Archive for July, 2008

Transgender Rights Podcast

For a state with an early history of civil rights, such as outlawing slavery, Massachusetts hasn’t gotten protecting transgender persons and gender-identity rights.

Gunner Scott, executive of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, is working hard to change that. (Link opens in new window. Go ahead and contribute. They need it and you’ll feel good.)

The MTPC has already had Boston include transgender in its definitions for anti-discrimination regulations. It hopes to do the same with House Bill 1722 statewide. The bill is in study this year and likely to await lobbying, education and action in 2009.

Gunner spoke of tasks of education legislators and others on:

  • How common discrimination against transgender people is, in employment, housing and elsewhere.
  • How many of this relatively small group end up in poverty as a result.
  • How they may win an MCAD suit eventually but need to explicit protection of legislation now.

More legislators are signing on, but the deal isn’t done yet.

icon for podpress  Trans Rights Up Front [52:26m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Mass Casino? Not So Fast!

Today’s guest was Mary Tufts, blogger of the anti-casino, Middleboro website Gladys Kravitz, the namesake of the nosy neighbor on Bewitched, who just couldn’t believe all the strange things she saw. Like Gladys, Mary’s seen some pretty shocking things – like Selectmen who pushed through a casino proposal without time for debate, brushing aside anyone who wasn’t in favor of the proposal.

But she’s also seen – and worked for – a large anti-casino movement rise up in Massachusetts, a movement in which she’s helped start. She’s a board member of CasinoFreeMass, as well as She’s been one of the few who battled the “casinos are inevitable” meme from the very beginning, helping to stop casino legislation over the past year.

During the show, we talked local politics, national politics related to gambling and everything in between. We talked about lessons Massachusetts can learn from other states in the region. We talked about Sal DiMasi’s role in preventing Massachusetts from having casinos. We also talked about Mary’s unique online voice, funny and stinging all at the same time. Just look at her Youtube videos. Here’s my favorite:

And another for good measure:

Remember, to hear today’s podcast episode, you can click on the play button below, download it on iTunes or download it from this site’s archives.

icon for podpress  Death by Casino [58:54m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Wheels Round and Round the Podcast

We hear on today’s LeftAhead all about biking, foot-pushing-pedal variety. Guests Ken Fields and Cara Seiderman, the Czar and Czarina of biking in Cambridge, come on for some real expert discussion on promoting bikes in Massachusetts, especially inside Greater Boston. Ken leads the citizen-driven Cambridge biking committee, while Cara leads policy from the governmental side. The community-government partnership on biking in Cambridge easily points to why the city is one of the most successful in Massachusetts in terms of getting people to bike.

Biking being an extremely important and viable commuter alternative, the five of us (a LeftAhead Record) spent time on talking about why biking is important and how to get more people to do it. Biking’s not just for the bike nuts, all decked out in spandex (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but the people who just are sick of traffic and high gas prices and now find themselves biking a few days a week. With record gas prices and public transportation use, biking is finally gaining steam throughout this country.

According to Ken and Cara, the most important transformations to get biking viable in every city in this state is often times some of the easiest. For example, it’s as easy as a new paint job – some lines on the street indicating a bike lane is a good way to help drivers watch out for bikers, while promoting bikers to obey common traffic law.

We also discussed why biking is more successful internationally, from France to Montreal. All of these places have spent years promoting bikes for commuters and fostering good bike policy. Cities like Cambridge and even Boston are helping close that gap, but there’s still a long ways to go. In Europe, bikes and public transportation enjoy great synergy – bike racks on the busses allow people to seamlessly go from bike to bus to bike again to get around, making biking as quick as riding a car, without the hassle of finding a parking space or getting stuck in traffic. The MBTA is falling suit, with bike racks on many lines throughout the city, but there’s more work to be done before everyone can and will take advantage of such programs.

However, in the grand scheme of things, biking becoming one of the most common ways of community seems inevitable. Of course, biking is one of the few means of travel that does no harm to the atmosphere – so there’s a real good people can do by pedaling their feet rather than putting their feet to the pedal. And, given that most people only commute within a few miles of home most of the time, it’s often the perfect option, especially when combined with public transportation. In those cases, not only is biking as nearly as quick as driving (and parking), but it’s also a good opportunity to fit that exercise in your busy schedule, doing two things at once. Furthermore, the more people who bike, the better and safer the road is for everyone, says Ken and Cara.

Ken’s committee does a lot of work to promote biking, from billboards to free bike tours around Cambridge. Clearly, his city is clearly cutting edge on biking in America, which is something the city hopes to replicate throughout the area and beyond. People don’t have to do it every day, or in the snow, or when there’s bundles, but riding a bike when possible is a good way to stay fit, do your part for the environment, make the roads safer and save a lot of money all at the same time. The more people who do it, the more politicians will pay attention – meaning better biking policy, which will in turn lead to more bikers, leading to even better policy and so on.

icon for podpress  Wheels Round and Round [61:52m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Upcoming Podcast Guests!!

Here at LeftAhead, we love to have interesting and informative guests on to do the show. They’re often our best-rated and most-watched shows, and they’re also the most fun to do as hosts. So, in that vein, we have a lot of good, upcoming guests coming on over the next few weeks.

Wednesday, July 15th (tomorrow) – we’re bringing on special guests Cara Seiderman of the city of Cambridge, and Ken Fields from Boston, both experts on bikes in urban areas and what we can do to promote them. Of course, by bikes, we mean of the foot-meets-pedal variety, the kind that uses no fossil fuels, burns calories and gets people around Boston about as quick (or quicker) than any other commuting option.

Tuesday, July 22nd – Here’s a big welcome for Gladys Kravitz, aka Mary, blogger extrordinaire on both casinos and Middleboro. She’s going to come on both to talk casinos, including the recent Racino defeat, as well as her experience as a quirky, super sarcastic local blogger who makes some of the funniest political youtube videos out there.

Tuesday, July 29th – A big welcome to Gunner Scott, Director of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition. Gunner’s been extremely busy over the past few years, pushing for equal rights in one of the few areas Massachusetts still has a lot of room to go. He’s been successful locally, being a good influence on Boston and many other local communities in terms of promoting equality in housing and in the workplace, but there’s still a ways to go on the hills, both Beacon and Capitol. Gunner’s as involved as anyone in getting DC politicians to embrace a fully inclusive ENDA, as well as passing HB 1722 in Massachusetts, both of which would make it so, at long last, people couldn’t be fired or denied housing because of their gender.


Screeching Halt to Greyhound Racing

Sad Note: We started the show with Ryan’s paean to Lori (lolorb) Bonatakis, a prolific and insightful progressive blogger and online commenter. She was fit and fiery just a short time ago at our recent BlogLeft gathering, but she’s suddenly gone. Coincidentally, Lori was quite the animal lover and protector. She would have added to today’s podcast.

Our guest was Christine Dorchak . She is co-chair of the Committee to Protect Dogs (Massachusetts) and president of Grey2KUSA (nationwide). She is in the end game of campaign to prohibit dog racing in Massachusetts. The ballot question is on the November ballot.

On the show, she was almost entirely figures and provable statements. She noted that this was in contrast to track owners’ frequent criticisms that those who oppose dog racing are emotional sorts. In fact until 2001, no one had to keep any records of how many dogs were injured and sickened by racing and being caged as part of the track process.

Her organizations are rife with data and reports on broken legs, on- and off-track euthanasia, and racing/feeding/caging illnesses. She urged listeners to check the sites and call the main number [617-666-3526] with questions or to hear why to vote to stop dog tracks.

Since her group lost their first (pre-data) attempt to ban racing eight years ago, Dorchak says they’ve been bringing legislators as well as voters around in droves. The latest petition had over 45,000 voters; she said they were waiting in lines in Brookline when she was gathering signatures.

Listen in to hear what goes on at the track, during and between races. Find out what’s inhumane and unacceptable about this troubled and troubling industry.

I grew up around farms where dogs as well as humans had to work for a living. Dogs either helped with animals, protected against predators or hunted. Greyhound racing is nothing like that. It is neither sport nor a job for a dog. As Dorchak notes, these dogs are commodities, business tools that are profitable for a short, abused life and then discarded.

She’s not in the mood to wait until the foundering tracks go out of business on their own.

icon for podpress  Ending Greyhound Racing [47:11m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


More Talk with More Guests

Ryan’s been playing activities director, with minor help from Mike. We prefer our podcasts with a guest or two. We’re making sure we do more of that.

Watch our schedules here or on Blog Talk Radio for pending shows.

At our usual date/time of Tuesday at 2:30 p.m., we have Christein Dorchak on greyhound racing this coming Tuesday, July 8th.  Check in then for live streaming or come back here to bike skeletonor download listen to the podcast on your schedule.

The next week, we’ll have a Tuesday event, plus a special on the following day. We’re going to the sources on what works and what needs to be done for bicycling in eastern Massachusetts. From Cambridge, we have Cara Seiderman and Ken Field representing government and citizens’ views. We’ll cover alternate transit, cycling safety, ped/bike/motor co-existence and how their town makes it work.

Note that this show is a 24 and one-half hours later than our regular. It will be on Wednesday, July 16th at 3 p.m.Left Ahead! on BlogTalkRadio

Live stream for this special at 3:00 p.m. Wednesday, 7/16. Click on the button then to catch the stream.

Get it live or come back here later for a listen or download.


Hounding Greyhound Racing

Dorchak mugChristine Dorchak has nothing good to say about greyhound racing. She’ll have her say on Left Ahead! next week, Tuesday, July 8th at 2:30 p.m.

She’ll detail why she and her groups want to ban dog racing. She is co-chair of  the Committee to Protect Dogs (Massachusetts) and president of Grey2KUSA (nationwide). She is an activist with a lot of conviction and passion, as well as knowledge and expertise.

As you might imagine, those who earn their livings from dog racing disagree with her condemnations. For example, a track owner told the Taunton Gazette three years ago:

Raynham-Taunton Greyhound Park owner George Carney has vowed not to roll over, but to fight the proposed ban in court.”The dogs are taken care of and well looked after,” Carney insisted. “This is a phony issue, and they’ve been able to promote it and raise a lot of money from a lot of suckers.”

Likewise, a PR guy for the American Greyhound Council (a racers’ group) wrote to a newspaper:

For example, you wouldn’t know from listening to Dorchak that the vast majority of greyhounds injured at the track suffer no long-term effects and are able return to live racing within a few days or weeks. Those that can’t are placed in suitable adoptive homes.

She has a very different version of what happens to dogs during and after their racing tenures. Listen in Tuesday or catch the podcast later on Left Ahead! to get the details and hear what’s up next.


Digging Netroots Podcast

Expect more guests here. Ryan’s gotten a bit of time and is lining up Massachusetts election candidates — TBA. Next week (7/8), we’ll have a leader in trying to ban greyhound racing here as a warm up, Christine Dorchak, Chair of the Committee to Protect Dogs. Check us at 2 p.m. on Tuesday.

Today, we first crowed at Barack Obama showing some guts. He spoke up for same-sex marriage nationwide and against a November amendment vote to ban SSM in California, as well as against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). It’s overdue. It’s progressive.

We’re trying to get some action from the local bloggers in BlogLeftMass, our loose consortium. We’ve had some debates and conferences. Now, we’re looking at coordinating on more issues.

We exhorted the Dems and Obama specifically to take it to the tired John McCain. The GOP forces are sniping heavily at everything Obama says. Meanwhile, their guy has a tissue thin résumé, even on military issues. This is something Dems need to learn from the pachyderms. Attack the perceived strengths of the other side. Do it Barack.

Finally, we need to see both Obama and our own governor, Deval Patrick, get back with the Netroots, communicating with the larger public and the bloggers.

icon for podpress  Digging Netroots [53:26m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download