Archive for Ballot Initiatives

Four Questions for MA Voters


MA, thanks to the legislative gods, is not at the head of ballot initiatives. That onerous crown still belongs to CA. There, virtually any crackpot with a loony fetish can get it on the statewide ballot, given enough petition signatures. Here at least, all proposals go through that process, then a stringent screen by the Attorney General for legal stuff like constitutionality, and then legislative action in one or two sessions.

For fun, look at the AG’s filings here and Ballotopedia’s who-made-the-cut table.

Eventually the laggard Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office will mail a booklet to registered voters listing the details of the four questions on November’s sheet. I’m a warden at a Boston polling place and I suspect that 90% or more of voters won’t read the booklet and arrive ignorant.

Pity, there are some goodies that made the cut. I deal with:

Q1: Expanding slot machine gaming.

Q2: Charter School Expansion.

Q3: Conditions for farm animals.

Q4: Legalization, regulation and taxation of marijuana.

I give an example or two of what didn’t make the ballot and why.

If you’re like most of my precinct’s voters what you want is the word. I can’t say on election day, but my call, just for you, is N, N, Y and Y.

icon for podpress  2016 MA Ballot Questions [29:37m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


MA Ballot Questions and Public Transit Shows Coming

The next two Tuesday shows have disparate topics:

  • TU 8/23, I’ll cover the four, likewise disparate, Massachusetts ballot questions for November 8th.
  • TU 8/23, the interim director of Transportation for MA (a huge coalition of public interest groups) joins me to discuss how to get everyone from home to work and back at a reasonable price on a reasonable schedule, safely.

If you want to listen live or chime, click here at 2:30 PM Eastern on 8/23 for the ballot questions. Likewise, if transit equity is real to you, click here at 1:30 PM Eastern on 8/30 or the T4MA show.

As always, the shows are available afterward back here, at the show URL or on our iTunes page.



Pisser of an issue

I have really tried to avoid disnifying the hate mongers on the issue of pubic accommodation in schools, restaurants and even toilets. They just won’t quit lying and scaring. So let’s do this.

This Sunday’s NYT has a good wrap-up here. Ignore that they tucked this in the Styles section, what used to be the Women’s pages. Harrumph.

This is a big issue. Wingers and anti-gay types have been moderately successful in co-opting an equality issue, reframing it as a bathroom bill. The pretext and pretense is that if legislatures or ballot initiatives give transgender kids and adults access to gender-neutral facilities — showers, johns and such — child rapists will track little girls into toilets and do awful things.

Let’s talk about what the real issues are and name the dreadful, hateful lies. You can see samples here and here. This craziness has to stop, but first we have to call it out.

I’ll kick around the topic Tuesday, November 10th at 3:30PM Eastern. If you can listen in, click here for the live show. If you want to speak up, do so at 718-664-6966; just don’t block your number.

If you can’t catch it live, you can get it on demand back here, at the show URL or on the Left Ahead iTunes page.


Olympics? Maybe Not.

Aaron Leibowitz, NoBostonOlympicsIt’s not showtime yet, but auditions are underway for the big stage of the 2024 Summer Games here in our wee burg of Boston.

Somehow Boston edged our the U.S. competition to become the USOC pick. Now of course, it will go up against numerous cities around the world for the same prize. Or is it a prize after all and not a curse?

Last week I sat in for the unabashed boosters who proclaim the (to them) certain glories of hosting an Olympics games. While clearly skeptical, I tried to put their position forward, the likes of thousands of jobs, huge advances in infrastructure and housing, tens of thousands of new jobs, and all financed privately with no tax dollars. There is another view.

Today Aaron Leibowitz represented No Boston Olympics with that view. It centers from every angle with we don’t know.

NoBostonOlympics leads the public opposition. It starts with the secrecy and obfuscation. Leibowitz notes that the bidding process to this point lunged and plunged ahead in camera. Under the umbrella of Boston 2024, the boosters have gone from we’ll tell and show you nothing, to we won the bid for the U.S., to we’ll surely be transparent…eventually, to we’ll show reporters our bid but they can’t have copies, to we’ll have public meetings around town. Those meetings do have a schedule, which is here, starting next week and then one monthly through September.

I’m not sure Boston Mayor Marty Walsh reads the dictionary the same way as most of us. He has claimed repeatedly that this drive to host the games will be entirely transparent and open. So far that has not at all been the case. Whether opening up the bid and books and process to hoi polloi will turn us too into boosters will only be seen if that happens.

Meanwhile, WBUR stepped in with its own poll of citizens. A bare majority was in favor of having the games here, a third were opposed, but most tellingly, three quarters wanted a public vote, like a referendum, on the matter. Leibowitz noted that in cities seeking games, 70 to 90% of the public normally supported the bid.

NoBostonOlympics cites the invariable massive cost overruns in Olympics going back 60 years or more. Many have pointed to white-elephant stadia and other facilities after what Leibowitz called “a three-week party.” Moreover, Olympics history shows that a lot of public money, paid by taxes, will be required; the Boston 2024 folk and Mayor Walsh swear that we are different and this Olympics would be privately financed.

Leibowitz and I kicked around the billions of preparatory infrastructure improvements. That is a fascinating sales point for pro and con sides. The pro-Olympics folk hold that having to plan and prepare for games would force the Boston area to invest in roads, bridges, housing, mass transit and other permanent public goods. The con folk make it plain that if we need these, we should simply do them without the huge added costs associated with the Olympics.

There are those arguing that we are so clever here that we can show the IOC and the whole world the right way to host games physically and financially. Leibowitz counters that much of the process and costs are out of the host city’s control and responsive to IOC requirements. Those who believe that we in Boston and Massachusetts can avoid the pits into which the other host cities have fallen are simply “naive,” he says.

NoBostonOlympics is also hosting public meetings, with notifications on the mailing list, main site, and Facebook page. At the least, they want that promised transparency. They think a public vote, maybe a ballot referendum next year would make sense. They are also lobbying legislators and city councilors.

Leibowitz said they were getting some good responses already. However, he cited a quote in a Boston Magazine article that so far pols are afraid to be openly anti or even questioning of the Olympics. Until the public is also expressing skepticism, being anti-Olympics may be seen as “unpatriotic.”


icon for podpress  No Boston Olympics [24:19m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


How We Got to Marriage Equality So Fast

Marc Solomon mug, from his websiteMarc Solomon is justifiably flogging his newly published Winning Marriage: The Inside Story of how Same-Sex Couples took on the Politicians and Pundits — and Won. He is national campaign director for Freedom to Marry and has been a key player in several rights groups for 13 years.

Eager-Reader Note: You can order his book through his website. Click on the title above to go there.

In fundamentally another stop on his book tour, Solomon came on to answer past, present and future questions about marriage equality in the U.S., as well as describing what’s in WMTISOHSSCTOTPAPAW. We’re not huge on promoting books. That’s for the likes of The Daily Show. However, I think this is one is really timely, very important, and with a strong local angle.

Solomon admits we aren’t quite to full marriage equality yet, but expects it soon. He figures that with or without Chief Justice John Roberts’ vote, the Supreme Court will expand it to the nation, likely this term, by the end of June 2015.

Getting there has not been easy nor linear. Click the player below to hear some of the road blocks and struggles. He recounts the anguish of California’s Prop 8, which stripped legislated equality away, only to have it restored in another initiative. There, then Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger “punted” as Solomon put it, after vetoing SSM twice and claiming the courts should decide. In the end though, Schwarzenegger aided the cause by not fighting the result.

Solomon also recalled the struggle to keep marriage equality alive in MA, the first state to legalize it, with the Goodridge decision of our Supreme Judicial Court. Efforts to overturn that pivoted on a ballot initiative that would require only 25% of the combined bicameral legislature to put to a risky vote. Listen in as Solomon describes what worked in MA and later elsewhere. Convincing lawmakers to support equality required gay couples, many with children, to visit their Reps and Senators to simultaneously present themselves and plead the case. That made the difference here and elsewhere.

While that campaign went on, Solomon said the pro-marriage-equality forces often felt the whole world opposed them — leadership in the Vatican, the commonwealth’s Republican party, local pols like Sen. John Kerry, and national ones like Karl Rove. He talks about how their strategy won the day, even with legislators from rural and more conservative urban areas.

Now, Solomon says, the anti- forces have pretty much lost their strength. The Catholic Church has shifted its position, the Mormon Church has backed away, and the professional anti-gay groups have much less support as the nation favors SSM by 60% or more.

For one point, Solomon is much kinder to President Barack Obama than I on the issue. Many political insiders hold that Obama was always pro-SSM but cynically held off saying so before his first election. I am incredulous that he and his wife, both lawyers with him also a former law professor, certainly knew the distinction between religious ritual and civil marriage.Solomon, who was privy to White House thinking, phrases the process leading to Obama’s support for equality differently. Solomon sees a very narrow range where politicians feel comfortable making definitive statement on controversial issues. “It’s simply the way the political process works,” he said.


icon for podpress  Marc Solomon [29:52m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download