’s up for debate in the House tomorrow would broaden a 10-year old law that allows landlords to bill tenants for their water usage under some circumstances. The current law lets landlords who have installed water-conserving fixtures in their rental units and have also installed water submeters that accurately measure water usage to the tenants’ apartments to charge tenants for water once they have certified to the local board of health (under the penalties of perjury) that they have complied with these two requirements. The amendment, filed by Representative Angelo Puppolo (D-Wilbraham), would appear to apply to situations in which the rental property has been sold to new owners since the time that the former owners certified that they were in compliance with the law’s requirements but the certification cannot be located despite good faith efforts by the new owners. One might think that an appropriate solution in these cases (which should be few in number since the local boards of health have records of the certifications) would be for the new owners to provide proof that their properties are equipped with water-conserving fixtures and water submeters. But instead, the new owners need only […]

I’m genuinely disappointed in Donald Trump’s tax plan

I suppose I should have seen this coming.  Still, I’m genuinely disappointed.  As I’ve mentioned before, Donald Trump had (up until now) been talking a different game on taxes than what one normally hears from Republicans these days.  He had talked about cutting taxes for the middle class, while asking the wealthy to pay more.  He had talked about closing the carried interest loophole so that hedge fund managers might actually have to pay their fair share.  He had, in other words, talked about a plan that made some sense, and that was making orthodox Republicans nervous. But he just released his tax plan, and it’s more of the same old same old.  Cut rates across the board, including an enormous rate cut for the wealthiest, and eliminate the estate tax.  As Josh Barro of the NY Times put it: Donald Trump’s tax plan, released Monday, does not live up to the populist language he has offered on taxes all summer. When talking about taxes in this campaign, Donald Trump has often sounded like a different kind of Republican. He says he will take on “the hedge fund guys” and their carried interest loophole. He thinks it’s “outrageous” how little tax […]

Reasons for hope!

(Today 9/29 at the State House 12pm-5pm is a big fat energy hearing, and clean energy advocates are trying to pack the house. Go if you can.) I’ve always felt like another climate-voice-for-doom-and-gloom. And yet, look at what a whole lot of pressure, organizing and action have produced just this month: Pope. A papal visit is momentous in any event, but this one helped to make climate change an iconic cause of our time, much as John Paul II’s was for the Cold War. Francis put the issue in front of everyone’s face, and helps push denial to the margins. Practically no one else on Earth can put an issue on the table that everyone across the political spectrum has to confront. (The GOP is left with “The Pope is not a scientist”. Except that he’s got a Masters Degree in chemistry and is just, well, not a crank.)But more than vanquishing denial, it may well activate the soft supporters of climate action into more full-throated boosters. This is extremely welcome. China goes cap-and-trade. Amazingly, the Communist Party of the People’s Republic of China has a more realistic view of climate science than a major party of the Land of […]

State Public Records ruling on release of hospital report is a win for the public

(Cross-posted from The COFAR Blog) In what we see as a win for the public’s right to know, the state’s Supervisor of Public Records has concluded that the Department of Public Health went too far in redacting virtually an entire report on an intellectually disabled man who died in February 2012 after he was reportedly sent home twice by Lowell General Hospital. The September 21, 2015 decision by Public Records Supervisor Shawn Williams was issued in response to an appeal filed by COFAR after the DPH had sent us a report in May that was virtually unreadable because just about everything in it had been whited out.  Williams ordered DPH to provide us with “a new redacted copy” of the report within 10 days, along with a written explanation regarding any portion the Department still considers to be exempt from disclosure. Last month, the Public Records Division reviewed an unredacted version of the report in camera to determine whether DPH was justified in the wholesale redactions based on a claim that the report contained medical information that might violate the deceased man’s privacy. Williams stated in his Sept. 21 decision that “generally, medical information will always be of a sufficiently personal nature to warrant exemption” from the Public Records Law.  The decision […]

POPE FRANCIS MADE US ALL PROUD…

to be citizens of America and the world. As the grandson of Italian immigrants I was deeply moved when the Holy Father introduced himself to President Obama at the White House as the son of Italian immigrants to Argentina — the first Latin American Pope. Then he joined the President by calling on all of us to be the “land of the free and home of the brave”  by practicing the Golden Rule and treat others as we want to be treated. VIVA LA PAPA ! Fred Rich LaRiccia    

State Ethics Commission fines Sheriff Steve Tompkins $2500 for “Coercive Use of His Official Position.”

http://www.mass.gov/ethics/press-releases-meetings-and-publications/press-releases/2015-press-releases/steven-tompkins.html Karen L. Nober Executive Director Media Contact David Giannotti Communications Division Chief 617-371-9505 For Immediate Release – September 23, 2015 Suffolk County Sheriff Steven Tompkins Pays $2,500 Civil Penalty for Violating the Conflict of Interest Law Displayed his Sheriff’s ID when asking business owners to take down his campaign opponent’s campaign signs The State Ethics Commission approved a Disposition Agreement (“Agreement”) in which Steven Tompkins (“Tompkins”), the Suffolk County Sheriff, admitted to violating G.L. c. 268A, the conflict of interest law, in 2013 by identifying himself as Sheriff when asking eight business owners in his district to take down his opponent’s campaign signs that were displayed in their shops.  Pursuant to the Agreement, Tompkins paid a $2,500 civil penalty for the violation. Section 23(b)(2(ii) of the conflict of interest law prohibits a state employee from using or attempting to use his official position to secure for himself or others unwarranted privileges or exemptions which are of substantial value and which are not properly available to similarly situated individuals.  According to the Agreement, in 2013, Tompkins went to eight retail shops in Roxbury that were displaying campaign signs for Douglas Bennett, Tompkins’ 2014 campaign opponent.  The signs all read, “Vote […]

Today’s political earthquake

As this news is now a few hours old I’m surprised nobody else has posted.  I could have linked any number of stories, but for now I’ll just do a drive-by report that Speaker Boehner has announced his resignation.  There’s speculation about whether he was pushed by the base and even if somehow the Pope’s visit had something to do with it.  There is no modern precedent for leaving the Speakership midterm.  Since it’s not a scandal, even Dems are praising his leadership.