Sunday, June 10, 2007

Sunday Night Links

We had a house full of company this weekend, and so this is the first chance I've gotten to post anything since Friday, and I apologize for the light content this week. Of course, every time I go a few days without posting, I have to clear off my desktop with another link dump.

  • State Senator Jarrett Barrios (D-Cambridge) has submitted his resignation letter and the dates for the special election have been set. The primary will be on Sept. 11th and the general election will be Oct. 9th. So no one has officially announced their candidacy, but many people have expressed interest. Look for more on this race as the summer progresses.
  • If you still think that opponents of marriage equality have nothing in common with those that were against interracial marriage last century, please read this and see if it changes your mind.
  • Last week Boston Mayor Tom Menino delivered a letter signed by 260 restauranteurs in support of the proposal to allow cities and towns to raise their own meals tax. The mayor has been getting unlikely support from the Boston restaurant owners, telling them that the money the city gets from the meals tax would go toward helping reduce the property tax.
  • Governor Deval Patrick told a tourism group this past week that, if they want to encourage tourism, they should make sure the state promotes a welcoming attitude. With a house full of vistors this weekend, I say the easiest way to do this is to put up street signs at intersections that show the names of both streets. I've always thought that our failure to do this in Massachusetts was our way of saying, "if you don't know where you are, you don't belong here."
  • David Bernstein has an interesting article in this week's Boston Phoenix on the fight to keep the anti-marriage ballot question off the ballot. What does it say, he asks, if the most powerful people on Beacon Hill -- the Governor, the Senate President, the Speaker of the House, and the Attorney General -- all want something, but can't get it accomplished? Why don't they "have the juice?" The article also gives as much detail as anyone outside Beacon Hill has on the efforts to sway legislators into voting against the ban, and concludes wondering where former Governor Mitt Romney has been.
  • In Mississippi, almost every 4th grader can read, but in Massachusetts only half can. Why? Because some states are gaming the No Child Left Behind tests, a study found last week. Massachusetts, it turns out, is not one of them. We have one of the smallest gaps between state assessments and national tests.
  • Last week, lawmakers held a hearing to have the state bail the MBTA out of $2.9 billion of it's $5.1 billion debt. That of course, led to cries that we shouldn't be giving state money to the T until it gets its own fiscal house in order and we can be sure that that money wouldn't be wasted. The problem is that even if you eliminated all of the T's mismanagement and waste, of which there is apparently no shortage, the T would still be in debt -- the T pays as much in debt service as it actually collects in fares. You could shut down all the trains completely, but the T would still have to find some way to pay off its obligations. Is the best way to handle the situation to let the state give the agency a fresh start? I'm not sure, but it's clear that the way we fund the T is broken, and that's one big reason why we're stuck with the system that seemingly keeps getting worse and more expensive every year.