Archive for December, 2011

Happy Solemnizer Podcast

massmarrierIn a fit of self-indulgence, co-host Mike Ball filled in the week before New Year’s with a short show about a splendid and odd MA marriage law. He has availed himself of the one-day designation of solemnization law four times…and heartily recommends it.

Until recently when CA copied our law, we were the only state where plain folk, nearly any adult, could perform marriages. Under General Law Ch. 207, Sect. 39, citizens can petition the governor for the right to solemnize a single marriage to a specified couple in a particular municipality on a given date. You needn’t be a JP or cleric or public official, not even a mail-order minister.

The CA copy is looser than the MA model. The instructions at the MA Secretary of the Commonwealth’s solemnization page says you can generally do one a year. CA does not have that restriction and does not suggest you apply six weeks in advance.

This 22-minute show (click the player below) covers how it works and gushes about how satisfying it has been for Mike. Moreover, it was the catalyst for his original blog, Marry in Massachusetts, as well as the inspiration for his blogger tag, massmarrier. He originally thought he’d do one a year, but it’s worked out so far to every other year. So far, that’s been two marriages of long-term friends, one of his eldest son, and yesterday, that of a friend’s daughter.

There’s even been the political fit, as the second was a same-sex marriage the first year they were legal here. There doesn’t need to be any pretense or other deceit about being pro-marriage/pro-family here. We can live it in Massachusetts. Mike’s marriages have all lasted.

By the bye, the show did not cover that one-a-year rule. His son’s marriage was in June. However, he called the Governor’s office and heard his aide say, “That shouldn’t be a problem,” to do the second one six months later. It was not.

This show is just to let people know this is possible, as well as to recommend it.

icon for podpress  Happy Solemnizer [21:45m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Happy Solemnizer Show

In what seems like a pattern, our show will be at an odd day and time on the last day of Chanukkah/between Christmas and New Year’s, on Wednesday, Dec. 28th at 10 AM. This one will be a self-indulgent half hour with Mike talking about how ordinary folk in MA can perform (solemnize) marriages.

For many decades, we were the only state that allowed this. California recently copied our law, and went it better in a few ways. In both places, you don’t need to be a minister (even a mail-order one), justice of the peace or public official. Mike will talk about how it works here and get specific with the four marriages he’s done.

Yeah, it’s early and during holidays, but if you can listen and have comments or questions, call in to 718-664-6966. Press 1 on your phone keypad when you connect to let him know that you want to talk.

If you can listen live Tuesday, 12/28 at 10 AM Eastern, do that here. The show will be available on demand later, at that URL, back here at Left Ahead or on iTunes.


Robyn Ochs on Sexuality Podcast

The spectrum or range or continuity of human sexuality was today’s show topic with Robyn Ochs. She is a workshop leader, sometimes professor and prolific author on gender identity and sexuality. Her website is here, replete with a link to her most noted book, Getting Bi: Voices of Bisexuals Around the World.

We ran a little overtime. So anyone listening who missed the last eight minutes can hear them here.

We got into the messy, politically related aspects as well as the intended topic. Those are inevitably linked.

She started by describing a workshop exercise she says she has led over 1,000 times. Do listen in to how she gets the participants to define how they have identified their sexuality over time, and then gets everyone to place themselves in relation to the others in the room. There are many I-never-thought-about-that moments and often the surprises of people who define themselves as straight, bi, pansexual, homosexual, asexual and on and on, overlap in how they fit along a continuum of identity. She said the labels thus become less different from each other as they move along the range of descriptions.

To the tricky questions related to the binary concept of straight/gay, she said that both people of all ages are changing perceptions, broadening them, and that those who fear or are confused about the concepts are in for more change. She noted that older people are changing perceptions too. She had little patience for those who use code phrase like lifestyle to imply that a bisexual or homosexual chooses gender identity arbitrarily. She finds it odd that they seem to think that heterosexual-identified people have lives and other people have lifestyles. Instead, everyone has a life, including sexual identity, which may change over time.

