Archive for November, 2009

Down to Wire Podcast

We are thankful for political contention here and in Washington. It keeps our brains perking along.

Today, that took the form of an update on the special election to replace U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy in the 12/8 special election, and on the action and coming struggles to path health-care reform in Washington. We got carried away with the former and spent most of our hour on that.

Undecided Massachusetts voters should view or re-view the final televised debate-like-object with the four Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate. WGBH’s Greater Boston has the whole show. It is much faster paced and pointed than many. Catch it here (if they archive it off the front, it aired on 11/23/09).

We kick around what we expect from candidates and what the four Dems look like to each of us. Media wisdom has AG Martha Coakley running away with the race. We remain to be convinced. With the huge percentage of undecided and soft supporters, this might go several ways — Alan Khazei as a long shot and U.S. Rep. Mike Capuano as a likely contender.

Left Ahead! rarely endorses, but check for pending picks at Left in Lowell and Marry in Massachusetts.

We are also very impatient for final motion on health-care reform. This has been decades in the making and is possible in the next couple of months. We have our ideas of how it might come down.

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Transportation Futures Podcast

“The days of highway expansion in Massachusetts are over,” declares James Aliosi, who stepped down last month as Secretary of Transportation. He said now is the time to act and particularly to level the playing field by developing passenger rail and public transit.

In our podcast today, he ticked off such benefits as sparking industrial development and job creation, improved public health and safety, and increased energy security. He figures that the federal government under President Barack Obama is ripe for aiding just such development. What we need here is a coalition of the affected group in all those areas, including transit specific, health, our legislative and executive branch leaders, energy and more.

We discussed some of the key issues in his 12-page exit letter he sent to Gov. Deval Patrick. These include funding rail projects, getting the MBTA solvent, shaking votes and funding from the legislature to enable transportation improvements, and making multi-modal transit practical for all of us.

Aloisi is not shy about proposing innovations. He’s a proponent for VMT (vehicle miles traveled) payments, as proven in other states. That is big here, where the legislature is frightened of raising the gas tax to pay for existing highway needs, much less 21st Century problems. He also talked about the  leadership and support he had from Lt. Gov. Tim Murry on making commuter and freight rail real and viable for us.

He calls for courage and leadership. Those should be on the part of the transportation and other activists he worked with and hoped to empower as secretary. Also that would be our governor, lieutenant governor and a cadre of state and U.S. legislators who are champions of these goals. He also named commonwealth mayors who already fight for improved transit and equitable funding. He says that the public really hasn’t been broadly sold on this shift, but that they are hungry for such change and for the leadership to get us there.

We dealt with funding issues, which are at the core of many of our transit woes here. He has no patience with what he calls the gimmicks, like refinancing unmanageable T debt. He calls that delaying the day of reckoning and hiding the problem so the the public isn’t aware of it and our lawmakers don’t have to deal with it. Instead, he said there needs to be a restructuring of that debt (including relief of the $2 billion Big Dig portion laid on the T, with that VMT and some combination of sales-tax allocation to make the system workable).

He calls for public pressure and now, not in five or two years. Listen in as he talks about what has to be done. Many progressives can bring these issues to their own organizations and be part of that catalyzing coalition he envisions.

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Safe or Sorry Pols

We raced around the candidates for the special election for our U.S. Senate seat. Most remarkable was AG Martha Coakley’s one chronic and one acute conditions.

First, she has avoided contact with the public, both grassroots and netroots. Meanwhile the other three Dems, particularly U.S. Rep. Mike Capuano have waded into the mainstream with both feet.

Then recently she show incredible greenness in proclaiming that she would have voted against the national health-care bill solely because of its temporary amendment banning federal funding for abortion. The other candidates as well as the media have excoriated her.

We figure she still has a great shot at keeping her jack-rabbit lead. Yet if Capuano is right, the small number who will turn out for the December 8th primary will want an experienced legislator instead. He has to get those folk to the polls to advance to the January 19th final.

We go on at length and in detail on all aspects of the election.

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Comments (2)

Oh Mike Open Mike

Springsteen and Wonder back waiting for Mike Capuano…

The crowd carrying those little plates of cheese they stab with toothpicks look weighted to 30 and above, with few in jeans who aren’t part of the Rep.’s crew. I’m at the balcony level above the ballroom with blogger sorts and his flack Monica Crane and the band (What I Say now).

We at Left Ahead and me at Marry in Massachusetts are getting a lot more love and respect from Capuano and nothing yet from Martha Coakley. He holds blogger roundtables and was quick to join us for a podcast.  It’s hard to tell how much of that is greater bandwidth than Coakley’s, how much awareness of netroots, and how much Coakley tries to minimize and control her exposures.

For her, I get press releases of her wonders and petty miracles. So far none of her contacts has responded to requests.

Allegedly this open-mike bash at the Park Plaza runs from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. We’re 12 minutes into it and folk far finally drifting from the snacks to the seats.

Monica says the band is the house one from Lucky’s Lounge in Southie. They are loud and have a considerable cover repertoire, concentrating on boomer music, befitting the audience. (Next morning note: I looked up the group and found it was the Alex MacDougall Band.)

At 6:56, a third of the seats are filled. A minute later the take-your-seats call went out.

Lynne may join us. So far, Josh Dawson from Boston Democrat and I are the visible netroots sorts.  We’re both impatient.

Monica says the Twitter followers are here, so there aren’t a flood of new questions coming in. Staffers have been circulating clipboards and soliciting questions in the crowd. That’s the old pre-tweet tweet.

At 7:06, the show is about to begin. Sons Michael and Joe stride in to open things. A cousin, Chris Evans, the Human Torch arrived, but not on fire. And as the expression goes, the crowd went wild. The are pumped and happy. They got a much more enthusiastic reception than I ever saw for Mitt Romney’s spawn.

David Bernstein joins us. Plus Kate Donaghue

7:18 Mike comes in with his wife, Barbara, and Kitty Dukakis. That’s what the crowd can add. It seems everyone has a red-white-blue poster to wave.

Mike’s wife introduces Kitty…life-long resident of Massachusetts and Brookline, champion of women’s rights, human rights and the environment. Kitty is here to “endorse my husband.” Wild applause again.

Kitty – “I see in this Mike the single most important characteristic I saw in my Michael…you cannot teach political courage…you either own it or you don’t.” (Iraq war – “Mike Capuano said, ‘No.'”) “These times do not allow on-the-job training.”

He’s committed to returning people to work and to health care for all. She endorses him and the placards dominate the room again.

6:28. Mike takes the mic. “I’m surrounded but I’m not giving up.”

He refers to predictions that this is not his time and rejects them. We’re heard this before.

He praises Kitty for her own tenacity and ability to carry on when knocked down. Perfunctory but sincere plaudits for his 89-year-old mom (been through wars herself) and his wife (love his life and best campaigner I know) follow.

He parallels himself with Ted Kennedy, particularly in relationship to opposition to the Iraq war when most legislators were tailing behind George Bush the younger. He plugs his strongest argument — he knows what he did do and how he voted, not any hypothetical.

7:39. He brought up Coakley’s boner on the health care vote. He says this issue is important and he hopes that if people decide how to vote on any one issue, this should be the one. And what do you suppose the crowd did?

7:42. Questions start, from FB, twitter, email and live.

What will you do in the Senate…to ensure that my children…are not left behind (in public schools). He voted against no child left behind. “Though the concept was right…the worst thing that was ever done to us (as a mayor) was unfunded mandates.” “The federal government should be sharing the burden of educating our children.” “The best thing the federal government should do is provide money and then get out of the way.” For me, it’s about providing funds and minimal standards.

7:48. Emigre from former Communist country asks what he can do about campaign finance reform. From alderman to this Senate contest, he’s not the best at raising money because he doesn’t know those people, particularly those who want something in return.

Fund raising takes too much of his time. He’s a prime sponsor of the Connecticut model of public financing of campaigns for the nation. Otherwise “you run the risk of having nothing but millionaires running for public office.” Ordinary people could never run without either pubic funding or doing what we do now.

7:53. East Boston school teacher asks about creating jobs. Mike admits that “everyone got nervous” so Congress didn’t do as much about creating as saving jobs.The only way to move forward is for the federal government to act strongly. “Otherwise this depression, recession, whatever you call it is going to last far too long.” He calls for the public to have “properly placed anger.”

Josh notes that many Tom Menino folk are in the crowd, all wearing Capuano stickers.

7:58. “I believe that the beauty of the American public school system is that they accept every single child who walks through that door.” He says he is a fighter for public schools. Egalitarian schooling is the system he’ll defend with his last breath.

8:01. Undecided voter asks what he’s say to Sen. Joe Lieberman. Mike would ask how Joe would have voted on Social Security, Medicare, civil rights. The time will come when Lieberman will regret voting to deny health care for every American.

If you (Lieberman) insist on voting against this bill, come with Mike to an emergency room and perform triage, determining who will get care and who will be denied. If he can do that and still be against the bill, Mike would do everything in his power to see him defeated in the next election.

The emcee says over 1,200 showed.

8:08. How will we fund the health-care act. He says he is a social liberal and that means he owe everyone and they owe him basic rights, including affordable health care and housing. He’s a fiscal conservative. If you want virtually anything, “we have to provide money to do that.”

He says the bill just passed by the House will not add to the deficit, but actually lower it over the next decade. “Those of us who have a few dollars more should be happy to pay a little more.”

“In return, we’ll get health care and our society will be able to look itself in the mirror.”

8:15. He ends up contrasting himself with those (unnamed AGs) who hide in offices, send out press releases and avoid debates. The crowd does what?

He says he trusts voters and will win. He called for people to get his message out in this last 30 days. Small turnout…you know who the good voters…email, talk, call…when they come over for Thanksgiving, don’t let them leave until they’re committed.



MA Municipal Results Podcast

The three usual suspects visited the election returns in numerous commonwealth spots, as well Maine. Lynne gave us great truth and dirt on Lowell, which went for considerable reform in council, school board and other races. Ryan did the same for Lynn’s mayoral race — the town not Lynne the podcaster.

We bemoaned the repeal-before-implementation of same-sex marriage in Maine. We hit briefly on new diversity in Newton and Lawrence. We spent a fair time on the non-changes in Boston. There voters turned down reform candidates.

Among our podcast guests, they re-elected Mayor Tom Menino, while rejecting challenger Michael Flaherty. They picked at-large council candidate Ayanna Pressley and not competitor Andrew Kenneally.  (Click on any of those links to hear the candidate’s podcast.)

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