Boston 2024, Money and Political Access

The other night while in the car, I caught on WBUR part of the speech John Fish gave a week or so back to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. It was immediately clear Fish passionately believes in the Olympics– and sees value for Boston and Massachusetts in the bid process itself.

But one thing he said truly struck me for what it says about the political machinations that have already taken place. And a couple days later, the point was truly driven home.

During his talk—which you can hear here–Fish mentions that just the night before the speech he spoke to both Mayor Walsh and Gov. Baker on the phone.

Fish is, of course, a millionaire many times over (personal net worth estimated at $425 million) and has a track record of using that political wealth to influence the political process. (His 2012 political donations totaled $150,000 and he gave more than $200K last year) . He and his firm (Suffolk Construction) has helped transform the city in recent decade and he is a longtime philanthropist doing good for the city.

It seems to me the reason Fish is able to get a Democratic mayor and a Republican governor on the phone in the same night has more to do with the first two factors surrounding his wealth than any of those other factors.

The importance of this fact wasn’t fully clear to me until a couple days later when I read this Boston Herald story  about a new 2024 opposition group forming.

This line in particular struck me:

If the Olympics happen here, we will keep going to 2024, even if we are protesting behind barricades and fences.”

How’s that for political symbolism: John Fish can get Baker and Walsh (and no doubt, DeLeo, Rosenberg, et al) on the phone anytime he wants to plead his case; the opposition has to wield its political power from “behind barricades and fences.”

To me this- in addition to being a symptom of a the larger political process being unwell–is  is why Boston 2024 has been able to co-opt the state’s entire political machine to work with it– as a partner–on the bid, all without any official decisions to do being made or votes taken.

Not a watchdog or a check and balance,  or to represent the vox populi — but in conjunction and cooperation.

The mainstream press likes to talk about Boston 2024′s political stumbles, but if so, they’ve stumbled into a pretty good situation: Access to key decision-makers long before any of us even have a chance to say our piece–or even knew we had something to say our piece about.

 

Question for all the School Teachers on BMG

If you had a daycare problem would you:

1. bring your child to your classroom and have the baby there all day as you taught; and

2. Even if you wanted to would your prinicpal allow it?

I would like to hear from teachers on this. Especially the ones who tell me I’m an asshole because i have a problem with an infant being cared for by a city councillor in the city council chamber during a a public hearing. Not acceptable. No other self-respecting legislative body would allow it.

But then again, this is the Boston City Council. They want so bad to be respected yet they treat their own instituion with disrespect.

Is the USOC about to drop a house on #Boston2024's bid?

Quick, someone prep the Lollipop Guild; it looks like someone may drop a house on #Boston2024′s bid.

The Fat Lady hasn’t sung yet, but the obvious conclusion about Boston 2024 is becoming obvious to the people who still have the time to stop it.

The USOC has come out to deny the report, but the story is writing itself from here.

Is the USOC really going to continue to humiliate itself after wasting years of effort to get back in the IOC’s good graces? Doubtful.

It’s only a matter of time, now — as Boston 2024 goes drip, drip, drip.

Governor Baker, Prioritize Environmental Justice

Dear Governor Baker,

As you know, on November 25 of last year Governor Deval Patrick signed into law an Executive Order #552 on Environmental Justice which decrees that state agencies designate resources to protect the health, safety and environment for the most vulnerable residents of the Commonwealth. It recognizes that low-income communities, communities of color and communities with limited English-proficiency live in areas with greater exposure to environmental health hazards.

As part of the College Democrats of Massachusetts’ Environmental Action Week, we write to you in support of this Executive Order and thank you for ensuring its continued implementation. We appreciate the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs’ (EEA) updated policies on Environmental Justice including reducing diesel emissions, promoting clean energy technology, brownfields revitalization and creating greenspaces. In addition to the EEA, we hope we can count on you to make sure all state agencies create an environmental justice strategy by May 24, 2015 and that secretariats designate a coordinator to implement their specific strategy. Massachusetts made history by becoming the eighth state in the nation to make environmental justice a policy priority and we cannot allow this progress to stagnate.

Another crucial part of guaranteeing environmental justice for all Massachusetts residents is making sure vulnerable communities have access to reliable public transportation. Youth and low-income people rely heavily on the MBTA to get to work, school and community resources like grocery stores and healthcare centers. Accessibility to these places allows people to contribute to their communities and help the Commonwealth become healthier and more productive. We urge you to work with Secretary Pollack to make increasing funding for the MBTA part of the Department of Transportation’s Environmental Justice Strategy.

Although our political agendas are not always in line, the College Democrats of Massachusetts deeply appreciates your commitment to serving the people of the Commonwealth. Your most recent proposed legislation on expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit shows your regard for low income residents and we hope you see the intersection of low income and environmental justice issues. We thank you for supporting the Environmental Justice Executive Order thus far and strongly encourage its continued implementation.

Sincerely,

The College Democrats of Massachusetts Executive Board

Stan Rosenberg Cheapen's Gay Marriage With Karyn Polito Officiating his wedding

Stan’s love is so real, so strong, so sacred, so special that he’s allowed the obtuse wealthy closet tea party nut job to officiate his wedding.

Imagine if you were a bride and your husband to be wants  somne stranger with suspect credentials officiating your wedding because it will help him at work.

I’m beginning to think Stan’s personality may get in the way of his performance as Senate leader.

Tough to respect a guy who sells out his wedding for a poilitcal headline.

 

(man have been in a bad mood this week.)

TED BROUGHT US WITH HIM...

Many of us had some tie with Ted Kennedy — and for most of us it was simply having voted for him because we knew he would deliver for our state.

Today, watching the wonderful ceremony opening the new Ted Kennedy Institute for the US Senate, it dawned on me that his greatest gift was in being able to reach out to those who did not fully share his progressive values.

But the reason this was such a gift to our nation was that he used that gift to lead us forward into a more equal, a more prosperous, a more peaceful, and a more generous – spirited place by bringing together those who didn’t originally share his vision.  Ted Kennedy brought us along gracefully into being that more generous nation.

Thank you, Senator Kennedy.  Thank you because after all of your tribulations, you used your humanity to bring our nation and our community together in the end.

 

Fred Rich LaRiccia

 

 

Question For All Us Feminists: Should Michelle Wu Bring Baby to City Hall Meetings?

First Rule of this argument: Let’s assume everyone has had a kid, knows someone who’s has a kid, or has at least one parent who’s had a kid. Okay? Nobody has cornered the market on parenting.

A picture of  Michelle Wu with her beautiful sleeping baby in in front of her on her desk at a council hearing was tweeted out today.

Very cute and yes I question the photo-op/using-baby-as-prop-for-political-gain (do you know how many kids have been raised in city hall and kept out of the chamber for meetings?).

I got jumped on when I questioned this in a twitter reply.

But let’s use this to discuss the bigger issue.

I am sorry to tell my fellow feminists but there is a difference between the male and female and this is where we see it. Michelle is a mother. Michael Flaherty is a father. He leaves the house and I bet doesn’t obsess about his kids that day. Will they make the dentist appointment, will they make it to the bus on time, do they have money for the field trip, are they dressed warm enough.

Yes the dad thought about it and yes he cares but in reality, he doesn’t care once he leaves the house. Until the mother calls and texts every half hour and reminds him.

Now I also bet that Councilor Flaherty or other recent male city councilors who had kids during their tenure went to work soon after the birth and really didn’t worry too much about who was watching the baby. Wife/mother-in-law/daycare. Who cares? The kid’s safe and by safe I mean the mother is happy where the kid is. That is all that matters to most dads. What does mom say? Peace and quiet my friends, peace and quiet. Think of that come Father’s Day

Not so with the mother of a child. That’s why we see young mothers struggle with work. Their minds are on the baby. Like Michelle’s.

So if us feminists would admit that when it comes to mothering no one can do it like a mother and no one knows what it is like to worry like a mother.

I believe that. And if feminists will accept it then I see no reason why Michelle shouldn’t worry and act like a mother. Let all mothers do what they have to do. Men will respect it. They had mothers.

But really if we saw Michael Flaherty in a hearing with a baby we would lose respect for him. And rightfully so.

But if us feminists want to keep insisting that mothers and dads are exactly alike then I say, ‘screw you, the kid doesn’t belong there. Shows total disrespect to the council and the people appearing before it. The subject matter and the tax payers deserve her full attention.’

Of course I am right on this, right?

BTW I’m glad I didn’t have business important to me in front of the council today. I’d be trying to make a point to a city councillor with her infant child on her desk and she’s babysitting.

What the father of the child? Aren’t we equal here? Why doesn’t he bring the kid to work?

Oh, he is not the mother. So there is a difference?

Hmmmm.just waht are the femists saying? We are all equal until it doesn’benfit the woman?

Ocean "conveyor belt": Where do the fish go?

At its heart, the global warming problem is about food.

There’s a local angle to the climate news that the Atlantic “conveyor belt” is slowing down. Also known as North Atlantic Drift, these are the ocean currents that go from the tropics and bring relatively mild weather to Europe. The melting of Greenland’s glaciers has significantly slowed down the conveyor belt. So, Europe may well be getting colder. But there’s a local problem as well — where do the fish go?

Living on Earth: Melting Ice Slows Down Ocean Circulation

From Living on Earth’s interview with famed climate scientist Michael Mann:

CURWOOD: Now, when you say it keeps Europe warm, we’re saying places like England, which is far north of eastern United States – New York, Boston – tends to be much warmer and has an earlier spring.

MANN: That’s right. And of course, Western Europe relies upon that moderate climate. If they were to lose that moderate climate that would obviously be problematic for them, for their economy. The pattern of climate, of rainfall, of drought, of temperature, that we rely upon today, and we rely upon the stability of those climate patterns for human civilization, well, if they were to change abruptly, that could really spell trouble, for us, for other living things, so any abrupt change in climate could potentially be catastrophic. We have long suspected that the North Atlantic Ocean circulation, the conveyor belt is one of those components of the climate system that could potentially undergo a very rapid change if we continue to warm the planet with fossil fuel burning and increased greenhouse gas concentrations. The climate models predict that we could see that current begin to shut down perhaps by the end of the century. As it turns out, the models appear to be too conservative because in our latest study we find evidence that that current is already weakening substantially and could be much closer to a total collapse than current generation climate models would suggest.

My emphasis. And the Massachusetts angle of the story? No good news for our beleaguered fishing industry:

One of the greatest concerns here is that if we did shut down the ocean circulation system, the conveyor belt, while we wouldn’t get a new ice age in the northern hemisphere, we would fundamentally change the flow of nutrients that feed ecosystems in the north Atlantic Ocean, which is one of the most productive regions for sea life in the entire world, and we would potentially lose access to fish populations that we rely upon right now, at a time when we’re already seeing threats to fisheries from ocean acidification, from overfishing. And so, while the impacts wouldn’t play out like a Hollywood disaster film, they could still be disastrous for us.

Here in Massachusetts, if we want to preserve a local industry — hell, if we want to eat — we’d better figure this out. Mitigate and adapt: What can we do to slow this process down, and what can we fish and eat in the future?

"US needs new perspectives" — a progressive alternative?

In a provocative appearance on ABC’s “This week”, former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley spoke to a certain weariness that at least some of us have with the current state of the 2016 presidential campaign:

“The presidency of the United States is not some crown to be passed between two families,” the former Maryland governor told ABC’s “This Week.”

Finally.

As a former Maryland resident, I am all too aware that the last former Governor from Maryland to achieve high office was not a success.

Still, a brief review of Mr. O’Malley’s public record is at least initially encouraging (emphasis mine):

O’Malley was governor of Maryland throughout the Great Recession, from 2007 to 2015. It is one of only eight states that kept an AAA bond rating throughout that traumatic period. Bond houses attribute the record largely to strong fiscal practices by O’Malley and his Democratic legislature, including a willingness to cut spending, raise taxes and restructure fiscal obligations, including pensions.

The AAA bond rating statement is worth highlighting (emphasis mine):

KEY RATING DRIVERS

CONSERVATIVE FINANCIAL OPERATIONS: Financial operations are conservative, and the state maintains a well-funded rainy day fund. The state took repeated action during the course of the last recession to address projected budget gaps, including raising tax revenues, cutting spending, and using rainy day and other balances.

STRONG DEBT MANAGEMENT: Debt oversight is strong and centralized, and the debt burden is moderate. The state has policies to maintain debt affordability, and the constitution requires GO and transportation bonds to amortize within 15 years.

PENSION FUNDING REFORMS: Pension funding levels have deteriorated, although the state has undertaken extensive reforms to pensions and other post-employment benefits to improve funding levels.

BROAD ECONOMY: The state has a diverse, wealthy economy, benefiting from its proximity to the nation’s capital.

Martin O’Malley is a possible progressive Democratic candidate that has my attention. I can easily imagine synergy between his contemplated campaign (and subsequent presidency) and the agenda of Elizabeth Warren. Perhaps, like two smaller storms converging into a blizzard over the ocean south of Cape Cod, the Occupy Everything Elizabeth Warren agenda may become a major and dominant political firestorm.

Why is Indiana's "Religious Freedom" law such a big deal? Because Hobby Lobby changed everything.

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past week or so, you’ve probably seen something of the sh!tstorm that has erupted over the decision by the Governor of Indiana, Mike Pence (quite possibly a candidate for president but I digress), to sign a “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” into law in that state.  The NY Times declared that the law has been “denounced as [an] invitation to discriminate against gays”; the “#BoycottIndiana” hashtag is trending on Twitter; major entertainers, athletes, sports leagues, businesses, and others are talking about withdrawing from the state or cancelling plans to appear there or to expand their businesses; everything’s just going all kinds of wrong in the Hoosier state.

This morning, Governor Pence went on This Week with George Stephanopoulos to try to defend himself and the law he signed, and his principal argument is a pretty straightforward one: our law is exactly the same as the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which President Clinton signed, and it’s also the same as state laws that are already in effect in roughly 20 other states.  All basically true [UPDATE: however, see additional notes at the end].  So, he asks, why is everyone picking on Indiana?

Two words: Hobby Lobby.

A little history is in order here.  Back in 1990, the Supreme Court held (in Employment Division v. Smith) that Native Americans who used peyote as part of a religious ceremony, and who as a result were disqualified from receiving unemployment compensation from the state, could not invoke the First Amendment’s “free exercise” clause to argue that their sincerely-held religious beliefs regarding peyote prohibited the state from punishing them for its use.  The Court, in an opinion by Justice Scalia, ruled that generally-applicable laws that don’t single out religion for negative treatment apply across the board, and that the First Amendment does not authorize religiously-based exemptions.

Dan Conley Is Lying To Public About Prosecutorial Discretion. He is Dangerous Man and Needs to be Replaced. (Plus He's Stupid. Really Stupid. Makes Him More Dangerous To The Public)

At recent Pioneer Institute event SJC Chief Justice Ralph Gants used his time to decry mandatory criminal sentencing in a well thought articulate presentation based on law and facts.

Following Gants on the Playbill was Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley who, upon hearing Judge Gants’ remarks, threw away his notes and went broken arrow.

This lightweight who thinks he’s a super heavyweight ripped into Gants in what has been described by many there as very unprofessional. (a lawyer can disagree with a judge but the higher the judge the outward respect shown rises exponentially. The SJC Chief is BIG regardless and Dan talked down to him. Punk.)

Dan said Gants and those who think like him are a mess. The broken window policies 1990s work is his mantra.

AND

DISTRCT ATTORNEYS KNOW BETTER THAN JUDGES AND EVEREYONE ELSE WHAT THE PROPER SENTENCES FOR CRIMINALS ARE AND MANDATORY SENTENCING MAKES SURE THEY CAN CONTROL SENTENCING RATHER THAN JUST RECCOMMEND.

That is Dan Conley’s position.

Real simple folks.

Public policy and we as schmucks want our district attorney to have discretion. It’s a good thing. That’s why they have a lot of discretion. We want that. Let’s them clean out the shit. Take each case and each person as a new hand of cards and play what you have. Therefore they can stop bad stuff from happening. We want that. People make bad decisions and sometimes cops make bad decisions. (I know, hard to believe, but they do)

And if the D.A. is being a dick on a case, which they are often and by often, I mean every single day somewhere; you can plead your case to a judge and/or jury.

THEN if your found guilty you can plead your circumstances to the judge who then will consider all the relevant facts on this particular case and hand out what she thinks is a fair sentence.

That’s how it works. Goes back to all this Greek shit about justice and stuff. Fucking law schools around the world are full of poindexters who all agree on this basic principal. It’s a given.

The judge is the fairest person in the courtroom. Not the lawyers. And especially not lawyer politicians elected to be there, like the D.A.

Mandatory sentencing flips this around. The judge can’t change the charge the D.A. brought and can’t consider anything in sentencing unless she wants to up the minimum mandatory.

BUT Dan says he knows best so there should be mandatory sentencing allowing him to charge someone and determine the sentence.

Did you know there are people serving minimum mandatories because the car they were in was pulled over within a school zone rather than a block or two before or after? That’s how mandatory sentencing is used btw. OR

Remember the kid in school who first sold fireworks, then football cards and finally in his junior year sold bones and small bags? Remember him? An American icon.

Anyway, having never been arrested for anything, should he do mandatory jail time for getting caught by the school police officer passing a nickel bag in the boy’s room? Dan says yes.

Unless he decides no. But that’s his decision and his alone. Capiche? I’m Dan Conley and I’m important.

D.A.s are suppose to see that people don’t get screwed like this. But they don’t.

Question: Why do our state treasurers have to be 100% supporters of the lottery and why do many D.A.s feel they have to charge everyone with the toughest crime available and follow through with the gusto of The Incredible Hulk?

I not gonna mention the opportunities corupt district attorneys and assistant district atorneys have to make milions of dollars when there is big criminal money invested in their seemingly everyday decisons. Like not charging drug dealers with mandaotory minimums but a lessor charge. Opportunities aren’t as great without the mandatory minimums.

Who is going to run against Dan Conley in three years?

Boston 2024: "Gullibility, What's Your Policy?"

Now that even the folks at Boston 2024 are onto the public relations crisis surrounding their plan to bring the Olympics here, let’s do some speculating about how they’ll respond.

Fortunately for the Boston 2024 team, its members include specialists in public relations work, such as the marketing firm Hill, Holliday. And fortunately for the rest of us, a preview of the kind of PR blitz we may soon expect in support of Boston 2024 is already available on the Hill, Holliday website. Here they are tooting their horn about a successful marketing campaign they undertook a couple years back for Liberty Mutual Insurance Company (not coincidentally, another member of the Boston 2024 team). I quote from it at some length because I just could not help myself. Smarmy has a hypnotic effect on me sometimes.

Making a Challenger Brand a Leader

Liberty Mutual…needed a resonant idea that would impact awareness and consideration, magnify its media investment, and drive growth – particularly online.

Liberty Mutual was founded on the belief that the employees were responsible for “helping people live safer and more secure lives.” Internal interviews of everyone from the CEO to the call-center reps confirmed a resounding desire to do the right thing rather than the easy thing. This shared value of responsibility became our resonant idea. It also meant we had found our best customers: “The Responsible Ones” who shared the same values and culture as Liberty Mutual itself.

By going beyond the demographical information to connect the consumer to Liberty Mutual via a shared value of responsibility, we struck a chord that has generated familiarity, fame, and favorability.

Kicking off in 2006, the campaign, tagged with “Responsibility, What’s Your Policy?,” launched with TV, print, a new Web site, and digital focused on people “doing the right thing” versus the easy thing.

The campaign struck a chord and the client was surprised and delighted by hundreds of letters and e-mails thanking them for the effort celebrating responsibility. Customers recognized themselves, employees rallied to the idea, and prospects became customers based on their alignment with this shared value. When it became clear that stakeholders wanted to further engage in this idea, we created a platform for them to continue the conversation.

The ResponsibilityProject.com launched in 2008 and became a program where consumers could seek Liberty Mutual out. We directed people to the site and blog where rich, compelling stories and videos about responsibility were brought to life…

Ah, yes, some favorable press involving compelling stories about responsibility and doing the right thing rather than the easy thing. That sounds just like what Boston 2024 is in the market for about now.

Which brings us to the question of what else was going on at Liberty Mutual during the time that Hill Holliday was orchestrating the “Responsibility, What’s Your Policy?” pitch. As it happens, we know a fair amount about that, thanks to former Globe columnist and current Globe editor Brian McGrory. It seems that most of the time the executives at Liberty Mutual were doing the easy thing rather than the right thing. In a series of nine columns written during two months in 2012 (a sampling of these columns: here, here and here), McGrory detailed Liberty Mutual’s lavish corporate ethic: $50 million in compensation for its CEO, a top-nine executive payroll that exceeded that of the Boston Red Sox starters, $200,000 in compensation for each member of the Board of Directors, five private jets for flights to luxury vacation homes, etc., etc., and all this money coming from the hundreds of thousands of Liberty Mutual policy holders. Then, as now, the Liberty Mutual executives were among a group of friends circulating enormous riches. During the administration of Governor Deval Patrick (now Boston 2024′s ambassador to the International Olympic Committee), the state gave a $22.5 million tax break to Liberty Mutual to build its new headquarters in Boston. Liberty Mutual awarded the contract to renovate its CEO’s executive suite (price tag $4.5 million: woven silk wallcoverings from the Netherlands and a personal exercise room) to Suffolk Construction, whose CEO, John Fish, is now the Chairman of Boston 2024. And, back to where we started, the public relations contract with Hill, Holliday, whose CEO is the co-chair of Boston 2024′s public relations and marketing committee.

You get the picture. Boston 2024 is in serious need of a resonant idea right now. Therefore, we’ll soon be hearing of one homespun value or another that will be said to animate our would-be Olympians. If it’s as good as “Responsibility, what’s your policy?” was for Liberty Mutual, maybe the folks at Hill, Holliday will be bragging about it in a few years. Or maybe we’re smarter than that.

(Earlier version cross-posted here.)

Ms. Clinton, what have you done?

Updated, see below

According to Reuters — not generally part of the Faux News Network — Hillary Clinton’s attorney has told a Senate panel investigating the 2012 Benghazi attacks that the email server she used “had been wiped clean” (emphasis mine):

Representative Trey Gowdy said Clinton had not provided a single new document and her lawyer told the committee a server she used for emails while she was the top U.S. diplomat had been wiped clean.

“We learned today, from her attorney, Secretary Clinton unilaterally decided to wipe her server clean and permanently delete all emails from her personal server,” Gowdy, chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, said in a statement.

Is there some other way to interpret this? Was Ms. Clinton actually operating her own email server? Or does this mean that some provider used by her did the deed?

I understand that the GOP hatred for the Clintons is nearly as intense as its similarly disgusting hatred for Barrack Obama. But even so, the emails either were or were not deleted. Ms. Clinton did or did not have a role in deleting them.

If the emails are truly gone, and especially if Ms. Clinton personally ordered them deleted or knowingly did nothing while a third party removed them, then in my view she is unfit for public office. If this turns out to be true, then nominating Ms. Clinton would be like nominating Richard Nixon after his role in the Watergate cover-up was disclosed.

Mythology has it that when when Mr. Clinton’s activities with Ms. Lewinsky were made public, Ms. Clinton’s reaction to him was a furious “What have you done to our Presidency?”

Ms. Clinton, what have you done to your candidacy?

Updated 28-March-2015

Published reports like this CNN report clarify the statement made by Ms. Clinton’s attorney:

In his letter to Gowdy, [Clinton lawyer David Kendall] said the former secretary of state “chose not to keep her non-record personal emails.”

“Thus, there are no … e-mails from Secretary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state on the server for any review, even if such review were appropriate or legally authorized,” he wrote.

But she “has maintained and preserved copies” of work-related, or potentially work-related emails she turned over to the State Department late last year. Kendall did not specify whether the emails were kept in paper or digital form.

So Ms. Clinton has decided, unilaterally, that she and only she will determine whether individual emails were “non-record personal emails”. Given the history of the Clinton family with the GOP, I’m not surprised that she takes this posture.

In my view, the optics are still devastating. I truly wonder whether the political firestorm this is already creating is worth the exercise. Other individuals have pursued approaches such is an “in-camera” review by a neutral judge. This strategy rejuvenates the dying “Benghazi-Gate” foolishness that was, up to now, dying a well-deserved death.

Surely Ms. Clinton and her advisers understand this. It is hard for me to avoid wondering whether there are emails that she and her advisers fear would be at least misunderstood — all the more reason to find something less drastic than destroying the evidence that a third party requires.

Banks to DSCC: We're taking Elizabeth Warren hostage

I received the following email today, news which also lit up my Facebook feed.  Also, it looks like Sen. Schumer is best positioned to become Democratic Leader in the next Congress in light of today’s announcement by Sen. Reid that he won’t seek re-election.  Not sure that bodes well for the Warren wing of the party.

In 2008, the financial sector collapsed and nearly brought down our whole economy. What were the ingredients behind that crash? Recklessness on Wall Street and a willingness in Washington to play along with whatever the big banks wanted.

Years have passed since the crisis and the bailout, but the big banks still swagger around town. And when Citigroup and the others don’t quite get their way or Washington doesn’t feel quite cozy enough, they quickly move to loud, public threats. Their latest move is a stunner. According to Reuters:

Big Wall Street banks are so upset with U.S. Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren’s call for them to be broken up that some have discussed withholding campaign donations to Senate Democrats in symbolic protest, sources familiar with the discussions said.

Citigroup has decided to withhold donations for now to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee over concerns that Senate Democrats could give Warren and lawmakers who share her views more power, sources inside the bank told Reuters.

JPMorgan representatives have met Democratic Party officials to emphasize the connection between its annual contribution and the need for a friendlier attitude toward the banks, a source familiar with JPMorgan’s donations said.

That’s right, the biggest banks on Wall Street have made it clear that they expect a return on their investment in Washington. Forget making the markets safer (where they can still make plenty of money) and forget the $700 billion taxpayer bailout that saved them and forget the need to build a strong economy for all Americans. Forget it all. The big banks want a Washington that works only for them and that puts their interests first – and they would like to get a little public fanny-kissing for their money too.Well forget it. They can threaten or bully or say whatever they want, but we aren’t going to change our game plan. We do, however, need to respond.

According to this breaking news, our 2016 Democratic Senate candidates could lose at least $30,000 because of this decision. Can you help us raise $30,000 to match Wall Street’s money right now – and keep fighting for a Democratic Senate that will work for people instead of big banks?

Now let’s be clear: $30,000 is a drop in the bucket to JPMorgan and Citigroup. Heck, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon makes more than $30,000 in just a few hours.The big banks have thrown around money for years, spending more than a $1 million a day to hold off Dodd-Frank and the consumer agency. But they are moving out of the shadows. They have reached a new level of brazenness, demanding that Senate Democrats grovel before them.  That kind of swagger is a warning shot. They want a showy way to tell Democrats across the country to be scared of speaking out, to be timid about standing up, and to stay away from fighting for what’s right.

Ok, they have taken their shot, but it will not work.I’m not going to stop talking about the unprecedented grasp that Citigroup has on our government’s economic policymaking apparatus. I’m not going to stop talking about the settlement agreements that JPMorgan makes with our Justice Department that are so weak, the bank celebrates by giving their executives a raise. And I’m not going to pretend the work of financial reform is done, when the so-called “too big to fail” banks are even bigger now than they were in 2008.

The big banks have issued a threat, and it’s up to us to fight back. It’s up to us to fight back against a financial system that allows those who broke our economy to emerge from a crisis in record-setting shape while ordinary Americans continue to struggle. It’s up to us to fight back against a regulatory system that is so besieged by lobbyists – and their friends in Congress – that our regulators forget who they’re working for.

Let’s send the biggest banks on Wall Street our own message: We’re going to keep fighting, and your swagger and your threats won’t stop us. Help us match their $30,000 right now.

Thank you for being a part of this,

Elizabeth

The Earned Income Tax Credit in Massachusetts

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) improves the economic security of working families by increasing the after tax incomes of low and moderate wage workers. MassBudget just released a short factsheet, Massachusetts’s Earned Income Tax Credit, which explains how the tax credit works, describes how many families and individuals it helps in Massachusetts, and examines the long-term effects of the EITC on families and children.

Recent research has linked EITC increases to a number of positive outcomes:

  • Improved college attendance and graduation rates and better test scores, particularly in math.
  • More work and higher earnings as adults for children raised in these low income families.
  • Reductions in the early onset of disabilities and illnesses that often afflict poor children.

Over 400,000 working people in Massachusetts benefit from the state EITC. Most of them are supporting families. Increasing the state EITC helps those working people make ends meet and pay for basic necessities. The increased income can also make it more likely that their children will be able to reach their full potential. When low income working people have more purchasing power, and their children can grow up to contribute their full potential to our economy, that is good for all of us.

Joke Revue: "Ted Cruz is the Abraham Lincoln of Sarah Palins"

The headline is courtesy of John Fugelsang.

Onion:

Nation’s 30 Fraudulent Voters March On Washington To Restore Voting Rights Act

WASHINGTON—Spanning nearly half of a city block as they rallied to support the freedoms of unscrupulous citizens, the nation’s 30 fraudulent voters reportedly marched on Washington, D.C. Sunday to restore the Voting Rights Act. “It is crucial for our great nation to protect the rights of every single citizen who wants to vote more than once,” Miami resident Tanya Bruton said to the assembled mass of more than two dozen Americans who were protesting policies that have made voting under a false name far more difficult. “The erosion of these rights is the only thing keeping .000001 percent of Americans from heading to polling places and stuffing ballot boxes. We will not stop fighting until these restrictions are lifted.” At press time, sources confirmed that the chants of the nation’s entire fraudulent voter population were drowned out by a large group of eighth graders on a field trip.

Borowitz:

Indiana Defines Stupidity as Religion

INDIANAPOLIS (The Borowitz Report)—In a history-making decision, Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana has signed into law a bill that officially recognizes stupidity as a religion.

Pence said that he hoped the law would protect millions of state residents “who, like me, have been practicing this religion passionately for years.”

The bill would grant politicians like Pence the right to observe their faith freely, even if their practice of stupidity costs the state billions of dollars.

While Pence’s action drew the praise of stupid people across America, former Arizona Governor Jan Brewer was not among them. “Even I wasn’t dumb enough to sign a bill like that,” she said.

Disturbed Man Tries to Get Into White House

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) – A disturbed Canadian man wants to try to get into the White House, according to reports.

The man, who was born in Calgary before drifting to Texas, has been spotted in Washington, D.C. in recent years exhibiting erratic behavior, sources said.

Daniel Kurtzman:

“We have Donald Trump and Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham all running for president. It’s all part of the Republican plan to make Jeb Bush look presidential.” –David Letterman

“Tea party candidate Ted Cruz, Republican senator from Texas, wants to be president. That means he’s one step closer to being a Fox News analyst.” –David Letterman

“Texas senator and tea party favorite Ted Cruz announced he’s running for president. He pledged to lead America boldly forward into the 1950s.” –Conan O’Brien

“Senator Ted Cruz has officially announced that he is running for president. But if you see a T-shirt that says ‘Ted Cruz 2016,’ those aren’t election shirts. That’s just how old he thinks the Earth is.” –Seth Meyers

The House Voted on Three Democratic Budgets Yesterday. How Did the MA Delegation Vote?

Yesterday, the House voted on three Democratic budget proposals: the Congressional Progressive Caucus’s People’s Budget, the Congressional Black Caucus’s budget, and the Democratic Caucus’s budget.

Of the three budgets, the Congressional Progressive Caucus’s budget is always the “gold standard” of them. Here is a run-down of the budget by the Nation’s Katrina vanden Heuvel:

On the investment side, the CPC expands investments in areas vital to our future. It would rebuild America, modernizing our outmoded infrastructure. It would invest to lead the green industrial revolution that is already forging markets and creating jobs across the globe.

The CPC understands that we must do the basics in education. It would provide pre-K for every child, the most important single reform we can make in education. It calls for increasing investment in our public schools, helping to mitigate the destructive inequality between rich districts and poor. It would provide students with four years of debt-free college education, and pay for renegotiating existing student loans, relieving the burden now crushing an entire generation.

Getting to Net Zero: Cambridge, MA

For the past year, the Cambridge, MA city government has had a Getting to Net Zero Task Force studying the implications of a net zero energy building requirement. They finished the draft report on March 16, 2015 and will have an open forum to introduce the study to the public on Wednesday, April 8.

The Task Force defined net zero as “an annual balance of zero greenhouse gas emissions from building operations citywide, achieved through improved energy efficiency and carbon-free energy production,” applying it to the net zero target at the community level (citywide).

Net zero new construction (at the building level as opposed to citywide) is defined as “developments that achieve net zero emissions from their operations, through energy efficient design, onsite renewable energy, renewable energy infrastructure such as district energy, and, if appropriate, the limited purchase of RECs [Renewable Energy Credits] and GHG [Greenhouse Gas] offsets.”

The objectives for the proposed actions from 2015 to 2035 and beyond include

(a) …target of Net Zero Emissions for new construction: New buildings should achieve net zero beginning in 2020, starting with municipal buildings and phasing in the requirement for other building types between 2022-2030.
(b) targeted improvements to existing buildings: The Building Energy Use and Disclosure Ordinance (BEUDO) will provide the information necessary to target energy retrofit activity, including, over the long term, the regulation of energy efficiency retrofits at time of renovation and/or sale of property.
(c) proliferation of renewable energy: Increase renewable energy generation, beginning with requiring solar-ready new construction and support for community solar projects, evolving to a minimum requirement for onsite renewable energy generation.
(d) coordinated communications and engagement: Support from residents and key stakeholders is imperative to the success of the initiative.

You can read the full report at this link and access other information about the Task Force at this link.

An Olympics referendum? Should've just asked BMG.

Well, looky looky. Boston 2024, and Mayor Walsh, have now completed their slow-motion about-face on putting something about the Olympics on the ballot.  Having previously indicated that they opposed that course of action, they’ve now gone all-in and are saying they will actually sponsor a ballot question (exactly what it will say remains to be seen, and, as the Globe accurately points out, this is quite important.)

It would be churlish to point out that this is the exact advice BMG generously offered the Mayor and Boston 2024 a few months ago.  But we are nothing if not churlish around here, so we’ll point it out.

I frankly can’t imagine what the case against a public referendum would be.  So come on, Boston 2024 and Mayor Walsh, just back a referendum.  Then everyone will know that you mean it when you say that you only want to have the Olympics in Boston if the people are behind it.

Imagine the money they could have saved on high-priced PR consultants and the like!  We remain pleased to offer BMG as a free service to the Massachusetts political community.

Snark aside, this is good news.  Yes, ballot questions can be “bought,” and we should anticipate a lot of spending directed toward getting people to vote Boston 2024′s way – just as we saw with the casino question.  And there’s virtually no doubt that the anti-Olympics side will be badly outspent by the pro-Olympics side.  So it’s not a perfect solution.  But it is the best one available, and therefore it is the right one.

Deval Patrick's Newest Gig? Lobbying for the TPP

Recently, our former governor took a job as a “global ambassador” for the Boston 2024 Partnership. Although he’s now “volunteering” and not taking the $7,500 a day compensation package, I’m sure he’ll get a very generous expense account to use for his wining and dining of IOC commissioners.

However, lobbying the IOC isn’t his own gig now. He’s also lobbying for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the trade deal written by and for large corporations which the Obama administration has been aggressively pushing.

Deval Patrick was announced today as a member of the advisory board of the so-called Progressive Coalition for American Jobs, a front group run by former Obama aides. Here’s the Associated Press on the announcement:

President Obama’s allies are recruiting high-profile Democrats to help combat liberal resistance to his bid for new trade agreements in Asia and elsewhere.

The effort will sharpen differences between the Democratic Party’s liberal and pro-business wings, especially in New England. And it could accelerate the effort to woo black lawmakers, a key target in the House.

Heading a pro-trade advisory board being announced Tuesday are former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, former Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire and former US. Trade Representative and Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk.

Kirk’s and Gregoire’s roles are not surprising. But Patrick’s might add some sizzle to the trade debate heating up in Congress. Among the Obama trade agenda’s strongest critics is another Massachusetts Democrat, Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Patrick and Kirk are two of the nation’s most prominent African-American politicians. Obama has openly wooed the Congressional Black Caucus in hopes of securing some of the House Democratic votes he will need to pass his trade plans.

I wrote about the “Progressive Coalition for American Jobs” two weeks ago at the Daily Kos. It’s the Democratic-aligned PR firm behind Democrat-in-name-only Ro Khanna’s congressional campaign against Mike Honda (CA-17) and Educators for Excellence, a Gates-funded front group that advocates against teacher tenure and for teacher evaluation systems that rely on the use of standardized test scores.