Thursday, December 29, 2005

2nd Worcester Special Election Debates

From MWCC Weekly Newsletter

There will be two debates held for the 2nd Worcester district special election. Both debates will be held at Mount Wachusett Community College. The first debate will be held on Thursday, January 5, 2006 at 5:30 PM. A second debate is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 2, also at 5:30 p.m. (The special election on Feb. 7.) Both debates will take place in the commons area of MWCC’s main campus.

The first debate will feature opening and closing statements, questions posed by the moderator and a segment where each candidate can ask his opponents a question. The second debate also will include opening and closing statements, questions from a panel of Garner News journalists, Assistant Editor Andres Caamano and reporter Daniel Axelrod, and MWCC representatives, political science and history Professor Dr. Oliver Hooper and Assistant Vice President of Public Affairs Lea Ann Erickson, and a segment where each candidate can ask his opponents a question.

MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino will moderate both debates.

The public is encouraged to attend. Admission is free.

The 2nd Worcester District includes Ashby, Ashburnham, Gardner, Royalston and Winchendon.

Competing for the Democratic ticket are Michael Ellis, president of the Greater Gardner Chamber of Commerce, Mike McCallum, a member of Ashby’s Board of Selectmen, and Robert Rice, Gardner’s assistant city solicitor and partner in the law firm Ward, Walsh & Rice. Jonathan Dennehy, a member of the Ashburnham Board of Selectmen, is running on the Republican ticket. Independent Dennis Venuto, a self-employed contractor who fell several signatures shy of placement on the ballot, plans to run as a write-in candidate.

Should be an interesting evening. I don't live in this district, so I don't have a dog in this fight. To my knowledge McCallum is the most progressive of the bunch running. He has a very solid environmental background and has been able to coordinate state and local groups to renovate the Ashby library and preserve the Mt. Watatic recreation area without tax increases.

Ellis has former St. Rep. Brian Knuuttila (who previously held this seat before he retired in October) as his campaign manager which gives him an edge in the organizational department.

Rice has plenty of fancy campaign posters up, including one in Fitchburg(?!) and has received the endorsement of the increasing influential SEIU1199 so in my mind, that makes Rice the front runner in the upcoming primary.

At this time I don't have any information at all about Dennis Venuto, but with such a short election schedule it will be very difficult to get an effective campaign off the ground in time for the primary.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Happy Birthday to Me!

It's been quite a year. I have been blessed with the gifts of good health and the love and support of my friends and family. It is, as the kids say, all good.

I'm off to my son's hockey tournament. I can't think of a better way to spend an afternoon with my guys.

Before I sign off here, I recommend that you surf over to Marry in Massachusetts. As usual, Mass Marrier does a better job of blogging about what I blogged about, and so I thought I'd blog about that some more.

Among other great points about the importance of local blogging that Mass Marrier makes, he notes how linking blog to blog is an important part of our mission of continuing our conversations across towns and cities.

I can't tell you how important this has been to my blogging. I am not a policy wonk, or a political insider, but by reading blogs like Marry in Massachusetts and Left in Lowell and Blue Mass Group, I have learned so much about policy and candidates here in MA. I think that as blogging get more coverage in news, and by other blogs, more folks will read and add their voices to the blogsphere and that is a pretty damn good thing.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Blogger Karma

Okay, now this is weird. Part of my (hopefully!) daily routine is to read the local papers to catch up with what's going on here in my town, and in the area. I've been pretty busy the last few days with the holidays (a belated happy holidays to one and all!) So today I was catching up on my reading and noticed that the Sentinel & Enterprise has an interesting article on blogging. They link to some new blogs that I had not heard of and then as I continue reading I get to this part:

After reading in the Sentinel & Enterprise on Tuesday that Goguen was thinking of retiring from his longtime job as a state lawmaker, a person with the online name "Mariposa" posted the news to their blog.

Uh, hey... that's me, and they even plugged my blog by name, but not by URL. Bummer. Oh well, it's just nice to be noticed, eh? There's also a shout-out to Marry in Massachusetts too - Go, Massmarrier, go!

The whole article is pretty interesting and makes the point that bloggers are talking about news and issues that aren't always covered with much depth in newspapers. I didn't start blogging because I'm such a great writer. It had more to do with the fact that there wasn't much news coverage, or blogs in central MA for that matter, that talked about issues that are important to me.

So if you landed here because of what you've read in the Sentinel & Enterprise, welcome.

Check out the excellent blogs on my kickass blogroll, and if you want to learn more about blogging check out Blogger or WordPress or just google "blog" and you'll get plenty info.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Dear Santa, All I Want For Xmas Is one Less Hater.

From the Sentinel & Enterprise

State Rep. Emile Goguen ("D"- Fitchburg) has announced that he is "leaning toward" retiring when his term ends next year.

The 72-year old cites health concerns as a possible reason for retiring. I hope that is not the case, as I would not wish poor health on anyone.

Having said that, my analysis can best be summed up in one word: YAY!

Susan Koeck, who ran unsuccessfully against Goguen in 2004 is looking to run for this 3rd Worcester seat again in 2006 whether Goguen retires or not.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

2nd Worcester Special Election - Meet Candidate Mike McCallum

Ashby Selectman Mike McCallum is one of three announced democratic candidates for the open 2nd Worcester Rep. seat vacated last October. He has recently unveiled his campaign website at It's a very good website with lots of information about him and his campaign, which I'm sure will be very helpful to introduce him to voters. I have been in contact with Mr. McCallum and I hope to get an interview with him soon.

Mike McCallum lists his top priorities as education, public safety, universal health care, affordable housing and preservation of open space. As I mentioned previously, the two other democratic candidates are running on their positions of being "very conservative" and being concerned with "the plight of the small business owner."

During his tenure as Selectman in Ashby Mike McCallum has build a solid reputation as a fiscal conservative, but not at the expense of limiting services. Ashby has been able to expand their library and preserve Mount Watatic though a partnership with nearby Ashburnham. Both of these projects were accomplished without the need for a Proposition 2 1/2 override. The voters in 2nd Worcester do tend to be conservative, but I think that if they take the time to get to know Mike McCallum they will like what they see.

The 2nd Worcester seat has traditionally been held by whichever candidate was running from Gardner. I'm sure it has to do with the fact that it is the largest community in the district with the largest democratic organization. However, as this is a very short election schedule, in the middle of the holidays, during a near record breaking cold snap, I think it's all going to come down to how effectively the candidates can get out the vote.

Just being from Gardner is not going to be enough.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

2nd Worcester Special Election Debate Set

From the Worcester Telegram and Gazette (subscription only) A candidates debate for the open 2nd Worcester State Representitive seat has been set for January 5, 2006 at Mount Wachusett Community College in Gardner. The Gardner News is sponsoring the event.

The news abstract on the front of the Gardner News (also subscription only) indicates that there are two debates to be held in Gardner. However, unless you subscribe, you can't get this information online. Arrgh!

Note to Gardner News and Worcester T&G: Just put some damn advertising on your site to cover costs already!

I'll try to run this information down.

BlogLeft Wrap-up Part II - Electric Boogaloo

After a yummy buffet lunch of salmon and chicken with assorted side dishes, our group split off into three breakout groups. The topics were:

Getting involved in the Democratic Party - Led by Kate Donaghue, DSC Wonder Woman and Co-Chair of Field Services

HR 4194 and Other Boondoggles of Online Free Speech - Led by Stirling Newberry

Beyond Blogging: Where Will the Technology Take Us? - Led by Jon Garfunkel of

There were note takers assigned to each group and those notes will become part of the final report of the conference. I participated in Kate Donaghue's breakout session on getting involved in the state Democratic party. Rep. Mike Festa (D-Melrose), candidate for Middlesex DA dropped by to say hello at the break and he and his campaign staffer got to Tatnuck early so they sat in with our breakout group.

