1 Tom Menino

It was early in 1973 when I first met Tom Menino. Joe Timilty, at that time one of the bring young, Kennedyesque men of Boston politics, had decided to seek the State senate seat let vacant in Mattapan and Hyde park by the retirement of Sam Harmon. My roommate and I were precinct leaders in that campaign, in the Mattapan neighborhood that he lived in, and one evening we had gone to headquarters to pick up literature. Several campaign volunteers were there, talking stuff, as campaign people will do, and among them was a new guy : a stocky, grumbly fellow about as unpolitical as anyone i had ever met.

He was from “the Island,” they said, a hardscrabble part of Hyde Park filled with workers’ houses the size of thimbles, living in a three-decker within easy smell distance of Henry Kara’s tire store. He looked quite uninviting to talk to, and I didn’t.

Later on I learned the fellow’s name. It was Tom Menino.

He became quite a presence in that campaign, and when Timilty won the election, Menino, like all of us, became somebody the political community wanted to know. On several city and state campaigns thereafter, the Menino place on Hyde Park Avenue was a place to be for people you wanted — needed — to know.

Still, Menino’s gruff personality alienated many, and made enemies of some, even as he acquired several very significant friends, especially then young state Representative Angelo Scaccia, who lived with his mother in a modest home near the huge Westinghouse factory in the Readville part of Hyde Park. For several years Menino, with Timilty as his mentor, moved from one political job to another, but it was his friendship with Scaccia that proved crucial when, in 1983, Menino decided to seek the newly created City Council District Number 5.

Another friendship was almost as significant : I lived in that newly created District. As map advisor to City Councillor Terry McDermott, who was charged with holding the Council hearings that led to the map which set up the nine Council Districts devised by the City’;s new charter, I created a Roslindale and Hyde Park district very much with Tom Menino in mind. There was one other likely local candidate, but in my mind (and McDermott’s) he was far too conservative for our tastes. Thus it was Menino whom we hoped would run, and we mapped him a district as closely aligned with the Timilty state senate District as we could fairly shape.

Menino did run, and he did win. He quickly made the District his own. The fierce Hyde Park political rivalries that almost sidelined Scaccia a few times never endangered the dogged, grouchy, but somehow likeable Menino. You could trust Tom. What you saw was what you got. He never thanked me for what I (and McDermott) had done for him, but that was OK; he did the job. What more could I ask for ? He was my area’s councillor, and when we needed him to be there for us in Roslindale, was there, gruff and grouchy and more reliable than a wall clock.

So it was that when, in 1993, Mayor Flynn resigned to be our nation’s ambassador to the Vatican, I backed Tom Menino rather than State Representative Jim Brett his chief opponent, whom I also knew well and respected highly. Menino was our neighborhood’s man, ours had never had a Mayor from our area, and that was that, in an election that wasn’t about high policy, as they are today, but about the neighborhoods.

Because that year’s mayor election was about neighborhoods, it was no drawback to Menino that he talked like a neighborhood guy and walked the neighborhood walk. And it was he, not the much more eloquent and worldly Brett, who assembled a coalition of neighborhoods — the left out and the not so powerful mostly — big enough to defeat Brett by a huge margin.

Tom was now our Mayor. Our no frills, speech-challenged, lumpy Mayor. He was one of a kind. Most people liked that. Yes, there were those who didn’t, and more who didn’t like Tom one day but liked him the ent, and over the years he became irreplaceable because when you started thinking about potential rivals, they all lacked Tom’s dogged singularity. they were “pols.” Tom was never that.

The rest o the story, you all know. By the end of his second term, Tom was so well known, and so widely accepted, that there’s no secrets I can reveal, no special insight that many of you cannot duplicated. we all got to know the Tom that I had known in the neighborhood — well, not quite; because it was amazing, even to the end, to see Tom become a powerful voice for civil rights, to watch him go eyeball to eyeball with powers that be, to marvel at his readiness to go anywhere in his city, to anybody;s house, and to become a brother or an uncle : that close would he get when people needed him.

