16TH SUFFOLK DISTRICT : ROCK, PAPER, SCISSORS — BUT FOR REAL

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^ entertaining the Seniors ; Josh Monahan, Linda Rosa, Roselee Vincent

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At least 150 Revere senior citizens (as we nicely entitle the old) got lots of entertainment last night from the three Democrats running for State Representative in the least publicized of Tuesday’s three Suffolk County special elections. At the Jack Satter House — a senior digs more luxe than many hotels — Roselee Vincent, Linda Rosa, and Josh Monahan explained their candidacies and answered questions — some way too snarky — from folks who have already seen a heckuva lot of candidates say their thing.

The three sounded as differently lethal as rock, paper, and scissors in that child’s game we all played, except that this was no game. The Representative from Revere (parts of Chelsea and Saugus are included as well) can’t play games, except for keeps, because Revere is a smallish place alongside huge Boston. Playing Mr. Nice Guy, it would get no attention.

Given the likely small number of voters who will cast ballots on Tuesday — Revere had its big voting night this past Tuesday, when close to 10,000 voted a big “Yes !” to the Mohegan Sun/Suffolk Downs casino proposal — the Jack Satter House Forum was practically the entire show. Thus the exaggerations, the differences, the almost attacks made by each upon the others. Forums I’ve attended in the Dorchester district holding a “special” have all been respectful affairs, no candidate going mano a man o with any other. Not so the Jack Satter Forum.

Roselee Vincent presented herself pretty much as already ON the job, so why not just vote to confirm it ? “For 25 years I have worked in the office that I now seek to hold,” she said, citing her service for both Kathi Reinstein — whose resignation to become Boston beer’s PR gal sparked this Special election — and her Dad, Bill Reinstein. Vincent listed her major endorsements too : Revere Mayor Dan Rizzo, School Committee Member Carol Tye, and of course Kathi Reinstein. Much applause confirmed that many in the room already support her; dark blue “Vincent” stick-ons could be seen on many attendees’ shirts.

Vincent then left for “a previous engagement, scheduled weeks ago” — she had already told me, in a conversation several nights ago, that this was the case — and her Revere rival, Linda Rosa, spoke next. “I’m the first woman ever elected a Revere Councillor City Wide,” said she, aggressive, very much the firebrand who one often hears in local government meetings. “We need a voice !”

It was her theme and she was sticking to it. Asked, quite snidely — by a Vincent person — what her first priority would be if elected, she said “making sure there’s no more Special elections like this one that cost the taxpayer. Make them serve their full term, or return the salary !”

For this response there was some approval from the attendees. I’ve heard many ordinary people — not only in the 16th District — voice similar sentiments.

It was hard to tell if the Vincent supporter was more surprised by Rosa’s answer or gleeful of it; in any case, he pressed his bet : “That’s your first priority ? OK, what’s your second ?

Rosa was ready. “We don’t need this Obamacare,” she said, sounding like a Tea party gal.” (This, said to 150 seniors !) The Vincent supporter grinned — he’d hit the jackpot. But the Forum moderator wasn’t having this battle of the two women. “What,” he asked young candidate Josh Monahan, a Chelsea resident, “is YOUR first priority ?

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^ a Tea Party democrat ? Linda Rosa : ‘we don’t need this Obamacare !”

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^  young man with future ideas : Josh Monahan

Monahan had already given his why-i-am-running speech. In it, he challenged the two women. “It’s well and good to talk about what you have done these past 26 years, but how about what you’re going to do next ? I’m 29 years old; I look to the future.” This had been exactly the speech that needed to be made after Vincent’s and Rosa’s recounting of past deeds; I could hardly wait to hear what first priority he would announce.

“Local aid,” he said. “It’s been cut back by 100 million over the past four years, cuts that have impacted local services to the bone. we need to increase local aid.”

Applause. And there was more. As Rosa was asked a second priority, so was Monahan. “Raising the minimum wage,” he said. And that was that; Forum complete.

The likely very few who vote on Tuesday must now know that they face three completely different candidacies. Monahan has a future agenda; Vincent equals continuation; Rosa will be the big, did-she-really-say-that ? voice. If you’re handicapping a result, look to the money raised. Vincent has outraised Monahan and Rosa combined several times over. Advantage, continuation.

In other words, Roselee Vincent wins. I would be surprised if she didn’t. Which is not to say that Josh Monahan, especially, isn’t an impressive candidate. He is.

But the Democratic primary is NOT the whole story. There is a Republican candidate running, Todd Taylor of Chelsea. he wasn’t included, evidently, in the Satter House Forum, which was a big mistake: whatever his candidacy may be about, he gets to announce it with less than three weeks before the April 1st election day. There will be little time for the Democratic nominee to respond — and, if her presentation at the Satter House was any indication, it would not surprise me one bit if Linda Rosa, assuming she isn’t nominated, ends up endorsing Taylor. The game in Revere is not over.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

TWO BITS OF NEWS : THE REVERE CASINO VOTE AND THE GOP STATE COMMITTEE

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^ Revere says “Yes”

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At first blush there seems not much linkage between last night’s casino approval vote in Revere and the Republican state committee’s vote making opposition to marriage equality an official stand in the party platform. But look again. in Revere, religion interests led the opposition to approval of the Mohegan Sun/Suffolk Downs casino plan. At the GOP state committee, it was religion interests that forced the vote to discriminate against gay people.

What is it about religion — those who profess it — that makes it and them try to tell other people how to live their lives ? Tell you what : you profess a religion, fine; go live it; and leave my life alone.

There was a time — about a century and a half of time — when religion led the fight for civil rights, personal liberty, and the dignity of all people of whatever lifestyle. From about 1795, when the anti-slavery movement was first advanced by religion, in England (it had for some time been advanced by secular leaders) until the 1970s, when the Civil Rights movement crested in America, pastors, ministers, priests, rabbis, and manhy of their congregations took the cause of rights for all — of whatever religion, or of none –as their chiefest calling. Today we like to think of that era in the history of reliigion in action as the norm. The opposite is true. Mostly in the history of the West, and oftener in that of the Middle east, religion has caused the torture of millions and the deaths of millions, often cruelly. On balance religion has been a personal and communal disaster for those societies afflicted by it.

Such a time seems returning now, and not only in America. The will to demand of people that they be governed by other people’s religion has all but captured — and killed — the GOP in America; it has place in Europe (though there the bigotries of today seem mostly godless, fascist, mere racism), and, as we see all too much, completely dominates societies in the Middle East, Iran, Pakistan, India. As for places like North Korea — fortunately they are rare — what we seem to see is not religion politics but politics as a religion. It ain’t pretty.

I am no prophet of doom. I do not see America returning to the days of religious oppression. Most of us still call the secular, skeptical Constitution home, divided government the norm, separation of religion from state a must. Indeed, most religion groups in today’s America feel the same. They understand that for a religion to try to impose its commands on states’ laws simply makes religion a political enemy. Still, in some states, as we see, the practitioners of religion politics have managed to get their stonings enacted into law. (the current eruption in Arizona is only one of dozens of such initiatives.) My guess is that none will stand. All are unconstitutional and will almost surely be found to be such; and so will die a legal death.

No such legal death can undo the action taken by the Republican State Committee last night. By a vote —  opined by a Republican not present but well informed of the vote — of 52 to 16, the GOP platform now includes language opposing our state’s marriage equality. Of course a party platform is not a law; no one need obey it or give it a damn. Still, the vote puts one of Massachusetts’s two chief political parties at odds with civil rights and human freedom; and as Massachusetts has always been first among polities to seek and secure civil rights and human freedom, the state committee’s vote is an affront to 250 years of our history. We were also the first state to recognize that gay people have just as much right to marry as do any of us.

I am no psychologist. I have no idea what mindset propels citizens of Massachusetts to reject the last 10 generations of our history; to downgrade our gay citizens; to impose on a political party such a burden. Political parties are supposed to win elections. The state committee’s vote loses them.

Of course the party’s leading candidates, Charlie Baker for Governor and Richard Tisei in the 6th Congress District, immediately rejected the vote. Both men stand four-square for gay rights, marriage equality, women’s health rights — even for economic fairness — and are well known to be unshakably committed to these positions. Their campaigns will suffer no harm from a vote whose only goal is to harm. Still, it looks odd for the leading GOP candidates to be running on themes rejected by the party’s formal organization (as the state committee is).

Gabe Gomez, too, who in the past few months has become the most outspoken Massachusetts voice of Republican progressivism, tweeted a passionate denunciation of the state committee vote. I joined his call. I am glad that I did, sad that the need arose.

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^ next to Dan Winslow, Gabe Gomez is now Massachusetts’s man of progressive conscience

Meanwhile, in Revere, 63 % of voters, in a large voter turnout of almost 50 percent, rejected the moralizing “no casino” side, saying “yes, bring it on” to the Mohegan Sun/Suffolk downs casino plan. Mayor Dan Rizzo can now go mano a mano with Mayor deMaria of Everett. That one I look forward to.

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^ Mayor Dan Rizzo is a winnah tonight

I personally think the Revere plan somewhat unattractive and largely compromised by geography and brand; I doubt it will win the Gaming Commission’s license. Steve Wynn’s far more glamorous, better located, Everett plan will likely win it. But it is a step ahead to see Revere put its cards on the table (ha) on the side of entertainment, drama, people dressing up and having a good time, even — yes — people spending money at a roulette wheel. As we have every right to do.

Let the last word here be St Rep Kathi Reinstein’s : “Raising a big, fat Sam Adams pint to Revere tonight,” she tweeted. “63/37 victory ! I’m so proud of my city and its people…”

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere