Why Martha? I'll say why

For this:

Ensuring that we meet our 2020 and 2050 GHG reduction goals

  • Ensuring that every home and business in Massachusetts undergoes an energy audit within the next eight years .
  • Increasing regional investments to expand access to public transit, and supporting the expansion of electric and other alternative fuel vehicles.
  • Incentivizing smart – growth development, which combines housing, business development, and transit.

 

Developing new clean energy technologies

  • Doubling the funding for the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, to expand access to capital and technical services for businesses.
  • Building a strong clean energy workforce , including expanding clean energy curriculum in secondary and post – secondary education.
  • Modernizing our grid and utility regulation to ensure that electric and gas utilities have the right rules and incentives to more rapidly deploy energy efficiency and renewable energy.

I know, I know, I’m Johnny-One-Note and have been since the Affordable Care Act passed. But given that Boston is considering its future as a soggy neo-Venice, I kind of think that the issue of climate and climate resilience is a big one. We have to start planning now, and we have to move as fast as possible to a post-carbon economy.

Read the pdf. Martha gets it; she hasn’t always given climate people the clearest impression of her commitment, but she’s pretty good.

I have not forgotten, nor will I ever forget, that Charlie Baker had a moment in 2010 to distinguish himself from the willful ignorance and denialism that characterizes his political tribe. And how did he answer?

The former CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care first ducked a question on the human role in global warming after a speech last week at Suffolk University Law School. “I don’t think whether I believe that or not matters in this conversation,’’ Baker said. When a Globe reporter quizzed him further the next day, the Harvard-educated head of administration and finance under Governors Bill Weld and Paul Cellucci pled ignorance: “I’m not saying I believe in it. I’m not saying I don’t. You’re asking me to take a position on something I don’t know enough about. I absolutely am not smart enough to believe that I know the answer to that question.’’ Asked for more clarification yesterday, he again declined to state a conclusion but promised to read the 2007 report of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

This still makes me spit. And look at his website — nothing about climate change or resilience, in this, the Bay State. He seems to grudgingly acknowledge that it’s real, which is a hell of a lot different than doing anything about it.

Oh, but he’s so much different now! That was four years ago! Well, what kind of man is he going to be four years from now? One year? Do you know? Can you tell?

Go Martha.

Big Beverage vs. The Environment

Big beverage versus the people of the Commonwealth, more like: these firms create a mess across the state and we have to pay to clean it up. Expanding the bottle bill will save us money and reduce trash: it's a no-brainer. - promoted by Bob_Neer

It seems that it was just yesterday that people drank water from bubblers, and that buying a cold drink meant buying Coke, Pepsi, or 7-Up. But over the past 30 years, there has been a huge shift in what we’re drinking – and how much of it we’re drinking, and even where we are drinking it.

Nowhere is this change more obvious than in the 10 bottle bill states: MA, NY, CT, VT, OR, CA, IA, ME, and MI. These states have the highest container recycling rates (by far), the lowest litter rates, and what’s most amazing, the people there have no problem with paying a nickel knowing that they’ll get it back.

Some of these states have updated their bottle bills to reflect changes in consumer tastes. Beverages like peach-kiwi iced tea weren’t on the shelves 30 years ago, but now these non-carbonated juices, water and sports drinks like Gatorade, dominate he shelves. The fight that’s now going on in Massachusetts over updating our 30-year old law has become a battlefield.

On one side are the well-known environmental and public interest groups, like the Massachusetts Sierra Club, Mass Audubon, League of Women Voters of MA, and MASSPIRG; on the other side are the Big Bottlers and supermarket chains.

What’s true is that the bottle bill is the most effective program ever devised to prevent litter and increase recycling, becoming a model for other states and countries around he world. Due to the bottle bill, Massachusetts redeems-recycles an amazing 80% of beverage containers.  In sharp contrast, only 23% of juice and water bottles are recycled, because they’re not covered by nickel deposits.

Charlie Baker voices support for housing program with 85% failure rate

Perfectly consistent with Baker's persona as a "mini-Mitt." thegreenmiles comments: "Why won’t you poors just stop being so poor?" - promoted by Bob_Neer

The Springfield Republican wrote an article yesterday describing how Charlie Baker, in a visit to Worcester, voiced his support of Worcester’s plan to put work requirements and a three to seven year time limit for families to be able to reside in public housing.

The Worcester Housing Authority sought to require that all public housing residents residents enroll in “The A Better Life” program. The plan requires “residents of public housing and Section 8 housing to have just one member of the family either attend school full time or be employed and work no less than 1,200 hours during the year. All families are allowed three years in public housing and those that follow the employment or school rule will be allowed to stay up to seven years, with a hardship review board approving longer stays on a case by case basis.”

BMG's lackluster support for Martha Coakley?

Go Martha! - promoted by Bob_Neer

As the state convention and primary results show, Martha Coakley was not a first choice by a majority when put up against legitimate rivals.  Now it is down to two from the major parties plus 3 others, and party activists have to do their thing to get her elected.  Given the scarcity of plugs for AG Coakley, and some mild affirmation that Baker may be the next governor, a sort of malaise has settled in putting together a strategy to up our game to help her win.

This works two ways.  The strengths of your candidate and their goals need to be touted in an effective way for the public.  Secondly, the opposition candidate’s weaknesses have to be displayed as ineffective or worse as a detriment to the well being of Massachusetts citizens.

The second task is not difficult.  It is the first that is giving people spilkes.  Can her long service to government, and her motivation with the public interest in mind be demonstrated?  Mostly yes, but sometimes off the mark.  She has demonstrated that for certain issues she is a champion.  Unfortunately they are not always what holds the public’s attention.

So what to do?  I want to support her, but based mainly on the fact that Charlie Baker is a libertarian who would decrease important services, demean people down on their luck, and revive the economy for his buddies without much help for regular guys.  It is the other side of the equation that requires buffing up.

Can some supporters of Martha Coakley bring some heft that may be unknown to others, so we can get “Fired up and ready to go!”?  What I have read and heard to date doesn’t fill the bill.

Has a casino ever revived a desperate city?

I’d really like to know the answer to that question.  Has it ever happened?  Anywhere?  Even once?  Because that would seem relevant to the Springfield question, among others.

When it comes to casinos, investigative journalist forgets to investigate

If there’s anything that’s controversial about the casino question, it’s this: will the casinos bring the jobs and economic development they promise, or won’t they?

I would suggest that the evidence is against the pro-casino position.  After all, can anyone point to a single instance, anywhere in the United States, where bringing a casino into a downtrodden urban area has turned things around?  Yet that’s what the pro-Springfield casino folks say is going to happen.  Somehow, Springfield is going to be different from every other time this strategy has been tried.  I mean, Detroit has a bunch of casinos, but I don’t recall seeing any glorious turnaround stories coming out of the Motor City lately.  To the contrary, three recently-opened casinos in the city didn’t prevent the city from filing for bankruptcy last year.

All of which brings us to today’s astounding Globe column by Thomas Farragher.  He’s in favor of letting MGM build a casino in Springfield because … well, because MGM says it’s going to make things better, and by golly, the people of Springfield people believe them.

[W]hat really animates [Rico] Daniele — who, believe me, is easily animated — is the enormous economic life raft that will either be launched or scuttled next month just around the corner from the Italian market he has operated for 38 years in Springfield’s South End.

“It seems like we’re always broke,” Daniele said over lunch at his market Monday. “It’ll be a big spark for the city. There’ll finally be some vibrancy to Springfield. And if people don’t want to come, don’t come.”

Daniele, of course, is talking about the only thing anyone in Springfield is talking about: the $800 million casino project planned by MGM Resorts International for a city where the jobless rate remains stalled stubbornly in double digits, a tornado’s scars are still raw, and the stain of municipal corruption is not yet a distant memory.

I don’t know Mr. Daniele.  I’m sure he is a very nice man, and it’s impossible not to feel for him as he watches his city struggle.  But, at least judging from Farragher’s column, Mr. Daniele doesn’t have much in the way of qualifications to judge whether MGM’s projections for Springfield are realistic, or whether a casino project represents a genuine turnaround opportunity.  Plus, gosh, what better cure for “the stain of municipal corruption” than bringing a casino to town?

For a contrary viewpoint, one might consider the words of a guy who should know.

No one should look to casinos to revive cities, “because that’s not what casinos do.” So explained the project manager for a new Wynn casino rising near Philadelphia.

Give the guy credit for being succinct.  The same article offers this hard-to-argue-with point:

Casinos don’t encourage non-gaming businesses to open nearby, because the people who most often visit casinos do not wander out to visit other shops and businesses. A casino is not like a movie theater or a sports stadium, offering a time-limited amusement. It is designed to be an all-absorbing environment that does not release its customers until they have exhausted their money.

But Springfield is going to be different, because … well, listen to this, from Farragher’s conversation with Mr. Daniele.

“MGM is coming to this thing from the heart,” he told me. “They’ll do what they promise they’re going to do. If not, my 89-year-old mother and I will chase them with a broom.”

Let’s get one thing clear: “the heart” has nothing to do with why MGM is coming to Springfield.  MGM is not a charity, for God’s sake.  It is a money-making enterprise, and it is coming to Springfield because it thinks it will make more money than it spends.  And forgive me if I don’t think that MGM is exactly quaking in its boots at the threat of Mr. Daniele and his mother running after them with cleaning implements.

What’s most depressing about this whole thing is that Farragher used to be an investigative journalist.  ”He spent eight years as editor of the Spotlight Team,” says his bio.  Yet there’s no indication – none – that Farragher has done the slightest bit of investigation into whether MGM’s claims are remotely plausible.  Nor, apparently, has he looked at other casino developments in cities that resemble Springfield to see if they have rejuvenated those cities.  Wouldn’t that be useful to know?  I guess when you get handed the title of “columnist,” you no longer have to do any, you know, reporting.  You just have to write down a conversation with a nice man in Springfield, parrot the casino industry’s claims, and leave it at that.  WTF.

Instead, Farragher’s “analysis” boils down to this: Massachusetts already has the lottery, and Springfield voted yes, so that should be the end of it.

[A]m I going to tell Springfield that it cannot benefit from gambling lucre in a state that profits handsomely from scratch tickets and incessant Keno games? No, I’m not.

Obviously, this begs the question whether Springfield will in fact “benefit” from plopping a casino into its struggling downtown.  But Farragher doesn’t bother to investigate whether or not that might actually happen.

Farragher does go out of his way to assure us that he sure isn’t one of those rubes who’s going to be sucked into MGM’s profit-making machine.

I will never visit these casinos unless I’m on the clock for the Globe. When I drove cross-country to take a job in 1988, my traveling companion, who likes the ponies, suggested a side trip to Reno, where I went through 50 bucks in the time it took to ask, “Where’s the free beer?”

That’s right.  Casinos are for suckers, as Farragher learned decades ago, and he’s no sucker, he wants you to know.  But he must think that there are a whole lot of other suckers out there who will flock to MGM’s Springfield palace and somehow turn the struggling city around.

If only there were some evidence that anything like that might actually happen.

Boston Herald Trolls With Racist Obama Cartoon

Astonishing, really. - promoted by david

The Boston Herald, the voice of old-school Boston racists, is in the national spotlight today for this overtly racist cartoon about President Obama and Secret Service breaches. The cartoonist is defending himself by claiming that, much like Stephen Colbert’s fictional character, he can’t see race:

[Jerry] Holbert, himself, responded to the criticism his cartoon received during an appearance Wednesday on the Boston Herald’s talk radio show.

He told the hosts that he had “no intention at all of offending anyone” and that he doesn’t “think along the lines of racial jokes.” While he acknowledged that his jokes can be “naive” or “stupid,” he said he was definitely not racist. He repeatedly emphasized that he “wasn’t thinking of the racial element” when he used watermelon toothpaste.

“I was thinking of myself,” he said. “I really like watermelon.”

After Holbert left the show, one of the hosts noted that the racist connotations of watermelon seemed pretty obvious.

Even Boston Herald talk show hosts know jokes involving black people and watermelon are racist.

The Herald’s editors ”sincerely regret if we inadvertently offended anyone,” tweets WBZ’s Joe Mathieu. Yes, if any of you REVERSE RACIST WHITE GUILT SELF-HATING LIBERALS took offense at our obviously racist cartoon, we’re sorry you can’t get over it.

Pro-trash "No on Question 2:" recycling has eliminated trash in MA

A ludicrous anti-bottle bill ad from Roche Bros., Big Y, Stop & Shop, the American Beverage Association, and the other giant corporations who put profits before people and sell millions of bottles each year that we then have to pay to clean up:

[Bottle deposits are an idea] whose “time has come and passed” with the advent of curbside programs that allow residents to recycle at home

As if. Our roads and parks remain littered with bottles and containers that cost states and local municipalities millions to clean up, despite curbside recycling programs. By all means, expand the latter, but that is no argument against Question 2.

Expanding the bottle bill will reduce rubbish and move the costs of cleanup to those who create the expense. Yes on Question 2 is an easy call and, indeed:

Yes on 2 will hold a Volunteer Summit on October 5th at the Worcester First Baptist Church, located at 111 Park Avenue in Worcester, from 1:30 PM to 4:30 PM. We will give a comprehensive review and training of our strategy, message, and the tactics we will use in order to win on November 4th.

Click here to RSVP for the October 5th summit.

 

Indexing: More economic literacy, please

I’ve heard some bad arguments against gas tax indexing, and Tom Keane makes two of them in the Globe today.

Take away lawmakers’ easy way out on gas tax – Opinion – The Boston Globe.

First, I really wish that the “magic” of compound interest were not such a novelty to allegedly informed journalists:

The compounding effect of annual inflation increases can prove quite large. If automatic indexing had been in effect since 1991 (when it was 21 cents), for example, the gas tax today would stand at a whopping 36 cents.

Um, yes, that’s true. But the whole point of indexing is that 36 cents is precisely as “whopping” as 21 cents back in 1991.

To be fair, Keane says that families don’t get an automatic increase in cost of living. Well, yes and no. Wages do rise over time, but not equally. Inequality is rising, and that working class wages have not kept pace with inflation. That’s the actual problem, then, isn’t it? That would require a different column from Keane, which would fit less neatly into the simple anti-tax narrative.

Secondly, Keane bafflingly asserts that by indexing the gas tax, the legislature has somehow “delegated” its authority to tax, and is escaping the political ownership of such marginal increases. (And he drops some serious knowledge by quoting John Locke! DAMN!)

This is plain silly. The legislature owns whatever it writes. And if it owns the teeny increases in the gas tax, then it also surely owns the condition of roads and bridges as well. This has been quantified! $1 billion a year, and we’ve known about it for some time.

So for all of Keane’s hand-waving about how the problem is overstated, well, prove it. His personal skepticism is not actual evidence.

Save basic economic literacy. Keep the index.

Addendum -  This is so obvious it smacks one in the face: Your sales and income taxes are already adjusted for inflation because they’re percentages. Thanks commenters.

Baker, Coakley out of tune with the high tech industry

This is some sad stuff. "Disruptive" is such a common buzzword, it's become a cliché. And non-competes are a joke that hand jobs to California. Gov. Patrick knew that - that's why he opposed them. Things To Never Say: “I’m open to looking at XYZ" needs to be banned from Martha Coakley's repertoire with extreme prejudice. - promoted by charley-on-the-mta

What do Blue Mass Groupies think of Baker and Coakley’s appearance at the High Tech forum in Cambridge?

“Both major-party candidates for Massachusetts governor were clearly out of their element Monday before an audience of about 150 tech workers during a forum at Microsoft’s Cambridge office. They spoke in generalities, sidestepped questions about employee noncompete agreements — a hot-button issue in the tech sector — and left attendees craving substance.

“‘It was terrible,’ said Axel Scherer, a software architect at Cadence Design Systems in Chelmsford. ‘They said nothing. Just empty suits going blah, blah, blah.”

(Boston Globe: Baker, Coakley sidestep hot-button tech questions at forum, by Callum Borchers, Sept 29, 2014)

***

I’m having trouble understanding this reluctance of both candidates to engage on the issue of banning non-competes in the state.

Baker, I understand, as CEO he’s coming from a board room environment, and may find it hard to mend his ways and accept banning non-competes in the state.

But Coakley? What did she have to lose? Is it timidity or lack of political acumen? She is obviously struggling to be popular in the high-tech industry. And it’s not like the non-competes questions came out of nowhere. Taking a stand against non-competes would have been a great way to differentiate against Baker.

***

From the Globe story:

“Baker flubbed a question about collaboration between state government and local universities, which he expanded to discuss cooperative efforts by one school and another. ‘One of my favorite collaborations going on right now is in online education between Harvard and MIT,’ he said. ‘I think it’s called Next. NextEd? EdNext?’ Crowd members called out the correct name, edX, referring to the platform for free online courses the two universities launched in 2012. ‘I know what it is!’ Baker responded, laughing at himself. ‘I just can’t spell it.’

“Meanwhile Coakley was thrown off by an inquiry about Uber, Airbnb, and Tesla, which a questioner described as ‘disruptive’ technologies. ‘Does the use of disrupt telegraph how you feel about these?’ Coakley asked, suggesting a negative connotation. The questioner clarified that his definition of disruptive is ‘improving the delivery of services to consumers.’ Coakley laughed and replied that she is ‘old enough that disrupt was usually a bad thing.’ ‘But I know that it’s a good thing,’ she said. ‘I’ve learned that.’”

 

Anti-Casino Folks Need To Reach Beyond Their Base

This is good advice. Jeff Jacoby's somewhat unexpected "Yes on 3" column is a decent place to start. - promoted by david

Two Rules of Campaigning 101:

1. Nurture and grow your base; and

2. Reach out beyond your base,

Too many campaigns get so caught up in number one they forget about number two. And too many campaigns get so caught up  with number two they ignore number one to their detriment.

The anti-casino people have number one wrapped up. They just have to make sure they vote.

Number two I am not so sure of. They can’t win without number two. The numbers are showing it. There needs to be outreach to voters who would be sympathetic to their cause if they knew certain facts other than the same old boiler plate arguments that keep the base together.

Independents, Republicans, Libertarians, and less progressive Dems who do not ft the stereo-typical anti-casino voter NEED TO BE TOLD of the plain-as-the-nose-on-your-face shenanigans and appearance of corruption occurring at the Gaming Commission and in Everett.

If anything, what these people don’t want is another Massachusetts stereotypical corrupt institution.

Here’s another rule everyone knows. Campaigns are all about additions. Not sunbstarctions. Keep adding voters without losing any. The referendum has not seen an increase in support from beyond its base and it probably won’t unless they affectively spread the word.

Time to build a specific message for a specific audience. Targeted mailings and media buys showcasing a few facts that lets the too busy to notice electorate know that only a fool would not wonder if the Commission has been corrupted.

The Atlantic City/ addiction/neighborhood blight stuff is the meat potatoes but not everyone is a meat and potatoes type of voter.

Wonk Post: MA Governor Polling Aggregate

Not surprising. But well worth being aware of. - promoted by david

From HuffPo/Pollster: