New Bedford Wind Energy Plan Would Save Taxpayers $20 Million

Awesome. Considering that wind is a constant price and natural gas is subject to price spikes, as we've seen, this is a great deal. It's not just zero-emissions energy; it's zero-marginal-cost energy. - promoted by charley-on-the-mta

Hingham (oops) 2/19/11A proposed wind power contract for New Bedford isn’t just feel-good – it’s look-at-this-giant-pile-of-money-we’re-saving-taxpayers.

As Ariel Wittenberg reports in the Standard-Times, the New Bedford City Council will soon consider a proposal to buy power from a planned wind farm in Plymouth after a subcommittee approved the plan that would save the city somewhere around 30 percent on energy costs:

The proposal, made by Mayor Jon Mitchell’s office, would enter the city into a power purchase agreement with Future Generation Wind LLC to buy wind-generated electricity at 10.8 cents per kilowatt hour for the next 20 years. [...]

Scott Durkee, director of the city’s energy office, noted that the power purchase agreement will also save the city money. Currently, he said, the city’s lowest costing energy contracts are 11 to 13 cents per kilowatt hour, with the city paying closer to 15 to 17 cents per kilowatt hour on most contracts. Signing with Future Generation LLC is predicted to save New Bedford upwards of $20 million over the life of the contract.

Additionally, Future Generation LLC is offering to pay the city $250,000 in a sort of signing bonus meant to help further New Bedford’s efforts to become a premier port for offshore wind. Future Generation owner Keith Mann said he is also considering using New Bedford as the receiving port for his turbines.

It’s hard to overstate what a bargain this is – the best energy at the lowest price.

ICYMI: Mothers Out Front fight climate change

A few weeks ago the Globe had a profile of the organization Mothers Out Front — mothers fighting climate change on behalf of their kids. If you ask me, this is the future of the climate movement right here.

Forget the polar bears. This is about human mamas protecting their cubs. “We are not an environmental organization,” says Wirth, curled up in her sun-lit kitchen in jeans and a gray sweater, colorful kids’ artwork plastering the walls. “The earth is not our symbol. It’s not about the planet, per se. It’s about our kids. Our goal is to make climate change an issue that mothers care about because they are concerned about their kids’ future.”

via Mothers vs. climate change – Magazine – The Boston Globe.

That is exactly the right message — one that I’ve been thinking about for a long time. Climate change is a direct threat to us, and especially to our kids. It’s not abstract. It’s real and immediate, more so every day. People understand the threat of terrorism — the threat of rising sea levels, extreme weather and drought are here and now.

Activist-scholar Marshall Ganz talks about the importance of the particular vs. the abstract in social movements — the importance of telling your story, the things that mean the most to you.

“Movements have narratives; they tell stories, because they’re not just about rearranging economics and politics. They also rearrange meaning. And they’re they’re not just about redistributing the goods, they’re about figuring out what is good.”

(start around 5:00)

The stories of parents — and their concern for their kids — will win the day.

Our unbalanced state govenment

WGBH’s Rupa Shenoy in “Beacon Hill’s Dysfunction Explained” yesterday made a start at explaining how it came to be that a few people who collectively represent only a sliver of the Commonwealth presume to rule all of us.

Plymouth and Barnstable, Senate President Therese Murray’s district, has a population of 158,894. The Nineteenth Suffolk district, House Speaker Robert DeLeo’s district, has a population of 40,445. Collectively, these two individuals represent about 200,000 people: less then three percent of the Commonwealth’s approximately 6.7 million residents and less than 20 percent, even counting voters and non-voters alike in their districts, of the 1.1 million people who affirmatively marked a ballot for Governor Patrick in 2010.

Peter Ubertaccio, director of the Joseph Martin Institute for Law & Society at Stonehill College in Easton, agrees and says that power has concentrated around the House Speaker and Senate President over the last 30 years. Chairs of legislative committees, meanwhile, have gotten weaker, he said. ”Instead of having multiple centers of power in the legislature, we tend to have now two,” Ubertaccio said.

More explicitly:

“I suspect that very frequently from the beginning the fix is in, and that the time that it takes is simply used up with routine attempts to gather information that are never going to yield anything other than the predetermined outcome,” said David Tuerck, executive director of the Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University.

That two individuals who collectively represent less than three percent of the state, and the cabal of committee chairs around them, have this much power makes a mockery of the principle of democratic government. James Madison warned of the problem in Federalist 51:

In republican government, the legislative authority necessarily predominates. The remedy for this inconveniency is to divide the legislature into different branches; and to render them, by different modes of election and different principles of action, as little connected with each other as the nature of their common functions and their common dependence on the society will admit. It may even be necessary to guard against dangerous encroachments by still further precautions. As the weight of the legislative authority requires that it should be thus divided, the weakness of the executive may require, on the other hand, that it should be fortified.

