THE MESSAGE IN JOHN KASICH’S BIG OHIO WIN

 

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^ Ohio : classic shape of a classic Republican victory

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Last night Governor Kasich won his home state of Ohio’s GOP primary by 11.2 %, a margin of 229,000 votes. It was a great victory for the GOP’s most experienced Presidential candidate, who polls by far the best, against Hillary Clinton, of the three remaining hopefuls.

So much for the obvious news from a state without which no Republican has ever won the White House. what I ant to examine in this op-ed is the message in the vote : its location, its sha0pe, its achievement.

First, the achievement : Kasich had the full support of Ohio’s Republican party, which for over a century has been perhaps the best organized state apparatus in the nation; and it assembled for him a ground game that got its vote to the polls, big time. Even in the urban counties, which tend Democratic, more people voted in the Republican primary. (Only Cleveland’s Cuyahoga County produced a fall short vote total.) In many counties, Kasich’s ground game people delivered enormous win margins, as high as 64 percent (to Trump’s 21-22 percent), and the bigger the margin, the greater the total votes cast.  This is how a “GOTV” is done. ID your vote, and get it to the polls. In this effort, there are no short cuts . You do GOTV one voter at a time, all day long, and you need an enormous number of people doing it.

Second, the location. Kasich’s was a city win. He carried every Ohio city except Youngstown, mostly by large margins. In Cincinnati it was 47.9 % to 29.1 %, 67,500 to 49,051; in Akron’s Summit County, 50.5% to 35.4%, 79,040 to 53,796; in Toledo and Lucas County, 47.7% to 33.7%, 24,633 to 17,433. Kasich won Cleveland’s Cuyahoga County 54.4% to 32.6%, 76,674 to 45,844; and he won Columbus, Ohio’s capitol city, by 63.7% to 22.2%, 101,217 to 35,224.These six city victories accounted for 148,000 of his 229,000 state margin, and the same sort of result was his in Ohio’s smaller cities. Trump made a special effort in Dayton, hosting a rally attended by a reported 20,000; yet Kasich won both Dayton-area counties, 68,300 votes to 62,400.

Third, the shape. If you look at the statewide map pictured above, you see that Kasich won almost all of Ohio’s traditionally Republican counties, while Trump won mostly the counties that historically tended Democratic. This is no surprise, given Kasich’s reliance on the Ohio GOP’s organization, which one would expect to be more effective in the more Republican counties, less so in the counties not so GOP. Still, the result highlights what we already know : that Trump’s support really isn’t a fully Republican vote but an independent one and even many votes from Democrats.

From all of the above, one reads a message loud and clear : that Trump can be beaten, and how he can be beaten. Find a solidly grounded candidate whom voters feel they know very well; give him or her a solid ground game; and work the cities. Cities, cities, cities — and their immediate suburbs, in which Kasich also won  big margins last night. It is there, in the cities and their close suburbs, that just such a candidate can beat Trump.

I am hoping that John Kasich will become that candidate. But if he does not become the GOP nominee, there is a candidate who can do everything I said must be done to beat Trump; who has shown that she can do it; and who has all the organization and city base that is needed to do it.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

A BAD POLICY

just cause

^ asking for a reform that will immediately make the rental situation much worse

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Sometimes I wonder if politicians think about the positions they adopt before they adopt them. A case in point is the matter that goes by the name “just cause eviction.” It sounds great : a landlord cannot terminate a tenant’s tenancy without, well, a just cause. Unfortunately, the facts aren’t so simple.

A “just cause eviction” ordinance has been proposed for enactment by Boston’s City Council. A hearing has been held. Mayor Walsh is said to support the ordinance.

Before I explain why I strongly oppose this ordinance — and all that are like it — it would do well to read the actual language of said proposal : http://www.scribd.com/doc/291576795/Boston-Just-Cause-Ordinance-Draft-Sept-2015#scribd

As you can read, the ordinance, if approved by the legislature — which it won’t be –denies to an owner of rental property the most basic incidents of ownership. To begin with, rent increases become impossible, because the present method of establishing an increased is to send a tenant a 30o-day notice terminating he current tenancy7 along with an offer of a new tenancy, which the tenant is then free to accept or reject. If she rejects, she must move. Under the proposed ordinance, a landlord cannot do this.

The ordinance does exempt properties owner occupied with up to four units. That, of course, is vital politically. But it also exempts from the ordinance a major portion of the city’s rental units and throws the burden on the obvious target : major investor landlords.

We have been here before. In the 1970s Boston established rent control, complete with an entire rent control bureaucracy (staffed by patronage, of course). The result ? Those evil major landlords stopped investing money to improve their property; and property values went down, so no one built any new rental housing. As rents in the open market increased, tenants in controlled units started subleasing rooms in their units at ever increasing amounts, until in some cases they were making a profit.

It was in response to rent controlled apartments that real estate people invented the condominium, established by state law as chapter 183A. By the mid 1980s, whole blocks of formerly rented units had been converted to condominiums and sold off.

I see no reason why the exact same consequences will not befall Boston if the proposed eviction ordinance were to become law. Landlords are not stupid, nor do they give their money away. If this ordinance is adopted, no one with any brains will build any rental housing, and such rental housing as exists will quickly move toward condominium c0nvertsion, to be sold off.

By now we in the city should have learned that, in real estate, value cannot be rendered “just.” It can only be shifted from one party to another (by means that flirt with unconstitutionality as a taking of property without compensation), and such shift can never turn out well. Look : Boston needs a huge increase in affordable housing units. This we all agree upon. But the only way — yes, the ONLY way — to bring this result about, without actually making the situation worse, is to increase dramatically the supply of housing.

Unhappily, there are many neighborhoods of Boston whose activist residents oppose all such development; and the BRA’s “community review” process plays into these oppositionists’ hands by predicating approval of a project upon a favorable vote of “the community.” I see scant chance of Boston receiving Mayor Walsh’s proposed 53,000 units of “affordable” housing by the target year of 2030 unless the BRA’s approval process changes radically.

In any case, said 53,000 units will include no rentals if the “just cause eviction” ordinance were ever to be adopted. It will ALL be condominiums for sale — and “for sale” means the buyer has to have acceptable credit and a down payment. So much for providing housing for those without either.

This is what Boston is going to get if its public policy is decided by politicians who don’t know the first thing about markets, or don’t care whether they know or not.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

1st Suffolk & Middlesex : Signs and Numbers

Lydia

^ Senate candidate Lydia Edwards (l) with Councillor Michelle Wu, in Chinatown — in whose precincts 450 voters chose a Republican ballot on March 1st and are now potentially ineligible to vote in the Senate race

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With five weeks remaining, our District’s contest to choose a new State Senator continues to be a battle of interest groups in which the concerns of ordinary voters – and of interest groups not intricately aligned with the Democratic Party — will likely play no part.

Every time I write about the shape of this race, I decry how it is playing out; and this article is no exception. The race among seven (7) people is a classic example of unrepresentative electing. How can any ONE of them fail to NOT SPEAK for most of those who vote in it, much less all the voters ? 4000 votes probably wins it. That’s about four (4) percent of all the voters in the District and, likely, about 20 percent of those who actually vote on April 12th.

In covering the race respectfully, I almost feel complicit in its manipulations. Yet one cannot only rant. There is a contest, and it has a shape. Here’s some numbers to give it a modicum of contour :

1.social media outreach. Each of the seven candidates has facebook page and a twitter account. As of an hour ago, here’s the number of followers for the seven:

Dan Rizzo : 2665 facebook “like,” 2102 twitter followers. Total : 4,767

Jay Livingstone : 867 facebook “likes,” 2,107 twitter followers. Total : 3,064

Steve Morabito : 1,274 facebook “likes,” 1,083 twitter followers. Total : 2,357

Diana Hwang : 939 facebook “likes,” 596 twitter “followers.” Total : 1,535

Lydia Edwards : 1,212 facebook “likes,” 212 twitter followers. Total : 1,424

Joe Boncore : 1,176 facebook “likes,” 55 twitter followers. Total : 1,231

Paul Rogers : 235 facebook “likes,” 170 twitter followers. Total : 405

Social media is not everything. Lawn and balcony signs are also going up all over the district. Unfortunately, my axiom here almost always holds true : “the candidate with the most house signs loses.” Who has the most house signs ? My daily perusal of the District says Boncore 1st, Rizzo 2nd, Livingstone 3rd, Hwang 4th, Morabito 5th. I have seen few Edwards signs and only one for Paul Rogers.

Events also matter — meet and greets and headquarters openings. All of the candidates have had these. Boncore probably the most, then Livingstone, then Hwang, then Rizzo, then Edwards and Morabito. Rogers entered the campaign late but is beginning to join the event cycle.

All the candidates have gained interest-group endorsements. Whether these will generate actual votes is hard to say. In last year’s East Boston state representative race, interest groups fared poorly. I suspect the same will be true this time. Interest groups are good, in this sort of contest, only for donations and lawn sign housekeeping.

Oddly enough, I see scant sign of campaign “consultants” on anyone’s behalf. What role could a “consultant” play, in any case ? Identify your voters, keep them,  get them to the polls. Speak smartly at Forums. Remember to say “thank you” to those who attend your events or volunteer for the campaign. What else is there to do ?

There’s one additional numbers factor that I doubt anyone in this contest has thought of. At the March 1, 2016 presidential primary, 1,561 voters in the Boston part of the District cast votes for Trump, taking a Republican ballot to do so. In Revere, 2,280 voters cast a ballot for Trump. In Winthrop, 1,167. That’s a total of 5,008 Trump votes. If trump statistics hold true here as they do elsewhere, two-thirds of those votes came from voters who are not registered Republicans. So my question is, how many of the 5,008 did not remember to sign a registration-switch card, after voting, and now are ineligible to v0te in the Senate race ?

Add to that a big part of the 3,500 other ballots that chose the GOP primary and you’re talking a lot of voters potentially disfranchised from choosing a state Senator. The special interest groups, of course, just love that !

The Revere number should especially worry Dan Rizzo and Steve Morabito, but the Winthrop number (and East Boston’s 785 Trump ballots, should worry Joe Boncore. I doubt seriously if many Livingstone, Hwang, Edwards, or Rogers voters voted in the March 1st GOP primary, much less for Trump.

You may consider this observation nit-picking, but in a seven way primary in which not many voters will vote,as many as 5,008 voters, previously eligible but now ineligible, is no small thing.

Had one of the seven cared to entrust his or her candidacy to all the voters, by running as an independent for the May 10th actual election, we wouldn’t have this tripped-up situation. But we do have it now. And you are asking why I dislike this entire contest ?

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

 

KEIKO ORRALL, THE #MAGOP, AND LOYALTY

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^ State Representative Keiko Orrall at the State House

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The battle to remake Massachusetts’s Republican organization has become a fire fight. On facebook you see it — you almost feel it — as insults are thrown and people quickly block each other. All in pursuit of who will be the party’s next National Committee-woman.

I presume that you, dear reader, care who Massachusetts’s GOP National Committee-woman is. I can easily understand if you don’t even know what a national committee-woman does. As I’ve written before : you should care. The party’s national committee-woman (and her counterpart, the national committee-man) take a lead role in crafting the party’s issues platform and in recruiting candidates. Thus the job has significant public policy consequences for all of us.

Which is why Governor Baker has made this fight and why he will see that it is won by the candidate whom he wants.  That candidate is State Representative Keiko Orrall, of the 12th Bristol District, challenging the current office holder, Chanel Prunier of Shrewsbury, a political operative for an anti-LGBT advocacy group.

Yesterday one of Prunier’s key supporters made the contest one of “loyalty.” Orrall, he said, had been supported by Prunier when she, Orrall, first sought election to the legislature. “So much for loyalty,” he argued.

OK, then : if this contest is to be about loyalty, let us talk about the loyalties of his own candidate. I ask the following questions  :

1.Is Prunier’s first loyalty to the Massachusetts Republican party or to the special interest group that pays her a consulting fee ? Certainly the party’s national committee-woman should owe first loyalty to the party, true ?

2.Was Prunier showing first loyalty to the Republican Party when she took the lead in crafting a party platform with social issue provisions in line with those of the advocacy group that pays her ? Provisions that almost derailed Charlie Baker’s candidacy because the overwhelming majority of voters reject that platform ?

3.Has Prunier given first loyalty to the Republican party when she scans the mailing list of her advocacy group to find and field primary opponents to the party’s best candidates, thereby forcing them to spend time and money to prevail in a low-vote primary rather than  campaign to all the voters ?

4.Was it loyalty to the Republican party, that Prunier and her allies on the state committee — many of them from the advocacy group that pays her — never lifted a finger to help a certain State Senate candidate opposed by them, who ended up losing a very winnable Senate seat by 398 votes ?

5.Was it loyalty to the Republican party that Prunier refused to endorse Baker for election or that another group she takes a leadership role in actively opposed his candidacy all the way to Election Day and still opposes him ?

6.And how was it “loyalty to the Republican party” that, during a special election for State Representative in the very District that Prunier lives in — won narrowly by Hannah Kane, the GOP candidate –she gave Kane not the slightest speck of assistance ?

You be the judge.

The Prunier supporter who asked that “loyalty” decide this choice will probably respond, “yes, but Mike : you support all those scandalous social issue views that Prunier does not; so of course you oppose her.”

To which I say : “yes indeed, I do support all those scandalous social issue positions that Prunier is paid to oppose. But guess what ? Keiko Orrall does not support them either, yet I support her. You know why ?

“I support Keiko Orrall because she will be loyal to the party as a whole, will be loyal to our Governor, who is after all, our leader and holds the most powerful office in our state; because the goal of our party is not to advance the interests of this or that paid advocacy group but the interests of all the state’s voters.

It is indeed a question of loyalty.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

 

STUDENT WALKOUTS AND POLITICAL WAR

bps

^ 2000 Boston public school students fight for the continuation of a misrepresented yesterday

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You may have seen or even taken part in the recent “walkout” by about 2500 Boston Public School (BPS) students and their producers. Certainly they wanted you to see them. They succeeded.

The question I ask is, why this job action ? The stated purpose was to protest “$ 50 million in school budget cuts.” This was a falsehood. The 2017 Boston Public School budget has NOT been cut. It has been RAISED, by about 1.7 percent. BPS is the ONLY Boston city department receiving an budget increase.

What the much decried $ 50 million is, is a shortfall. Boston’s 2017 schools budget falls short, by that amount, of full funding current expenses.

You can link to the Superintendent’s January budget memorandum here : http://www.bostonpublicschools.org/cms/lib07/MA01906464/Centricity/Domain/4/Familybudgetletter.pdf

It is not surprising that the BPS establishment does not liked receiving 50 million fewer dollars than it deems necessary. It is probably not surprising that, by way of complaining against the shortfall, said establishment would shout a falsehood.

Falsehood has become the M/O of establishments defending indefensible vested interests.

IF you recall a few years ago, Democrats in Congress responded to a decrease in the GROWTH of entitlement budgets by calling that decrease in growth rate a “cut.” It was, of course, no such thing : but the Democrats had no scruples about misleading voters in  search of their agenda. Similarly, in 2014’s 6th District Congressional election, a group supporting Seth Moulton accused his opponent of “voting against veterans”: because said person voted against an entire budget proposal that happened to contain one item about veterans.

Given this history of politics by falsity, it was probably to be expected that the BPS establishment should turn to falsehood — knowing falsehood — and the intentional misleading of students and parents, in hopes of bogarding the 50 million dollars it asserts is needed to balance the 2017 BPS budget.

Well, then, three questions arise :

1.IS the 50 million actually needed ?

2.If it is needed, why did Mayor Walsh decide not to allocate it, knowing that a feral opposition would arise, as it did to his plan to bring the 2024 Olympics Games to Boston ?

3.If Walsh knew the outcome of his shortfall allocation, why did he do it anyway, given that next year is his re-election year?

I have written about this topic already. You may want to revisit that article : https://hereandsphere.com/2016/01/16/boston-school-budget-2017-unanswered-questions/

There, I asked why the Mayor decided to not allocate 50 million dollars given that city revenue is growing faster than the schools budget. I opined that his decision was part of a long term plan to remake Boston’s schools by forcing school administrators to make tough decisions : consolidation of under-utilized facilities; eliminating wasteful anomalies in the teacher’s union contract; outsourcing much school management to corporate partners. In that same article, I supported all such purposes, but I decried that the Mayor did not make his intentions known to Boston voters

Much of last week’s “walkout” drama could have been avoided had the Mayor taken the gamble of letting his long game be known. But politicians rarely do that. Making your long game known allows the opposition to organize against it at length. So it becomes a question of, how can I, the Mayor, get to where i am going with the less political damage ? By disclosing my full game or by taking it one step at a time ?

So much for Question 3. What about Question 1 : is the 50 million “shortfall” actually needed ? Answer : it is needed, if you do not change the way BPS is administered and staffed. ( 1 ) Under-utilized buildings require maintenance — the custodians’ union is just as powerful as the Teacher’s union — and utilities. It is inexcusable to expend BPS money on inefficiency and things unnecessary, when classroom equipment, books, laptops, and librarians can’t be paid for ( 2 ) paying about 300 teachers who do not teach because no school principal will accept them costs about $ 24 million of the 50 million “shortfall.” Why are they not laid off ? ( 3 ) there is duplication in BPS management. We have a Superintendent and his staff, and we have, at City hall, an Education Chief and his staff, a chief who seems equally responsible for the direction of BPS if not more so than the actual Superintendent. Why do we have such duplication ? (It does not help matters that said Education Chief is also a partisan political activist, a member of the Ward 18 Democratic Committee. Why is an administrative official permitted to engage in partisan politics ?

In short, my answer to Question 1 is that the 50 million dollars being argued about are not needed except because of situations no one has the guts to reform. In this regard, it doesn’t help that BPS has a new Superintendent, Tommy Chang : a well-meaning and personable man with zero constituency of his own and zero abiility to marshal one. How missed is John McDonough ! “Big Jawn,’ as a lifetime BPS employee and Boston native, had an enormous constituency and was reforming every part of school management, inexorably and doggedly and was bale to do so without arousing “walkouts” and self-serving drama. Chang has none of McDonough’s power, nor has he shown McDonough’s shrewdness. He looks like a PR hire and has been rendered barely tourist status by Mayor Walsh appointing an Education Chief — Rahn Dorsey –who has the clout that Chang does not have and will likely never be accorded.

So much for Questions 2 and 3. What now will happen with BPS budgeting ? My guess is that the Mayor is setting the table both for his re-election and the next teachers’ union negotiation.His school budget opponents have actually aided his plan, by assuring that school budget matters will be front and center in the 2017 Mayor campaign. Here all advantage will lie with the Mayor, because most voters are taxpayers, and most taxpayers do not want to pay for inefficiency and anomaly; nor do they care much for outmoded school facilities and an in explicable charter school reimbursement formula. The Mayor actually set forth his campaign argument, as reported in the following article published yesterday : https://news.wgbh.org/2016/03/08/politics-government/walsh-bigwigs-dont-believe-negative-boston-public-schools-hype

If Mayor Walsh intends to make his re-election a referendum on education reform in the City, he puts himself on the same path as Governor Baker, whose entire identity is reform of government services, their administration and their finance. That, to me, is a very good path for Walsh to walk. But to walk it to victory, he will need to convince voters that he is a master administrator with a clear standard for assessing administrative success. Governor baker has done so for almost two years now. It’s his identity. Walsh had better start working on his reformer persona right now — the internal, City hall reforms are already well in place, by the way — if he hopes to conquer the many beasts of fact or logic that tangle the city’s biggest public service problem.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

 

 

 

END GAME

FullSizeRender

^ Baker’s choice : State Representative Keiko Orrall of Lakeville

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Governor Baker had a fairly good day on March 1st. In the GOP primary, his battle to take firm control of the party’s State Committee succeeded — not completely, but sufficiently enough. He now counts on about 49 to 50 of the committee’s 80 members, to write a useful platform and to do one major piece of unfinished business : electing a new GOP National Committee-woman.

Before I discuss this fight — the end game — I ought to tell you what a GOP National Committee-woman does and why she is important:

1.the national Republican party is governed by a committee, just as is the Massachusetts GOP. Each state has two seats on that committee, a man and a woman. Their role is to raise funds for national campaigns; to write a national party platform; and to see that in their state, well-qualified candidates are found and guided for seats in Congress and the United States Senate. In addition, the two national committee members are ex-officio members of the state committee.

2.It’s an important position in the hands of a person with the commitment and the connections to do it effectively.

3.Until 2012, Massachusetts’s national committeewoman was Jody Dow, of Brookline (disclosure : I worked for Dow for many years and in many campaigns and we are still personal friends), a woman of means who was also GOP state committee-woman for Brookline and Newton, two of our state’s most politically powerful communities. There, Dow was well respected and completely in tune with the political sentiments of both municipalities. After almost thirty years of party activism, Dow decided not to run again.

4.In her place was elected one Chanel Prunier, from central Massachusetts, age 33, and of an entirely different political cast. Prunier is probably the most powerful activist in social conservative circles, with connections to anti-gay rights money and cadres. In her position as a paid operative for Massachusetts Family Institute (MFI), perhaps our state’s most potent opponent of marriage equality, women’s reproductive rights, and transgender civil rights, Prunier has access to its list of activists, which she has used to recruit and field candidates committed to the MFI agenda.

Prunier is worshipped by her supporters, a network that extends through most of the state outside the immediate Boston area. She is a tireless operative when she wants to be — a fellow warrior — and a daunting opponent; only a sitting Governor, probably, has the power to defeat her.

She has had notable success recruiting such candidates and occasional success getting them elected to the legislature. But her most significant political success, until March 1st, was to recruit candidates for our GOP state committee seats — and to see many elected — from which place the Prunier group enacted, in 2014, a party platform incorporating MFI’s agenda. This platform was given wide news coverage and seriously embarrassed Charlie Baker, whose campaign supported every right the MFI opposes.

The Prunier-dominated state committee also raised primary opponents — many of them nuisance candidates merely — to GOP legislative hopefuls who support those rights, thereby diverting candidate energy to the mere 11 percent of voters who are Republican and in one case, probably costing the party a State Senate seat (lost by 398 votes).

She also draws upon a group called “the Massachusetts Republican Assembly” (MARA), which espouses extreme right wing positions — often voiced as venomously as the Trump campaign — entirely at odds with 70 to 80 percent of Massachusetts voters. MARA has no connection whatsoever with the Republican party whose name it uses but diverted many Governor votes in the 2014 campaign to one Scott Lively. These were votes that Baker could well have used; his victory margin was less than two percent out of 2,100,000 voters cast.

Prunier’s defenders say that she has built “the grassroots” of our state’s GOP. Is it a plus to have built up opponents to the Governor, or is it a minus ? is it a plus, or a minus, to give our GOP an identity loathed by most of our voters ?

The Prunier people often talk of downsizing Massachusetts government, as if its size were the issue rather than its effectiveness. Do they realize that, if Massachusetts government were small, we would never elect GOP Governors, given that the GOP counts only 11 percent of our state’s voters ? That we elect GOP governors because the voters want a non-Democrat to keep an independent eye on a VERY LARGE state budget ?

Given Prunier’s record, as much opponent of the GOP as leader of it, and radical rather than feasible, it is no wonder that many, many Massachusetts GOP activists, including legislators, have had enough. Is it too much to say that the entire purpose of Baker’s effort to win control of the state committee was to replace Chanel Prunier ? Is it any surprise that that effort has commanded the commitment of the vast majority of our GOP leadership ?

The only problem was to agree upon a candidate. Many names were circulated; I had my own favorite. In the end, so my sources tell me, Baker himself picked the challenger : State Representative Keiko Orrall of Lakeville in Plymouth County.

No sooner had the word come late yesterday than I was informed that Orrall already had the necessary 41 votes in hand. If so, the end game is won.

All of this happened very, very quickly, and no word of it leaked, at least not to me. It was done very, very quietly — which I suppose is how it has to be done. But Prunier cannot have had any illusions that she would avoid a challenge. She cannot complain now that one has deployed itself so formidably.

Why, you may ask, does any of this inside the party kerfuffle matter to the average voter ? It matters a lot, because the platform of a party says a lot about what its activists hope to enact into laws that govern us all. We cannot have a party whose dominant activist owes first loyalty to a pressure group and not to the party she professes to lead. Especially not if the pressure group she owes first loyalty to opposes rights passionately supported by the vast majority of our state’s voters. To take that course is to ensure defeat. To stick to that course is to ensure dissension : because most Republican candidates want to win voters’ votes, not fend them off.

