Education reformers submit plagiarized report

Is this what business-driven education reforms hold for the Commonwealth? An advance copy of “The New Opportunity to Lead: A Vision for Education in Massachusetts in the Next 20 Years,” produced by the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education and scheduled for release today, contained plagiarized material. James Vaznis in the Globe:

But organizers were frantically reprinting the report on Sunday after the Globe, which had been given an advance copy, spotted a section drawn largely verbatim from a Globe story in December on the Trotter Elementary School in Dorchester. The “case study” on the school was not attributed to the Globe, even though more than half of the writing came directly from the newspaper. The report’s authors, advised of the lapse, revised the section with appropriate attribution.

Kudos to Vaznis and the newspaper for performing a key element of a free press: holding powerful people accountable.

As to the business group’s recommendations, according to the Globe:

opening more charter schools, offering universal pre-kindergarten, and providing individual schools in a district more flexibility to hire their staffs, extend the school day and make other changes. Other recommendations are more radical, such as devising a statewide contract for all teachers. Currently, unions negotiate contracts with their respective school systems.

perhaps they should also have included courses in ethics.

Let's end child poverty

A worthy goal. Don Berwick is running for the Democratic nomination for Governor. - promoted by david

We are a wealthy state in a wealthy nation, and yet one out of every seven people in Massachusetts lives in poverty.  And even that doesn’t tell the true story.  The number is 29% among African Americans here; 40% among Latinos.  Regionally, it’s 21% in New Bedford; in Springfield, it’s 28%; and in Holyoke, 41% of kids under 18 live in poverty.

There have been times in America when the public sentiment has been awoken to what it means to be poor, and when strong, progressive leaders rallied the political will to fight that enemy.  Jacob Riis, an immigrant Dutchman, gave Americans a crystal clear window on sweathouses and abuses in his 1890 book, How the Other Half Lives, leading to child labor and worker rights laws that we now take for granted.  We shouldn’t.  These were hard-fought battles, relying on leaders who cared.

We took big steps, too, in the wake of the Great Depression, which birthed Social Security, and in the contentious 1960s, when Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society created Medicare, Medicaid, and the War on Poverty.

And then… what?  Somehow we lost the focus.  Hunger, homelessness, and poverty, itself, left the front pages and abandoned the front seats in American discourse.  They became chronic, more hidden, part of the background.  Maybe even, sad to say, accepted.

And so, poverty worsened. Disparities soared. In 1976, the wealthiest 1% of Americans owned 19.9% of the nation’s wealth; in 2010 that had increased to 35.4%, Massachusetts was not spared.  Boston continues to have the fourth-largest income inequality among major cities.

No GOP Gov. primary, but they do nominate full statewide slate.

Very fuzzy math on the Mark Fisher business. One wonders if that one will end up in court. Anyway, seems like the Mass. GOP has nominated a slate of "who?" candidates for the constitutional offices other than Gov/Lt Gov. - promoted by david

The Associated Press is reporting (via the Herald) that Mark Fisher just missed a spot on the ballot to be the conservative, “full-platform” as he calls himself, candidate challenging presumptive nominee Charlie Baker for the Corner Office.  It seems to me there is a combination of fuzzy math and interesting rules interpretation at work.  The rules say one must get 15% of the convention vote and when you count votes you generally only count votes cast, but 64 blanks were counted in the vote total holding Fisher to just 14.765%.  Baker got 82% leaving a little bit of wiggle room, possibly enough to credit Fisher with barely 15% of votes cast.  If there were exactly 2500 delegates, 82% would be 2050; add 64 blanks for a total of 2114, leaving Fisher with 386.  Therefore 2436 votes were actually cast which should be the basis for this calculation.  Baker would have received based on these assumptions 84.15…% and Fisher 15.85…%, with both numbers running several decimal places, but it would have given Fisher what he needed.

