Restoring the 4th amendment -- and rebuilding trust -- here in MA

Two more horrific shootings of black men by police this week, in Tulsa and Charlotte. It seems that this will never end — perhaps because it’s never stopped. Most likely we are simply more aware of racist police violence because of social media, and the instant ubiquity of news; back in the day, we’d only know what was happening across the country if some national outlet happened to pick up the story.

But we’ve got problems here. The MA Supreme Judicial Court even made a pro-4th Amendment ruling that is at once justified, and stunning in its conclusions: That under the circumstances, black people actually have good reason to fear the police, and that flight is not [by itself - edit] adequate cause for suspicion:

We do not eliminate flight as a factor in the reasonable suspicion analysis whenever a black male is the subject of an investigatory stop. However, in such circumstances, flight is not necessarily probative of a suspect’s state of mind or consciousness of guilt. Rather, the finding that black males in Boston are disproportionately and repeatedly targeted for FIO [Field Interrogation and Observation] encounters suggests a reason for flight totally unrelated to consciousness of guilt. Such an individual, when approached by the police, might just as easily be motivated by the desire to avoid the recurring indignity of being racially profiled as by the desire to hide criminal activity. Given this reality for black males in the city of Boston, a judge should, in appropriate cases, consider the report’s findings in weighing flight as a factor in the reasonable suspicion calculus.

This situation of mistrust has been not helped in the least by the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association’s stonewalling on police cameras. The patrolmen agreed to a voluntary body camera program; then somehow no one volunteered to wear one. When the commissioner then ordered some of them to wear the cameras, they took it to court: You can’t make us – it’s voluntary! This does not sound like good faith negotiation.

And in Walpole … does this sound familiar?

Jean-Paul Wahnon has never run afoul of the law. So when a Walpole police officer rifled through his Toyota Prius on an August afternoon and repeatedly asked whether the car was his and whether he had a gun in his possession, Wahnon was concerned.

Senator Warren takes Wells Fargo Chairman and CEO John Stumpf to Woodshed

Must see YouTube. (If you prefer reading about eviscerations to watching them, BMGer terrymcginty offers some of NPR’s summary here.)

The Most Effective Case for Hillary Clinton

Another take on what Clinton needs to do to close the deal - promoted by hesterprynne

This is a unique election, certainly the most bizarre in modern American history. An election that should have been a referendum on one of the most successful Presidencies in our lifetimes, will instead be a referendum on a man wholly unqualified to seek the office, let alone, serve in it.

In my mind, this election is going to come down to convincing voters who would normally reject Hillary Clinton in any other cycle to embrace her in this one. Not just to disavow Trump, but to affirmatively embrace her. The Dallas Morning News, a conservative paper that has not endorsed a Democrat in over 75 years affirmatively embraced Hillary Clinton this past month in a brilliant editorial. Tell your independents, your centrists, your #Never Hillary progressives, and especially your #Never Trump conservative friends and neighbors, to read this editorial and get back to me on her fitness for office.

It begins pretty boldly:

There is only one serious candidate on the presidential ballot in November. We recommend Hillary Clinton.

I’ve said this since day 1, and count me as one of her most consistent critics here. I voted for Bernie in the primary, I’ve met the man, I love the man, and I love the cause he stood for. But there was only one potential President on either party’s debate stage this cycle, and that was always Hillary Clinton.

The Dallas Morning News continues:

We’ve been critical of Clinton’s handling of certain issues in the past. But unlike Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton has experience in actual governance, a record of service and a willingness to delve into real policy.

This woman is flawed, ethically and politically, and that will never change. This woman is also the most capable policy mind of her generation, including her predecessor and her husband. That will never change either. And on a whole, it is the latter more than the former that determines a successful presidency.

Resume vs. resume, judgment vs. judgment, this election is no contest.

In Clinton’s eight years in the U.S. Senate, she displayed reach and influence in foreign affairs. Though conservatives like to paint her as nakedly partisan, on Capitol Hill she gained respect from Republicans for working across the aisle: Two-thirds of her bills had GOP co-sponsors and included common ground with some of Congress’ most conservative lawmakers.

As President Barack Obama’s first secretary of state, she helped make tough calls on the Middle East and the complex struggle against radical Islamic terrorism. It’s no accident that hundreds of Republican foreign policy hands back Clinton.

I love that Hillary loves Israel, I love that Hillary tells Snowden where to stick it, and I love that she continues to stand up to our enemies. That she keeps it 100 when the far left wants to play drum circles to stop ISIS and blames America for Putin’s aggression. Or when the far right continues to deny the national security threat posed by climate change and xenophobia. Now is not the time for American retreat, we will get that under President Trump, the Kremlin’s candidate this cycle. Now is the time for a liberal committed to women’s rights, gay rights, and economic fairness who is strongly committed to preserving America’s predominance in the world. We need that combination in these uncertain times. When the very ideals of the West are attacked by radicals defaming Islam or nationalists defaming our flag. America is not only ready for her, it needs her.

"Sane Republicans" Won't Save Us From Trump

An argument that the Clinton campaign's preoccupation with winning over sane Republicans is the reason the polls are still within the "margin of terror" (h/t Samantha Bee) - promoted by hesterprynne

The Boston Globe editorial board has been on a year-long crusade to beg Republicans to stop being Republicans. During the primaries, they repeatedly asked Republicans to vote for Democrats’ preferred Republicans. Surprise! Today’s Fox-loving, fact-denying, far-right Republican base picked the craziest candidate available.

Once again during the general election, the Globe is pleading with “sane Republicans” to oppose Trump. But the “Republicans for Clinton” endorsers it points to has literally no one I’ve ever heard of. Just two of 301 congressional Republicans have endorsed candidates besides Trump.

Most damning is the polling. Below are the crosstabs from Morning Consult’s latest poll that has Hillary up 4% vs. Trump head-to-head and up 2% in a four-way race. Despite the Clinton campaign pouring millions into ads urging Republicans to oppose Trump, Trump actually has slightly stronger support from Republicans than Clinton does from Democrats, and Trump has a slight lead with independents:

Clinton still maintains a lead in the polls overall because there are far more self-identified Democrats than self-identified Republicans (“independents” now lean conservative because so many former Republicans now shun the party label).

Clinton will win not because a handful of “sane Republicans” voted for her, but because she convinced the Obama coalition – young voters, minorities, and college-educated whites – that she’s worthy of their enthusiasm. Despite waves of articles written by oldsters about how it’s all Millennials’ fault that Clinton isn’t doing better, it’s Baby Boomers who are fueling Trump.

Imagine if Clinton had spent all those millions on ads targeting likely supporters instead of targeting Republicans? How would the polls look?

AIM's 2015-2016 Legislative Scorecard: Grading on a (Laffer) Curve

Bumped from a couple of weeks ago, in light of today's Globe story that doesn't delve into the details of AIM's legislative "scorecard" to nearly the extent that your diligent editor did. - promoted by david

The state’s biggest employer trade group, Associated Industries of Massachusetts, released its 2015-2016 Legislative Scorecard today, ranking all 200 legislators by how dependably their votes advanced AIM’s legislative priorities.

This edition of the scorecard also trumpets a very clear story line — when it comes to supporting the state’s business community, it’s a tale of two chambers: House good, Senate bad. In AIM’s own words:

While the House of Representatives and Speaker Robert DeLeo successfully forged consensus on important measures such as wage equity and energy, the Senate hewed to a more progressive, ideological approach that produced a steady stream of bills with the potential to harm the Massachusetts economy.

Wow – who knew that all our Senators were Keynesians, Socialists or worse and that all our Representatives were devotees of Hayek?

The scorecard offers no information about roll call vote numbers or the dates of votes (although such information is available on the tallies made by other interest groups). AIM asserts that the Senate scores were “based upon many of the same issues” as the House scores, but even a quick review shows significant disparities between the votes AIM used to determine the scores in the respective chambers.

For example, AIM takes the Senate to task for twice voting against its preferred position on the amount of compensation employers should be liable to pay to employees in wage violation cases. You would not know from the scorecard that the House also took two votes on this issue, with results (largely along party lines) very similar to the votes the Senate took.  (The House votes are here and here.) While the Senate votes on this issue were included in the scorecard, the House votes weren’t.

Two years ago, AIM decided against issuing any Legislative Scorecard for the 2013-2014 session, explaining that “the complexity of the lawmaking process and the sometimes arcane rules of each chamber make it nearly impossible to render a fair judgment on the votes taken by individual legislators.” Those constraints are no longer in operation, it seems. The scorecard issued today raps the Senate for voting for an amendment prohibiting public utilities from adding fees to their customers’ electric rates to subsidize new natural gas pipelines, but it ignores the fact that four members of the House (including one of the most liberal and one of the most conservative) offered the same amendment in that body’s energy bill deliberations, but the amendment was ruled ”out of order” through an arcane rule —  a parliamentary decision by House leadership that precluded a vote on the substance. (It also ignores the fact that more than 90 of the 160 Representatives sent a letter to House Speaker DeLeo in support of the Senate’s position.)