Ochs was also plain in saying that the concept of choice here is absurd. She said, “I’ve never met a single person who has decided whom to fall in love with.”

She’s seen terrific improvement in support for the range of sexuality, as well as such overt effect as same-sex marriage legalization. Even in her own family and friends, she’s found a marked shift toward acceptance. Part of this is awareness of people identified as gay, bi and more. This trend is linked to three factors:

  • People are going public with their sexual identify at an earlier age
  • The marriage-equality movement is making more people aware of overt discrimination
  • The media coverage and such shows as Glee and The Ellen DeGeneres Show are showing more types of people as likable

Click below to hear her describe the workshop and her insights on that spectrum of sexuality.

icon for podpress  Robyn Ochs [37:51m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Grossman Casinos Podcast

Steve Grossman talked casinos, commissioners, goals, and site awards with us for the law in place to allow three casinos and a single slots parlor in MA. The public wants action — revenue, short and long-term jobs, and other proof that large-scale commercial gambling (euphemistically gaming) beyond the lottery is the right thing to do.

Treasurer and Receiver General Steve Grossman joined Left Ahead today for an abbreviated (20-minute) show focused precisely on the what-now factor. Click the player below to hear what he says about:

  • Selection of the five commissioners to set up and oversee the works
  • What we expect to gain from the operations
  • How fast we ramp up
  • What his concerns are about the commissioner he picks, the two others he co-chooses, and the whole process

Even though he’s the commonwealth’s pivotal money man and financial policy visionary, Grossman is quick to point out that he’s largely a spectator once the commission’s in place and the sites are awarded. He guides at this stage and then has to be hands off. Ideally, he’ll be figuratively counting money from the operational proceeds.

It was just he and I today on this short show. I was plain about my trepidation.

Grossman inspires the obvious observation that he was an Eagle Scout and like most of them largely remains the honest and stalwart fellow. In that vein, he stressed how demanding he will be in his choice of commissioner. The Governor has already chosen the chair, the Attorney General gets a pick, and the three of them agree among themselves on the other two to make five. The process at least on paper/online looks like the qualifications in the description and application will avoid conflicts of interest, guarantee objectivity as much as humanly possible, and bring the proper mix of relevant knowledge and skills. Check the commonwealth site here for the specs and application.

I was also very concerned about the vague and seemingly naive objectives in the law itself. Scroll to lines 138 through 149 for key goals. Pretty much, the lawmakers and governor want new jobs as well as protection and expansion of local business and tourism.

These generalizations are a far cry from what is in the literature about successful implementations of gambling facilities. Most of those are overseas and typically took years of planning and bids that required the investing company to spend tens of millions meeting the governments specifications in elaborate proposals. The clearest case I heard was from casinos expert Prof. William Eadington at a recent Rappaport forum.

While Grossman did not promise that level of smart planning, he did agree with the concepts. Listen in as he describes that meter running. He figures we have one chance to do this right. He wants the commonwealth, in the form of him, the AG, Governor and commission, to apply principles like those he used in his successful business. He does not want anyone rushing and expects high quality instead of speed of implementation.

Likewise, he spoke of trying to capture the revenue that goes to out-of-state casinos and would not promise an effort to attract out-of-state and out-of-U.S. tourists. However, he likes the ideas behind the successful implementations in foreign casinos. Those typically built such attractive tourist resorts that they are true destinations, ones where the wealthy happily bring their families for a week or more, shopping, dining,clubbing, sightseeing, and sure, gambling too. He said that is possible here as well.

He promised updates as the process continues. We intend to take him up on that.

This also appears at BlueMassGroup.


icon for podpress  Steve Grossman [20:32m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Treasurer Talks Casinos

grossman.pngSteve Grossman with join us for a session on casinos, following the recent enabling legislation. We’ll try to maximize with focus — like what is the real aim of expanded gambling, whether fully fleshed out proposals or just down and dirty bidding will determine locations and features, and can we ensure as some cities and countries have that the overseeing commission will be ethical?

If you can join us live, click here, Monday, 12/19 at 3:30 PM Eastern. Afterward, the show will be at that URL, here at Left Ahead and on iTunes.


2012 Update Podcast

Well, two of us had a good time. Ryan and Mike blathered at their best on the 2012 elections, specifically the rapid changes to the MA US Senate battle on the Dem side and the POTUS one on the GOP side.

Listen in if you have the time and temperament.

You might also check our shows with two of the remaining candidates for Senate. Marissa DeFranco joined us in May; you can hear or download her show here. Then Elizabeth Warren was on two months ago; hers is here.

We pontificated and speculated on what it will mean to the Dem drive, possible primary, and Warren’s preparation in her likely win on the Dem side. As a hint, we think that Tom Conroy’s recent withdrawal could increase DeFranco’s chance of getting 15% of the delegates and forcing a primary. We also think Warren is smarter, more informed, and holder of a better platform and planks than Brown is or will be. We figure she’d skunk him in debates…now or later.

We saved a little time to giggle over the Newt/Mitt agon.

This was a self-indulgent show for us. Listen in if you like punditry or if you want to jot down our projections and hold us to them later.

By the bye, our next show is far less political. Robyn Ochs joins us for a show on the spectrum of sexuality. She is an expert, author, lecturer and workshop leader on bisexuality and LGBT-related subjects.

If you can catch her live, do it Tuesday, December 20th, at 2:30 PM Eastern here. The show will be available on demand afterward at that URL, here on Left Ahead or on iTunes.

icon for podpress  2012 Updatr [36:46m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Dolan on Policy, Women Pols and More Podcast

OK, we learned what Mara Dolan meant with she and MA Sen. Jamie Eldridge coming up with a Policypalooza. Listen in on the player below as she talks about what’s in the works in the next couple of months. There’ll be policy days when Dems around the commonwealth can gather for sessions focusing on big issues. These will equip them with focused reasons and arguments for the mini-debates and discussions that can happen anytime, anywhere.

As co-chair of the Mass Dems’ Committee on Public Policy, she noticed how excited people were when policy sessions of any type were available. That was the seed for this program.

We went into some depth about her completion of the six-month Emerge Massachusetts training. Designed to prepare women in all aspects of running for public office, her one-full-day-a-month training included several women who ran for office right away, like Suzanne Lee and Sheneal Parker (Boston City Council) and Christine Barber (Somerville Alderman). Listen in as Dolan discusses the training from contents to effects. She also touches on mentoring by incumbents and fund-raising.

We couldn’t get her to be specific on what office she wants or when she’ll run. However, she says she’s not the typical woman candidate who has to be asked six times before going for it.

We spoke briefly at the end about her Right Here, Right Now show on cable TV. She points to some of her must see and hear sessions, available on her on-demand site. She suggests starting with MA Dems Chair John Walsh on issues including Sen. Scott Brown and Tufts Health Plan President James Roosevelt on Social Security.

She joins us about six minutes or so in.

icon for podpress  Mara Dolan [35:33m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Dolan Set for Thursday

The fancy, more visual, kinder version of this podcast joins with us tomorrow. We reset Mara Dolan’s Policypalooza (her term) announcement, and more, for tomorrow, Thursday, Dec. 8th, at 2:30 PM Eastern.

If you can join us live do so then by clicking here. If you can’t, catch the show on demand later at that URL, back here at Left Ahead, or on iTunes.

You don’t know what we’re looking like during our show. In contrast, classy Mara runs the uptown, video version of political and issue chat at Right Here Right Now on cable TV. She’s likely to be be in a stylish skirt suit and jewelry. (She’s a friend, so we can write that.)Mara Dolan

We’ve had many of the same guests on over the years. We’ll be asking her about her show.

Plus, she’s had the Emerge Massachusettstraining. That’s worth discussing.

However, she’s teased us with what she says is big Dem policy news that she and MA Sen. Jamie Eldridge have ready. You can learn what that is when we do.