America’s traditional solution to monopolies of legislative power has been to vote in the rival political party. Unfortunately, Republican nationwide and in Massachusetts – foreign policies of the 1980s, social policies of the 1950s, and economic policies of the 1920s – have disqualified themselves from leadership consideration.

The best way to restore democratic government in Massachusetts is to revitalize the Democratic Party through a more cohesive and energized Progressive Caucus: the democratic wing of the Democratic Party. Naturally, the powers that be will try to resist this effort by plucking off progressive legislators with $15,000 bonuses and other treats (“assistant floor leaders, division chairmen, and a handful of committee chairs, vice chairs, and ranking minority members earn $15,000 each”). That is chump change.

Progressives are strong. With unity, discipline, and determination they can revitalize the Democratic Party in Massachusetts, respond to a dissatisfaction with state government so deep hundreds of thousands even voted for Charlie “Big Dig” Baker in 2010 in the belief that he might restore some balance to state government, and recover our democracy.

James Hansen at MIT

Thanks for sharing gmoke. Hansen supports a fee-and-dividend tax, like the Citizens Climate Lobby. -Charley
- promoted by david

James Hansen visited MIT on April 15 and April 16 and gave two public talks. One was for Fossil Free MIT (http://www.fossilfreemit.org), a new student group concerned with divestment, on the politics of climate change, “Combatting the Climate Crisis: the Path from Science to Action,” and the other was for the climate science community on “Ice Sheet Melt, Sea Level and Storms,” the subject of a paper he is now working on.

The good news is that, according to Hansen, we do not have to worry about catastrophic methane releases from the tundra or ocean clathrates as the paleoclimate record shows there were no such releases in higher temperature periods.

The bad news is that, according to a paper Hansen is now working on, we do have to worry about the effects of ice sheet melt on ocean currents and thermoclines as well as the possibility of dramatic wind intensity increases in storms. Again, based upon the paleoclimate and geologic record.

Hansen would have preferred to title the political talk “Challenge for young people: how to make the unfolding climate crisis an opportunity” as he believes that confronting the climate issue can be beneficial, that the prospect is not all doom and gloom. However, he also said, “We have almost as much warming in the pipeline as has already occurred” (0.8º C which means at least 1.6º C cumulative even if we stop now).

Elizabeth Warren-the Teacher

Hey Massachusetts, look at your senior senator. :) - promoted by charley-on-the-mta

I highly recommend the finely tuned profile of our states Senior Senator penned by that delightful scribe of our daily politics Worcester’s own Charlie Pierce in this weeks Esquire. Titled ‘The Teacher’

A couple of great gems including this story straight out of the Paper Chase:

“So, Mr. Kennedy,” she said, “what’s the definition of assumpsit?”

“It was the first class, first day of law school, and I took the class because she was the professor,” says Mr. Kennedy, now Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III, grandson of Bobby Kennedy, grand-nephew of Senator Ted and President Jack, elected to Congress in the same election that brought Elizabeth Warren into the Senate. “I walk in, and I try to take a seat in the last row of the class. I put my head down, and I’d done the reading and I knew the basics of the case, and right before the class, I see that a lot of my classmates are sort of milling around this seating chart, so I go down to it and I see that my seat is in the first row on the right-hand side. I couldn’t believe it. I was mortified.

“I said, ‘I don’t know.’ She said, ‘You don’t know?’ She said, ‘Mr. Kennedy, did you do your reading? You realize, don’t you, that assumpsit is the first word in your reading?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I saw it, and I circled it because I didn’t know what it meant.’ So she said, ‘Do you have a dictionary, Mr. Kennedy?’ I said I hadn’t had a chance to get one yet. She said, ‘That’s what people do when they don’t know what a word is. They look it up in the dictionary. Is there anyone in the class who can help Mr. Kennedy?’ Every hand in the class goes up.

And on her evolution as a campaigner who can connect:

his afternoon, though, with the campaign for the Senate having begun to sway perceptibly, was a measure of her ability to take what she had learned in her life, and especially in her still-new career as a political candidate, and use it to teach the people in the hall what they needed to know about the system that was grinding so many of them into dust. She connected the corruption on Wall Street to the tricks and traps on their credit cards and their mortgage statements, and she connected that to stagnating wages and crumbling infrastructure. They applauded wildly every time she bore down hard on the word union, and it took her a long time to get through the crowd. Scott Brown was finished as a senator by the time she got to the car.

I don’t doubt that the book tour, her appearance on CBS This Morning on Easter Sunday and her appearance ABC News last night will continue to raise the profile and the buzz as it did for then Sen. Obama in 2007. They called Teddy Kennedy the Last Liberal Lion, and I hope Sen. Warren can prove that epitaph premature, we need her fighting strong in the Senate and continuing to be the moral voice of our party on economics.

