Person #1588: 3 Posts

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  1. Go lawlessness! (1 Reply)

    It’s not unconstitutional to give out a summons to a violator just because other violators haven’t been issued a summons.

    Yes, it is. If you have a system established that is targeting particular violators with increased enforcement.

    Overall, that’s one great idea you’ve got there, fenway! The City should simply ignore the Constitutional limits on its powers, acting instead to punish particular persons/institutions who they’ve been unable to fully shame in to voluntarily giving it money. After all, its only we the taxpayers that will have to pay the City’s attorneys to defend these indefensible actions and pay the inevitable civil court judgment.

  2. I Appreciate Your Enthusiasm (1 Reply)

    I’m for an all-in strategy to mitigate climate change. So, I appreciate the effort to look at all possible solutions.

    That said, I find it very hard to believe this assertion:

    More of our man-made carbon emissions to date have come from land mismanagement and the resulting loss of soil carbon than from burning fossil fuels.

    My understanding, is to the contrary, that burning fossil fuels (in our cars, homes and businesses) is far and away the largest contributor to man-made carbon emissions (over 50%). And that deforestation and land use changes account for less than 20% of all man-made carbon emissions.

    Do you have a citation or other information about this assertion?

  3. These Are Not Available Tools (1 Reply)

    The city can also do other things, such as put the delinquent institutions at the top of the list for code, traffic and parking enforcement.

    Taking these actions would pretty clearly violate the 14th Amendment, which protects against targeted enforcement of laws without a rational basis and a compelling state interest. Neither of those conditions exist here.

    They can also put the institutions at the bottom of the list for constituent services and make it extra difficult for them to get approval for new construction projects.

    Making it “extra difficult” to get approval for particular new construction projects would be a clear violation of the proponent’s procedural due process rights.

    Finally, I’m not sure what exactly you have in mind around putting them at the “bottom of the list” for constituent services. First, there’s almost certainly no such list (for what kind of services do you have in mind?). Second, I also have a hard time imaging a “less city services” scenario that would both survive Constitutional scrutiny and would also be an effective incentive for the institutions.

    I think we’re back to shaming (or repealing their non-profit status or changing the laws around whether non-profits are legally obligated to pay taxes).

  4. Yes (1 Reply)

    PILOT payments are 100% voluntary. The City’s only “enforcement” power is public shaming. That’s what’s going on here.

  5. What Troubles Me (3 Replies)

    Isn’t that I think you are some sort of monster. Rather, it appears to me that you are unqualified for this position and exaggerating your legal experience.

    Again in this interview (and here in your own op-ed:–tom-sheff-has-the-right-experience-to-be-the-next2f5ebbc445 ), you say you “attended Law School in Michigan.” This implies that you got a law degree from the University of Michigan, a top tier law school. When, in fact, a little digging reveals that:

    1) You attended Cooley Law School (affiliated only in 2014 with Western Michigan University). Cooley is a fairly new law school (1970s) with a mixed reputation at best. Hardly the University of Michigan School of Law.

    2) You only attended Cooley from 1987-1989 (two school years). And I don’t see anywhere that you actually graduated (usually that takes three years). Did you?

    3) You don’t anywhere say you are a member of the bar in Massachusetts or Michigan. I assume you never took the bar exam?

    4) In the op-ed (oddly written in the third person), you tout your experience as “office manager for the family law firm for years, where he developed an appreciation for the legal system.” You give the impression that you were a lawyer. Yet, despite the advantages of having a “family law firm” to work at, you seemingly never graduated law school, passed the bar or have ever actually practiced law.

    5) You seem to have founded a fairly unsuccessful and small non-profit designed to rehab used computers for use by students. (see: ) And you were also purportedly given the job of Office Manager in your “family law firm.” From this alone you claim: “Tom feels with his rare background in education, legal experience and entrepreneurship make him a perfect fit for the governor’s council.” I guess I feel differently. And that I am being purposefully misled.

  6. Nobody Serious Runs on Tax Increases (2 Replies)

    Sorry, somervilletom, I too would love to live in some sort of utopia where LOUDLY embracing a $2 billion income tax increase would be a feasible position in a Massachusetts gubernatorial campaign. But history show otherwise.

    Indeed, Governor Patrick himself ran in 2010 saying “I don’t have any plans for broad-based tax increases.” Every time Charlie Baker suggested otherwise, he fought back vigorously. Not, as you (and I) would clearly prefer, with a full-throated defense of the need for new, progressive revenue sources. But with equivocation, denial, and obfuscation.

