Archive for October, 2012

Election 2012 Showdown Podcast

Double guests, double insights today. Mat Helman of ProgressMass and Jason Stephany of MassUniting joined us to talk the races for POTUS and US Senate from MA.

There’s no secret that all four of us favor Elizabeth Warren over Scott Brown and Barack Obama over Mitt Romney. Helman and Stephany got down into details about why their and their organizations were working for them.

As background, you might also check out ProgressMass’ PDF file on Brown’s rhetoric v. record here.

Listen in as Stephany rips into the myth of Brown’s alleged independence and bipartisanship. Helman goes into depth about how Brown gets away with portraying himself as the concerned middle-of-the-road guy while voting for winger agenda on every important issue. It’s a PR primer.

We deal a bit with Brown running from a fourth and final debate and the effects of Hurricane Sandy on next week’s vote. Click below to listen.

icon for podpress  Election 2012 Showdown [33:54m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


View a Week Out

Maybe Mitt Romney could use another four years to prep, but everyone else seems ready for the elections to be done. We bring in two guests to talk to the races for POTUS and the US Senate from MA. Mat Helman from ProgressMass and Jason Stephany of MassUniting give us their views — and predictions — on both. We remain flabergasted that either race could be at all close, but they sure as heck seem to be.

If you can join us live, click here Tuesday, 10/30, at 2:30 PM Eastern. Afterward the show will be available at that URL, back here at Left Ahead, and on our iTunes page.


Nervous, Optimistic Elections Podcast

John L. Galligan, the blogger at Chimes at Midnight, joined us again. A keen and witty political observer — and a bit of an historian — he gave some perspective on races. We covered the POTUS, the US Senate from MA, and even ended up with his local state house races in Arlington/Belmont.

Listen in as we kick around why folk might go for Romney or Brown or such, why MA has never, ever sent a woman to the U.S. Senate, and what some past elections demonstrated about the American public.

All three of us agreed that the big races will be very tight, irrationally so. We’re, as the squishy expression goes, cautiously optimistic. Click the show in the player below for our reasoning.

icon for podpress  Galligan on Elections [36:17m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Reset of Public Schools Podcast

This is the moment, a second chance for change in a short time, for foundering Boston Public Schools, according to John Connolly. He joined came on today to talk about the Quality Choice Plan.

The first chance was what he called “a swing and a miss,” that brought a pretty reactionary teachers-union contract.

That new plan is either a sweeping vision for much needed reform or a renegade assault on business as usual replete with incremental efforts at the edges. He and the Globe and I among many others think of it as the former. He and I share a devotion to public education, including putting our kids in BPS. No one I know of matches his passion for the schools, fitting as he has chaired the City Council’s Education Committee for over three years.

He’s the point man for this plan, which he fine tuned with another Councilor (Matt O’Malley) and four MA Reps (Linda Dorcena Forry, Nick Collins, Ed Coppinger, and Russell Holmes). As he has in Council, he doesn’t mind taking any heat, sharing any plaudits, and meeting with everyone who can and wants to make big improvements.

Listen in as we describe the plan’s big ideas. Do check the link up top for the 10-page plan. It is unlike the typical timid proposals for upgrading urban school systems. He does touch on such high points as 16 citywide schools with dual-language and other concentrations, guaranteed K2 seats on one of the four schools closest to home, annual teacher and principal evaluations, and most of all, a strong push for innovation status schools. Those would follow the model of the successful turnarounds like the Trotter. John describes the components.

Of course, the talks about some of the pending conflicts. When I attended the press conference announcing the plan, he alluded to such essentials as longer school days — an anathema to the local teachers’ union, which just set a four-year contract. We didn’t really get into another broad area, the not-invented-here syndrome. He did mention that the School Committee leans toward its incremental, modest student-assignment proposal. He’d rather see the Quality Choice Plan or at least a hybrid with its key features.

Listen in to hear him on the plan.

icon for podpress  Connolly on BPS [30:36m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Debates Week Podcast

Solo punditry today as Mike went on about the U.S. Senate and POTUS debates in the past week. He offered maybe all too obvious suggestions for the Dem candidates.

Elizabeth Warren, challenger to Sen. Scott Warren, held her own in Lowell, but Barack Obama seemed to doze through his Denver show with Mitt Romney. Mike was up at UMASS/Lowell and offered his color commentary.

The short of it that Warren must press Brown on his awful votes. He’s evaded two years of them that are against the interests of MA residents and of all women. He hides behind claiming without any evidence that she got special advancement privileges in hiring, tenure and more by noting her putative Native American fractional heritage. That’s been a smoke screen to avoid his performance. Warren simply has to insist that he cut the crap.

Likewise, the POTUS did not call Romney on one huge honking lie after another. On the campaign trail afterward, the POTUS has hit on these. He simply needs to bring that face to face in the next two goes.

Click below for a one-man rant.

icon for podpress  Debates Week [24:58m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Podium and Public Ed Shows

Our next two LA shows are set. Next Tuesday, 10/9, the usual suspects chat up the second Warren/Brown Senate and the first Obama/Romney debate-like-events. The following week, 10/16, a brash proposal from on high might revamp the Boston Public Schools.

If you can catch Ryan and Mike live pontificating on the kinda debates, go here at 2:30 PM Eastern on Oct. 9th. We’ll consider call-ins at 718-664-6966. Make nice if you want to join in on this.

The following week, John Connolly, who chairs Boston City Council’s Committee on Education, joins us. He’s driving toward a breathtaking overhaul of BPS. If you want to hear that live, go here at 2:30 PM Eastern on Oct. 16th.

Each show is available on demand afterward of hear in a player or download. Go to that show’s URL, come back here to Left Ahead, or go to our iTunes page.


Bikes v. Cars Podcast

A pedals-on scholar of transportation and cycling, Steven Miller, joined us to talk cyclists versus drivers, past, present and future. Among his many related credentials (check the link for a sketch) he founded Hub on Wheels, sits on the MBTA and Cambridge bicycle advisory boards, and is on the board of Livable Streets, where he also writes the related blog.

We spoke of the in-progress transformation of Boston from a bike-hostile city toward a friendlier, safer, quieter, healthier one. On the way has been considerable culture shock. Despite the history of bikes being on the streets before cars, cyclists are seen as the interlopers.

Listen in as Miller suggests who is really bike hostile. He also addresses such changes as decreases in miles driven annually, in age at first acquiring a car, as well as increases in number of cyclists. He’s been involved in and observed the myriad changes in the Boston area.

He discusses the E’s that will make travel more pleasant and safer for everyone — Encouraging more cycling (health, noise, pollution, congestion benefits), Engineering (bike lanes, cycle tracks and more), Enforcement (of traffic rules for everyone), Education (down to public schools), and Equity (making sure low-income areas also have affordable access to cycles and cycling). Click below to hear the details.

Miller believes as did the Boston and Cambridge cycling program managers of Boston and Cambridge that the more cyclists on the road the better and safer conditions will be. Drivers will be aware of sharing the road, at a minimum.

To the question of whether cyclists tend to be renegades and crazy folk, Miller, a cyclist as well as driver, says they tend not to be any better or worse than motorists. He says it’s always easier to blame other people, so drivers do that as well.

Listen in as we talk futures, including possible legislation to speed traffic while keeping cyclists safe and maybe even requirements that all cyclists use flashing front and back lights as well as side-view mirrors.

icon for podpress  Cyclists v. Drivers [32:49m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download