Don Berwick's Medicare for All Town Hall meeting last week

  - promoted by david

Last week, Don Berwick held a town hall meeting to discuss his single payer, Medicare for All proposal at a packed Boston University auditorium, with around 250 people in attendance. I wasn’t able to attend, but my colleague, Rep. Denise Provost, compared the scene to an event early in Elizabeth Warren’s campaign (listen to the applause at the end). The mood was electric, and voters were excited to hear Don’s vision for the future of the Commonwealth.

The final audience question came from a medical student who asked how Don will tackle the global inequities associated with racism and classism. His answer reminded my what I am supporting his bid for Governor.

If you have a moment, please give it a watch. You will be glad you did.

Joke Revue: Perry hopes glasses, not talking will make him seem smarter

Borowitz:

RICK PERRY HOPES COMBINATION OF WEARING GLASSES AND NOT TALKING WILL MAKE HIM SEEM SMARTER

AUSTIN, Tex. (The Borowitz Report)—With an eye toward a Presidential run in 2016, Rick Perry, the Texas governor, is hoping that a two-pronged strategy of wearing glasses and not speaking will make him appear smarter to voters, aides to the Governor confirmed today.

“After the 2012 Republican primary, we knew that we needed to solve what we called the Governor’s smartness problem,” said Harland Dorrinson, an aide to Perry. “The fix that we came up with was glasses, but, as it turned out, that was only half the solution.”

After outfitting Perry with designer eyewear, aides sent him on the road to reintroduce himself to voters, but the response, Mr. Dorrinson said, was underwhelming: “The problem was, he was still talking.”

A round of focus groups convinced aides that only through a combination of wearing glasses and not emitting any sounds could Perry overcome voters’ initial impressions of him.

At a recent political stop in San Antonio, the newly minted Governor Perry was on display, wearing his glasses and gesticulating expressively while saying nothing for thirty minutes.

“Our focus groups show people no longer know what Rick Perry is thinking,” said Mr. Dorrinson. “That’s a huge improvement.”

Daniel Kurtzman:

“Yesterday, North Korea held its annual marathon. Congratulations to first, second and third place winner, Kim Jong Un.” –Conan O’Brien

“CNN announced that Anthony Bourdain’s show is taking over Piers Morgan’s time slot. Anthony is a culinary expert who loves good food. His show is the highest-rated series on CNN. But let’s be honest. The highest-rated series on CNN is like being the least drunk Australian.” –Craig Ferguson

“George W. Bush and Bill Clinton sat next to each other at the big game. Clinton congratulated UConn on its big win, while Bush gave Kentucky a ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner.” –Jimmy Fallon

“About a year from now, I’ll be doing commercials for reverse mortgages.” –David Letterman

“Hillary Clinton yesterday made some very strong remarks about the media. She said that the media treat powerful women with a double standard. Or as it got reported in most places, ‘Hillary Clinton shows off sassy new haircut.’” –Jimmy Fallon

“A year from now I’ll be on the beach with a metal detector.” –David Letterman

“Billionaire Sheldon Adelson had a little party in Vegas this weekend to audition Republican presidential candidates, and they all came to kiss his ass: Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, John Kasich. Chris Christie came, and while he was in Vegas he went over to the New York, New York hotel and shut down traffic on the miniature Brooklyn Bridge.” –Bill Maher

“50 years ago, America’s biggest employer was General Motors, where workers made the modern equivalent of $50 dollars an hour. Today, America’s biggest employer is Walmart, where the average wage is $8 dollars an hour…And Walmart released their annual report this month, and in it was the fact that most of what Walmart sells is food. And most of their customers need food stamps to pay for it. Meanwhile, Walmart’s owners are so absurdly rich that one of them, Alice Walton, spent over a billion dollars building an art museum in Bentonville, Arkansas, 500 miles away from the nearest person who ever would want to look at art. And she said about it, ‘For years I’ve been thinking about what we can do as a family that can really make a difference.’ How about giving your employees a raise, you deluded nitwit?” –Bill Maher

“Evil Russian president Vladimir Putin and his wife have divorced. They say it was amicable. It must be because she’s still alive.” –David Letterman

Our conversations with Warren Tolman and Maura Healey

The two leading candidates for Attorney General, Warren Tolman and Maura Healey, have been kind enough to sit down with Bob and me to talk about their visions for the office.  By popular demand (and with the permission of both campaigns), we’re posting the full audio of our conversations so that you can hear what they had to say about their priorities and several important issues of the day. We hope to have a chance to write up highlights of the conversations separately, but for now, here is all of what they had to say in our conversations.

Obviously, the interviews were conducted in rather noisy eating establishments, so we apologize for the background noise. FYI, the casino discussions start at about 40:00 for Tolman, and at about 35:00 for Healey.

