Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Last Day to Register for Presidential Primary

Today is the last day to register to be eligible to vote in the Feburary 5th Presidential Primary. You can download the mail-in form here (it must be postmarked today!) or travel down to your city/town hall and register there. I've been told that most town clerks will be open late tonight for the deadline. The Boston Globe reported yesterday that people are registering in big numbers in advance of the primary, moreso than in previous years. I imagine it's because the presidential race might actually still be in dispute by the time Massachusetts holds its primary this time around, since we've moved it up to February with the rest of the states. I remember four years ago John Kerry had it all but sewn up by the time we voted here. I nearly didn't make the trek out to my polling place because I didn't think it was worth it.

This year, I'll have an added incentive to get out, though, because I'm going to be on the ballot here in Watertown! I will be on the slate for the Watertown Democratic Town Committee, along with thirty-five other Watertown Democrats. We are unopposed, but we still need to beat the write-ins, so if you live in Watertown, please consider voting for our candidates!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Mitt Takes Michigan

It looks like our former Governor Mitt Romney has emerged victorious in the Michigan GOP primary. This was widely seen as a must-win for him given his previous losses (at great expense, I might add) in Iowa and New Hampshire, and the fact that Michigan is one of Mitt's many home states. Romney has the personal fortune to keep him going if he had lost, but three high-profile losses would probably have defined him as someone no one trusts and no one would vote for.

As much as I would have enjoyed the Romney schadenfreude, it's probably better for Democrats that he managed to win (and convincingly so). The longer the GOP field is fractured, the more money they'll spend, but more importantly, Romney's victory should slow John McCain's momentum from his New Hampshire victory. Though I think he's past his expiration date, McCain is really the only Republican who can challenge the eventual Democratic nominee on foreign policy experience. He's also the only Republican with any sort of crossover appeal -- I admit that I myself nearly got swept up in McCainimania back in 2000 when I attended a McCain rally on Wall Street of all places. I'm not sure that McCain has enough money to compete everywhere on Super-Duper Tuesday on anything other than name recognition, and with the field still uncertain, there's a chance that Rudy Giuliani's strategy of skipping the first several contests could actually work out for him.

I tuned in to a few minutes of Mitt's victory speech -- just as much as I could stand. I noted that he made the claim that Washington lobbyists are now scared because he represents change. I had to laugh out loud. I'm sure that these lobbyists are really upset today.

Update: I noticed from the exit polls that Mitt Romney won the self-described liberal vote 33% to McCain's 30%. Maybe this had an effect, after all.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Weekend Baby Blogging

Testing out his newest teeth

Monday, January 07, 2008

Pre-Primary Thoughts

  • I finally got a chance to read Governor Patrick's endorsement of Barack Obama in Saturday's Boston Globe. I know that Patrick and Obama have similar messages (and share consultants), but I feel like Deval just did a search and replace on one of his 2006 stump speeches to come up with that Op/Ed. Anyone who followed his 2006 campaign should recognize some of his stock phrases -- "wise guys and wise gals", "not buying what either party is selling." I guess if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
  • Will Mitt Romney finally be off of my TV screen after tomorrow? The New Hampshire polls have him down, and the national polls have him even lower. If he doesn't get the bandwagon boost from a win there, can he carry enough states on Super-Duper Tuesday to get the nomination? Seems like a tall order.
  • Bill Galvin is right. The primary process is even crazier than last time. I'd like to see regional primaries as well, but what are the chances that New Hampshire and Iowa would give up their positions? The parties had a hard enough time this year getting the states to wait until after Feburary, and we'll likely see that their threats to refuse to seat delegates to the convention will be empty.

Friday, January 04, 2008

President Younger's Inaugural Speech

I attended Wednesday night's inauguration of town officials at the Commander's Mansion. It was a small, tasteful affair with some good food and of course all of the usual suspects one would expect to see. Returning council President Clyde Younger gave the inaugural address, which you can see on tape at the TAB's blog. Here's the text of the speech as delivered:

Two years ago, the thirteenth town council session began with six new councilors, which constituted a 2/3rds turnover of the committee in one election. That included my going back on to the council. We were immediately thrust into getting to know one another's idiosyncrasies, learning how to work as a team and also negotiating a new contract with the town manager.

I'm acutely aware that all of the happenings surrounding the council these past two years gave the public the appearance that little town business was being accomplished. However, I wish to dispel any question in your mind of the effectiveness of the 13th council. It was one of the hardest working councils that I have been associated with in my prior six years on the council. In the past two years, the council has met innumerable meetings per week in the town council and in subcommittee. Outside of the work on the manager's contract, most of the work accomplished was in subcommittee,
which allowed for considerable dialogue, discussion and input from interested parties that resulted in establishing a consistent policy direction for the council.

These achievements were due to the fact that we had individual councilors who were not afraid to ask hard questions on behalf of their constituents. We approved very important programs ranging from coalition bargaining with all town employees that has the potential to save the community a considerable sum of money in health care costs. We increased moneys for sidewalk and street reconstruction. We approved quarterly water/sewer billing, provided additional capital funds for our schools and town buildings, and also we approved the lease of the Coolidge school that is designed to bring in an additional $355,000 in the first year and thereafter $55,000 in fees per annum for fifty years which should result in $2 million in revenue to the council and the community.

Of special importance, the council established a new subcommittee, namely the Budget and Fiscal Oversight committee. This Committee is charged with the responsibility through the Council to provide policy direction to the town manager on fiscal matters.

Despite the accomplishments at the end of the term of the 13th council, we were marred by multiple situations where questions were raised regarding the election process and the actions taken by the town manager. Although it is apparent that the manager had the authority to initiate a court review of the election, bypassing the Council was inexcusable.

I look forward to working with the 14th council on such issues as the following: improving the town's overall infrastructure, both above-ground and underneath; and in view of the fact that Watertown is one of the most densely populated cities in the Commonwealth, we need to look for opportunities to support and improve upon our commitment to open space. We also need to resurrect the bicycle/walk path plan that has become dusty on the shelf. We also need to investigate the town's electoral process, and this examination will cover all activities before, during, and after the election, including the manager's preemptive bid to take the matter to the Superior Court if the candidate had not taken action.

In addition it is imperative that we examine our charter, in order to make some substantive changes to it. It has become quite evident that changes are in order. One question that quickly comes to mind is whether the president of the council should be chosen by the council rather than the general public and also whether any other form of government would be closer and more representative of the people. There has existed for some time an imbalance between the legislative and executive branch that must be addressed.

In closing, in reflecting back over the past two years, could we have presented ourselves better on camera -- certainly so. My personal goal for the next two years is to officiate over a more mundane, hard-working council. I am asking for the cooperation of each and every councilor to assist me in this endeavor. Thank you for your attention this evening.
A couple of things stand out. First, I think it's interesting that Younger wants a more "mundane" council, but he peppered his speech with barbs directed at the town manager, Mike Driscoll. Twice he chastises Driscoll for threatening to go to court to determine what went wrong with the town's election, and after that he implies that Driscoll's abuse of power is sufficient enough to change the town charter over. Never mind that Younger admits that Driscoll had the authority initiate a court review of the election. I will say that it seemed strange to me that Driscoll would want to take the town he manages to court, but it's even stranger still that he would need to ask permission from the very council whose election was the one that was suspect.

Younger appeared defensive, bringing up that everyone thought the last council didn't do anything. Then his examples of the things they accomplished were that they held a lot of meetings. Now, don't get me wrong, I know that the town councilors work very hard for very little compensation. Still, it seems to me that it would have been a better speech had Younger decided to talk more about his plans for the next two years than trying to defend any perceived inaction.

I hate to bring up George Lakoff in a discussion of town politics, but if someone tells me not to think of an elephant, my head is going to involuntarily fill with pachyderms. Similarly, if the president of the town council tells me that the last session wasn't as ineffective as everyone says, I'm immediately going to think the opposite.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Poor Mitt

Seems like our former absentee governor had a bit of a bad night tonight. I suppose it's not too early to get him a consolation gift.

It may be obvious, but the reason this hurts Mitt so much is not necessarily that he lost, but that he lost by double digits (or nearly so) to someone he outspent by 4-to-1 after laying groundwork in Iowa for nearly three years. Romney was buying favors in Des Moines before anyone outside of Arkansas ever heard of Mike Huckabee. That someone could waltz in and render all that effort moot in the last month or so leading up to the election shows how soft Romney's support really was.

Also, don't forget that Romney needed some big wins to raise his national profile before Super-Duper Tuesday next month. He doesn't have the name recognition that Giuliani, McCain and even Thompson have.

That said, Romney could pull it off. I think it may end up being McCain, since the Republicans gravitate toward the person whose "turn" it is when in doubt (See Dole, Bob). But McCain is the darling of the media and of Independents, not necessarily Republicans -- and they'll have more of a say in the nominee than anyone else. I have a hard time picturing the GOP faithful who consistantly rank "immigration" as one of their top concerns turning en masse to the candidate least in line with the Republican platform.

New Years Blog Resolutions

I'm a few days late on this, but I wanted to make sure I committed to electrons some of the blog resolutions I've made in the new year. One thing that visitors to this site will have noticed is the decline in posting frequency in the last quarter of 2007. This also happened in 2006, both years because my involvement in campaigns got me out of a posting rhythm. For 2008, I'd like to get back to my at least once-per-weekday (holidays excluded) schedule. In addition, I'd like to actually follow through on my desire to blog about my involvement in a campaign while I'm actually doing campaign work. It's a simple idea, but one I've utterly failed to do in the last two years.

Also, for 2008, I'd like to see the blog have some more dynamic content, so I've added a section to the sidebar I've tentatively titled "Posts I've Read" (anyone with a better suggestion, please submit it) which lists my most recent bookmarks -- blog posts or other web content that I've recently found and decided was worth sharing, but not quite worth an entire blog post. In 2007 I spent a lot more time reading blogs than writing blog posts, so I think this would be an easy way to share the things I've read that don't necessarily merit a longer post.

Given that 2008 is a presidential election year, there's a temptation to have more national content on the blog, but I find that I have little to add to all the excellent national coverage in the blogosphere. Instead I'd like to go the other direction and have more local-level coverage in addition to state-level coverage. This will likely be a challenge in the run-up to November, but given how involved I was in the recent election here in Watertown, I regret that I didn't really talk about all the craziness in the aftermath.

And, of course, the one resolution I will most likely keep: More baby pictures.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Question of the Evening

If Mitt Romney is the candidate who will "stop the militant gays", then why was he unable to do so as Governor of Massachusetts? This has perplexed me for a while. Romney could not stop marriage equality here in Massachusetts. Why should those for whom banning same-sex marriage is a priority think that he is the best person to do so nationally? Because he failed so often and utterly that he's due for at least one victory?