Archive for Funding

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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Goosing the Lame Duck Podcast

Still stunned Republicans in Congress must also be hearing their leaders bluster about how the POTUS and his Dems had better do whatever they say. Huh?

We kicked around what was possible in this lame-duck Congress and short-term 2013. Listen in below as we hit the fiscal cliff (totally manufactured brinkmanship), immigration reform (and GOP efforts to get just a little Latino voter love), and more. The fiscal slope is a better term and Congress has months to concoct a fix, although House Republicans could stop this foolishness immediately by passing the Senate-approved bill extending middle-class tax cuts.

We think aloud about the kind of blame the right will take if they fool around too much, too long and too obviously.

We ended up comparing MA Dems’ rethinking after the Sen. Scott Brown victory three years ago and our amazement that the national Republicans can not thrown themselves into the kind of restructuring that served Dems so well here.

icon for podpress  Goosing the Lame Duck [30:41m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Kearns Goodwin Update Show

A month from the primary that almost certainly will decide the 3rd Middlesex MA Senate race, five Dems are in the race for the open seat. Joe Kearns Goodwin joined us got an update.

We couldn’t get him to pick on fellow candidates, but he did get into his issues. In a contest to replace a respected progressive, Susan Fargo, who’s retiring, a big part of this race is differentiating yourself. Listen in as Kearns Goodwin describes his emphasis on specific areas of education as well as a drive for a graduated income tax. While he has combat experience in two wars and has detailed proposals in education, he still sees the big battle to be fought in the Joint Revenue Committee area. Hear him describe how refining the tax burdens, and as important, defining where additional moneys should go are the future.

Kearns Goodwin is a champion of training MA workers (maybe starting in kindergarten) to have the skills employers will need and many already have going unfilled. Click below to hear him describe the ways he thinks we need to match jobs with job seekers.

He also spoke about what he liked and saw lacking in the recent agenda of the General Court.

icon for podpress  Joe Kearns Goodwin update [29:44m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Joe Mullin Podcast

JOBS, JOBS, JOBS has been Joe Mullin’s phrase on his website and throughout his run for 3rd Middlesx MA Senate. He differentiates himself from the field particularly in having driven the Clock Tower Place project in Maynard that now has over 90 tenants and 2,500 employees in the former HQ of DEC.

listen in as he describes his diverse business and political experiences. He speaks to his support for single-payer health care, graduated taxes to ease the burdens on the middle classes, and evev to reassignment of debt from mass transit.

This show completes the five Dems running for the seat. Mara Dolan was the first, Mike Barrett the second, Joe Kearns Goodwin the third, and the most recent was with Alex Buck.

icon for podpress  Joe Mullin [29:07m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Alex Buck Podcast

Not your usual politician, as Alex Buck describes himself, joined us today to pitch his positions and his aims if he becomes Susan Fargo’s replacement in the MA Senate for 3rd Middlesex. He says he tells voters in his front door speech that’s one of his pluses.

He warned us that his campaign site is almost fleshed out, but won’t get his platform and issues for a few more days. Meanwhile, click below to hear his views and goals on a very wide range, from education to taxes to growing our economy to mass transit to the role of government.

Buck layered a masters in public administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School on his mechanical engineering bachelors. He talks about his vision for an economy that educates for and enables the likes of life sciences, biotech and clean energy. He is firmly against giving tax breaks to individual companies (comparing that the mere fertilizer when an industry’s entire environment should foster all companies who enter it or expand in it).

He sees education from all-day kindergarten through public support to keep state colleges affordable to workplace education as pivotal to building and expanding these essential industries. Listen in as he addresses why he thinks we are one of the few places in the country that can pull this off.

This was the fourth in the 3rd Middlesex Senate series. Mara Dolan was the first, Mike Barrett the second, and Joe Kearns Goodwin the third.

icon for podpress  Alex Buck [31:48m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Tag Team Pundits Podcast

Ryan and Mike were at elections 2012 again. We recapped the more inane blunders of the GOP, in Congress as well as Mitt Romney. We left the state legislatures and governors alone this week.

Ryan believes voters will start to pay attention a few weeks before the general election. He is sanguine enough to think Dems will retain the Senate and maybe pick up a few in the House. He also thinks that Warren will top Brown in a tight race.

Mike remains befuddled that so many voters seem willing to be fabulists and fantasists. The GOP has done so much to alienate whole classes of voters — middle class, poor, students, women, Latinos and on and on. Yet, many voters seem to want to accept demonstrably false claims, such as a mythical class of “job creator” companies and rich individuals who will, any day now, actually start helping our economy despite their failure to do so to date.

This harks back to the Reagan fantasies of trickle-down economics and guns-and-butter national expenditures based on an endless growth spiral that didn’t and couldn’t happen. Mike finds dreams nice, but no way to choose Presidents.

icon for podpress  Tag Team Pundits [29:58m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Murphy on the Heart of the City

Boston City Council President Stephen Murphy joins us. We talk about what must be done and what’s possible for the city.

He came through a hotly contested at-large Councilor contest. Recently reelected to a second term at the head of Council, he’s long been the body’s money-and-numbers guy. This time, he faces complex, tough debates and disagreements on the likes of casino gambling in Boston.

To catch this Valentine’s Day show live, go here Tuesday, Feb. 14th, at 2:30 PM Eastern. Afterward, you can listen on demand there, back here at Left Ahead or on our iTune channel.

You can prime yourself for this show by returning to the last time he was on with us. Click here for that.

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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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Khazei Calling for People to Rise Up

Alan Khazei somehow manages to be simultaneously smart, politically experienced and optimistic. Speaking with us today of the dreadful economic and employment problems as well as awful political forces, he still is confident we’ll get through it as a nation and thrive.

Doing so will require both strong governmental action and popular uprising to correct the problems. Click the player below to hear him describe the problems and solutions.

The highly accomplished social entrepreneur is not about to relax after withdrawing from the race for the Democratic U.S. Senate seat nomination. He proposed the widest ranging and most specific platform of issues with sub-issues in the race. Many of these are progressive goals he has worked for over the past several decades. He intends to find ways to accomplish them.

In case there is any doubt, he does not see the incumbent Sen. Scott Brown as a possible champion of what’s necessary for the nation. Toward the end of our half hour, he notes that Brown came in with a perfect opportunity to form a bipartisan caucus. “He could have done anything,” Khazei said. Instead, Brown has not been the game-changing leader people need and expected.

He spoke to us of the travesties of the Citizens United decision and the codification of corporations as people and money as free speech. Instead of these and such regressive moves as states requiring voter ID and otherwise limiting election participation, he wants same-day registration and other moves to open the process to more Americans. The greater the number of voters with access determines who’s elected and the quality of government, he said. To fix the dysfunctional political system requires people to rise up and demand it.

For the economic and employment side, he sees the need for state and national government to do all possible to get more Americans back to work. In the process, that can mean modern equivalents of the NRA, WPA and CCC. With that could come repairing the nation’s infrastructure and modern benefits like retrofitting green building features. The larger process would put more of us to work and more money and growth in the economy. Listen in as he describes the role national service and similar efforts can play.

Again and again, he returned to the point that “ultimately, it’s going to take a citizen movement” to implement these actions. In that vein, he said early on that far too many politicians and bureaucrats in Washington are “stuck in the Beltway.” Many are not aware that “there are a lot of great answers” beyond.

By the bye, he did not endorse anyone for the Senate race, but did say that he would campaign for the eventual nominee if asked.

icon for podpress  Alan Khazei [34:14m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Eldridge for Disclosure Podcast

Sen. EldridgeOne of our MA legislators who decidedly has our backs is Sen. James (Jamie) Eldridge. He is now fighting at state and national levels to overcome the awful effects of the Citizens United SCOTUS decision.

He joined us to explain why it’s not OK for corporations to be treated like flesh-and-blood human citizens with Constitutional rights. It’s not OK for unlimited money to be used for political advertising with no public disclosure of who’s funding it.

Rather than whine, he is working at both levels to overturn the effects of the ruling. In the commonwealth, he created and is working to pass two bills, detailed here. Among other things, these require that MA chartered corporations reveal such political expenditures in their quarterly reports and that they give two-third shareholder approval for such expenditures above $5,000.

On the national level, he is asking for Congress to pass and send to the states a Constitutional amendment “to correct the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC. This resolution would clarify that Freedom of Speech is a right of citizens, not corporations. That bill is currently before the Judiciary committee.” He has begun working with MA’s Congressional delegation to advance this.

Listen in as describes what he’s done so far, where the bills, what the prospects are for both the bills and the amendment, and even what the conflicts are for legislators who would limit contributions that might come their way.

icon for podpress  Sen. Eldridge [32:17m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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