Tolman:

Healey:

Full disclosure: I am volunteering for the legal team seeking to overturn the Attorney General’s ruling and get the anti-casino question on the ballot.

Justice Ralph Gants to be the next Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

Congratulations to Justice Gants! - promoted by david

Justice Gants combines scholarship and compassion.  I appeared before him when he was a Justice of the Superior Court to keep a woman in her home during a care and protection matter – and I can attest personally to his compassion as well as his scholarship; he agreed that a transitional living apartment was subject to the rule in Serreze – that as long as part of my client’s welfare grant went to rent, she was a tenant with tenancy protections.  (See http://masscases.com/cases/app/30/30massappct639.html ).

I have also heard him teach in a panel context, watched and listened to videos of oral arguments, and read his decisions on occasion.  In selecting Judge Gants, Governor Patrick has deepened, strengthened, and enriched the Judicial Branch.

Well done!

Video from our Governor Candidates Forum at the 2nd Policy Conference (April 2014)

Video on the flip! - promoted by david

We thought our April 6 Conference in Worcester was a great day, due in large measure to the focus and commitment of progressive activists from across the state (many of whom are BMG regulars. Hi!).

Summaries of the day have been written up on Blue Mass Group by DrBoerl, and there are member-authored summaries on our blog, too. Check ‘em out, and if you were there, please leave some feedback on our post-conference survey!

In addition to panels with policy experts, the last part of the day turned to electoral politics. To a still impressively crowded room, candidates Steve Grossman, Juliette Kayyem, Martha Coakley and Don Berwick joined us, one by one, and responded at length and in depth to tough, focused questions –and persistent follow-up ones– by our moderator, Jordan Berg Powers. Jordan’s inquiries were derived from candidates’ responses to our Endorsement Questionnaires, which go deep on structural and policy roots of economic inequality (as outlined in our Shared Prosperity agenda).

We have heard over and over again from members that the Forum was invaluable. Indeed, even at the very last minutes of a long day, the room was still packed and the audience’s attention still rapt and focused.

Stand with Steve Grossman as he takes on the NRA

Grossman clearly sees guns as a winning issue on which he can draw a contrast with Martha Coakley. Interesting! - promoted by david

Hello fellow BMGers-

I’m writing to ask you to stand with Steve this Thursday, April 17 at 1 p.m. in a press conference on the State House steps as he debates Jim Wallace, Executive Director of the Gun Owners Action League (GOAL) — the official Massachusetts state affiliate of the NRA.

Steve has proposed an aggressive plan to fight gun violence here in the Commonwealth.  In a Blue Mass Group last week, Steve applauded Speaker DeLeo for taking the lead on gun control legislation soon to be proposed in the House. But he also urged lawmakers and the Attorney General to add three additional reforms: limit gun purchases to one a month, require gun manufacturers to use smart gun technology, and create an interstate regional task force to deal with the torrent of illegal guns crossing our borders.

I’m asking you to stand with Steve on Thursday at 1 p.m. on State House steps to show the NRA that the families of the Commonwealth want common-sense gun safety reform!

In full disclosure I work for the Steve Grossman Campaign.

Time to kill 15% Rule before it kills the Dem Party...

An even more provocative suggestion from the author, in the comments: "Eliminating the convention altogether and putting that money toward local party-building efforts would be money better spent." Has the convention outlived its usefulness?

As I've stated previously, I don't particularly like the 15% rule, and would favor dropping it if the primary were moved to earlier in the year. On the other hand, I see the value of candidates proving some ability to create an energized grassroots organization early in the process. I just wish there were a way to do that without also seeming anti-democratic, and that's how the rule seems to me. - promoted by david

A recent BMG posting by gubernatorial contender Joe Avellone should have raised serious questions for all Democratic party insiders. He pointed out how the convention 15% rule in its current form (15% on 1st ballot or out) was detrimental to the Party and certainly not small “d” democratic.

As a former State Committee member who can remember back when the original 15% rule was adopted, I would have to agree with Avellone’s contention. If the “15%-on-1st” were operating back then, John Kerry would have been shown the door in the Lt. Gov. race, he never would have been Lt. Gov. or had the platform to jump to US Senator.

I get that the 15% rule was adopted to cut down on fringe candidates…if someone could not achieve 15% of delegates within two ballots, they were dropped off…but, to raise the bar to just one ballot when the field is crowded with good, qualified candidates seems overly restrictive and makes the party look anything but inclusive. We are not a party for the favored few, but it increasingly gives that public impression.

Also, the convention requirement forces candidates to spend enormous amounts of money courting delegates and paying for convention expenses, paraphenalia and nonsense. This money could be far better spent courting regular Dems and Unenrolled voters across the state. There was a time when the media actually covered the state conventions in a big way…there were tv booths and crowded press sections…that made the expense somewhat defendable with “free” media results. That is not so today…it’s a one story barely and forgotten.