I know Keiko Orrall somewhat. She is no liberal; she and I disagree on many, many issues. But her first loyalty is to the state GOP, not to a pressure group. She also understands that Governor Baker is to be applauded — not criticized —  for his outreach, his tolerance, his reforms and innovations. Whatever Orrall’s views on social issues, she understands, and accepts, that people in our state prefer inclusion to division, tolerance to condemnation, of people for who they are.

On April 5th, the state committee meets to elect its national committee members. The game ends there and then.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

 

OPEN LETTER FROM ANNA PANZA-DICENSO OF RINO’S PLACE

045 - Rino's
We at Here and Sphere are angry at the imposition the City plans to placer upon parking in gthe Eagle Hill neighborhood of East Boston.

To that end, we are glad to reprint the following facebook post by Anna Panza-Dicenso, owner of the fabled neighborhood restaurant Rino’s Place.

Anna Panzini-Dicenso

Ok here goes! I’m about to open up a can of worms…..

Hello EBOD, as you see my name is Anna! My husband Tony and I are the owners of Rino’s Place. We have been in business for nearly 30 years. We have never once had an issue with our liquor license, we have done nothing but good for East Boston. We have donated many of dollars, gift cards to the locals school and organizations, I have donated plenty of food to our local Church, to the Meridian House. We even feed the homeless who come to us when they are hungry.

The reason for my post and this is strictly being written to the Eagle Hill Association, and any one
Involved in moving forward with this resident permit parking that is taking affect starting in April. I would like to know who started this, I would like to know when & where were these meetings taking place, I would to know who voted, I would like to know who approved it, I would like to know if every person who lives in the area considered “Eagle Hill” were notified, I would like to know why wasn’t my business as well as others notified?? Yes, I would like to know a lot of things.

This came to my attention as I was reading it here on Facebook.

As I stated I own a business. My husband and I don’t live in East Boston, nor does most of my employees. My business is how I feed my children, and how I clothe them. My business is how I pay my mortgage.

With that being said I would like to know where my husband is going to park, I would like to know where my employees are gonna park, I would like to know where are my customers gonna park?? Yes, those are more things I would like to know!

What is the purpose of this? I have made numerous calls and yes it was all in good faith. I was told that hurting small business was not their intent. I was told that there will be at least 2 parking spots on each corner of each street at my intersection that would be a “2 hour visitors parking spot”, the funny thing is, is that any person with a resident permit could park there!! Well that defeats the purpose.

I have spoke to many of people who live in the Eagle Hill area who was not even aware of this going into affect!!

So tell me what are you people looking for? Do you think when you arrive home from work you’ll have a spot waiting for you, do you think it will save your spot after a snow storm? No, that’s right you assume it’s gonna keep people from parking on Meridian Street and walking home to Chelsea, and you think it’s gonna stop people from parking 2-3 weeks at a time and going to the airport for vacation!!! Yup, that’s what I was told. Strange ha?? That’s what I was told was happening up on good old Eagle Hill.

It won’t be nice when I come down to visit my mother that I can only stay a short time, or on a holiday when all your guest need to keep moving their cars every 2 hours….because a handful oh Eagle Hill residents said they had too!

What a joke. I was born and raised in East Boston and I have every right to speak my mind! I, as well as many others are very upset over this. I am ready to move forward with any measure that may need to be addressed concerning this.

I know I’m gonna get a lot of negative feed back from this post, and it’s ok! Like I said I’m ready for it.

Anna DiCenso

TOUGH MEDICINE AT THE “T”

T hearing

^ Boston City Council hearing on proposed MBTA fare increase. (photo via Tim McCarthy from Christina DiLisio)

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Both Mayor Walsh and Governor Baker — he via his MBTA Fiscal Control Board — now call for raising rider fares. It’s tough medicine. The expected increase of ten percent brings a T ride to $ 2.31, a bus trip from Salem to Haymarket to $ 4.95, a round trip commuter rail ticket from $ 4.20 to $ 4.65. Over a month’s commuting, a ten percent increase costs each rider about $ 7.50 additional — $ 90 for a full year.

(Read Mayor Walsh’s argument in favor of fare hikes here : http://commonwealthmagazine.org/transportation/walsh-backs-mbta-fare-hike/ )

I suppose that an additional $ 90 isn’t a hard hit given the 60 percent DECREASE in the price of gasoline since last winter. But what if gasoline prices were to rise back up again ? The prospect worries me. I suspect it worries you.

That said, I support the fare rise, on one condition : that gt serviced NOT bed cut back. It is very unwise for T management to ask riders to pay more, yet at the same time eliminate late night service. It is worse than unwise. It insults. Pay more for less is about as bad a vibe as there is in the world of customer service.

Provided, however, that T service is not cut back — is actually expanded, as the T completes its committed Green Line extension to West Medford — the fare rise makes sense. Even after system-wide cost reforms that have saved about $ 100 million this year the T’s operation runs a deficit of about $ 84 million. (By deficit, I do not mean “loss.” The t is not a business and does not seek a profit. Shortfall from the T’s fare and tax revenues is what it faces.)

The MBTA is a public service paid for by taxpayers, riders, and pay-ins by municipalities that the T serves. All have a stake in kno0wing that their paid money will satisfy T operations; that the T will not, by mismanagement, or sloppy accounting, or by inside manipulations,. fall short of budget seeki8ng more funds than we all have committed to. The T cannot be a prodigal son wasting his allowance and begging Daddy for more. It must live within its allowance. If it doesn’t, are we not right to say “no more” ?

“No more”: is what the voters of our state have said. we have been heard, and today’s T is managed completely differently from yesterday’s. Cost sloppiness has been fixed. Inside scams have been exposed and will be ended. Unused T assets are being used. Disciplined accountability is in place and will likely stay in place for quite a while. Today, we the public can probably trust the T to do its job diligently.

If that is true, and I think it is, we can now grant the T additional revenue. A fare increase won’t solve the T’s massive “state of good repair” backlog, but it might very well do away with budget shorts. As long as the proposed fare increase treats every rider, and every route, equitably — I read that this basic fairness is not being applied — then let us do it.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

1st Suffolk and Middlesex : Punting at A One-Issue Candidate Forum

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^ surrendering to an ambush : Diana Hwang, with Dan Rizzo and Paul Rogers alongside.

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We all know how single-issue pressure groups have carved up our politics into tapas-sized bites of this and that. But until last night, I had never seen a one-issue candidates Forum. Now I have.

At the Pilot House on the North End Waterfront, about 75 people showed up to hear five of our District’s seven candidates (Steve Morabito and Lydia Edwards did not attend) promise to oppose the building of a luxury hotel on Lewis Wharf. A few other matters were mentioned during the Forum — waterfront flood control chiefest — but the 75 attendees only wanted that one pledge : no hotel on Lewis Wharf. “Yes or no,” as one questioner demanded.

( for those who want to know more about the Lewis Wharf development, which I fully support, click this link : https://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2015/06/05/boston-developer-proposes-room-hotel-north-end-lewis-wharf/GrWVrfyCwNwA7n23agGuBL/story.html )

All five candidates acceded to the demand — some more craven than others. Paul Rogers and Diana Hwang — even former Revere mayor Dan Rizzo, who knows better — support the idea that “the community” should decide what is built and where. In other words, the private owner of land has no right to do as he wishes — within zoning laws, yes — with his won property, into which he or she has invested his or her own capital, and upon the development of which he or she is risking that capital.

In other words, socialism. Community ownership.

And who, pray tell, is “the community” ? I doubt that it includes the restaurants that would benefit from several hundred new hotel guests to draw from. I doubt it includes Uber drivers, taxis, bellhops, hotel staff, and construction workers, all of whom would benefit from the hotel and many of whom live in the neighborhood.

(And what of state, legislative issues ? Not one word was offered. All talk was of city issues, as if the candidates were running for District Councillor.

Folks : we are electing a State Senator to do legislative work on B eacon Hill. We are NOT electing a City Counciollor !)

Candidates Joe Boncore and Jay Livingstone seemed to recognize that many interests are involved in new buildings. Though both agreed that “the community” should have input, each was reluctant to just say yes to the audience’s demand.

After the Forum, I spoke with a few friends who were present. They agreed with my view. Too bad not one of the candidates had the stones to say, when asked, “no, I cannot make that pledge. New construction is  big boon to many people in the city and the neighborhood, and there must be a way to approve it.”

But this is what happens when you elect a State Senator in a seven-way party primary with maybe 15 percent of all voters voting. We of the 1st Suffolk and Middlesex are reaping the shabby detritus of a campaign proceeding along the wrong route in the wrong jalopy.

— Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

 

 

GOVERNOR BAKER AND THE STATE COMMITTEE FIGHT : ANALYSIS

Vincze

^ Janet Mahon Vincze : a superb candidate who almost overcame two big campaign disadvantages. Read my analysis below.

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Yesterday I posted my first look at the big fight that Governor baker undertook, to obtain control of the Massachusetts Republicans state committee: a fight that he appeared to have won, but not as decisively as he should have. A Governor as popular as Baker should sweep through his own party’s executive committee. So why didn’t he ?

Before I answer that question, I want to repeat what I opined yesterday : that the Republican party’s state committee writes the party’s platform and so generates public policy consequences for all of us, no matter what our political enrollment. If this level of “inside game” interests you — I hope it does — please read on, as I itemize the reaons why his campaign fell short of the totality it sought.

1.Baker has only been Governor for 14 months. A campaign as difficult as this one takes a lot longer than 14 months to prepare. During most of those months, Baker has faced one state administrative challenge after another; he has hardly had time or space to think through the obstacles to a successful state committee take-over.

2.Recruiting candidates who could win — defeating committee people already in office — was a challenge that Baker barely met. In too many cases, he recruited people scarcely known, or not known at all except to his core team, to face an incumbent well known to the party activists : and it is party activists who care most about a purely party office like state committee.

3.Many of Baker’s candidates work for his administration. They were open to attack as a “hackarama,” and were thus attacked by the hucksters of talk radio, who, in this anti-government year, rendered Baker’s employee candidates unclean. Smart it was, of Baker’s opponents, to “pledge” not to take a job in his administration (as if he would ever offer one to them) knowing that thereby they risked nothing and gained plenty.

4.More than half the voters in the Republican primary at which the party’s state committee was elected were “independents,” not actual Republicans. Baker’s team could campaign to the Republicans; but which of the state’s 2,500,000 independent voters could his people campaign to ? There was no way at all of knowing which of them would take a Republican ballot.

5.Given that more than half the actual GOP electorate was, in many committee districts, not actual GOP voters, it was especially important to recruit “known” names — preferably current office holders or recent candidates for State Senate — and from major towns or cities : because for many voters, a ballot for as invisible office as state committee  the candidate’s home town wins the math. Unfortunately, too many baker candidates were not “known” names; and many came from small communities, putting them at a big disadvantage.

6.Many Baker candidates did not grasp the paradoxical challenge of an office insignificant to the public but elected from an entire State Senate District. The race has to be run as if the candidate is running for State Senator itself – all the “independents” need to be campaigned to — and so voter ID, GOTV, mailings, advertising, and phone banking must all be done. Yet at the same time, special effort must be taken with the district’s GOP activists, who are few in number and usually quite unrepresentative of the vote as a whole. In a Senate District there might be 500 GOP town or city committee members. The endorsement of each really matters to a state committee election. A state committee candidate should think of these 500 or so activists the way a major office candidate thinks of donors : you must call each one, often, until they either say yes or no. That takes time away from campaigning to the 7500 to 25,000 voters who will cast actual ballots; and given the oddity of most GOP activists’ political views — not to mention their disconnect from the electorate at large — the time spent romancing them can work against the wider campaign.

7.Baker was not honest about why he was taking on this challenge. His campaign theme was “elect a team who will all work together for reform.” Great — but he never spelled out why those he sought to beat were not “working together” for said reforms. It was duck soup for his opponents to say that they were the “real reformers,” or to pledge fealty to politics treasured by most GOP voters :” the Second Amendment” and all the “social issues.” Bringing in the Second Amendment was genius. It bolstered the opposition’s claim that in addition to being the “real reformers,” they were also the “liberty” team. Given the blandness of the Baker theme, the opposition looked to many voters as if they, not Baker, were the actual party builders. Of course everybody involved knew that Baker undertook this effort for very ideological reasons : removing committee people responsible for writing the party’s right wing, 2014 platform that embarrassed Baker’s election. Baker should have asked voters to stand with him on the issues that he espouses. He chose not to.

Nonetheless, Baker did manage to elect a majority of stated committee members. Of his 52 candidates, 29 or 30 won, 22 lost. It should have been much more decisive. I’ll look at three races that should not have been lost :

Janet Mahon Vincze. Vincze faced two huge disadvantages. First, she hails from a small Middlesex County town, North Reading, in a very large District almost all of which is in Essex County. Second, her opponent, Angela Quinn Hudak, is the wife of the man who in 2010 ran for Congress in every town in the District and thus was a very well known name. Vincze was a superb candidate (disclosure ; she is a treasured friend of mine) who listened to me when I told her of the obstacles she faced. She campaigned tirelessly and drew enormous activist support and almost won, losing by 372 votes out of 21,000 cast. This was a superb result; but could not Baker find a fine candidate from the Essex County core, and one who had run for office before and had a name well recognized ? Vincze has a big future in state politics if she wants it; but this was the wrong race to send her into.

Ed McGrath should never have come even close to losing his state committee seat (based in Framingham, and Ashland) to the opponent who beat him, a man from a small town, where Framimngham cast over 4000 GOP votes; an opponent loathed in party circles and whose negative campaign lived up to that loathing. But McGrath’s goose was cooked when he was appointed to high office on a state administrative board and was thus nailed in the “hackarama” attack wielded by right wing talk radio; and he faced, in Marty Lamb, an opponent tireless in his efforts and not shy about decrying him as such.

David D’Arcangelo , a Malden City Councillor and state committee challenger, suffered the same fate as McGrath, at the hands of an opponent whose campaign literature boasted how he would not accept a job in the administration and how he was the “real. reformer” who would be “responsible only to the District’s Republican voters.” No matter that it is vital for GOP activists to accept jobs working for our GOP Governor — if not us, then who ? Robert Aufiero never had to answer that question, because the Baker campaign never explained why working in his administration is a plus for a GOP activist, not a detriment. It was also false of Aufiero to define his responsibility as being only to GOP voters. A state committee member owes a duty to ALL the voters, to recruit great candidates and give them a platform to run on that they can win with., But Aufiero was never called  out.

That was the bad news. There is also good news :

Where big names were recruited, and “hackarama” could not be pinned on them; where they came from significantly sized communities; and where they understo0od the dimensions, large and tiny, of a state committee race, Baker’s candidates mostly were elected. He now owns a clear majority of the committee membership and can rewrite the bad platform — and elect a new national committeewoman, one who is not a paid employee of a group that rejects marriage equality, opposes women’s reproductive rights, and denies the existence of transgender people.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

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