Archive for Taxes

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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O’Connor Ives Podcast

Three-term Newburyport Councilor Kathleen O’Connor Ives joined us to talk about her run for the open MA Senate seat in 1st Essex. She acknowledged it’s a tough field. She wants to beat out two other Democrats in next week’s primary. There are also two unenrolled and two Republicans after the spot.

As her website details, she has staked out specific proposals across a spectrum of issues from the environment to economic redevelopment to public safety to women’s rights to campaign-finance reform. She bristled only once with us, at the mention that one of her opponents likes to portray himself as the progressive in the race. She pointed out that her positions gives her as much right.

Listen in as she speaks to her policies and planks. We covered a wide range of topics, as well as her collaborative style by which she expects to pass legislation. She also differentiated herself from her fellow Dems in the race. For example, she said they stress their executive experience, which she says is not all that useful for a job that would entail understanding policy, parsing proposed legislation and researching. As an environmental lawyer, she thinks she has a leg up here.

Listen in as she presents herself as “not a Pollyanna.” Yet she is relentlessly hopeful and has a clear sense of direction.

icon for podpress  Kathleen O'Connor Ives [31:14m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


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.

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Tobin on Boston and Northeastern Podcast

John Tobin says he can’t really miss being a Boston City Councilor. In his new role, he deals constantly with the same officials, including Councilors, the Mayor and legislators that he did in City Hall. As Northeastern University’s VP for Community and City Affairs, he jokes that his office is still on the fifth floor, but across town.

He joined us to say what that entails and to talk about the challenges big and small. Listen in as he discusses PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) that NEU recently increased. He also stresses the many community volunteer projects his students and staff participate. Less visible but at least as important is support of public schools, particularly the Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers right on the NEU campus, but also in numerous other Boston public schools. “I think the best payment-in-lieu-of-taxes we can make is to help those kids,” he said.

Many of the interactions the larger community has with colleges and universities are less pleasant, such as rowdy parties. Click below to hear how his and other universities address those, including ride-arounds every weekend.

Tobin also discusses NEU’s master plan that it will file with the city by the end of December. That will start a large and long set of community meetings, beginning tomorrow night.

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Tobin Talks Town and Gown

John Tobin joins us to discuss the interplay of universities and cities. A self-defined political junkie, he has acted and observed, both as a Boston City Councilor and more recently as Northeastern University’s VP for City & Community Affairs. He’s represented the city and the school. He brings a unique perspective to how both sides can work well or poorly with the other.

To catch him live, go here Tuesday, April 24th at 2:30 PM Eastern. Afterward the show will be available on demand to hear or download at that URL, back here at Left Ahead and on our iTunes page.


King Who Would Be Senator Podcast

Dropping note: OK, boys and girls, word at MassLive is that King decided to drop out of the race the day after our show with him. I hope it wasn’t something we said. Enjoy the commentary in that context.

Jim King does not accept being an afterthought candidate in the race for the Dem nomination to challenge US Sen. Scott Brown this fall. He figures his platform is the best, he’ll have enough money to compete, and he’ll get the 10,000 signatures and 15% of party delegates for the June convention. He intends to get on the September ballot, at the very least.

He takes strong positions, which he tends to back up with detailed historical and economic reasoning. Some, like energy independence and employment, he has particular passions for as well.

He told us plainly why he was in the race. “Number one is to beat Scott Brown,” he said. He believes the incumbent’s victory in the special election following Sen. Ted Kennedy’s death was an anomaly. He feels Kennedy “gave us a tremendous legacy,” one Brown has not done well by. He added that this position may not be Kennedy’s seat, “but he showed us how to use it.”