Meanwhile, we can’t mock them this year for not even being able to field candidates, though I suspect many of these will be token opponents.  They also nominated the following:

Former State Rep. Karyn Polito of Shrewsbury for Lt. Governor

Dave D’Arcangelo of Malden for Secretary of the Commonwealth

John Miller of Winchester for Attorney General

Mike Heffernan of Wellesley for Treasurer and Receiver General

Patricia Saint Aubin of Norfolk for Auditor of the Commonwealth

Hopkinton Selectman Brian Herr for United States Senate

I know they have few legislators, but I thought more of them would be interested in moving up.  It’s also interesting that they have their convention before signatures are due.  If one of their endorsees doesn’t qualify due to lack of signatures the state committee is authorized to name a different nominee, though I think that person would still need a number of votes in the primary at least equal to the number of signatures needed.

Marty Walsh Brings In a Gunslinger and Turns the Table on Steve Wynn's Gaming Commission aka Mass Gaming Commission

In related news, the "Repeal The Casino Deal" legal team (of which I am a pro bono member) filed its first round of papers in the SJC yesterday, seeking to overturn the Attorney General's refusal to approve an anti-casino ballot question. - promoted by david

Mayor Walsh came out of nowhere yesterday and demanded the Mass Gaming Commission give the city a hearing on its request to be designated a “host” city for the two competing casino proposals in Everett and Revere. The way the law is written a city or town can be a host city even if the casino is not located within its bounds when certain factors apply.

In Revere it appears that everything but the table games and machines will be in Boston. Everett is a little more complicated for the city but it is by no means a lay-up for Wynn.

According to the newspapers Commissioner Steve Crosby was hostile to the move saying it was last minute and Mayor Menino tried the same tactic but was sent packing. Maybe so but the Commission never had a hearing or a vote on it. So reluctantly Crosby, McHugh, LLP aka The Mass Gaming Commission voted to grant the city its hearing.

You have all that? Good, because here is where it gets good.

We all know there is the appearance that Steve Crosby, and to a lesser degree his toady Jim McHugh, are in the tank for Wynn. The Caesars’ lawsuit against the commission details much of it. BTW anyone notice the story of Crosby writing letters to the Governor and Legislative leaders lobbying fore the same changes in the law Steve Wynn wants. Only time he’s done that.

Joke Revue: CNN Apologizes for airing non-Flight 370 story



NEW YORK (The Borowitz Report)—CNN apologized to its viewers today for briefly airing a story on Sunday that had nothing to do with the missing Malaysia Airlines flight.

The story, which caused thousands of viewers to contact the network in anger, had something to do with Crimea, Ukraine, and Russia.

In the official apology, CNN chief Jeff Zucker wrote, “On Sunday, we briefly cut away from our nonstop coverage of Flight 370 to talk about something else. We’re not going to sugarcoat it: we messed up. CNN regrets the error and promises our viewers that it won’t happen again.”


Crimean Voters Excited To Exercise Democracy For Last Time

SIMFEROPOL, UKRAINE—Following yesterday’s referendum in which 97 percent of voters cast ballots in favor of seceding from Ukraine and joining the Russian Federation, Crimean citizens expressed their excitement Monday at participating in the democratic process one final time. “It brought me such great personal joy to head to the polls and, for the last time ever, have my vote tallied and actually mean something,” said local businessman Sergei Petrov of his vote in support of annexation by Russia, echoing the enthusiasm of hundreds of thousands of his fellow Crimeans who proudly took part in their final opportunity to assert their collective will at the ballot box. “Yesterday was a historic day for Crimea. Our people had a say in their future, and our voices were heard loud and clear, which is extremely special given that it won’t happen again for who knows how long.” At press time, Crimeans were commemorating the vote to become Russian citizens by eagerly watching and reading coverage of the momentous event in the limited handful of sanctioned media sources they now have available to them.

Daniel Kurtzman:

“Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg apparently called President Obama directly to complain about NSA and how it spies on ordinary Americans. That’s right, the guy who runs Facebook got mad at the NSA for spying on people. Talk about the pot unfriending the kettle!” –Jimmy Fallon

“Zuckerberg criticized the NSA and called the government a threat to the Internet. Then he went back to running a website where you list everyone you’ve ever met, every place you’ve been, every place you’re going, what you had eat, your ex-girlfriends and your ex-boyfriends, which bands you like…” –Jimmy Fallon

“This week RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said the GOP still isn’t where it needs to be to win the White House in 2016. Yeah, it’s not where it should be — kind of like the letters in ‘Reince Priebus.’” –Jimmy Fallon

“Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said today that the 2014 midterms will be a victory for Republicans thanks to Obamacare. Coincidentally, ‘Reince Priebus’ sounds like something that might be covered under Obamacare.” –Seth Meyers

“This week the White House said the economy is continuing to pick up steam, but then went on to say that the unemployment rate is still ‘unacceptably high.’ Incidentally, being unacceptably high is also a big reason many people are unemployed.” –Jimmy Fallon

“There is actually a fourth possibility that Republicans are putting forward, that the plan went down because it was emboldened by Obama’s weakness. That apparently is their answer for everything. In fact on Fox and Friends, Steve Doocy said it was a strange coincidence that Obama has a daughter named Malaysia.” –Bill Maher

“The crisis in Ukraine still has people worried. Today John McCain led a group of senators there to get a firsthand look. When they landed, McCain said, ‘This is a disaster, these people are living like animals!’ And then someone said, ‘We have a layover – this is LaGuardia Airport.’” –Jimmy Fallon

“It was so dark in Washington that when the power went out the only thing that was glowing what John Boehner’s face.” –David Letterman

“As soon as the lights in Washington went out, Senator John McCain tried to clap them back on.” –David Letterman

Richard Tisei's convention boycott puts the screws to Charlie Baker

First, credit where credit is due: MA-6 candidate Richard Tisei has announced that he is boycotting this weekend’s GOP convention to express his disapproval of the right-wing platform that the party adopted earlier this year.  Good for him.

Second, it’s impossible (at least to me) not to see Tisei’s move as putting a lot of pressure on Charlie Baker, the GOP’s presumptive nominee for Governor.  If you think about it, Tisei and Baker are in very similar positions.  They are pretty much the only brightish spots in an otherwise pretty grim-looking 2014 for MA Republicans.  Both are well-known “moderate” Republicans who have already run statewide (on the same ticket, in fact).  Both support abortion rights and marriage equality.  Both are facing uphill but probably winnable races this fall.  And both need the support of a lot of unenrolled voters and probably a few Democrats to win.

Tisei, who of course is gay and married, has decided to put his money where his mouth is by boycotting the convention this weekend.  One has to imagine that this move will piss off a lot of MA’s small but merry band of conservatives, since they’ll see it as a slap in their faces.  Which, frankly, is exactly what it is.  Over at RMG, the anti-Tisei backlash has already begun.  Tisei, who no doubt knew this would happen, must have concluded that the backlash from the right-wingers was worth it to him, both politically (he probably figures he’ll gain at least as many votes as he loses with this move), and personally.

On paper, at least, Tisei’s views are barely distinguishable from Baker’s.  Yet just a couple of days ago, we read in the Globe about how Baker has worked hard to reach out to his party’s right wing, and how the right wing (at least to the extent that our friend Rob Eno at RMG represents that wing) is feeling the reciprocal love: “‘Because [Baker] has worked the grass roots and been in the trenches helping Republican conservatives, the grass roots have come to love him.’”  The Globe tried to ask Baker about Tisei’s move, but “Baker’s spokesman declined to make Baker available or to discuss why he steered clear of the platform debate.”  Profile in courage alert.

Also, as you may recall, Baker has a lousy track record of standing up to the extreme elements of his party.  In 2010, he famously showed up at a Bill Hudak fundraiser (remember that guy?), and campaigned with Jeff Perry even as Perry’s less-than-awesome record as a cop was blowing up Perry’s own candidacy and threatening to derail every GOPer around him.

So what is a centrist Massachusetts voter, open to a Baker candidacy but uncomfortable with what the MA Republican party (as reflected in its platform) actually stands for, to think, if Baker shows up at the convention this weekend and rallies the assembled troops?  How much ammunition does Baker really want to hand over to Democrats who – obviously – are going to make every effort to link Baker to the views of the party under whose banner he chooses to run?  Last time around, Baker cost himself votes by refusing to disavow guys like Hudak and Perry.  Will he make the same mistake again?

Of course, there is one noteworthy difference between Tisei and Baker: Baker needs 15% of the delegates voting at the convention to get on the ballot, while Tisei, who is running for federal office, does not.  But come on – Baker could be a million miles away from the convention and still make the ballot, still win the endorsement, and maybe even still keep Mark Fisher off the ballot.  The entire party establishment is behind Baker, and he can send Karyn Polito to Worcester to make sure everything stays on track.  And even if Baker’s absence from the convention allowed Fisher to get 15% and create a primary, that would probably actually benefit Baker in the general election, since it would help Baker distinguish himself from Fisher’s extreme views throughout the primary cycle.

So how’s about it, Charlie?  Are you really going to let your former running mate show you up?  Do you really want it said that Tisei had the courage of his convictions, but you didn’t?  Do you stand for the party of Bill Weld, or Bill Hudak?

Questions for Warren Tolman?

David and I will meet with candidate for Attorney General Warren Tolman Friday afternoon to discuss his candidacy and the issues of the day. Do you have any questions you would like us to ask him?


Democratic incumbent Martha Coakley is running for Governor, former State Senator Warren Tolman and former Bureau Chief in the Attorney General’s Office, Maura Healey, have all announced their candidacy for the Democratic nomination. Attorney John Miller is running as a Republican.

Other possible Democratic candidates include: State Senator Eileen Donoghue, Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian, State Senator Will Brownsberger, State Representative David Linsky, and State Representative John D. Keenan.

State Representative Harold Naughton, Jr. was a Democratic candidate, but dropped out of the race. He will run for reelection to the House instead.

Poll source: Suffolk Date(s) administered: Jan. 29–Feb. 3, 2014. Sample size 309 Margin of error ± ? Maura Healey 16.5% Harold Naughton 1.94% Warren Tolman 24.6% Undecided 56.96%

Possible Republicans include: Former U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan and former prosecutor Peter Flaherty.

Terry Murray and Bob DeLeo are Tough Mother Fuh (Shout your mouth) – Dan Kennedy’s Strange Response to Herald Libel Verdict – Steve Grossman Should Go Wait in the Car – The Yiddish Sal and Les Gosule

Patrick Purcell is apparently still working his way through the $225 million he got for Community Newspapers. As to the two dysfunctional copies of this post below: they are mysteries. - promoted by Bob_Neer

They saw the Devil himself. Satan was all around. They even looked him in the eye. Yes siree, a few years ago Beelzebub unleashed his army on the Mass legislature, took it over, and made it weaker. But thanks to its leadership he could not destroy it.

The Devil could not get anyone to sell their soul by fabricating lies against others. But he did try. Sal DiMasi and his cancer cells can attest to that. .

So now all Fred Devil Wyshak has is this probation thing which makes hiring a friend or the the boss’s son the act of a gangster. You know, like John Matorano, Kevin Weeks, and Pat Nee. (Remember, the Wyshak’s indictments can apply to the private sector also.)

Unfortunately much damage has been done. We now have the scary ethics rules giving Martha Coakley the power to indict the naive and innocence while leaving plenty of room to create narratives for indictments when she gets the urge.

How about the Tim Cahill trial? And don’t forget John O’Brien indicted for trying to get his wife a part-time gig as a night time customer service operator at the lottery. A $30,000 job. Only bad people use their discretion to indict something like this. Thank God the the jury agreed.

Now they want to hand this power off to Martha, Jr. aka Maura Healy.


Yesterday a jury ordered the Herald to pay a woman over $500,000. The trial gave an up-close view of how some journalists make the sausage.

You see an aide for Rep. Gloria Fox was working on something at the prison for her boss. One time a prisoner who she was working with “put his hand on her knee and kissed her” in a non-threathening way. Against the rules of course. The prisoner was written up.

That’s the set-up. Now a few weeks later Rep. Fox goes to the prison with the aide for a meeting. The Herald writes a story that Rep. Fox was sneaking a woman into the prison to have sex with a prisoner. The aide was identified by name of course.

(Question, what if this aide was a straight haired blonde recent B.C. or Harvard grad from Weston)

This from Lawyers Weekly:

Rich, who handled the case with Megan C. Deluhery, said the Herald story failed to mention that the inmate merely had been accused of touching Marinova’s knee and kissing her hand. By the time the paper went to press, it was well aware those allegations had been dismissed, Rich said.

Peter A. Biagetti of Boston’s Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky & Popeo defended the Herald.The law firm released a statement from the Herald:“As the Herald has stated since its May 28, 2009 article on a major security breach at Old Colony Prison was published, its article was entirely correct, from its headline to its last line. The article was meticulously researched, carefully written and extremely well-documented. We are proud of it, and of the journalist who wrote it. (link above)

The Herald is proud of how they twisted facts describing legal and ethical actions to cause a reasonable person to believe that this particular woman was breaking into prisons to suck cock and Gloria Fox was her pimp. Nice. Real Nice.

Here’s the verdict slip BTW.

And the best part? Dan Kennedy writes about it like a news report yet refuses to offer an opinion. Zero editorial from the journalistic Mother Theresa.

Why Our Minimum Wage Bill is a Win-Win

Tom Conroy is running for Treasurer. - promoted by david

For the last eleven months, I’ve been honored to work with my colleagues in the House of Representatives, members of the labor community, employers and working families throughout the Commonwealth to develop a bill that raises the minimum wage in Massachusetts to the highest level in the country. I’m proud to say that later this afternoon, we will introduce a bill that does just that—raises the minimum wage to $10.50 by 2016, increases the wage for tipped workers, and expands the Earned Income Tax Credit, which together provide much needed help to nearly 500,000 working families throughout the Commonwealth. Within a few weeks this bill will be debated on the House floor, and I’m confident that it will pass with broad support.

We’ve come a long way in the last year, and have succeeded in fundamentally changing the dialog around increasing the minimum wage. Reaching this point was not easy—writing legislation that affects tens of thousands of people rarely is—but I’m proud to be a part of the team that produced this legislation. All of the time and energy will make a difference for the single mom working two jobs who currently must choose between food for her family or paying the electric bill; for the dad who is losing precious sleep wondering how to provide for his growing family; and for the teenager working a part-time job whose paychecks are going straight to the college fund.

Together we comprise the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, anchored by the fundamental belief that every citizen should enjoy the opportunity to succeed and build a better life. This bill takes an important first step in restoring the promise of the Commonwealth, and not just by raising the minimum wage. The legislation also:

This Surveillance Thread Might as Well Be Open

Senator Rand Paul on the subject. NYT:
Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, says President Obama should be particularly wary of domestic spying, given the government’s history of eavesdropping on civil rights leaders such as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “The first African-American president ought to be a little more conscious of the fact of what has happened with the abuses of domestic spying,” Mr. Paul said, previewing remarks he planned to deliver to a group of students and faculty members Wednesday afternoon at the University of California, Berkeley. “Martin Luther King was spied upon, civil rights leaders were spied upon, Muhammad Ali was spied upon, antiwar protesters were spied upon,” he said. “The possibility for abuse in this is incredible. So I don’t care if there’s never been any evidence of abuse with the N.S.A., they should not be collecting the data.”
- promoted by Bob_Neer

Trust no one. Or, trust everyone, because we’re all going to find out anyway.

Spencer Ackerman, of the Guardian, is a big wheel on the Twitter. These are all from today.

Spencer Ackerman @attackerman
NSA’s Raj De says any company/service provider for whom collection under 702 occurred knew about it, even if didn’t know “PRISM” name. Big.

Spencer Ackerman @attackerman
Another clarification from NSA’s De: the companies also know about upstream collection under 702, from Internet backbone, not just PRISM.

Spencer Ackerman @attackerman
@JameelJaffer of ACLU: Vacuuming a country’s entire phone calls is “the logical endpoint of the arguments the government is making today.”

As suggested by this comment from somervilletom, this thread is to catch — vacuum, if you will — your thoughts on the surveillance state.

Update: PRISM background from Wikipedia:

PRISM is a clandestine mass electronic surveillance data mining program launched in 2007 by the National Security Agency (NSA), with participation from an unknown date by the British equivalent agency, GCHQ.PRISM is a government code name for a data-collection effort known officially by the SIGAD US-984XN.The Prism program collects stored Internet communications based on demands made to Internet companies such as Google Inc. and Apple Inc. under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 to turn over any data that match court-approved search terms. The NSA can use these Prism requests to target communications that were encrypted when they traveled across the Internet backbone, to focus on stored data that telecommunication filtering systems discarded earlier, and to get data that is easier to handle, among other things

Footnote numbers removed for readability. Virtually every major firm in “the Internet sector” was shocked — shocked! — when PRISM’s existence was revealed. Or they weren’t.

Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz statement on charter school extension

Chang-Diaz says Charter Schools just say No. - promoted by Bob_Neer
March 18, 2014
Hannah V. Hastings, (617) 722-1673
Senator Chang-Díaz Statement on Joint Committee on Education 1-Week Extension

Today the Joint Committee on Education voted on a one-week extension on bills dealing with turnaround and charter schools. Over the past few months, stakeholders from all sides of this issue have been hard at work coming to compromises on various aspects of a composite bill, and we have come to agreement on a number of issues. We are down to the final aspects.

I continue to fight to find a balanced third way that breaks from the us-versus-them mindset when it comes to district and charter schools. All are public schools and both are needful of our attention and advocacy. I have been on record in both words and actions that I am committed to getting a bill out of committee that continues to close the gap between populations served by charters and districts, mitigates the financial stresses that even the best charters present for district schools, and allows targeted expansion of good charters. To that end, I’ve offered multiple proposals for balanced compromises. These proposals have been met with consistent “no’s” from the charter advocate community, with no counter proposals that bring us toward a compromise. While I am disappointed that we must resort to a one-week extension today, I remain committed to forging a resolution. My door is wide open to anyone who has ideas about how we can move forward on a middle path that treats all kids with compassion and fairness.

I also want to be transparent that, should we be able to reach resolution and report a bill out of Committee, there are still key decisions about funding fairness that will be made over the coming months through the budget process, which occur outside the Education Committee. These decisions will impact the effects of any bill on the schools in which the majority of students remain and therefore will be large factors in my ultimate vote for or against a bill on the Senate floor.


Tea Party's Fisher Would Be MA Gov.

Good stuff, as usual. Two interesting details of note: (1) check out today's Globe on whether Fisher is likely to get the 15% of delegates he needs to make the ballot (spoiler: not looking good at the moment); and (2) Charlie Baker really has no reason to be scared of talking to Left Ahead - they are very nice people, and I can personally guarantee Charlie's safety. ;) - promoted by david

Mark FisherSmall business owner, erstwhile unemployed guy, and self-identified MA Tea Party Republican Mark Fisher wants to be governor here. He spoke with me today about his vision of what government should and should not be about.

On his campaign site, he details his planks. There and personally, he makes no bones about being a full-platform MA Republican. That is, you can hold him personally accountable for the planks in the recent MA GOP version. (You can see it courtesy of RedMassGroup here; the party does not openly publicize it.)

Click below to listen in to Fisher’s positions. He starts, like the famous the-rents-too-damned-high guy, with the call on the front of his own site, “NO TOLLS.” That is one of his political and moral certainties. He says the MA Pike has been paid for since over 30 years ago, the ads and service area fees pay for road maintenance, so the tolls should go away. Moreover, both the sales-tax and income-tax hikes, billed as temporary, need to each return to 5% as the voters chose. He sees all three as moral issues — “If we can’t trust our government,” he said, “there’s no use talking about anything else.”

I had thought we’d mix it up on health-care. I asked him about it when he appeared recently at a Rappaport Center round table. He claimed that the solution to health-case cost hikes was to let the free market settle it, that said free market had not gotten its chance to work fully. I contended and still do that deregulation from the Weld administration permitted wild capitalism at its worst by the large providers, leading to regional monopolies and price inelasticity. When we got to that near the end of today’s half hour, he deflated me by not disagreeing. He still contends that letting providers across state lines offer various policies in the style of auto insurers would drive down prices, but he agreed that the likes of Partners gobbling up hospitals and doctor groups created regional monopolies.