West Springfield police ready with grenade launchers

Commonwealth Magazine’s excellent The Download newsletter offers a helpful recap of the militarization of Massachusetts police today, stuffed with useful links: “1,000 M-16 machine guns and M-14 automatic rifles” in recent years, among other weapons of war, for example, according to a June report by our ACLU.

Somewhere along the way, the Defense Department also sent the West Springfield Police Department two grenade launchers. Police Chief Ronald Campurciani told The Republican that the weapons were “old and antiquated” and would never be used. But he didn’t say the department would get rid of them either. Instead, they are stored in “an all-metal room.”

Gabrielle Gurley writes, “The Springfield Republican recently reported that DOD’s 1033 excess supply program allows small towns like Monson (14 M-16 machine guns and 5 M-14 semiautomatic rifles) Groton (17 M-16s) to add military weapons to their arsenals.”

We already have an Army, supported by the state-level National Guard, for national defense, with special controls established by the constitution and long custom to keep its immense power under proper controls. It is dangerous and bad policy, as well as an unnecessary expense, to create mini-Armies in cities and towns across the Commonwealth.

AG Candidates Healey and Tolman face off on WGBH

Bumped, for glory. - promoted by Bob_Neer

Amid all of the criticism of Boston’s generally wretched broadcast media, WGBH News deserves credit for hosting AG Candidates Maura Healey and Warren Tolman on Emily Rooney’s Greater Boston program last Thursday. Both came off well.

Tolman lost points for being over the top when he said the AG should lead first and worry about statutes later, as it were (he wants to lock the millionaire Market Basket owners in a room until they eat their vegetables, sort of). Healey very appropriately called him on it: the AG is the Commonwealth’s chief law enforcement officer, not its chief enforcer of the political tides of the moment.

Healey lost points for taking an utterly illogical position on marijuana legalization — she thinks it is properly banned because, she asserts, it is addictive and a gateway drug. To be consistent, she should also support a return to prohibition of alcohol and a ban on cigarette sales. Tolman sounded a bit more measured on the subject. She also refused to commit to immediate implementation of “smart gun” controls (and, indeed, her website is utterly anodyne on the subject) which, according to Tolman, can be mandated immediately by the AG (if so, why hasn’t Coakley done so?). He, by contrast, was unequivocal: fingerprint locks on guns, immediately or sooner, if he is elected.

Both of the candidates were congenial to each other, passionate and articulate. Rooney did a fine job moving the discussion along. In one of the most interesting races of this election, the clip is worth a watch. What do you think?

First Gubernatorial Debate - Reactions, Analysis

A Don Berwick fan offers his reaction to last night's festivities. Your take? - promoted by david

Originally Posted at Only In Boston

The three candidates vying for the Democratic nomination for Governor squared off in the first of five debates to be held before the primary election on September 9th. The hour-long debate, streamed online from Stonehill’s website, was largely uneventful. The candidates mostly reiterated their positions on a variety of key issues and gave their opinions on two important ongoing crises – the Market Basket fiasco and the protests in Ferguson, MO.

Martha Coakley, current Attorney General and favorite to win, played it safe last night. She didn’t take any strong positions and continued to espouse moderate, dispassionate views on everything from the Economy to Universal Pre-K.

Current state treasurer Steve Grossman, in his attempt to differentiate himself from Coakley, took much stronger positions and emphasized his private sector experience. Being the consummate insider and business-friendly candidate, he gave polished, well-rehearsed answers straight from the Clinton/DLC handbook.

Berwick continued to distinguish himself as by-far the most progressive of the three candidates. He used the phrase ‘politics as usual’ several times to decry the policies of the establishment candidates sharing the stage with him. The doctor and former Medicare administrator made sure to mention that he was the only candidate to come forward in support of single-payer healthcare. For me, this is reason enough to vote for him.

Berwick, lacking the name recognition and resources of Coakley and Grossman, is lagging far behind in the polls, but has raised the most money in the month August.

For a full play-by-play check out my liveblog from last night. Watch the whole debate at Stonehill’s site. Here is a rundown of some of the highlights from the debate:

Uber Hires David Plouffe

Hilarious. We can all look forward to David Plouffe bringing the full firepower of the Obama campaign machine to the next public meeting of the Cambridge Licensing Commission. - promoted by david

It appears that David was prescient in writing about Uber. They are political. NYT, emphasis mine:

Mr. Plouffe, who ran President Obama’s 2008 campaign, said he planned to run Uber’s communication efforts much like a political race, pushing to woo consumers and regulators alike in the company’s fast-paced expansion across the world.

Good luck to Mr. Plouffe. Maybe he’ll make them nicer.

All 3 MA Dems for Treasurer Have Big Plans

A powerful and extremely well informed community voice endorses Deb Goldberg. - promoted by Bob_Neer

The MA Treasurer/Receiver General race has glories and worries. On the Dem side, three solid candidates want to replace Steve Grossman as he stepped aside to run for Governor.  All  three spoke with Left Ahead on the past three successive weeks. Their half-hour shows appear below.

On the negative side, unless you really pay attention, deciding among three good contenders is tough. Moreover, this is down ballot in what is likely to be a low turnout primary (better for governor two months later). As a Warden in a Boston polling place, I dread hearing voters say they don’t know anything about the candidates. I won’t be allowed to scold them or to discuss the candidates.

Note that we would have talked with the GOP nominee Mike Heffernan…if only he had responded to any of the requests.

The links below are to their show. Each discusses expanding the role of Treasurer even beyond what activist Grossman has. Each presents a persona (click their names to visit their sites):

  • Barry Finegold, MA Sen., as self-made success who takes gutsy legislative stances
  • Tom Conroy, MA Rep., who sees himself as the leading financial lawmaker in the State House
  • Deb Goldberg, former Brookline Board of Selectmen Chair, who although an heiress to Stop & Shop has lived and worked as a progressive dogooder

Following the show links, I’ll insert some of their ideas as teasers. Then I’ll conclude with some person takes.

TONIGHT- A debate with the three Democratic candidates for Governor!

This should be on television. Should every citizen also be required to watch it? Paid $100 to watch it? Should voting be mandatory, as it is in Australia and Brazil? - promoted by Bob_Neer

Hey all! I just wanted to make sure everyone is aware of tonight’s gubernatorial debate being hosted at Stonehill College. Unfortunately, this first debate will not be on TV, but will be streamed online here.

In other news, Don Berwick launches his TV ad campaign today! Here is his first TV ad:

Likely voters in a year of low enthusiasm

A Berwick supporter looks for a ray of hope. - promoted by Bob_Neer

The polls in the gubernatorial primary consistently show a large lead for Martha Coakley. I expect that this is mostly name recognition, but three weeks out, 24 points (over Grossman) and 35 points (over Berwick) is still pretty formidable.

However, in a year of low attention and low enthusiasm, how can we expect this to translate on primary day? Specifically, what screens, if any, are pollsters using to separate out likely primary voters from registered voters generally? Might Coakley’s lead among likely voters, however defined, be somewhat lower than her lead among D’s or D’s + I’s generally? Reflecting back on 8 years ago, there seemed to be more visible enthusiasm for the then-frontrunner in the polls — Deval Patrick — than there is now for AG Coakley. Her 45% doesn’t feel a bit like his 42% did at a similar juncture.

Disclosure: I am a Berwick supporter looking for a ray of sunshine.

Joke Revue: Furious at Being Called Crazies, Republicans Sue President


Furious at Being Called Crazies, Republicans Sue President

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Republicans who were angered to learn on Wednesday that the former I.R.S. official Lois Lerner had referred to them as “crazies” and “assholes” responded later in the day by voting to sue the President of the United States.

“Calling us crazy assholes is insulting, derogatory, and beneath contempt,” House Speaker John Boehner told reporters. “And now if you’ll excuse me, ladies and gentlemen, I have to go sue Obama.”

Determined to burnish their reputation as extremely sane people who are not assholes at all, House Republicans in their lawsuit accuse the President of “coldly and arrogantly seizing power granted to him by the United States Constitution.”

The lawsuit alleges that “having signed 181 executive orders to date, Barack Obama seems intent on chasing the records of such notorious renegades as Dwight Eisenhower (484) and Theodore Roosevelt (1,081).”


Hillary Clinton Spends Busy Day Fueling Speculation, Not Ruling Things Out

WASHINGTON—Capping off a packed week of weighing options and giving serious thought, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spent a busy day in Washington fueling speculation and not ruling things out, her spokesman confirmed today. “After dedicating a few hours in the morning to drawing a lot of focus, laying groundwork, and calculating risks, Mrs. Clinton conducted a full afternoon of taking stock of and thinking it through, as well as several hours of careful considering,” Clinton press aide Nick Merrill said of the 66-year-old’s breakneck schedule of entertaining various possibilities and seeing all sides. “Between looking ahead and setting the stage, Mrs. Clinton has been putting in 18-hour days of late. No sooner has she finished up an evening’s worth of hinting at than she has to wake up the next morning at 6 a.m. and resume being touted as.” At press time, sources reported that Clinton was trying to squeeze in several more minutes of not rushing to decisions before sparking rumors and generating buzz.

Daniel Kurtzman:

“Rick Perry is fueling speculation that he’ll run in 2016 by visiting the Iowa State Fair. Unfortunately, he hurt his chances by holding a two-hour conversation with that butter sculpture of Kevin Costner.” –Jimmy Fallon

“Since January, Colorado has made nearly $30 million in taxes from marijuana sales. That’s in addition to the $40 million they made taxing Doritos. It goes hand-in-hand.” –Conan O’Brien

“Former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner is planning to open a new farm-to-table restaurant in Queens. So, whatever you do, don’t ask to see the special.” –Seth Meyers

Maura Healey takes the ALS ice bucket challenge

Bravo! A fine thing. ALS research needs all the help it can get.

Plus, Healey is wise to drive home (get it? look to BMG for wit as well as politics) her experience as a former professional basketball player. Last week her campaign trumpeted an endorsement by Celtics hero Bob Cousy straight into a piece by Dianne Williamson in the Worcester Telegram and Gazette.

As I have written before, this is a campaign firing on all cylinders.

"An unwieldy spectacle with an exorbitant price tag"

Professor Jules Boykoff hammers the idea of hosting an Olympics in a stinging Op-Ed in today’s NYT:

THE Olympic movement is descending into a slow-motion crisis. Fewer and fewer cities are game for the Games.

Bidder enthusiasm for the 2022 Winter Olympics has fizzled, with voters in Krakow, Munich, Stockholm and Switzerland overwhelmingly rejecting the Games. Unrest in Ukraine forced Lviv to abandon its bid, leaving just Oslo, where public support is thin, together with Beijing and Almaty, Kazakhstan — neither a bastion of democracy.

Prospects for the Summer Games are hardly rosier. In the four American cities shortlisted for the 2024 Olympics — Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington — interest is tepid. More than 30 others, including New York and Philadelphia, passed on the opportunity.

In sum, he says the games run billions over budget and often leave host cities with useless white elephants. However, I do not think he is correct that “interest is tepid” in the four shortlisted US cities: some in Boston certainly support the games.

Boykoff is an associate professor of political science at Pacific University and the author, most recently, of “Activism and the Olympics: Dissent at the Games in Vancouver and London.”

John Rogers, the Wrong Answer for Harbor Towers - Rick Perry and Fred Wyshak - Lucchino and Werner - Advice for Grossman - Charlie Baker

Vintage EBIII. - promoted by Bob_Neer

The Harbor Towers people have hired Norwood state rep. John Rogers to run interference with the city on developer Don Chiofaro’s planned Taj Mahal on the Greenway.

Rogers served with Mayor Walsh and ran a couple of hard fought battles for the speakership with Walsh acting as one of his main lieutenants. Walsh went balls to the walls only to be on the losing side each time. Not good when you’re a rep.

Here’s what Harbor Towers didn’t consider. During Rogers’ battle with DeLeo for the big job and well after people like Walsh had committed everything to him it came out that Johnny Boy’s a major league unethical son-of-a-bitch.

Rogers had a huge war chest. He was in leadership for years (now he’s a back bencher) and raised a ton of dough. You know what he did with the money? Lemme tell ya.

He hired his no- experienced buddy as a $250,000.00 political consultant. You read that right. Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand Dollars. Then Rogers buddy took the money and bought a house on the cape and put Rogers’ name on the deed as a co-owner.

People were not happy when they heard about this but lines had already been drawn.

Now Rogers is a sitting rep. whoring his relationship with Walsh to influence this closely watched development. (different for former rep to do this. But a sitting rep?)

Not only should Walsh be insulted by Roger’s involvement, which alone should cause it to backfire, I doubt he trusts or respects him.

Rogers cape house move to me is as bad as anything I’ve seen up there except for taking money. This Harbor Towers move shows his lack of shame. Nothing more transparent than a guy with a tin ear and larceny in his heart.

I just heard Charlie Baker say he quit his day job so he can spend the next 90 day campaigning full time for Governor.

There’s a Moe Sizlack  ”Whaaaat?” for you. How would you like to be raising money and working hard for this guy and on August 17th you find out he hasn’t been working full time on this?

SMACKDOWN: Gov. Patrick Forecloses on Senate Bill 1987

  - promoted by david

Real estate lawyers and supporters of the bill (S 1987) in the Legislature say it would give a remedy to homebuyers who purchase a foreclosed property only to learn the title is in dispute, and who are therefore blocked from selling or refinancing their mortgage…

Anti-foreclosure advocates say the bill would substantially reduce legal avenues for people to regain homes after illegal foreclosures and prevent predominantly people of color from returning to their homes.

Statehouse News Service

Last week, one of my friends found himself in the unenviable position of reading an advertisement announcing the auctioning of his house. The announcement came as a surprise. He has been working with an attorney since he filed for bankruptcy and couldn’t pay his mortgage. He had been making good money until he was laid off from work. He has since found temporary employment, but a few years ago, he and his wife had accepted a 15-year mortgage at 9% interest. That’s right a short mortgage for three or four percent more than the going rate at the time. The lender, by the way, had encouraged them to take the 15-year mortgage. The monthly payment eventually became $2200 a month, hardly manageable for a couple making about $80,000 a year. When he was laid off, he did everything he was supposed to do. He called his lender and tried to make arrangements until he could get another job. To put it mildly, the lender was less than helpful. The lender agreed to an adjustment to the mortgage, if my friend could make a down payment of $185,000. The house, according to Zillow, is worth $237,000. My friend ended up defaulting and declaring bankruptcy. He’s working with an attorney who successfully prevented last week’s auction.