Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Meals Tax a Good Idea, but Not for Watertown

Little did I know that when I left a comment in the Watertown TAB blog about Governor Deval Patrick's plan to allow municipalities to raise their own meals taxes that I would be quoted twice in the print addition, once in their story on the local option taxes, and once in their Friday editorial. I've been mostly silent on the topic of meals taxes on this blog, so here's what I wrote at the time, which is still how I feel about it having a few more days to think about the issue:

I definitely think that the decision to tax meals, etc., should be in the hands of the local government, and not the state. Each community in Massachusetts has different strengths, and they should be allowed to choose revenue sources that match those strengths. That said, I don’t think it makes sense for Watertown to adopt a meals tax. I don’t think we have enough restaurants to justify it, and most of those that we do have are locally owned. Let’s let Boston and Cambridge enact the meals tax — maybe people will start coming here to save a few bucks on dinner.
Now, I don't really think that people will make their dining decisions based on a 2% meals tax difference. If you're driving further to save a few cents on dinner, you may end up spending that much or more on gas alone. It doesn't make economic sense. Still, I'm not sure that the money Watertown would get from enacting a local-option meals tax would be worth either the political battle to pass it or the potential strain it would put on our restaurants here, most of which are, as I mentioned, locally owned. That said, communities with large restaurant and tourism industries -- Boston, Cambridge, Cape Cod, etc -- should not be stopped from adding a revenue source if their residents approve.

I did also want to point out this little bit of hyperbole from Watertown town councilor (and restaurant owner) JD Donohue who was also quoted:
Personally as a consumer, I think our meals tax is already at a limit that we are used to. Anything higher is taking an affordable meal and making it unaffordable.
A 2% difference is not going to turn an affordable meal unaffordable. If you can afford paying $25 for dinner, you can afford to pay $25.50. Even if you decide you can blow $200 on a night out, an extra four bucks is not going to break the bank. So, it's silly to say that a small meals tax increase would make any individual meal unaffordable. Cumulatively, though, the tax could have an impact. Let's say you eat lunch out every weekday, and it costs you about ten dollars. Over the course of a year, the 2% difference in tax rates would cost you roughly an extra five lunches. So, maybe instead of eating out every day, you brown bag it once in a while to defray the increase, and the restaurant you frequented loses a little business.

I haven't had the chance to run any numbers, but what I would really like to see is the lowering of the state portion of the meals tax to 3%, and the cities and towns given latitude to raise their own taxes up to an additional five percent. I think would be more attractive to municipalities if they could keep their overall meals tax level, but potentially keep more money from leaving town. Or, individual towns could opt to not raise their taxes above the minimum at all, and consumers would end up paying less there than they do now.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Eyewitness Account of Markey Office Occupation

Guest post by Susan Falkoff.

Below are excerpts from a report by “mlc” (distributed by United for Justice with Peace on the Sit-in at Congressman Ed Markey’s Medford office that was organized by Veterans for Peace, in which Congresman Markey explains why he intends to vote for Bush’s supplemental budget request with conditions instead of defeating the request outright:

“2/21/07 Today was the second day of the occupation of Rep. Markey's office in Medford. Again, there were several Veterans for Peace and supporters outside, on the street, with banners and signs asking the Congressman to sign the Pledge to Vote Against 2007 Supplemental Funding For The Iraq War. And, again, several people sat all day inside Markey's office suite reading the names of all the US soldiers killed in Iraq, state by state. Today was the day that Markey had agreed to meet with the Veterans for Peace, their supporters, and his constituents who favor his signing the Pledge.

“…Nate Goldshlag, one of the organizers,… asked if he could read the names of those soldiers killed in Iraq who were from Massachusetts. After reading each name, another veteran for peace struck a small bell chime. Then Nate set out the intention of our meeting with the congressman, specifically urging him to sign the Pledge stating that he would vote against the supplemental spending measure that President Bush will seek in 2007 to fund the ongoing occupation and war on Iraq; and to take leadership in getting others to vote against it. Markey initially said he was 100% with us, and that he had already signed the pledge…Then he began an explanation of his position, which he was to repeat many times throughout the long meeting:

“That he intended to vote for a Murtha-style supplemental bill—which would approve supplemental funding for the ongoing occupation with conditions attached regarding troop safety equipment, extension of leave time between successive deployments, etc. Markey told us repeatedly that he believes there would never be more than 190 Representatives willing to vote against Bush's supplemental. That 218 Representatives would be required to stop its passage. Therefore, rather than take a principled but losing stand, he would prefer to vote for the supplemental (which, he says, will pass anyway) with the Murtha “amendment.”

“…Several of the Veterans for Peace continued to argue that they would prefer Markey took a principled stand and voted against the supplemental, especially since he believed it would pass anyway. Nate Goldshlag pointed out that Markey could vote with the majority in favor of the Murtha amendment to take care of the troops, and then vote against the final supplemental spending bill. However, it was clear that Markey had made up his mind to vote for the supplemental with the Murtha conditions attached. He insisted this was being ‘politically smart.’

“… [Markey] has decided he wants to be seen as on the side “protecting the troops”---knowing , as he admitted, that at least 1000 more US soldiers will be killed (and tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians) over the next year in Iraq--- rather than invite his fellow Democrats and moderate Republicans to stand with him against the continuation of funding for this illegal, immoral occupation. The whole event was very peaceful, cordial, and the Congressman and staff provided donuts, coffee, and bagels.”

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Guest Post: Deval’s Damask

Guest Post by Susan Falkoff. I just wanted to also note that the failure of Watertown delegates to get reminders about this year's caucus should fall squarely on my shoulders, and not Deval Patrick's. If his citizen's network is going to be successful, he needs the leaders of the campaign to be the driving forces making this happen. I should have been more vigilant. --sco

Deval, Deval what are you doing to us? I cut you slack on the Cadillac but the curtains – it’s so – Nancy Reagan.

I read these stories about ostentatious consumerism with this in mind: I am not generally active in Democratic Party politics so I wasn’t paying attention to the caucuses to choose delegates for this year’s state convention. When someone mentioned in passing that the caucus was that day, I was startled that, as a Deval Patrick delegate to last year’s convention, I hadn’t heard anything at all about the caucus from the Deval Patrick email network. I don’t expect the mountainous volume of email I received during the campaign but getting nothing at all is far less than I’d anticipated. Wasting the progressive base you’ve laboriously created is, in my opinion, a much more egregious failing even than bad taste in curtains.

Unlike a writer to today’s Globe who voted for Deval Patrick and now feels "hopelessly used," I haven’t give up hope for change. The state budget is still to come and there is plenty of time to demonstrate a commitment to conservation and energy efficiency with future state vehicle choices. But I am getting antsy and wonder what happened to the active and engaged citizenry that we were promised during the campaign.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Bay Windows Profiles 14th Worcester Race

Last week's Bay Windows had a short profile on the 14th Worcester race (second item) with a particular focus on which candidate is in line for support from MassEquality.

MassEquality Political Director Matt McTighe says that the organization has reached out to all of the candidates to suss out their positions on the marriage issue. [Jim] O'Day is a strong supporter and says he'd vote against a pending amendment to ban marriage equality. "I think the world would be a whole lot better place if we learned to accept one another for what our differences are and to just put our best foot forward and accept people because they’re human beings," O'Day explains. "We should all be able to make our own personal decisions. I believe it's a civil rights issue. I'm against people’s civil rights being violated."

[Philip] Palmieri, says McTighe, also supports marriage equality. [Paul] Shea and [Tammy] Vescera? Not so much, apparently. McTighe says the candidates have declined to state their positions on the issue. With the exception of O'Day, none of the primary candidates responded to Bay Windows requests to discuss their campaigns. Reached on his cell phone, Shea, for instance, seemed incredulous to the point of annoyance that a Boston-based paper would be inquiring about a race in Worcester; when he was told that Bay Windows was a gay paper that covered races across the state, he replied, "I have no comments."
The piece goes on to discuss the race's dynamics, with Palmieri, a Worcester City Councilor, leading the money race with $35,000 in his campaign account and O'Day capturing the endorsements of Mass Alliance, Neighbor to Neighbor and more recently the Progressive Democrats of Massachusetts. The candidates face off in the Democratic primary one month from today -- March 20th, and the winner will face Democrat-turned-Independent Joseph Cariglia in the general election on April 17th.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Guest Post: Deval's DeVille

Guest post by Susan Falkoff.

I was interested to catch up with Blue Mass Group today and learn that the consensus there is that the fuss over Deval’s new Cadillac is the result of partisan bickering. Among my acquaintances, the issue seemed to have more traction than on BMG. A former Grace Ross supporter wrote (as though I am Deval’s scheduler or personal assistant, which I’m not): “Pleeze give Deval a ride home soon in your sweet little hybrid... Does it make sense for the Guvner to be driven to work & back home in such a notorious gas guzzler, traffic hog, and ‘gangsta cah’?” I was definitely more disturbed by my friend’s crass use of racist stereotypes than by Deval’s choice of car but it bothered me when another leftie made a similar, if more gracefully phrased, comment today. It was reminiscent of when Deval took a hit among my acquaintances (some with significant personal wealth) over building a lavish second home in the Berkshires.

Personally, I agree with those on BMG who believe that the governor needs a presentable vehicle but I was surprised that BMG posts weren’t more concerned about mileage. I’d feel a lot better if I knew that mileage was at least one of the factors that were considered in the vehicle selection. Was a hybrid SUV even a contender? This is not an area where I would expect creative thinking from the state police. Did it even occur to anyone to run (no pun intended) this past the administration’s energy and environment people? Let Deval keep his Deville but I’ll be looking for the administration to demonstrate significant leadership and creativity around energy efficiency in lots of other ways.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Legislature Rejects Putting Committee Votes Online

While the news media is inexplicably obsessed with how Governor Patrick gets from point A to point B, the Massachusetts House just overwhelmingly rejected a simple measure that would increase their accountability to the public. From the Somerville Journal:

POST COMMITTEE ROLL CALLS ON WEBSITE (H 3746) House 20-127, rejected a new rule requiring that committee votes cast by legislators on bills heard by their committees be posted on the Legislature's website. Current rules require committee votes to be kept in the offices of the committee and be available for public inspection upon reasonable notice and during regular office hours. Supporters of the new rule said this would simply give people quick and easy access to the committee votes of their legislators. They noted that under current rules, a person has to drive to Boston during regular business hours in order to obtain this information. Opponents of the new rule said that the current system has worked well for years and should not be changed. (A "Yes" vote is for the new rule requiring that committee votes be posted on the Legislature's website. A "No" vote is against the requirement).
What possible reason could there be for legislators to be opposed to this other than a fear of added scrutiny? Is there something that I'm missing here? What has the current system worked well for other than for keeping the average person away from these roll call votes?

I'm not surprised that this measure failed. It's well known that the Massachusetts legislature is no fan of sunshine. Still, I would have thought it would do better than to fail by a six-to-one margin. This is public information, and the the state should be making it easy for the public to access.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Guest Post: Black Mark for Black Road Policy

Guest post by Susan Falkoff

Out-of-towners frequently comment on how, entering Watertown, they are delighted there is not a bit of snow on any of the roads. Our DPW Superintendent is proud of his “Black Road Policy” and he is often praised by locals, too, for doing a great job of clearing the roads.

While I hope that there are black roads today all the way from Steve's .08 acres to the hospital where his wife will soon deliver a baby (DPW take note!), heavy use of road salts visibly damages vegetation and also corrodes concrete and steel and harms beneficial soil organisms, birds, and aquatic life. Watertown spends a lot of money planting street trees and then allowing salting practices that make it impossible for them to thrive.

New Hampshire did an experiment several years ago and treated test sections of road with half the usual amount of salt on low-volume highways. Poorer driving conditions were noted on the test sections but safety was not significantly compromised. NH DOT concluded that reduced salt programs make sense where a highway is relatively flat, without hills and curves, and in a low speed/low volume section. Compared to country roads in New Hampshire, there must be a lot of those in Watertown. There’s more information about this study at http://www.des.state.nh.us/factsheets/wmb/wmb-4.htm.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Guest Post: The Blame Game and DSS

Guest post by Susan Falkoff. Susan will be helping me out with occasional posts over the next few weeks for reasons that will be more obvious in a few days (I hope!). -- sco

While Steve was struck by dueling columnists commenting this week on Sen. Scott Brown's use of profanity, my attention was caught by diametrically opposed columns on the subject of the latest DSS tragedy. Commissioner Harry Spence was excoriated by Eileen McNamara on Sunday and exonerated by Adrian Walker on Monday for the death of 4-year-old Rebecca Riley due to an apparent overdose of prescription medication.

Seems to me that Walker got it just about right. DSS gets a report of a child who is possibly overmedicated. A social worker investigates, and is reassured by the doctor that the medication prescribed is appropriate. It would be absurd for DSS to assume the doctor was wrong. The parents administer the medication inappropriately. What I can’t tell from the press reports is how much of the problem was medication that was poorly prescribed by a licensed medical professional, or medication that was poorly administered by a very troubled parent. In either case, how on earth could Harry Spence be responsible for the girl's death?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Romney Fatigued By Self-Promotion

The Boston Phoenix's David Bernstein has a link to former Governor Mitt Romney's official presidential announcement. Frankly, after four years of Romney's act here in Massachusetts, I'm tired of the guy, but I just couldn't resist commenting on the snippet Bernstein excerpted in his blog.

Apparently Romney wants to bring innovation and transformation to government, because "We are weary of the bickering and bombast, fatigued by the posturing and self-promotion" of politics.
This from the guy who signed last year's health care law -- along with a bunch of rubes -- in a carefully choreographed ceremony at Faneuil Hall.

Perhaps he forgot about the fancy tokens he commissioned with his name on both sides and an emblazoned "LXX" -- for the 70th Governor of the Commonwealth.

I also seem to remember a glossy 24 page "progress report" -- paid for by his campaign -- that he put out in 2005 in the Boston Globe. There were three different pictures of him on the front cover of that, and eleven of them on the last page, including my favorite.

The guy who once told the Boston Globe "from now on it's me, me, me" after every one of his hand-picked legislative candidates lost in 2004 is sick of self promotion. Frankly, so am I. Good riddance.

More Words Wasted on Scott Brown's Meltdown

There are two very different pieces on Senator Scott Brown (R-Wrentham) and his profanity laced tirade in front of King Phillips High kids last week. In the Boston Globe, Brian McGrory decides that it serves those punk kids right for getting their words thrown back at them. McGrory uses the Brown controversy as an excuse to lament the quality of political discourse, particularly that on the Internet:

Politics long ago lost any of its politesse. People no longer simply disagree; they vilify each other's existence. They don't debate, but assault, the more personal the better, facts and logic be damned.
Never mind that McGrory seems to be under the illusion that this is a new phenomenon, he seems not to appreciate that Brown's impolitic reaction actually contributes to the low quality of political discourse. An authority figure publicly calling someone out for remarks on the Internet is a way to silence or intimidate that person, not to debate them. But that's no big deal, because those kids had it coming to them.

More thoughtful commentary can be found in Brown's hometown paper, the Sun Chronicle. An editorial today laments that Brown taught the kids the wrong lesson:
[T]here is a time, a tone and a context for retort and for demanding vindication.

While we empathize with Brown's wish to redress the postings, his decision to use an appearance on legislative issues to scold everyone came across as inappropriate, unjust and seemingly out of character.

Replying in kind diminished, for the moment, his stature as a grownup who should have known better.


Instead of peppering the entire audience with a regurgitation of the postings and naming students involved, he could have taken the high road.
Indeed. If Brown had responded with a degree of dignity, we'd be talking about how well he taught those kids how to respond to political attacks, not about whether it was appropriate for him to name names and use profanity.

Update: Now this is a more classy response -- Brown has offered one of the students who posted on facebook an internship in his office. Maybe he'll walk out of this not looking like a lunatic after all.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Guest Post: Moving Forward to a Standstill along the Charles River

Guest post by former (and future?) Watertown Town Councilor Susan Falkoff. For more information on development along the Charles River on Pleasant St, check out yesterday's article in Globe West or the discussion on H2OTown.

Pleasant Street, Watertown – a rutted road with aging industrial buildings, auto body shops, older single family homes and small apartment buildings plunked down at random. Hidden behind it is the Charles River and a much-loved naturalistic multi-use path that is marred at several points by vistas of crumbling buildings and heavy industrial equipment. Pleasant Street is a fixer-upper -- and its catching on. A Lowe’s is planned for Waltham, with a corner of its parking lot jutting into Watertown. Next to that, a 300+ unit apartment complex is going up and its scale has startled and alarmed some. In my opinion, that project is well-designed and appropriate for the location, but only if future development isn’t higgledy-piggledy all around it.

Town Councilor Jonathan Hecht gets much credit for initiating the common sense idea that the town could plan for future development instead of approving projects piecemeal. Last week, the council wisely approved funding in the range of $40,000 - $55,000 for a six-month planning study. On Sunday, the Globe reported this shocking fact about the funding: in 1993, Stop and Shop agreed to pay the town $35,000 toward a similar study. “The study was never conducted, and town officials say they don't think the company ever paid up.” How often, one wonders, does a developer promise linkage and never deliver? I know of one similar example when, decades later, the Conservation Commission realized that promised plantings were never installed in the Watertown Mall parking lot. Does the town even have a mechanism to track linkage obligations?

Friday, February 09, 2007

Sen. Scott Brown Loses it in Front of Schoolkids

It's every high-school kid's dream nowadays, I guess -- make those kids who were slagging you on the Internet eat their words. Only Senator Scott Brown (R-Wrentham) is not a high-school kid. He's a state Senator. Yet that is exactly what he did when he went to King Phillip High School in Wrentham and angrily read off profanity-laden messages posted about him to a student's Facebook page over the objection of their teachers. In his defense, he says that he "called them on it" and that he was trying to show them the difference between hate speech and "respectful, proper speech." So, in his mind, it is hateful for high-school kids to act like, well, like high-school kids, but respectful and proper for him to go into that classroom and intimidate them.

Of course any comments on Facebook about Brown's family are out of line, and the kids should learn not only that, but also that anything they put on the Internet is not as private as they might imagine it to be. That's a valuable lesson for them. Still, the fact that Brown, a state Senator, was so thin skinned that he felt the need to confront these kids in-person and by name is crazy to me.

And this guy is supposed to be the Mass GOP's golden boy? What is he doing trolling around Facebook anyway? I guess now that the Republicans are completely out of power, he has time to sit around all day Googling himself.

Update: Mark Bail at Granby 01033 has this to add from his blog:

Is it time to give this kind of reaction a name? Homophobic Traumatic Street Disorder? First there was Larry Cirignano of Catholic Citizenship who (allegedly) pushed over a protester protesting an anti-equality rally. He recently left his post as the organization's executive director. Now, we have a senator who gets verbally agressive with high school students in public. The guy's lucky that none of the kids got video of him. Cellphones can do that now, and kids have been uploading teachers yelling at them.

Who's Running in District C?

Today's Watertown Tab has some speculation on who might replace Stephen Romanelli on the town council as he vacates his District C seat at the end of the year. I feel like his retirement has been rumored for some time, and the list of potential replacements that the Tab has come up with matches what I've been hearing. There's former town at-large councilors Susan Falkoff and Sandra Hoffman, former Council President Pam Piantadosi, Republican Town Committee chair Steve Aylward, and last fall's failed candidate for state Rep Keith Mercurio. My hunch is that the race will look different after the signatures are collected than it does now, and it will be interesting to see how it shakes out once everyone makes their decisions. One thing, though, that I noticed in the article bothered me. Apparently, Keith Mercurio is planning to move to Belmont:

[R]enovating his grandfather's home in Belmont for the past two years has become a labor of love for Mercurio, and the ultimate elimination factor if he follows through with purchasing and moving into the home.

"[Living there] would very sadly put me outside the district," he said. "If not for that, I would very much like to run for that seat."
Now, I don't begrudge anyone their choice of house, but don't you think that his potential move outside of town would have been pertinent information for us to have when he ran for the statehouse last fall? I don't remember seeing any "By the way, I might move to my dreamhouse in Belmont" in any of the literature I got from his campaign.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

She's Back

I just saw former Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey on tonight's Greater Boston with Emily Rooney. I'm not sure why she was there, other than to perform her familiar job of talking up Mitt Romney, this time in the context of his Presidential campaign. I will give her credit, though. Rooney gave her two opportunities to go after current Governor Deval Patrick, who defeated her in November for that job. Healey did not rise to the bait. She said, simply, "Governor Patrick has been in office for one month, I think it would be premature," and that she should let him file the budget. I thought that was classy from someone who's campaign last year suffered because of its perceived classlessness.

Anyway, she was touting Mitt's conservative credentials, particularly the way he fought marriage equality, stem-cell research and plan B contraceptives. It got me thinking. Is that going to be the official Romney line? He's a true conservative, and here are three high-profile battles that he lost. He failed to stop gay marriage or the other conservative bugaboos. Is that going to be very reassuring to people who believe in these causes? "He failed in Massachusetts, but he fought the good fight!" doesn't seem like a compelling battle cry to me.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

No Republicans in 14th Worcester Race

Yesterday was the deadline to submit signatures for the 14th Worcester seat being vacated by James B. Leary, who is now Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray's chief of staff. The primary election is scheduled for March 20th, and the general will be on April 17th. I called Worcester city hall this morning to get a list of the candidates who have submitted their nominating papers. They are Democrats Phil Palmieri, Jim O'Day, Paul Shea and Tammy Vescera, and unenrolled candidate Joseph Cariglia. Palmieri is the City Councilor for District 2 of Worcester and according to his official bio, a "retired probation officer with the Massachusetts Juvenile Justice system and a real estate developer." O'Day lives in the West Boylston part of the district and is a regional VP with the SEIU local 509. Shea is the owner of Paul J. Shea Advertising Specialties of Shrewsbury, according to the Worcester Telegram-Gazette and I couldn't confirm much about the other two. If the information I got from the Worcester Election Commission is complete, there will be no Republican candidate running in the special election.

Worcester Magazine has this report from the field:

It.s a hard race to judge financially, with pre-primary reports not due until March 12, and the candidates haven.t exactly been making a lot of noise outside their immediate circles. O.Day picked up the Neighbor-To-Neighbor endorsement, Shea.s lawn signs have begun to appear in the neighborhoods, and Palmieri has put together a good-sized war chest as of the end of 2006 to go along with the non-office-specific "Palmieri" bumper stickers (and he.s rumored to be making an official announcement in the next day or two), but beyond that, it.s been too quiet for a race this short.
There's another special election scheduled for the spring, the race to fill Rep. Robert Coughlin's seat in the 11th Norfolk District, which includes all of Dedham and Westwood and part of Walpole. The primary for that election will be April 17th (the same day as the 14th Worcester's general) and the general will be held on May 15.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Profile of Patrick/Obama Media Consultant

Christopher Hayes has an article on AlterNet about Senator Barack Obama's political advisor, David Axelrod, who was also Governor Deval Patrick's media consultant in his campaign. I've always thought that comparisons between Obama and Patrick were superficial, but there's no denying the similarities between their messages.

Given his rhetorical skills, Harvard Law pedigree, up-by-the-bootstraps bio and, well, his race, it is hard not to compare recently elected Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick to his friend Barack Obama. Both men entered crowded primaries in which they were definitively not favored. They both inspired a kind of personal pride among supporters that is rare in politics. On the evening of Obama's convincing primary victory, the crowd and the candidate joined in chanting, "Yes We Can!" and if you listen closely to video of Patrick rallies, you'll hear the crowd chanting the very same thing. When Patrick looked into the camera in one ad and said the state's problem wasn't a "deficit of dollars but a deficit of leadership," it was hard not to hear echoes of Obama's oft-used line that the country's biggest problem isn't a budget deficit but an "empathy deficit." And in Patrick's most effective ad, he stands on a stage delivering an impassioned speech to a crescendo of applause as Obama sits on a stool just behind him, nodding approvingly, his head perfectly framed in the shot.

Which brings us to something else the two men share: David Axelrod, the 51-year-old reporter turned media consultant who was the key media strategist for both men's campaigns. He's the one who wrote those ads, framed that shot and came up with the "Yes We Can" tag line. "I don't bring these messages to candidates," Axelrod says when I point out the similarities. "I look for candidates who exemplify and reflect those messages." In the cases of Obama and Patrick, he says, the work is a collaboration. "They take and improve on what you bring them; they deliver it well because they believe in it. It's like riffing with great musicians."
The rest of the article focuses on Axelrod's coming of age as a consultant in Chicago, and it's worth reading.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Anti-Escalation Bill on Beacon Hill

I got an email today from MoveOn.org Political Action announcing that state Rep. David Linsky (D-Natick) and Senator Karen Spilka (D-Framingham) have introduced legislation opposing the escalation in Iraq. The move is apparently part of a larger effort to get state legislatures to pass resolutions opposing troop increases, and they wanted to make sure that everyone contacts their legislators in support of the bill. There's more information about the effort at the Progressive States Network.

I'm not sure that the statehouse is the right place to have a debate on troop levels, but with Republicans in the Senate blocking debate on the war there, maybe it's just important for us to have a debate somewhere. I have not seen or read the resolution, but I'm sure it can't be anything more than symbolic since the state legislature has no jurisdiction over the armed forces. Normally, I'm skeptical of these sorts of symbolic gestures -- particularly since the President seems disinclined to alter course no matter who is opposed to him. Still, in this case I'm wondering if a vote of no confidence at the state level (not in Massachusetts, perhaps, but elsewhere) would bring some pressure on Congress to end the war sooner rather than later.

I hope Spilka and Linsky's bill gets a fair hearing on Beacon Hill.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

.08 Acres Turns Two

Today marks the second blogiversary of .08 Acres -- it was two years ago today that I made my first post to the blog. My second year was markedly different from the first in that the first in that it was much more focused on activism. For the bulk of the year, I was involved as a volunteer for the Deval Patrick campaign and though I tried to be fair minded to the other Democratic candidates, I have already noted my regrets that I didn't blog more about the campaign. That said, of course, I don't regret any of the work I did for Deval Patrick, and I'd say it turned out rather well, even if it put a dent in my blog traffic.

The Massachusetts blogosphere is also very different than it was a year ago. During the election, Blue Mass. Group really came into its own, and now dominates the local progressive blog scene. They are a multimedia force, and rightfully so. Other smaller blogs popped up, but many of them have faded since November. We had our second all-blogosphere event, the Blogleft Lieutenant Governor's Forum last May, but despite its success, we haven't taken anything else on since. Perhaps we can use the off-year to increase our communication and collaborate on something again.

If you're new to the blog, here are some of my favorite posts from the past year:

For highlights of year-one, check out my first blogaversary post. What does year three hold? I won't predict anything except that readers should expect a big announcement in the next two weeks or so. Stay tuned!