Click below to listen to King’s positions including:

  • Jobs — we need WPA/TVA-style public works projects as well as developing and expanding high-tech here
  • Casinos — no economic panacea
  • Corporate taxes — eliminate outdated subsidies like petroleum depletion and exploration credits, and make U.S. companies pay taxes on foreign holdings
  • Immigration — For non-violent/non-drug crime illegal immigrants, have them pay fines, make them follow the path to citizenship, and forget expensive, counterproductive long jail terms or deportation
  • Regressive politics — Brown among other GOP legislators are too often atavistic in promoting states-rights positions on health-care and more

King also believes that there is enough money to fund important development, like tidal power plants and wind turbines, without tapping the military budget. He acknowledges that self-interested Congress members might prefer to send money to pet projects, but he says, “Then let’s have a fight about it.”

His website has a clear, detailed section for each of his position.

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Occupy Wall St. Podcast

In case you had any doubt were we’d fall on the 99% v. 1% struggle, listen in. Ryan and Mike speak about the Occupy Wall Street movement. Click below to activate the player or download the show.

We deal with how it came about, the absurd media reaction, and even how it relates to other real or pretend grassroots movements. We think it has a lot better chance to thrive and force changes than the media and pols do.

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Council President Murphy Podcast

The Boston City Council President, Steve Murphy, joined us to talk money, city and state politics, accomplishments and re-election campaigning. The seven-term Council has been one of the top two vote getters and has a well acknowledged role — money guru and financial hawk.

Even so, he was quick to say that there are at least five viable candidates among the seven or eight who will qualify for the four at-large seats. The recent entry of former Councilor and body President Michael Flaherty changes the pace for the four incumbents from leisurely to pretty frenetic.

Murphy was candid about the race to date, as he is with everything. He holds that the four at-large incumbents work together better than any set he has seen since he joined Council in 1997. He addressed Ryan’s question about whether there was an agreement tacit or otherwise to close ranks for the election. In his view all four speak well of each other and no one is trying to knock anyone to get an edge.

Likewise, when Flaherty spoke with us, he was careful to say he wasn’t targeting any particular incumbent in his race. Today, Murphy said we’d all have to wait to see how his dynamic of collegiality plays out. There won’t be a September preliminary, so it will be the single balloting in November that determines the at-large winners.

Listen in to hear the financial problems the city has and will face, and how Council and City Hall have addressed them. Murphy describes what Boston has lost with sudden cutoff of federal funds and difficulties in getting money from the commonwealth today. Moreover, he shares our frustration here with the MA home-rule process that turns the state’s biggest source of revenue into mendicants.

As for his advantage as the money man, Murphy seems pragmatic. His fellow Councilors turn to him for fiscal advice, but that does not mean that the voters see him as indispensable. He describe how he has to pitch his accomplishments, skills and goals to the voters every time.

icon for podpress  Steve Murphy [33:19m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Flaherty Livens Race Podcast

Here’s one Boston pol not afraid of powerful, longest serving Mayor Thomas Menino. Michael Flaherty enlivened the at-large City Councilor race by announcing his campaign to rejoin the body.

Our conversation with him today (click the player below to listen) dug into what he wants to do if he returns, why he’d run rather than just work his law practice, how he’ll campaign, and…a lot…on what he sees as the flaws with what he calls “one of the most powerful mayors and most petty mayors” in Boston history.

Two years ago the former Council President stepped back to try to unseat Menino. Then as now, he found the Councilors “frequently marginalized,” and thus less effective than they should be. Listen in as he describes initiatives, like a 13th year of school to prepare BPS students who need this to succeed in college. He stresses the check-and-balance role of the Council and differentiates it from being “cheerleaders.”

icon for podpress  Michael Flaherty [33:29m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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MA Dems’ John Walsh Podcast

As always, MA Dem Party Chair John Walsh was looking forward to the next battles — particularly the 2012 elections. He joins the podcast about six minutes in and covered a lot of politics quickly.

Listen in by clicking below. He describes how and why U.S. Sen. Scott Brown won the special election in this bluest of states…and why Dems can retake it. He runs down who might run for the seat for the full term. He also speaks who won’t be running.

We kicked around the meaning of over half the commonwealth’s voters being unenrolled. Yet many vote Dem.

We’ll have to do it again soon. We didn’t even get to strategies for the upcoming campaigns.

icon for podpress  John Walsh [31:16m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download