1 paid sick leave

^ yes : Question 4 — paid sick leave for workers

1 gas tax repeal

^ NO : Question 1 would repeal the gas tax index and thus leave the state behind in its vital work of repairing roads and bridges & keeping the “T” running properly

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Four referenda will go before our state’s November voters. They are these :

Question 1 Gas taxes : Repeals 2013 law that automatically increases gas taxes according to inflation

Question 2 Environment : Expands the state’s beverage container recycling law to include all non-alcoholic containers

Question 3 Gambling : Repeals a 2011 law allowing resort casinos

Question 4 Labor : Entitles certain employees to earn and utilize paid sick days

I intend to vote No on the first question, yes on the econd; no on the third question, yes on the fourth. The followking reasons decide it for me.

Question One : last year the legislature and governor enacted am $ 800 million tax increase that will fund our badly need transportation repair and improvements. Anyone who takes the “T” to work, or to whatever, knows how often it breaks down or otherwise delays. Numerous roads in our state are in such disrepair that you can easily bteak an axle driving on them. Bridges crumble even as I write.

the section of that tax increase objected to by the people who placed this Question on the ballot is the indexing of its gas tax increase to inflation : if inflation rises by one percent, so does the tax, without need of a further legislative vote. opponents say this is unconstitutional, but is it ? Social Security includes an automatic “COLA”of living adjustment). Why is it constitutional to index paying out more money but not to take it in ?

Opposition to the indexed gas tax increase is sort of a car drivers’ complaint. the longer your car commute to work, the more gas tax you’ll pay. But so what ? The longer your commute, the more public roads you use. Those roads require maintenance, the cost of which goes up with inflation. To deny the state ability to keep up with inflation is simply selfish, or a rant of the moment,utterly short-sighted.

I am voting NO.

Question Two : expanding the recycling of bottles to cover all non-alcoholic beverages makes common sense. As of now, many such bottles simply go into the trash. With recycling, they will add to the hard-earned incomes of scavengers, who already do a marvelous job o scouring the streets and sidewalks of our state in search of bottle refunds.

I am voting YES.

Question Three : the anti-casino people decry that you or i should have the right to spend our money on an entertainment they disapprove of. What business is it of theirs ? They also talk about gambling addiction ? Heck, that bridge has already been crossed. Has any of them visited a Keno parlor lately ? Then they warn of increased crime. Oh really ? Nowhere is more heavily guarded by security men and police officers than casinos.

Meanwhile, casinos bring lots of jobs, plenty of excitement, and glitzy entertainment.

I am voting NO.

Question 4 : that employees should be able to earn and use sick days offends some who think that employment is a punishment, not a service; that work should be hard, precarious, and cost-cut. I feel just the opposite : that work is a huge service to the community by those who have it; that work should be more secure, not less; more predictable, not hap-hazard; and that workers should not be cost-cut at every turn and for every life accident that keeps them from punching a clock of a day and doing the job from nine o’c lock sharp to five on the button. As i see it, worthy workers are doing their job even when they are sick, because they will, after sickness, return, trained and ready; and their employer is better off knowing that they will return than having to spend money and waste time seeking (and training) possible replacements.

I am voting YES.

—- Mike freedberg / Here and Sphere


1 Democrats unity breakfast

^ instead of “unity breakfasts,’ candidates should breakfast with the voters, because it is they who will decide the election

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This year’s Governor election will be decided by the voters — and not by the party insiders. In the Republican party, the insiders have already done their job, and could do so because the Massachusetts GOP is so small. The Democratic insiders, however, were unable to get their favorites chosen by primary voters three times as numerous. Even less so will the Democratic insiders be able to determine the winner in November. The GOP’s insiders won’t have that power either.

Two million voters will vote in the November election. In the era of ubiquitous social media, it is they who will choose the winner. The Democrats can hold “unity breakfasts” till Hallowe’en and it won’t win their candidate the election. Those “unity breakfasts’ will, to the contrary, prejudice voters’ perception of Martha Coakley. Masschusetts voters know plenty about our state’s politics. They know that insiders’ interests often — usually — differ frtom the voters’ priorities. They know that insiders look at politics from the opposite direction to how the voters look.

This is not to say that Massachusetts voters are ‘anti government.” They aren’t. Massachusetts voters have big expectations of state goverment. They want it to do a lot. What they do look skeptically at is WHO does it and HOW. Massachusetts voters perceive — I think correctly — that insiders lose track of what the voters want, and when, and how urgently, and that insiders cannot resist the pleas of one another, most of whom are personal friends to one another, to get things done for them first; the voters can wait.

This is what we’ve seen happening to Beacon Hill all over the past four years. Many projects don’t happen at all; others happen fitfully, or get the shaft because of unerfunding or amateurish oversight. Others waste huge money or are sidelined by incompetent contractors and project executives.
No insider clique can cover that up, though believe me, they have tried to and are continuing to try tpo.
Republican governor candidate Charlie Baker calls it the inevitable consequence of one-party rule. He is correct, but why it happens as it does isn’t simple. One factor: Speaker Robert DeLeo has run his branch of the legislature as dictatorially as he has because the legislature — whose members hear from actual voters all the time — has been frustrated constantly by governor administration diffident at best, incompetent and misdirected too.

Poor administration and insider cocoons have led to an almost complete lack of state governement effect on the economy and lives of voters who live outside the Boston media market — beyond Rouute 495. it’s no accident that those regions of the state now vote overwhelmingly Republican. Voting Republican is, in Massachusetts, the ultmate protest vote against “Beacon Hill.” And yes, the upper Conmnecticut valley and Berkshire county today vote overwhelmingly the other way. Why ? Because the University of Massachusetts (and nearby colleges), sited therein and a huge employer, does deliver effective higher education. No need to protest that.

If the insiders won;t win the election for their candidate, what will ? Answer : the candidates themsleevs and their campaigns. Is it that hard to believe that campaigns matter ? That most voters in Massachusetts vote for the candidate, not for a party ? Those who do find this hard to believe are going to have a hard time figuring out why November’s winner wins.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere


1 Baker and Coakley BG

The race for Governor of Massachusetts is now set. It will be Charlie Baker versus Martha Coakley.

That one is a Republican and the other a Democrat means less than observers may think. A majority of Massachusetts belongs to neither party, and most who do belong to ine or the other party don’t necessarily sign on to the party’s platform. In Massachusetts a solid majority votes for the candidate, period.

Still, self-identiied Democrats outnumher self-identified Republicans by three to one; and most self-identifieds vote the party they identify with. Thus Baker’s task is a harder one than just to outgun Coakley.

Still, if Baker does what i think he ought, the race is his to lose. He’s a far more accomplisued manager than Coakley, advocates much more specific reforms than she has, and has a far more politically potent running mate (Karyn Polito) than Coakley has ended up with. Steve Kerrigan has strong credentials within the Democratic party structure, but Polito has been a selectwoman, state representative, and businesswoman. There really is no comparison.

So Baker shoild continue to do more of exactly what he vhas already been doing :

(1) advocating meaningul, dramatic mangerial reforms to a state administration that, under Deval patrick these past four years, has broken down miserably

(2) pursue the North Shore (including Boston “north of the Harbor”) and Eastern Middlsex County vote, much of it Italian name as is Polito, as his “homeboy base.”

(3) make clear that his vision for Massachusetts is exactly what our governor’s office has always seen, these past 24 years beginning with Bill Weld : expanding the Boston economy’s success to cities beyond Route 495; bringing progressive social services to all who need them, well managed and accountable; and assure best practices to all the state’;s schhols, public and charter.

(4) keep outreaching to all the communities of color and ethnicoty, to immigrants, and to people of diverse lifestyles, in the cities and elsewhere in our state.

At the same time, Baker should be very clear that while he has the background and the commitment to bring efficiency, transparency, and accountability to state administration and will fault the Patrick administration where it need be faulted, Coakley cannot make that criticism and probably can’t effect those changes. Baker should add that the Speaker, Robert DeLeo, will work with him much more accountably than with Coakley, because as Baker can command state administration, DeLeo will not feel a need to legislate change without attending on the Governor’s progress.

The critique is certainly there, from the two hundred million dollar health connector collapse to the failure of DCF, from more hundreds of millions of dollars in local aid cuts to poor, even scandalous, appointments to some high-level administrative positions. Coakley has accepted Deval Patrick’s support (the Patrick endorsement did AG candidate Warren Tolman no good, by the way, on Primary day); how pointedly she can she now critique him ?

Baker has the advantage of being able to stay on course — consistency which in itself may convince many voters that his hand on the wheel is a steady one. Coakley, meanwhile, will have to change utterly, from vague and glib to — to whatever she now isn’t. Not exactly a sign of sureness.

And now the numbers : Baker had 31 to 32 percent of all pre-primary voters in hand. He supposedly wins 44 percent of Grossman voters, who equal about 6 percent of the state. That’s 38 percent. He also likely wins five of Don Berwick’s 22 percent. that’s another two percent of the vote, giving Baker 40.

Coakley won 42 percent of the Democratic primary vote. That’s aabout 16 percent of the state. She wins 32 percent of Grossman voters and, probably, 17 of Berwick’s 22 points. that adds 9 points, giving her 25 percent of the vote. Coakley also wins about one third of “unenrolled” voters, adding another 17 points to her total of 42 points.

The decision thus rests with the 18 percent who are undecided. Most are no-party voters. As Baker wins no-party voters about 7 to 4, he should win the 18 percent by about 11 to 7, giving him a 52 to 48 win in November.

That’s about how I see it. Possibly even a little better, if baker can take a few of Coakley’s votes away.

This is, by the way, very much in line with how we’ve elected all our governors in Massachusetts (except Deval Patrick) since Bill Weld’s 1990 election changed the entire shape of Massachusetts governor elections : by four to six points over a compromised Democratic opponent. The same reality holds ; a superior, more flexible and independent, “blue ribbon” candidate running as a Republican, and a better run campaign resting on the need, administratively and legislaively, to balance the huge power possessed by the Speaker of the House.

That reality applies now maybe more than even in 1990.

—– Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere


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^ big winner of a big bold campaign : Charlie baker & running mate karyn Polito

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We’ve written, in previous op-eds, that there are actually two separate Republican parties in Massachusetts : the GovernorGOP and the “Grass Roots’ GOP. or the past 25 years or so, since the election of Bill Weld, the two GOPs have gone their separate ways. Not so yesterday. This time the two clashed, and in every case I am aware of, the GovernorGOP won.

The “GovernorGOP” is, as the name implies, dedicated to winning the Governorship. The “Grass Roots” GOP has contented itself, more or less, with winning the few state legislature districts where enrolled Republicans have sufficient numbers to carry the day. These different objectives have made the two GOPs opposites . The Governor GOP tailors its campaigns to the Massachusetts majority, which for at least 160 years has been progressive, even radical, a values-voter electorate optimistic and reformist. The “Grass Roots’ GOP, contrary, has become ever more pessimist, a party of rejection. It has contempt for Massachusetts majority sentiment, and the smaller the mass of Republicans in a “Grass Roots’ district, the more extreme the rejection. Today’s “Grass Roots’ GOP seems more interested in opposing a majority whose views it despises than seeking to win an election.

(Case in point : the only communities carried on September 9th by Mark Fisher, the rejection candidate for Governor were in the state’s far west, where these days statewide Democrats regularly win by 30 points, margins larger than almost anywhere else in the state.)

The divergence was but an annoyance until this year, when the Grass froots rejectionists captured the GOp state committee and proceeded to bulk arty platform with one rejection ater another. Nationwide, the Gop has seen the disastrous consequence of rejection and has begun to fight back, and to win, against the anti-everything GOP. The same fight was guaranteed to Massachusetts when, in several legislative districts, rejectionist candidates forced primary fights onto GovernorGOP types.

The rejectionists lost every single battle that I have tracked :

photo (1)

^ defeating the rejection party in its Central Mass heartland : State Senate hopeful Mike Valanzola and the 2nd Franklin’s Susannah Whipps Lee

In Franklin County, legislature candidate Susannah Whipps Lee trounced “core values” candidate Karen Anderson. In the city of Attleboro, popular Bert Buckley turned back a strong challenge — Bristol County seems the stronghold of GOP rejectrionism — by “Christian Conservative” Jefftey Bailey. In suburban Worcester, David Muradian beat Tea Party- backed Shawn Craig. In the big and very rural State Senate District west of Worcester, EMC executive Mike Valanzola handily defeated James Ehrhard, a rejectionist endorsee.

1 john chapman

civil rights for all beats “gun rights” for the ego ; John Chapman carries the GOP’s founding message to a 2014 victoiy in the 9th Congress District’;s GOP primary

The 9th Congress District (in which Here and Spohere has its home, in New Bedford), there was a four way GOP primary between GovernorGOP John Chapman and no fewer than three rejectionidt candidates. Strongest of these was Mark W. Alliegro, a foursquare advocate of “gun rights” supported by the state’s biggest rejectionist organization, the so-called Massachusetts Republican Assembly. Chapman, who in 2013 was US Senate maverick Dan Winslow’s right hand man, won about 500 more votes than Alliegro and therein captured the Primary.

Biggest win of all was Charlie Baker’s. The governor candidate of the GovernorGOP smashed reectionist Mark Fisher by three to one.

It was not a good night for the Massachusetts Republican Assembly (which has no connection at all with the GOP state committee despite the name). It was a very good night for those GOP activists who believe that the party’s purpose is to win elections.

It seems odd that the big issue in a major party’s primary should be whether or not to win elections. But to not understand this is to misperceive the dynamics of a minority paty. The smaller a political party — and in masschusetts the GOP claims only about 12 percent of voters — the less it believes that it can win any elections of note and thus the more ready it is to surrender to rejecrionism. It’s a classic story of sour grapes.

Baker and his running mate Karyn Polito — who was once an ally of the rejectionists; today she is about as passionate at accepting as any candidate I know  — have pushed their campaign of positive reform and attention to state government’s social justice responsibilities physically into the state’s cities and adopted as their own the messages and needs of city voters, including voters of color and lifestyle difference. Some observers feared that by doing so, Baker and Polito would ‘alienate the base.’ Yet the oposite happened. Baker and Polito have managed to defeat “the base” and to substitute a new “base,” one that speaks their positivist language. The consequences can only be revolutionary for a GOP that badly needs to be overthrown.

Of course voting for candidates who want to win elections is only the irst step. Now these candidates have to actually go out nd win a few. If that doesn’t happen, rejection will surely make a comeback.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere


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known beats less known : Martha Coakley (top) edged out Steve Grossman (bottom)

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Campaigns do matter. It’s not enough to be the better candidate; one has also to run the better campaign. It’s the only way that voters can find out who is the better candidate.

Thus yesterday, in the Democratic primary, She much better prepated Steve Grossamn fell about six points short of his rival, Martha Coakley, becaise his campaighn never mounted a clear theme that voters could buy into. Grossman counted on being supremely well known, and respected, by the entire political community. He was that, but even in a low turn out — maybe 600,000 Democratic voters, about 20 percent of eligibles — far more voters voted than just the political community; and to those voters Grossman remained quite iunknown right to the end. Polls taken only two weeks before Primary day had him “not known” by close to 40 percent of respondents.

But being so not known was not Grossman’s only allure as a candidate. Don betrwick, far less known thane ven grossman, managed a very respectible 22 percent of the primary vote even thoiugh more than 50 percent of poll respondents aid they didn’t know him. Berwick, however, ran a passionately ideological campaign full of change agents ; single payer health care, no casinos, a graduated income tax (this, however, he didn’t say much about during the closing campaign weeks). Berwick engaged lots and lots of voters, most of them well outside the usual politocal community that was Grossman’s comfort zone — and his undoing.

Yet Coakley’s win argues against my assessment, because she presehted the same vagueries and glibness, throughout the Primary season,l that she had shown in her failed 2010 US Senate run. She had some union support — SEIU 1199 endorsed her — and some activity in communities of color, and she definitely won a huge share of female voters statewide; but for a candidate who began the campaign unknown by less than ten percent of voters, she cannot be happy to have won the votes of only 42 percent of yesterday’s Democratic ballots.

Nor can Coakley claim anything like a similar share of November’s female voters. the women voters for whom “women’s issues’ are a priority voted yesterday. Those who vote in November are likely to have a more complicated batch of concerns than just ‘women’s issue.”

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captivating the voters : Maura Healey at a Charlestown meet & greet

Coakley cannot be happy, either, that Maura Healey, who was one of her Attorney General office’s division chiefs, so completely outperformed in her own race to be the next Attorney General;. Healey, who had never run for any elected office, swamped the well-known, highly regarded Warren Tolman by 62 percent to 38 percent. Healey won more votes than anyone else on yesterday’s ballots of either party. She captivated voters : has personal charisma and infectious charm and outlined a vision of the Attorney General’s office that voters could buy into. Tolman ran a kind of Grossman campaign ; authoritative competence and strong respect from the political community. it got him just about the same vote percent that Grossman got.

Meanwhile, if there oi a November women’s vote, Healey looks in place to capture it — and Treasurer candidate Deb Goldberg too, patrician in the grand manner and also a convincing winner yesterday — and leave Martha Coakley looking even less inspiring than she already is not.

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1 Seth Moulton

see-ya versus well, hello there : John Tierney out, Seth Moulton in

The Democrats also made quite clear that when voters turn on you, you are toast almost no matter who your opponent is. My Congressman, John Tierney, an accomplished man seeking a ninth term, had barely survived Republican Rich Tisei’s challenge in 2012; so it wasn’t exactly a surprise to see him beaten by newcomer Seth Moulton. Voters never forgave Tierney for his wife’s family’s well-publicized criminality. It was an unfair rejection, perhaps,; but in a time when voters despise Congress (and rightly so), the smell of scandal was reason enough , it seems, for 6th District voters to show John Tierney the door. How else to explain his defeat by Seth Moulton, arrogant at times, vague on the issues, with an appealing personal story but not much else ? How otherwise to explain the tons of money that came his campaign’s way, other than the voters — and some of the political community — wanting nothing more to do with John Tierney ?

I can’t remember when last a sitting Massachusetts Congressman was beaten in his own party’s primary. And trounced 49 percent to 41 percent, not even close. Wow…

Whether Moulton can beat the likeable Republican nominee, Rich Tisei, who has an appealing personal story of his own and is far better known, in November, is an open question. The same is true for martha Coakley facing Charlie Baker, a man both personally appealing and aggressively specific as a reformer. But Primaries aren’t about beating the other party. They’re abnout who will command the party itself. To that end, Democratic voters did as well as they could, given the campiagns piut to them by their candidates.

NEXT : The Republicans

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere




1 9th Congress

^ our home District ; the “9th”

—- —- —-

1 john chapman

^ loads of endorsements for 9th Congress District hopeful John Chapman

9th Congress District : there’s a four-way Republican Primary in this, Here and Sphere’s home District, to decide who will face Congressman Bill Keating in November. Of the four — Daniel Shores, Vincent Cogliano Jr., Mark W. Allegro, and John Chapman — there has been much activity from GOP realists to support John Chapman. This is understandable, as Chapman — whom this writer knows personally and has worked with — was Dan Winslow’;s right-hand man in Winslow’s 2013 US Senate campaign. Clearly Chapman learned much during that effort about current Federal issues. His bio also indicates Federal experience prior : working as an SEC lawyer prosecuting securities fraud.

Chapman’s positions on current House GOp priorities do give us pause. How realistic is it for him to call for a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution, a move that would grievously weaken the Federal government’s ability to alleviate economic down-turns ? Chapman wants to repeal the affordable Care Act, a GOP mantra and quite unlikely, instead leaving it up to the states to decide. In other words, health care isn’t a basic right, just a matter of local opinion. With this, we strongly disagree. Chapman would also have voted or the “Border Bill,’ Congress’s fortunately failed over-reaction to the 57,000 refugee children that came to our nation recently, by which bill the national guard (!)( would be sent to ‘guard the Border,’ which of course it could never effectively do.

Nonetheless, Chapman is stalwart GOP on civil rights matters. he supports marriage equality (as did Winslow in that senate campaign) and women’s right to control their own bodies.  it appears that he is the only candidate of the four to embrace full personal identity civil rights.

If Chapman sounds unrealistic on the big House GOP issues, the views of “gun rights” Mark W. Allegro verge on delusional. We are told that he has called, publicly, for impeaching President Obama. And his defense of the NRA’s arm-everyone objectives endangers the nation’s public peace.

Vincent Cogliano, Jr. says much the same thing as Allegro and adds that he’d like to “dismantle’ the IRS and institute a flat tax. He also poo-poo’s the South Coast rail line that our home region so badly needs.

Daniel Shores, a patent attorney from Sandwich, wants Congress to help small businesses and to reduce the national debt — an indebtedness which he, like all opponents of Federal borrowing, fails to see the strength of. Shores appears to have the support on some Tea Party people, which alarms us; Chapman’s spokesperson says that Shores, like Allegro, has called for impeaching the President (though unclear as to why). Shores’ work as a patent attorney actually gives him direct experience of the Federal government, which could be a boon to the district were he to embrace Federal governance rather than view it as a burden.

Thus it is that JOHN CHAPMAN wins our GOP Primary endorsement, if only because of his full commitment to personal identity civil rights and women’s right to control their own bodies. In the current national GOP issues context, a no-holds-barred commitment to civil rights makes one almost a progressive. It also helps that this writer knows Chapman personally and up close from the 2013 Winslow campaign. He’s a man of discretion, integrity, tireless energy, and shrewd smarts.

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^ 6th District : Congressman John Tierney meeting & greeting at Brothers in Lynn two days ago

6th Congressional District (North Shore plus many towns along Route 128 in Middlesex County) : There’s a big Democratic Primary here, as three challengers sense weakness in nine-term incumbent John Tierney. and weakness there is : voters appear not to have forgotten or forgiven him for his wife’s well-publicized involvement in her family’s criminal gambling businesses.

We fail to ind any merit in holding Congressman tierney at faiult because he is married to a woman (and very likeable woman, by the way) whose family is filled with bad guys. It happens to many people whose own integrity is never questioned. Why should Tierney be held to a different standard ? If anything, Tierney has shown great strength in obviously refusing to be pressured by his wife’s bad-ass brothers, for which they have tossed mud all over him.

Of the challengers, much has been made of Seth Moulton, an eloquent speaker on the generalities, but among the missing when it comes to particulars. we don’t share the Moulton enthusiasm. if anything, we like feisty immigration attorney Marisa DeFranco better. At least she is connected to a specific issue of great importance to the cities in this District. But her passionate advocacy for immigrant rights can’t match Tierney’s dedication on a wide variety of important matters, from fishing industry rights to equal pay legislataion and unemployment support. DeFranco would match better with a disttict whose immigratipon po;pulation is much bigger than the 6th’s.

Tierney has shown himself, at debates and Forums, to be much more conversant on a broad list of legislation than Moulton and DeFranco combined. We endorse JOHN TIERNEY^ to face Republican Rich Tisei in November.

Congress matters. Please vote responsibly for this office when you pick your promary ballot on Tuesday.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere


Massachusetts has 40 State Senators and 160 Members in the House. Less than half have Primary day contests, and we have focused on only a few of these. Our criteria for endorsement include a demonstrable mastery of legislative issues as well as a concern for the entire community, not just one’s own personal agenda. Good people skills are also a plus.

11th Essex District (West Lynn and Nahant), Democratic Primary : three candidates vie. Of these, Lynn school committeeman Charlie Gallo has passion and sees the big picture of policy consequences, while Lynn City Councillor Brendan Crighton knows the basics and doesn’t lose his cool. Both understand the need to make the Lynn waterfront a district of prosperity again. Either man would be a strong voice for a city that badly needs all the State House influence it can get; we choose CHARLIE GALLO, because we think his passion and big picture will get Lynn heard more forcefully and quickly than Crighton’s politeness and attention to basics.

The other candidate, Katerina Panagiotakis Kodanis, opposes the casino law and wants the indexed gas tax repealed ; either move would seriously hurt Lynn’s huge infrastructure budget demands.

12th Essex : (four in-town wards of the City of Peabody) : two candidates compete to face Republican incumbent Leah Cole. To have any chance of defeating the too conservative but highly likeable Cole, a candidate will need serious people skills, a demonstrable ability to marshal a following in Peabody’s ethnic old leather districts while not appearing too gritty for the city’s more suburban fields. Nor can Cole’s challenger sound as far to the left as she to the right : Peabody has never been a bastion of progressivism and today votes quite Republican in statewide races. Democratic activists in this previously always Democratic District appear to want Beverly Griffin Dunne, who ran for this seat in an early 2013, three-candidate special election and lost; but we like JIM “DEMO” MOUTSOULAS’s street-level appeal (and Greek name, in a very Greek-name district) as a better match for Cole comes November.

2nd Suffolk : (Charlestown and 12 of Chelsea’s 16 precincts) : it’s a Democratic Primary re-match between Chelsea’s Roy Avellaneda and Charlestown’s Dan Ryan, who won the seat in an April 2014 special election. Avellaneda continues to be an appealing candidate, a likable man passionately progressive, on immigration issues in particular. but Dan Ryan shares Avellaneda’s positions too. we endorse DAN RYAN for two reasons : first, his articulate command of all the legislative issues at hand and second, because while Chelsea already has a very strong voice at the state House in City manager Jay Ash, Charlestown without Dan Ryan in the legislature would have no such advocate ; it’s but a small part of Boston, whose mayor, Marty Walsh, has multifold other concerns than Charlestown to deal with.

5th Suffolk (Uphams Corner, Meeting House Hill, Bowdoin-Geneva) : Evandro Carvalho won this seat in yet another April 2014 special election. He faces primary opposition as well as a Republican. We’ve met them all, and can say with certainty that none has anything like Carvalho’s command of the issues, realism, sensitivity to policy nuance, and attention to constituent detail. He has become a voice for Boston’s Cape Verdeans almost as potent as that of John Barros, now an official in the Mayor Walsh administration. We endorse EVANDRO CARVALHO for the primary and for November re-election.

7th Suffolk : (Fort Hill, lower Roxbury, Warren Street, Fenway, Kenmore square) : three candidates are running in the Democratic Primary for a House seat that, although seen as a major base for African-American voices, actually has a Caucasian majority of residents, many of them Fenway area students. Even the Roxbury part of the District is changing — rapidly — becoming much more culturally diverse, like the South End of 20-30 years ago. Incumbent Gloria Fox first took stage as a Whittier Street public housing protester; she’s been a power in the Roxbury part of the District for over 40 years and was, and remains, a powerful voice for public housing tenants. But she seems ill-suited to the radically different electorate of the 7th today. Instead, voters should choose either RUFUS FAULK or ERIC ESTEVES, both of whom have reached out to the 7th’s new voters, have won support by the best of the Roxbury activists mobilized in last year’s Mayor election, and understand that the students living in the Fenway need a powerful voice on their side who can deal with dormitory slumlords.

12th Suffolk : (Lower Mills, Mattapan Square, parts of Milton) : Dan Cullinane won the seat in last year’s House special election and has since shown himself to be almost an ideal representative for the district’s hugely diverse communities. He works the many corners of his minority-majority district almost 24-7 and has also mastered the state budget : knows how to get budget items vital to his largely low-income, transportation-needing district included in it even n today’s budget-slashing political climate. He’s also a strong friend to gay and transgender people. Meanwhile, Cullinane’s opponent, who knows better, seems to be mounting a rather crude race-based appeal. We find it easy to endorse DAN CULLINANE for re-election to a full term.

2nd Bristol District : (almost all of Attleboro) : two candidates appear on the Republican Primary ballot. Of them, Bert J. Buckley has Mayor Kevin Dumas’s endorsement and that of at large City Councillor Heather Porreca and seems to know and be liked by just about everybody. He’s a classic state representative, of the personal popularity kind that Massachusetts’s GOP has had far too few of these past 40 years. Meanwhile his opponent, a pastor, describes himself as a “Christian” and a “Conservative” : the first is not a political word at all and the second leads him to be an active proponent of repealing Massachusetts’s indexed gas tax – a repeal that would seriously set back the state’s much needed infrastructure repair and upgrades and would therefore hurt low-income people, whom the first Christian made the special object of his ministry. To challenge incumbent Paul R. Heroux, one of the state’s most imaginative House members, an opponent will need all the popularity he can get. Buckley has plenty. We proudly endorse BERT J. BUCKLEY.

2nd Franklin District (Athol, Erving, Gill, New Salem, Orange, Petersham, Phillipston, Royalston, Templeton, Warwick, Wendell and Belchertown’s precinct A) : one of our state’s poorest and most hard to access areas, the 2nd Franklin should be in political turmoil and is ; its Democratic incumbent, Denise Andrews, a solid progressive, seems less agile at people politics and, if the Republican Primary goes as we wish, will face one of the most masterful people politicians we have ever encountered in the Massachusetts GOP : business owner SUSANNAH WHIPPS LEE, whom we endorse, over her own narrowly-focused, social-issue “conservative” Primary opponent. We endorse Whipps Lee for her progressive social views and solid business record, and for her people skills, so necessary to winning a hearing in the House for towns that most Beacon Hill-ites barely know about — if at all.

33rd Middlesex District : ( Malden Wd. 2; Wd. 3, Pct. 1; Wds. 4, 5, 6, 8 ) : this is the District in which now US Senator Ed Markey, a ward 2 native, began his career. We haven’t spent much time on this race, which only of late came to our attention, but it’s set up to be an intense battle. There are two Democratic Primary candidates, both current city councillors : Neil Kinnon and Steve Ultrino. The winner faces yet another Malden City Councillor, John Matheson, who is running as an independent.

From the little that we have seen, Ultrino impresses us for his progressive views and his district-wide strength. Kinnon has long service to his credit and a strong presence in many parts of the district. But Ultrino seems to have more. For his views and his strong campaign, we endorse STEVE ULTRINO in the Primary.

State Senate : Worcester, Hampden, hampshire and Middlesex : the District includes 27 towns and stretches from the New hampshire border to that of Connecticut. It’s a district mostly of farms tended by immigrants, many of them undocumented, old mills, and a few new businesses. it also includes Sturbridge, one of Massachusetts’s iconic tourist destinations and, for that, an island of prosperity kin what must be one of the state’s lowest income Senate Districts. It was represented for a long time by a Democrat, Stephen Brewer, who was Senate Ways and Means chairman : a powerful voice for a most un-powerful district; but today it’s one of the most Republican-voting areas in all Massachusetts. It’s not surprising that there’s a GOP primary, a classic match up between a business-oriented, “establishment’ candidate, EMC Corp. executive Mike Valanzola, of Wales, and a self-described conservative, populist James Ehrhard, of Sturbridge.

Both candidates have wide support. But we are unable to warm to Ehrhard’s support by the Massachusetts Republican Assembly, an ultra-right wing, social conservative group (having nothing to do with the state GOP, by the way, despite the name) which supports Mark Fisher for Governor; nor done find Ehrhard’s anti-“illegal alien” rhetoric very realistic considering that without “illegal aliens,” the district’s farms would largely go unharvested. Valanzola, too, includes in his platform an opposition to giving undocumented people drivers’ licenses (how are they supposed to get to the district’s farms to pick if not by car ?) , and naturally he, like Ehrhard, in this very rural district, is a supporter of “gun rights.” Yet Valanzola seems much more flexible on these red-meat issues than Ehrhard, and he’s also a supporter of gay rights and women’s health choices, as Ehrhard is not. The winner faces Democrat Anne Gobi, a five-term state representative from Spencer. We endorse MIKE VALANZOLA.

Reader, there you have it. Now go ye and cast your vote. Be heard. You can b e sure that others will be heard even if you aren’t.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere


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^ our endorsees : Democratic Governor candidate STEVE GROSSMAN (top) and (bottom) Republican CHARLIE BAKER with his running mate KARYN POLITO

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For GOVERNOR : we endorse STEVE GROSSMAN in the Democratic Primary, CHARLIE BAKER on the Republican ballot.

Grossman is simply by far the best prepared on almost every issue, with a long record of achievement in business and Democratic party service and, more recently, as our state Treasurer, where he implemented a number of innovative and progressive reforms. Grossman would surely continue massachusetts’s social and economic progressive momentum, without reaching too far too fast, as has Don Berwick, and with far greater precision than the often vague, non-committal Martha Coakley. 

or the Republicans, CHARLIE BAKER  is, in ouir opinion, the most accomplished administrator, and state government badly needs expert administration and reform top to bottom. baker also advances a reformist agenda in economic fairness, social service reform, and criminal justice rethink. He is surely the candidate best able, as Governor to realo with House Speaker Robert DeLeo on terns of reasonably equal power — which matters, because otherwise the Speaker can roll over a governor less engaged or less politically potent.

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^ grabbing some attention : STEVE KERRIGAN marching in the Charlestown Parade on Bunker Hill Day

For LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR : in a Democratic field distressingly weak with unknown candidates — remember, the Lieutenant Governor can become the Governor and often has — , STEVE KERRIGAN has shown at least some political clout and certainly some political smarts. He’s our choice.

KARYN POLITO is CHARLIE BAKER’s running mate and by far the strongest Lieutenant Governor candidate on Tuesday’s ballot in either party. A former Shrewsbury selectman, businesswoman, and many-term state Representative, she is fully qualified to be Governor of the case arises.

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a people’s Attorney General : MAURA HEALEY at a recent Charlestown meet & greet

For ATTORNEY GENERAL : Democrats get lucky here. Both MAURA HEALEY and WARREN TOLMAN have terrific capability and have shown it; either one would be an outstanding Attorney General. Our choice goes to MAIRA HEALEY because she has unmatched forensic skills, takes a more people-oriented view of the office — many candidates seek votes, but few get the people part of it as well as Healey does — and has learned to be flexible on issues that all too easily trap candidates in rigid positions. Nonetheless, the more reserved Tolman would surely grace the Attorney General office were he to win on Tuesday, and our endorsement of Healey is a close one.

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patrician public service : DEB GOLDBERG at the big SEIU 1199 barbecue two weeks ago

For TREASURER : THe Democrats have three to choose from, the Republicans only one. Thus MIKE HEFFERNAN will be the GOP nominee, and he will, we hope, face DEB GOLDBERG, of Brookline, a woman from a family of great means (they owned Stop & Shop) who knows big-money finance well, both as a businesswoman and as a Brookline selectwoman, and promises the kind pf patrician, high minded public service that used to be the norm in Massachusetts governance. TOM CONROY, a state representative currently, has better professional credentials in finance, but Goldberg’;s unique resume (and wide financial real world experience) appeals to our vision of diversity of office holder backgrounds.

We hope you will give our chosen candidates your enthusiastic consideration.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere


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^ impressive at RoxVote Forum : Evandro carvalho, chosen by 5th District voters in a special election last April.

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7th District hopeful Rufus faulk spoke generously on  issues that he had not anticipated being asked about. See the story below.

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Last night the Rox-Vote coalition, which promotes citizen interaction in campaigns much as does the League of Women Voters, held a legislature candidate Forum at Hibernain hall. Present were candidates running in the 7th Suffolk and 5th Suffolk State Representative Districts as well as the 2nd Suffolk State Senate race. About 50 local voters attended, including a delegation from the Winthrop Street Neighborhood association, which has recently surfaced to oppose the City of Boston’s plans to create an in-district charter school at the current Dearborn School location.

Some candidates showed themselves well prepared, others not so much. Candidates spoke from the podium and then interacted with small groups of voters at several tables. I was put at table seven and was able to ask pointed questions. The responses that I received proved quite revealing. More of that later.

Evandro Carvalho, now the 5th Suffolk District’s elected representative, gave the most authoritative introductory speech and answered voters questions just as strongly at my table, He has grown immensely since I first saw him as a candidate in the 5th Suffolk special election back in April. Then he could barely articulate any issue. last night he spoke in detail about many : the Dearborn school — the Cape Verdean special programs and the community’s potential loss of seats for local kids — charter school issuse, minimum age; and he adroitly answered a constituent question about an abandoned building that she lives next door to.

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Althea Garrison : former 5th District State Rep seeks comeback in Democratic Primary

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Claudette Joseph : an excellent, local activist resume may not be enough, considering she’s a Republican and shares the ‘socon’ views of the national GOP

Carvalho faces two candidates this fall, Democrat Althea Garrison and Republican Claudette Joseph. Garrison once represented the 5th and showed familiarity with budget issues. But when i asked her how the state will pay for needed transportation repairs and upgrades if, as she advocated, it rolled back the recent fare increase, her response was that there is much waste and corruption in the MBTA especially under Democratic governors, under Republican governors less so. Not exactly a responsive answer, and one quite peculiar for a Democrat to give ! As for Claudette Joseph, when i asked her why she advocates more charter schools, she said “because in the public schools (of her minority-populated district) there’s a direct line from school to prison.” Talk about oversimplification ! Joseph is also pro-life, of course, bit no one at my table cared to raise that issue.

The 7th District Forum was set back by not having its current representative present. Gloria Fox — whom I first encounter a full 45 years ago in a local Roxbury contest — had a family emergency and sent her aide Giovanny instead. I asked Giovanny a question asked also to candidate Rufus Faulk ; what moves are you making to assist the Northeastern students now abused in very substandard housing by a major dormitory slumlord (as the Globe has been reporting for months now) ? Neither she nor faulk had an answer; it was clear that they were unaware of the matter even though most of the affected slum dorms sit within the 7th Suffolk District. Faulk did, however, respond that he shared my concerns and would make it a pointy to be a voice for students consigned to slum dorms.

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^ conversing with activist voters : eric Esteves is also open to the needs of a rapidly changing 7th District

Candidate Eric Esteves spoke reasonably well, too, in his introduction; and he and i have previously discussed the student issue — he ws aware of it before I questioned him. It’s a curious issue for a 7th Suffolk representative. Most people think of the 7th Suffolk as a classic African American district, but it is not that at all. Its population is actually majority Caucasian; but the many voting precincts with almost entirely Caucasian residents have among the lowest voting numbers in the city, as most university students don’t relate to loacl elections. and thus a small but highly political African American community is able, thanks to a favorable districtking map, to have its own representatyive aided by about 20,000 residenhts few of whom vote. i asked this question of Faulk, too : what he did he intend to do about correcting this gerrymander ? He indicated that he would ask to sit on the legislature’s next redistricting committee.

Sonia chang-Diaz expressed pride at having participated in the legislature’s big hike to the minimum wage and of her six years of service to progressive agendas. But she left thde Forum early, before coming to my table and thus I could not ask her about her recently unsuccessful charter school cap legislation. Chang-diaz faces Roy Owens, a perennial candidate whose pro-life and “traditional family values (one man and one woman)” position has quite exhausted the patience of his District’;s very progressive-minded voters.

The Dearborn School matter — creating a STEM academy and in-district charter school — has become a major fight and a big problem for City of boston school upgrade plans. That the matter was raised — including the Winthrop Street group’s opposition to tearing down the current Dearborn school building, a proposal that they said they were never informed about (but they are not abutters) — at a Forum for state legislative candidates shows the issue has blown up well beyond its municipal status.

And today, just as I was preparing to publish this report, word came that the School department has withdrawn its plan to make the Dearborn a charter school.


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^ marching to Selma, Alabama, in 1963 — a Civil Rights battle that we thought we had won…

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As Robert Reich recently pointed out on his daily blog, schools in America now show greater racial segregation than at any time since the historic Brown v. Board of Education decision was enforced back in the 1950s.

And as we all recently saw fully displayed in Ferguson, Missouri, many police departments view people of color, who they are supposed to protect, as a threat and treat them as such. e have seen elsewhere too that some police and some communities feel that killing a Black person is OK.

Now comes news, via the New York times, that the State of New York will likelyu bsue evans bank of Buffalo for violating the Fair housing Law by “red-lining” — denying mortgagte loans to — neighborhoods of Buffalo in which more than three quarters of that city’s people of color live. A link to the Times story follows:

These were fights which my generation gave time, passiona nd, in some cases, life to ight and win. Now we find, as we age into our 60s and approach being 70 and more, that our life’s work did not succeed; that we won only a temporary reprieve’; that racism continues to hold sway and even increases; that the disease of racism has, like bacteria, developed immunity to the remedies we had devised to attack and kill it.

I admit to feeling very sad to know that my part in this fight has failed; that instead of bequeathing a more just America to my children and grandchildren, i am bequeathing the very same fight that i had hoped to tell them, proudly, that i had helped to win.

I am bequeathing them protest and the need to protest, angrily and passionately because they are protesting things that are wrong and can never be right.

So now, in order that their protests may result in victories more lasting than the ones i thought I had won, I must tell my grandchildren — and you must tell yours — that there is much work to be done, done all over again, work that experience tells us will never be done, work that every generation needs to do and redo because racism in America has not gone away, not at all.

I must tell my grandchildren — and you must tyell yours — that laws may abate racism f0ora time, hut as life changes, so those laws loset their grip and new laws to curb racism must follow.

I must tell my grandchildren — and you must tell yours — that

1. it is NOT OK for banks to treat customers differently becsuse of the color of their skin or their country of origin. is NOT OK for schools in neighborhoods or communitioes inhabited mosrly by people of color to do with less funding, decrepit school buildiongds,l inexperienced and second-choice teachers. is NOT OK for police departments to disrespect people of color in the communoties they policve; NOT OK for it to be a crime to be black, to drive while Back, to walk while Black, to enter an ipscale store while black, to cross the street while Black.

I must tell my grandchildren — and you must tell yours — that eveery person who lives in any part of this nation is entitled to respect; to be treated with dognity and courtesy; to prosper and work; to go about his or her daily affairs; to be educated; to borrow money and to openh a business. And I must tell my grandcholdren — and you must tell yours — that they must work to assure that this happens in every corber of our natioon; must pass laws to ensure it; must enforce thosde laws; must teach their children that racism is NOT OK, no part of it; that the bigotry must be eradicated ass surely as smallpox, polio, or bubonic plague have been eradicated from human history.

This is the mission that all of us who fought for justice 50 years ago must recommit to. the fight is not over, not at all; and it MUSt be fought.
—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere