Archive for Legislature

Dems, what is best in life?

Apropos dialog from the 1982 flick Conan the Barbarian:

Mongol General: Conan! What is best in life?
Conan: Crush your enemies. See them driven before you. Hear the lamentations of their women.
Mongol General: That is good! That is good.

Consider the Democratic Party’s plight and tasks and think back to the 2012 Republican autopsy, a.k.a. the 100-page Growth and Opportunity Project report. Conan’s methods and goals fit with neither the Dem modus operandi nor with the GOP’s G.O.P. report. Don’t expect heads and machers of either party to change soon. There in lies the huge opportunity for lefties.

First be very aware that under the Trump campaign, both he and the party ignored the report. That called for being inclusive and considerate of the likes of Latinos and women. Ha!

Instead and likely to their long-term detriment, the GOP rode a national bronco bucking for change. They lost a little in the Senate and the House, but kept control of both as well as winning the White House. A sharp irony in that is that Trump/change supporters hated the establishment insiders but largely kept them in office. The do-nothing wastrels in Congress are headed back. Huh?

So, a non-Republican, non-conservative Donald Trump becomes POTUS. The GOP has a huge disincentive to really change for future elections, demographic trends, and a nation increasingly out of sync with both old-style Republicans and the current pseudo-populism of Trump.

Now the Dems take their turn at rending their garments and watering their Merlot with losers’ tears. They too are choosing new party functionaries and will certainly produce a report and plan.

Same. Same. Right? No, when it’s the Dems’ turn, expect:

  • Explicit acknowledgement of failure to counter the 2010-11 GOP REDMAP strategy to control the governorships and legislatures in the 32 states that directly control redistricting following the decennial Census. The GOP gerrymandered the crap out of America.
  • Belated plans to turn the tables for the 2020 Census.
  • A much less Conan attitude toward gerrymandering. Specifically the Dems’ nature would have them return a fairly proportioned set of electoral maps in those 32 states instead of a crush-you-enemy one as the GOP did.
  • A coordinated Party response to the resulting report, rather than the GOP’s circular-file one.
  • Cleaning house at the Democratic National Committee to broom out the incompetent insiders who scuttled Bernie Sanders and otherwise played dirty pool throughout the campaign.

High-speed catch-up

To use the phrase of the year, Republicans rigged the House in their gerrymandering effort. Dems will have to trifurcate. They need to do all necessary to replicate the GOP state-level successes. They simultaneously need snag a dozen or more House seats in the 2018 mid-terms. Meanwhile, a separate group has to ID several top-notch 2020 POTUS possibles.

Unfortunately for Dems, their counterparts were ahead of them in realizing the potential of the internet and social media. The lefties caught up and learned how to link those technologies with voter data to leapfrog. Fortunately for Dems, they tend to be smarter. I would look for rapid advances to outdo REDMAP in the next foru years. They may not totally dominate state governors, and they may only get a narrow majority in the House, but then again, they are not crush-your-enemy sorts.

They’ll have to focus and develop big and small strategies and tactics. I suspect they’ll be up for it.

Their other advantage that should emerge in the first year of the Age of Trump will almost surely be the combined patterns of history and crackpot plans of the administration. We know going back to at least Harding that Republican administrations tank the ecoomy or at least deliver weakened tangibles — job growth, GDP growth, debt levels and more.

The millions who deluded themselves that if only Trump and the GOP had control the economy would soar, are certain to turn on him and his state-level pols.

 

 

 

 

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Whither the Tiny-Tent Party?

The next several election cycles will be fascinating. Hillary looks like a cinch to win on Nov. 8. Then what?

I see the GOP cracking open their infamous, unused autopsy from the last POTUS loss. Their only shot at regaining the White House and making the big-tent fantasy real will be there. On the Dem side, Congressional Republicans are already promising to obstruct Clinton at every turn and even try mightily to impeach her for imagined and disproven sins. So Democrats as a party and as pols will have to:

  • Copy the 2010/11 GOP strategy of controlling state legislatures and thus redistricting and thus House makeup
  • Rally the public who are sick to death of obstructionism to first goad their Reps into cooperation and second to defeat those up for election in the next two cycles

Dems have hard tasks, but at least theirs won’t require mental, emotional,cultural shifts as with the GOP.

Let’s play the game along with Republicans. They lost the POTUS yet again in 2012 and followed that with the promies and (dare we say) hope of the Growth & Opportunity Project (G.O.P.). That jocularly named autopsy detailed the failures, forecast the demographic trends, and mandated what they needed to do to fill up a big tent of women, African Americans, Latinos, and, well, Democrats.

The lameness of pary head Reince Priebus and ticket head Donald Trimp seem the antithesis of the autopsy findings. Assuming the obvious Hillary Clinton victory in two weeks, do Republicans:

  • Accept that they can only get the voted of poorly educated white men?
  • Cling to being “the party of Lincoln” even though the modern bastardization couldn’t be farther from his ideals?
  • Try to live with a splintered and split personality of far right extremists, bigots and other anachronisms?
  • Do another deep dive and this time really try to follow the analysis findings?

They really have become an asylum or other institution of dysfunctional quasi-adults.

For the Democrats, if they can’t geet control of at least the Senate (thus installing judges and preventing the Tea Party pledge of impeachment and other vengeance against Clinton, then what? Ideally, they could get control of most legislatures in the 32 states that let their local lawmakers do the Census Year redistricting. Republicans were brilliant and ruthless in gerrymandering. What is the Dem strategy?

icon for podpress  Tiny-Tent Party [24:37m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Four Questions for MA Voters

bwak

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

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MA AG on Changing Opioid Culture

Maura Healey, the MA Attorney General, joined me for a quick show on her efforts to reverse the addition and deaths of opioids. She reminded me that she promised this as a priority two years ago when she was running for office. She’s on it.

Last week, I covered the new prescription drug law. You can hear that here.

Listen in as she talks about her office’s multifaceted approach of education and enforcement. This is serious stuff with daily deaths and addition everywhere in the commonwealth. She looks at the US having 5% of the world’s population consuming 80% of the opioids. She has plans and policies to change that.

icon for podpress  MA AG on opioids [16:50m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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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.

icon for podpress  MBTA Fair Fares: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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O’Connor Ives Wants 1st Essex MA Senate Upgrade

Next week, we’re headed North, up to the 1st Essex MA Senate district. A candidate for this open seat will talk strategy, what she thinks the constituents want, and how she expects to jump from Newburyport’s Town Council. Maybe we can get Kathleen (Katy) O’Connor Ives to compare and contrast the field.

This rare open Senate seat came open when Steven Baddour quit in March to join a big Boston law firm. Three Dems, two Republicans and two unenrolled have jumped in.

Candidate forums and similar public events are pretty diffuse and confusing. We’ll narrow in on O’Connor Ives for a personal picture. You can check her full background and platform at her campaign site. We’re surmising that the winner of the Dem primary on September 6th has a great shot at the office.

If you can catch us live, do that Tuesday, August 28th at 2:30 PM Eastern here. Afterward, her show will be available at that URL, back here at Left Ahead and on our iTunes page for listening in a player or downloading.

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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.

icon for podpress  Brian Clinton Governor's Council [29:52m]: 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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Kearns Goodwin Update

Update to this update: We blew it and did not notice that our service had flipped PM to AM. The show ran with no one participating. This was not Joe’s issue at all. We’re rescheduling.

This coming week, Joe Kearns Goodwin updates us on the 3rd Middlesex District race for the MA Senate. If you can catch it live, go here at 2:30, Tuesday, July 31st.

Afterward, you can listen to or download the show back here at Left Ahead, on BlogTalkRadio or on our iTunes page.

The hotly contested race for this open seat has five Dems and two Republicans who haven’t slowed much less dropped out. We’ve had all five Dems on and Mara Dolan has updated us. Now Joe comes on to talk progress, challenges, strategy and maybe other candidates. This is a good contest.

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Dolan Update on 3rd Middlesex Race

In an exciting MA race for a rare vacant senate seat, candidate Mara Dolan joined us for a followup on this simmering campaign. Her original visit was here. Click below for today’s show.

Since the last time, the five Dems headed for a Sept. 6th primary battle have met in public as well as campaigned solo. Dolan tells us why she should be the choice from among a field that identifies as progressive. None of the Dems (or the two Republicans) have backed down or backed out. There are issues of contention and differences the candidates offer.

She discusses some of her positions, including attacking economic woes by using community colleges and trade schools to prepare MA residents for the 120,000 middle-skill jobs going unfilled right now. She talks about how Republicans have “wrongly claimed the mantle of being good for business” from Dems. She addressed the importance of aiming for gender parity in a senate with only 6 of 40 members who are women. She and Mike even swapped support for marriage equality vignettes.

Dolan comes on about 7 minutes in; we originally gave her the wrong call-in number. It’s worth advancing to where she starts.

icon for podpress  Mara Dolan Followup [30:18m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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