Saturday, April 30, 2005

Insiders on Romney

Political Wire has some information about an 'Insiders Poll' done by the National Journal handicapping potential 2008 Presidential candidates. Eighty-five Republicans and Ninety Democrats were asked to rank their top five choices for their side. Care to guess where our beloved governor ranked? From the article (PDF):

RankCandidatePointsFirst-Place Votes
1.George Allen229(19)
2.John McCain217(19)
3.Bill Frist184(11)
4.Rudy Giuliani129(8)
5.Mitt Romney109(5)
6.Haley Barbour93(6)
7.Jeb Bush61(6)
8.Condoleezza Rice56(3)
9.Chuck Hagel36(3)
10.George Pataki34(2)
Not too bad, considering where Romney ranked among actual human beings back in March. Among the party elite, Mitt even does better than Jeb! and Condi -- never mind that they have said they're not running. The article itself didn't spend much time on Romney, but they did have this to say:
On Mitt Romney: "Good-looking, rich, but can a one-term Massachusetts governor get there from here? Doubtful."
Of course, you didn't need to be an insider to figure that out.

Interestingly enough, on the Democratic side, Senator John Kerry also finished fifth, though he only got two first place votes (Senator Hillary Clinton was number one with 68 first place votes). On John Kerry:
"Kerry had his shot, he blew it, and there won't be a second chance. Kerry will come to his senses and not run in '08."
No disagreement there, either. I imagine Kerry will toy with the idea of running, but in the end he'll be content to use his contact lists and campaign warchest to play kingmaker.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Death: Romney's New Priority

I was all set to talk about Governor Romney's recent push to reinstate the death penalty, but then I realized that Cape Cod Works said almost exactly what I wanted, better than I could have phrased it.

Governor Romney, finally returning from campaign appearances in other states, has unveiled his new initiative to solve what ails us in Massachusetts.

A foolproof death penalty bill.

Hmmmmm. As I have worked through the last months or so, I've come across a bunch of problems I had hoped the state legislature and governor were working on: how to cover the 540,000 Massachusetts residents who have no health insurance; how to help the towns on Cape Cod avoid massive and major budget overrides; drug treatment diversions from the criminal justice/incarceration system; how to get free lunches to low income kids once they're out of school for the summer; the vanishing affordable housing on Cape Cod and in Massachusetts; and plenty more.
And it's true. What pressing problem does the death penalty solve in Massachusetts? Not to be glib, but are we really facing an epidemic of deadly acts of terrorism, killing sprees or murders involving torture? Why would Romney bring this up now, if not to bolster his conservative bona fides before 2008? Compare this to what Romney said about his priorities this year in his radio ad campaign (mp3):
This can be another year of action in the legislature. You'll be hearing me on the radio talking about my ideas like market-based health insurance for everyone. We can create great schools by finishing the job of education reform. And we can make Massachusetts a truly job-friendly state.
Notice the lack of the death penalty among his priorities. Notice also how it is not even tangentially related to any of them, unless you count the fact that prisoners who are executed will no longer need health insurance.

If the past two years is any indication, Governor Romney will send out a couple more press releases, yap about it on the airwaves and then, after being repudiated by the legislature, he'll promptly forget about it and move on to something else -- never quite having accomplished more than a Powerpoint presentation and a press conference.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Deval Patrick In Cambridge

Blue Mass Group has a very thorough rundown of Deval Patrick's recent speech in Cambridge. Charley even gives a blow-by-blow of the question and answer session. Here's a sample:

Concerning universal health care: What's different this time from the Clinton plan years?

Patrick mentioned the complexity of the Clinton plan, but more to the point is that all the other players in health care, not just consumers, are dissatisfied. And even if you have insurance, it's a hassle. Patrick spoke of his recently deceased mother's difficulties with getting reimbursed for care. Single payer care is unrealistic in the short-term, but he said he's willing to spend political capital on major health care reform: "If I don't get it done in my first term, throw me out."
The rest is a great read, and Patrick even talks about his experiences at Coke. Check it out.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Pollin' Pollin' Pollin'

There's more bad news for Governor Romney in the most recent Bay State Poll. The Eagle-Tribune has the story:

Gov. Mitt Romney's approval rating has dipped to its lowest point in more than a year-and-a-half, according to a statewide poll conducted over the last two weeks.

Only about 43 percent of participants in the survey said they approved of how Romney is handling his job as governor, down sharply from 56 percent in early February and the lowest since the Bay State Poll began tracking public opinion in November 2003.
So, why has it dropped so far? The answer, if my armchair analysis is correct, can be found in the disconnect between these two numbers:
Will Romney Run for President in 2008?
Very Likely24.9%
Somewhat Likely41.3%
Not Very Likely26.8%
Don't know/Refused (Vol)7.0%
Should Romney Run for President in 2008?
In other words, most Bay Staters think Mitt should not run for president, but even more think it's at least somewhat likely that he will. This tells a bit of a different story than the numbers in February, which suggested (at least to me) that voters didn't really care if Romney ran for President. I suppose two months of Romney stumping in preparation of '08 were enough to turn some people against him.

The poll also asked about the Democratic Gubernatorial Primary:
Secretary of State William Galvin8.1%
Attorney General Thomas Reilly21.3%
Former US Assistant Attorney General Deval Patrick 4.0%
Somebody Else35.5%
Don't know/Refused (Vol)31.1%
While Reilly might take some comfort in being fairly far out ahead of his competition, this poll shows that two-thirds of the electorate is undecided. At this early date, it looks like anyone could win the Democratic nomination. If "somebody else" is still polling high in the next poll, it would not surprise me to see another candidate jump in to grab the brass ring. Chris Gabrielli could fund his own candidacy, and Joe Kennedy or Mike Capuano might reconsider.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Julie Teer's New Job

Last week, Governor Romney named former Bush campaign spokeswoman Julie Teer to replace Shawn Feddeman, who left for the private sector. Teer was the communications director for the New Hampshire GOP during the 2003-2004 primaries. Romney has, understandably, taken some criticism from Democrats for hiring someone from an important primary state with presidential campaign experience.

"It is no coincidence that Gov. Romney has a press spokesperson with presidential campaign experience," state Democratic Party spokeswoman Jane Lane said, referring to Romney's newest spokeswoman, Julie Teer. Lane predicted Romney will use Teer for his "presidential campaign."
Such criticism, I think, misses the bigger picture. Teer's job during the runup to the Democratic presidential primary in New Hampshire was to issue press releases attacking the Democratic nominees, and generally wreaking as much havoc as possible with the purpose of making sure the process produced the weakest Democratic candidate possible. That way, the President could keep his hands clean until after the Democratic nomination was secured.

Romney didn't just hire Teer for his own presidential ambitions, but to do the same to the Massachusetts Democrats as she did to the national Democrats. Look for her to sew discord during the 2006 gubernatorial primary. She will be tasked with responding to any criticism leveled at Romney by Deval Patrick, Tom Reilly, or anyone else seeking the Democratic nomination.

UPDATE: Chimes at Midnight rightfully takes me to task for forgetting that Teer was the Republican in charge of communications for the one state that the Republicans won in 2000 but lost in 2004. Not only that, but the Republican incumbant governor was unseated. We can only hope she follows up with a repeat performance here in Massachusetts in 2006.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Middlesex County DA Roundup

When Attorney General Tom Reilly finally announces his currently unofficial gubernatorial run, he will set into motion some political dominoes, particularly in Middlesex County. Current Middlesex County District Attorney, Martha Coakley, has already announced that she's seeking Reilly's position as soon as he makes his own campaign official.

That leaves a scramble for Coakley's position as DA. As of now, State Reps Peter Koutoujian (D-Waltham) and Michael Festa (D-Melrose) along with State Senator Jarrett Barrios (D-Cambridge) have all announced that they're running, pending Coakley's decision. They would all have to step down from their current seats to do so, as would the other legislators who have been rumored to be interested in the DA's job including State Senator Cynthia Creem (D-Newton) and Reps Charles Murphy (D-Burlington) and David Linsky (D-Natick). Personally, I'm high on all three candidates. Festa gave a good speech last week and he was very friendly to me at a DSC meeting I went a few months back. Koutoujian made a good impression when I saw him at the Watertown Library groundbreaking. He is also about 20 feet tall. As for Barrios, I think that he really understands the problems with the Democratic party both here and nationally. That's kind of why I was hoping he'd stay in the Senate rather than try to move to the DA's office.

If all goes as planned, we can expect open seats in the 10th Middlesex, which covers parts of Newton, Waltham and a precinct in West Watertown; the 32nd Middlesex, which covers all of Melrose and parts of Wakefield; and the Middlesex, Suffolk and Essex State Senate district which insanely covers parts of Cambridge, Everett, Somerville, Charlestown, Allston, Brighton, Chelsea, Revere and Saugus. None of these races was competitive last year, though Mike Festa was challenged by a Republican who he beat by a two-to-one margin.

A high-profile competition for Middlesex County DA, as well as the open seats, could have repercussions for the governor's race. High turnout in Middlesex County could be good news for Tom Reilly, who's been winning elections there for years. Conversely, a strong showing by Jarrett Barrios could bring the kind of activists to the polls who might find Deval Patrick appealing. As for the general election, the impact would depend on the state Republicans and whether they field candidates -- either for DA or the legislature. Given that Romney is unlikely to want to repeat the 2004 performance of "Team Reform" and the state GOP's recent track record in the special elections, there is a good chance that several of these races could be decided long before November.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Mitt's Numbers Sink Even Lower

The internals aren't out yet, but the Globe's Scot Lehigh has the results of the latest UMass poll on the governor's race. Things look even worse for the governor in the early going.

Question: Does Romney deserve to be reelected governor or is it time for a change?

Deserves to be reelected33%43%
Time for a change50%49%


Tom Reilly44%36%
Deval Patrick27%36%
This is the lowest we've seen Romney poll against anyone. The Reilly and Patrick numbers are about where we've seen them before, so what seems to have happened is that Romney managed to turn off people he was appealing to as recently as January. I think that Lehigh has the right idea when he links this to Romney's recent out-of-state campaigning in advance of 2008. Romney seems to have mentally checked out of a job he was never particularly interested in in the first place. Not only that, but as he touts his record as a social conservative in South Carolina and Missouri, the social moderates back home start to wonder if Mitt is really the guy they want representing them.

To counter this, Romney is trying to puff up his record with radio ads touting his accomplishments. I haven't yet heard one, but I can only guess that they're pretty short spots.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Kennedy Debuts His New Site

As reported by and the Blue Mass Group, Ted Kennedy debuted his new website this week -- I was involved in the conference call with the Senator on Monday where he announced that he wanted his site to be a clearinghouse for information on what's going on in the Senate, and particularly a place to find out more about the 'nuclear' option -- the Republican scheme to turn the Senate into a rubber stamp for Bush's judicial appointees. Kennedy's site should serve as a nice complement to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid's "war room" at

The conference call itself was a little surreal. Here is one of the longest serving US Senators, a bunch of the lefty blogosphere's heaviest hitters and little old me. The fact that I -- a nobody living in Watertown -- was invited to participate after only a few months of blogging says as much to me about his commitment to the netroots than any webpage. Senator Kennedy gave a quick rundown of the ways that the Republicans are trying to squelch dissent in the Senate, and in Congress in general, and then took questions.

One thing that the Senator did not emphasize was what we here in Massachusetts could do if we wanted to stop the 'nuclear' option. After all, our Senators certainly don't need any convincing -- Kerry is already on the record as being vehemently opposed to it. He said we should continue to follow the situation closely and, in particular, spread the word.

It's too early to say, but it seems like the Democratic message is getting out. Harry Reid was on the Ed Schultz Show today saying that the Republicans don't have the votes yet, or else they'd have gone nuclear already. Rick Santorum is apparently privately arguing for a delay in light of some recent GOP internal polling that shows the public is against the Senate rule changes. Still, the Judiciary committee has already approved (along partisan lines of course) three of the ten judges that were rejected in the last Senate session. If these judges are truly objectionable, any delay by the Republicans would just give the Democrats more time to explain to the public why they are unfit for the bench and what the consequences of approving them would be.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005


The Mass Dems blog is live. They had been promising they would start this for over a month now, always saying "sometime next week."

A weblog, I think, is an essential and low-overhead tool to give people a sense of ownership in the party. It remains to be seen, though, whether the Dems will use this as a two-way communication tool or a one-way communication tool. The state GOP is already using their email list to send out talking points, it's a good sign to see the Democrats also embracing the netroots.

Anyway, welcome to the neighborhood!

It's, Like, Really Gross!

Dan Kennedy has the story of how the anti-gay Article 8 Alliance is getting Bay Windows banned at local supermarkets. For those who don't know, Bay Windows is the Boston Area's weekly gay and lesbian newspaper and as the Herald reports Shaws and Stop & Shop have stopped carrying it due to sexual content in the personals section. Stop & Shop, at least, seems willing to distribute copies of the paper without the personal ads. That seems fair to me, but it's not enough for Brian Camenker, director of the Article 8 Alliance

From the Herald Article:

"The ads were just part of it," Camenker said.

"They're really sort of disgusting, anti-family, anti-religion. The paper is full of, like, really gross stuff," Camenker said.
I think the Article 8 Alliance is really on to something here. I hereby demand that Shaws and Stop & Shop stop selling the following items, as I find them, like, really gross:
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Bananas
  • Dessert Tofu, particularly the Key Lime
  • Spray Cheeze
  • Flavored Water
  • White Zinfandel
  • The entire feminine hygiene aisle (sorry ladies, but c'mon!)
  • Peanut butter and jelly mixed together. It is unnatural.
Also, I think those lobsters present a very anti-family message! Crawling nude all over each other in that tiny tank. If Shaws and Stop & Shop can't house their lobsters like nature intended -- one male and one female in each tank until they are eaten -- I'm afraid I'll have to organize a boycott.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Not Worth the Price

I had heard that Governor Romney's book Turnaround was 'fairly awful' but I didn't realize that it sold so poorly he needed to give it away to unsuspecting Utahns:

Nearly 1,000 people attended Romney's later speech, all of them invited guests and customers of Zions Bank. All took home a copy of Romney's book, "Turnaround: Crisis, Leadership and the Olympic Games." The 377-page book chronicles Romney's rescue of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee and the 2002 Olympic Winter Games from the brink of scandal and financial ruin.

Zions bought the books from Romney in lieu of paying him a speaker's fee.
The above was taken from a Globe article detailing yet another one of Mitt's trips out of state, this time a return trip to Utah. It's too bad, seeing as he missed a beautiful Patriot's Day here in Massachusetts. Almost like clockwork now, when public sector employees have a three day weekend, Romney can be found out of state, stumping in front of Republican true believers. How can the governor claim to be promoting Massachusetts when, at the same time, he's clamoring to get out of here as soon as the five o'clock whistle blows?

But He's Still a Fraud, Right?

Sad news for the Massachusetts blogosphere today as the Romney is a Fraud blog announced that it is going on hiatus.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

MDF Convention Report

On Saturday, Massachusetts Democratic Future, the local chapter of Young Democrats of America had its annual Leadership Convention at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. The purpose of the convention, near as I could gather was more networking (for the attendees) and campaigning (for the speakers) than anything else. I suppose most of these things are.

The main reason I was there was that it gave me a chance to see both Tom Reilly, who I had yet to see in person and Deval Patrick, who I hadn't seen since his official announcement. Other elected officials speaking were Sen. Jarrett Barrios (D-Somerville), Middlesex County DA Martha Coakley, Rep. Michael Festa (D-Melrose), and a panel featuring Reps. Jennifer Flanagan (D-Leominster), Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton) and Steve Canessa (D-New Bedford). Several others made appearances but did not speak, including two 2006 candidates for Lieutenant Governor: Deb Goldberg and Sam Kelly (if memory serves).

First to speak was Senator Barrios. He gave a speech out of the George Lakoff playbook. That is, the Democrats don't need to move to the left or move to the right, they just need to talk about their values in simple terms. The Republicans simply have a better, or at least better defined, brand -- even here in Massachusetts. He bases much of what he says on the work he did on the Election Outreach committee last year. If you haven't had a chance to look at the committee's reports yet, they are well done and well researched. The Recapturing the Corner Office (PDF) report is something I've been meaning to comment on for months now, but just haven't had the time.

Attorney General Tom Reilly sound very much like a declared candidate for governor. I'm not sure that he's made any official statement, but at this point if he did, it wouldn't even be "news" since it's been talked about so much already. He was a few minutes late, having been in an Honor Guard for Suffolk County prosecutor David Connolly, who was killed in Iraq last week. Reilly spoke briefly on this, his thoughts a little scattered in light of the emotional content. Reilly hit his stride later, while giving what I'm sure is his typical "I'm Tom Reilly and this is my story" schpiel. If you don't know his history, Boston Magazine had a good article on him a few years ago and his story is one that a lot of Bay Staters can probably relate to. he talked a lot about his accomplishments, and mentioned his campaign themes of 'personal responsibility' and 'merit' among others. At the end, in a clear challenge to the governor, he mentioned that he had never lost a race and didn't plan to start.

Next was a panel on "Running Young and Winning" which featured three Democratic state legislators who ran young and won. They each told their stories of how they got involved and described their experiences being often the youngest people in the room. Personally, I would have rather had the emphasis on "winning" rather than "running" as none of the panelists said much about what made their campaigns successful other than the usual door knocking and having top-notch staff. One thing they mentioned they did not use was the Internet -- something I hope changes in future elections.

Deval Patrick spoke next on the same themes I had heard him talk about previously, though this time in a prepared statement. I'll forgive Patrick for reading his speech since he only announced last week, but at some point he should really commit it to memory -- especially since I find him much better than Reilly when speaking extemporaneously. To their credit, though, neither Patrick nor Reilly criticized the other, saving their barbs for Governor Romney. Patrick was asked about Romney's recent attack and said, in his defense, that when you include property taxes, his taxes had actually gone up under Romney. He also repeated his point that we shouldn't be talking about taxes before we talk about what we want government to do. It's a fair point. People trust Republicans to cut taxes and Democrats to keep services. If the candidates are talking about services rather than taxes, the Democrat naturally comes out on top.

During the break, MassEquality played a teaser to Saving Marriage, a documentary about the fight for equal marriage rights in Massachusetts. The movie should be coming out later this year. I would hope that people on the fence about this issue would see it with an open mind, as it really puts a face to the struggle for gay marriage.

Martha Coakley spoke after another breakout session. She was actually a lot better than advertised. I've heard generally poor reviews of her speaking style in the past, but I would have to disagree given what I saw on Saturday. Either she's stepping up her rhetorical skill as she runs for state Attorney General, or I just had low expectations that she easily exceeded. One thing that stood out in her remarks was a comment that Massachusetts police departments could leverage the strong biotech industry in public-private partnerships. This could make it easier for cash-strapped police departments to do things like run DNA tests, for example.

Michael Festa, a current Rep. from Melrose spoke last. He's running for Middlesex County DA, Coakley's current job and Tom Reilly's former job (as well at Scott Harshbarger's). I had heard that Jarrett Barrios was also running for this position, but I've never had this confirmed independantly. Peter Koutoujian (D-Waltham) who represents part of Watertown is also rumored to be interested in the DA's job. Festa talked a lot about how public safety should not just be concerned with punishing criminals, but also addressing root causes.

In all, I'd have to say the convention was successful in giving young Democrats a chance to network and a chance to see candidates for office at an early stage in the election cycle. It was also good to see people who wanted to get involved despite the fact that this is an off year.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Some Reactions

Here's what people are saying around the Boston media and the Internet about Deval Patrick's announcement that he's running for governor:

Blue Mass Group reports from Patrick's first post-announcement speech in Lexington yesterday.

I was impressed. I've been saying for a long time that we cannot just hand this nomination to Tom Reilly (or to anyone else, for that matter) - the nomination must be earned. That's exactly what Patrick is saying, and it's what he hopes to do. I have also said before that an "outsider" challenger like Patrick will be good for the process, good for the party, and good for whichever candidate ends up winning the nomination.
The Boston Herald editorial board welcomes Patrick into the race, presumably because this way they actually have a race to cover. Of course, they can't resist taking a swipe at state Democrats:
In this bluest of states, Republicans have controlled the Corner Office since 1990. Maybe contrarian Massachusetts voters just love divided government. Or maybe no Democrat has come up with a compelling message or a campaign that inspires. Now there's the challenge.
The Chimes at Midnight complains about Scot Lehigh's op/ed in the Globe:
Lehigh is advising Deval Patrick to look act and sound just like that ace parachutist from Utah, Mitt Romney. That would be the same Governor who is the the author & proud producer of the Commonwealth's current state of psychic humiliation and public stagnation.
Massachusetts Global Action, in a press release complains that Deval Patrick has too much "baggage" as a Coke executive. Though, to be fair, their complaints are more about the Coca-Cola company than Patrick himself.
“With his recent $2.1 million cash infusion from Coca-Cola and confidentiality agreement, we’re worried that he cannot have anything but serious conflicts of interests when it comes to water issues, labor rights, and the health of our kids.”
Attorney General and undeclared Democratic candidate Tom Reilly was quoted as welcoming Patrick's candidacy:
"I believe in competition," [Reilly] said. "Competition is good. It brings out the best in all of us."
Reilly said that he's concentrating for now on his job as the state's top law enforcement officer. But he all but declared his candidacy on the spot, saying "I made my decision -- I made it a long time ago, and I think everyone knows what it is."
"It's very early in this process, and there's a ways to go. I think folks know that when the time comes, I'll be ready for this race. I have a job, and right now I'm focused on that job," he said.
Some folks at The Daily Kos have noticed Patrick's candidacy and sparked a discussion on his merits relative to Reilly.

Left Center Left notices a striking similarity between Patrick's campaign slogan "Believe Again" and the slogan of a certain world-series champion.

Devone Tucker thinks that Patrick's sunk before he even begins after saying he's against "needless" taxes, rather than "new" taxes.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Patrick Announces

First he settled on a campaign manager, then he got an infusion of cash, and now it's official: Deval Patrick is running for governor. From that article:

His team has designed a red, black, and white bumper sticker bearing his campaign theme "Believe Again." Patrick's pitch is expected to tout "his life experience." A business executive and top Justice Department official, he is the son of a woman on welfare from Chicago's south side who won a scholarship to Milton Academy and went on to Harvard University for undergraduate and law degrees.
It's true, Deval Patrick has a compelling life story and seems sincere about wanting to, as he said last month, "revive a sense of civic engagement." I think that his theme "believe again" should resonate with suburban voters and others who have grown disenchanted with Beacon Hill politics. That's important because Romney won on his strength in the suburbs, in part because the suburbs are more Repubican, but just as much because he was a charismatic outsider -- much like Patrick this cycle.

At some point, though, being a charismatic outsider is not going to be enough. Progressive Democrats have touted Patrick as their pick for 2006, but I have yet to see that reflected in the positions that Patrick, Reilly or Galvin have taken on the issues. In fact, Patrick devotes no space to actual issues on his website. Don't get me wrong, his site is very good as an introduction to Patrick the person and as a place to get involved with his campaign. It does not, however, put any emphasis on where Patrick stands on any issue that might be important to the voters of Massachusetts. This is a mistake, I think, because as people find out more about Patrick they are going to be as interested in where he stands as who he is, particularly on where he stands in relation to the other candidates given that he has no record in Massachusetts politics.

Granted, the website and the campaign debuted this morning, so the Patrick team will have plenty of time to discuss issues. Still, Patrick's life story is not going to be enough to differentiate himself from his competition. At some point he's going to have to let the public know where he stands, or at least make it easy for them to find out.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

No Surprises in Special Elections

After all of the drama in the primaries, the general elections to fill the open seats in the 3rd Berkshire, 12th Suffolk and 18th Suffolk Districts seem downright anti-climatic. As expected, the Democratic candidates swept all three races by large margins. Congratulations to new state representatives Christopher Speranzo, Linda Dorcena Forry and Michael Moran.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Romney's Own Payolagate

From our last two entries, we had thought that you'd have to donate to Mitt Romney's campaign fund if you wanted him to give you a state job. As it turns out, all you have to do is say nice things about him! The Globe is reporting today that Willard Mitt Romney has a Herald columnist on the payroll.

Governor Mitt Romney's administration has awarded a $10,000 contract to a Boston Herald op-ed columnist to promote the governor's environmental policies.
Chieppo was awarded the contract over another bidder when his Herald columns were highly supportive of Romney's policies. His March 21 column [sub req], which appeared three days after Chieppo submitted his bid for the state contract, praised the Romney mass-transit plan that was largely authored by Douglas Foy, the secretary of Commonwealth development and the person who oversees the Environmental Affairs office that now employs Chieppo.
To be fair, Chieppo had just quit an earlier gig in the Romney administration to become a consultant and Herald op-ed writer. Still, in light of the Bush administration's recent problems with payola, one would have thought that Romney would have been more cautious than to pay a current journalist to push his agenda. Or maybe he just wants to fit in with his national counterparts.

There's nothing technically illegal about Romney's actions, though I doubt anyone will take Chieppo's writing seriously again now that he's simultaneously a columnist and a political operative paid to push an agenda. The Herald promises that he won't be writing for them on the same subjects he's being paid to write for by the administration. What I hope they do is put a disclaimer on his columns describing him as a Romney political consultant. Use of the word 'shill' is, of course, at their discretion.

By way of my own disclaimer -- in case anyone has doubts -- I am not being paid for writing this blog. Still, it is quite tempting to change it to .08 Acres (and an Elephant) if it means the governor is going to start sending contracts my way. Don't laugh! If the Herald goes under, Mitt's going to need all the mouthpieces he can get.

The Daily Kos has more reaction to this story. And Left Center Left has some interesting observation on the Globe/Metro media coverage of this.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

More on No-Show Angelo

Romney is a Fraud has a great post today on the past legal troubles of No-Show Angelo Buonopane, whose recent troubles I posted about previously. Ben draws a connection between Buonopane and one Martin Hanaka who also was given a cushy job by Romney while the governor was in the corporate world -- despite having troubles of his own.

Martin Hanaka was the CEO of Staples back when Willard Mitt was a member of the Staples board of directors. Hanaka purportedly quit amid charges he was having an affair with a female underling, was reportedly arrested for allegedly assaulting said underling and was said to have paid upwards of $10,000 to the underling in hush money. (source: Boston Herald, 10/18/2002) Yes, we like the word 'underling.'

Less than a year later, Romney, who then also sat on the Sports Authority board of directors, purportedly helped seat Hanaka as CEO of that company. (source: Boston Herald, 10/18/2002)

When asked to explain Willard Mitt's sponsorship of Hanaka, Romney's now $150,000-a-year Loathsome Spokesman said, "Like anybody else (Martin Hanaka) deserved a second chance."
Why do these former deadbeats deserve second chances -- not to mention six-figure salaries -- and why does Romney bother to help them out? I wonder if the answer to that question has anything to do with the $1,000 that Hanaka dropped on Mitt's Senate campaign in 1994. Could it be that Mitt was paying back political favors even before he was elected governor? Does the rest of Team Reform know about this?

Actually, I imagine they do. Half of them probably got their own jobs the same way.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

"Working" for a Living

For the curious, I haven't been posting as regularly as I would like due to a particularly busy schedule at work of late. So, you'll have to forgive me if I have little sympathy for "No Show" Angelo Buonopane, who had to pay back $20,000 of his $108K salary for missing days of work as the Director of the Department of Labor. Earlier this year, a couple of Globe reporters tailed Buonopane and found:

Buonopane's work days average two hours and 51 minutes, according to Globe reporters who observed him over a series of days during February and March. On many days he does not come in at all.

Romney appointed Buonopane to the newly created job after Buonopane campaigned vigorously for him in 2002, donating generously to his campaign and helping to orchestrate an election-eve rally for Romney in the North End featuring former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Nice work if you can get it. And you can get it if you're a well-connected Republican donor. According to reports, Buonopane first entered state government as a Weld appointee in 1996. Over the years his salary grew while his responsibilities shrank. Mitt "Reform Agenda" Romney liked him so much he created a six-figure job for the politically connected Buonopane while shifting most of his responsibilities to other employees. Of course, we shouldn't really be surprised -- after all, doing nothing is somewhat of a GOP specialty in Massachusetts.

So, here is Romney creating a no-show patronage job specifically for a politically connected donor, all the while railing against politicians who "lard up the way we do business with patronage." If nothing else, No Show Angelo should be Exhibit A for Democrats as they try to convince the voters of Massachusetts that it's time to clean the Executive Branch of the Weld/Cellucci/Swift/Romney hacks that have piled up over the past fifteen years.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Thinking Locally

Earlier this evening, I was at a panel discussion sponsored by the Harvard Law School Democrats. They're having a conference on Rebuilding the Democratic Party and the Left all this week. They've lined up some pretty decent speakers, although unfortunately I doubt I'll be able to attend any other sessions. I would recommend checking out the discussions to anyone who has a free afternoon or evening this week.

The discussion was on the role of the Internet in democracy, the Democratic party, and infrastructure building. Jerome Armstrong of MyDD was on the panel (if it weren't for his post I'd never have found out about this) as well as Matt Stoller, Amanda Michel and Joe Trippi. The discussion, I thought, really didn't break any new ground for those of us who are interested in waging politics via the Internet, but I thought it was worth hearing what these people had to say.

At one point, Trippi described the Democratic party as "brain dead" and constantly operating thirty or forty years behind the Republicans. His implication was that we could not count on the party and if we wanted to change how campaigns are run, we'd have to accomplish it in spite of the Democrats, rather than with their support. Of course, the obvious question was asked: "What should we be doing?" How do we go about taking matters into our own hands if the party is going to resist innovation and change? There were no easy answers presented. Start your own blog, someone said, build an online community, etc. But how do you start something from scratch and turn it into something that wields influence?

I think, though, that while Trippi's pessimism is certainly warrented, he has a very narrow view of Democratic politics. His experience is working on Presidential campaigns, and when he talks about the party, he's speaking of the national party. But that's not the whole story. The power of an individual is at its most dilute at the national level. Where a single person can make the most difference is at the local level -- the city, town and ward committees. The low barrier to entry for online politics makes it a perfect fit with local elections. The stakes in these contests are not as high as in state or national races, which allows people to be more creative. If new ideas are successful, they will draw the attention of the state party. If the state party implements them with similar results, the national party will follow.

Of course, this process will take years. In the meantime, however, building the party at its most basic level has the additional benefit of creating candidates for future races. Today's town councilor or school committee member could be tomorrow's state legislator and then Congressperson or Governor. That's how the Republicans got so many hard right conservatives in power at the same time -- they started local. And that, in my opinion, is what Democrats have to do: build active local parties and recruit progressive candidates. Even a "brain dead" national party can't stop us from being successful locally.