We started off by going around the table and talking about how we got involved in politics. The group ran the gamut from some growing up in families that were always involved, to some volunteering in local communities and working their way up the political ladder to some of us just being disappointed with past election outcomes.

Kate described the importance of getting involved with our local democratic town/ward/city committees. Even if you're not quite sure what's going on, if you keep attending meetings and ask questions eventually you'll learn about how things run.

Then we had a discussion about how the state party works and how to get elected to the state committee. Kate does a great job of breaking down how the MDP works. We had discussions about the upcoming caucuses and convention in 2006. Specifically the rule changes and how to run for delegate to the convention. Kate let us know that the Preliminary Call to Convention 2006 was now online at the MDP website.

After the breakout sessions, we came back together and had a brief summary of all the breakout groups and we also had a group discussion about what we'd all like to see come out of this conference. These are some of the ideas that had the most discussion.

  • Blogger Candidate Forum - A town hall style candidate forum moderated by bloggers.
  • Blogger Recruitment - Encourage folks who are reading blogs, or someone who is active in political groups or volunteer groups to start blogging and give those new bloggers help on how to start and maintain a blog.
  • Technical Blogging Help - Help established solitary bloggers update their blog format to community blogs so that more people can participate.
  • Massachusetts Activism Wiki - a Wiki that would list activist groups by town/city. That way, when projects come up, or other activists need help they could go to the map and find contact information.
  • BlogLeft MA Meta Blog - a blog that will be used to coordinate the activities listed above.

The first, of what will hopefully be, many BlogLeft conferences was an unqualified success. I am so happy for Lynne because she has put so much time and energy into making this happen. She has, in her usual generous fashion, spread the gratitude around, but honestly she is the one who had the energy and passion to get these cats herded, and to pull off an exciting and interesting conference.

Some final thoughts:

I thought the conference went very well. I hope in the future to see more women bloggers and bloggers of color attend these conferences.

Oh, the Bloggers and the Massachusetts Democratic Party should be friends... I am very encouraged to see these two groups get together and gain a better understanding of each other. Bloggers sometimes get the reputation as being hostile toward the state party. Speaking only for this blogger, I have a great deal of respect for the majority of people involved in the state party. These are volunteers who work hard on getting more people involved in the process.

My beef is with the small minority of folks running things in towns/wards/cities where they are hostile to people who are trying to get involved and want to protect their power positions by limiting access to the process. Or when the state party doesn't follow it's own rules.

Other than that, I'm good. :-) Going forward I hope bloggers and the MDP can see each other as allies (in some things) and not combatants.

I learned a lot at this conference, but I think the best part of all was to meet people who I have enjoyed reading all this time. Having met and talked with these fine folks, I find myself enjoying their blogging more because now not only can I read the blogs, but now I can really "hear' them as well.

Can't wait 'til next year!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

BlogLeft Conference Wrap-up (Part 1)

What a great day. There were so many great moments at the BlogLeft Conference. Check out the liveblogging at Political Cortex - and speaking of Political Cortex, you fine folks at PC all rock harder than a rockin' thing to allow BlogLeft folks a spot on your front page. Your help and hospitality is very much appreciated.

Our day kicked off great with a greeting by Worcester Mayor (and candidate for Lt. Governor) Tim Murray who spoke about how he got involved in politics on a grassroots level.

Our morning keynote speaker Stirling Newberry had a great speech about drilling down on the essentials of blogging. Keep things simple. Take information and break it down. Write about local candidates and issues that local newspapers often miss. Another important point Stirling made was how important it is for bloggers to support one another and link to each others blog posts. This piling on has the effect of concentrating attention on a particular subject and giving it more weight. I have to say that I have been reluctant to do this in the past because I thought it made me a lazy blogger to just link to other blogs. Also, as a blogger, I try to put my own opinion out there and not just write "me too" posts. The solution is to link, but also write what I think as well. Stirling also said that we should make sure that our comments are turned on. I am SO busted. Lynne pulled a face at me when Stirling said this, and I nearly busted out laughing.

Our afternoon keynote speaker Fred Clarkson talked about his writing and how he became involved in progressive politics through the 2002 Robert Reich campaign. Out of that experience grew Progressive Democrats of Massachusetts. Fred's passion for activism really comes through as he speaks. He spoke eloquently about our responsibility to engage and activate voters and bring more people into the process. (tagged from the liveblogging) "How is it that people talk about polls instead of getting people to the polls." Right, on Fred. We must go from just talking and get down to doing.

Fred also talked about how blogging fills a vacuum left by the media. He gave an example on how the Berkshire Eagle newspaper was reluctant to interview Gubernatorial candidate Deval Patrick because they had no intention of covering the 2006 races until November 2005. The Berkshire Eagle was eventually shamed into covering Deval Patrick, but only after bloggers raised a sufficient ruckus over it. If the media wont do their job, bloggers will be more than happy to fill that vacuum. The Deval Patrick blog interviews this past summer are proof of that.

Fred wrapped up his speech with the ominous warning that Massachusetts was about to become Ground Zero in the fight for equal rights for gays and lesbians. The religious right will bring whatever money, man-power and other resources to bear on making sure that marriage equality does not stand here in Massachusetts.

This is a frightening thought and is in no way hyperbole. I see how far DINO Rep. Emile Goguen (D-Fitchburg) is willing to go to spread this message of intolerance. My own Rep. Robert Hargraves (R- Groton) joined in a lawsuit filed by Liberty Counsel (you can follow that wingnut trail all the way to Jerry Falwell) The idea that Massachusetts legislators (including some democrats!) would bring that sort of bigoted influence into our state is frightening indeed. Fred is right. We need to be aware, and we need to be prepared to counter these tactics.

Lunch and breakouts are next, but it's been a long weekend of bloggerific fun and long-haul hockey trips, so I'm going to have to put a ellipse on this until tomorrow.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

BlogLeft Conference Today!

Be sure to head over to Political Cortex to see the live blogging updates. Our posts will be in the Code Blue (activism) section.

I will try to audioblog a few segments when I get a chance.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Acton Area DFA Endorses Deval Patrick for Governor

Tonight was the monthly meeting of the Acton Area DFA at Ken's Cafe in Littleton. There was a good turnout even though some of our regulars were off at the Deval Patrick fundraiser. At tonight's meeting we had a fundraiser of our own to raise money to donate to an organization that helps low income families buy heating oil at a discount. We considered two organizations and decided to go with Citizens Energy. Our group collected $220.00 in donations.

An important mission of DFA is to support progressive candidates. An endorsement from DFA gives a candidate visibility and financial support. For progressive candidates the first step in gaining that endorsement is to get support from local area DFA groups. Tonight by unanimous vote Gubernatorial candidate Deval Patrick received the endorsement of our DFA group.

Related to this was a motion put forward that our DFA membership would try to as much as possible to help each other out by supporting candidate forums in nearby towns. The ability to get candidates to come out and attend voter forums in suburban areas is directly related to how many people we can get to attend. This is a great idea and encourages towns to work together for a common goal. It's surprising to me how difficult it is to get upwards of 100 people to come to an event. The best way to decide who to vote for is to talk to the candidates directly. The candidates want to talk to voters, but voters, especially in the outlying suburban areas need to meet them halfway.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Lucy and Ethel's Great Political Adventure

Sunday afternoon myself and Lynne from Left in Lowell went to the Westborough DTC/MW and Alliance Dems annual holiday party. What a shindig! I'm not a fixture on the party circuit by any means, but I have been to enough functions to know the basics:

1. Sign-in so the hosts have an idea of who attended. There is usually a gauntlet of campaign staffers trying to add you to their mailing/announcements lists too.

2. Grab a name tag. Fill it out l-e-g-i-b-l-y. Very important.

3. Find the drinks. I tend to stick to water and lots of it. Hold it in your left hand so you can shake hands with your right.

And... you're ready to mingle.

First stop, naturally was to say hello to the hostess with the mostess, Kate Donaghue. She's awesome to host this gigantic party in her home. Kate will be facilitating a break-out session at the BlogLeft conference next weekend, so I wanted to be sure to introduce her to Lynne.

There were so many people there, I honestly lost track. I'll just run them off here in no particular order.

Tom Reilly stopped by for a quick visit. And when I say quick, I mean seriously quick. Lynne and I happened to be close to the door when he arrived, so he shook our hands as he went by (did I mention quickly?) and off he went. He did a quick lap around the house and was g-o-n-e... like *poof* I think I saw maybe four people wearing Reilly buttons. There were a lot of folks there with Deval Patrick stickers or buttons on, so maybe that was a factor. (maybe?) :-)

While Lynne and I were standing in the kitchen thinking, "Hey, was that Tom Reilly?" we noticed fellow blogero and all around good guy Michael Forbes Wilcox I'll have more to say about him further down this post.

We had a great conversation with Deval Patrick Campaign Manager, John Walsh. John talked about how he likes the blogs, particularly Blue Mass Group (and really, who doesn't like BMG?), but doesn't have a lot of time to read them. By this point, Michael Forbes came over to join us and we had a very lively discussion about blogs, the upcoming BlogLeft conference and how blogs have been covering issues, candidates and the special elections with more depth than our local newspapers.

After that it was candidates, candidates, candidates.

We spoke to Lt. Governor candidate Sam Kelley about blogs. He does read them, so he is aware that some bloggers and commenters are not exactly confident of his chances of getting on the primary ballot. He is a very nice guy to talk to. His campaign blog is one of the best out there of the LG candidates. Very nicely done with lots of mulitmedia stuff and a blog. Good job.

Next up was Lt. Governor candidate Andrea Silbert. I am supporting Andrea so I was glad to talk a bit about why I am supporting her and to introduce her to Lynne. Lynne asked some very good pointed questions of Andrea that I'm sure she'll cover on her blog Left in Lowell.

I saw Lt. Governor candidate Deborah Goldberg, but we didn't get a chance to speak with her. She wasn't at the party very long.

To round out the Lt. Governor candidates, we spoke with Worcester Mayor Tim Murray. The Honorable Mayor will be stopping by the BlogLeft conference next Saturday, so we took the opportunity to talk to him about the conference. He is looking forward to stopping by and meeting more bloggers.

We said hello to Middlesex DA candidate Jarrett Barrios. Lynne told Jarrett that she had written about his campaign on his blog and told him that the only knock she had on him (and it's not really a knock) is that he is the only person she knows who talks more and faster than she does. We had a good laugh about that.

Next up was Middlesex DA candidate Mike Festa. Lynne told Mike that she was interested in interviewing him for her blog and Mike said, "Hey, why not now?" So they proceded to have at it. Mike Festa is a very interesting politician. He comes across as a very regular guy. He's not shy about his accomplishments, but he doesn't speak in that bullet-point language that some politicians do. He also is known to say mild curses when he really gets going, and that just adds to his regular guy-ness. I think Lynne was surprised. I'm interested to see what she has to say about this encounter on her blog.

While we were talking to Mike Festa, there was a buzz brewing in the background. The energy in the room was noticibly heightened. I knew who it was even before I saw him walk through the door, it was Deval Patrick. There was already a lot of folks in the room, but when Deval Patrick walked in that number easily doubled. Deval made his way over to say hello to Mike Festa. Manly hugs ensued. Deval stopped for a moment and I was able to say hello and introduce him to Lynne. In my introduction I mentioned that Lynne blogged at Left in and Deval said that he "loved that blog." ( I was so psyched for Lynne!) Deval was swooped off into a crowd of supporters and Lynne and I continued our conversation with Mike Festa. We tried to track Deval down a bit later, but we caught up with him just as he was headed off to yet another fundraiser.

We had been standing and talking for hours and by now we were both spent. Time to head home. It was a fantastic party and I had a great time. We didn't spill our drinks on anyone, so it's all good. I'm glad that Lynne was able to come along. I'm looking forward to reading her thoughts on the whole thing on her blog.

Note: Yeah, your eyes aren't playing tricks on you, I am futzing around with my margins. I have a lot of thoughts and it's hard sometimes for them to fit neatly in the usual space given by Blogger. I'm going to see if this helps before I attempt the expandable post summaries hack. Thanks for your patience.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Holiday Party - Any Bloggeristas Going?

The MW Dems/Alliance Dems Holiday Party in Westborough this Sunday, December 4th is turning into quite the shindig. I am planning to attend this event so if any other bloggeristas plan to be in attendance be sure to come by and say hey to the salt & pepper medusa-haired, zaftig gal in red. That would be me. :-) I'm bringing homemade fudge.

Check out the guest list from the DDemDispatch

This year there are several candidates/office holders who are confirmed or hoping to join us. Attorney General Tom Reilly, candidate for Governor will be joining us, as is John Walsh, campaign manager for Deval Patrick. For Lieutenant Governor, Worcester Mayor Tim Murray. Andrea Silbert and Sam Kelly have confirmed; Deborah Goldberg has also expressed an interest in attending. Worcester DA John Conte, and Rep. Mike Festa and Senator Jarrett Barrios, candidates for Middlesex DA, are all planning on attending. Gerry Leone, candidate for Middlesex DA hopes to attend. Special guests include my own State Senator Pam Resor, vice-chair of the MW Dems, Representative James Eldridge and Rep. Steve LeDuc of Marlborough. Claire Naughton, candidate for representative on the Foxboro/Norton/Mansfield area special election and Ellen Parker, candidate for DSC are also confirmed.

Details and directions are in the DDemDispatch

If I don't see you at this event, I hope to see you at the BlogLeft Conference on December 10th in Worcester. Don't forget, the conference is not just for bloggers, it's also for readers and other quirky people. Good times!

UPDATE: Deval Patrick has confirmed that he will also be attending the
MW Dems/Alliance Dems Holiday Party.

2nd Worcester Special Election - More Candidates

From the Sentinel & Enterprise:

Ashby Selectman Michael McCallum is the latest candidate to file papers and enter the race for the vacant 2nd Worcester District House seat. McCallum, a democrat from Ashby joins Robert Rice and Michael Ellis, both from Gardner, in the race for the Democratic nomination. The sole Republican candidate is Jonathan Dennehy of Ashburnham. The deadline to file nomination papers was yesterday, November 30th.

Taking a tip from the all-knowing sco at .08, I moseyed over the Office of Campaign and Political Finance to check out the newly organized campaign committees. I didn't see McCallum on the list but there is someone named Dennis J. Venuto who has formed a committee for the 2nd Worcester seat. It is not indicated on the website if Venuto is a Democrat or a Republican. Unenrolled, perhaps? Do they just leave the field blank if you're running as an independent or unenrolled candidate?

Of the three democratic candidates running in this primary race McCallum will face the biggest challenge. Being a selectman from Ashby is not exactly a high-profile office. In fact, Ashby does not even have an active Democratic Town Committee, although they do have a Chair listed on the MDP Chairs page, I know they aren't active because my DTC has been trying to involve Ashby with our DTC events and we've been told that they are not active at this time. Even with the support of an active DTC McCallum will have a hard time competing with the candidates from Gardner.