#PeopleOverPipelines reaches West Roxbury

Woke up this morning at 5:30 to get a bus, a train, another bus (shuttle), another train and another train to get to Norwood, the start of today’s leg of People Over Pipelines. I gotta be honest … when we headed out this morning from Norwood to , I didn’t know if I was going to enjoy this. Marches, “hey hey ho ho” … They’re easily caricatured, and generally I’d rather watch baseball. But I like walking, and I like talking energy and climate and efficiency and bikes, so it was good to talk with other folks who like these things too, and know more than I do. I enter into it with a sense of “I wouldn’t want to be in any club that would have me as a member”, but actually this club is all right.

I’m joining the march halfway through. Two days ago a few dozen hardy souls started marching the length of the new pipeline: From Medway getting to Sharon Thursday night; then Sharon to Norwood Friday. We walked the 7+ miles from Norwood from West Roxbury today, and were met by marchers who slogged the 12+ miles from the site of the proposed compressor station in Weymouth. And they get visibility, press, and attention along the way.

Again, I don’t like to waste my time. But the protests — like Keystone, like Kinder Morgan — are working. We’ve got the awareness and help of a bipartisan group of legislators, and a coalition growing between NIMBY and local interests (Tip O’Neill was right), and big picture climate people. We got overwhelmingly positive response from passing motorists. (There was one of those pickup trucks tricked out to spew ostentatious black smoke, roaring by near the metering station in West Roxbury. A tip of the cap to elaborate climate trolling.) We’ve got the participation and assistance of public officials — today Boston Council President Michelle Wu, US Rep. Steven Lynch, and State Rep Angelo Scaccia. Speaking at the Weymouth leg of the march were State Rep James Murphy, Sen. Patrick O’Connor (R!), and Councilor Becky Haugh (Weymouth).

And I can’t say it enough … Everyone. Hates. The Pipeline. Tax.

Today I got to meet Jom (James O. Michel), who was one of the first folks to protest the West Roxbury Lateral pipeline over a year ago. Jom’s a fan of the blog. It’s gratifying to know that someone who is doing the real work, in spite of great odds, finds our work here useful.

Michelle Wu brought her toddler son. She spoke of our obligation towards our kids, to making sure they inherit a livable world. this is not an abstraction to me, or to many parents. It’s an instinctual reaction to protect your kids from threat. And if you can see what’s coming, you will not leave them to be consumed by a thoughtless future.

And yeah, Steve Lynch. I’ve had my, uh, differences with him over the years, but Lynch is dead on with regard to the pipeline. Credit to the man. He’s been working on a variety of means to slow the pipeline down, and thanked Mayor Walsh for providing legal help from the city. He pointed out the folly of putting a pipeline and metering station (decompressing gas from 750psi to 60) between a live, blasting quarry and a residential neighborhood. Seriously … if you haven’t walked this section of street, they really are shockingly close to each other.

“You gotta keep fighting”, he says. What else is there to say?

This is not an idle invitation — we could really use a whole bunch of bodies to show political power, in support of clean energy. Please join us for a rally tomorrow 2pm at Ruggles Station, and then for a manageable 2.4 mile march to the State House.

 

Turkey

An open thread for all the goings-on in today's somewhat unsettling world. - promoted by david

Some facts about Turkey here. It’s a democracy with nearly 80 million people. It is the world’s 17th largest economy.

And yesterday, for several hours, it was under military control and martial law.

As of now the coup has failed, and 16 leaders of it are reportedly dead.

I don’t know what to say. Maybe you do?

Charlie Baker's MBTA Privatization *Updated*

In which the private sector is not found to be magically preferable to the public. Welp. - promoted by charley-on-the-mta

WCVB is reporting that a private guard in charge of protecting the MBTA money room was at his desk sound asleep in the middle of the day. I mention “private guard” as the money room and other positions within the MBTA was targeted by Charlie Baker to privatize and he requested and received a waiver from the Pacheco Law.

The Pacheco Law requires private contractors to provide equal or better service. Apparently, providing equal or better service was a major roadblock for Charlie Baker so he was able to use the hardships of the MBTA during that horrible winter a few years ago and get the Pacheco Law waiver for the MBTA to get this.

Charlie, mark me down as not impressed. But this is my favorite (or saddest) part, the whole pitch for privatization on cash counting when replacing with private companies earlier this year:

Transit officials say the plan will help control costs, improve customer service and modernize the T’s technology by partnering with “best-in-class private companies.”

So I see the photo and what I’m not thinking is “best in class” Charlie. What do you see?

**Update**

Some additional information on the private security firm G4S. At the time the firm was was to start providing security they were in the middle of a scandal in their employee screening process. The Orlando attack killing 49 people was an employee of G4S, so how well does G4S screen employees? That question did not stop Charlie Baker’s incompetent MBTA team from continuing with the installation of the private security firm. Via Statehouse News, Sen. Kathleen O’Connor Ives:

If G4S is having difficulties maintaining the qualities of their staffing and ensuring the proper background checks are being conducted, then the timing isn’t right for this firm in particular to be considered a suitable replacement for MBTA transit police

Baker’s team apparently did not have any issues, even this this history.

An op-ed in Florida had highlighted problems with the firm:

  • This is the same G4S that mismanaged security for the 2012 London Olympics, prompting the U.K. to mobilize 4,700 troops to make up for a personnel shortage, The Wall Street Journal reported. In 2013, G4S was banned for six months from bidding on U.K. government contracts after it overcharged for electronically tagging criminals.
  • In 2009, a G4S employee shot and killed two colleagues while in Iraq on a security detail. The U.K. found the company failed to check on the employee’s criminal record, Bloomberg reported.
  • In 2006, a federal investigation revealed guards at a division of G4S were sleeping on the job at the Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant near Miami.
  • And last year, a Treasure Coast Newspapers investigation revealed repeated violence at Martin Girls Academy in Stuart.

Then there’s the case of Mateen.

  • G4S hired him in 2007, five months after he was “administratively dismissed” from his job at Martin Correctional Institution because he had threatened a Virginia Tech-style attack.
  • Under G4S, Mateen worked at the St. Lucie County Courthouse. There, he threatened a sheriff’s deputy, saying he could have al-Qaida kill him and his family, Sheriff Ken Mascara told The New Yorker.
  • In 2013, Mateen’s courthouse credentials were revoked by the sheriff’s office because he “exhibited behaviors not conducive to the court atmosphere.”
  • So G4S transferred him.  Mateen remained an employee of G4S at the time of the attack

I think Sabutai called Pence for VP first

Just before midnight on July 3:

Mike Pence seems to be interviewing well. That is, he can put words into sentences and can stand Trump for small periods of time. So he’s my favorite.

Did anyone make the call before then?  If not, bravo Sabutai!

No exceptions to equal protection

An update from Rep. Joe Kennedy on the "Do Not Harm Act." Thanks for posting here! - promoted by hesterprynne

Hi everyone,

It’s been a little while since I posted here, so I wanted to take a minute to share some information on a piece of legislation I’ve been working on for nearly two years.  Called the Do No Harm Actwe finally rolled it out earlier this summer with the support of over 40 leading civil rights and social justice groups.   In a nutshell, the bill would amend the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to clarify that no one can seek religious exemption from laws that guarantee basic civil and human rights.

It comes in response to many things: the recent Zubik Supreme Court case regarding women’s access to contraceptive care; the various state-level ‘religious freedom’ efforts aimed at codifying prejudice against the LGBT community; and legislative proposals like two we saw in the House of Representatives this week — the so-called First Amendment Defense Act and Conscience Protection Act, both of which distort the American concept of religious liberty into a tool for discrimination and the imposition of one person’s religious beliefs on another.

I know this is a topic that this community has discussed in the past (David had a great piece on it last year) — so I wanted to make sure you were aware of our efforts in Washington.

I’ve pasted an opinion piece on the Do No Harm Act  below, which I did with my good friend and LGBT rights champion Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney.  It details the bill and why I think it’s so important at this moment in time.

You can also watch my floor remarks during debate on the Conscience Protection Act by clicking here.

I’d love to get your thoughts and feedback.  – Joe

Happy Bastille Day

Vive la France! - promoted by david

Happy birthday to our oldest and greatest ally.

I’ve always loved The Tennis Court Oath.

If you want to read a good book on the French Revolution, Citizens by Simon Schama is excellent.

Finally, always remember, history is full of irony.

For a period of time after its invention, the guillotine was called a louisette. However, it was later named after French physician and Freemason Dr Joseph-Ignace Guillotin who proposed on 10 October 1789 the use of a device to carry out death penalties in France, as a less painful method of execution or as capital punishment instead of the Breaking wheel to Louis XVI of France. While he did not invent the guillotine, and in fact opposed the death penalty, his name became an eponym for it.

Liberté, égalité, fraternité, copains, and feel free to use this as an open thread while we wait to hear which poor fool has decided to jump Trump on the ticket.

#MassAction vs. police violence lifts every voice

… And speaking of marches, this was something else: 1,000+ marchers in Boston against police violence. Consider the awful fact that it wasn’t spontaneously convened after the recent shootings in Baton Rouge and St. Paul:

The demonstration was planned specifically for July 13, as it was the one-year anniversary of Sandra Bland’s death. Bland was found dead in her Texas jail cell a few days after she was arrested during a traffic stop.

“Sandra Bland was everything we should be,” Tahia Sykes, an organizer for Mass Action Against Police Brutality, said when addressing the crowd. “She had a college degree. She was focused. This is a woman who, ironically enough, spoke out against police brutality.”

On a personal note … a few months ago our co-editor David sang a recital as part of Arlington Street Church’s Harmony and Hope 12-hour music marathon. There we met Carla Sheffield, whose son was gunned down by a Boston policeman in 2012 (under vaguely understood circumstances at best — described here at length by BMGer jamaicaplainiac.) She was incredibly gracious, appreciative of the solace of music … and understandably weary. Sheffield has continued to speak against police violence, as she did last night:

The demonstrators also heard from Carla Sheffield, whose son Burrell Ramsey-White was shot and killed by Boston police in 2012 after he allegedly refused to drop a gun.

“It takes a lot for me just to get out of bed,” Sheffield said. “The fact that children are still dying at the hands of police makes my heart hurt so bad.”

This is going to take a lot more. As I said last week, everything that’s racist with us, with our society, gets meted out at the end of a gun to black folks. As a matter of decency and shared destiny, it’s on those of us who don’t suffer discrimination to fix it, because black people simply don’t have the numbers at election time. It has to be an actual priority to non-black progressives.

And it can’t simply be shunted into a law-enforcement pigeonhole either. The violence is a consequence of neglect. If Black Lives Matter, they matter from cradle to grave, and due to our history, special attention must be paid.

Again, there’s too much to say and I’ve run out of time. Take it away.

43-mile, four-day anti-pipeline march starts tomorrow

Tomorrow marks the start of the People Over Pipelines March, a four day march in protest of the Spectra pipeline, organized by 350Mass. It follows the pipeline’s proposed route in MA, 43 miles starting in Medway, winding through Norfolk, Walpole, Sharon, Stoughton, Canton, Norwood, Dedham, West Roxbury, on through to the State House on Sunday July 17. Monday July 18 will be a lobbying and action day at the State House; Sens. Pat Jehlen and Marc Pacheco are due to speak.

Some 300 people are confirmed for at least part of the march, and the count might get beyond 450. Considering how many actions I’ve been to that had a few dozen or even a hundred … this is pretty amazing. I’ve been helping the organizers at 350Mass with their press outreach, and I’ll be taking part in it on Saturday and Sunday, meeting up with folks in Norwood and marching on to West Roxbury and Beacon Hill. It will be hot! And rainy. I’ll be tweeting pictures, Facebooking, all that stuff.

Why am I doing this? Well, pipeline protests seem to work. In infrastructure, we may have found that hidden exhaust port in the fossil fuel Death Star — they’ve got to get the stuff around, and there’s only so many ways to do it. We’re getting in the way. Massachusetts pipelines are getting national attention. And we’re right on the business merits: As has been discussed at great length, we Don’t. Need. It. And no one but no one wants Gov. Baker’s pipeline tax paying for it.

See you on the streets. Wave as we go by.

 

Justice Ginsburg's blunder

On election night 2000, then-sitting Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor [my former boss, by way of disclosure] was attending a party with friends and colleagues.  When CBS called Florida for Al Gore, she is reported to have exclaimed, “this is terrible,” and then got up, “with an air of obvious disgust,” because (her husband then explained to a concerned party guest), a Gore victory would mean that she couldn’t retire for another four years because she wanted a Republican to name her successor.  Later, it emerged that many years earlier in Justice O’Connor’s tenure on the Supreme Court, she had expressed in private correspondence her view that a George H.W. Bush victory in 1988 was “vital for the Court and the nation.”

For these statements – made in situations where O’Connor might reasonably (if erroneously) have thought that they would not wind up in the media – O’Connor received special criticism for the Supreme Court’s 2000 decision in Bush v. Gore, which effectively named George W. Bush president.  Having made it clear that she personally supported George W. Bush’s election (as well as his father’s 12 years earlier), some have argued that she should not have participated in deciding the case.  And even if you think recusal wasn’t necessary, it’s easy enough to understand the argument that someone who has expressed their preference for how an election should turn out has a conflict of interest when the question presented in a case before her is essentially that.  After all, judges (in confirmation hearings especially, but also in general) routinely avoid expressing their views on the merits of cases that might come before them.  When they don’t – such as Justice Scalia’s public statements regarding the constitutionality of the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance – they later may end up having to disqualify themselves from the case.

All of which brings us to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s comments this week to the New York Times and to CNN.  In case you hadn’t heard, Ginsburg was asked about the upcoming election, and here’s what she told the Times:

“I can’t imagine what this place would be — I can’t imagine what the country would be — with Donald Trump as our president,” she said. “For the country, it could be four years. For the court, it could be — I don’t even want to contemplate that.”

It reminded her of something her husband, Martin D. Ginsburg, a prominent tax lawyer who died in 2010, would have said.

“‘Now it’s time for us to move to New Zealand,’” Justice Ginsburg said, smiling ruefully.

Later asked by CNN whether she stood by those remarks, she doubled down:

“He is a faker,” she said of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, going point by point, as if presenting a legal brief. “He has no consistency about him. He says whatever comes into his head at the moment. He really has an ego. … How has he gotten away with not turning over his tax returns? The press seems to be very gentle with him on that.” …

“At first I thought it was funny,” she said of Trump’s early candidacy. “To think that there’s a possibility that he could be president … ” Her voice trailed off gloomily.

All due respect to Justice Ginsburg, for whom I of course have enormous respect, making these comments was a big mistake – far worse than what Justice O’Connor reportedly said in 2000.  Most obviously, should (God forbid) this November’s election wind up at the Supreme Court, could anyone seriously defend the idea that Ginsburg doesn’t have at least the appearance of bias, of a conflict, of having prejudged the case?  Regardless of whatever technical legal issue might be presented in such a case, Ginsburg obviously, publicly, dislikes the idea of a President Trump, thinks he would be a bad president, and thinks he would do lasting damage to the Court and the country.  It’s hard to imagine how she could now hold herself out as an impartial judge in a case that would decide whether or not we have a President Trump.  To return to Chief Justice Roberts’ tired balls-and-strikes analogy, there is a reason that Major League Baseball would never hire a Red Sox superfan to be an umpire, however solid the superfan’s umpiring skills might be.

Bernie Sanders: "Hillary Clinton will make an outstanding president and I am proud to stand with her here today."

Good speech, Senator Sanders! Globe:

Hillary Clinton understands that we must fix an economy in America that is rigged and that sends almost all new wealth and income to the top one percent. Hillary Clinton understands that if someone in America works 40 hours a week, that person should not be living in poverty. She believes that we should raise the minimum wage to a living wage. And she wants to create millions of new jobs by rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure. – our roads, bridges, water systems and wastewater plants.

But her opponent – Donald Trump – well, he has a very different view. He believes that states should have the right to lower the minimum wage or even abolish the concept of the minimum wage altogether. If Donald Trump is elected, we will see no increase in the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour – a starvation wage.

This election is about which candidate will nominate Supreme Court justices who are prepared to overturn the disastrous Citizens United decision which allows billionaires to buy elections and undermine our democracy; about who will appoint new justices on the Supreme Court who will defend a woman’s right to choose, the rights of the LGBT community, workers’ rights, the needs of minorities and immigrants, and the government’s ability to protect the environment.

If you don’t believe this election is important, take a moment to think about the Supreme Court justices that Donald Trump will nominate, and what that means to civil liberties, equal rights and the future of our country.

This campaign is about moving the United States toward universal health care and reducing the number of people who are uninsured or under-insured. Hillary Clinton wants to see that all Americans have the right to choose a public option in their health care exchange, which will lower the cost of health care. She also believes that anyone 55 years or older should be able to opt in to Medicare and she wants to see millions more Americans gain access to primary health care, dental care, mental health counseling and low-cost prescription drugs through a major expansion of community health centers throughout this country. Hillary is committed to seeing thousands of young doctors, nurses, psychologists, dentists and other medical professionals practice in underserved areas as we follow through on President Obama’s idea of tripling funding for the National Health Service Corps.

In New Hampshire, in Vermont and across the country we have a major epidemic of opiate and heroin addiction. People are dying every day from overdoses. Hillary Clinton understands that if we are serious about addressing this crisis we need major changes in the way we deliver mental health treatment. That’s what expanding community health centers will do and that is what getting medical personnel into the areas we need them most will do.

And What is Donald Trump’s position on health care? No surprise there. Same old, same old Republican contempt for working families. He wants to abolish the Affordable Care Act, throw 20 million people off of the health insurance they currently have and cut Medicaid for lower-income Americans. The last thing we need today in America is a president who doesn’t care about whether millions will lose access to the health care coverage that they desperately need. We need more people with access to quality health care, not fewer.

Hillary Clinton also understands that millions of seniors, disabled vets and others are struggling with the outrageously high cost of prescription drugs. She and I are in agreement that Medicare must negotiate drug prices with the pharmaceutical industry and that we must expand the use of generic medicine. Drug companies should not be making billions in profits while one in five Americans are unable to afford the medicine they need. The greed of the drug companies must end.

This election is about the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality that currently exists, the worst it has been since 1928. Hillary Clinton knows that something is very wrong when the very rich become richer while many others are working longer hours for lower wages. She knows that it is absurd that middle-class Americans are paying an effective tax rate higher than hedge fund millionaires, and that there are corporations in this country making billions in profit while they pay no federal income taxes in a given year because of loopholes their lobbyists created. While Hillary Clinton supports making our tax code fairer, Donald Trump wants to give hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks to the very wealthiest people in this country. His reckless economic policies will not only exacerbate income and wealth inequality, they would increase our national debt by trillions of dollars.

This election is about the thousands of young people I have met who have left college deeply in debt, the many others who cannot afford to go to college and the need for this country to have the best educated workforce in the world if we are to compete effectively in a highly competitive global economy. Hillary Clinton believes that we must substantially lower student debt, and that we must make public colleges and universities tuition free for the middle class and working families of this country. This is a major initiative that will revolutionize higher education in this country and improve the lives of millions. Think of what it will mean when every child in this country, regardless of the income of their family, knows that if they study hard and do well in school – yes, they will be able to get a college education and leave school without debt.

