Tuesday, December 06, 2005

On The Road Again

I feel like lately I have been doing reconnaisance for Santa's route. Anyway, travel schedule is slowing down as we get towards the end of the year.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Mittwit Fails Again

Remember when Mittwit Romney said he was going to build the GOP in Massachusetts. I don't think this is what he meant.

According to the Dover-Sherborn Press:

Three years after the newly elected Republican governor pledged to bring
Massachusetts closer to a true two-party state, the so-called Grand Old Party
has seen losses in the Legislature and in the voting rolls of most MetroWest and
Milford area towns.
(...)

Despite this activity, though, voter registration data shows fewer voters
in the region are signed on as Republican now than in the fall of 2002, when
Romney was elected.
Over the past three years the numbers and percentages of Republicans dropped, while the numbers and percentages of Democrats rose, in 11 of 18 area communities.
All 18 cities and towns have higher numbers and percentages of Democrats than Republicans this year. One town, Weston, had more Republicans than Democrats in the fall of 2002, but Republican losses since then in town put Democrats ahead this year.
In Dover, Republicans outnumber Democrats, 1,190 to 676; according to Town Clerk Barrie Clough, those numbers have been pretty steady for the last couple of years.
Over in Sherborn, Democrats have gained within a community long regarded as a Republican stronghold. In the 2002 state election, there were 563 Democrats and 761 Republicans who went to the polls. This year, according to the Town Clerk's
office, there are currently 713 Republicans registered to vote, with 703 Democrats.
Only three of the 18 communities saw any increase in Republicans since Romney took office. The number and percentage of Republicans rose modestly in Hopkinton and Milford over the three years. The number of Republicans increased slightly in Southborough, but the overall percentage of Republicans in the town dropped.
All 18 cities and towns, though, have mainly unenrolled voters, so a Republican that strikes a chord with voters has a shot. Romney won in MetroWest three years ago.

Retroactive Taxes Will Be An Issue

The Arlington Advocate:
A growing number of Democrats may be poised to join Gov. Mitt Romney and
other Republicans in the campaign to roll back a retroactive capital gains tax
assessment about to hit tens of thousands of Bay Staters.
The Department of Revenue is in the process of mailing out bills informing nearly 50,000 taxpayers that, as the result of a Supreme Judicial Court ruling that lawmakers had illegally raised the capital gains tax in mid-2002, they must now come up with an estimated $175 million in back taxes.
(...)

"It's morally wrong and reprehensible to go back retroactively," said Assistant
Minority Leader George Peterson of Grafton.

(...)

Some speculate that a growing number of Democrats may support the governor's bill as they hear from more and more constituents angered over their mail from the Revenue Department.


I think it would be a smart strategic move for the Democratic candidiates for Governor to support the roll back of these taxes and not go back and retroactively tax someone. People who get hit with this will remember it. Come on Deval. Beat Reilly to the punch.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Auto insurance

Arrrgh. This kills me. But I have to say that I agree with Mittwit on this one. I think the current system does not work that well. Our rates are higher than we would pay in other states. And why hasn't ATTORNEY GENERAL Reilly done anything about reducing fraud?

BOSTON Globe:

Gov. Mitt Romney and Attorney General Tom Reilly squared off Tuesday over
an overhaul of the state's auto insurance system, with Reilly opposing the
governor's efforts to add insurers and Romney accusing the attorney general of a
lack of leadership.

Even before the governor testified at a Statehouse hearing in favor of his
proposal, Reilly sent a letter to state lawmakers urging them to oppose the
Romney plan because, in his estimation, it does not address the need for
accident and fraud reduction, while offering little rate protection for
consumers.
(...)
"The attorney general has been attorney general for seven years and he
wants to study auto insurance some more? Where is his plan? Where is his
legislation?" Romney said. "If he doesn't like mine, where's his? How long can
he study it without any conclusion? And only criticizing -- and calling for
slowing down -- is not the mark of a leader, certainly not one that has been in
office for seven years."

Friday, November 11, 2005

Anti-Equality Schism?

Poor Ed and Sally Pawlick. They are the folks behind Massachusetts Citizens for Marriage. "MCM" for short. It appears that they feel the rest of the religiuos right extremist are not listening to them. It seems as if there is a schism between MCM and that other "delightful" group, the Massachusetts Family Institute.

From the Mass News web site:

As long as the citizens who favor traditional marriage continue to talk
about "religion", they will lose the gay marriage issue, says Sally Pawlick of
Massachusetts Citizens for Marriage (MCM).


"This is what Margaret Marshall wants us to do. It's why she inserted in
her ruling that 'many people hold deep-seated religious' convictions on the
subject. She is pleased to have everyone think of gay marriage as a 'religious'
issue. And we're helping her immensely.

"As an example, the President of MFI [Massachusetts Family Institute], Kris
Mineau, who is an ordained Protestant minister, said on Monday: 'This marriage
amendment is our last stand for traditional marriage in Massachusetts. We must not fall short of our goal. We effectively have 10 days left to get more signatures and turn them in to the town clerks.'"

MFI is the local chapter of the Christian "Focus on the Family"
organization based in Colorado Springs, which arrived here in 2004 and spent
millions of dollars in a vain effort to make this into a religious event.


(...)
"When we passed our successful "Protection of Marriage" Amendment in 2001,
we did so as a secular organization that was supported by many groups including
the Catholic Church and MFI. We had an Orthodox Jew as our Executive Director.


They then imply that the reason that Mainers voted for the "strongest law favoring homosexuals in the country" is because the anti-equality forces were led by the Christian Civic League of Maine instead of the 'secular' Maine Grassroots Coalition which had led previous successful battles. They also point out the Texas marriage admendment win was led by "a secular group, "Texans for Marriage"."

I remember when equality forces first started fighting for marriage equality. At the time it was felt to downplay the support of religious groups since the battle was for 'civil' marriage, not 'religious' marriage. Now groups such as the "Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry" play significant roles.

But another factor in the Mass News posting may just be sour grapes on the part of the Pawlicks. The MCM led the intial anti-equality battles in 2001 and 2002. Now MFI leads the assault.

Mittwit And The KKK

Boston Globe:

Romney also took heat yesterday when he did not swiftly disavow the remarks
of Federalist Society member Gerald Walpin, who introduced Romney by praising
him for fighting against what he called the ''modern-day KKK . . . the
Kennedy-Kerry Klan."

''Today, when most of the country thinks of who controls Massachusetts,
I think the modern-day KKK comes to mind, the Kennedy-Kerry Klan," Walpin, who
sits on the society's board of visitors, said to hearty laughter. ''One person
who has been victorious against that tide in Massachusetts is Massachusetts
Governor Mitt Romney."

Romney, along with members of the audience, laughed at the joke
and later thanked Walpin for the ''very generous introduction."
But
later in the day, as Democrats got wind of Walpin's remark and began circulating
it, Romney distanced himself from the joke and said it was wrong.

''I agree with the critics," Romney said in an interview with the Globe
after a meeting on renewable energy with Gale A. Norton, the US secretary of the
interior. ''It is ill-advised and inappropriate to raise the KKK even in a joke,
and I think it was unfortunate."
Asked to respond to criticism from Democrats
that he should have condemned the remark from the podium, Romney said, ''You
know . . . I was trying to figure out what I was going to say" in the
speech.

Other sources say he said he wasn't really paying attention. So what else is new? He hasn't been paying attention to Massachusetts for 2 years now.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Churches, Politics And The IRS

While in LA I saw the following article. I had to wonder about the Catholic church and its actions towards John Kerry during the election and his pro-choice stance. It also made me wonder about the Catholic chruch's current actions for the anti-equal marriage initiative.

The LA Times reports:

The Internal Revenue Service has warned one of Southern California's
largest and most liberal churches that it is at risk of losing its tax-exempt
status because of an antiwar sermon two days before the 2004 presidential
election.

