EDubs in Framingham - Canvass Launch and Rally

This Sunday the 26th at 12.30 pm. - promoted by Bob_Neer

The Election is Tuesday, November 4th, and it’s time to Get-Out-The-Vote for Martha Coakley and the Coordinated Campaign. Join Senator Elizabeth Warren at our community rally and canvass launch in Framingham. Every conversation we have goes a long way. Training and materials will be provided. If you have questions, contact Paula Costa at 508-233-3289. Please RSVP.

Other events are listed here.

If you haven’t been helping in the campaign yet, this is a great way to start. If not now, when?

Your help is needed.

Should Ebola politics figure in MA?

As preface: Ebola politics in the US are to date, 1000% preposterous.  I hope you agree. I’m not sure we can be friends otherwise.

And yet, in light of the following, it might be worth it to ask our gubernatorial candidates about Ebola preparedness — specifically, about the actions of Governors Cuomo and Christie. They have quarantined a nurse who is asymptomatic. Cuomo has been talking about how riding on the subway puts people at risk, which is … not true. And since NY and NJ are at the bottleneck for travel to and from countries that are suffering the most, they are probably preventing those places from receiving the volunteer help that they desperately need.

BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith wonders aloud …

Gosh I don’t think so.

Ebola preparedness requires a resistance to hysteria. Hysteria is generally not helpful to good governance. So, you know, these new developments might be something you’d ask our candidates about. Will our next governor be a gibbering coward? Or make careful, science-based decisions? Not an idle question, unfortunately.

Would You Appear at an Event Sponsored by a Company that Cheats Workers?

Oops. - promoted by Bob_Neer

All the Gubernatorial candidates did last night, and I’m disappointed no one questioned that. Last night’s town hall was hosted in part by El Mundo and moderated by Alberto Vasallo III, the CEO of El Mundo and a few related businesses. Turns out of one those businesses, Caribe Communications and Publishing, has liens out against it for more than $50,000 in unpaid state unemployment taxes going back to 2009. (Do a search for Caribe Communications at the Suffolk County Register of Deeds and you’ll see what I’m talking about. You can verify at the Corporations Division that Vasallo is the President of Caribe).

This is a crime, and it is stealing from the employees by failing to provide for the benefits they’ve earned. And if you do a few more searches at the Suffolk County Register of Deeds link posted above, it’s not just the last five years that El Mundo, Vasallo, his father (Alberto Vasallo Jr), and related businesses have been cheating their workers. They’ve paid off their previous unemployment tax liens, but this has been a fairly consistent problem going back to the 1980s.

This is also at least the second Vasallo-sponsored event the candidates have been to this month.  I doubt any of the candidates realized how sleazy a business El Mundo is, and I fully support the desire to reach out to the Latino community. But next time, let’s have legitimate organizations host these events. Organizations that respect their workers, and the law. Boston has another Spanish-language newspaper, La Semana, which does not have the same record of corruption and abuse. Let them do it next time. El Mundo should not be a part of our political discourse unless it cleans up its act.


Canvass in Arlington on Sunday with Deval Patrick and Katherine Clark!

[Bumped. - charley] Meanwhile, Charlie Baker will be rallying his base at a local country club. - promoted by charley-on-the-mta

As Ed Markey likes to say, in Arlington we don’t agonize, we organize!  Join us Sunday as we hit the streets in one the state’s richest strongholds of Democratic voters – voters we need to turn out on November 4th in this non-presidential year.

Please sign up here (so that we know how many to expect):


Calling BS on 1% Baker re: taxes

Charlie Baker says he’s against middle-class tax hikes. But he’s against the absolute best method for preventing them: A progressive, graduated income tax.

You have to give Baker for being nimble. In the one moment of Tuesday night’s debate, Martha Coakley indicated that she wasn’t completely opposed to a graduated income tax — which would of course be a good idea and has been part of the BMG platform.

Charlie Baker responded by attacking Coakley — not on the merits of a progressive tax itself, but by changing the subject to middle class taxes, saying you can’t trust the Dems to only tax the wealthy. He cited — correctly, as far as it goes — the series of tax hikes in 2009 that fell mostly on the middle class. New revenue was necessary in order to prevent massive layoffs of teachers, cops, firefighters, social workers (hey, they’re in the news these days too) — and also to protect the state’s bond rating. A lower bond rating means the state gets a worse deal on credit — which hurts taxpayers. You may have noticed that other states that didn’t bite this bullet have suffered that exact fate.

This is how Baker’s 1% ideology rolls: If you want to tax the rich at a higher rate, they say the middle class is next. Meanwhile, because of that very resistance, the only possible avenue to avoid a fiscal catastrophe is to raise taxes regressively, as we’ve been doing. Baker’s rhetorical sleight-of-hand leads to higher taxes for the middle class — and much worse services.

If we had been able to raise taxes progressively in 2009, we could have raised the revenue to protect critical state services without dinging the middle class – the people who need that money for fundamental things, as opposed to a second house or a fancy car. And only people like, well, Charlie Baker would have noticed.

So Coakley’s comments were criticized by Barbara Anderson, which is unsurprising. More surprising is Mass. Taxpayers’ Michael Widmer, who supported the gas tax increase and the sales tax increase back in 2009!

“If you’re trying to create jobs it doesn’t make sense to give opened-ended authority to the legislature to raise taxes on higher income individuals,” said Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation President Michael Widmer.

Widmer and MTF have been longtime opponents of the graduated income tax system.

Widmer told the Tax Fairness Commission in February that any change to the state’s income tax structure that would tax high income individuals at a higher rate would be hurt the state’s economy.

“Amending the state’s constitution and adding to the tax burden of middle and higher income taxpayers, including businesses that pay personal income taxes, would pose one more disincentive to job creation in the state,” said Widmer while testifying before the commission.

Martha Coakley’s comments on graduated income tax criticized by taxpayer watchdogs |

So to be clear: Widmer thinks that middle-class people who struggle to pay the bills from month-to-month should have higher taxes, but the rich should go unscathed. That’s the takeaway from his stated positions. No thank you. Good day sir.

And a progressive income tax structure costs the state jobs? As opposed to what we’ve been doing in a pinch? Oh please do show your work, Mr. Widmer. I’d love to see that research.

Is Charlie Baker really up 9?

The Globe’s latest poll says he is.  The Coakley campaign promptly put out a statement declaring that the poll is “clearly an outlier” and that every other independent poll has shown the race much tighter.  Well, maybe – certainly we’d all like to think so.

But if I recall correctly, the Globe poll was the one that picked up the Maura Healey surge in the primary.  After many weeks of polls showing the race basically tied, the Globe published a shocker just a couple of days before the election showing that she had jumped out to a 15-point lead.  A lot of people (including myself, frankly) didn’t believe it – we thought she was probably ahead, but by maybe 5 or 6 points.  As we now know, though, the Healey surge was real (she won by 25).

Lightning doesn’t routinely strike twice, so maybe the Globe poll nailed a late surprise surge in the AG primary, only to see another one in the Gov general where there isn’t one.  But you know what I’m going to say next.  There’s no way of knowing if the poll is right or wrong, and it really doesn’t matter.  What matters is that you do what you can to bring about the result you want.

Thoughts and Prayers with Mayor Menino and his Family

Very well said. The thoughts of all of us are with you and your family, Mr. Mayor. - promoted by david

Sad news from the Globe last night, former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino has suspended cancer treatments and will be entering palliative care.

The former Mayor kept busy with a memoir and an urban policy initiative at Boston University. Sadly, he was hospitalized shortly after the start of his book tour where he finally made his decision to accept palliative care.

But as Menino embarked on a book tour last week in New York City, cancer and the treatment regimen had clearly taken their toll. He used a wheelchair, and his voice was often reduced to a rasp because of laryngitis.

Upon returning to Boston, he was hospitalized with dehydration at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He is receiving palliative care, and doctors have told the former mayor the next step is hospice care.

“While I continue to fight this terrible disease, I feel it is time for me to spend more time with my family, grandkids, and friends,” Menino said in a statement issued by his former press secretary, Dot Joyce.

Current Mayor Marty Walsh had a very nice statement:

Mayor Martin J. Walsh spoke to Menino on Thursday evening and said the former mayor asked about recovery efforts in the wake of intense rain squalls.

“He was worried about how bad was the flooding and if we were able to clear the trees,” Walsh told reporters outside an event at Faneuil Hall. “Once you’re elected mayor, you’re always mayor of Boston. He’s a fighter. He’s going to continue to fight. I could hear it in his voice on the phone.”

A lot more can be said about his legacy as Mayor, there will be plenty of time for that later. Personally, I always found him to be a far more humble and intelligent man than the media portrayed, one firmly committed to liberal principles. But, for now I wish him and his family more good times and peace.

The many and the few

Paul Krugman nails an essential element of our ongoing political debate in his NYT column today “Plutocrats against Democracy.” It is a concise illustration, with some comparative global examples, of one way of understanding U.S. history: a continuous struggle, from the time of religious theocracy and slavery through the Gilded Age — and the Great Depression and New Deal that followed — between the many and the few.

It’s always good when leaders tell the truth, especially if that wasn’t their intention. So we should be grateful to Leung Chun-ying, the Beijing-backed leader of Hong Kong, for blurting out the real reason pro-democracy demonstrators can’t get what they want: With open voting, “You would be talking to half of the people in Hong Kong who earn less than $1,800 a month. Then you would end up with that kind of politics and policies” — policies, presumably, that would make the rich less rich and provide more aid to those with lower incomes.

So Mr. Leung is worried about the 50 percent of Hong Kong’s population that, he believes, would vote for bad policies because they don’t make enough money. This may sound like the 47 percent of Americans who Mitt Romney said would vote against him because they don’t pay income taxes and, therefore, don’t take responsibility for themselves, or the 60 percent that Representative Paul Ryan argued pose a danger because they are “takers,” getting more from the government than they pay in. Indeed, these are all basically the same thing.

Read the whole thing here. Look no further if you want to understand why economic warrior Charlie Baker is making his case at a local country club in the final key weeks of the campaign.

Greed lies, in large part, at the base of this Republican argument, which feeds on ignorance. Societies with relatively generous social welfare policies, where economic power is comparatively widely distributed and popular interests are well represented, like democracies from western Europe to the developed states of Asia, are in general more prosperous and freer than those in which financial resources are concentrated and the people are weak, like totalitarian countries from Russia, China and North Korea, to the Middle East and Africa. We should move toward the former, as we did more or less from the Depression until the election of a Republican Congress and Ronald Reagan, and away from the latter. Republicans preach the opposite: their goal, as befits conservatives, is to take us back to the past. As Obama observed of Romney two years ago: “Governor, when it comes to your foreign policy, you seem to want to import the foreign policies of the 1980s, just like the social policies of the 1950s and the economic policies of the 1920s.” Charlie Baker has learned how to sugar-coat his message, but subscribes to the same regressive ideology.

Thus the importance of teachers, the essential task of door-to-door canvassers, in the last critical weeks before the election. We should make progress, not go back. Go Coakley!

“That’s how we do it,” she said. “One voter at a time.” GOTV Events

The people assemble. - promoted by Bob_Neer

Last week the Globe ran a story about me, focusing on canvassing and direct voter contact. The reporter spent a significant amount of time with me and highlighted the story of a voter I met. She was undecided when we first started speaking, but by the time we finished our conversation she was on board. In his words:

The screen door closed. Donaghue marked the result on her clipboard. “That’s how we do it,” she said. “One voter at a time.”

And that is how we will do it, with your help. We need you now. We’ll have fun while we are working to elect Democrats up and down the ticket.

I’m listing a number of events that people can join this weekend.
10/25 09:00am Gov. Patrick/Steve Kerrigan, Canvass Launch, 369 Union Hall, 120 Bay State Dr., Braintree
10/25 10:00am Maura Healey/Rep. Decker, Rally/Canvass Launch, Cambridge HQ, 589 Mass. Ave.
10/25 10:15am Senator Ed Markey, Canvass Launch, Brockton HQ, 106 Torrey Street
10/25 11:00am Cong. Clark/Maura Healey, Melrose Rally/Canvass Launch, Memorial Hall Steps, 590 Main Street
10/25 12:00pm Maura Healey, Rally/Canvass Launch, Lexington HQ, 172 Bedford Street
10/25 12:45pm Senator Ed Markey, Canvass Launch, Falmouth HQ, 704 Main Street
10/25 12:30pm Governor Mike Dukakis, Canvass Launch, Beverly HQ, 160 Cabot Street
10/25 01:00pm Governor Patrick, Canvass Launch, 24 Samoset Street, Plymouth
10/25 01:00pm Cong. Clark Canvass Launch, Blackman Residence, 8 Garfield St. Natick
10/25 02:30pm Martha Coakley/Gov. Patrick/Cong. Tsongas, Rally/Canvass Launch, Lowell HQ, 175 Merrimack Street
10/26 11:00am Gov. Patrick/Congresswoman Clark, Rally/Canvass Launch, 45 Teel Street, Arlington
10/26 11:15am Senator Ed Markey, Newburyport Canvass Launch, Brown Square (next to City Hall), 60 Pleasant Street
10/26 12:00pm Maura Healey/Seth Moulton, Rally/Canvass Launch, Salem HQ, 10 Colonial Road
10/26 01:00pm Gov. Patrick/Cong. Clark, Canvass Launch, Danish Pastry House, 330 Boston Ave., Medford
10/26 01:30pm Cong. Kennedy, Phone Bank, Needham HQ, 50 Central Ave.
10/26 12:30pm Senator Warren, Canvass Launch, Framingham HQ, 303 Worcester Road
10/26 02:30pm Cong. Kennedy/Rep. Peisch, Canvass Launch, 314 Walnut Street, Wellesley
10/26 03:30pm Maura Healey/Rep. Garelick, Canvass Launch, Needham HQ, 50 Central Ave.
10/26 04:00pm Cong, Kennedy, Canvass or Phone Bank, 106 Davis Ave, Brookline
10/26 04:30pm Maura Healey, GOTV Rally, 7 Independence Lane, Medway

You can find details either on Martha Coakley’s or Maura Healey’s event listings. Details are also in this week’s Democratic Dispatch on some of the other events.

The closer we get to the election, the more things shift. If there are events of interest please add them in the comments. If you have a special guest coming or something big planned please let people know. If any of the above events change, I’ll try to update them here and add them as time permits. I’m off to the Boston rally on Friday and then straight to “Friday Doors and Drinks” so I need to crowd-source some because of time constraints.

UPDATED: Added E. Warren event and Deval Patrick event in Plymouth

BMG's ballot question endorsements: No, Yes, Yes, Yes

NYYY: New York Yankees, Yuck. Nice. - promoted by Bob_Neer

It’s that time of year again, when everyone from newspaper editors to neighbors to your cranky uncle is telling you how to vote on November’s ballot.  Herewith, your humble editors’ submission with respect to the four statewide ballot questions.  Spoiler: the correct answers are No on 1, and Yes on the rest.  They are all pretty easy calls, in our view.

NO on 1.  Question 1, if passed, would repeal the indexing provision that the legislature recently added to the gas tax.  The indexing provision adjusts the gas tax (currently 24 cents per gallon) “every year by the percentage change in the Consumer Price Index over the preceding year.”  In other words, it automatically adjusts the gas tax for inflation.

An outrage, some cry!  Taxation without representation!  The legislature should have to vote every time a tax is raised!  There are many problems with this argument, not the least of which is that the sales tax for everything else is a percentage, and therefore automatically adjusts for inflation – if prices go up, so does the sales tax in dollar amount.  Frankly, a percentage sales tax is probably a better way to manage the gas tax as well, but since the tax is per gallon, failing to index results in the gas tax actually losing value over time.

And an inadequate gas tax is a real problem, since the gas tax funds road and bridge projects around the state.  Needless to say, these projects are necessary.  MA’s infrastructure is not getting any younger; much maintenance has been deferred way longer than it should have been; and catastrophes like this one only seem likely to happen more often if something isn’t done.

The legislature isn’t very good at enacting sensible tax policy.  This gas tax bill was a rare exception (it probably didn’t go far enough, but it was a big improvement over what was in place before).  We see no good argument for undoing it.

YES on 2.  Question 2, if passed, would update the bottle bill (which requires a five-cent deposit on certain beverage containers, refunded when the bottle is returned) to include water, juice, sports drink, and other now-popular drinks.  The statistics around the bottle bill are overwhelming: 80% of containers with a deposit, but only 23% of containers without, are recycled.  Lots of anecdotal observations support this: it’s actually pretty rare to see a Coke can or beer bottle on the street, but plastic water and juice bottles are ubiquitous.

So, the bottle bill works, and things that work should be encouraged and expanded to keep up with the times.  Furthermore, the folks urging you to vote “no” have been … massaging the facts, shall we say, with respect to current recycling rates in Massachusetts.  This is bad behavior that should be punished; if it isn’t, they and others will assume (correctly) that they can get away it, and will behave similarly in the future.

YES on 3.  Question 3, if passed, would pretty much repeal the state’s casino law by making slot machines and table games illegal again in Massachusetts.  We’ve talked about this issue a great deal on BMG in recent months, so there’s no need to rehash those arguments in detail here.  In brief, we think casinos are a lousy economic development strategy (recent events in Atlantic City and elsewhere suggest that they are not the golden goose their boosters would have you believe), we think they prey on people who really don’t need another toilet down which to flush their money, and we think the shenanigans at the Mass. Gaming Commission have amply demonstrated that they tend to operate in a shady fashion.  We recognize that Springfield, in particular, could use an infusion of economic activity of just about any kind.  We are happy to see recent news reports that just such a thing appears to be happening, and we hope this is the start of a trend.  Building a plant to assemble desperately-needed subway cars is real economic development.  Gambling isn’t.

YES on 4.  Question 4, if passed, would require employers with 11 or more employees to allow their employees to “earn and use up to 40 hours of paid sick time per calendar year, while employees working for smaller employers could earn and use up to 40 hours of unpaid sick time per calendar year.”  This one is really so easy.  Of course employees should be able to take a modest number of sick days per year (five seems perfectly reasonable) without putting their jobs in jeopardy or (at larger employers) taking a financial hit for it.  If you’re sick and you stay home and rest, (a) you will get better and therefore return to productivity much faster, and (b) you won’t get your colleagues or the people next to you on the T sick.  It is both sensible economic policy and sensible public health policy.

Wonk Post: MA Governor Polling Aggregate

Worrisome. Call your friends. Forward emails. Knock on doors. - promoted by Bob_Neer

From HuffPo/Pollster:

HuffPost Model Estimate

Charlie Baker 45.5%
Martha Coakley 44.6%
Undecided 9.9%
CONFIDENCE OF WIN The probability that Baker will beat Coakley is 51%.

Despite the rain - A Day to Celebrate at Fenway

N.B.! - promoted by Bob_Neer

Today Governor Patrick will be joined by legislative leaders and scores of families and advocates as he signs three pieces of legislation that greatly improve the lives of those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

And why celebrate?TomH

  • Autism omnibus opens the door to persons with developmental disabilities who also have Autism, Prader-Willi syndrome and Smith Magenis syndrome to receive adults services through the Department of Developmental Services (DDS); a door opened to hundreds who did not have access.  The bill also extends health services at MassHealth for critical therapies and communication devices in addition to three other sections that address the needs of the growing population with autism.
  • National Background check focuses on safety, ensuring that those accepting jobs with persons served by DDS will be subject to a full criminal background check especially relevant since so many workers reside in neighboring states; only in the last session did a similar bill get approved for children in educational programs.
  • The “Real Lives” bill places in statute, self-direction for those receiving funding from the state for their services.  Too often, people have to move from the communities in which they live to get the assistance they need.  This allows for flexibility and choice subject to procedures established by the DDS.