Massachusetts was left in great shape after Deval Patrick left office, with ten straight months of job growth, high reserves and historic credit ratings due to the Patrick-Murray Administration’s investments in education, innovation and infrastructure. And now that the end of the fiscal year numbers are in from the state Department of Revenue, we know that the Baker administration never had to reckon with a $1 billion deficit, as was predicted by the Mass Taxpayers Foundation; but rather they benefitted from hundreds of millions in surplus revenues when all was said and done. Bruce Mohl debunks the big budget deficit myth in an excellent piece in Commonwealth Magazine. Even the Mass Taxpayers have backed away from their deficit projections. “In 20-20 hindsight, 2015 ended up doing better than we thought,” their spokesman tells Commonwealth Mag. “They were lucky and ended up with a surplus.” … $391 million in surplus revenues at the close of the Fiscal Year, to be exact. Of course, Governor Patrick addressed a budget gap before leaving office through some tough and fiscally responsible 9C cuts. And the sound condition of Massachusetts at the change of administration reflects the solid investments and strong stewardship of the Patrick-Murray […]
Given everything we’ve seen in recent months about police killing black men and then lying about it, I thought I would revisit an event in Boston that caught my eye a few years ago: the killing of Burrell Ramsey-White. At the time, because I was a complacent white guy who apparently needed video evidence to believe what black people had been saying about the police since pretty much forever, I took the account of this shooting at face value: guy ran from the cops, pulled a gun, and got shot dead. Yesterday I downloaded DA Dan Conley’s letter to the police commissioner in which he declines to bring charges, figuring I’d look through and just see what it said. Here’s some of what it said, with my commentary and questions. It’s just before 6 PM on August 21, 2012. Officers Pieroway and Resil run the plates on a Cadillac with tinted windows and find that the owner, Jurell Laronal, has a warrant for his arrest for assault with a dangerous weapon. They pull the car over. It’s worth noting here that ADW is a pretty broad charge in Massachusetts. Kicking someone while you have shoes on will get you this […]
I’m nowhere near Beacon Hill these days, so it is useful and perhaps natural for me to consider what fundamental changes will be left standing after Governor Patrick takes his walk tomorrow. I think of these as “facts on the ground,” structural changes (physical, political, or fiscal) that persist and exist independently of whoever sits in what chairs tomorrow. They materially change what is feasible going forward. I invite BMGers to list what these are. For instance, consider all the renewable energy resources that have been installed in the last 8 years or are firmly in the pipeline. These now have, or are about to have, their own existence and will supply energy for the rest of their material lifetimes.
As someone who has served as a state legislator with Deval Patrick during his entire tenure as Governor (and four years under Governor Romney!), like many engaged Massachusetts progressives I have been thinking a lot about his legacy. So it was great to read the above the fold story in the Boston Sunday Globe, “The Patrick legacy: history and headwinds.” The story drove lots of discussion on Sunday, mostly on social media, and I have no doubt that it will be a big topic of discussion this week, as legislators for the 2015-2016 session get sworn-in and Governor Patrick makes his “Lone Walk” from the State House on Wednesday, and Charlie Baker becomes our next Governor on Thursday. It’s hard to measure any elected official’s legacy, most especially a high-profile governor who commanded headlines almost every day, both good and bad, and quickly became a prominent national figure, such as Deval Patrick did. And of course, it’s often even unfair to assess a politician’s legacy just as its ending, compared to two, five, ten years down the road. However, when I think of the impact that Governor Patrick had on Massachusetts, including its political culture, it’s important to remember the messages […]
Cross-posted at Digital Fourth Following on from the Sandy Hook school shooting, the “Massachusetts Task Force on School Safety and Security” released a report in July. As you’d expect from a report written with plenty of police input and none from the civil liberties community, it recommends changes that are highly intrusive, probably ineffective, definitely expensive, and likely to benefit police more than they benefit students. Of course, that’s not how it’s being reported. Local papers, including my own Belmont Citizen-Herald, are portentously explaining how this is all “for the kids” and will “keep them safe” (I’d link to their exhaustive coverage, but it’s not up yet). The most important thing to understand regarding school shootings is that school districts can’t prevent them. I wish they could, but they can’t. School shootings happen far too much in the US, largely because we spend too little on mental health services and allow, as a matter of constitutional principle, broad access to guns. School shootings also tend to happen more in rural and suburban districts where the schools are pretty much the only place that will grab the attention of the whole community. Nothing school districts can do will change these things. […]
I think Team Blue hasn’t quite made enough noise about the new T station in Assembly Square. It’s fairly huge deal. The last time the state opened a new MBTA rail station it was 1987 and Mike Dukakis was the governor. It’s not a coincidence that we had to wait until another Dem occupied the corner office to get some attention paid to public transit. Political will matters. Without it, very little gets done. This also goes to the economic vision that Massachusetts Democrats often espouse yet frequently fail to act upon: namely building out the infrastructure around which a thriving economy can take hold. Assembly Square looks to be a perfect example of Democratic economics in action. Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone just wrote a column that lays out why Massachusetts needs to be in business of transportation improvement. One of the main questions that should be asked of the gubernatorial candidates is whether Assembly Square is going to be a one-off or, if not, how do you plan to keep the momentum going now that Deval Patrick has gotten the transportation ball rolling again?
The environmental community in Massachusetts has a big problem: Everyone says they agree with us. When we ask candidates for office if they will fight to protect the environment, they all say yes. Should we recycle more? Sure. Keep pollution out of our water and air? Of course And yet, even as we elect politicians who claim to support the environment year after year, the priorities of the environmental community get passed over for shinier objects and issues that seem more pressing. This year, the Environmental League of Massachusetts Action Fund is aiming to pump up a more muscular and politically effective environmental community. On the statewide level, we are particularly interested in the races for Governor and Attorney General. Gov. Patrick has been a champion for the environment and we are going to do everything we can to make sure that his successor will continue his legacy. The road to the Corner Office will go through the environmental community. For the environmental community, the choice for Attorney General is clear. Warren Tolman has a long record of leading the fight to protect the environment. When Warren pledges to crack down on companies that pollute our rivers and oceans through […]
Yes, yes I know. The opinion I hold is a rather rare and controversial one among many Democrats, especially those who attend the caucuses. Four years after a stunning loss to Scott Brown, many in the party seemingly still hold the loss against her. Martha however, is not lacking in intelligence or political know-how. She’d be the first one to tell you that she didn’t run the campaign she wanted to, or should’ve run. The story of the 2010 Special Senate Election is the story of a “perfect storm” of sorts- a culmination of dissatisfaction, even in liberal Massachusetts, with Washington, with the powers that be. Coakley doesn’t shy away from her past mistakes, but it’s unfair to place blame for the loss solely on her. In recent years, it’s been commonplace for any mention of the Attorney General to mention her failed Senate bid. But Martha Coakley, unlike many of the voters in Massachusetts, hasn’t let that election define her. She’s tough. She’s resilient. Getting back on her feet, Martha Coakley buckled down, re-won the AG’s office and got to work. She continued to fight for LGBT rights, protected thousands who were at risk of losing their homes, and […]
Protesters delivered a powerful message to Gov. Deval Patrick (D-MA) on Sunday, asking him to shut down the coal-fired Brayton Point power plant: Organized by 350 Massachusetts Action and Better Future Action, protestors carrying mini wind turbines and signs like “Coal is stupid” called for Gov. Deval Patrick to close the coal plant and “ensure a just transition for workers and host communities from the West Virginian mines to Somerset,” according to a press release. [...] Chanting slogans like “All coal is dirty coal, leave it in the ground,” a line of protesters snaked past area homes, drawing some bystanders. “We live nearby and we are concerned about the power plant but didn’t realize (the protest) was going to be that big a deal,” said Missy Pimentel, surprised by the turnout. “I’m glad they are here.” Police arrested 44 protesters. Show your support by emailing Gov. Patrick asking him to shut down Brayton Point now. (Its recent sale shows Brayton Point is nearly worthless anyway.) Despite the $30,000 in riot gear that Somerset Police Chief Joseph Ferreira bought especially for the event, all went peacefully. Somerset is now considering a sizeable solar project near the current site of the Brayton Point coal plant that […]
**Massachusetts legislators will be debating and voting on an inadequate transportation finance bill TODAY, I encourage you to speak out and let your legislators know that we must do better. Join me and sign my petition for real investment in 21st century transportation and education.** Today, Massachusetts has a historic opportunity to make visionary investments in our schools, roads, and public transportation systems. By standing up for innovative changes in education and transportation, we can create good jobs, strengthen the middle class, and put the Commonwealth at the forefront of the nation’s 21st century economy. House and Senate leaders have put forward a proposal that is inadequate to address these problems. We can’t continue to kick the can down the road, putting only partial fixes on falling concrete, crumbling roads and bridges, and aging schools and trains. We can do better. These are the same kind of poor choices we have seen in Washington. Kicking the can down the road got us the Sequestration Crisis and the Fiscal Cliff. Lack of political courage has meant bailouts for Wall Street and nothing for the people of Massachusetts. Now is the time to be bold. We must demand a comprehensive, progressive solution […]