Rector J. Edwin Bacon of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena told many
congregants during morning services Sunday that a guest sermon by the church's
former rector, the Rev. George F. Regas, on Oct. 31, 2004, had prompted a letter
from the IRS.


In his sermon, Regas, who from the pulpit opposed both the Vietnam War and
1991's Gulf War, imagined Jesus participating in a political debate with
then-candidates George W. Bush and John Kerry. Regas said that "good people of
profound faith" could vote for either man, and did not tell parishioners whom to
support.


But he criticized the war in Iraq, saying that Jesus would have told Bush,
"Mr. President, your doctrine of preemptive war is a failed doctrine. Forcibly
changing the regime of an enemy that posed no imminent threat has led to
disaster."


On June 9, the church received a letter from the IRS stating that "a
reasonable belief exists that you may not be tax-exempt as a church … " The
federal tax code prohibits tax-exempt organizations, including churches, from
intervening in political campaigns and elections.


An LA Times article the next day went on to discuss the difference in the tax code between political candidates and ballot initiavtives:

The tax code prohibits nonprofits from "participating or intervening in any
political campaign on behalf of, or in opposition to, any candidate for public
office." The ban includes endorsements, donations, fundraising or any other
activity "that may be beneficial or detrimental to any particular
candidate."

Advocating for ballot initiatives, as many California churches have done in
advance of today's special election, is a separate issue, tax experts said.
Churches and other tax-exempt organizations are allowed to engage in lobbying as
long as "a substantial part of the organization's activities is not intended to
influence legislation."

Modest Housing Downturn

Boston Globe:

WESTBOROUGH -- The Massachusetts housing market will slump over the next
two years, with prices falling slightly, then flattening before resuming modest
appreciation, according to an economic forecast released yesterday.


If the forecast proves correct, it would mark the first home price declines
since early 1995, when the state was still shaking off the effects of the 1980s
real estate bust, and the average price slid 1.4 percent from the previous
year.


The new forecast, by the New England Economic Partnership, a nonprofit
research group, projects the average price of a single-family home in
Massachusetts will decline less than 3 percent in the second half of 2006,
before beginning to recover in early 2007. Even then, the prices will rise only
slowly, with year-over-year appreciation holding below 3 percent through
2009.


(...)
Analysts don't expect an '80s-style collapse, largely because the economy is
expanding, unlike in the late 1980s, when it slipped into recession. In
addition, mortgage rates are still much lower, just above 6 percent, compared to
about 10 percent in 1989.


While I think affordable housing will still be a key concern among younger voters seeking to buy their first home, this may have the effect of reducing housing cost as a key issue in next year's governor race. If the downturn become dramatic instead of modest it could become an issue hanging around Mittwit Romney's presidential race. I think a dramatic downturn would have a significant effect on the rest of the Massachusetts economy.

On The Road Again

I was in LA the last few days. The defeat of all the initiatives that were on the California ballot is a huge blow for Arnold.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Mittwit Continues To Build

Unannounced Repunlican presidental candidate Mittwit Romney contiunes to build his presidental campaign organization.

Boston Globe:

Two campaign committees affiliated with Governor Mitt Romney have hired a
well-connected Iowa political consultant who played a key role in President
Bush's victory in the state in last year's presidential election.

The consultant, Gentry Collins, a former executive director of the Iowa
Republican Party, has been paid nearly $27,000 in recent months by the
Massachusetts Republican State Congressional Committee, a federal campaign panel
of the state Republican Party, and Commonwealth PAC, a group based in Michigan
that Romney supporters created earlier this year.

Collins's work for the two committees is another signal that Romney is
looking to make inroads in the key presidential state of Iowa, where he has
traveled at least twice this year as he considers a run for the White House in
2008. Commonwealth PAC has also strategically sprinkled thousands of dollars in
campaign contributions to local party groups and candidates in Iowa.

"Mean Gene" O'Flaherty's Maneuvering

Mean Gene O'Flaherty (the State Rep for the repeat drunk drivers lobby) maneuvers bills in the legislature like a drunk driver going down the highway.

Boston Globe:
State Representative Eugene L. O'Flaherty, chairman of the Judiciary
Committee, said yesterday that he planned to send the House a bill today that
would force the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston to disclose its finances, a
significant advance that won high praise from its sponsors but also raised
suspicions over his motives.

House leaders could offer no assurances last night that the full House
would take up the bill before lawmakers finish their formal sessions Nov.
16
.

Last month, O'Flaherty, a Chelsea Democrat, came under fire from the bill's
advocates for not moving the financial disclosure legislation out of the
Judiciary Committee. The Catholic Church and other religious groups strongly
oppose the bill
.
(...)
But the fact that he plans to move the legislation to the House floor instead of
the Senate created a firestorm of concern among its advocates, suspicious that
O'Flaherty is still trying to block it. The move would mean that the chief
sponsor of the bill, Senator Marian Walsh, would not handle the bill
immediately.

(...)
Secretary of State William F. Galvin, another sponsor of the bill, also
expressed concern over the anticipated parliamentary move. ''It is unusual for a
bill to go to the opposite branch from its sponsor," he said. ''It seems to be
an effort to keep the bill out of Senator Walsh's hands."

(...)
Fearing the Judiciary Committee would block the bill, Walsh, Galvin, and
former lieutenant governor Thomas P. O'Neill III took their concerns last month
to House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi.

Republicans Lambaste Reilly

Boston Herald:

Republicans continued to lambaste Attorney General Tom Reilly yesterday for
supporting tuition breaks for illegal immigrants, accusing him of misleading the
public on the bill and even possible ethics violations.

Sen. Scott Brown (R-Wrentham) said Reilly’s lobbying for the controversial bill may violate ethics rules because the AG handed out a letter to lawmakers supporting the measure written on his office’s letterhead. Ethics rules bar officials from using state resources for political purposes.


Reilly spokesman Corey Welford said of Reilley is "a public official commenting on a public bill."

This is not an issue the Democrats can win on next year.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Mittwit Stifles Opposition

Tom Reilly The Hypocrite

As previous post have shown, Tom Reily wants to reward people who come to Massachusetts illegally from outside the country and allow their children to attend Massachusetts colleges at the in-state tuition rate.

But Reilly won't allow out-of-state gay people come to Massachusetts to get married. Instead, he enforces a 1913 law, a law originally written to block interracial marriage, to prevent these couples from marrying.

As Reilly said before "This can be done if people have the will to do it. And we will respect the law and implement the law. "

Reilly also said he had a duty to obey the 92-year old law.

Tom Reilly. The pick and choose AG. He wants to enforce other states marriage laws but not U.S. laws.

Healey Ignites On In-State Tuition

Unannounced Republican candidate for governor Kerry Healey weighted in on the in-state tuition college for the children of illegal immigrants the Boston Globe reports.

''Let them go to private schools if they want to," Healey said on WRKO
radio. Moments later, she repeated: ''Let them go to private schools."

Healey, a Republican positioning herself for a run for governor, made
her remarks during a heated, impromptu debate with Attorney General Thomas F.
Reilly, who had called into the ''John DePetro Show" to defend his support of a
bill that would allow in-state tuition rates to undocumented immigrants under
certain conditions.

(...)
If passed, the bill would allow children brought into the country illegally to
pay in-state tuition rates at public colleges and universities, as long as they
have lived in Massachusetts for at least three years, have graduated from a Bay
State high school, and have signed a sworn affidavit affirming that they are
applying for US citizenship.


(...)
Deval Patrick, a Democrat and former Clinton administration lawyer who is vying
with Reilly for his party's gubernatorial nomination, raised the Marie
Antoinette analogy and said, ''None of us needs a governor or a lieutenant
governor as out of touch with the struggles of regular people as the lieutenant
governor apparently is."


(...)

Asked to explain the private-school comment in a telephone interview with
the Globe yesterday, Healey said: ''The point here is it's Tom Reilly who's out
of touch, because he doesn't understand that this is a key issue for
Massachusetts taxpayers. . . . I'm here to protect the taxpayers."