Archive for Governor

MBTA Fair Fares Podcast

The MA legislature and recent governors have lacked vision, and still do on mass transit. They look for shortcuts, quick fixes and binary left-brained answers to questions that should demand deep analysis and keen insights.

Residents, particularly those in the Boston area, will get another fare hike of between 9 and 10%. It makes life harder on poorer citizens and solves absolutely none of the T’s troubles.

I talk a bit about the absurd and irrational debt service, about the shameful forward-funding scheme the legislature pile on the MBTA, and why they won’t even consider admitting they thoroughly blew it, much less try to fix it.

When these hikes are under discussion, a few of us call and yell and write and testify that they need to ask meaningful questions. The only one they seem to come up with is not meaningful, rather it is “How big a fare raise and we get?”

Honk. Wrong question.

My rant is has two sides. First and most obvious is fix the damn funding blunder, so the T can have cash flow for operations and maintenance. Harder but more important is asking what we want and expect from the T.

The answer is not the stupid one — on-time trains that are clean and safe. Those should be sine qua non. No, if we want mass transit to be affordable for getting all from where they live to where they work, if we want it to reduce vehicular traffic, noise, pollution and other congestion, we need to be willing to subsidize it like we do with cars and trucks.

The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation report on T funding is here.

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MA Without the Usual Suspects Podcast

Mild apology up front, as our service cut off the podcast just at 30 minutes with no grace. We were still holding forth, but there’s some beef in the bun. Ryan and Mike looked to the strong possibility that Boston mayor may not run and the term-limit certainty that the governor can’t.

We never got to speculating about a possible special election for US Senate if John Kerry gets sucked into an Obama cabinet post.

We had plenty to consider and pontificate about with possible replacements for Mayor Tom Menino and Gov. Deval Patrick. Ryan’s hoping for a Boston dark horse, but Mike figures on a city councilor. They name names. Likewise for governor, we went through some prime suspects and wild cards.

Listen in as we play what-if and who.

icon for podpress  MA Usual Suspects [30:04m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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2013-14 What Ifs

We’ll speculate tomorrow. Boston’s mayor might well not run again. MA’s governor can’t by term limits. We’ll muse on those and maybe throw in some punditry on the US Senate seat here.

Join us if you can Tuesday, December 4th at 2:30 Eastern for Without the Usual Suspects. You can always catch the show later at that URL or back here.

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Donkey Time Podcast

We intended to chat up the DNC convention today. Of course, in context, that meant contrasting the Republican one with it, looking at both the content and power of both, and extrapolating the November results.

Every optimistic, Ryan was buoyed. Ever the worrywart, Mike was cautious. However, both agreed that the Obama team won. Romney/(the other) Ryan’s chances to come on strong continue to diminish.

Listen in as we talk about the increased likelihood of a continuation by the POTUS and why.

We also weighed Citizens United’s effects on this election, how the GOP and its millionaire minions may fine-tune their abuse of democracy, and the paths to ridding the process of the shouting corporate/billionaire speech.

icon for podpress  DNC effects [28:04m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Leisurely DNC Analysis

As threatened last week, we’ll kick around the Dem convention this time. We’ve had the weekend plus to consider.

If you can join us live do so on September 11th, Tuesday, at 2:30 PM Eastern here. The show will be available afterward at that URL, back here at Left Ahead and on our iTunes page.

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Brian Clinton Governor’s Council Podcast

People forget. Every two years in Massachusetts, they elect eight members of the Governor’s Council. That body has been in the constitution here from colonial days, as in 1629. Yet come election time, many voters are unsure what it’s about.

Today, candidate for an open seat on the body, Brian Clinton joined us to talk up himself and to explain the Council. It’s pretty important. Click below to listen in as he explains its roles, including ruling on qualifications of judges, JP, notaries and such, as well as deciding on pardons and commutations. They meet weekly and only get about $26K for their trouble.

Mike adds a disclaimer. Although they aren’t buddies, he and Clinton live in the same sub-neighborhood, Fairmount Hill of Hyde Park.

Clinton presently is chief of staff for very active Boston City Councilor Rob Consalvo. He would continue that. Check his website for his numerous other activities and credentials. He’s also husband and a dad to two tots.

In addition to describing what he sees as his relevant strengths for the Council, he has ideas. He agreed with Ryan that the Council could use more transparency. That might include televising the hearings. Also as a notary public, he thinks the pro forma renewal of their offices is questionable. He’d like the Council to consider qualifications and for roles such as justices of the peace, making sure the JPs understand MA law, such as same-sex marriage and agree to abide by it.

Unless you’re already an expert on the Council, listen to Clinton’s show.

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Walsh on 2012 Races Podcast

MA Dem Party Chair John Walsh is always funny, always fun and scary smart. He joined us today to talk strategy and prospects for the 2012 elections, but he won’t ever forget early 2010.

He led the commonwealth Dems to sweeping victory in November 2012 while the rest of the nation was awash in GOP fervor. In no small part, that was because he learned from the special-election loss at the start of the year that saw Republican Scott Brown edge Dem Martha Coakley for the US Senate seat. He continues to build on the lessons he learned after that, including conversations with Dem activists and pols.

Chief among those are:

  • start early
  • put resources in the hands of the locals and listen to their judgment

For the first, he knows that it would be disastrous for some party official in Boston to show up five weeks before the election with a new, improved plan for campaigning. Instead, the found that it is at the precinct and ward level where the organizers understand the patterns and trends locally. Communication needs to be both ways bottom to top and top to bottom.

Patrick padI started with my own recurring atonement as illustrated with the attached organizer pad for the 2010 campaign to re-elect Gov. Deval Partrick and Lt. Gov. Tim Murray. When Walsh made it plain that the party strategy centered on activists playing the role of organizers for people they knew, I had no doubt that was a losing plan. As I freely admit, it was instead a winning plan, one that was the foundation for Walsh’s current strategy. While the nation wallowed in red, MA was astonishingly blue, losing only a couple of state representative seats in the reactionary tide. I keep this pad handy to remind me of my pundit fallibility.

Click below to hear John speak of the refined version of keeping and improving on his party’s position. Dems are spreading the word through training and data on possible non-voting party members and party leaners who have not voted in the past two or three Presidentials. Through these vote-builder accounts, local activists can ID those and get them to the polls.

Walsh noted that the difference in that painful special-election defeat was about 50 votes per precinct (“It seemed like much worse,” he told us). Depending on the election (POTUS or not), there can be between 300,000 and 600,000 Dems or leaning Dems among non-voters. For many of those, voting is on their list, but not as high as “brushing teeth and pushing amrs in sweaters” in the case of those with kids. Some are young voters not in the habit yet and others are older voters recently infirm. He sees some of these are candidates for absentee voting.

Others don’t understand the big and small issues in the current contests. In these latter cases, Walsh notes, “When we have voters who don’t get it, it’s our fault.” That’s where he concentrates his work — getting out the vote and making sure Dems know the importance of the issues.

Walsh added that “as much as it pains me to say it,” about 1.1 million MA residents voted for Sarah Palin, largely GOP and unenrolled ones. While 1.9 million smeared the ovals for Joe Biden, the difference per election for Dems is getting them to the polls. Listen in as he describes how the party uses the online voter lists and has gotten 300 town committees trained so far in face-to-face work with those who have not been voting.

For this November, he is well aware that following the Citizens United decision, a disheartening amount of winger ads and other expenditures will target both President Obama and the MA Dem candidate for US Senate. He’s a firm believer that “the only thing that can beat big money” is face-to-face contact, real citizens v. Citizens United. He said that money only “simulates the relationships.”

Beyond the election, he indulged us on the questions at least one US Senate candidate, Marisa DeFranco, raised earlier this month about the process of getting on the ballot. Listen in as he agrees that it can seem arduous to get 10,000 signatures, the 15% of party delegates (around 750) at the June convention to get on the primary ballot. He has the luxury of inheriting the state law and party rules, but added that he’s open to refinements.

This go in November, Walsh is working toward getting an additional 20% to 30% more Dems and leaning Dems to the polls.

~Mike

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Happy Solemnizer Podcast

massmarrierIn a fit of self-indulgence, co-host Mike Ball filled in the week before New Year’s with a short show about a splendid and odd MA marriage law. He has availed himself of the one-day designation of solemnization law four times…and heartily recommends it.

Until recently when CA copied our law, we were the only state where plain folk, nearly any adult, could perform marriages. Under General Law Ch. 207, Sect. 39, citizens can petition the governor for the right to solemnize a single marriage to a specified couple in a particular municipality on a given date. You needn’t be a JP or cleric or public official, not even a mail-order minister.

The CA copy is looser than the MA model. The instructions at the MA Secretary of the Commonwealth’s solemnization page says you can generally do one a year. CA does not have that restriction and does not suggest you apply six weeks in advance.

This 22-minute show (click the player below) covers how it works and gushes about how satisfying it has been for Mike. Moreover, it was the catalyst for his original blog, Marry in Massachusetts, as well as the inspiration for his blogger tag, massmarrier. He originally thought he’d do one a year, but it’s worked out so far to every other year. So far, that’s been two marriages of long-term friends, one of his eldest son, and yesterday, that of a friend’s daughter.

There’s even been the political fit, as the second was a same-sex marriage the first year they were legal here. There doesn’t need to be any pretense or other deceit about being pro-marriage/pro-family here. We can live it in Massachusetts. Mike’s marriages have all lasted.

By the bye, the show did not cover that one-a-year rule. His son’s marriage was in June. However, he called the Governor’s office and heard his aide say, “That shouldn’t be a problem,” to do the second one six months later. It was not.

This show is just to let people know this is possible, as well as to recommend it.

icon for podpress  Happy Solemnizer [21:45m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Happy Solemnizer Show

In what seems like a pattern, our show will be at an odd day and time on the last day of Chanukkah/between Christmas and New Year’s, on Wednesday, Dec. 28th at 10 AM. This one will be a self-indulgent half hour with Mike talking about how ordinary folk in MA can perform (solemnize) marriages.

For many decades, we were the only state that allowed this. California recently copied our law, and went it better in a few ways. In both places, you don’t need to be a minister (even a mail-order one), justice of the peace or public official. Mike will talk about how it works here and get specific with the four marriages he’s done.

Yeah, it’s early and during holidays, but if you can listen and have comments or questions, call in to 718-664-6966. Press 1 on your phone keypad when you connect to let him know that you want to talk.

If you can listen live Tuesday, 12/28 at 10 AM Eastern, do that here. The show will be available on demand later, at that URL, back here at Left Ahead or on iTunes.

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Grossman Casinos Podcast

Steve Grossman talked casinos, commissioners, goals, and site awards with us for the law in place to allow three casinos and a single slots parlor in MA. The public wants action — revenue, short and long-term jobs, and other proof that large-scale commercial gambling (euphemistically gaming) beyond the lottery is the right thing to do.

Treasurer and Receiver General Steve Grossman joined Left Ahead today for an abbreviated (20-minute) show focused precisely on the what-now factor. Click the player below to hear what he says about:

  • Selection of the five commissioners to set up and oversee the works
  • What we expect to gain from the operations
  • How fast we ramp up
  • What his concerns are about the commissioner he picks, the two others he co-chooses, and the whole process

Even though he’s the commonwealth’s pivotal money man and financial policy visionary, Grossman is quick to point out that he’s largely a spectator once the commission’s in place and the sites are awarded. He guides at this stage and then has to be hands off. Ideally, he’ll be figuratively counting money from the operational proceeds.

It was just he and I today on this short show. I was plain about my trepidation.

Grossman inspires the obvious observation that he was an Eagle Scout and like most of them largely remains the honest and stalwart fellow. In that vein, he stressed how demanding he will be in his choice of commissioner. The Governor has already chosen the chair, the Attorney General gets a pick, and the three of them agree among themselves on the other two to make five. The process at least on paper/online looks like the qualifications in the description and application will avoid conflicts of interest, guarantee objectivity as much as humanly possible, and bring the proper mix of relevant knowledge and skills. Check the commonwealth site here for the specs and application.

I was also very concerned about the vague and seemingly naive objectives in the law itself. Scroll to lines 138 through 149 for key goals. Pretty much, the lawmakers and governor want new jobs as well as protection and expansion of local business and tourism.

These generalizations are a far cry from what is in the literature about successful implementations of gambling facilities. Most of those are overseas and typically took years of planning and bids that required the investing company to spend tens of millions meeting the governments specifications in elaborate proposals. The clearest case I heard was from casinos expert Prof. William Eadington at a recent Rappaport forum.

While Grossman did not promise that level of smart planning, he did agree with the concepts. Listen in as he describes that meter running. He figures we have one chance to do this right. He wants the commonwealth, in the form of him, the AG, Governor and commission, to apply principles like those he used in his successful business. He does not want anyone rushing and expects high quality instead of speed of implementation.

Likewise, he spoke of trying to capture the revenue that goes to out-of-state casinos and would not promise an effort to attract out-of-state and out-of-U.S. tourists. However, he likes the ideas behind the successful implementations in foreign casinos. Those typically built such attractive tourist resorts that they are true destinations, ones where the wealthy happily bring their families for a week or more, shopping, dining,clubbing, sightseeing, and sure, gambling too. He said that is possible here as well.

He promised updates as the process continues. We intend to take him up on that.

Cross-post:
This also appears at BlueMassGroup.

~Mike

icon for podpress  Steve Grossman [20:32m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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