Monday, October 31, 2005

Porn, Racetracks And Slots

It seems like Tom Reilly's campaign could be fun to work for!

Attorney General Tom Reilly's new campaign manager was embroiled in a 2002
scandal over $15,000 in political donations made by a gay porn company to the
Oregon governor.

(...)
Reilly has been criticized for accepting campaign donations from Bay State
racetrack owners and Big Dig firms.

The racetracks have been lobbying to allow them to install slot machines. Let the good times roll.

Patrick And Reilly Respond

Boston Globe:

Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly, a Democrat who is running for governor,
yesterday accused his possible Republican opponent, Lieutenant Governor Kerry
Healey, of looking the other way while her husband's asset management firm
received $1.2 million in a questionable tax credit from the state.


Meanwhile, former assistant US attorney general Deval L. Patrick, Reilly's
rival for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, said he wants to make sure
the tax credit program is working as it was intended, to encourage companies to
locate in neighborhoods that the state considers blighted.


Sean M. Healey's company, Affiliated Managers Group, had received the
credit for locating in the Prides Crossing section of Beverly, one of the
state's wealthiest neighborhoods. Last week, AMG returned the tax credit, after
the state's inspector general said that in many cases, including AMG's, the
credits were ''handed out as favors" to firms.

Healey's $1.2 Million Bet

While Mittwit Romney was in Iowa at the pig roast, Lt Gov Kerry Healy's husband's firm returned a $1.2 million questionable tax credit to the state. Why doesn't Mittwit just come out and announce he is running for President? What more evidence does a person need?

Friday, October 28, 2005

How "Mean Gene" O'Flaherty Got Elected

"Mean Gene" O'Flaherty, the State Rep for the repeat drunk driving special interest lobby and part time Rep for Charlestown and parts of Chelsea, was first elected to the State Legislature in 1996. He beat Bill McCabe, who was the state's former commissioner of public safety, by 141 votes in the Democratic primary. Richard Voke, the former House Majority Leader and occupant of the seat, was retiring. Since no Republican was running, the primary winner got the seat.

The district was alot different in 1996. O'Flaherty was from Chelsea and McCabe from Charlestown. Chelsea 's civic psyshe was in the tank. Chelsea had gone bankrupt in 1991 and was governed by a state receiver from 1991 to 1994. The citizens were worried about the city being annexed by Boston. Boston had no interest in such an action. But the Legislature, under the state constitution, could enact the annexation without local approval.

Compounding Chelsea's inferiority complex were the circumstances surrounding Voke's retirement. The House speaker, Charles F. Flaherty, resigned after pleading guilty to a tax felony and admitting to ethics violations. Many of Voke's constituents assumed he jump from the being the Majority Leader to become the House speaker and protect the city. Voke was a pro at insider politics. But not good enough. While Voke had the majority of Democratic legislators on his side, Tom Finneran obtained the support of all the Republicans and grabbed the speakership. Voke decided to retire creating an open seat.

O'Flaherty and McCabe agreed on many issues. The election came down to voter turnout in each community. From new reports at the time, Chelsea voters felt they were voting for their town's survival. O'Flaherty, the hometown boy (he was 28 when elected) was also the assistant director of operations for the Chelsea receiver and campaigned on his understanding of the city's needs.

In a future post I'll discuss what I think is a vulnerability and how he could be beat.

Mittwit Heads To Iowa

Mitt Romney heads to Iowa today for a conference of governors, with his
political standing enhanced by a year of aggressive outreach and financial
support for Republicans in the gateway state for the 2008 presidential
nomination contest.

(...)
Romney is also planning to engage in ''testing of the waters," as aides
describe it, that could be helpful in a national race. He is expected to leave
the national conference early, late Saturday, and return to Massachusetts.

(..)

In late 2004, Romney's Commonwealth PAC distributed $64,000 to 35
legislative candidates, 16 county party committees, and the Iowa Republican
Party. Another $3,750 went to three Iowa congressional candidates, among $28,000
donated by Romney's federal PAC to 31 US Senate and House candidates.

For the first six months of this year, a newly filed report says,
Commonwealth PAC doled out another $5,850 in small donations to 23 of Iowa's 99
county committees, mostly in heavily Republican western Iowa. Another $1,000
went to the state party, and checks also went to a state legislator ($500),
State Auditor David A. Vaudt ($1,000), the only Republican among seven statewide
officeholders, and Paul D. Pate ($500), the Republican mayor of Cedar Rapids,
the second most populous city in the state. Pate, a former Iowa secretary of
state, announced this week that he will not seek reelection this fall.


I wonder how much he gave to local Republican candidates during their sorry performance in last year's state races?

Let The Kids Play

Globe:

NEWTON -- When students at Underwood Elementary School walk to their classrooms on Monday, there will be no witches, SpongeBob SquarePants, or Johnny
Damons there to greet them.

No skeleton paintings or Frankenstein tattoos, either.

The school's principal said yesterday he acceded to the complaints of a handful of parents who said that because the school's traditional Halloween celebrations offended their religious beliefs, they would not send their children to school if the revelry continued this year.

Maybe the school superindent will pull the principal aside and say "look, have some common sense." Why do the theocrats have to ruin everything.

"Mean Gene" Moniker

So where does the moniker "Mean Gene" come from For State Rep O'Flaherty?

Brian McGrory provides some insight:

Just to retrace, O'Flaherty, the House chairman of the Judiciary Committee,
sent me a rather unflattering note in June because he didn't like a column I
wrote about his hero, the indicted former speaker of the House, Tom Finneran. I
had no idea who or what a Eugene O'Flaherty was, but in that note, he said if we
were in high school together, he would have made me run ''home to Mommy [sic]
with tears in your eyes along with a black eye and a sore arse."
(...)
Granted, so many stories floating around Beacon Hill involve him
screaming at women, but that just makes him an indiscriminate menace.


Then there is this from The Patriot Ledger:

Ron Bersani of Marshfield, whose grand daughter Melanie Powell, was killed by a drunk driver and who the bill is named for on Oct 4

called on House Speaker Sal DiMasi to remove O'Flaherty as conference
committee chairman.

‘‘His behavior during the debate last week, so offensive that the
chairman of his own state party called upon him to apologize to us and other
victims, reflects his fixation with winning at all costs at the expense of truly
representing the will of ‘We the People,''' Bersain said in a letter to
DiMasi.

Party Chairman Phil Johnston sharply criticism O'Flaherty last week for
using foul language during debate on the bill. O'Flaherty led the opposition to
the measure.


The Boston Phoenix reported when O'Flaherty was trying to position himself to take over as Speaker when Finneran stepped down:

And Eugene O’Flaherty, who serves as House chair of the Joint Judiciary Committee and is known as a tightly wound individual, appears to be showing his softer side. "Geno seems to be much more friendly and less intense about things," one rep says of O’Flaherty.

Sex Ed, Equal Marriage And The Extreme Right

The theocrats and nutbag right-wing state reps will do anything to keep kids isolated and indoctrinate them that gay people are bad.

Confirmed homophobe state Rep. Joyce Spiliotis, a Peabody Democrat, filed a bill to make sex education an elective. Rep. Kevin Murphy, a Democrat from Lowell, has filed a similar bill.

And guess who the rest of the cast of characters are.

From The Lowell Sun:

Brian Kamenker, spokesman for Parents' Rights Coalition in Waltham, said
the existing law has fallen short.

“The law has been a terrible failure,” Kamenker said. “Schools don't
properly notify parents, or they do not notify them at all. They make it
difficult and embarrassing to pull kids out of class.”

(...)

Some proponents of the bill say it is really about limiting discussion in public schools regarding homosexuality or gay marriage.

Kamenker said Planned Parenthood and gay-advocacy groups have hijacked
sex education in schools to push their own agenda.

“It's a hot-button issue,” he said. “The gays want our kids, and Planned Parenthood wants to sell sex.”

Kamenker said the legalization of gay marriage in 2004 “opened the floodgates” to talk about homosexuality in the classroom, something he strongly opposes.

The Parents' Rights Coalition shares the same office and staff with anti-gay marriage group Article 8.
(...)

Some legislators who co-sponsored the bill said gay marriage has nothing to do with the measure.

“Gay marriage is another subject. There is no conspiracy here,” said
state Rep. Jim Miceli, a Wilmington Democrat who opposes gay marriage. “This is
a school issue. Parents need to be a part of the process.”

But state Rep. Emile Goguen, a Democrat from Fitchburg and a fierce opponent to gay marriage, disagrees.

“They are teaching kids about gay marriage in schools,” said Goguen, who co-sponsored the bill. “The gay alliance is doing everything possible to stop our moves, and we will do everything possible to stop their moves.”

When asked if the parent-notification bill is another vehicle to push a
ban against gay marriage, Goguen replied, “Yes.”

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Does It Run In The "O'Flaherty" Family?

The Washington Post and a Northern Virginia judge:

Judge Ian M. O'Flaherty made it known in July that he felt Virginia's DWI law
unfairly deprived defendants of the presumption of innocence if breath tests
showed that they had a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher, levels at which
people are presumed to be intoxicated.