This election is about climate change, the greatest environmental crisis facing our planet, and the need to leave this world in a way that is healthy and habitable for our kids and future generations. Hillary Clinton is listening to the scientists who tell us that if we do not act boldly in the very near future there will be more drought, more floods, more acidification of the oceans, more rising sea levels. She understands that we must work with countries around the world in transforming our energy system away from fossil fuels and into energy efficiency and sustainable energy – and that when we do that we can create a whole lot of good paying jobs. Donald Trump: Well, like most Republicans, he chooses to reject science – something no presidential candidate should do. He believes that climate change is a hoax. In fact, he wants to expand the use of fossil fuel. That would be a disaster for our country and our planet.

This election is about the leadership we need to pass comprehensive immigration reform and repair a broken criminal justice system. It’s about making sure that young people in this country are in good schools or at good jobs, not in jail cells. Secretary Clinton understands that we don’t need to have more people in jail than any other country on earth, at an expense of $80 billion a year.

In these stressful times for our country, this election must be about bringing our people together, not dividing us up. While Donald Trump is busy insulting Mexicans, Muslims, women, African Americans and veterans, Hillary Clinton understands that our diversity is one of our greatest strengths. Yes. We become stronger when black and white, Latino, Asian American, Native American – all of us – stand together. Yes. We become stronger when men and women, young and old, gay and straight, native born and immigrant fight to rid this country of all forms of bigotry.

It is no secret that Hillary Clinton and I disagree on a number of issues. That’s what this campaign has been about. That’s what democracy is about. But I am happy to tell you that at the Democratic Platform Committee which ended Sunday night in Orlando, there was a significant coming together between the two campaigns and we produced, by far, the most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic Party. Our job now is to see that platform implemented by a Democratic Senate, a Democratic House and a Hillary Clinton president – and I am going to do everything I can to make that happen.

I have known Hillary Clinton for 25 years. I remember her as a great first lady who broke precedent in terms of the role that a first lady was supposed to play as she helped lead the fight for universal health care. I served with her in the United States Senate and know her as a fierce advocate for the rights of children.

Hillary Clinton will make an outstanding president and I am proud to stand with her here today.

Question Side of November Ballot Set

Of interest. - promoted by Bob_Neer

Secretary Galvin announced the order of the ballot questions yesterday.  There are four that made it:

  1. To see if the Commonwealth will vote to allow a second slot parlor.
  2. To see if the Commonwealth will vote to lift the cap on charter schools.
  3. To see if the Commonwealth will vote to phase out extreme animal confinement.
  4. To see if the Commonwealth will vote to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana for recreational use.

My own preferences are no, no, yes, no respectively.

Why Fight For Gas Tax Hikes If They Just Fund Sprawl?

Now that you mention it, I am a big fan of the millionaire tax. - promoted by charley-on-the-mta

EmptySteve LeBlanc writes for the Associated Press today about how Massachusetts uses just a tiny fraction of cigarette taxes for anti-smoking programs. By contrast, he says most of a recent gas tax hike goes for its intended purpose:

Drivers paid an extra $257 million to fill up their tanks as a result of the 3-cent-per-gallon increase … virtually all of the gas tax money went to highway construction and maintenance

Polls show voters don’t want to pay more for road construction, but Democrats are constantly told by Very Serious People that they must campaign for gas tax hikes because it’s The Right Thing to Do.

Sure, it’s nice to put a more accurate price on gasoline, which gets so many free rides, from polluting our air to getting massive taxpyaer subsidies.

But if the money is just going to pay for more highways, incentivizing more sprawl and more gasoline consumption, it’s unclear if raising the gas tax is even a clear net good, never mind worth progressives spending precious political capital on what’s a relatively unpopular cause.

I’d rather fight for a millionaire’s tax and a carbon tax, wouldn’t you?

 

Cross-posted from The Green Miles