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

Bill McKibben Brings the People's Climate Tour to Boston

Hey this is TONIGHT. And I will be there. And I would love to have a BMG contingent going to NYC on 9/21. [ -- Charley] The event: Friday Aug 22, starting at 7 pm, at the Boston Opera House. [- David] - promoted by charley-on-the-mta

I’ll admit, I’m still afraid of falling in the Charles River. As a kid growing up in Cambridge, I used to hear horror stories of what would happen if you went for a swim in that polluted waterway. A third eye. Eighteen fingers. Eaten by the swamp thing.

And while I loved that dirty water, I love it even more now that the impossible has become a reality: the Charles is clean (or a good deal cleaner). Thanks to the hard work of groups like the Charles River Watershed Association, the Charles River Conservancy, and many others, the river has returned to much of its natural glory. Government action, citizen organizing, and a lot of volunteer sweat brought back one of Massachusetts’ great treasures.

When it comes to climate change, we’re polluting the atmosphere at a rate that puts the sewage that used to flow into the Charles to shame. This year, the parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere skyrocketed past 400 ppm, far above the 350 ppm that scientists say is the safe upper limit.

We’re already seeing the impacts of this pollution, from the devastating drought in California and the Southwest to super-storms like Hurricane Irene and Hurricane Sandy. Just today, a storm dumped 13-inches of rain on Long Island in a single morning, more than doubling the previous record.

Scientists have warned us that we’re at risk of passing dangerous tipping points, after which climate change could spiral out of control. The message is clear: if we’re going to act, we’ve got to act now.

That’s why, this September 21, 350.org, the organization I co-founded with a group of college friends and writer Bill McKibben, is coming together with over 700 partner organizations across the country and around the world to organize the People’s Climate March in New York City.

Another Friday, another poll, another 20-point lead for Martha Coakley

Today is Friday, which means that the Globe’s weekly poll is out.  It shows, just like all the ones that came before it, that Martha Coakley is way ahead and nothing else is settled.  Some thoughts:

  • Steve Grossman and Don Berwick are in trouble.  Coakley has been sitting on a 20-ish point lead for weeks, and a little over two weeks from primary day, she’s still there (she polls 45%, with Grossman at 24% and Berwick at 10%).  Equally important, her favorable/unfavorable is an impressive 52/37.  So these poll respondents aren’t choosing the candidate they dislike the least.  Many of them affirmatively like Coakley, which suggests that they will show up on primary day.
  • By way of contrast, on this date in 2006, two polls were released that showed a much closer, much more fluid race.  One poll (SurveyUSA) had Deval Patrick at 34%, only 4 points ahead of Chris Gabrieli and Tom Reilly, who were tied at 30%.  The other poll (Suffolk) was wildly different, with Gabrieli ahead with 32%, followed by Patrick at 24% and Reilly at 20%.  The moral of that story: the numbers can change a lot between August 22 and primary day (Patrick ended up winning by over 20 points), but that race showed a lot more movement throughout than this one has so far.  This race, so far, looks more like the Senate primary in 2009, when Coakley maintained a substantial wire-to-wire lead throughout.
  • The debates may move the needle … but frankly, I think that’s unlikely.  Here is the Globe’s rundown of the upcoming debates among the Democratic gubernatorial candidates:

    ■ A live hourlong Western Massachusetts debate at WWLP-22News at 8 p.m. on Wednesday in Chicopee. The debate will also be streamed live on WWLP.com.

    ■ A 30-minute taped debate hosted by Jon Keller, airing in full on WBZ-TV (Channel 4) at 8:30 a.m. Aug. 31.

    ■ A Boston Media Consortium debate from 7 to 8 p.m. Sept. 3.

    ■ A live debate on NECN from 6 to 7 p.m. on Sept. 4, hosted by [Jim] Braude.

    What a sorry lineup that is.  About 12 people will watch Keller’s 8:30-am-on-a-Sunday-morning-in-late-summer debate.  Maybe 17 or so watch NECN and so will catch Braude’s debate on September 4.  Another handful or two will watch the WWLP debate, which apparently is airing only in the Springfield area.  The only debate that will get any significant viewership is the Boston Media Consortium debate on September 3.  And Coakley is good enough in a debate setting that she’s unlikely to blow the whole election in a single hour-long debate (though stranger things have happened).  In short, if Grossman and Berwick are counting on the debates to bump up their poll numbers, they seem likely to be disappointed.

  • Nobody has any clue who is running for Lieutenant Governor.  Two and a half weeks out, “undecided” is winning in a landslide with 75% of the vote.  Advantage Steve Kerrigan, who has at least a modicum of insider support, which in a race like this could be enough.
  • The race for Treasurer is almost as bad – 62% say they don’t know who they’re voting for.  Barry Finegold is on top of the current poll, but the spread between first (16%) and third (10%) is so tiny that, with 62% undecided, it doesn’t seem to mean much.
  • The race for Attorney General is indeed where the action is, as today’s big Globe story reflects.  This week’s poll shows Maura Healey up by 2% (28-26) – obviously within the margin of error, but still, impressive for a first-time candidate who is not yet up on TV.  About the race, I will say this: the recent events in Ferguson, MO have changed my thinking.  I don’t care what the AG thinks about the Arthur T./Arthur S./Market Basket brouhaha (FWIW, it strikes me as inappropriate for the AG to weigh in – if any political figure should get involved in what is ultimately a private business dispute, it’s the Governor), nor do I particularly care whether “smart gun” technology is adopted by regulation (Tolman’s position) or statute (Healey’s position).  But as the state’s chief law enforcement officer, the AG does – or, at least, should – have a lot to say about the militarization of police forces around the Commonwealth.  WBUR did a great service by cataloguing the military equipment that, via misguided federal policies, has wound up in local police departments.  Of course, everyone thinks that police should be properly trained in the use of whatever equipment they have – that is a safe and, to me, uninteresting position.  I want to know what the candidates think about whether military equipment should be in the hands of local police forces at all.  (And, unlike SomervilleTom, I don’t think either candidate said anything about that in their recent joint appearance on WGBH.)  Whichever candidate seriously questions whether militarizing local police forces is a good idea, and offers ideas on how to manage it, will get my vote.  So far, I’m not sure who that will be.

THE DEBATE For Governor's Councillor Devaney vs. Shapiro

We should definitely abolish the Governor's Council. - promoted by Bob_Neer

There have been discussions here on BMG on whether we should abolish the Governor’s Council. Like it or not, ignoring this important position that local media has dubbed a “Dysfunctional Circus” does not help it improve.

This debate between the incumbent Marilyn Petito Devaney and Charlie Shapiro delves into important questions on a woman’s right to choose, campaign finance, transparency, honesty and many more.

Not Your Average Debate

There are many important campaigns vying for our attention and activism. After watching this debate, do you believe it is in the best interest of the Commonwealth to add your voice and commitment to this race?

Donald Teeters: Boston loses a classical music giant

Don was a major fixture in Boston's classical music world for many years, and he will be greatly missed. RIP. - promoted by david

Updated with memorial service information
From the rector of All Saint’s, Brookline:

[The leadership] here at All Saints, and musicians with whom he had deep and lasting relationships, [have] decided that the most reasonable and appropriate plan is to have a funeral service with interment of ashes early in September and a memorial music service with the All Saints Choir and the invited participation of other area musicians during the weekend of All Saints and All Souls.

The funeral service (with interment of ashes) for Donald Teeters will take place at All Saints Parish, on Wednesday, September 3 at 7:30p.m. The Rev. Dr. Richard Burden, Rector of All Saints will preside and preach. All are invited; a reception will follow.

A memorial music service featuring the All Saints Choir and invited musicians will be held at All Saints Parish on Sunday Nov. 2 at 5:00 p.m.; the public is invited and a reception will follow.

The musical memorial service will be held on the weekend of the 120th anniversary of All Saints Parish, and on the Feast of All the Faithful Departed. It will be an opportunity for many to gather and pay tribute to a man who was a mentor and minister to so many here and throughout New England.

Donald Teeters, long-time director of Boston Cecilia and music director of All Saints Parish in Brookline, died unexpectedly last week at 77.

But Mr. Teeters was best known for his pioneering advocacy of the oratorios of Handel. Over the years he led a remarkable 19 oratorios, in the process helping to strengthen Boston’s standing as a center of the modern Handel revival. Most notably, under his guidance Cecilia was the first local chorus to perform Baroque repertoire with period instruments, a trend that is now all but ubiquitous.

During his time with Cecilia, Mr. Teeters also proved deft at identifying, and then loyally supporting, young vocal talent on the rise, working closely with a cohort of accomplished singers that included Nancy Armstrong, Jeffrey Gall, William Hite, James Maddalena, Robert Honeysucker, and Donald Wilkinson, several of whom also appeared as soloists with Mr. Teeters’s church choir.

His interests ranged far beyond the Baroque, as he led the US premiere of Benjamin Britten’s “Phaedra” and the world premieres of works by Daniel Pinkham, James Woodman, and Scott Wheeler, who was Cecilia’s composer-in-residence.

I had the pleasure of knowing Don for virtually all of my forty years here in Boston, as a result of my association with All Saints in Brookline. I was astounded that, as a 22 year old newcomer to Boston fresh out of college (and with no musical training), Don happily encouraged me to play the magnificent Casavant organ at All Saints and the equally wonderful (to my ears) Steinway concert grand. He did ask me to restrict my use of the latter to times when he was somewhere else, because he abhorred the gospel-influenced material I was absorbed by at the time. As was so typical of Don, he never criticized me or the music, choosing to instead own his displeasure as a consequence of his own taste.

The world is a smaller and less inspiring place without Don Teeters.

Charlie Baker 2.0: new friendly look; same tired message

You might have seen Charlie Baker’s latest web spot on this very page – I did, on the Google ad that appears below the first front-page post.  It sets forth Charlie Baker’s three big ideas to make Massachusetts “great.”  Hold onto your hats, because you won’t believe the bold, creative thinking that is coming out of Baker HQ these days.  Ready?  Here they are:

1. Lower Taxes
2. Reduce Wasteful Spending
3. Reform Welfare

Wow!  What an exciting new program for … oh wait.  That’s what the Mass. GOP has been running on for, oh, the last 25 years.  Yes, Charlie 2014 comes across as a lot nicer and friendlier than Charlie 2010.  But he doesn’t seem to have anything new or different to say.

You have to marvel at the Mass. GOP.  Their numbers get worse and worse, but they never change their tune.  They’re nothing if not consistent.

Conroy for Treasurer: The Fiscal Watchdog We Need

Governor Patrick's former Secretary of A&F weighs in. - promoted by david

I am supporting Representative Tom Conroy for State Treasurer. The office and duties of State Treasurer matter, and Tom is the most qualified candidate for the job.

The State Treasurer impacts our state government’s ability to deliver every service it provides, from public safety to education to job training to environmental protection. The Treasurer is responsible for investing billions of taxpayer dollars, managing billions of dollars of state debt, overseeing billions of dollars of pension fund investments and managing the state’s cash flow needs.

Our State Treasurer must have the financial expertise to perform these responsibilities in a manner that ensures state funds are secure and available for critical public services. A competent Treasurer can also generate hundreds of millions of dollars of additional investment earnings and interest savings on state borrowings to reduce the burden on taxpayers for funding services. Alternatively, a Treasurer without proven experience can put billions of taxpayer dollars at risk.

The State Treasurer is also responsible for supporting the Commonwealth’s 351 cities and towns. Whether delivering hundreds of millions of dollars of lottery proceeds each year for local public safety, education and public works projects or overseeing the financing of local school construction projects and water and sewer improvements, the Treasurer plays an integral role in creating and maintaining strong and vibrant communities.

I worked with Tom Conroy for years when I was Governor Patrick’s Secretary of Administration and Finance. Tom has years of experience in the financial industry and understands investments, bond financing and fiscal management. Tom was also one of the most active partners in working with me and Governor Patrick to put sound new fiscal policies in place. As a result, with Tom’s help, we made it through the Great Recession better than most other states, improved our fiscal stability, built one of the strongest Rainy Day Funds in the country, and earned the highest credit ratings in the history of the Commonwealth.

Charlie Baker promises to ignore the will of the voters

For the nominee of a party that for more than a decade has been running to “respect the will of the voters” by cutting the income tax to 5% (per the 2000 ballot question), this strikes me as a curious strategy.

Baker on Wednesday in an appearance before the editorial board for The Republican, Masslive and The Casa Latina said if he is elected he will work with the legislature to authorize a casino in Springfield – even in voters in November approve Question 3, a statewide referendum that seeks to ban resort casinos in Massachusetts.

“I’m going to vote against the repeal effort,” Baker said. “And if the repeal effort is approved, I’m going to file legislation to put the Springfield casino back on the map.”

Reasonable people can and do differ as to whether it’s a good idea to repeal the casino law (I, of course, will be voting in favor of repeal).  But there is no question at all that, if the repeal effort is successful, restoring the legality of casino gambling in order to build a casino in Springfield would be a direct repudiation of what the people had just done.  Between that and the growing discontent with Baker in the Republican base, one wonders whether Baker is treading dangerously close to running as what some might see as a “Democrat-lite” – a nearly sure path to failure.