(...)

Critics say O'Flaherty, a General District Court judge, is endangering
public safety by returning drunk drivers -- some with alcohol levels of twice
the legal limit -- to the roads. But some legal experts are sympathetic, saying
the judge might be making a valid argument and protecting the constitutional
rights of all motorists.

(...)


The judge said in an interview that he recently was made aware of a 1985 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that reversed a Georgia murder conviction because the jury had been told to presume that, if the suspect was "of sound mind," he had the intent to kill.


As it does in all states and the District, Virginia's drunken driving law states that, for anyone with a .08 or higher reading on a breath test, "it shall be presumed that the accused was under the influence of alcohol intoxicants at the time of the alleged
offense."


Prosecutors point out that Virginia's law creates a "rebuttable presumption," meaning the defendant has the opportunity to prove it wrong. But O'Flaherty said that wrongly shifts the burden of proof from the prosecution to the defense.

"The Fifth Amendment," said O'Flaherty, 59, "is an absolute protection
against requiring the defendant to say or do anything in the course of a trial.
. . . The Fifth Amendment means the defendant can sit there, not say or do
anything, and at the end of the case say, 'Can I go home now?' "


No other judge in Fairfax -- or elsewhere in Virginia, as far as can be determined -- has joined O'Flaherty. But the judge said some other jurists have told him they
agree with him. "I had one judge tell me, 'I'd rule that way, but I don't have
the guts to,' " O'Flaherty said. "I told him, 'You should be driving a truck.'
"
(...)

Steve Oberman, a Tennessee lawyer and head of the National Association of
Criminal Defense Lawyers' DUI committee, said similar arguments about
presumptions in the law had been successful in various courts across the country
over the years. State supreme courts in Massachusetts and Colorado have ruled
exactly as O'Flaherty has on presumptions in drunken driving cases, he
noted.

The judge is well regarded by lawyers who practice before him and has received high marks in Fairfax Bar Association evaluations. He listens carefully to every last speeder and drunk driver and clearly explains his rulings. He has been a judge in Fairfax for 15 years and said he would like reappointment to another term in 2008. But he also said he would be perfectly satisfied if the legislature decided not to renew him in light of his stance on the drunken driving law.
After O'Flaherty dismissed one drunken driving case in July, in which police said the defendant had a .21 blood alcohol level, and another in early August, Fairfax prosecutors began dismissing the cases themselves before trial and then indicting the drivers in Circuit Court. But Oct. 12, when veteran Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Kathryn S. Swart tried to do that with a driver who she said had a .20 blood alcohol level, O'Flaherty would not allow it.
Swart argued with the judge, then declined to call any witnesses, prosecutors said. O'Flaherty swore in the defendant and then dismissed the case.
The next day, Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Jenna Sands asked O'Flaherty to recuse himself from a DWI case, saying it appeared that he would not consider all the evidence. "I'm going to consider all the evidence," the judge told her. "I'm just not going to have a presumption that requires the defendant to testify."
Sands asked him to allow her to dismiss the case so it could be indicted in Circuit Court. "That's denied," O'Flaherty said. "That's unethical. That's called 'forum shopping.' "


Sands tried to argue, but the judge cut her off. "I heard a whining diatribe yesterday from one of your associates," O'Flaherty said. "Next time I hear that from her, I'll put her in jail. You might tell her."


O'Flaherty explained that he had allowed prosecutors six dismissals without cause, so those cases can rise through the system and possibly to the appeals courts, where a formal opinion could be issued. "Half a dozen seems like a reasonable number," the judge said. "After that, there's no reason not to proceed in a regular manner."


He then heard evidence of the defendant's driving and performance on a field sobriety test -- the blood alcohol test was not submitted -- and dismissed the case. Several days later, after receiving evidence that a driver had registered .11 on a breath test but had not failed all the field sobriety tests, he dismissed that case.

Reilly Hits Jackpot..Republicans Angry

Boston Herald:
Outraged critics are calling on Attorney General Tom Reilly to return hefty
campaign donations from gaming supporters who filled his war chest just days
before the state Senate passed legislation to legalize slot machines and to give
Reilly a leading enforcement role.

``How can we trust him to uphold the law if he's bought and paid for by these special interests?'' said Matt Wiley, executive director of the Massachusetts Republican Party. ``He needs to return this money to get rid of the impropriety here.''

(...)

The state's Democratic Party fired back yesterday. ``For Governor Romney . . . to criticize Tom Reilly is complete and utter hypocrisy,'' party chairman Phil Johnston said. ``The cornerstone of the Romney-Healey campaign's economic policy in 2002 was bringing casino gambling to the state of Massachusetts, but once the governor's political aspirations grew beyond the Bay State's borders, he flipped his views to appeal to a conservative Republican base.''

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Mittwit...The Education Candidate

Do you think Mittwit will run for president as the education candidate?
The Massachusetts high school dropout rate reached 3.7 percent in 2004, the
highest rate in 14 years, prompting Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll to
call on school officials to work harder at making sure that students earn a
diploma.

Too bad the Boston mayoral race isn't any closer. Maybe if it was there would be more discusssion of the issues such as:
In Boston, the state's biggest school system, 31 percent of the current
junior class is expected to drop out
prior to graduation in 2007, according to
the report.

Shannon Thinks Tom's The Man

2002 Democratic candidate for governor and current chief Girl Scout Shannon O'Brien spoke to the Sucessful Women business conference in LeominsterWednesday according to the Fitchberg Sentinel.

She said about her opponent Mittwit Romney:
"He was very lucky that he wasn't part of the (state Republican) establishment and was able not to wear the baggage."

But she also says:
state Attorney General Thomas Reilly is the Democratic Party's best chance to retake the governor's office next year: "I think that certainly Tom Reilly has a significant lead right now, and has the name recognition and the money (to widen that)."

Now what makes her think Reilly will win given he has to wear the Democratic establishment baggage?

Thursday, October 20, 2005

O'Flaherty Ripe For The Picking

Roughly 2,000 repeat drunk drivers are arrested each year in Massachusetts.

Eugene O'Flaherty is a powerful state rep from Charlestown. His district includes Charlestown and Chelssea. Yesterday, he
helped gut a highly touted anti-drunken-driving bill jetted off with
colleagues for a European vacation yesterday as final debate on the measure
began, to the disgust of victims' advocates.

The original bill would have let
prosecutors use prior drunken-driving convictions against defendants at
sentencing. Following changes pushed by O'Flaherty and some peers, those
histories cannot be introduced unless someone involved in the original case
vouches for the conviction.

BlueMassGroup first surfaced and Bay Windows reported
Should he seek re-election to his Second Suffolk House District, it's
looking an awful lot like state Rep. Eugene O'Flaherty (D-Charlestown) will have
a primary challenger next year. It's a rumor that was first floated on the lefty
blog BlueMassGroup, but now Christopher Schiavone of Charlestown says he's "90
percent certain" that he'll be making a run to oust O'Flaherty, the socially
conservative chair of the House Judiciary Committee who hasn't exactly been a
friend to the gay community, as evidenced by the votes he cast in favor of the
most stringent amendments to ban same-sex marriage in last year's constitutional
convention and his "yes" vote for the Travaglini-Lees amendment just last month.

Discrimination Petition Progress

While on a trip to the garden spot of America, Huntsville, Alabama, I longed of a touch of wonderful Massachusetts. What better way to get it than to visit the Massachusetts "Anti-" Family Institue website.

While I think the anti-equalityforces will be able to gather the 60,000 some signatures to put evil on the ballot, their "renewed call to action" gave me a sense they are not having an easy time:

Robert Willington, the campaign manager for VoteOnMarriage.org, has one
important declaration for the supporters of marriage: "Step up now, or forever
hold your peace." While the statement may be blunt, there is no sugarcoating the
situation that we are in today in Massachusetts. The radical homosexual
activists are ready to read the eulogy of the pro-family movement in this state,
but we must show them that we are far from dead.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Deval Patrick Supports Wind Farm

Yesterday, Deval Patrick came out in support of the wind farm off of Cape Cod. This wind farm will provide a maximum output of 420 megawatts. This is enough clean, renewable energy to meet the needs of three quarters of the Cape and Islands.

Both Lt. Gov Kerry Healey and Tom Reilly, along with Mittwit oppose the Cape Wind project.

Today we find out what Mittwit's plan is. Mittwit, according to the Boston Globe
is considering easing air-pollution restrictions on oil-fueled power plants
to allow them to produce more electricity to stave off potential catastrophic
blackouts and natural gas shortages this winter.

These are the same plants, such as the one in Somerset, that are the dirtest in the state. But besides being environmentally dirty, I think they are morally dirty.

On some of the coldest days of this winter, spot-market prices for natural gas
could be so expensive that owners of gas-fired plants would find it more
profitable to shut down their plants and sell their gas supplies. Some regional
plants pursued exactly that strategy during a record January 2004 cold snap,
when the region barely escaped blackouts.

(...)
Under existing federal laws and local rules, the managers of the New
England power grid cannot stop power plant owners from shutting down and selling
their gas, even if it could trigger blackouts. ''We do not have any authority to
prevent generators from selling gas on the spot market," said Ken McDonnell,
spokesman for Independent System Operator New England, the Holyoke organization that runs the six-state power grid. Under ISO rules, power plant owners would face some financial sanctions for shutting down, but far less than their likely profit from reselling gas, he said.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Water, Water Everywhere

Back from vacation. Flying home Saturday night, the pilot announces about 1 hour before land, that since we took off from LA the clouds and rain have moved out of Boston.

We get home and our unfortunate downstairs neighbors have 14 inches of water in their condos.

Leave tomorrow on a business trip.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Galvin Talks

The Watertown Tab reports on an address Bill Galvin gave to the Watertown Democrat Town Committee :

"Independent voters are susceptible to the slick commercials Republicans
run," Galvin told the Watertown Democrat Town Committee last Thursday. "They
know how to get independent voters, and they have a tremendous financial
advantage."

(...)
"We're for taxes, but they're for taxes, too," he said.

(...)
"We need to ask more questions than we've been asking," he said.

Ultimately, Galvin said, Democrats should be able to take the
governor's office - provided they could raise enough money.

I find it hard to believe that the reason Democrats have not held to corner office for the last 15 years is because they could not raise enough money. Maybe it has to do with the way the message has been framed (for example, see above).

Salt Lake Tribune Scathing Commentary About Mittwit

The Salt Lake Tribune has a scathing commentary about Mittwit titled "Flip-flopping Romney now crassly plays to fearful America".

BOSTON, Mass. - Inevitable presidential candidate and current Massachusetts
Gov. W. Mitt Romney's threat to wiretap mosques and monitor Muslims won support from his party's right wing.

But it left some fellow Latter-day Saints and others wondering if he had
lost his grasp of constitutional law not to mention the history of his own
church's frightful encounters with government informants and harassment.

Because Romney once led a Mormon ecclesiastical precinct, roughly
equivalent to a Catholic diocese, some worried he spoke for the church, too. By
all accounts, he did not. The relationship between The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints and the 30,000-strong Muslim community in Utah is solid -
empathetic, cooperative and respectful.

On Sept. 14, he said, "How about people who are in settings - mosques, for
instance - that may be teaching doctrines of hate and terror? Are we monitoring
that? Are we wiretapping?"

(...)
Wary moderate supporters see Romney's "expedient" side re-emerging as
he nears announcing what everyone knows: He wants to be president in 2008.
Currying favor with powerful neo-conservatives led him to flip-flop on "choice,"
"same-sex civil unions" and stem-cell research, and to veto a bill approving the
so-called "morning-after pill" (his veto was overridden by a unanimous vote of
the legislature).

Romney's expedient side surfaced back in 1994 when he skirted the abortion
issue as deftly as Bill Clinton: "Not my choice, but every woman has the right
to choose."

Sympathetic Mormons supported his muse then that the "morning-after pill"
might be balm for abortion war wounds. They even understood when he claimed
"civil unions" would ensure rights for gay citizens while protecting traditional
marriage. But, they muttered "oh, please" when he unnecessarily supported
building Native American-owned casinos near Cape Cod.

While the polls made it plain - no candidate who opposed abortion could win
in Massachusetts - some sympathizers thought Romney was just a little too eager
to compromise. A Catholic father of eight groused: "I'll vote for Romney, no
matter what. But, I wish he would drive a stake in the ground and be himself. I
know what Mormons believe. But, I have no idea what Romney stands for."


The story goes on to quote people who have known Mittwit over the years.

Salt Lake native, Dr. Christopher Blakesley, who went to church with Romney
when they were students in Boston wonders "Is wiretapping mosques really what
Mitt believes, or is he willing to prostitute his beliefs for the nomination?"

A former Utahn who has known Romney for years warns: "Mitt's recent
flip-flops on key issues are foolish pandering. He seriously overestimates the
support he or any Mormon would ultimately receive from ultra-right Christians."

Thomas Duncan of Provo, who served with Romney when the two were
missionaries in France, worries, "If Mitt gets serious about wiretapping
mosques, how long will it be before the press figures out that Mormons were once
at odds with the government and swore oaths in church that outsiders thought
promoted terrorism?"

Duncan refers, in part, to a series of distorted dispatches from
adversaries and paid informants that persuaded President James Buchanan to send
federal troops to Utah in 1857.

Mittwit Ignores Bush

The other week Bush was telling everyone to reduce travel to conserve energy. On Friday, Mittwit was with U.S. Energy Secretary Sam Bodman in Dedham. They were at Lowe's talking about weather stripping your windows and doors. Mittwit said he recently did that to his home.
So today Mittwit is in North Carolina to lend his name to fund raisers. Mittwit's a governor. Why does he ignore the President and do non-essential travel? He should be home running the Commonwealth.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Vacation

Spending some time soaking up the rays for the next few days out in the desert of California.

State Dems Dig Own Hole

As the Republicans continue to implode on the national scene with scandels provided by "easy money Frist", "give me your money Delay" and Plamegate, I think the "tyranny of one party rule" is a theme we will hear more and more as we move to the 06 elections. As the theme is repeated over and over on the national scene it will undoubtedly seep into the conscience of the Massachusetts voter. I can see Kerry Healey using this argument next year in her race against the Democrats for the corner office.

In Saturday's Boston Globe, Steve Bailey reported on what could become one of the examples Healey uses to illustrate the point.

Three years ago the Legislature made a mistake. Now it is preparing to bill
40,000 taxpayers for that mistake.

Repeat after me: You do not retroactively tax people for income they
realized three years ago. And you especially do not tax people three years later
for a mistake you made. But that is precisely where our Legislature is
headed.

The quandary the Legislature faces as a result of an expensive court
ruling on capital gains taxes is entirely of its own making. The Legislature,
desperate for revenue in 2002, tried to change the rules in the middle of the
year, raising long-term capital gains taxes to 5.3 percent in place of a stepped
system that taxed profits from zero to 5 percent, depending on how long an
investor held the asset. The change was effective May 1, 2002.

Taxpayers sued and the Supreme Judicial Court agreed that the state
could not change the rates in mid-year. The Legislature was left with two
choices: Either make January 2002 the effective date for the new rates and
collect as much as $205 million in unpaid taxes, or move the start date to
January 2003 and refund $250 million already paid by 157,000 taxpayers.

It is simply not in the DNA of most politicians to willingly give back
money to taxpayers.
The governor, Mitt Romney, has pushed from the beginning
to swallow hard and rebate the money. He is dead right on this. Surging tax
revenues -- September was a record month, and the state's rainy day fund now
stands near a record $1.7 billion -- have made his case all the more
compelling.

Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation,
opposes Romney's call for an income tax cut, but agrees with him on the capital
gains issue: ''There is broad agreement it is not appropriate to tax
retroactively."

The Democratic Legislature has been willing to do everything but the
right thing.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Mittwit Waits For Santa

As Mittwit, the red speck, becomes increasingly irrelevant to the Commonwealth the Boston Globe reports Governor Mitt Romney is putting off the much-awaited announcement on his political future until late November, giving him time to focus on his healthcare bill and other aspects of his legislative agenda, a top GOP adviser said yesterday.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

57 Percent Against Anti-Equality Amendment

UMass Lowell conducted a poll of 400 registered voters from Sept 19 through Sept 27.

The 13-question poll also asked how people would vote on a proposed
constitutional amendment that could appear on the 2008 ballot, which, if
approved, would ban gay marriage in the state completely.

Forty-seven percent reported they are “not at all” likely to support
that amendment, and nine percent said they were “not very” likely.
Thirty
percent reported they are “very” likely to support the amendment, and 10 percent
reported they are “somewhat” likely. Five percent said they don't know.

Reilly leads Romney In New Poll

The article in the

Bait And Switch...Surprise, Surprise

Does this really surprise anyone. Allegations of illegal signature gathering were rampant the last time religious extremist circulated an anti-equality petition. As we metioned on Sep 13th, the initiative petition process should be revise to outlaw paid signature gatherers. If it is truly a citizen process, let the citizens get the signatures.

From The Boston Globe:
A legislative committee announced yesterday that it will hold a hearing on
reports of bait-and-switch tactics in the collection of signatures for a
proposed ban on same-sex marriage, amid mounting complaints from voters that
they were tricked into signing, or nearly signing, petitions.

(...)

Several gay-rights groups have solicited and compiled such complaints. Some
voters have written letters to the editor in local newspapers, while others have
contacted the Globe and other media directly.

Most of the complaints fit the same pattern: Shoppers at supermarkets
and stores such as Wal-Mart say that after signing a separate petition to allow
beer and wine sales in grocery stores, they were asked to sign the gay-marriage
measure with little or sometimes no explanation.

In another development, the Massachusetts Food Association, which is
circulating the petitions to allow beer and wine sales in supermarkets, said
yesterday it has refused to accept hundreds of signatures gathered by
individuals who were also collecting signatures for the gay-marriage
question.

Christopher P. Flynn, the group's president, said that his organization
had received several complaints from supermarket customers that they were the
targets of bait-and-switch tactics by signature gatherers. He said the
complaints increased last week.


And as Kris Mineau, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute said ''We've worked with them very thoroughly" referring to California-based Arno Political Consultants, the firm MFI has hired to gather signatures. Let's see how much distance he tries to put between them if the allegations prove out.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

What Mittwit Can Look Forward To

I don't know anything about the site Frontpagemag.com except it sure looks right wing. But this is a taste of what Mittwit can look forward to.


Speaking recently to the prestigious Monday Meeting in Manhattan,
Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney wowed the overflow conservative crowd with his
charm and made many there come away feeling that he could be a credible
candidate for the White House in ‘08. But what no one in the room
addressed, yet of which everyone was aware—surely no one more acutely than the
main attraction himself—was the Mormon issue.

Yet as much as the obstacles posed by Romney’s religion have been
discussed in the media—that evangelical GOP primary voters in the South would be
reluctant to support a Mormon—no one in the Manhattan audience was aware of an
incident that happened just 24 hours earlier that will serve as a reminder that
there’s another huge potential problem looming for the would-be White House
seeker: race.

The Mormon Church has what can only be generously described as a
tortured history on race. Anyone of African descent was banned from the
priesthood until 1978—some 14 years after the passage of the first major Civil
Rights Act. But it goes much deeper than that
.

(...)

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach recently had one of those broadcasts that most talk show
hosts only dream of. A black New Orleans evacuee was a call-in guest on
his Salt Lake City program and expressed discomfort staying in 99% white, mostly
Mormon Utah, saying he felt unwanted.

Rabbi Boteach assured
his guest that he had Mormons pegged wrong, that they were great people.
The host then asked a question that caught the caller off-guard: if there were
people who could help him, would he consider staying permanently in Salt Lake
City? The caller responded that he would.


(...)

Rabbi Boteach was planning to visit Salt Lake City (he lives in New Jersey)
that following week for previously scheduled business meetings with executives
at Bonneville International, the company which owns KUTR-AM. (Bonneville
is entirely owned by the Mormon Church.) But on Saturday—one day before he
was scheduled to fly out and one day after the broadcast where he organized the
gathering—KUTR Program Director Rod Arquette left Rabbi Boteach a series of
frantic voice mails to inform him that he would not be coming to
Utah.

When Rabbi Boteach finally talked with Arquette on Sunday,
September 11, he learned that his show was being canceled—immediately.

Will You Cut Taxes?

Boston Globe reports:

State revenues shot up $317 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2006
compared with the same period last year, prompting Governor Mitt Romney
yesterday to call on legislative Democrats to cut the personal income tax rate
to 5 percent as voters demanded five years ago.

''It's pretty clear that Massachusetts is back and firing on all
cylinders," Romney said at a State House press conference. ''The numbers we're
looking at from a revenue standpoint are just mind-numbing. . . . It's time to
return to the taxpayers the tax rate they asked for and voted for."

Leaders in the State House and Senate said they were cautiously optimistic
about the revenue figures, but rejected Romney's argument that Massachusetts is
hale enough financially to pass a tax cut that would drain $600 million a year
in revenue. They cited the fiscal uncertainty of rising oil and natural gas
prices and healthcare costs and the threat of steep cuts in federal Medicaid
money.

''Before those variables take on a value, I'm not willing to make any
determination on a tax rollback, and it would be unwise to do so," said Senate
President Robert E. Travaglini, an East Boston Democrat.

I can just see the debates for Governor next year when the "will you roll back the state income tax to 5% like the voters approved" gets asked. I can see candidate Kerry Healey say yes and the Democratic candidate give some wishy washy non-response. And I can see the Republicans winning the corner office again like they have for the last 20 years.

I know George Lackoff's argument about talking about taxes as an investment. And I know the far left thinks we should pay more taxes to fund more programs. But how about the Democratic candidate saying something like "I think we need to exercise responsible giovernment and make sure our house is fiscally sound. That is what the Democratic led legislature has been doing. We don't want to be in the poor financial situation the federal govenrment is in. But I do think we should consider raising the personal exemption on taxes to return what money we can to the citizens."

Raising the personal exemption really puts more money in the pockets of the less fortunate of taxpayers than a tax cut. But this approach also minimizes the arguemnt that Democrats will raise my taxes...or won't cut them.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Lowell...Trying To Do The Right Thing

From The Lowell Sun:

The 1972 court order requiring cities to hire more minority police officers
was a smart decision at that time. Unfortunately, today it is restricting the
Lowell Police Department's hiring practices by making it difficult to put more
Asian officers on the force.

The order requires police departments to make the racial profile of
their staff similar to the population of the city they protect. However, it only
recognizes African-Americans, Hispanics and American Indians as minorities.
Asians, according to the 2000 U.S. Census, comprise about 16.5 percent of
Lowell's population, but they don't count as minority hires.

(...)

The Lowell Police Department does a commendable job in hiring qualified
minority candidates. The city is about 4 percent African-American and the
department has about 3 percent African-American officers. The city is 16.5
percent Hispanic; the department, about 13.5 percent Hispanic.

But the effort falls flat when it comes to Asians. While official
figures say Lowell is 16.5 percent Asian, that number is commonly believed to be
too low. City officials believe Lowell to be about 25 to 30 percent Asian. But
the police force is only 3 percent Asian, not even close to the city's reality.

Out Of Touch Leaders

With all the things going on in the state with the Catholic Chruch right now, whether it is the anti-equality marriage constitutional amendment, the more than 1,000 parishioners supporting their pastor against a "despicable attempt to smear the reputatuion of a decent man...", or Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly demanding that archdiocesan officials not attribute to his office any decision to audit or discipline priests, John Carroll has an excellent editorial in The Boston Globe discussing how the Church leadership has squandered their moral authority.

ROME
TO BE A Roman Catholic in Rome this week is to remember, among so much
else, the way in which leaders of this church have squandered their moral
authority in recent years.

In 1968, it was the disastrous anti-birth control encyclical ''Humanae
Vitae," which opened a gulf between the hierarchy and the laity and which lately
has the church on the wrong side of the global fight against HIV/AIDS. The
coterie of American bishops chosen by Pope John Paul II failed their greatest
test by protecting abusive priests instead of the children who were their
victims. Now, church authority stands on the edge of yet another act of moral
self-mutilation with a coming ''instruction" banning homosexuals from
seminaries. Such a policy threatens to turn an imminent program of ''apostolic
visitations" of US seminaries, which overtly targets ''heresy," into a full
blown sexual witch hunt.

Over the last couple of weeks, I have had direct and indirect contact
with well-connected Catholics here -- hardly a hotbed of liberalism -- and the
coming instruction is regarded as a catastrophe in the making. With boards of
Vatican-appointed investigators poised to swoop down on American schools in
which new priests are trained, interrogations of candidates and loyalty tests
for teachers already betray a nostalgia for the bygone era of thought-control
and snitching. A formally licensed obsession with homosexuality will push the
investigation into a realm, as one senior priest put it to me, more of Joseph
Stalin than Jesus Christ.


(...)

From Boston, the epicenter of the crisis, comes the chilling news that one
of the brave priests who saved the church's soul by calling for Cardinal Bernard
Law's resignation, the Rev. Walter Cuenin, has been unjustly fired from his
position as pastor at Our Lady, Help of Christians in Newton. Cuenin is an
exemplary priest. That he has been slandered by the archdiocese in the process
of his removal is a mortal betrayal. There are reports that many of the other
pastors who challenged Law have been shunted aside as well.

Cardinal Law, the icon of failure, is ensconced in a prestigious
position here in Rome. He is an icon of denial, too. Instead of a reformation of
all that made the sex abuse crisis possible, the hierarchy is circling its
wagons. Good people are being sacrificed. Cruelty as a mode of church governance
is back. Sexual imperialism is reasserted as a method of control. The culture of
dishonesty lives.

The Catholic Church, The Disabled And Marriage

As the Catholic Church fights to enshrine discrimination into the Commonwealth's constitution, I am reminded of a movie I saw on television. The movie is called Forbidden Wedding.

Hedir Antonio de Brito, a paraplegic from the age of fifteen, wanted simply to
marry Elzimar Serafim, who was the love of his life. He had sent out wedding
invitations and applied for a marriage certificate from the Roman Catholic
Church. But forty days before the wedding, Hedir got an unexpected letter from
the Catholic Church of Patrocinio, Brazil. His marriage application was denied
on the grounds that as a paraplegic he could not copulate. This decision was
based on the Vatican's Canon Law 1084.


Canon Law 1084 §1. Antecedent and perpetual impotence to have intercourse, whether on the part of the man or the woman, whether absolute or relative, nullifies marriage by its very nature.

So those of you of the "Bob Dole" generation may want to think twice before signing any petition to prevent somelse's marriage. Because yours could be next.

And why is it you never hear about love or commitment. With the Catholic Church it is always about sex.