Want to know what went wrong with the Heath Connector? It's all (and I mean all!) here.

Taken with the requisite grains of salt, this is worth a look. - promoted by david

My pal Ed Lyons, an IT project professional, (known by some here as RMG poster “edfactor”) writes an extensive autopsy of the Health Connector failure. I advised him to use a less opinionated tone but he said it’s not intended to be a magazine article but as a resource document for a wide range of people, including the press, and he wanted to express his outrage. His ultimate goal is better government, especially when it comes to IT issues. He feels, based on our local high tech economy, that Massachusetts should have the best government IT infrastructure in the country. The failure of this project not only wasted a lot of taxpayers dollars, but harmed people that needed help.

It’s a monster read, but very interesting.


John Tierney's fundraising email jumps the shark

I’ve complained previously about Ed Markey’s breathless, over-the-top emails about how if we don’t send money immediately, Brian what’s-his-name is surely going to be the next Senator from Massachusetts (spoiler: he’s not).  I can’t make exactly the same complaint about John Tierney, who is indeed in a competitive race.

But this email from Team Tierney is completely ridiculous.

From: JohnTierney.com <campaign@johntierney.com>
Subject: Boehner WRECKED
Date: August 25, 2014 3:11:51 PM EDT
To: David
Reply-To: campaign@johntierney.com


This morning, Nancy Pelosi sent an inspiring email asking for your support. And David, your response has been absolutely…


Since Leader Pelosi’s email, donations have been POURING IN for John. 114 and counting chipped in — JUST SINCE 10 AM!!!


If we can hit 300 donations by midnight, we can WRECK Boehner’s plans for a Republican takeover in Massachusetts. Sounds GREAT to us!


If you’ve saved your payment information with ActBlue Express, your donation will go through immediately:

Chip in $5 immediately >>
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Team Tierney

It’s got everything.  The fake donation “counter.”  The three – or even four – exclamation points.  The multicolor text.  The ludicrous flashing “Let’s Do This” gif.  And the smarmy references to the Speaker of the House as, simply, “Boehner.” And the best part is that while I did, indeed, get an email (“inspiring”? well…) signed by Nancy Pelosi asking for money for Tierney this morning, this afternoon I got an identical email, also from Pelosi, except that instead of raising money for Tierney, it’s asking me to donate to Julia Brownley (a Member of Congress from California).

John, we get it.  You’re in a tough race, and you need money to stay competitive.  But for heaven’s sake … blue flashing gifs??  I don’t know, maybe they work.  I’d be shocked.

Suffolk/Herald poll

The excellent discussion in the comments supplies important context to these numbers. - promoted by david

In the latest Suffolk poll released today by the Herald, we see some significant shifts from previous polls, including last week’s Globe/SocialSphere poll.

Here are the highlights from the Suffolk poll of likely Democratic primary voters:

Coakley: 42.25%
Grossman: 30%
Berwick: 15.75%
Undecided: 11.5%

Lieutenant Governor:
Kerrigan: 9.5%
Lake: 9%
Cheung: 8.75%
Undecided: 70.75%

Attorney General:
Tolman: 34.75%
Healey: 28.5%
Undecided: 35%

Goldberg: 19.75%
Finegold: 7.75%
Conroy: 6.5%
Undecided: 63.5%

The biggest takeaways for me are…

The day I met Ted Kennedy

Thank you Senator, as always, for posting here. - promoted by david

When I was a law professor, I spent years studying why middle class families were going broke. I went into this area of study believing the hype – that people who were declaring bankruptcy must be gaming the system and going on too many shopping sprees at the mall.

My academic research showed that three things caused more than 90% of bankruptcies: A serious medical problem, a job loss, or a family breakup. These were good people who worked hard, played by the rules – and, for most of this, a twist of bad luck had turned their financial lives upside-down.

So, in the 1990s, when the big credit card companies tried to make it harder for working families to straighten out their lives using bankruptcy, I was determined to fight back. And that’s how I came to meet Senator Ted Kennedy.

I told the story in Springfield a few months ago. Take a look:

Senator Kennedy led the charge to stop that bad bankruptcy bill for ten years. It wasn’t something that made headlines, and it wasn’t something he got a lot of praise for – after all, there aren’t any lobbying groups or high-dollar PACs for people who are about to go bankrupt. He did it because it was the right thing to do.

And then five years ago today, we lost our champion Senator Ted Kennedy. Not a day goes by that we don’t miss his passion, his enthusiasm, and – most of all – his commitment to working families.

After all these years, I still have a voicemail saved from Senator Kennedy about our work together on consumer issues. Every once in a while, I listen to it just to hear his voice. I wish I could thank him one last time. I wish I could tell him that I’m doing my best to honor his memory, and to do what Senator Kennedy taught all of us to do: to fight for the millions of hard-working families who are counting on us.

A rough couple of days for the pro-casino crowd

The last couple of days have not been kind to those who would like to see a casino built in the Boston area.  First, of course, was Sunday’s front-page above-the-fold blockbuster about Everett Mayor and Wynn Casino Booster-In-Chief Carlo DeMaria, who it turns out has been accused on numerous occasions of conduct that, if proven, would go beyond sexual harassment and verge on assault.  The accusations, as reported by the Globe, come from four different women – and there are probably others – who seem to have little to do with one another (other than that a couple of them worked at Honey Dew Donut shops that DeMaria owns), and who have no discernible connection to the anti-casino movement (despite DeMaria’s almost-laughable suggestion that these accusations have been cranked up by those who don’t want a casino in Everett).  And the accusations are ugly.

[S]he felt his hand on her thigh. The woman said she tried to get DeMaria to focus on the support program, but when she stood up, he wrapped his arms around her and groped her breast.

“He tried kissing me, all slobbery,” she said. “It was hard and aggressive.”

[Janice] Campo told police in 2005 that DeMaria had ordered her to remove her uniform top while they were alone in the Revere store and, when she refused, DeMaria pulled out scissors and suggested that he cut off the shirt, claiming he had medical training. He eventually “pulled down his pants, exposing his penis,” according to the police report. Later, after DeMaria had pulled his pants back up, he pulled on the woman’s right wrist “until her hand was placed against his penis,” according to the police report.

DeMaria lured [the first woman] into his private office under the pretext of looking at some rugs he had just purchased. Again, she said, DeMaria closed the door, began squeezing her breasts, and told her how beautiful she was.

[A different] woman told the Globe recently that, from the start of her city job, DeMaria called her to his office for no apparent reason, sometimes getting uncomfortably close and making inappropriate remarks.

“I was sitting there and DeMaria said, ‘You know, the only reason you got hired was that you have nice [breasts],’” the former employee recalled. “I didn’t really acknowledge what he said, but I left just as soon as I could.”

On another occasion, she said DeMaria tried to console her in the small private room behind his office after she had a heated dispute with a more senior employee over her job responsibilities — a dispute that left her afraid she might lose her job.

She had gone through the room to use an adjoining restroom, she said, and DeMaria was waiting for her when she emerged. She said she recalls him saying, “You can do no wrong in my eyes if you [provide oral sex.]’ …”

You get the idea.  Needless to say, DeMaria flatly denies each and every allegation, and there is no objective proof, though there is some corroboration from others.  Read the whole thing, and see what you think.  But this, combined with DeMaria’s connections to some dubious characters involved with the proposed Wynn site, and his bizarre proposal to take the site by eminent domain as a way of cleansing the property of its problematic ownership history, would seem to give the Gaming Commission an awful lot to think about as they mull over who gets the Boston license.

Not to be outdone, though, today’s paper reports that Mohegan Sun, who would like to build a casino at Suffolk Downs in East Boston Revere, appears to have acted in violation of an agreement that they had at the time with the owner of land in Palmer.  The agreement prohibited Mohegan Sun from discussing a casino anywhere in MA except Palmer, but it turns out that the day after the Palmer referendum failed, Mohegan Sun was in communication with Suffolk Downs, even though the agreement was not terminated until two weeks later, after a recount confirmed that, indeed, Palmer had rejected the casino proposal.

Is the Mohegan Sun revelation merely a matter of i’s being dotted and t’s being crossed improperly?  Maybe; at the end of the day, there was not going to be a casino in Palmer.  Still, Mohegan Sun’s apparent failure to abide by the plain terms of an agreement certainly seems a relevant consideration for the Gaming Commission – and, indeed, it goes directly to the conduct of the entity seeking to build the casino, whereas the Everett business, as distasteful as it is, relates to the Mayor, not to Wynn.

All of this, it would seem, benefits the Yes On 3 folks.

Maura Healey: How I’d respond to Ferguson as Attorney General

Many thanks for posting this here. - promoted by david

The crisis in Ferguson is heartbreaking. No one with experience in law enforcement or as a civil rights advocate can watch the scenes from that community without thinking about our own responsibilities.

We’ve seen how tragedies like these can spiral out of control when the community sees the police as opponents. The police in Ferguson responded terribly. Information was unnecessarily withheld, they escalated with an unnecessary show of force, and they panicked with the entire country watching. These actions made a bad situation much worse. The underlying distrust evident in the community has made it even harder to progress.

Make no mistake, local law enforcement have challenging jobs, particularly so in charged situations like these. But our mission must be ensuring public safety while upholding people’s civil rights. These are not mutually exclusive prerogatives. They go hand in hand.

I understand how to achieve both of these goals based on my experience as a civil rights lawyer and as a prosecutor. As a civil rights lawyer during the better part of my career, I brought cases against people or entities who discriminated, sometimes based on color or race, in housing, in lending, and beyond. I have fought against the real challenges communities of color confront every day.

As a lawyer with experience in law enforcement, I have also worked closely with police on a range of issues from domestic violence to access to reproductive health care.  I have trained police on how to respond to hate crimes and bullying and I have met with local law enforcement and community groups on efforts to reduce racial profiling.

In order for law enforcement to be effective, people need to trust the police. That trust must come from handling crisis situations effectively, holding the police accountable for misconduct, and through relationship building before an incident occurs.

If I were in Ferguson, I would immediately take over the investigation of the shooting to ensure independence and transparency in the review. I would provide information to the community frequently. I would open up a civil rights investigation regarding the treatment of protestors and the media covering the events. And I would thoroughly investigate the reaction by the police to the incident and to the community’s response.

In Massachusetts, I will prioritize stopping crises like Ferguson before they occur. I will ensure that law enforcement’s connections to communities of color are made stronger by enhancing community outreach and engagement. I will prioritize statewide trainings and guidance that combat racial profiling, abuse of force, and other violations of civil rights.  Right now, police departments don’t have the resources they need for these types of training. Ferguson is a wake up call, and we can’t wait any longer to make them happen.

The militarization of police forces is also a real concern. Law enforcement must have the tools it needs to respond to disasters, whether it’s a hostage situation or an incident like the Marathon bombings. But military weaponry deployed by a civilian police force can also elevate a crisis, as it did in Ferguson. I join President Obama in his call for a review of this issue.  If our local police do have access to these weapons, we must carefully consider the rare instances when they will be deployed and how they will be utilized.

And, I’m aware of complaints about the transparency of the regional SWAT teams. We need transparency to ensure accountability. Poor decision-making that gets covered up can’t be improved upon in the future.  As Attorney General, I’ll make sure everyone in law enforcement is accountable, and the buck will stop with me.

As the next chief law enforcement officer, I will work and meet with community groups and law enforcement together to ensure that we’re working in partnership. Only mutual trust and communication can solve these problems, and so many others facing our state. As Attorney General, I’ll begin that conversation immediately and continue it throughout my time in office.

WCVB's Attorney General debate: I'd call it a draw

First, we should thank Ed Harding and Janet Wu of WCVB for devoting their half-hour On The Record show this morning to the Democratic primary for Attorney General between Maura Healey and Warren Tolman, which is close and important, and as to which almost half of likely Democratic primary voters remain undecided.

But what did we learn from this debate?  Not a ton, at least if you’ve been following the race.  The candidates agree on a lot.  Warren thinks Maura is soft on guns; Maura thinks Warren is soft on gambling.  Needless to say, each of them rejects the other’s charge.

Did anyone “win”?  Not to my eye; I thought they both did fine, and since neither is so far ahead that a candidate can “win by not losing,” I’d call it a draw.  I’m still looking for answers to the questions I posed in this post, among others, and for that reason, I’m still undecided.

If you missed it, you can watch it at WCVB’s website (in parts one, two, and three).  The videos are irritatingly non-embeddable.

Jason Lewis Endorses Warren Tolman

Senator Lewis weighs in. - promoted by david

Here in Massachusetts, we have had a tradition of strong, progressive leaders from Barney Frank and Ed Markey to Elizabeth Warren and Deval Patrick. But not too long ago, bold, progressive action was met with resistance from party leaders and political insiders. When faced with that kind of resistance, some individuals may shy away, going along to get along. As a lawmaker, Warren Tolman didn’t just go along to get along because he knew he was elected to fight for his constituents, not serve party leadership. That willingness to buck the normal and carve out his own path is exactly the reason I’m proud to endorse Warren Tolman to be our next Attorney General.

During his time in the legislature, Warren never backed down from a fight when he knew it was the right thing to do. Warren took on Big Tobacco at their height because companies were preying on young children. After plenty of pushback from the industry and fringe right-wingers (Rush Limbaugh called him “an anti-smoking Nazi” on national radio), Warren scored some big victories, divesting state pension funds from Big Tobacco, banning the sale of single cigarettes, and requiring the disclosure of accurate nicotine yield ratings, additives and ingredients. As a result there are far fewer people smoking today in Massachusetts.

Warren was also instrumental in banning smoking from the State House. It’s important to remember that this was a time when smoking indoors was still the norm and most people enjoyed a cigarette at their desk, particularly some party leaders. This didn’t stop Warren. His persistence to rid the State House of smoking eventually led to the leadership backing down.

Massachusetts has been a leader in the progressive movement because of people who push back against the idea that “this is how it is and we can’t change anything.” It is the people who have made bold choices, knowing that it could mean their political demise, because they understand that change can move our society forward. Warren Tolman has exemplified those bold choices — as the architect of campaign finance and ethics reform, as an advocate for HIV and AIDS education in our schools, and as a gubernatorial candidate running under Clean Elections.

As a decision-maker, Warren doesn’t look to see what’s popular or what will make sense politically. Warren comes to a decision after asking himself one question, “How can we improve the lives of people and ensure that everyone has a voice?” Leaders are the ones who take on the tough fights, even in the face of growing pressure, because they do not back down from their principles. In the race for Attorney General, Warren Tolman is that leader.

Cops, guns, and the Attorney General's office

As I said yesterday, the recent events in Ferguson, MO have caused me to totally rethink the race for Attorney General.  Both Warren Tolman and Maura Healey are competent, basically progressive lawyers, each with some interesting and creative ideas for what the Attorney General’s role should be, and I’m pretty sure both would do a good job in office.

What I have not heard from either of them is a strong position on the question of militarizing local police forces.  I recognize that it is a complicated issue that isn’t readily reduced to sound bites.  But that’s why we have blogs, right?  Here are some thoughts – please correct me, or tell me what I’ve missed, in the comments.

  • We need cops.  And cops need to be prepared to deal with the bad guys they face on an unfortunately regular basis.  If police are outgunned by the very people from whom they are trying to protect the community, that isn’t going to end well.
  • For that reason (among others), I don’t find comparisons to Great Britain or other countries to be especially useful.  The simple and sad fact is that those countries don’t have the gun problem that we have.  This is the point raised by Michael Cohen on today’s Globe’s op-ed page, and he’s right to raise it.  America’s gun culture is a huge part of the problem here, but unfortunately, there is no short- or medium-term solution to that problem in view.
  • On the other hand, seriously arguing that suburban police need to be militarized because ISIS seems a tad hysterical.  And an almost all-white police force looking like this (photo from Ferguson, of course) when mostly-black, unarmed demonstrators are coming toward them is obviously unacceptable.
  • The problem is not limited to Missouri.  Right here in Massachusetts, suburban police departments have, and deploy, military equipment in situations that don’t seem to call for it, sometimes with tragic results.  The ACLU of Massachusetts explains:

    all too often, as our review of open source material in Massachusetts and empirical figures from other states show, SWAT raids in America are executed in drug-related cases where there is no justifiable use of such extreme force. Worse still, these militarized drug raids do not impact all Americans equally: unjustifiable force and SWAT raids against people in their homes most often target people of color and the poor. The ACLU’s national office recently found that the majority of people impacted by the more than 800 SWAT raids it investigated were people of color.

    Perhaps no story illustrates this problem more locally—and tragically—than the 2011 death in Framingham of Eurie Stamps, an African-American grandfather of twelve, in his own home. Using military-style tactics, including the use of a battering ram to break down the door after midnight, the Framingham SWAT team raided Stamps’ house in an attempt to apprehend his stepson and another man suspected of dealing drugs, when an officer killed the elderly, unarmed Stamps.

  • Compounding the problem locally, as has been discussed here before, is the bizarre fact that some (most? all?) Massachusetts SWAT teams are organized into private nonprofits and therefore, among other things, consider themselves exempt from public records laws.  For SWAT teams not to be accountable to the public in that way strikes me as a recipe for disaster.  And it’s surely one that the Attorney General – current and prospective – should weigh in on, as it seems squarely within the AG’s bailiwick.

Where does this leave us?  There are situations in which urban – and, less frequently but occasionally, suburban or even rural – police departments can justify using equipment that goes beyond the standard-issue sidearms.  Training in its use is, of course, essential, but the issue seems to me to go well beyond training.  Should every department have such equipment at the ready?  Which departments?  How much?  Who decides when it should be deployed?  Is there any oversight of local decision making?  How does all this get decided?

Surely, a more rational policy than what we have now (which appears to be dictated simply by how quickly the feds can get rid of the stuff they can’t use) is desperately needed.  And it seems to me an excellent opportunity for our Attorney General candidates to think creatively and boldly about how to take Massachusetts in the right direction.  I look forward to hearing what they have to say.

Marian Ryan for District Attorney

Ryan has a lot of explaining to do with respect to the Remy report. - promoted by david

Just kidding.

I haven’t seen polling for the Middlesex DA race, but I can’t imagine the recent news that Ryan withheld pages of a report on the Jared Remy murder will help her.

Yesterday the Globe reported that Ryan withheld 19 pages of the report and charged that she may have violated the public records law.

“When I elect to release something that I haven’t been compelled to release, it’s fully in my discretion to release what I’m going to release,” Ryan said in a telephone interview Thursday night.

In a job so heavily dependent on the correct use of discretion, this should raise huge red flags.

The Globe followed that up with a story on the report this morning.

“It would have been significant to know that Remy had previously been held on dangerousness,” the prosecutor told former Essex district attorney Kevin Burke and First Assistant Norfolk District Attorney Jeanmarie Carroll in their review of the Remy case.

Ryan explained Friday that the prosecutor did not know that Remy had been ordered held in 2005 because such information was historically kept out of a defendant’s probation record.

Whether that information was kept out by law or by office policy would be nice to know, and it wouldn’t be Ryan’s fault, but her decisions with regards to the report are all on her.

I cannot, for the life of me, understand why Ryan would take any chances with being anything other than completely forthright and transparent with this case. It’s one of the biggest liabilities (and she has others) and she chose to make it so much worse.

The saving grace for Ryan is that these stories have come out on a Friday and Saturday in the summer, but they are still incredibly damning. For me, at a bare minimum, a candidate for DA must demonstrate the highest levels of trust. Marian Ryan has not done that.

When it comes down to it, what are the positives for Ryan as DA? She has the most experience in the office? That may be true, but that certainly isn’t showing in her being able to run an effective and trustworthy prosecutor’s office.

Comment of the day: what's happened to the Mass. GOP?

In a generally very worthwhile thread regarding the dynamics of the upcoming race for Governor, the always astute centralmassdad poses an interesting theory.

A single foolish incident in autumn swings these elections often. Silber snarling at Natalie Jacobsen. O’Brien’s tattoo.

What is notable is that you list lackluster Democratic nominees for 4/6 of the last elections. That is a poor record indeed. I see nothing so far to convince me that this year is not a return to that well-established pattern, which favors a competent Republican campaign, if such a thing can exist in the real world.

What is different now, from those 4 elections is that I am not sure that there can be a competent Republican campaign in Massachusetts anymore. In my view, that is the Romney legacy– the death of the Massachusetts Republican party that loved Weld because he held the above-listed positions, AND because he spit in Jesse Helms’ eye at the same time. The local GOP lost that sensibility when they had to go national for Mitt in the primaries.

Senator Brown was their best hope to recapture that legacy, but the sensibility was lost, and it flopped. Can you imagine Weld or Paul Argeo’s campaign “tomahawk chopping”?

Baker is a candidate that would have CRUSHED Coakley pre-Romney. I don’t think he will be able to do that this year, even if he ekes out a win.
centralmassdad   @   Fri 22 Aug 2:23 PM

I agree with pretty much all of that.  On the same thread, I argued (as I’ve been arguing for years) that the 16-year Republican dominance of the corner office would never have happened but for a fluke, namely, John Silber somehow winning the Democratic nomination for Governor.  In the 1990 general election, huge swarms of Democrats, including (maybe even especially) far-left, progressive types, voted for Bill Weld simply because he was not John Silber.  I think that’s consistent with centralmassdad’s point.  In any event, these dynamics will become very important over the next several weeks.  What do you think?  Can Charlie Baker break out of the corner into which the Mass. GOP has painted itself?  If so, how will he do it – and which Democrat will make it most difficult for him?

Corporate Greed, O-Care and baseball

America's game. - promoted by david

Earlier this week, the Chicago Cubs grounds crew experienced a disaster. As rain poured onto Wrigley Field, they were unable to cover the playing surface with a tarp in time. They were booed. The game was called. Because of the mismanagement, their opponents, the San Francisco Giants, protested the game after it had been called as a win for the Cubs. They succeeded. It was the first successful protest in Major League Baseball in 28 years, according to Deadspin.

But the whole bizarre episode was cast in a new light Thursday when the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the Cubs had slashed worker hours to keep them under 30 hours a week to avoid paying health benefits under Obamacare.

Citing “numerous sources with direct knowledge,” the Sun-Times reported that the Cubs had sent home 10 grounds crew workers early the night of the Tuesday game that ended in disaster. And at least part of the reason, per the newspaper’s sources, is that the team has been trying to keep seasonal workers under 30 hours per week as the Affordable Care Act takes effect.

I honestly don’t know if I should laugh or cry reading this.

A spokesman for the Cubs, which are reportedly worth $1 billion and were the most profitable team in baseball in 2013, didn’t refute the claims when asked by the Sun-Times, but he denied personnel changes were responsible for the field tarp incident