The Scaccia-Menino friendship lasted to the end; it was never, ever broken. But the same could be said of many Menino relationships, with all sorts of people in Boston powerful, middling, and powerless. It’s a cliche now to say that Tom “loved Boston”; what that really means is that Tom loved Boston’s people. There was no doubt of it. It mattered. Even as Tom oversaw the city’s reinvention,m its economic boom and its rebirth as a mecca of fashion, social life, and innovation, his gruff candor and all-in connection to everybody lifted our spirits and made us — who had been at each other’s throats during the racially troubled 1970s — feel all One City. That’s what we are today. It was Tom’s doing. Ours, too; but Tom’s achievement first.

Good-bye, old buddy ! May you grouch and gruff and love us from wherever you are now, till we meet again…

—- Mike Freedberg for Here and Sphere


2 MIKE ValanzolaAnne Gobi

two good ones for a large rural state senate district : Mike Valanzola (R) and Anne Gobi (D)

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The death this morning of Boston Mayor Tom Menino is sad; and we will publish our memoriam of him tomorrow.

Nonetheless, our responsibilities as a journal do not stop; there is an election on hand five days from now. thus today we make our recommendations for State Senator, in selected districts where a significant contest exists that has drawn our attention.

1st Hampden & Hampshire : In a district embracing the soithern parts of Springfield and several surrounding towns — some poor, a few not poor at all — there’s a contest between two candidates whose money issues have aroused some controversy. Despite that, we prefer Debra Boronski (R) over eric Lesser, the Democrat, significantly because the district’s communities are very conservative and merit a like-minded voice in the Senate.

1st Plymouth & Bristol : the district that includes Taunton and Attleboro is fairly conservative-minded itself; biut the 20-year incumbent, Marc R. Pacheco (D), is our choice because of the strong respect that he commands among his Senate colleagues, all of it a bonus for his not so wealthy constituents.

1st Worcester : no one in the State Senate works harder than long-time incumbent Harriette Chandler (D), a tireless voice for Worcester, a city much in need of her influence, as well as for the small suburbs included in her mostly urban bailiwick. We recommend her highly.

2nd Essex & Middlesex : for a district that includes well-off Andover but also the depressed city of Lawrence a well as two very Republican-minded towns, Dracut and Tewksbury, two Andover selectmen are running : Democrat Barbara L’Italien, a former state representative, and Alex Vispoli (R), who has campaigned as intensely in Lawrence as any Republican legislative candidate, in any city, that we are aware of. We choose Vispoli.

5th Middlesex : Winchester, Melrose, Malden, Wakefield, Reading, and Stoneham elected Jason Lewis (D) in a special election last Spring. Monica Medeiros, a Melrose selectwoman, the Republican whom he defeated then, is running again. Lewis is a prodigious campaigner, unflinchingly progressive, and just as unflinchingly supported. We like Lewis’s advocacy. He should be elected to a full new term.

Plymouth & Barnstable : There aren’t many, if any, policy decisions or constituent services that Plymouth state Represehtative Vinny deMacedo (R) gets wrong. The retirement of senate President Therese Murray gives him his chance to advance to the Senate. We’re on his side.

Worcester & Norfolk : Not many Republican state representatives dare to challenge a sitting state Senator, but two-term Rep Ryan Fattman has done so. Incumbent Richard T. Moore (D) knows that he is of the wrong party in one of the state’s most Republican-minded areas, and he is. Fattman is very conservative, and we disagree with most of his positions on the issues; but for his southern Worcester county communities he is well-positioned, and his tireless campaign wins major respect. We support his election.

Worcester, Hampden, Hampshire & Middlesex : Anne Gobi (D) and Mike Valanzola (R) : the retirement of Senate Ways and Means chairman Stephen Brewer opens up a mostly rural district that reaches from the New Hampshire border to that of Connecticut, 27 towns as forgotten by Beacon Hill as any in the state. Valanzola, an EMC Corp. executive, would ordinarily be the easy favorite in his very Republican-minded region; but his opponent, Anne Gobi of Spencer, a five-term state representative, has criss-crossed the 27 towns even more vigorously than Valanzola and, though not as conservative in policy as he, is fully conversant with the area’s rural culture, organizations, and interests. She also has the full support of Brewer. We like both Gobi and Valanzola.

