Doug Obey made a few points that I think are just factually incorrect, so I will tackle him first. He claimed several times that the Legislature has a Constitutional duty to allow the people to vote on the amendment defining marriage. If he had taken the time to read Article XLVIII of that document he would see that it requires the Legislature to vote, not the people. It is true that the Legislature did try to shirk their Constitutional duty in order to kill the amendment but, eventually, they did in fact have a vote. If the Constitution required that the amendment proceed directly to the people there would be no need for the Legislature to vote at all. He also claims that “there are other laws the Legislature isn’t upholding.” I’d like him to 1)provide a list of laws the legislature isn’t upholding and 2)explain to me when the Legislature, and not the Governor, became responsible for executing the laws. If Mr. Obey is interested in swearing an oath to uphold the Constitution he should probably read it first.
He also claims that businesses are flocking to other states, specifically North Carolina, just because they dropped their corporate tax rate. He might want to check out the non-partisan Mass. Budget & Policy Center’s report which states “overall business taxes are lower in Massachusetts than in the large majority of states.” He might also want to rethink the strategy of attacking the Democratic Governor while running as a ideologically conservative Republican to join the overwhelmingly Democratic Legislature if he wants to get anything accomplished on Beacon Hill. There is honey, and then there is vinegar.
Obey did have a few good ideas on the night. He supported my position of allowing town employees to join the Commonwealth’s Group Insurance Commission. He also was the only person to discuss making tuition tax deductible. As someone drowning in student loans I’d love to see this enacted. He didn’t make clear if he only meant college tuition, but with his earlier support for vouchers I question whether he did.
None of the candidates had good answers on the question of the MWRA levies, but frankly I expected more from Bill McKinney as a former MDC Commissioner. He also praised the new health care law for attempting to expand coverage to everyone without becoming “socialistic.” This new law is now going to require private citizens to enter into a contract with a private company, possibly against their will. That doesn’t sound like the mantra of a true conservative to me. I did like that he put the MDC budget up on their website, something I wish Dedham would do as well.
Independent Paul McMurtry was the funny man on stage with a couple of great one liners and lots of talk about his experience as the successful owner of several small businesses. He also brought up several issues that no one else did such as protecting the environment, promoting renewable energy and civic engagement. I don’t know how much myDedham will do to bring down the price at the pumps, but this site is all about civic engagement and I was glad to see him discuss it.
Moving now to the Democrats. Joanne Flatley claimed that since now the Big Dig was winding down that she would move the federal funds that had been spent on that project to paying for local roads. The problem with that is that the Big Dig was funded with federal Interstate Highway money. East Street may feel like it sometimes, but it is not yet an interstate highway and thus not eligible for those funds.
I liked Tom Boncek’s idea of getting together a group of the tradesmen in town to volunteer to maintain the infrastructure, but I don’t think that can realistically get us very far. Theresa J may have been able to build a playground with volunteer labor, but do we really expect to get a new Avery School with a couple of Harry Homeowners on the job?
I wish Shoenfeld had gotten asked the health care question as she highlighted the issue in her opening statement and seemed to have more substantive ideas than the candidates who did get asked about it. She came out in favor of a single payer system, and I would have liked to have heard her elaborate more on it.
Finally, Bilafer seemed to have had a better grasp on the issues than some of the other candidates but he got asked some of the easier questions, too. What committee would you like to serve on doesn’t require nearly as much thought as how will you reduce health care costs? He did impress me with the answers he gave, though.
I don’t know of any other forums between now and the election for the candidates, so I will will reiterate my call for them to post here on myDedham and let the voters question them directly. With over 7,000 pages views and 500 people reading the site, I don’t know where else they will have the chance to interact with so many voters.