Archive for March, 2007

Harsh Opportunity

No time has ever been better to re-evaluate and overhaul Massachusetts transportation policy than this moment — progressively.

Unlike the last two decades of governors, those following Mike Dukakis, the new guy, Deval Patrick, is being candid about the problems we face and their scope. His administration sees perhaps $11 billion in necessary infrastructure work due to neglect and denial. Plus the MBTA is in a death spiral of costs in an endless take off, services in a dwindling decrease and ridership understandably plunging.

Fortunately, our Lt. Gov. Tim Murray is a big picture transportation hero. He sees mass transit as crucial to the revival of the economy and in all the moderately and heavily populated areas, not just Beantown. In his campaign, he pledged to work to make commuter rail and other people-moving system faster, more frequent and cost effective.

There are tremendous advantages in fully funding mass transit, in making it too attractive for commuters to use their SUVs for solo drives into town or up and down the area’s Interstates. I may post here on the cost, noise and pollution reduction, health, congestion and infrastructure benefits.

Likewise, as we see from the offsetting costs of highway usage, that’s so 20th Century. The hidden costs (I feel another post coming on that) are absurd. The subsidies we provide drivers must stop.

From both angles, the current transit swamp in which we suddenly realize we muck is one of those cursed opportunities. Let’s lead again. We desperately need a fully perking economy, we absolutely need to fix highways and bridges, but the missing component is mass transit.

Murray, Patrick and the legislature must present the. if you pardon, road map or perhaps train route, to show this country how it’s done. European nations with far fewer resources have played this far smarter. There is no excuse for Massachusetts not to get smart late, but smart to great effect.

The reasons for not doing it would be fear of the magnitude of the task or ignorance of the real solutions. Those aren’t acceptable.

—Mike

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Governor Richardson on Gay Rights

Since gay rights have been a big topic of discussion lately, something we’ve hit on the show, I thought I’d share a video I found on Governor Richardson of New Mexico – a Democratic candidate for President.

I haven’t picked a favorite candidate yet, but that video does nothing to hurt Richardson in my eyes. A lot of people in Massachusetts may just care about what he has to say.

~Ryan

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Stopping Right Here

A huge and recurring progressive issue in Massachusetts has never been more obvious than it is with our new administration. It is the political problem of where does the buck stop or who’s going to bell the cat.

Through years of Pollyanna pretending, we have downplayed fundamental problems and funding concerns. Everyone acknowledges we have a sluggish economy here. Now, Gov. Deval Patrick has ripped the sheet off the rest of the mess.

A few legislators still pretend that our huge deficit — likely over a billion dollars this year — is really an accounting and framing issue. You can understand why they would say that. It helps relieve them of their culpability in spending on pet projects while ignoring the hard funding issues.

The Patrick administration is saying the king has no clothes, or in this case, the infrastructure is crumbling and needs a massive overhaul of spending priorities to fix it. Likewise, the governor calls out corporations for their tax contributions that are among the lowest of any state and shrinking toward zero.

Here again, it’s understandable that legislators want to watch out for and even protect their big contributors and golf buddies. Patrick is willing to: 1) admit that in his previous corporate life he hired people to exploit just such tax escape hatches, and 2) it’s time that this game is over in Massachusetts.

Here we come to the roots of progressive politics. You identify the problems that are hurting the public, you are willing to take responsibility for fixing them, and you specify the solutions.

This may be quite a shock to the General Court. It can only make them stronger as they have to deal with reality. It can only help us.

—Mike

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More on the Media

As we said during yesterday’s show, clearly there’s room for improvement in the media – and the Boston Globe. One journalist in particular, Frank Phillips, has shown a continued contempt toward the system – with story after story that would get a “Needs Improvement” if journalism were a section on the MCAS. Today’s story is no exception.

Joel Peterson has some questions and commentary over at Blue Mass Group, Mass Lib has even more. My only words on this matter are: enough is enough with the he-said-she-said stories, okay?

~Ryan

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For Starters

Today, on our first show ever, Lynne, Michael and I talked about the blogosphere, the blogger/MSM divide and a little on the upcoming ConCon. Get a taste of what’s to come in this slightly-longer-than half hour show as an archived podcast.

Also, check back over the course of the week as we further analyze the issues presented from today’s \ show – with the latest news, commentary and critiques.

~Ryan

When you click over to our page, you have a choice of how to hear the podcasts. Near the bottom of the page, click the archived segments tab to see what podcasts are available — fewer than two at the moment.
BlogTalkRadio download buttons
From the left, the buttons deliver the podcast in WMA, WAX or MP3. You should see a choice to stream or save the file.

—Mike

icon for podpress  Jumping in with Six Feet [36:56m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Get Earphones or Earplugs

We’re starting our podcasts and live streaming next week. Ryan, Lynne and I begin by assessing the massive and profound changes in Massachusetts politics recently.

As we get perking with the shows on BlogTalkRadio, we’ll put pointers here as well as there to what we’ll talk about, when, and who guests will be.

As the Firesign Theatre put it, “Five thousand feet to the bottom of the Grand Canyon!”

—Mike

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LeftAhead

LeftAhead is a new website and podcast for progressive voices in Massachusetts. We’re a bunch of already vocal bloggers who have decided to come together in unity on important issues and get the discussion rolling. So, if you’re looking for a new progressive voice in Massachusetts, here’s the new place to be!

~Ryan

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About

LeftAhead is a new online webisode programming with a progressive outlook on politics in Massachusetts, occasionally dabbling onto the national scene. With weekly shows and a blog, it’s a new tool for the budding Mass Netroots movement and lefty blog readers everywhere.

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