—- Mike Freedberg for Here and Sphere


1 Baker and Coakley 1

^ a new GOP, of opportunity ? as Labor all-ins the Democratic party

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As the two major political parties get ready for 2016, the party in trouble is the Democrats. It is they who are being bullied to the extreme left by labor unions whose approach to poitics is “my way or the highway,’ who threaten Democratic office holders who don’t go along, who have all but taken over the Democratyic party’s boots on the ground.

We have seen, sadly, the same omnivorous extremism, in Tea Party form, almost devour the Republican party these past eight years. Tea Party intransigence cost the GOP many Congress and senate victories that should have been theirs. it help cost the GOP wins in both the 2008 and 2012 elections, by driving Republican presidential candidates over the right-wing cliff. Voters rejected the Tea Party — and also, in most states, religion-based extremism, preferring more or less centrist Democrats.

But this year the GOP’s realists managed to defeat right wing extremists in almost every major intra-party contest. Today, Tea Party extremism seems as quaint as a non-smart cell phone. Meanwhile, realistic Republicans, in charge again, look poised to win five to eight US Senate seats and to increase the party’s amjority in the House.

Now it’s the Democrats’ turn to be bent out of shape, by organized labor especially, as labor union PACs not only commandeer Democratic primaries and general election campaigns but also provide the bulk of the money. Here in Massachusetts, Treasurer candidate Deb Goldberg — whom we have endorsed, by the way — almost would not have a campaign were it not for labor union activists; and Martha Coakley, the Democratic nominee for Governor, would find herself almost as soldier-less as Goldberg but for organized labor’s near monopoly of her “ground game’ and voice.

Coakley at a debate sounds like the nicest cocktail party conversant in the room; but in fact she is almost entirely the captiove of a labor movement that brooks no digression from, or moderation in, its mission to acquire absolute control of state policy, just as, in last year’s Boston Mayor campaign, it sought — and won — complete control of City Hall. that that move almost split the local Democratic party was no bar to organized labor’s purposes. Just loike the Tea Party in the GOP, organized labor was willing — and ready, and able — to squash Democrats who sought to answer to the public interest.

Anyone who doubts the ideological rigidity of the labor movement today — or its willingness to spit on the pib lioc interest as it crushes Democrats who don’t automatically do its bidding — should listen to hiow labor leaders talk. And they’re not shy about it. they tell uou : our way or the highway.

Sound familiar ?

That organized labor has reached this level of destructive influence is no accident. wages have stagnated, even fallen, as the money in our society accrues almost all to the top one percent. The minimum age, even raised, still fall s short, even far sgortm of according to thiose who earn it any participation in the economy other than necessities. Labor union members, just like the rest of us, want a better life, and they are willing to elect union leaders who will break whatever they have to break because, unless there’s much breakage, there’ll be no improvement in their pay checks.

For laborers it’s a state almost of desperation and definitely of frustration, that things for them are not improving and in many cases worsening.

The Tea Party folks feel the same way. True,l that unlike the Tea Party, labor union people are not usually bigots and are ready to embrace social progressivism. But that’s not much different from — if the revese of — the Tea Party’s allaince with religionists.

For “Clinton Democrats” — centrists on the issues, as President Obama has usually been — the future looks bleak as the Democratic party heads to its 2016 Presidential nominating process. Shamelessly greedy plutocrats and petty chambers of commerce have kidnapped far too much of America’s money and almost all of Federal fiscal policy, killing the economy and leaving tens lof millions of Americans living in crisis or close to it. In such a situation, what can we expect but extremist politics ? Since the Tea Party began its political terrorism in 2006, the solidity of the Democratic party kept America united. today, the unity is on the other side, as a newly opportunistic GOP works its way to the value system of inclusion and tolerance (albeit way too slowly) and a new economic agenda of innovation, chance taking, even optimism.

Nobody whom I have heard has expressed it better than Worcester civic activist Juan Gomez : “I don’t want more programs, i want more opportunity !”

Call it “Clintonian” : because it is. Boston Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham made no mistake when she wrote that Charlie Baker is “running, basically, as a Clinton Democrat.”

I’m betting that the majority of voters will sign on to that. Because very few of us are happy in our souls being afraid and extreme.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere


1 Bill Keating

Massachusetts’s 9th Congress District takes in all of the state’s Southeast, including the Cape and Islands, all of the South Shore, and two major cities : Fall River and New Bedord. it’s also our home area. We’re based in New Bedford.

Voters in our home area have two spirited campaigns to choose from: Bill Keating, the Democratic incumbent, and John Chapman, his Republican challenger. Both are well informed and speak authoritatively about actual issues — a rarity amid Congress campaigns befouled by super-PAC-dominated, talking points nonsense.

Bill Keating highlights the drug addiction crisis and has taken active steps to co-ordinate a response. John Chapman has made the South Coast’s endangered fishing industry a major focus. And these are, indeed, the South Coast’s major concerns, along with expansion of New Bedford’s port and the completion of the long-delayed South Coast rail line. Chapman also makes the point — a correct one — that as a member of Congress’s majority party, he will give South Coast a more influential voice than Keating, who caucuses with the minority Democrats.

It would be a great boon to the South Coast if both men could represent us in Congress; but a choice must be made, and we choose Bill Keating.

The District’s incumbent Congressman has plenty of clout himself. Single-handedly he called out the FBI for its sloppy failures in the Boston Marathon bombing matter. By himself, Keating has brought substantial Federal money into a District whose two major cities need all the Federal assistance they can get.

Federal money and Federal administration are no small matters to a District almost all of which fronts the ocean, much of which is under constant flood watch, and a lot of which is patrolled by the Coast Guard. Chapman’s GOP has starved the Federal government for funds and, particularly deplorable, forced a government shut down last year. Chapman has called for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. Such an amendment constantly comes up in GOP campaigns. it’s a mistake. When times are bad, the government has to move to deficit spending to alleviate hardship. it’s hard to see how Chapman can bring aid to New Bedford’s fishing industry if his inclination is to cut Federal spending, not lift it.

Meanwhile, we like Bill Keating’s focus on the epidemic of drig addiction. New Bedford and Fall River are especially hard hit. We personally have had to see friends die; not to mention the many, many more who live with addiction. And though the fishing industry is vital, one can’t fish at all if one is dead of a drug overdose.

So, first things first. Keating is right to make the fight against drug addiction — by intervention and treatment, not incarceration — his starting point. We endorse Bill Keating for re-election.

— The Editors / Here and Sphere



Massachusetts, unlike many states, elects its Treasurer. The office merits decision by the voters. The Treasurer oversees the billion-dollar state lottery; invests the state’s money; guides state workers’ pension funds and retirement accounts; and collects unclaimed property accounts, monies that can amount to hundreds of millions of dollars.

For the past four years, Steve Grossman has held the office. He has made it an activist, innovative position : one of his most significant moves was to invest the state’s money accounts in Massachusetts banks only and require them to extend lending to businesses (and start ups) owned by veterans, immigrants, women, and people of color.

To succeed him, the ballot offers two choices, Democrat Deb Goldberg and Republican Mike Heffernan. Both are well qualified to manage money and investments as complex as the state’s. Heffernan, who lives in Wellesley, has been a securities analyst for at least 25 years and makes the state’s pension liability a top priority. Goldberg, a Brookline resident, is a member of the family that founded and, until recently, owned the Stop & Shop supermarket chain, for which she oversaw cash management and accounts. She also served as a Brookline selectwoman for six years and there acquired expertise in managing that wealthy town’s substantial fund accounts.

Goldberg’s selectwoman service accords her a slight edge over the well-spoken Heffernan, new to high level politics; but we are endorsing her for an entirely different reason.

Because we endorsed Charlie Baker for Governor, and because the Governor and Treasurer both are given the task of directing the state’s income — the Governor formulating the budget and prioritizing spending, the Treasurer managing the income — we think it wiser to have the two offices held by citizens of different political parties.

In the discussions that must take place between Governor and Treasurer on fiscal matters, it is vital that all the citizens be represented, not just those of one or the other party.

Of course having Governor and Treasurer of different parties assumes that each cares for the interests of citizens more than for party interests. Baker and Goldberg both meet this test.

One other factor influences our choice : Goldberg’s campaign has been assembled chiefly by labor unions; and labor unions have a major interest in seeing the state’s pensions and retirement accounts fully funded. Public worker unions have had to make concessions, in recent legislative sessions, on contributions to health insurance. It wasn’t easy; more concessions may be asked if our state’s economy doesn’t grow more capaciously. It’s important that the Treasurer have their full confidence.

Goldberg has their confidence. She has the business clout to discuss investment and money management on a par with former Harvard Pilhgrim CEO Charlie Baker. She’s our choice for state Treasurer.

—- The Editors / Here and Sphere


GBLC Breakfast

The leadership and activists of most Boston-based labor unions have moved strongly into the Governor campaign during this, the last ten days of it. A few, SEIU especially, were already there, all-in as eaarly as before the Primary. Now most of the other unions have joined them.

The question is, “why ?” Why now ?

It’s too late, most likely, and too little, to change the outcome. One union activist likes to tell me that in last year’s Boston Mayor election Marty Walsh’s labor supporters knocked on 30,000 doors. But they started their effort much earlier, and faced an electorate 150,000 strong. In the Governor election, 2,000,000 people will vote. A proportionate labor effort would require them to knock on 400,000 doors.

They know the math as well as do the Governor candidates. So why are they doing it ? Why all the physical effort to influence, at best, about 20,000 votes ?

The answer : 2016. The Presidential campiagn has already begun. In it, labor unions are determined to have a major say in — even to choose — which Democrat is nominated. In last year’s Mayor election, the determination of union labor (not all, but most) to choose a labor man as Mayor, and to attack his equally Democratic, but decidedly Clintonian, opponent in the event, almost split the Massachusetts Democratic party. That, and the split between Democrats for Education Reform and teachers’ unions, set a stage — as I forecasted then in several Here and Sphere columns — now moves to the next step.

That step beagn on Friday, as Hillary Clointon took the speaker’s podium at park plaza hotel. She came here ostensibly on behalf of the local Democratic ticket, but, more likely, on behalf of herself. And if she runs, she now looks unstoppable. Polls accord her from 58 to 67 percent of Democratic Primary voters, Vice President Joe Biden about 14 percent. And then there’s Senator Elizabeth Warren — whom few Massachusetts voters want to see run for President. As if sentiment could caution ambition.

Which of these becomes the nominee matters hugely bto labor unions. As we see, the wages of most workers have stagnated or fallen since ten to fifteen years ago, while the salaries of top managers and CEOs has boomed exponentially. Most wage earners can’t do much more these days than pay the necessities. Many live one pay check from broke. The Boston building boom, like the Big Dig before it, has put big wages into the budgets of building trades unionists; but for service workers and most industrial unions, wages are losing ground to living costs; unfair labor practices abound too; and the nation’s labor laws have lost much of their sting through weak, even non-existent enforcement.

No labor union leader wants these conditions to worsen, nor to continue. They want a better deal; justice says they should have it; but economic justice wull be hard to win. thus the battle for it has to begin now, and it has.

The Governor race has seen the effect of labor’s urgency. Many unions might well have endorsed Charlie Baker, who as overseer of the Big Dig, was a good friend to construction workers. The Hotel Workers endorsed Bill Weld in 1990. They might have done so this time too : Baker has, since May, put a proposal out to sell state owned land, in Boston especially, to developers at a small price in order to generate the building of affordable housing. He says of his plan, “Mayor Walsh is making permitting easier; labor will always be expensive, but there’s no reason why land acquisition should be.” Note the words about labor. To my ears, that is an offer : under Baker’s plan, everything will be made easy so that construction workers can “always” earn “expensive” wages.

I think that what has happened since, between labor unions and the Governor campaign, is this ; because labor unions are trying to dominate the Democratic party for 2016, they can’t very well bolt it by endorsing Baker. But they can, and have, withheld commitment to the Democratic ticket until very late; so late that their campaign will advance their influence within the party while not changing the Beacon Hill outcome. If I’m right, it’s a very smart move, one that suggests some — not all — labor leaders have learned how to naviagate political waters bigger than their footprint but liquid enough to be redirected to the right economic beach.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

Whom will the Globe endorse for governor?

MAGOV14 : Former Boston phoenix colleague dan kennedy weighs in on whom the Globe will endorse for governor.

Media Nation

Screen Shot 2014-10-25 at 10.03.43 AMSometime this evening, I imagine, we’ll learn whom The Boston Globe has endorsed for governor. So today we can play a parlor game and try to figure out the choice.

I thought Martha Coakley’s chances improved when challenger Seth Moulton beat incumbent John Tierney in the Democratic primary for the Sixth Congressional District. Why? Because the Globe surely would have endorsed moderate Republican Richard Tisei over the ethically tarnished Tierney, as it did two years ago, thus making it easier to endorse a Democrat for governor. But the Globe seems certain to choose Moulton, a liberal war hero whom it has already endorsed once this year, over Tisei. (That may come tonight as well.)

Today, though, came the Globe’s endorsement of Patricia Saint Aubin, a Republican who’s challenging incumbent state auditor Suzanne Bump, a Democrat. The folks who run the Globe’s liberal editorial pages generally like to endorse one…

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photo (15)

(from left : Seth Moulton, Chris Stockwell, Rich Tisei)

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Danvers High school’s capacious auditorium was full on Thursday night, for the last in-person debate between the three candidates who seek to be next Congressman from a District that takes in most of northeastern Massachusetts. The Lowell Sun newspaper moderated the session; three of its diligent journalists asked the questions.

If only the two major party candidates had responded to their questions with equal diligence.

One hopes — one has a right to expect — that candidates gor the Federal Congress will address major issues — budget priorities, fueling and regulating the economy, enacting immigration legislationl dealing with energy issues, and, yes, bringing Federal funds into the District — would speak informedly about them; would propose what he intends to seek, and why; would seek solutions to difficulties, not aggravate them with rants and bulk them with pablum.

I was so hoping, and I was much disappointed, when I was not being insulted, by the verbiage rolled out by Republican Rich Tisei and Democrat Seth Moulton.

Disappointing was the first half of the debate, in which Tisei delivered an unfocused opening speech and Moulton a pontification; in which both men fumbled for specifics, or packaged them in high-blown blather.

Not until that half way point did Mr. Tisei hit upon an argument actually meaningful : that today Massachusetts has no Congress person who belongs to the majority party, a situationm that limits the effectiveness of our delegation in all things as it hurts our state’s power to secure Federal funding.

It would have been nice if Tisei had followed up his argument by telling the debate audience just what he would do with his majority party clout. Would he secure Federal funding, and or what ? Would he advocate for reformist education bills ? Promote alternate energy ? Pass immigration reform ? Fight to raise the Federal Minimum wage ?

But no; Tisei spoke of small business — this year’s buzz phrase — tax burdens, and he loudly insisted on “securing the border” : offering undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship, said he, insults those “legally” here who have waited so long. To which he added that “illegal” immigrants shouldn’t have drivers’ licenses, nor should they be able to get into piblic housing, hiveh the long waiting list. (Moulton said, quietly, that he would grant a path to citizenship.)

Granted, that Tisei had to spend much time responding to an outside PAC ad dropped on behalf of Moulton, in which Tisei is accused of voting against veterans. Tisei called the ad ‘a lie,’ and Moulton, who had the chance a few days ago to call for the ad’s withdrawal, instead doubled down on its assertions — which led the debate into byways and pathways of bills and budgets debated, or enacted, in the Massachusetts legislature years ago when Tisei was a state senator.

It was a mistake for Tisei to digress the debate, as it was for Moulton to abet the digression. But the digression, and the charges and counter-charges, drew my attention — as for some in the adudience — to the third candidate, Chris Stockwell.

Stockwell, who like Moulton lives in Marblehead, addressed every question directly; spoke of his entrepreneurial experience; adduced progressive solutions to the various immigration issues demagogued by Tisei (issues that, admittedly, Moulton also responded to progressively); and, in general, spoke with humor as he framed his answers in the moment.

