Happy 450th Birthday William Shakespeare...

My understanding is that April 23 is generally the day accepted to be William Shakespeare’s birthday, because the only record is of his baptism on April 26th, and it is alsoSt. George’s Day. So let the tin-foil hat conspiracy theories about Sir Francis Bacon and all that rubbish begin.

New Bedford Wind Energy Plan Would Save Taxpayers $20 Million

Hingham (oops) 2/19/11A proposed wind power contract for New Bedford isn’t just feel-good – it’s look-at-this-giant-pile-of-money-we’re-saving-taxpayers.

As Ariel Wittenberg reports in the Standard-Times, the New Bedford City Council will soon consider a proposal to buy power from a planned wind farm in Plymouth after a subcommittee approved the plan that would save the city somewhere around 30 percent on energy costs:

The proposal, made by Mayor Jon Mitchell’s office, would enter the city into a power purchase agreement with Future Generation Wind LLC to buy wind-generated electricity at 10.8 cents per kilowatt hour for the next 20 years. [...]

Scott Durkee, director of the city’s energy office, noted that the power purchase agreement will also save the city money. Currently, he said, the city’s lowest costing energy contracts are 11 to 13 cents per kilowatt hour, with the city paying closer to 15 to 17 cents per kilowatt hour on most contracts. Signing with Future Generation LLC is predicted to save New Bedford upwards of $20 million over the life of the contract.

Additionally, Future Generation LLC is offering to pay the city $250,000 in a sort of signing bonus meant to help further New Bedford’s efforts to become a premier port for offshore wind. Future Generation owner Keith Mann said he is also considering using New Bedford as the receiving port for his turbines.

It’s hard to understate what a bargain this is – the best energy at the lowest price.

Globe Downplays Fred Wyshak and SJC Getting Major Push-Back on Probation Case from Judge Young - Hey Steve Crosby, Why Don't You Just Recuse Yourself? Are You In Too Deep? Is This a Jack Ruby/Senator Geary Thing?

Great stuff. Judge Young tells Assistant U.S. Attorney Fred Wyshak to find other cases similar to the prosecution of the O’Brien Crime Syndicate.

US District Court Judge William G. Young asked prosecutors to lay out a theory of their case during a final status conference Tuesday, and he told prosecutors to research other cases that substantiated the kind of bribery allegations that O’Brien and his deputies face.

Judge Young boxed The Fred-Dog in like a law school professor would a first year student in the second week of September. Check this out:

Prosecutors have alleged [The O'Brien Crime Syndicate] violated state bribery laws, but Young said, “I’m not sure Massachusetts recognizes that.”

“I’d like to see your best cases on that,” the judge said.

Big thank you to the Globe for printing this. Really, a public service. Brian McGrory gets out of bed every morning without a chip on his shoulder and says, “How can my co-workers and I do good today?” He makes Pope Francis look like Joan Crawford.

Anyway, with the Pulitzer Prize coverage the Globe’s had in creating, I mean reporting of the O’Brien Crime Syndicate’s activities it’s funny how this story is not front paged on the A or Metro sections but rather banished to upper right corner of page B4.

Well at least there is BostonGlobe.com. What’s this? Nowhere on the vast digital front page. Thank God for google’s ability to narrow a search to within a day. Otherwise I might not have been able to share this fine Pulitzer Prize winning reporting with you.

One other thing. Somehow the excellent reporter failed to mention that Judge Young ordered our Supreme Judicial Court to turn over its files on probation hirings. That’s big. Funny how the Globe missed it. Even the best have bad days I guess.

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Hey Steve Crosby, Why Don’y You Just Recuse Yourself? Are You In Too Deep? Is This a Jack Ruby/Senator Geary Thing?

Reasonable to ask, no?

Remember appearance matters big time in this gig. It’s in the job description.

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Unless you want Fred Wyshak to come to your house and indict you, your spouse and kids for racketeering based on the fact that you and they conspired to make your bosses happy so the paychecks would keep coming you will follow me on twitter.

Our unbalanced state govenment

WGBH’s Rupa Shenoy in “Beacon Hill’s Dysfunction Explained” yesterday made a start at explaining how it came to be that a few people who collectively represent only a sliver of the Commonwealth presume to rule all of us.

Plymouth and Barnstable, Senate President Therese Murray’s district, has a population of 158,894. The Nineteenth Suffolk district, House Speaker Robert DeLeo’s district, has a population of 40,445. Collectively, these two individuals represent about 200,000 people: less then three percent of the Commonwealth’s approximately 6.7 million residents and less than 20 percent, even counting voters and non-voters alike in their districts, of the 1.1 million people who affirmatively marked a ballot for Governor Patrick in 2010.

Peter Ubertaccio, director of the Joseph Martin Institute for Law & Society at Stonehill College in Easton, agrees and says that power has concentrated around the House Speaker and Senate President over the last 30 years. Chairs of legislative committees, meanwhile, have gotten weaker, he said. ”Instead of having multiple centers of power in the legislature, we tend to have now two,” Ubertaccio said.

More explicitly:

“I suspect that very frequently from the beginning the fix is in, and that the time that it takes is simply used up with routine attempts to gather information that are never going to yield anything other than the predetermined outcome,” said David Tuerck, executive director of the Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University.

That two individuals who collectively represent less than three percent of the state, and the cabal of committee chairs around them, have this much power makes a mockery of the principle of democratic government. James Madison warned of the problem in Federalist 51:

In republican government, the legislative authority necessarily predominates. The remedy for this inconveniency is to divide the legislature into different branches; and to render them, by different modes of election and different principles of action, as little connected with each other as the nature of their common functions and their common dependence on the society will admit. It may even be necessary to guard against dangerous encroachments by still further precautions. As the weight of the legislative authority requires that it should be thus divided, the weakness of the executive may require, on the other hand, that it should be fortified.

America’s traditional solution to monopolies of legislative power has been to vote in the rival political party. Unfortunately, Republican nationwide and in Massachusetts – foreign policies of the 1980s, social policies of the 1950s, and economic policies of the 1920s – have disqualified themselves from leadership consideration.

The best way to restore democratic government in Massachusetts is to revitalize the Democratic Party through a more cohesive and energized Progressive Caucus: the democratic wing of the Democratic Party. Naturally, the powers that be will try to resist this effort by plucking off progressive legislators with $15,000 bonuses and other treats (“assistant floor leaders, division chairmen, and a handful of committee chairs, vice chairs, and ranking minority members earn $15,000 each”). That is chump change.

Progressives are strong. With unity, discipline, and determination they can revitalize the Democratic Party in Massachusetts, respond to a dissatisfaction with state government so deep hundreds of thousands even voted for Charlie “Big Dig” Baker in 2010 in the belief that he might restore some balance to state government, and recover our democracy.

Don Berwick's Medicare for All Town Hall meeting last week

Last week, Don Berwick held a town hall meeting to discuss his single payer, Medicare for All proposal at a packed Boston University auditorium, with around 250 people in attendance. I wasn’t able to attend, but my colleague, Rep. Denise Provost, compared the scene to an event early in Elizabeth Warren’s campaign (listen to the applause at the end). The mood was electric, and voters were excited to hear Don’s vision for the future of the Commonwealth.

The final audience question came from a medical student who asked how Don will tackle the global inequities associated with racism and classism. His answer reminded my what I am supporting his bid for Governor.

If you have a moment, please give it a watch. You will be glad you did.

Elizabeth Warren-the Teacher

I highly recommend the finely tuned profile of our states Senior Senator penned by that delightful scribe of our daily politics Worcester’s own Charlie Pierce in this weeks Esquire. Titled ‘The Teacher’

A couple of great gems including this story straight out of the Paper Chase:

“So, Mr. Kennedy,” she said, “what’s the definition of assumpsit?”

“It was the first class, first day of law school, and I took the class because she was the professor,” says Mr. Kennedy, now Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III, grandson of Bobby Kennedy, grand-nephew of Senator Ted and President Jack, elected to Congress in the same election that brought Elizabeth Warren into the Senate. “I walk in, and I try to take a seat in the last row of the class. I put my head down, and I’d done the reading and I knew the basics of the case, and right before the class, I see that a lot of my classmates are sort of milling around this seating chart, so I go down to it and I see that my seat is in the first row on the right-hand side. I couldn’t believe it. I was mortified.

“I said, ‘I don’t know.’ She said, ‘You don’t know?’ She said, ‘Mr. Kennedy, did you do your reading? You realize, don’t you, that assumpsit is the first word in your reading?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I saw it, and I circled it because I didn’t know what it meant.’ So she said, ‘Do you have a dictionary, Mr. Kennedy?’ I said I hadn’t had a chance to get one yet. She said, ‘That’s what people do when they don’t know what a word is. They look it up in the dictionary. Is there anyone in the class who can help Mr. Kennedy?’ Every hand in the class goes up.

And on her evolution as a campaigner who can connect:

his afternoon, though, with the campaign for the Senate having begun to sway perceptibly, was a measure of her ability to take what she had learned in her life, and especially in her still-new career as a political candidate, and use it to teach the people in the hall what they needed to know about the system that was grinding so many of them into dust. She connected the corruption on Wall Street to the tricks and traps on their credit cards and their mortgage statements, and she connected that to stagnating wages and crumbling infrastructure. They applauded wildly every time she bore down hard on the word union, and it took her a long time to get through the crowd. Scott Brown was finished as a senator by the time she got to the car.

I don’t doubt that the book tour, her appearance on CBS This Morning on Easter Sunday and her appearance ABC News last night will continue to raise the profile and the buzz as it did for then Sen. Obama in 2007. They called Teddy Kennedy the Last Liberal Lion, and I hope Sen. Warren can prove that epitaph premature, we need her fighting strong in the Senate and continuing to be the moral voice of our party on economics.

Happy 88th Birthday to the Queen: Open Thread on all things British

Born April 21, 1926. I like the coincidence that the current monarch of Great Britian is sharing a birthday with the Patriot’s Day Celebration “Observed” Monday Holiday.

Open Thread: Run at Your Own Pace Edition

The immortal Hunter S. Thompson, in the epistolary introduction to his classic work The Curse of Lono:

We are both entered in this event, Ralph, and I feel pretty confident about winning. We will need a bit of training, but not much. The main thing will be to run as an entry and set a killer pace for the first three miles. These body-nazis have been training all year for the supreme effort in this Super Bowl of marathons. The promoters expect 10,000 entrants, and the course is 26 miles; which means they will all start slow … because 26 miles is a hell of a long way to run, for any reason at all, and all the pros in this field will start slow and pace themselves very carefully for the first 20 miles.

But not us, Ralph. We will come out of the blocks like human torpedoes and alter the whole nature of the race by sprinting the first three miles shoulder-to-shoulder in under 10 minutes. A pace like that will crack their nuts, Ralph. These people are into running, not racing — so our strategy will be to race like whorehounds for the first three miles. I figure we can crank ourselves up to a level of frenzy that will clock about 9:55 at the three-mile checkpoint. . . which will put us so far ahead of the field that they won’t even be able to see us. We will be over the hill and all alone when we hit the stretch along Ala Moana Boulevard still running shoulder-to-shoulder at a pace so fast and crazy that not even the judges will feel sane about it.

… and the rest of the field will be left so far behind that many will be overcome with blind rage and confusion.

This is an at-your-own-pace open thread.

Joke Revue: Perry hopes glasses, not talking will make him seem smarter

Borowitz:

RICK PERRY HOPES COMBINATION OF WEARING GLASSES AND NOT TALKING WILL MAKE HIM SEEM SMARTER

AUSTIN, Tex. (The Borowitz Report)—With an eye toward a Presidential run in 2016, Rick Perry, the Texas governor, is hoping that a two-pronged strategy of wearing glasses and not speaking will make him appear smarter to voters, aides to the Governor confirmed today.

“After the 2012 Republican primary, we knew that we needed to solve what we called the Governor’s smartness problem,” said Harland Dorrinson, an aide to Perry. “The fix that we came up with was glasses, but, as it turned out, that was only half the solution.”

After outfitting Perry with designer eyewear, aides sent him on the road to reintroduce himself to voters, but the response, Mr. Dorrinson said, was underwhelming: “The problem was, he was still talking.”

A round of focus groups convinced aides that only through a combination of wearing glasses and not emitting any sounds could Perry overcome voters’ initial impressions of him.

At a recent political stop in San Antonio, the newly minted Governor Perry was on display, wearing his glasses and gesticulating expressively while saying nothing for thirty minutes.

“Our focus groups show people no longer know what Rick Perry is thinking,” said Mr. Dorrinson. “That’s a huge improvement.”

Daniel Kurtzman:

“Yesterday, North Korea held its annual marathon. Congratulations to first, second and third place winner, Kim Jong Un.” –Conan O’Brien

“CNN announced that Anthony Bourdain’s show is taking over Piers Morgan’s time slot. Anthony is a culinary expert who loves good food. His show is the highest-rated series on CNN. But let’s be honest. The highest-rated series on CNN is like being the least drunk Australian.” –Craig Ferguson

“George W. Bush and Bill Clinton sat next to each other at the big game. Clinton congratulated UConn on its big win, while Bush gave Kentucky a ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner.” –Jimmy Fallon

“About a year from now, I’ll be doing commercials for reverse mortgages.” –David Letterman

“Hillary Clinton yesterday made some very strong remarks about the media. She said that the media treat powerful women with a double standard. Or as it got reported in most places, ‘Hillary Clinton shows off sassy new haircut.’” –Jimmy Fallon

“A year from now I’ll be on the beach with a metal detector.” –David Letterman

“Billionaire Sheldon Adelson had a little party in Vegas this weekend to audition Republican presidential candidates, and they all came to kiss his ass: Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, John Kasich. Chris Christie came, and while he was in Vegas he went over to the New York, New York hotel and shut down traffic on the miniature Brooklyn Bridge.” –Bill Maher

“50 years ago, America’s biggest employer was General Motors, where workers made the modern equivalent of $50 dollars an hour. Today, America’s biggest employer is Walmart, where the average wage is $8 dollars an hour…And Walmart released their annual report this month, and in it was the fact that most of what Walmart sells is food. And most of their customers need food stamps to pay for it. Meanwhile, Walmart’s owners are so absurdly rich that one of them, Alice Walton, spent over a billion dollars building an art museum in Bentonville, Arkansas, 500 miles away from the nearest person who ever would want to look at art. And she said about it, ‘For years I’ve been thinking about what we can do as a family that can really make a difference.’ How about giving your employees a raise, you deluded nitwit?” –Bill Maher

“Evil Russian president Vladimir Putin and his wife have divorced. They say it was amicable. It must be because she’s still alive.” –David Letterman

James Hansen at MIT

James Hansen visited MIT on April 15 and April 16 and gave two public talks. One was for Fossil Free MIT (http://www.fossilfreemit.org), a new student group concerned with divestment, on the politics of climate change, “Combatting the Climate Crisis: the Path from Science to Action,” and the other was for the climate science community on “Ice Sheet Melt, Sea Level and Storms,” the subject of a paper he is now working on.

The good news is that, according to Hansen, we do not have to worry about catastrophic methane releases from the tundra or ocean clathrates as the paleoclimate record shows there were no such releases in higher temperature periods.

The bad news is that, according to a paper Hansen is now working on, we do have to worry about the effects of ice sheet melt on ocean currents and thermoclines as well as the possibility of dramatic wind intensity increases in storms. Again, based upon the paleoclimate and geologic record.

Hansen would have preferred to title the political talk “Challenge for young people: how to make the unfolding climate crisis an opportunity” as he believes that confronting the climate issue can be beneficial, that the prospect is not all doom and gloom. However, he also said, “We have almost as much warming in the pipeline as has already occurred” (0.8º C which means at least 1.6º C cumulative even if we stop now).

Worcester Police: All Random Assaults Now KNOCKOUT GAME

There have been a few random assaults in the Worcester area over the last month. Unfortunate but not all that surprising. What is surprising is that Worcester police have run to the media in a panic screaming OH GOD IT’S THE URBAN YOUTH AND THEIR KNOCKOUT GAME:

In the past month, police have investigated attacks on the 700 block of Main Street, in the area of 87 Millbury St. and on Chatham near Main Street, all of which involved a male victim walking alone and being approached by another male whom the victims had never met, according to a police report.

Because the assaults are similar to others involving people participating in a violent activity called the “knockout game,” police said that the suspects in the three Worcester attacks might be partaking in the game. The game’s name refers to a “blitz style attack on a random unsuspecting stranger with the goal of knocking the person out with a single punch.”

The knockout game was widely-reported in late 2013, as similar attacks occurred in cities throughout the country.

Oh, it was widely-reported? Well then it MUST be rampaging nationwide, like the chupacabra!

What’s amazing about this story is the sheer volume of coverage it’s gotten based on so little evidence.

Recuse don't Excuse

Events seem to be shaking Geo-political forces around the world including the conflict escalation in eastern Ukraine with anti-Semitic leafleting; paralleled by domestic hate crimes being committed at the Kansas City Jewish Community Center during Passover and Holy Week.  High holidays in the Jewish and Christian religious calendars.

Locally, Mayor Marty Walsh shook it up by throwing down the gauntlet to the Mass Gaming Commission chairperson Steve Crosby for his conflicts of interest and bias in the region A casino process.  The new minted mayor of Boston has called on Crosby to recuse himself from the region A casino licensing process.  Please read this compilation of Crosby gems – he’s the classy guy with the dice cuff links.

Dice cuff link photo

Crosby is also being sued by Caesers for previously articulated bias and conflicts with owners of the Everett property.

Concerns about the credibility of the MGC have arisen on many fronts with the following list of reasons to have an independent watch-dog formed immediately to monitor the well-paid, lucrative expense benefited commissioners:

1. Lavish expenditures on junkets, personal parking, luncheons, consultants, etc….
2. Watering-down the rules and regulations to appease gambling corps – adjusting timelines multiple times
3. Denial of host and surrounding community status to multiple towns and cities (See Mayor Marty’s call to have Crosby recused.)
4. Arrogance, hubris and ignorance of the scope of impacts and rushing local referendum in Plainville when the corrupt racetrack owner Piontowski (buddy and benefactor of Scott P. Brown – formerly know as  Cosmo) was outed and Penn National swooped in overnight after Tewksbury kicked them out
5. Serving as enablers for the predatory gambling industry
6. Conflicts of interest
7. Closed door meetings with proponents
8. Lobbying legislature for casino fixes – easing the restrictions in the law
9. Not establishing independent advisory councils with local stakeholders per the statute
10. Ignoring and denying requests from local officials for information

The MGC is a public – govt. entity that is responsible for enabling the casino law.  Their actions have as a whole have lost the public trust.

In today’s news we also heard Commissioner Zuniga make insensitive, ignorant, offensive and clueless remarks about the Springfield MGM request for yet another special adjustment to the law in granting them a “provisional” license so that they don’t have to begin laying out money for construction which currently includes demolition of some existing properties. MGM is afraid that the repeal question will get to the ballot and opponents will win.  Enrique Zuniga – the highly paid commissioner appointed by Treasurer (and candidate for Governor) Steve Grossman was interviewed on WAMC 90.3FM (public radio) and said this:

Commissioner Enrique Zuniga said it would be “devastating” for Springfield if buildings were demolished to make way for a casino and no casino is built. ” Forget about one tornado or one gas explosion, it would probably look like five tornadoes.” MGM is proposing to build the casino in a three-block area of the city’s downtown that was damaged by the tornado in 2011. Full story at : http://wamc.org/post/anti-casino-activist-says-mgms-license-delay-request-evidence-eroding-public-support

A 39 mile swath of land including cities and towns from Hampden County to Worcester County were ripped apart with the June 2011 tornadoes.  Hundreds of people lost their homes and were displaced.  Some still do not have their homes, businesses and property restored even today – almost three years later.  Four people died.

These are not simple “oops, I misspoke” incidents.  These situations and statements are evidence of wrong-headed thinkers who do not possess the skills to do the job.  BTW, Zuniga defended the lavish MGC spending spree.

No excuse.  None.

Joe Avellone raises $788. Really. What's next? A demand for 15% of contributions?

David S. Bernstein brings us this little nugget of campaign finance news on Twitter:

<satire> <— NOTE: For those who can’t tell the difference, the satire begins here. The news of the $788 is genuine. Just click on the link to David S. Bernstein’s tweet.

A furious Joe Avellone has responded with an angry email to delegates to the state convention.

When I entered the governor’s race in January 2013 I had one thing on my mind, how best to serve the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. As a lifelong Democrat I have always wanted to run for office. I started by volunteering for Senator Kennedy in New Hampshire in 1980. I worked on Paul Tsongas’s presidential campaign in 1992, and on John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign. I believe that my skillset is perfectly suited for the challenges that Massachusetts faces today. My experiences in the private sector, combined with my service as a town selectman and officer in the Naval Reserves, will allow me to get the results Massachusetts needs.

I started this race by talking to voters all across this Commonwealth. I visited over 140 towns last year talking to middle class families about the problems that they are facing. I focused on gateway cities and towns that haven’t seen the economic recovery that much of Greater Boston has. But then the State Party and the other four candidates hasn’t shared their vast resources with my campaign, and I had to change course. I went from talking to voters all across the Commonwealth to soliciting funds from activist Democrats who have already refused to support my candidacy.

This week, I sent out a letter to all elected delegates alerting them to the lack of equity in campaign funding. I told them upfront that my lack of funds would limit participation in our democratic process and it would go against our ideals of fairness and equality. I’m not looking for pity. I’m looking for a fair shot. When I entered this race I knew that I faced an uphill battle, but when people didn’t contribute to my campaign, the hill only got bigger. As Democrats we always talk about giving every individual an equal opportunity at success. My lack of contributions is diametrically opposed to that very idea. Private donations favor party insiders and candidates with wide name recognition.

Elections best serve the people when multiple viewpoints are put forward. I firmly believe that all of the five Democratic candidates could serve this Commonwealth well if elected as the next Governor of Massachusetts. I believe that the wide range of backgrounds of all five of the candidates adds to this campaign and makes each candidate better. It’s clear that all candidates for Governor have brought new ideas to this campaign that will make our party better. That’s why I am asking the other candidates to give me 15% of their campaign contributions.

As Democrats, let’s have an open primary that allows all Democrats to have a say in choosing our nominee.

</satire>

House leadership rejects politically correct view on sheltered workshops

(Cross-posted from The COFAR Blog)

In a welcome counter to some political-correctness-run-amuck in the Patrick administration, the leadership of the state House of Representatives is reportedly solidly behind efforts to preserve vital sheltered workshops in Massachusetts for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

As we reported last week, Rep. Brian Dempsey, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, placed language in the Fiscal Year 2015 budget that would block the Patrick administration’s plans to close all remaining workshops in the state by June 2015.

As a result, the Department of Developmental Services prevailed on a House member to file a budget amendment (No. 282), which would remove Dempsey’s protective language from the bill.  Corporate providers to DDS, meanwhile, began blaming COFAR for having thrown a monkey wrench into their plan to transfer participants from the workshops to their own provider-run daycare programs.

But we understand that the plans in the House are to quietly quash Amendment 282 during the budget debate, which starts on April 28. The scene will next shift to the Senate, where we hope the Senate Ways and Means Committee will place similar protective language for the workshops in its version of the budget.

Workshop proponents have spent the past week calling members of the House to urge their support for Dempsey’s line item language, which states that  DDS “shall not reduce the availability or decrease funding for sheltered workshops serving persons with disabilities who voluntarily seek or wish to retain such employment services.”

As we’ve noted, DDS and the providers maintain that the sheltered workshops “segregate” developmentally disabled people by placing them together in group settings.  This allegedly prevents them from reaching their full potential because they are not being placed alongside non-disabled peers in mainstream work sites.   Citing that reasoning, the administration blocked all new referrals to the workshops as of this past January, and announced plans to close all remaining workshops in the state as of June of 2015.

While the administration’s reach-their-potential argument may sound reasonable in theory, it has no relationship to the experience of real people such as Kim Ryan and Gail Wayne, both of whom have been participants in a sheltered workshop in Newburyport for the past 20 years.  Kim’s parents, William and Janet, said that Kim has tried seven different times to work in mainstream, community-based  jobs, but has experienced either “social or emotional failures with each of these attempts.”

Martha Smith, Gail Wayne’s mother, said Gail has also worked in many community-based jobs, such as sorting mail in the Newburyport City Hall and working in the municipal library; but each of those jobs disappeared over the years for different reasons.  Gail currently does volunteer work in a gift shop in Topsfield, but it is in the sheltered workshop that she has been able to work on a permanent basis and to earn a paycheck.  ”Her first love is the workshop,” Martha Smith said.  ”She feels completely secure there and wants to be there. She wants it to continue.”

Martha’s husband, Reid Smith, maintains that there are few full-time jobs available in the mainstream workforce for developmentally disabled persons such as Gail and Kim.  Reid Smith adds that the term “sheltered” may be a misnomer.  ”It’s a workplace with a little more supervision,” he says.  ”I always urge people who happen to oppose them t go and see them.”

As part of its argument for closing the workshops, the administration has cited federal lawsuits in Oregon and Rhode Island, which are based on the segregated workplace argument.  However, as we’ve noted, those settlements did not require the closures of all sheltered workshops as the Patrick administration is planning in Massachusetts.

It’s still worth contacting your state representative and Rep. Dempsey’s office to voice your support for these workshops, and to thank Rep. Dempsey for his support.  The House Ways and Means Committee number is (617) 722-2990, and Rep. Dempsey can be contacted at Brian.Dempsey@mahouse.gov.  You can find your own legislators at: http://www.wheredoivotema.com.

Recycling Saves Money. Recycling More Saves More Money.

fairhaven recyclingHere in Fairhaven, the town has to pay a company to collect trash and recycling. But while the town then has to pay $50 a ton to get rid of the trash, the company takes care of the recycling for free.

So what’s the problem? Only 14% of the town recycles and many households still use those iconic, tiny blue bins. As Ariel Wittenberg reports in the Standard-Times, now Fairhaven is looking to invest in bigger recycling bins to encourage bigger savings:

Department of Public Works Superintendent Vincent Furtado said that his office recently came to an agreement with ABC Disposal to start using larger trash and recycling carts, much like those now being used in New Bedford.

Our conversations with Warren Tolman and Maura Healey

The two leading candidates for Attorney General, Warren Tolman and Maura Healey, have been kind enough to sit down with Bob and me to talk about their visions for the office.  By popular demand (and with the permission of both campaigns), we’re posting the full audio of our conversations so that you can hear what they had to say about their priorities and several important issues of the day. We hope to have a chance to write up highlights of the conversations separately, but for now, here is all of what they had to say in our conversations.

Obviously, the interviews were conducted in rather noisy eating establishments, so we apologize for the background noise. FYI, the casino discussions start at about 40:00 for Tolman, and at about 35:00 for Healey.

Tolman:

Healey:

Full disclosure: I am volunteering for the legal team seeking to overturn the Attorney General’s ruling and get the anti-casino question on the ballot.

Looks Like Terry Murray and Bob DeLeo Not Getting Along - Why Not CPAs and Techies Hired as State Troopers? - Charley Baker Will Do What Steve Grossman Won't - Steve Crosby Can't Hide From Conflicts - Hey Deval, What Would Pope Francis Do?

That’s what I hear. Ice cold relationship. Senate flexing muscle and House getting perturbed. Usual crap. House always wins. But expect some effed-up budget negotiations.

Hey, rather than hire muscle head combat vets as state troopers why not hire accountants, techies, and lawyers and go after white collar criminals steeling tens of millions? Just a thought.

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Now that Steve Grossman has decided not to run against Martha Coakley I expect Charley Baker to hit her hard on being a fraud.

How about Mayor Walsh calling for Steve Crosby to step aside from eastern region casino decisions because there is the appearance that he is in the pocket of Steve Wynn? Nice.

Watching former Appeals Court Judge and current Gaming Commissioner Jim McHugh defend his master’s blatant conflicts makes me wonder about the soundness of the thousand plus decisions he penned.

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Judge Mulligan and hopefully Paul Ware will be testifying twice now that Judge Young has split the probation indictments into two trials. A second round of torture for them only worse. Cross-examiners will have first trial transcripts to impeach them with. Can’t wait.

Hey Deval, still no signs of pardons from you on your way out the door. You better be working with five members of governor’s council and do the right thing as you exit.

Remember Governor, only one thing you have to ask yourself:

What would Pope Francis do?

Justice Ralph Gants to be the next Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

Justice Gants combines scholarship and compassion.  I appeared before him when he was a Justice of the Superior Court to keep a woman in her home during a care and protection matter – and I can attest personally to his compassion as well as his scholarship; he agreed that a transitional living apartment was subject to the rule in Serreze – that as long as part of my client’s welfare grant went to rent, she was a tenant with tenancy protections.  (See http://masscases.com/cases/app/30/30massappct639.html ).

I have also heard him teach in a panel context, watched and listened to videos of oral arguments, and read his decisions on occasion.  In selecting Judge Gants, Governor Patrick has deepened, strengthened, and enriched the Judicial Branch.

Well done!

A look at MA Governor polls adjusted for name recognition

I have spent a lot of time complaining about how the media interprets early polling in the Massachusetts gubernatorial race as horserace numbers, even though only one candidate has greater than 50% name recognition. But how are the candidates doing among the people that do know their names?

I computed the recognition-adjusted polling average for the Democratic candidates for Governor and wrote about it on the Mass. Numbers blog:

http://massnumbers.blogspot.com/2014/04/adjusting-ma-governor-polls-for-name.html

The upshot is that Martha Coakley still has a commanding lead, with Steve Grossman, Juliette Kayyem, and Don Berwick in a group behind, and Joe Avellone trailing.

That being said, we are getting to a point where low name recognition needs to go from being an excuse, to something that needs to be overcome fairly quickly, possibly through a strong showing at the convention.

Read more…

Video from our Governor Candidates Forum at the 2nd Policy Conference (April 2014)

We thought our April 6 Conference in Worcester was a great day, due in large measure to the focus and commitment of progressive activists from across the state (many of whom are BMG regulars. Hi!).

Summaries of the day have been written up on Blue Mass Group by DrBoerl, and there are member-authored summaries on our blog, too. Check ‘em out, and if you were there, please leave some feedback on our post-conference survey!

In addition to panels with policy experts, the last part of the day turned to electoral politics. To a still impressively crowded room, candidates Steve Grossman, Juliette Kayyem, Martha Coakley and Don Berwick joined us, one by one, and responded at length and in depth to tough, focused questions –and persistent follow-up ones– by our moderator, Jordan Berg Powers. Jordan’s inquiries were derived from candidates’ responses to our Endorsement Questionnaires, which go deep on structural and policy roots of economic inequality (as outlined in our Shared Prosperity agenda).

We have heard over and over again from members that the Forum was invaluable. Indeed, even at the very last minutes of a long day, the room was still packed and the audience’s attention still rapt and focused.