    To expect more that the “I believe we need to explore every proposal that would make our tax system more progressive, and fairer, for everyone in the Commonwealth” answer we have already heard time and time again from candidate Coakley is simply to expect the impossible.

    Welcome to politics.

  7. Plenty of Specifics (1 Reply)

    I’ve been at least an active observer of hundreds of political campaigns over 20+ years working in politics. And this nonsense (wonky critics of candidates calling for more “specifics” on policy issues) happens every campaign, every time, to every candidate. But – nearly every time – the criticisms are as baseless as your charges here. So, some answers:

    What hers plan to fix the T?

    Regional investments in public transportation, etc, etc See:

    What’s her education fix?

    More investments in early childhood education, debt relief for college students, etc, etc. See:

    Her income inequality fix?

    Education and workforce training investments, earned sick time, and support for unionization. Etc, etc. See:

    Fixing gateway cities?

    Infrastructure investments, workforce triaing, etc. See here Transportation, Education and Jobs plans (all of which talk about GateWay Cities) here:

    Keeping young people in Ma

    Student debt relief, infrastructure changes, investment in higher education, immigration reform, civil rights, etc.

    Affordable housing?

    Support for Chapter 40B, homelessness prevention, etc, etc:


    Addressed above. See also here considerable efforts to fight the for-profit schools industry, e.g:

    Control costs, increase behavorial health funding, address disparities, etc, etc:

  8. The Only Reason? (0 Replies)

    The fact that Richard Tisei has an (R) after his name is helpful shorthand for the vast majority of voters who don’t have the time, interest and/or knowledge-base necessary to research Tisei’s policy agenda. But, for those of that do, here’s a list of policies that Tisei supports (publicly, on his own campaign website) that most progressive Democrats don’t and should not support:

    Jobs and the Economy: Tisei’s listed priorities include *reducing* corporate taxation, *repealing* business regulations, and “undoing the damage” of Obamacare. (Moulton’s top priority, meanwhile, is “comprehensive tax reform” to address the fact that “the wealthiest Americans and corporations get away with paying next to nothing.”)

    Federal Debt: Priority #1 is “admitting we have a spending problem.”

    HealthCare: Will “fix” Obamacare, which he characterizes as “a failure” (his specific fixes are repealing the Medical Device Tax and ending the death panels.) Allow across-state lines purchase of health care and more tort reform (the GOP’s two favorite “reform” alternatives to, you know, actually subsidizing health insurance for poor people).

    The idea that Tisei isn’t “really” a Republican (plus, he’s so nice!) doesn’t fly when you actually look at his policy stances and listen to him repeat tired, old GOP talking points time and time and time again.

  9. A Couple of Overstatements (1 Reply)

    I congratulate you on the creativeness of the “it only takes a penny” campaign. The well-cited reports around how pro-gambling politicians do not themselves gamble (including the Gaming Commission members) is striking and revealing.

    Yet, I can’t help commenting on these two statements from the diary and your letter:

    These gambling machines are built mathematically so users are certain to lose their money the longer they play.

    This is almost true. The machines are definitely designed so that the users (as a whole) are certain to lose money. Slot machines do, over time, take 5%-10% of all money put in to them. That said, it’s not true that users are “certain to lose their money the longer they play.” That’s not even really a logical statement. I think your letter would have more credibility if it instead said something like “These gambling machines are built mathematically so that the average user will lose, play longer, and lose more money the longer they play.”

    At the same time, the machines are literally designed so citizens cannot stop using them, exploiting aspects of human psychology and inducing irrational and irresponsible behavior.

    This is another very controversial thing to say and also strangely now talks about “citizens.” It’s not true and opens you up to fair attacks from those of us who believe in free will. Instead, you could make virtually the same point by saying something like “the machines are literally designed so that more users are more likely to become addicted, exploiting aspects…”

  10. It Would Be (1 Reply)

    If we were allowed to redeem our cigarette stubs for a full refund of the tax.

  11. Direct Jobs (0 Replies)

    MGM has said (and, listen, I recognize that this is an estimate and nothing more) that it will create 3,000 direct jobs working for the casino (including in it’s own restaurants and other attached businesses). The proposal claims 2,000 construction jobs and “thousands” of “indirect” jobs.

  12. November 4th (1 Reply)

    The election is on Tuesday, November 4th.

    Unless you plan on voting No on Question 3. Then, by all means, consider November 8th to be the important day.

  13. Labor Unions (1 Reply)

    Without mentioning your sister, how do you really feel about labor unions?

  14. Hanover was host to.... (1 Reply)

    …. this unusual Gubernatorial debate focused on the Arts:

    Grossman’s wife is chair of the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a point he emphasized primarily at that debate. In Hanover.

  15. In Comparison (1 Reply)

    Comparing this to the Sciortino ad (which the poster and, really, the ad itself suggest), it comes off as a poor imitation. The missing Tea Party versus Massachusetts Liberal dynamic is a key difference. But I also think Sciotino’s is more successful because it is more cheerful, upbeat, and modern in both the writing and production. The ad opens and peaks with clever references to Sciortino being openly gay too which helps it flow better in to the policy pieces. And Sciortino being young and young looking also makes it work better. In contrast, to me, Grossman’s ad is much less interesting and feels less fun.

  16. MassHealth Not GIC is Far Biggest Cost (1 Reply)

    Your comment here is founded on a fundamental misunderstanding about the reality of health care costs for government and employer:

    The cost of healthcare in the state budget revolves around employee benefits. The expense comes in providing health benefits to state employees.

    This “fact” is not at all true. Health benefits for state employees is about a $1.3 billion annual cost. Real money, sure, but dwarfed by the $14 billion spent on Medicaid annually. For details, you know facts and all, see here:

    Meanwhile, Medicare spends about $15 billion a year while the commercially insured spend about $18 billion a year on medical costs alone while siphoning off $1.8 billion for non-medical costs of private health insurance (administration and other “profit”). See:

    I’d submit that when you take a real look at the health care system in Massachusetts, single payer seems like a fair better solution than when you narrow the question to what to do about state employees.

  17. "Fingerprint Trigger Locks" (1 Reply)

    Yes, on his website and in many other places, Tolan has used the phrase “smart gun technology” to describe what he seeks to mandate in new guns sold.

    And I get that this is somewhat of a vague term that may include radio-emitting technology that’s not accurately described as only a trigger lock.

    BUT, Toman’s website (and Tolman himself) frequently defines “smart gun” technology as follows:

    This technology, which includes fingerprint trigger locks, prevents anyone other than a gun’s owners from pulling the trigger.(emphasis added)

    Then, in this very ad, Tolman wisely avoids the term “smart gun” altogether and says simply he will “require fingerprint trigger locks on new guns sold.”

    Given these clarifications, do you still think Tolman is actually proposing to mandate new guns include anything other than a biometric or “personalized” trigger lock?

  18. Blackjack is a Simple Game (1 Reply)

    A great player (one who has memorized the odds of any particular hand beating any particular dealer’s up card) has literally no decisions to make. Depending on the dealer’s up card and the total count of the player’s cards, a great player can make the “correct” decision (the decision that gives them the best odds of winning) on whether to hit, stay, double or split under any circumstance.

    Meanwhile, the dealer makes absolutely no decisions whatsoever. They may not double and may not split. They hit until their cards total 16 or less (always hitting 16s) and stay if and when their cards total 17 or more. Again, the dealer is a robot, paying the player when they their either go over 21 or stick on 17-21 and beat the players hand.

    All that said, there are two relatively simply ways to change the odds for Blackjack and to (as proposed) increase the house edge to match the house edge on slot machines:

    (1) As kirth points out, one way to increase the “house edge” (to reduce the average amount a player wins) is simply reducing the amount that the casino pays the player for getting dealt a “blackjack” (an Ace and a Ten or face card totaling 21) in their first two cards. This doesn’t really “change the odds of winning” (which is probably why you found it confusing) but it does decrease the average amount that a player will win. Since the odds of getting dealt a blackjack are about 5%, cutting the amount paid out upon getting a blackjack in half (say from 2-1 to 3-2) increases the “house edge” by about 2.5%. With the average game playing roughly 80 hands and hour, even small changes in the amount paid out for blackjack can have a big effect over time.

    2) The second and most common way that casinos increase their “house edge” is by limiting the options for the player by changing the basic rules of the game. There are 6,912 different types of commonly played blackjack each with subtle combinations of different rules! The “house edge” can be increased not allowing players to double their bet after a split or with a hand other than a 10 or 11, not allowing players to split Aces or to re-split already split hands, etc. These are all very subtle changes (each changing the “house edge” by less than 1%) but they certainly *do* effect the odds that a player will win or lose money over time.

    This is probably more than someone who mistakenly thinks blackjack is “literally the luck of the draw” wants to know. But hopefully this helps you understand that you certainly can and the casinos certainly do “artificially change blackjack odds”.