Corporate Greed, O-Care and baseball

Earlier this week, the Chicago Cubs grounds crew experienced a disaster. As rain poured onto Wrigley Field, they were unable to cover the playing surface with a tarp in time. They were booed. The game was called. Because of the mismanagement, their opponents, the San Francisco Giants, protested the game after it had been called as a win for the Cubs. They succeeded. It was the first successful protest in Major League Baseball in 28 years, according to Deadspin.

But the whole bizarre episode was cast in a new light Thursday when the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the Cubs had slashed worker hours to keep them under 30 hours a week to avoid paying health benefits under Obamacare.

Citing “numerous sources with direct knowledge,” the Sun-Times reported that the Cubs had sent home 10 grounds crew workers early the night of the Tuesday game that ended in disaster. And at least part of the reason, per the newspaper’s sources, is that the team has been trying to keep seasonal workers under 30 hours per week as the Affordable Care Act takes effect.

I honestly don’t know if I should laugh or cry reading this.

A spokesman for the Cubs, which are reportedly worth $1 billion and were the most profitable team in baseball in 2013, didn’t refute the claims when asked by the Sun-Times, but he denied personnel changes were responsible for the field tarp incident

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another Slimy Move Artie T. Demoulas Got Caught Doing (How many slimy moves don't we know about?)

Today’s Globe

In the spring of 1983, 28-year-old Arthur T. Demoulas approached his fellow directors on the board of Demoulas Super Markets and said the family grocery business — now known as Market Basket — should launch a pharmacy division. The board turned him down.

But 14 years later, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court upheld a lower court’s ruling that the young heir had invited the rejection by providing “misleading, inaccurate, and materially incomplete” information to the board. That rejection, the high court agreed, allowed him to open his own pharmacy chain, Lee Drug, sell its nine stores to Walgreens in 1990, and keep his cousins, the children of his late Uncle George, from sharing in the business opportunity.

Remember folks. It’s not what you or I or the employees or the media think. It only matters what Artie T.’s financial backers think.

How are they sure they are getting the right numbers from Artie T.? The finance and accounting people aren’t showing up so who is running the numbers?

The MB board and the people thinking of backing Artie T. know they are dealing with a thief who can’t be trusted and only does deals where he can pull fast ones.

Donald Teeters: Boston loses a classical music giant

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

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

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

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

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

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

Charlie Baker 2.0: new friendly look; same tired message

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

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

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

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

THE DEBATE For Governor's Councillor Devaney vs. Shapiro

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

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

Not Your Average Debate

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

Conroy for Treasurer: The Fiscal Watchdog We Need

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

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

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

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

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

Shit-Head Steve Grossman Makes Honorable Lobbyist John Brennan the Issue and A-Holes Greg Sullivan and Bill Galvin Jump on Board

Everyone who does any kind of lobbying on Beacon Hill knows that lobbying fees for work done to influence legislation cannot be based on success. That is a contingency fee. No bonus or anything for successes throughout the process.

Nobody knows this better than  former rep and senator and current lobbyist John Brennan.  This man has been around the building so long he remembers Charles Bulfinch walking into his office leading tours of the place.

The Franciscan Hospital hired Brennan’s firm to help secure state funds dispersed by the executive branch. The law is at best ambiguous on this but Martha Coakley smelled an opportunity and went digging. Do you know what a it costs an honest business in legal fees when the Attorney General comes knocking at its door?

Martha being Martha said she was going to force the issue so Brennan’s shop agreed to civil penalties which were less than the fee. That’s because there is a thing called quantum meruit  which means no matter what, you are entitled to get paid for work performed.

So the always-willing-to-get-his-name-in-the-paper-by-pointing-the-morality-finger-at-others-former-inspector-general-Greg-Sullivan said this in today’s Globe:

 “If someone robs a bank, you don’t say they can keep two-thirds of the money and walk,” he said.

This is drawing attention because the clueless Steve Grossman thought this was the case to knock Martha on.

And then yesterday the “Dark Prick” Bill Galvin also said Martha should have gone after Brennan criminally.

‘There’s an election going on. Nobody’s name is too good to wrongfully besmirch.’

Screw them all!

Charlie Baker promises to ignore the will of the voters

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

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

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

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

RIP to a Progressive Republican

I remember as a 13 year old getting riveted by the political cyclone unleashed by a humble man from Vermont. Sen. Jim Jeffords defection from the GOP caused the balance of power to shift in the Senate from GOP to Democrat, and shift all the committee chairmen and women as well. I wrote an essay about it for my social studies current events project, and remember explaining this process in detail to classmates far less interested in this than I was. Here was one man who took a stand and made history.

Unfortunately, Senator Jeffords has passed away after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. He leaves behind a legacy of strong and proud advocacy for the disabled, for special education and public education more broadly, health care reform, and consistent support of women and gay rights long before many Democrats adopted that stance. His independent streak lasted throughout his tenure in the Democratic caucus, and it was only fitting he was succeeded any another cantankerous independent in Bernie Sanders.

Long before Specter, Hagel, Lugar, Jim Leach, Lincoln Chaffee, or Bloomberg switched parties, endorsed Democrats, or both-Jeffords was one of the earliest to realize the drift rightward had become permanent. While I lament there will be few Republicans like him left, I am happy that more and more of his issues have found a permanent home in our party and movement.

The times Obit

America's Newest Racket, or Why Is the FBI Knocking Down Charter School Doors?

“…a $500 billion sector in the US alone that is waiting desperately to be transformed.”

Rupert Murdoch

I’m not kidding. The FBI is investigating. I think it was Merrimack Guy that asked recently what the deal with charter schools was. Christopher perceived a change in the movement’s goals and directions. The Progressive’s Ruth Conniff has a great article addressing their questions. Although I would argue that the profitization of education was always the logical result of the educational reform movement that started 20 years ago. Capital is like water. Given a small opening, larger fissures will appear.

Over the last decade, the charter school movement has morphed from a small, community-based effort to foster alternative education into a national push to privatize public schools, pushed by free-market foundations and big education-management companies. This transformation opened the door to profit-seekers looking for a way to cash in on public funds.

Thus the FBI. Conniff writes:

There’s been a flood of local news stories in recent months about FBI raids on charter schools all over the country.

From Pittsburgh to Baton Rouge, from Hartford to Cincinnati to Albuquerque, FBI agents have been busting into schools, carting off documents, and making arrests leading to high-profile indictments.

“The troubled Hartford charter school operator FUSE was dealt another blow Friday when FBI agents served it with subpoenas to a grand jury that is examining the group’s operations. When two Courant reporters arrived at FUSE offices on Asylum Hill on Friday morning, minutes after the FBI’s visit, they saw a woman feeding sheaves of documents into a shredder.” –The Hartford Courant, July 18, 2014

“The FBI has raided an Albuquerque school just months after the state started peering into the school’s finances. KRQE News 13 learned federal agents were there because of allegations that someone may have been taking money that was meant for the classroom at the Southwest Secondary Learning Center on Candelaria, near Morris in northwest Albuquerque …” –KRQE News 13, August 1, 2014

“Wednesday evening’s FBI raid on a charter school in East Baton Rouge is the latest item in a list of scandals involving the organization that holds the charter for the Kenilworth Science and Technology School…. Pelican Educational Foundation runs the school and has ties to a family from Turkey. The school receives about $5,000,000 in local, state, and federal tax money…. The FBI raided the school six days after the agency renewed the Baton Rouge school’s charter through the year 2019.” –The Advocate, January 14, 2014

“The state of Pennsylvania is bringing in the FBI to look into accusations that a Pittsburgh charter school [Urban Pathways Charter School] misspent tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars on luxuries such as fine-dining and retreats at exclusive resorts and spas.” –CBS News, November 12, 2013

“COLUMBUS, OH–A federal grand jury has indicted four people, alleging that they offered and accepted bribes and kickbacks as part of a public corruption conspiracy in their roles as managers and a consultant for Arise! Academy, a charter school in Dayton, Ohio.” –FBI Press Release, June 2014

What’s going on here?

Charter schools are such a racket, across the nation they are attracting special attention from the FBI, which is working with the Department of Education’s inspector general to look into allegations of charter-school fraud.

This isn’t some sort of dirty hippie pogrom against charter schools. Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan are very supportive of charters. It’s the

Michael Sharpe, the disgraced CEO of the FUSE charter school in Hartford, admitted in court to faking his academic credentials and hiding the fact that he was a two-time felon who had been convicted of embezzlement and served five years in prison as a result. When he was indicted he was living in a Brownstone paid for by his charter school management company, where he kept a tenant whom he charged rent.

Felony convictions may turn out to be a credential for charter school operators. Robert M. Hughes Academy, which eventually had its charter pulled, was being run by a convicted felon, whose sister-in-law served on the school’s board, though she was “listed as a partner in School Street Properties Inc., the company that rents the 91 School St. building to the academy for $8,600 a month under a 50-year lease.” The former president of the board was convicted of embezzling from the bank she worked at and sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison. These folks, it should be said, were pretty well-connected when it came to political influence. If Massachusetts has a relatively good record on charter school scandal, it’s because charters are forbidden to be for profit. (NOTE: There is a barely used loophole that an educational management company can run one for a profit).

Charter schools and education reform began in a time when it was assumed that the market was God. Set up public institutions in a market-oriented way, and the market would sort it out. Public schools, faced with competition for the first time, would rise to the challenge of charter schools or die out to be replaced by more charter schools. In the last 5 years or so, the God of the Market turned out to be dead (or at least really, really uncoordinated) and brought the world economy and financial system to the brink. It will take a while for people to accept this truth. Let’s hope it takes less time for the truth about charters to be accepted.

Artie T.'s Problem In Getting Finance is Artie T. , His Wall Street Credit Rating is Zero

Arthur T. Demoulas has a recorded history of loaning money to people who use land he covets for collateral then telling the about to be duped landowner one thing while doing another ultimately leading to foreclosure with penalties and fees and putting  the land in Artie T.’s portfolio at a cheap price.

He also is on record as having lent money and promises of Market Basket business to a small business in return for a considerable piece of  equity but then didn’t provide the Market Basket business as promised thus forcing the original partners to starve and sell their shares to Artie T. at a discount.

Then we have the SJC describing Artie’s attempts to pay someone over 2 million dollars ($2,000,000 – via loan forgiveness) to commit perjury by falsely testifying that Arthur S. paid him to install listening devices in Artie T.’s office. Gut that? (That’s criminal by the way and if you or I did it…)

And let’s not forget a couple of other SJC opinions outlining Artie’s Geppetto using his millions to pull the strings of a few of the greedy Pinnochios out there in his elaborate and expensive blackmailing attempt of a struggling young attorney.(That’s criminal by the way and if you or I did it…)

How many sinister things has he done that he’s gotten away with? Or didn’t get away with it? Think about it. He lives his life by taking advantage of people’s greed.

We see store managers allowing the plastering of those nightmarish Stalinesque posters of Artie T. in store windows and giving statements to the press knocking current management.

Now we see vendors telling the media they can’t do business with current management because they were overpaid and Artie T. was easy to deal with. Hmmm

We also know he hired top notch public relations/issues management/spinmeisters/mouth piece/lead-and-feed-the-lazy-incestuous-local-media firm Rasky Baerlein over a year ago to help create this cult of personality.

Workers, customers, politicians, vendors and others are being served up daily to the slacker “journalists”.  This takes an organization. It costs money. Far from organic. Needs lots of pesticide so Artie T. is making it and Rasky has the local scribes spreading it. Like the tools they are.

Employees giving interviews threatening their bosses. Vendors going out of their way to publicly indict a customer for incompetence because they double paid a bill.

And 99.99% of local press and pundits all in with Artie T. BIZARRE!!!

Artie T.’s problem right now is financing. He knows all the dirty tricks nefarious creditors and debtors can pull but so doesn’t the other side because they’ve been forced to deal with him for years.   He’s probably demanding terms with obscure but gaping holes while scoffing at legitimate business terms a person with his record should expect.

BTW, this whole thing about Market Basket never recovering is the biggest bull shit to come along since the last time larry Lucchino opened his mouth.

It will thrive when it comes back.

P.S. I forgot about Artie T. and his father stealing his cousins’ half ownership in the company. Really, would you do business with this nut?

Unless you want Artie T. to come to your house and tell you he just bought your mortgage from the bank and is foreclosing because under his interpretation of the terms the grass is too high but if you want to fight it you will have to hire very expensive lawyers to match his very expensive lawyers you will follow me on twitter. Gut that?

West Springfield police ready with grenade launchers

Commonwealth Magazine’s excellent The Download newsletter offers a helpful recap of the militarization of Massachusetts police today, stuffed with useful links: “1,000 M-16 machine guns and M-14 automatic rifles” in recent years, among other weapons of war, for example, according to a June report by our ACLU.

Somewhere along the way, the Defense Department also sent the West Springfield Police Department two grenade launchers. Police Chief Ronald Campurciani told The Republican that the weapons were “old and antiquated” and would never be used. But he didn’t say the department would get rid of them either. Instead, they are stored in “an all-metal room.”

Gabrielle Gurley writes, “The Springfield Republican recently reported that DOD’s 1033 excess supply program allows small towns like Monson (14 M-16 machine guns and 5 M-14 semiautomatic rifles) Groton (17 M-16s) to add military weapons to their arsenals.”

We already have an Army, supported by the state-level National Guard, for national defense, with special controls established by the constitution and long custom to keep its immense power under proper controls. It is dangerous and bad policy, as well as an unnecessary expense, to create mini-Armies in cities and towns across the Commonwealth.

First Gubernatorial Debate - Reactions, Analysis

Originally Posted at Only In Boston

The three candidates vying for the Democratic nomination for Governor squared off in the first of five debates to be held before the primary election on September 9th. The hour-long debate, streamed online from Stonehill’s website, was largely uneventful. The candidates mostly reiterated their positions on a variety of key issues and gave their opinions on two important ongoing crises – the Market Basket fiasco and the protests in Ferguson, MO.

Martha Coakley, current Attorney General and favorite to win, played it safe last night. She didn’t take any strong positions and continued to espouse moderate, dispassionate views on everything from the Economy to Universal Pre-K.

Current state treasurer Steve Grossman, in his attempt to differentiate himself from Coakley, took much stronger positions and emphasized his private sector experience. Being the consummate insider and business-friendly candidate, he gave polished, well-rehearsed answers straight from the Clinton/DLC handbook.

Berwick continued to distinguish himself as by-far the most progressive of the three candidates. He used the phrase ‘politics as usual’ several times to decry the policies of the establishment candidates sharing the stage with him. The doctor and former Medicare administrator made sure to mention that he was the only candidate to come forward in support of single-payer healthcare. For me, this is reason enough to vote for him.

Berwick, lacking the name recognition and resources of Coakley and Grossman, is lagging far behind in the polls, but has raised the most money in the month August.

For a full play-by-play check out my liveblog from last night. Watch the whole debate at Stonehill’s site. Here is a rundown of some of the highlights from the debate:

Uber Hires David Plouffe

It appears that David was prescient in writing about Uber. They are political. NYT, emphasis mine:

Mr. Plouffe, who ran President Obama’s 2008 campaign, said he planned to run Uber’s communication efforts much like a political race, pushing to woo consumers and regulators alike in the company’s fast-paced expansion across the world.

Good luck to Mr. Plouffe. Maybe he’ll make them nicer.

A Challenge to the Progressive Candidates for Governor

Listen up Steve Grossman and Don Berwick: Both of you have run atrocious field programs. I heard from y’all back when it was likely I’d be a delegate to the convention, but not till well after I’d started hearing from Kayyem. Haven’t heard from either since February or so. Which says something. Over the years I’ve put in tons of volunteer hours for candidates and given a decent amount of money. I don’t believe in days off, so giving my weekends to a campaign is the most natural thing in the world. If you were running competent campaigns, you’d know this.You’d want volunteers like me, who can bring in more vols and votes. And you’d be smart enough to talk to locally experienced political operatives and powerbrokers who could point you to the people like me. But you haven’t even tried. I wasn’t a delegate, so you lost interest in me. Which says something about the overall quality of your field efforts.


So here’s the challenge: whichever campaign calls me first gets my vote. It’s that easy. No persuasion required. You can leave a message if I don’t answer. I vote in every election, so I should be on your target voter list already. Just come and get me.

District Attorney Dan "Search and Avoid" Conley

So the Herald ran a series recently focusing on the low clearance rate of homicides by Boston Police. In Massachusetts the district attorney has complete authority over homicide investigations. The BPD blames Conley for the lack of prosecutions while Dan responds that he needs to be absolutely sure the charged party did it rather than being pretty sure. Or something like that.

This explains why a guy who shot and killed a woman sitting in the back of car driving away was not indicted.

Or the driver of a speeding car who ran a red light as he barreled through Broadway in South Boston killing a young woman who was unfortunate enough to have the green light.

And how could Dan indict the two guys on film holding a guy a down as they punch and kick him simultaneously as the guy decides to stop his heart from beating and die? You never can be sure.Talk about bad timing.

Then there’s the guy who had to use a stun gun multiple times against an already injured young man with his hands raised.

The above are four incidents off the top of my head showing clear cases of homicide, assault, and/or criminal negligence by Boston police officers in the line of duty.

Dan chose not to bring any charges.

Before Dan there was Ralph Martin and before him was Newman Flanagan and before him we had Garret Byrne. Byrne started in the 50s. Sixty freakin years ago .

Before I get to them let me ask you a question. Suppose you were getting a tour of a medium size high school. During the tour you ask about the discipline procedures and you’re told the school never has discipline problems. What would you think?

Conley’s predecessors regularly prosecuted cops for things that popped up in the course of business. They didn’t go looking for stuff but they didn’t run away either.  What about a dirty cop or two shaking done street level drug dealers and such?

Jesus Christ they had a detective on camera stealing an expensive pair of sunglasses out of a store on Newbury St. while investigating a robbery.

WTF? How about a shoplifting charge with a dismissal upon the payment of court costs. And a stay away order. Wouldn’t hurt his pension.

Oh, and Conley has a new trick. His office is now routinely filing frivolous complaints with the Board of Bar Overseers against defense attorneys who do good jobs.

…… I was about to push publish  when I remembered Conley’s mayoral campaign gimmick of solving the Boston Stranger mystery through classic Conleyesqe creepiness.

He had detectives follow one of the Strangler’s family members around for a week (at cost to the tax payers and time away from other unsolved homicides.) until he blew his nose and threw the tissue away. Dan saw this on CSI Schenectady.

But Dan ignored the fact that it’s been widely known for years that the DeSalvo family has been willing to give DNA samples.

And this stunt only addressed one of the murders.

Not for nothin’ but I told you dan would get his ass kicked in the mayor’s fight and he did.

Ta Da!



AG Candidates Healey and Tolman face off on WGBH

Amid all of the criticism of Boston’s generally wretched broadcast media, WGBH News deserves credit for hosting AG Candidates Maura Healey and Warren Tolman on Emily Rooney’s Greater Boston program last Thursday. Both came off well.

Tolman lost points for being over the top when he said the AG should lead first and worry about statutes later, as it were (he wants to lock the millionaire Market Basket owners in a room until they eat their vegetables, sort of). Healey very appropriately called him on it: the AG is the Commonwealth’s chief law enforcement officer, not its chief enforcer of the political tides of the moment.

Healey lost points for taking an utterly illogical position on marijuana legalization — she thinks it is properly banned because, she asserts, it is addictive and a gateway drug. To be consistent, she should also support a return to prohibition of alcohol and a ban on cigarette sales. Tolman sounded a bit more measured on the subject. She also refused to commit to immediate implementation of “smart gun” controls (and, indeed, her website is utterly anodyne on the subject) which, according to Tolman, can be mandated immediately by the AG (if so, why hasn’t Coakley done so?). He, by contrast, was unequivocal: fingerprint locks on guns, immediately or sooner, if he is elected.

Both of the candidates were congenial to each other, passionate and articulate. Rooney did a fine job moving the discussion along. In one of the most interesting races of this election, the clip is worth a watch. What do you think?

All 3 MA Dems for Treasurer Have Big Plans

The MA Treasurer/Receiver General race has glories and worries. On the Dem side, three solid candidates want to replace Steve Grossman as he stepped aside to run for Governor.  All  three spoke with Left Ahead on the past three successive weeks. Their half-hour shows appear below.

On the negative side, unless you really pay attention, deciding among three good contenders is tough. Moreover, this is down ballot in what is likely to be a low turnout primary (better for governor two months later). As a Warden in a Boston polling place, I dread hearing voters say they don’t know anything about the candidates. I won’t be allowed to scold them or to discuss the candidates.

Note that we would have talked with the GOP nominee Mike Heffernan…if only he had responded to any of the requests.

The links below are to their show. Each discusses expanding the role of Treasurer even beyond what activist Grossman has. Each presents a persona (click their names to visit their sites):

  • Barry Finegold, MA Sen., as self-made success who takes gutsy legislative stances
  • Tom Conroy, MA Rep., who sees himself as the leading financial lawmaker in the State House
  • Deb Goldberg, former Brookline Board of Selectmen Chair, who although an heiress to Stop & Shop has lived and worked as a progressive dogooder

Following the show links, I’ll insert some of their ideas as teasers. Then I’ll conclude with some personal takes.

All 3 MA Dems for Treasurer Have Big Plans

The MA Treasurer/Receiver General race has glories and worries. On the Dem side, three solid candidates want to replace Steve Grossman as he stepped aside to run for Governor.  All  three spoke with Left Ahead on the past three successive weeks. Their half-hour shows appear below.

On the negative side, unless you really pay attention, deciding among three good contenders is tough. Moreover, this is down ballot in what is likely to be a low turnout primary (better for governor two months later). As a Warden in a Boston polling place, I dread hearing voters say they don’t know anything about the candidates. I won’t be allowed to scold them or to discuss the candidates.

Note that we would have talked with the GOP nominee Mike Heffernan…if only he had responded to any of the requests.

The links below are to their show. Each discusses expanding the role of Treasurer even beyond what activist Grossman has. Each presents a persona (click their names to visit their sites):

  • Barry Finegold, MA Sen., as self-made success who takes gutsy legislative stances
  • Tom Conroy, MA Rep., who sees himself as the leading financial lawmaker in the State House
  • Deb Goldberg, former Brookline Board of Selectmen Chair, who although an heiress to Stop & Shop has lived and worked as a progressive dogooder

Following the show links, I’ll insert some of their ideas as teasers. Then I’ll conclude with some personal takes.