Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Last Day to Register for Primary

Today is the last day to register to be eligible to vote in the primary election on September 19th. It's also the deadline to apply for an absentee ballot. If you haven't registered, or you're going to be away on election day, get yourself down to your town hall before it's too late!

For more information on how to register and who qualifies, check out this excellent post from Blue Mass Group.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Strange Robo-Poll

I just got a strange robo poll on the Massachusetts governor's race. It was a woman's recorded voice asking if I support Deval Patrick to press one; Chris Gabrieli, press two; Tom Reilly, three; undecided four. I pressed one and got a "thank you" and a dial tone. No demographic questions at all. No real survey would omit those.

I'm wondering what would have happened if I had chosen another candidate. Is someone testing their own messages or would I have heard something negative about one of the candidates?

Anyone else get one of these and try something different?

Monday, August 28, 2006

Auto Insurance Lessons from New Jersey

On Thursday, there was a big article in the New York Times detailing how New Jersey drivers are saving a lot of money under the auto insurance reforms enacted in 2003 under then Governor James McGreevey (yes, that Governor). I was out of state all week and did not get a chance to blog about this, but it looks like no one else caught the article aside from Jon Keller, who asked "Why Can't We Be Like New Jersey?", quite possibly the first time those words have ever been put together in that order. The article is particularly relevant here in Massachusetts because since New Jersey enacted its reforms to the auto insurance industry, we are now the most heavily regulated state in the union. Opponents of insurance reform had previously used the example of New Jersey as a cautionary tale, saying that NJ drivers now had to pay more under their new system. The Times, however, says otherwise. From the article (emphasis added):

Insurance regulators say more than 75 percent of New Jersey's drivers are now paying less for auto insurance and that further reductions are expected.

Auto insurance prices have been declining around the country, as fewer accidents have been reported and big inroads have been made against fraudulent auto insurance claims. But nowhere are prices falling as sharply as in New Jersey. And insurance experts say that the easing of regulation in New Jersey has been by far the most important factor.

Some of New Jersey's worst drivers are paying more than before and some drivers have experienced little, if any, change in their premium costs. But agents around the state say costs have fallen for most of their customers and many are paying as much as 30 percent to 40 percent less.

Even some drivers with poor records are saving money. Over all, state regulators say, drivers have saved more than $500 million since the regulatory controls were relaxed.
Of course, what the article unhelpfully fails to point out is exactly what sort of reforms New Jersey enacted to get to this point. Yes, they loosened restrictions, but that could mean anything. Finding this information turned out to be more difficult than I expected, but you can find some information here and here.

One important thing they did was to try to reduce the number of uninsured drivers by having the state offer low-cost plans -- the most basic of which costs 'a dollar a day' -- under their assigned risk program. This has kept costs down for drivers that the insurance companies might be wary of covering. Eligibility for these low-cost programs is the same as for Medicaid.

In addition, the state is cracking down on fraud to cut costs for insurers. Here in Massachusetts, we've started to do this and some places, notably Lawrence, have had a lot of success in exposing insurance fraud. The New Jersey laws force fraudsters into the more expensive high-risk pool when exposed, revokes medical licenses for providers who commit fraud, and offers rewards of up to $25,000 for reporting fraud.

The New Jersey law also provides for some consumer protections. Under the law, insurance agents are apparently required to give drivers at least three coverage scenarios with different prices, with the intent of increasing the choices available to consumers. Carriers are also required to notify policyholders when they ask for a rate increase, and they are not allowed to cancel coverage for a customer whose bill is mailed on time but received by the company a few days late.

Here in Massachusetts, I had originally dismissed the group pushing for auto insurance reform in Massachusetts because they were fronted not by consumer advocates, but by large insurance companies looking to get into the Massachusetts market. I also did not appreciate their misleading ads, which seemed to imply that bad drivers are paying less than good drivers in Massachusetts (this is not the case). Then, of course, came the group opposing these reforms, which was headed up by the state's current insurers -- most notably Commerce Insurance -- who obviously do not relish the thought of large insurance companies coming into the commonwealth and forcing more competition. Interestingly enough, this group's "Auto Insurance Truth" website still has the message "Don't make the same mistake that New Jersey did" in its header. Of course, they don't tell you that this mistake saved New Jersey drivers more than 500 million dollars.

I will admit that we still don't know what the long-term effects of New Jersey's insurance reform will be. It's not impossible that their prices will rise as sharply as they've declined at some point. Still, the early returns look very promising, and perhaps we can take advantage of their experience and start taking measures that will save drivers some money here in Massachusetts.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

TV or .TV

Starting Friday, the Deval Patrick campaign will begin airing its first television ads, both on the air and on its new multimedia website While it is certainly not the first campaign to put multimedia content online, the new site is perhaps the cleanest one I've seen yet. It takes their lightly used audio-visual blog to the next level, and I would hope that they continue to add content to it.

I've been continually impressed with the Patrick campaign's use of the Internet over the past year or so, and their multimedia stuff is just the tip of the iceberg. On the fundraising side, they announced this week that they've raised a million dollars online and through their fundraising pages.

At first it was not clear that they were going to use the web that much, particularly after they abandoned meetup-style social networking tools early in the campaign. Instead, they made their voter file available to organizers in advance of the caucuses to make it easy to reach out to potential supporters. From there, they've continually upgraded their tools to the point where every single volunteer has enough information to act as their own campaign manager. As someone who is very interested in the intersection of the web and politics, I hope that more candidates will see the value in using the Internet not only as a way to get their message out, but also as an organizing tool. Too many candidates see their web page as nothing but a pamphlet that they put online. With a little creativity, it can go from a brochure to a virtual campaign headquarters or a full-fledged online community.

Of course, you can't do all of your organizing over the Internet. There is still a large segment of the population that does not have (or in some cases want) regular Internet access. An email is also a poor substitute for a face-to-face meeting, or even a phone call. The power of the Internet as a campaign tool is not that it lets you skip these interactions, but that it can facilitate them. That, I think, is something that more local campaigns need to start taking advantage of.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Who's Minding the Store at MassPike?

The Boston Globe reported today that several Amorello loyalists left the Turnpike Authority today as chairman Matt Amorello's resignation took effect. I'm wondering if anyone's minding the store over at the Turnpike offices during the transition period. After all, let's not forget what happened the last time a Mass Pike Chairman was ousted:

[The Inspector General's] Office's investigation has determined that thousands of pages of documents are missing. When asked by an investigator from this Office about the whereabouts of the missing documents, the Turnpike Chairman stated that after his arrival at the Turnpike, in April 2000, file cabinets had been emptied and computer hard drives had been "sand blasted so data could never be recovered from them, and so that the computers wouldn't even turn on." According to the Communications Security Systems Directorate of the U.S. Army, computer hard drives are "sand blasted" for data security reasons as follows: "[the] equipment is taken completely apart and the hard drive disk is literally sandblasted with a sandblaster so as to render the disk permanently unreadable."

The Chairman also informed an investigator from this Office that after the Chairman's arrival at the Turnpike, a former MassHighway staff person was caught on video surveillance tapes removing boxes of material from Turnpike offices at Ten Park Plaza in Boston. This removal of material occurred during four trespasses or break-ins over a three-day period. The purpose of the trespass was presumably to remove files from Turnpike offices.
The last thing we need is a repeat of these shenanigans in the chaos of employee turnover.

Tuesday Morning Catchup

  • Patrick Private Sector Profile: There was a very fair profile of Deval Patrick's private sector experience in Sunday's Globe. If you haven't gotten a chance to read it, it supports Patrick's contention that he was someone inside these big companies trying to make them better places.
  • Republican on Reilly: The Springfield Republican had a article on Tom Reilly on Sunday. Nothing new there if you've been following the race, but if you haven't it's a good introduction to Reilly the candidate.
  • Gabrieli Spending Freely: The Herald reported yesterday that Chris Gabrieli has broken the record for spending on any campaign before August of an election year. He's also poised to exceed the current record for most personal funds spent, currently held by Governor Mitt Romney with $6.3 million for the 2002 election.
  • Patrick on TV this Week: The Globe reported today that Deval Patrick will begin airing ads at the end of this week. Ads aired by the other gubernatorial candidates earlier this month have not moved the polls dramatically, so perhaps keeping his powder dry until close to the election was a good move.
  • Lege Pondering Special Session: The Legislature is likely to be called into a special formal session next month so they can act on a bond bill that must be passed before January. I wonder if this would also be a good time to ratchet up pressure to consider Senator Marion Walsh's Big Dig Review Board proposal.
  • Question of the Week: Do you think that Governor Romney cancelled his trip to Wisconsin last week because he could no longer bring his hair gel?
  • Thursday, August 10, 2006

    Tuesday's Less Talked About Primary

    While gallons of ink have already been spilled over Ned Lamont's defeat of Senator Joe Lieberman in Connecticut, there was at least one other race that day where a moderate incumbent was defeated that is getting much less attention. On Tuesday, moderate Republican Congressman Joe Schwarz was unseated by conservative challenger Tim Walberg in Michigan. Schwarz was under constant attack from Walberg for being too liberal. Among his sins were supporting reproductive rights and stem cell research. Grover Norquist (buddy to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff) and his Club for Growth organization spent $1.1 million on behalf of Walberg, and they buried Schwarz in accusations that he was not a conservative. Walberg won 53% to 47%.

    That primary also has relevance here in New England because it marks the first time that a Club for Growth backed challenger actually defeated an incumbent at the federal level (also on Tuesday, a Club backed candidate won a primary for an open seat in Colorado). In Rhode Island's Republican primary, Senator Lincoln Chafee faces a similar challenge from the right from Cranston Mayor Steve Laffey, who is also backed by the Club for Growth, on September 12th. While the state of Rhode Island is much different from Michigan's 7th Congressional District, there is a palpable anti-incumbent mood in the country as a whole. The Washington post released a poll on Monday showing that only 55% of respondents approved of the way their own representative's job performance, the lowest that poll has measured since 1994 (at 51%). Even if Chafee does manage to survive his Republican primary, a Rassmussen poll has him trailing Democratic challenger Sheldon Whitehouse by a margin of 38% to 44%.

    Wednesday, August 09, 2006

    Mass Dems Chair Cheers Lamont

    The Massachusetts Democratic Party Chairman Phil Johnston released the following statement today:

    "I congratulate Ned Lamont on his win and encourage all Massachusetts Democrats to support him. It's clear from the vote yesterday in Connecticut that the voters this year want to go in a new direction.

    That bodes well for Democrats in Massachusetts and around the country. As state chairman, I will be encouraging Democratic Party activists and contributors in Massachusetts to support Ned Lamont in the general election.

    It is crucial that we do everything possible to elect members of Congress who will fight Bush/Cheney's misguided international and domestic policies during the last two years of their administration."
    I'm not sure why the chairman of the Massachusetts Democrats feels he has to weigh in on a Connecticut race, but it does bring up an interesting question. Does the ban in the Mass. Dems charter on endorsing non-Democratic candidates apply to out of state races? Will any MA party officials face sanctions at the next convention should they weigh in on the Connecticut race in Lieberman's favor? I haven't looked at the language carefully enough to know the answer.

    Tuesday, August 08, 2006

    Healey Hiding From Women's Groups

    Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey is reportedly refusing to answer questions from women's rights groups as she makes her run for Governor. From the Boston Globe:

    Healey, a Republican who has repeatedly cast herself as a supporter of abortion rights, declined to answer written questions or be interviewed by the local chapters of the National Organization for Women, the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund, and the National Abortion Rights Action League.
    Healey's campaign claims that they get hundreds of questionnaires and can't possibly answer all of them. That hardly seems like a good enough excuse. It's not like the National Organization for Women is just some chump with a blog. If I sent the Healey campaign a questionnaire, I would expect to be ignored, but these are long standing, well respected groups who would not be openly hostile to a Healey endorsement (the way a group like MoveOn or Democracy for America would be).

    Now, it's true that these groups are more closely aligned with Democrats than Republicans in general, but if Healey wants to escape from Governor Mitt Romney's conservative shadow, wouldn't it be prudent to at least try for their endorsement? Endorsements from these types of interest groups wouldn't make or break her candidacy, but at least answering their questions would go a long way toward assuring the public that her pro-choice views are not going to 'evolve' the way the Governor's have. If she supports reproductive rights, then what does she have to fear by answering a questionnaire? Is she worried about alienating the few conservative Republicans left in Massachusetts?

    The Supreme Court is becoming more conservative. It is not inconceivable that the legality of abortions could be tossed back to the states under the next Governor's term. Whether you agree with abortion or not, the public deserves to know the candidates full stances, beyond just "I'm prochoice".

    Monday, August 07, 2006

    Who Supports the Big Dig Review Board?

    On Friday, I posted some details about Senator Marion Walsh's proposed Emergency Investigative Review Board for the Big Dig. To my mind, this is an extremely important bit of legislation that will be very difficult to pass during an informal session this year. Several legislators have already shown their support by cosponsoring Walsh's bill. If your Senator or Representative is on this list, call or write to thank them. If not, then call or write to ask whether they support an independent review for the Big Dig and this bill in particular. If you get a response, let me know and I'll either update this list or put other supporters in a separate post.


    • Sen. Robert Antonioni (D-Leominster)
    • Sen. Edward Augustus, Jr. (D-Worcester)
    • Sen. Jarett Barrios (D-Cambridge)
    • Sen. Robert Creedon (D-Brockton)
    • Sen. Patricia Jehlen (D-Somerville)
    • Sen. Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford)
    • Sen. Robert O’Leary (D-Barnstable)
    • Sen. Pamela Resor (D-Acton)
    • Sen. Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester)
    • Sen. James Timilty (D-Walpole)
    • Sen. Susan Tucker (D-Andover)
    • Rep. Deborah Blumer (D-Framingham)
    • Rep. Gale Candaras (D-Wilbraham)
    • Rep. Mark Carron (D-Southbridge)
    • Rep. Frank Hynes (D-Marshfield)
    • Rep. John Keenan (D-Salem)
    • Rep. Barbara A L'Italien (D-Andover)
    • Rep. Marie J. Parente (D-Milford)
    • Rep. Matthew Patrick (D-Falmouth)
    • Rep. Alice Peisch (D-Wellesley)
    • Rep. Smitty Pignatelli (D-Lenox)
    • Rep. Denise Provost (D-Somerville)
    • Rep. John Scibak (D-South Hadley)
    • Rep. Theodore Speliotis (D-Danvers)
    • Rep. Kathleen Teahan (D-Whitman)
    • Rep. Phillip Travis (D-Rehoboth)
    • Rep. Anthony Verga (D-Gloucester)

    Remember, just because your legislator is not a cosponsor, that doesn't mean they don't support the legislation. Let's try to find out who does.

    Friday, August 04, 2006

    Demand Action on Big Dig Review Board

    About two weeks ago, I posted about Senator Marian Walsh's (D-West Roxbury) call for public hearings on the CA/Tastrophe. I believe so strongly that an independent accounting of all the problems with the Big Dig is so long overdue that I contacted her office for more information. The Senator is calling for the creation of what she's calling the "Emergency Investigative Review Board" to oversee the entire Central Artery/Tunnel Project, modeled after the Ward Commission. Her office sent me a fact sheet with more information that I'd like to share with both of my readers.

    Before that, though, I'd like to give my take on why this board is necessary, even though the Big Dig has been subject to countless audits and the Attorney General and Governor are both conducting their own ongoing investigation. The first and most important difference, at least with the criminal investigation, is that this will be conducted in public. If the Attorney General's office finds no one to charge, or decides that they can't make anything stick, we may never get the whole story. Ideally, the proceedings of the Review Board will not only be public, but videotaped and freely available on the Internet. In addition, the Governor's task force contains people hand-picked by Romney from his administration. Will they have the courage to point fingers at their colleagues if necessary? Even if they could promise neutrality, they will not have subpoena power and their main focus seems to be on streamlining and 'reforming' the Turnpike Authority.

    As far as previous audits are concerned, I'm hardly a Big Dig historian, but it seems to me that the whole program was never under a stem-to-stern review. There were, most recently, investigations into the leaks and who would pay for repairs. There have also been earlier inquiries to specific cost overruns, but I don't think anyone has woven all these discrete scandals into one overarching narrative, allowing us to identify the villains and try to institute mechanisms to avoid these sorts of problems in future public works projects.

    Here's the information I got from Senator Walsh's office regarding the Review Board.

    1. Creates a seven member board to investigate unsafe and corrupt practices by contractors and government officials in regard to the construction of the Central Artery Project.
    2. Board will be chaired by a retired justice of the SJC, Superior or Appeals Court and include a lay person, a Certified Public Accountant or other person with appropriate financial expertise, a registered professional engineer or person with requisite engineering expertise, an architect or similarly qualified individual, a former prosecutor or investigator and a person with significant high level experience in managing large scale public construction projects. The retired justice will chair the Board.
    3. Persons directly or indirectly associated with the Central Artery Project and immediate family members will not be eligible to serve on or be employed by the Board.
    4. Board members will not be compensated, but will be reimbursed for expenses.
    5. The Board may request and can compel the cooperation of other state officers and entities.
    6. The Board will have subpoena power.
    7. Persons behaving in a disorderly or contemptuous manner before the Board shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
    8. The Board may apply to the Supreme Judicial Court for an order granting immunity to witnesses that refuse to testify or produce evidence on the basis of his or her privilege against self incrimination. Whoever falsely or misleadingly testifies before the Board may be found guilty of perjury and subjected to the penalties associated with that crime.
    9. Hearings of the Board shall be public unless a majority of the Board votes otherwise.
    10. The Board shall submit evidence to appropriate authorities where warranted.
    11. All other government entities shall make reports to the Board regarding their investigations and provide all relevant records to the Board.
    12. The Board shall file an interim report on or before December 18th 2006 and a final report and recommendations on or before July 18th 2007. The report will include a review of all instances of unsafe or corrupt practices regarding the planning, design, construction, inspection and monitoring of the Central Artery Project.
    13. The Board's investigation will cease upon the filing of its final report and all records will be forwarded to the Secretary of the Commonwealth. In order to preserve the integrity of the Board's evidence and because documents from private parties will not be public records within the meaning of M.G.L. Chapter 4 Section 7 they will not be available to the public without a court order. Cessation of the Boards investigation will not effect ongoing investigations or actions pursuant to evidence or information generated by the Board.
    14. This legislation will not preclude an individual from cooperating with any investigation into matters covered by the provisions of this Act.
    15. Coercion, harassment or discrimination against any person or entity for cooperation with this investigation will be punishable by a fine of not more than five-hundred thousand dollars or imprisonment for not more than two years or both, and any person or entity that takes such action may be liable to the wronged employee or entity for treble damages, costs and attorney's fees.
    It seems to me that there is no reason to oppose the creation of this board. I would encourage everyone to contact their legislators to make this investigation happen. How can we ever ask Massachusetts to support a public works project again if we can't reasonably claim that the mistakes of the Big Dig are understood and won't be repeated?

    Thursday, August 03, 2006

    SUSA Poll Trend Lines

    Blue Mass. Group points to the August SUSA poll, the first one of its kind since the tragic ceiling collapse in the I-90 tunnel. Deval Patrick still leads with 35%, followed by Chris Gabrieli with 30% and Tom Reilly with 27%. The race appears to be tightening slightly from last month. Here are the trendlines:

    One interesting thing to note about the SUSA poll: aside for the month of May, shortly after Gabrieli went on the air, Deval Patrick has stayed at almost the same level of support since March -- between 35 and 37 percent. That is not completely surprising to me, but you would think after all this time there would be some movement in one direction or the other. As for the other candidates, Chris Gabrieli has to be happy with his continued upward trend, and Attorney General Tom Reilly's downward slide seems to have leveled off for the time being.

    By the way, CBS4's Jon Keller makes the following statement on his blog:
    In the last few days, I've had the chance to discuss the Democratic gubernatorial primary with two experienced political operatives, one a liberal Democrat, the other a conservative Republican, whose opinions I respect. Both have said the same thing -- they think Deval Patrick may already have the votes in hand to win this race. Even a math idiot such as yours truly can do the arithmetic -- in a three-way race, 33% plus one vote wins. Today's CBS4 Fast Track is just the latest in a series of polls to show Patrick at or over the 33% mark, and the man has yet to spend a dime on TV ads.
    It's not quite that simple; just getting a third of the vote does not guarantee a win. No matter how big the field is, the only way to be absolutely certain of victory is with 50% + 1. For example, let's say that Patrick gets his 33.4% of the vote, the remaining 66.6% need not be distributed equally -- Gabrieli might get 35.3% with Reilly getting 31.3%. In a race this tight, those numbers are not far fetched, either.

    Put another way, the general is going to be a three way race. Does anyone really think that the winner in November will only need 33% of the vote?

    Wednesday, August 02, 2006

    Sad News for Gabrieli Family

    The Associated Press is reporting that gubernatorial candidate Chris Gabrieli's mother, Lilla Gabrieli, passed away this afternoon.

    It's never easy when a loved one dies, and I can't imagine what it would be like while you're under the microscope of a campaign. My condolences go out to the entire Gabrieli family.

    Some Republicans Ready to Give Up Already?

    Earlier today, GOP News suggested that Kerry Healey should throw the Governor's race and spread her vast fortune around to legislative candidates instead. The idea is that we Democrats will screw things up so badly in four years that a GOP legislative victory would be near assured in 2008, and Republicans could easily reclaim the corner office in 2010. Local blogger John Daley is waiting for someone at Blue Mass. Group to respond, but for now he'll have to settle for a third stringer of Massachusetts progressive blogospheric discourse. Herald Reporter Jay Fitzgerald also also posts his thoughts which are worth reading. The consensus seems to be that this would be a monumentally foolish idea.

    As an unrepentant supporter of one of the Democratic gubernatorial candidates, I'm tempted to cry "Don't throw us in the briar patch, Brer Fox!" but I think we've had enough of Uncle Remus for the time being. Look at it this way, without the governor, the highest elected Republican official in 2007 would be State Senator Richard Tisei (R-Wakefield) assuming he succeeds the retiring Senate Minority Leader Brian Lees (R-East Longmeadow). Who will be the advocate for the Republican point of view in the absence of any statewide officeholder? They risk being completely shut out of the public discourse.

    Let's forget for a moment that the GOP tried something similar in 2004 and was stingingly rebuked, losing a total of three seats in their effort. Forget even that 2008, the year that the GOP blog expects to make legislative gains, will be a presidential election year and hordes of Massachusetts voters will be coming out to vote for the Democratic candidate. Forget also that this year Massachusetts is poised to have the fewest percentage of contested races this year of any state in the union. If the Democrats were as hopelessly out of power as the Republicans are, I would also call for a renewed focus on the Legislature -- though I would never suggest abandoning the chances of winning an open seat. In fact, there are tales of repentant Nader supporters from 2000 who thought that teaching the Democrats a lesson and casting a protest vote for Ralph would do the same thing that the GOP News folks suggest, namely if Bush ended up winning he'd screw things up so bad (he did) that people would be begging for progressive leadership (how'd that work out in 2004?).

    One thing that no one mentions is apart from the wisdom of this strategy, the very idea that Kerry Healey would take a dive for the state GOP is ridiculous. The Massachusetts Republican party is a wholly owned and operated subsidiary of Affiliated Managers Group, and its CEO Sean Healey. Electing Kerry Healey governor is now its sole purpose, just ask Christy Mihos who had to leave the party because he could not count on them being honest brokers. He's not the only one to be frustrated by the Healey takeover, either.

    The other thing is the fallacy that it's easier to win an election without media attention. Dan Kennedy noted this as well. In the absence of other information, people are more likely to vote for the party than the candidate. While it's true that voters unenrolled in any party make up the plurality of voters in the Commonwealth, that doesn't really tell the whole story. In January, I took note of a Gallup survey on party identification which found that the majority of voters in Massachusetts lean Democratic (big surprise, right?). While unenrolled Democratic leaners may be swing voters in a gubernatorial election, in the absence of other information, they may be more likely to vote for a Democrat. This jives with the electoral experience of Massachusetts -- low profile races almost always go to the Democrat, unless they're legislative seats in highly Republican areas.

    That all said, I think some of our Democratic legislatures could use some competition, if only to remind them that they still have to earn our votes. It's never good for politicians to get too comfortable.

    Tuesday, August 01, 2006

    Deadline Today For Minor Party Signatures

    Today at 5:00PM was the deadline for independent and minor party candidates to submit their signature petitions to town and city clerks to be checked against the local voter rolls and certified. There are (at least) two candidates this year who are affected by this deadline.

    Christy Mihos and lieutenant governor candidate John Sullivan likely will have the signatures needed to get on the ballot, having paid Spoonworks Inc. a total of $85,000. Fellow gubernatorial candidate Chris Gabrieli paid Spoonworks $82,500 in May, and the state Republican party paid them around $70,000 for a number of their candidates.

    Grace Ross of the Green-Rainbow party, however, does not have the luxury of paying for signatures. Last week, the party sounded the alarm as they feared they would come up short. Now, according to Ross, the Greens have already had 3,760 signatures certified by town clerks and as of yesterday they planned to submit an additional 9,400 by today's deadline. I don't know if they made their target, but even if they did, they would still require about 2/3 of those 9,400 signatures to be certified. That's not impossible, but it's certainly cutting it close. If they fell short of their goal or if too many of those signatures are invalid, the Green Party will not have a candidate for governor on the ballot.