It was fairly clear, well before today’s scorecard came out, that the House was more friendly to AIM’s interests during the past legislative session than the Senate was. What’s less clear is why AIM chose to rig the results this time.  Is House leadership that susceptible to flattery?


Gun ownership declining

Reasonable. - promoted by Bob_Neer

While concentration of firearms increases, according to a new Harvard/Northeastern study. This may help to explain the increasing stridency and paranoia of gun ownership groups as they seek to replace declining numbers with increased volume.

Politically, this suggests that support for gun safety legislation should be increasingly popular with the general public.


Americans own an estimated 265m guns, more than one gun for every American adult, according to the most definitive portrait of US gun ownership in two decades. But the new survey estimates that 130m of these guns are concentrated in the hands of just 3% of American adults – a group of super-owners who have amassed an average of 17 guns each.

The unpublished Harvard/Northeastern survey result summary, obtained exclusively by the Guardian and the Trace, estimates that America’s gun stock has increased by 70m guns since 1994. At the same time, the percentage of Americans who own guns decreased slightly from 25% to 22%.

A woman's place is in the White House

Garrison Keillor makes an excellent argument for Secretary Clinton:

I saw Hillary once working a rope line for more than an hour, a Secret Service man holding her firmly by the hips as she leaned over the rope and reached into the mass of arms and hands reaching out to her. She had learned the art of encountering the crowd and making it look personal. It was not glamorous work, more like picking fruit, and it took the sort of discipline your mother instills in you: those people waited to see you so by gosh you can treat them right.

So it’s no surprise she pushed herself to the point of collapse the other day. What’s odd is the perspective, expressed in several stories, that her determination to keep going reveals a “lack of transparency” —- that she should’ve announced she had pneumonia and gone home and crawled into bed.

I’ve never gone fishing with her, which is how you really get to know someone, but I did sit next to her at dinner once, one of those stiff dinners that is nobody’s idea of a wild good time, the conversation tends to be stilted, everybody’s beat, you worry about spilling soup down your shirtfront. She being First Lady led the way and she being a Wellesley girl, the way led upward. We talked about my infant daughter and schools and about Justice Blackmun, and I said how inspiring it was to sit and watch the Court in session, and she laughed and said, “I don’t think it’d be a good idea for me to show up in a courtroom where a member of my family might be a defendant.” A succinct and witty retort. And she turned and bestowed her attention on Speaker Dennis Hastert, who was sitting to her right. She focused on him and even made him chuckle a few times. I was impressed by her smarts, even more by her discipline.

I don’t have that discipline. Most people don’t. Politics didn’t appeal to me back in my youth, the rhetoric (“Ask not what your country can do for you”) was so wooden compared to “so we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past,” so I walked dark rainy streets imagining the great novel I wouldn’t write and was still trying to be cool and indifferent well into my thirties, when other people were making a difference in the world.
Hillary didn’t have a prolonged adolescence and fiction was not her ambition. She doesn’t do dreaminess. What some people see as a relentless quest for power strikes me as the good habits of a serious Methodist. Be steady. Don’t give up. It’s not about you. Work for the night is coming.

The woman who does not conceal her own intelligence is a fine American tradition, going back to Anne Bradstreet and Harriet Beecher Stowe and my ancestor Prudence Crandall, but none has been subjected to the steady hectoring that Mrs. Clinton has. She is the first major-party nominee to be pictured in prison stripes by the opposition. She is the first cabinet officer ever to be held personally responsible for her own email server, something ordinarily delegated to anonymous nerds in I.T. The fact that terrorists attacked an American compound in Libya under cover of darkness when Secretary Clinton presumably got some sleep has been held against her, as if she personally was in command of the defense of the compound, a walkie-talkie in her hand, calling in air strikes.

Extremism has poked its head into the mainstream, aided by the Internet. Back in the day, you occasionally saw cranks on a street corner handing out mimeographed handbills arguing that FDR was responsible for Pearl Harbor, but you saw their bad haircuts, the bitterness in their eyes, and you turned away. Now they’re in your computer, whispering that the economy is on the verge of collapse and for a few bucks they’ll tell you how to protect your savings. But lacking clear evidence, we proceed forward. We don’t operate on the basis of lurid conjecture.

Someday historians will get this right and look back at the steady pitter-pat of scandals that turned out to be nothing, nada, zero and ixnay and will conclude that, almost a century after women’s suffrage, almost 50 years after Richard Nixon signed Title IX into law, a woman was required to run for office wearing concrete shoes. Check back fifty years from now and if I’m wrong, go ahead and dance on my grave.

Globe points to importance of NH field operations

James Pindell notes the potentially decisive importance of field operations to the upcoming election in New Hampshire in a recap of the critical Senate race between Governor Maggie Hassan and Tea Party darling Kelly Ayotte, holding the line for Southern-style GOP hard-liners way up in reality-based New England.

Click here to volunteer for the Democratic Coordinated Campaign and help New Hampshire vote for prosperity instead of the party of Donald Trump and George W. Bush.

But if the presidential race is close and the Senate race remains within the margin of error, the tiebreaker may have less to do with branding — and more to do with the operations of each campaign.

In that respect too, Ayotte will be forging her own path.

Hassan’s campaign is part of a coordinated Democratic party operation fueled by hundreds of staffers and thousands of volunteers — and their efforts benefit not only Hillary Clinton but Hassan as well.

In past elections, Republicans have implemented a similar model for the party’s nominees. But Trump has not invested in much of a ground game this year in New Hampshire, leaving the get-out-the-vote efforts to roughly 50 staffers from the Republican National Committee.

Merrill, who oversaw Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign in New Hampshire, conceded that Democrats have a much stronger field operation in 2016 than Republicans do.

“What Republicans have right now is nothing like what we had four years ago with Mitt,” Merrill said. “However Ayotte, on her own, has built her own field operation and her own brand.”


As Obama said: "And in other news, the world is round." - promoted by Bob_Neer

The Founder of Birtherism didn’t  ’stretch the truth’  as recently reported in the New York Times .  No. He LIED.  He did not apologize to President Obama or to the American people for lying.  He did not confess to the LIE.  He did not get penance for the LIE.  He did not seek redemption after the LIE.  He is a shameless, pathological LIAR.

” In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”   GEORGE  ORWELL

We deserve better than this, America.  So much better.

I agree with our friend, Garrison Keillor, who wrote recently that a woman’s place is in the White House.  Amen, brother.

Fred  Rich  LaRiccia



Speciously speaking for the charter school industry

Some excellent wonkery in this post. On the other side of the debate, however, see this recent study from Brookings, which concludes that "Massachusetts’ charter cap currently prevents expansion in precisely the urban areas where charter schools are doing their best work. Lifting the cap will allow more students to benefit from charter schools that are improving test scores, college preparation, and college attendance." - promoted by david

Martha M. “Marty” Walz, a former state representative from the Eighth Suffolk district, and former chair of the House Education Committee, is now a senior advisor to Democrats for Education Reform – Massachusetts.

On Tuesday, September 13, she participated in a charter school debate with Boston City Councillor Tito Jackson on WBUR. At 56:30 into the debate (video below), Ms. Walz says:

We’ve been doing these district reimbursements for 17 years, and they have been fully funded in nearly every year except in the depths of the recession. The state has sent approximately one billion dollars back to school districts to help ease the transition when students go to charter schools, to help them readjust. What we’re seeing is that some districts are not making the adjustments that they need to make due to their enrollment. But let me also make another observation. When students go to a voc-tech school, the funding follows the student. When students participate in the METCO program, funding follows the students. And there are not district reimbursements for voc-tech schools and the METCO program. What’s really going on here is that the teachers unions are funding a campaign against charter schools ‘cause they don’t want the competition. So you don’t hear the teachers union complaining when kids go to a voc-tech school, and you don’t hear people complaining when kids get into the METCO program. So I think we need to be honest about the fact of what’s really going on here regarding student funding and what’s underneath some of these complaints.
Let’s do a little fact checking so we can understand what’s really going on here.
  1. Charter school reimbursements started out at 100% of the legislative mandate in FY99, but dropped to 89% in FY02, 0% in FY03, and 31% in FY04. In FY05 the reimbursements went back to 100%, but started dropping in FY13 (96%). Reimbursements were at 97% in FY14, but dropped to 69% in FY15 and 62% in FY16. The percentage for FY17 has not been calculated and released, but the legislative appropriations for district reimbursement is:
    FY14: $96,669,456
    FY15: $71,003,374
    FY16: $73,448,032
    FY17: $50,114,134
  2. Adjustments due to enrollment? What adjustments are you thinking about?

Joke Revue: Obama thanks Trump for granting him citizenship



WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Calling this “the greatest day of my life,” a visibly moved Barack Obama held a news conference on Friday to thank Donald Trump for granting him U.S. citizenship.

“The issue of whether or not I was a U.S. citizen has been a dark cloud over my existence for as long as I can remember,” a tearful Obama told the press corps. “Only one man had the courage, wisdom, and doggedness to make that cloud go away: Donald J. Trump.”

The President, who had to halt several times during his remarks to compose himself, praised the Republican Presidential nominee for “never giving up” in his quest to prove that Obama was born in the U.S.

“A weaker man would have said, ‘I don’t need this in my life,’ but Donald Trump was always there for me,” the President said. “Over the past five years, barely a day went by when he didn’t call me and say, ‘Barack, I don’t care what a bunch of crackpots say. You were born here, and I’m going to prove it once and for all.’”

The President said he planned to spend the day celebrating his U.S. citizenship with his family. “It’s great to be an American, at last,” he said.

When asked if he had any message for Trump, the President paused for a moment. “Just this: I love you,” he said, a tear trickling down his cheek.


Trump Admits Obama Born In U.S.


In an attempt to bolster Trump’s campaign and pivot from the birtherism that once defined his political career, aides for the candidate say Trump no longer believes Obama was born outside the United States. What do you think?

“This isn’t the belligerent maniac I voted for in the primary.” Kenneth Mosley SYSTEMS ANALYST

“He demonstrated real prudence taking five whole years to study the birth certificate.” Effie Mendel BILLIARDS COACH

“Now Trump is in on it? This goes deeper than I thought.” Gordon Dudzik UNEMPLOYED

Why We Need To Be Like NYC

More like, "Why we need to be like Toronto:" NYC hasn't built this plan yet, and perhaps never will. - promoted by Bob_Neer

I’m a Massachusetts native. I’ve lived here my whole life. So it pains me to say that New York is getting something right, and we’re fumbling the ball.

Last week The New York Times featured a piece about the ambitious plan that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled earlier this year to create a hybrid light rail and streetcar line to connect the neighborhoods of Brooklyn and Queens. $2.5 billion would be invested to establish dedicated streetcar tracks along a 16-mile stretch.

The way the New York City transit system works is very similar to the way the MBTA functions. It operates as a hub and spoke, meaning that most riders venture to the hub, think Downtown Crossing or parts of Manhattan, and transfer to reach their destination, like Revere or the Bronx. The Brooklyn Queens Connecter would instead be a straight shot from one neighborhood to another and open up new transit destinations to the myriad of residents and business owners in New York City.

I confess that when I read the article I was green with envy. What if we did something of that magnitude here in Massachusetts? What if we committed to investing in a transportation system that didn’t just barely creep along, but instead was the engine for creating economic growth across our region?

This is typically the moment in the conversation when someone makes the point that we have to fix what we have before we can grow. Here’s the thing: New York has challenges to address too. Replacing dilapidated train cars, repairing tunnel damage caused by Superstorm Sandy, and making upgrades so that trains are running on time are enormous ongoing challenges. But New York appears to understand that maintenance and growth aren’t mutually exclusive. Here, we can also address our pressing state of good repair needs, while still embracing and investing in a vision for our shared transportation future.

The good news is that a planning process is in the works to help us imagine what growth could look like here at home. The MBTA has launched an extensive visioning process, Focus40, to design a 25-year strategic investment plan and guide the agency into 2040. Focus40 is a chance to think bigger and bolder about what the MBTA can be 25 years from now. How can we make getting from point A to point B easier for people, including riders with disabilities? How can we spur economic growth in underserved areas of our region? How can we respond to business demands for reliable and accessible transportation, at all hours of the day? How can we use public transportation to improve public health?

When the Pats meet the Jets in November I can assure you I won’t be feeling any love for New York. But I will be channeling the city’s focus on meeting today’s needs while investing in tomorrow as I attend Focus40 meetings. Because, gulp, Massachusetts needs to be more like New York.

Sebastian Zapata

Program Director

The Alliance for Business Leadership