June 2016
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Month June 2016

Explaining the McDonnell Decision – Calling Out Mass Bar Association & Martin Healy – Not Sure Even Elizabeth Warren Can Save Hillary

Some BMGers are in a tizzy over the McDonnell decision because they think it gives public officials carte blanche in the gifts v. wink wink nod nod department. It doesn’t. It does a few things however. First it tells us the US attorney is over reaching by going into each state and determining what is and what isn’t a federal crime for elected officials under at best ambiguous language in federal laws. Because federal law is silent on state officials accepting gifts (federalism, remember/) and a necessary part of elected office is to introduce constituents, supporters, business people, lobbyists, corporations, charities, donors, neighbors and anyone they choose to government officials, constituents, supporters, business people etc… the feds cannot convict if it only establishes a gift and and act. It must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the gift was only given with the purpose and expectations of both sides. However cases like Diane Wilkerson, Chuck Turner, Vinny Piro, Joe DiCarlo, Ron McKenzie, and I’m pretty sure Sal DiMasi  are still kosher under the McDonnell case. You take money or gifts in exchange for a vote or lobbying a product over an entity whose budget you control or something then the […]

Energy Bill: It’s hero time in the State Senate.

You know how our State Senate is the more progressive of the Houses? Did you know that today in passing their version of the energy bill, they really made good on that? The clean energy/climate folks are really happy with this thing. There are some heroes to celebrate: Pat Jehlen, whose amendment to prohibit the Baker-approved “pipeline tax” (the Spectra surcharge) passed 39-0. Energy chair Ben Downing, for getting a strong, ambitious 2000MW offshore wind procurement. Jamie Eldridge, who added the gas leak amendment, identical to Lori Ehrlich’s in the House bill. There are more! The smashing victory of Jehlen’s amendment leads Commonwealth’s Bruce Mohl to ponder: What is clear is that natural gas is in retreat on Beacon Hill. Not even the Baker administration is talking up pipelines anymore. Because they’re not popular. And the Governor has to decide if gas pipelines are how he wants to burn his political capital. Well done Senators … and stand strong when you meet with the House.


Common sense gun reform advocates rallied at the State House today to send a message to the country that Massachusetts’ tough gun safety laws save lives. Champions of universal national background checks featured the organizer of the Congressional Sit-In ‘ NO VOTE, NO BREAK’ — Congresswoman Katherine Clark (CD 5 - Melrose).  She announced that Speaker Ryan has pledged a vote next week on the anti-terrorist ‘NO FLY, NO BUY’ measure. Other advocates included Attorney General Maura Healy, Speaker Bob DeLeo, Senate President Stan Rosenberg and Congressman Joe Kennedy. Fred Rich LaRiccia Bay State Stonewall Democrats Board of Directors

Jet stream crosses equator (hint: maybe not a good thing)

EDIT: Raw Story article has been repudiated (see comments below). See article from Rawstory here. I recommend watching the entire video from from Paul Beckwith. Is anyone in power listening? EDIT: Contacted a few local meteorologists and according to them this isn’t as bad (or uncommon) as the story makes it out to be. Will update as I learn more.

Thank you, House, for passing non-compete reform!

It’s been a long time in coming, and it took a lot of discussion and persuasion – but the House listened! And it passed a strong non-compete reform, voted 150-0, limiting non competes to 12 months, with a ‘garden leave provision’: 1/2 of salary, or some mutually agreed upon compensation, to be paid until the non-compete expires. Notification of any non-compete clause must be served before employment starts – and not weeks later, as it is usually done, at the discretion of the employer. Yay! The Senate, I hope, will close the loop and pass its own version, including the garden leave provision. This is good for the employees – and good for the high tech economy, allowing workers to mingle more easily from startup to startup. Cross-pollination is good for a healthy high tech economy!

Candidate for Sheriff Kevin Coppinger wants to Stifle Democracy

Fellow Democrats, I was extremely disappointed when I viewed Kevin Coppinger’s response to a question on his campaign Facebook page. A constituent of Essex County asked the canidate why we had an elected Sheriff.   In response Coppinger explain that many people  throughout the years have been trying to figure out the answer to that question and that until the legislature makes it a government appointment for the governor the voters will have to “sort it out.”   I’m extremely astonished that candidate Coppinger could not come up with one good reason why we have an elected Sheriff.   Why would he even run?   It seems to me that Coppinger would gladly like to take the voice of voters away and stifle democracy.   He obviously believes that being Sheriff should be an appointed position. This statements policy view could be a sneak preview of how Mr. Coppenger deals with the public, inmates, and organize labor working for the department. After seeing this post on Facebook I had to join BlueMass group and post a statement. I look forward to posting again about many other races and issues. Life Long Democrat C. Cahill   Copy and paste this link […]

Second Walsh Aide Indicted

Joan Vennochi: Unpleasant but lawful conduct will be the argument in defense of Walsh’s aides. According to Wednesday’s indictment, festival organizers hired eight union laborers and one foreman because Sullivan and Brissette insisted upon it. It will be up to federal prosecutors to show that the effort by Sullivan and Brissette to persuade or pressure constitutes unlawful “extortion,” or, conversely, for the defense to show it actually was “permissible, maybe even fairly common contact,” said noted criminal defense lawyer Harvey Silverglate. Ortiz has won that argument before. I have no immediate comment, other than this: Ruh roh.

Annals of Income Inequality: June, 2016

A couple items from the income inequality file. First, as State House News reports (paywall), the Baker administration is about the business reining in the overtime hours of the 39,000 people in the state who work as personal care attendants. PCA’s, as they are called, assist people who have severe disabilities with daily activities like getting dressed and bathing. This help enables many disabled people who might otherwise need to live in a nursing home to remain in their communities. The cost of the PCA program is rising, and to cap that increase the Baker administration is restricting the number of overtime hours that PCA’s may work. As you may imagine (there being 24 hours in a day), many of the 26,000 people receiving PCA services require more than 40 hours a week of assistance. Nonetheless, the administration is targeting this program for savings by requiring advance approval by the state for any PCA working more than 40 hours per week, up to a maximum of 60 hours.  No word on whether the administration is anticipating that this restriction might result in more nursing home placements of persons now able to live outside that setting. PCA’s now earn $13.68 per hour, which […]

Support for Carbon Pricing Amendment in Energy Omnibus Bill

The Massachusetts Campaign for a Clean Energy Future, a coalition of organizations supporting the implementation of carbon pricing in the Commonwealth, supports Amendment 48 to S. 2372, the energy omnibus bill, sponsored by State Senator Michael Barrett (D-Lexington) that would implement economy-wide carbon pricing in Massachusetts. A recent report showed that Boston and the region face significant danger from climate change, and we also know that carbon dioxide emissions across New England are rising.  Additionally, a recent ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court upheld provisions of the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) of 2008 that require limits for multiple emission sources to decline annually. The GWSA also mandates that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts cut carbon dioxide emissions to 25 percent below the 1990 level by 2020 and at least 80 percent below 1990 by 2050.  Additionally, a recent report indicated that carbon emissions from the region’s power plants rose in 2015 after years of decreases. The coalition supports including the carbon fee and rebate proposal as part the energy omnibus bill to address these concerns. The carbon fee and rebate policy has helped to reduce fuel consumption and grow the clean energy sector in British Columbia and other places […]

House Benghazi report — “never mind”

According to the New York Times, the House Select Committee on Benghazi released its final report today. The result? No new evidence of anything. Two years (more than the investigations into 9/11, the JFK assassination, the attack Pearl Harbor, and the failed response to Katrina), more than seven million dollars, and no new evidence of culpability or wrongdoing. The purpose of the committee was clear, especially after House majority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) clarified them: “Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right?” Mr. McCarthy said. “But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened, had we not fought.” In other words, a witch hunt.