It would have been nice if Tisei and Moulton had edified the debate, and dignified the high office they seek, had they too franmed answers thoughtfullyu in the monet rather than speaking so obviously under pressure from the various outside PACs — the two men wasted debate time accusing the other of taising big money on Wall Street, as they both have done — that today ruthlessly pimp those who seek high office.

Stockwell, of course, has no PAC money and so is free to discourse like an actual candidate.

It woiuld have been nice, indeed, had Tisei and Moulton acted like potential Congressmen rather than expensive whores. But that’s what it’s come down to, today, in the era of Citizens United and one-issue PACs sucking up greed and spitting it back out as puke and pablum.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere


photo (23)

The editors of this paper often disagree on political matters; but about who should be Massachusetts’s next Governor, we are in full accord : Charlie Baker is our choice.

Massachusetts state government badly needs new energy and a new way of doing its business. During the past four years, and especially the last two, we have watched numerous breakdowns in state administration : DCF losing track of children in its care; scandal at the state’s crime lab, that has put hundreds of criminal convictions in doubt; mistreatment of inmates — in one case, resulting in death — at Bridgewater State Hospital; at least 200 million taxpayer dollars wasted on a failed Health Connector website — and loss of health insurance for thousands of us; lastly, a confused and often contentious Transportation funding bill that left us with too little money to do the necessary repairs and upgrades and much of that money coming from a taxing method opposed by at least half our state’s citizens.

Charlie Baker is exactly the right person to tackle this systemic breakdown. He oversaw the successful turnaround of Harvard-Pilgrim Health Care, from bankruptcy to rated as the top health care management enterprise in the state, serving one million Massachusetts people. Before that, as a top administrator working for Governors Weld and Cellucci, he learned how to make failed systems work better, often in crisis mode day after day. There were, as we have learned during this campaign, failures along the way, many of them caused by the state’s lack of monitoring systems. From those failures, Baker learned, as skilled managers must, and his work at Harvard-Pilgrim shows it.

Remaking state government’s delivery of services will not be easy or quick. The state’s outmoded technology must be upgraded radically. Interface between agencies and the public must become user-friendly and quick. Budgeting must be made transparent — as it isn’t now. Before the primary, Democratic hopeful Juliette Kayyem called this transformation “better data management.” That it is, and Charlie Baker has sworn to do it.

It’s his bottom line, a task that he believes in passionately, as he has demonstrated at Forums and debates.

Baker knows that state administration failure doesn’t only waste money (though it does that too); it also disrespects all of us. Baker’s opponent has charged that he sees “numbers, not people” ; but is not a faiulure of “numbers” equally a broken promise to our people ? Baker gets this equation.

Baker is willing to admit past mistakes — in politics, a very uncommon thing. If a reformer is to win the confidence of those he hopes to serve, it begins with trust in the person; and by admitting his past mistakes, as he has, Baker uncommonly earns our trust.

Meanwhile, his opponent, Martha Coakley, in debates now and all year long before the primary, has refused to admit to anything and declined to commit to major policy questions. She has offered a plan having worthy objectives — but no suggestion at all how she will accomplish them. On several issues, the scourge of drug addiction most blatantly, she doesn’t seem conversant with what is actually happening. As for state administrative failures, Coakley says nothing, offers no correctives.

Coakley has won some worthy battles as Massachusetts’s Attorney General. She has successfully fought foreclosure abuses by major banks, winning multi-billions of dollars in settlements. Her office’s Civil Rights chief — Maura Healey, soon likely to be our next Attorney General — argued and won the landmark 2004 case that made Massachusetts the first state to sanction marriage equality. But just as often, Coakley has gone down a wrong road. One instance especially needless was her prosecution of former state Treasutrer Tim Cahill for ethics violations civil in nature — charges of which he was acquitted.

A reformist Governor must, az we said, have the confidence of the people, and of State employees at all levels, if he or she is to accomplish these reforms. Yet Coakley was the choice, at her party’s nominating convention, of only 23 percent of the delegates. She barely avoided finishing third. Those who know her best gave her the opposite of a vote of confidence.

Mean while, Charlie Baker has amassed a following prodigious in its size and breadth. Those who know him best, the people of his home town, Swampscott, and on the North Shore nearby, have given him more than 6,000 of his 30,000 individual campaign donations. Baker has campaigned intensely in the state’s biggest cities — over 150 campaign events in Boston alone, in every part of the city. Not many of last year’s Boston Mayor candidates waged a campaign more inclusive or intense than Baker for Governor this year.

Baker has done much the same in Springfield, Worcester, New Bedford, Fall River, Lowell, Lynn, Brockiton, Revere, and Quincy. These “gateway” cities, and others less populous, are home to the state’s people most in need of effective delivery of state services. they’re also the engines of economic growth. Baker makes no mistake in according them his campaign’s top priority. Baker shares city voter values as well. he’s solidly a champion of civil rights, of marriage equality, and of lifestyle diversity — innovation in the personal sphere — even as he touts a commitment to innovation in the economy.

Baker will be a “city governor,” as Deval patrick has sought to be. Which brings us to yet another reason for choosing Baker : as the candidate of the 63 percent of Massachusetts voters who are not Democrats (and supported by some Democrats as well), he has the clout to deal with the Speaker of the House.

In Massachusetts, the Speaker appoints every member of every House committee. If he doesn’t want a piece of legislation to pass, it doesn’t. A Democratic governor falls inside the same party boundary that the Speaker dominates. Time and again, the Speaker has embarrassed Governor Patrick, even stopped him cold. That is less likely to happen when the Governor draws his core support from outside the Democratic party. Governors Weld and Cellucci, even Romney, were able to get things done that the reform-mined Patrick has not..

For all of these reasons, we enthusiastically endorse Charlie Baker for massachusetts Governor.

—- the Editors / Here and Sphere


All of our state’s voters will find four referenda on their November 4th ballots. We now make our recommendations for a vote on each.

Question One : Should the Indexing of the state’s gas tax be repealed ?

Our vote : NO.

When the legislature last year enacted the first gas tax hike in 18 years — three cents a gallon, less than one percent of the gallon price — it included an inflation adjustment feature, so that as the cost of living goes up, and the price of repairing roads and bridges with it, the gas tax woiuld not fall behind, forcing the state to borrow the difference. Those who seek to repeal the automatic indexing — who want a vote on every hike in the tax — say they that it represents a tax increase without a vote, something not allowed by our state constitution.

This is a false argument. All that indexing does is to keep the taxed dollars in line with their relationship to the costs for which the tax is being assessed.

Drivers do not drive less because the cost of living goes up. Why should the state be forced to borrow money — upon which taxpayers pay the interest, so that the out of pocket result is the same as indexing — to repair the roads and bridges that dtrivers use ?

Question 2 : Expand the bottle bill

Our Vote ; Yes

This ballot question will extend the five cent refund, now attached to liquor and some tonics, to all bottled drinks. The “no” argument is that it will increase the cost of these drinks. The “yes” argument is the better. It will add these containers to the bottles that scavengers now hunt vigorously, for a hard-won income, providing the taxpayer with a no-cost recycling machine, as opposed to the costly recycling that many cities and towns pay contractors to do.

Question 3 : should the state’s casino law be repealed ?

Our Vote : No

Casino repeal is the last stand for those who have a moral objection to your spending your money on gambling at casinos. They adduce other arguments — crime, traffic, gambling addiction — but those already exist, if they do, at keno parlors and lottery stores, which abound, fully legal without much objection. Meanwhile, the three casinos planned for Massachusetts will add thousands of jobs to the low-income cities in which they will be sited and offer hard-working residents of our state fun and entertainment. Lastly, right now almost $ 7 billion in Massachusetts money goes to Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos in Connecticut. Our new casinos will keep much of that money right here in-state.

Question 4 ; Paid Sick Leave

Our vote : Yes

By this question, employees of businesses with eleven employees or mote will earn paid sick leave, accruing to them after 30 hours of work. There is a question whether it will apply to part-time employees; but for the one million employees to whom this referendum clearly applies, paid sick leave grants a benefit that almost every first world nation accords to full time workers.

And why not ? Why should a worker be penalized because he or she gets sick ? Or, why should a worker feel that he or she has to go to work sick because he or she can’t afford to lose a day’s pay ?

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere