Archive for Lowell

Warren/Brown: Bout 1 Podcast

We talked today about the first debate between Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren last week. It was a real confrontation between the incumbent Senator and the challenger. We’re certain to see and hear more nastiness from Brown in the next three debates. Monday will be bout 2 at UMASS/Lowell.

Listen in as we recap the highlights and shameful depths of the hour. The aftereffects continue and will certainly reappear next week. They are already in negative ads and the behavior of Brown supporters. We hit on both sides’ strong and weak points.

We didn’t shy away from the few Warren stumbles. Brown really hurt himself though with shallow, personal, racist attacks. At the least, he put a lie to his myth of being the nice guy in the Senate.

We chat it up and down and around.

icon for podpress  Warren/Brown Senate Debate [35:02m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Massachusetts Money Podcast: Grossman

We have to look to comic book or movie heroes to find a more straight-ahead character than Steve Grossman. The MA Treasurer joined Left Ahead today and gave an update on his numerous innovative and even revolutionary campaign pledges. The short of it is that he’s getting us there.

You can check his campaign promises on his appearance with us in May of 2010 here.

Over at Marry in Massachusetts, Mike endorsed him. He has also written numerous posts including favorable mentions.

That attitude reflects in today’s show. We did not have time to get into one area of disagreement — he sees destination casinos as revenue sources and job creators, while the LA hosts see more drawbacks than potential benefits. However, we did get into questions and criticisms that have floated about. For example, as maybe the Dems’ best ever fund raiser, he solicited money in the last election from people who did or could do business with the commonwealth.

Listen in as he talks about how the bidding and hiring systems work and how he has upgraded them. He even, bless him, used the correct whom you know phrase when describing how nepotism and referrals from machers were no longer acceptable. He contends that it is and will remain the lowest responsible bid that wins the contract and the best qualified candidate that gets the job.

We can check him on that with his thinner-than-ever transparency online.

A big part of that is moving the entire commonwealth checkbook and bidding records online. That’s very new and has been in the works since January. He plans for the big part of the checkbook to be functional in October and fully fleshed out in November. He’s very much a believer in people being able to see where their money comes from and is going.

What sounded like an ever harder part is working well already and will just be getting better he says. Grossman promised to leverage MA’s billions in pension funds and other investments to create jobs here. The key part is partnering with banks who will lend to local companies who want to expand here. He says already 51 of the 190 MA banks have signed up, 27 have completed the paperwork and are working with small businesses. Every quarter, they have to prove their commitment and lending records to keep their millions in MA money. By the bye, he notes that he goes to every meeting with banks who want to join the program to answer their questions.

He also touched on things just starting, like financial education and literacy by students, seniors and veterans, and on the messy matter of attacking unfunded pension liability.

icon for podpress  Steve Grossman [32:28m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Two-winged Trolley Podcast

With homework for left and right wingers, William S. Lind gave us his past-is-future vision of public transit. His pessimism and hope on the topic are available also at The American Conservative and in full at the book he co-authored, Moving Minds: Conservatives and Public Transportation.

While a famous commentator on military and foreign affairs issues for that other wing, Lind is a serious pragmatist. As an urbanist and strong public-transit advocate, he calls conservatives and progressives alike to task. Listen in as he explains why many conservatives disdain public transit (even if they ride commuter rail) and what lefties need to do to talk the language and roll in the ideas taht are meaningful to the other side.

He gave us the history and concepts of when America could move by rail inside all towns of 5,000 or larger and intercity across America. He decries how the interstate highway system and its cars-over-trains subsidies killed that. Yet, he notes that unlike the multi-billion-dollar high-tech alternatives, trolley and related systems in the millions are within reach. Moreover, much of the necessary infrastructure is still in place, like rights of way.

Unfortunately, Lind suspects that as a nation, we are likely to do the usual — wait until it’s panic time to fix this. Fortunately, he said we can do the trick affordably within a decade.

His vision has work for everyone and sounds worth the effort. The sweetness is that the vision is worthy of both conservatives and progressives.

icon for podpress  Bill Lind [59:37m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Worcester Check-In Podcast

Social activist (podcaster, blogger, video maker and on and on) Mike Benedetti joined us from and to talk about Worcester. That helped keep us from our usual speculation and judgments of politicians. He is much less rarefied and concentrates on real issues of real people, like the homeless and immigrants. His own real life is after all with the Catholic Worker community.

Listen in as we figuratively walk through Worcester to talk about what matters there, how it is the same and different from other Massachusetts cities and what has been changing there. We deal with the impact (and lack thereof) of having the lieutenant governor and one of the most influential members of Congress in Jim McGovern.

You can learn more of Benedetti in this The Pulse Magazine profile (about the middle).  You can also see more of his craft and labors at Pie and Coffee and WCAATV’s 580 show.

He discusses such progressive issues as the surprising effectiveness of placing group homes in Worcester. He also walks us through the slow economic recovery of the central downtown. Listen in to hear what is and what isn’t happening…and why Worcester is a fine place to be a vegan.

icon for podpress  Mike Benedetti [49:08m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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MA Campaigns Podcast

 The three usual suspects recapped and expanded on the MA races underway, replete with plaudits and warnings.

We’re big on the down-ticket races — treasurer, secretary, and auditor. We want debates, many and now. We see the positions as having great potential for change.

For our part, we offer podcasts with four candidates. For secretary, independent challenger Jim Henderson has been on the show.  All three treasurer contenders have too:

Listen in as comment on the trends and events we find noteworthy.

icon for podpress  MA Campaigns [59:31m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Pres. Mike Ross Podcast

The head of Boston’s City Council, President Michael Ross, spoke candidly about the present and future of the city. We had a free-ranging discussion from biking to bucks to who has the power. Listen in by clicking below.

Timing note:  Pres. Ross accommodated us despite a command performance at a bill signing up at the state house than some phone grief from BlogTalkRadio’s automated system. You’re welcome to hear your three favorite pundits hold forth at the start. Catch Ross from 33:43.

As one of the class of young Turks on council, Ross has been a seemingly indefatigable innovator and iconoclast. We covered his decade on the body with topics from cycling to restaurants on the Common (the bill he was up at the state house for), to education and crime.

Ross did not shy from his view of home rule (an archaic holdover of a political and class warfare) to term limits (yes for the mayor but we need institutional mayor on council). He spoke of the hole where Filene’s used to be and how the councilors and others absolutely had to step up in terrible economic times to keep Boston perking.

icon for podpress  Michael Ross [71:47m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Trashing or Tweaking 40B

Lowell’s City Manager Bernard (Bernie) Lynch joined us to lead a discussion of the 40B law and affordable housing. Midway in the show, a 40B advocate joined us. It was a lively session that did not lead to totally solid conclusions.

This issue is almost certain to be on the November ballot and has far-reaching effects. Listen to the show and let us know whether you’d like more on this little covered topic.

Lynch has dealt with 40B requirements that have let developers go ahead with projects, so long as they include certain percentages of affordable units. This has worked differently in different places. Lowell for one has increased its affordable housing stock since the law passed way back in 1969. Many tonier towns have been far less eager for higher density and mixed housing.

Speaking for the Protect Affordable Housing group,  Francy Ronayne puts out some strong numbers in support of keeping 40B. She and Lynch agreed that this 41 year old law is due for some tweaking, but the ballot question put up by Repeal40B does not offer that option, rather dumping it entirely.

Listen as they and we discuss the underlying issues and problems. Unfortunately, no one seems to have a clear path to more affordable housing in Massachusetts. We pioneered this type of law but now may face the outcome of doing away with it.

icon for podpress  40B or not 40B [46:24m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Niki Wired for Re-Election Podcast

U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas joined us to discuss trends in Congress and her pending battle for a third term. Following U.S. Sen. Scott Brown’s special-election victory, seven from the GOP and four independents have targeted her seat for the fall vote. At her day job, she sees time and opportunity still for solid legislation after the financial reform fight.

Rather than seeming worn by the health reform and financial regulation battles, she was energized. In fact, she told us that passage of health reform energized both houses of Congress.

Listen in as she discusses the likelihood of energy legislation and even immigration policy revision. For the latter, she suggests that Arizona’s new law on immigration illustrates how Congress has to act on the policies.

We also discussed her positions on the military’s don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy and the PATRIOT Act. She tells us what she expects to happen with each.

She also addressed criticisms that she hadn’t sponsored enough bills, which seems to be a talking point of GOP challengers. She details her successes in such areas as safe body armor for our soldiers, enabling the National Guard to attract doctors and dentists with student loan help, and a new model to reduce sexual assault in the military.

icon for podpress  Niki Tsongasa [40:51m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Dukakis and the T Podcast

Mike  DukakisHot stuff from the Duke today on the T. Former Gov. Mike Dukakis joined us to talk about the MBTA specifically and mass transit in general. He is a huge public-transit advocate and the T flourished in his two terms as governor. He has answers and ideas.

One big thing he thinks we progressives can do is to advocate for our legislators to reasonably fund the T. It has teetered under mismanagement and staggered under overpowering debt for some time. Gov. Dukakis (now distinguished political-science professor at Northeastern) says the right start is to apply a 6¢ to 9¢ gasoline tax to the T and drop that failed notion of a never ending growth spiral of a sales tax.

The Duke speaks of a steel interstate for modern times, that is,  a fast, frequent system of intracity and intercity rail. As well as the predictable environmental and other benefits, it sees this as a jobs action when the state and nation need it the most. In fact, he said that his administrations’  10¢ for transportation efforts was just that.

Listen in as he explains how we have all the highways we need and that we’re “not going to build our way out of the highway mess.” Instead, “if you want a first-class public transportation system,you got to pay for it.”

He has high hopes between MA and federal effort, we’ll be able to do just that.

icon for podpress  The Duke Takes the T [54:24m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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How Hardy the Party Podcast

John WalshJohn Walsh, chair of the MA Democratic Party, brought both is insights and optimism to the podcast. While it might have been a day for many progressives to mourn yesterday’s Senate seat loss, he’d have none of it.

Instead, listen in while he describes the types and levels of community organizing he’ll foster for the 2010 gubernatorial contest and then the 2012 rematch when the U.S. Senate seat lost in the special election comes for the full campaign cycle.

We had a full team of three commenting and questioning. For his part, Walsh ranged from specific predictions of two state senate seat pickups this year to how to move progressives into open and contested slots.

He didn’t dwell on whether the Dem efforts did the traditional campaign strategies well or poorly. He’s not concerned with doing things that aren’t effective better.

Likewise, he doesn’t have much patience with GOP claims that this loss meant a trend for Dems. Instead he drew the analogy of them after each storm (election) in a rubber life raft. After reach election, a few more of them fall overboard. Rather than save those, the remaining are delighted that they are still there. Dems aren’t and won’t be like that.

Listen in as Walsh describes his visions and strategies for the next two election cycles.

icon for podpress  How Hardy the Party [60:05m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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