Tuesday, January 31, 2006

2nd Worcester - Campaign Financial Reports

I've been so busy with my own caucus and election stuff, that I haven't been keeping up with the 2nd Worcester special election race.

The final campaign financial reports before the special elections were filed January 30.

Republican candidate Jonathan Dennehy raised more than $17,010 between Dec. 26 and Jan. 20 and spent $22,379.81 during that period, according to records filed with the OCPF.

As expected, Dennehy is getting quite a lot of help from Republicans from around the state:

Seventy-two percent of the money raised during the period, some $12,300, came from outside donors.

"We've had fundraisers inside and outside the district," Dennehy said. "There has been a lot of interest in the race, and the Republicans have gathered together to try to make a difference in this race. I think Republicans stick together better than people think."

Democrat Robert Rice did not do quite as well having only raised $2,520.00 between January 3 to January 10.

The special election will be held February 7, 2006.

Reilly and Bush on TV Tonight.

Newly minted Democratic pairing Tom Reilly and Marie St. Fleur will appear on The Chet Curtis Report tonight at 8:00 PM.

The State of the Union Address will be on most major networks tonight at 9:00 PM (EST) I'm a C-SPAN gal, myself. The scrolling ticker thing is just too distracting

Coretta Scott King

Coretta Scott King has passed away. She had been ill for some time, having had a major stroke last August.

Coretta Scott King was a devoted wife and mother of four children. Mrs King was also a tireless advocate for human rights and for racial and economic justice. She devoted her life to preserving the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through the development of The King Center for Nonviolent Social Change.

Hate is too great a burden to bear.
It injures the hater more than it injures the hated.
Coretta Scott King (1927-2006)

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Road to Ruin

BBC is reporting that the Pentagon is looking to, among other things, influence public opinion through "new media" as detailed in a recently declassified document entitled "Information Operations Roadmap." (pdf)

Any news article that opens with the words, "bloggers beware.", has my full attention. Having read the article all I can say is:


Reilly/Gabrieli - No deal.

Boston Globe is reporting that Chris Gabrieli will not run for Lt. Governor.

Blue Mass Group has more.

This whole thing was just dumb.

Friday, January 27, 2006

I'm Callin' Bullshit on the Reilly/Gabrieli deal.

I'm running out to door here, but to add my .02 (no, not .08 silly!) on the Reilly/Gabrieli Wonder Twins move, if the Reilly campaign is stupid enough to do this (for whatever reason) and cuts the voters out of the process by pushing aside the 4 announced candidates (I'm supporting Silbert) then Reilly will rightfully become the punching bag for every progressive democrat in Massachusetts who is sick and damn tired of this kind of back room, insider, political bullsh*t.

I have more thoughts than time for this today. I'm sure I'll have something else to say later.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Didja Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind?

Massachusetts Independent voters are getting quite a bit of media coverage lately. There's the Boston Globe article State of Independents (read it quick before it self-destructs)
and Blue Mass. Group covers the Christy Mihos--will he, or won't he run as an Independent question and the potential fallout for Kerry Healey. sco over at .08 has some great analysis with nifty graphs.

Here in my town we have the same basic demographic breakdown of parties that have been reported elsewhere. We have slightly more Democrats here in Townsend, than Republicans, but the unenrolled, or Independent voters have both parties beat by at least twice as many more voters.

So what's the deal with these voters? I have come into contact with quite a few of these folks as I, along with my town committee get ready for the caucus on February 4. I'll start with my husband, who until recently was unenrolled. As long as I've known him, he has always voted Democratic, but he chose to remain unenrolled because he doesn't like politics and liked the idea that he didn't belong to either party.

I know someone who is running as a delegate in the February caucus who could not find a SINGLE friend who would be willing to change their affiliation so they could vote in the February caucus.

I'll admit it right now, these so-called Independent voters make my teeth itch. They remind me of the child's story where everyone wants to eat the bread, but nobody wants to help make it. Look, I get it -- I don't love everything about the Democratic Party either, but the solution is MORE involvement, not less, especially at the local, grassroots level.

Today in my e-mail I got this great message from Governor Michael Dukakis entitled What a Democratic Governor Can Mean for the Commonwealth. (hat tip to the Gloucester Dems website)

I like this part:

.it won't happen unless we Democrats begin to do what so many of you did for me back in the l980's—organize every single precinct in the state with a precinct captain and block captains and begin now to knock on doors, enlist our fellow citizens in the cause, turn them into precinct workers and contributors, and convince them that the Commonwealth can do a lot better than it has been doing for the past 15 years.

Indpendents -- get off the fence and get into the game.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Your Action Item for the Day

Blue Mass. Group has done a great job covering the ongoing struggle for Massachusetts to come up with a health care bill. Right now the health care conference committee is still working out the details. BMG asks that we contact our St. Reps and Senators and let them know that we support the original House bill.

You know, if you do -- it's the best one going, so that's what I'm supporting.

David even provides a handy sample letter to inspire you.

As your constituent, I am writing to express my concern over news reports that negotiators on the health care bill are considering (1) dropping the employer "pay or play" provision; (2) increasing the surcharges on the employers who already provide health care; and (3) imposing an individual mandate on all Massachusetts residents.

As someone who strongly supported the original House bill, this strikes me as very bad news - close to the worst of all possible worlds. I think an individual mandate is a very bad (and possibly unconstitutional) idea, though I could grudingly accept it as part of a package that included employer "pay or play." But I cannot support it on its own, nor can I fathom why we would further penalize employers who are already trying to do the right thing by covering their employees.

This is starting to look distressingly like "RomneyCare," which would force individuals to buy health insurance without really helping them do it, and which would continue to let Wal-Mart and others who don't cover their employees off the hook. The least desirable outcome would be to make the current situation worse, and then claim victory, making any actual reform of the system next to impossible.

I urge you in the strongest possible terms to advocate for the original House bill, and to resist efforts by AIM and the Chamber of Commerce (who, as you know, do not speak for all businesses) to foist the entire burden of reforming the health care system onto those who can least afford it.

Thank you for your consideration.

If you don't know who your representitives are, hit up Project Vote Smart

The special interests groups like the National Federation of Independent Business are out in force trying to convince people to accept the status quo. They've even dropped off their flaming bag of dog poo at my local townie paper. You can see the same thing here and at this local paper. Slow news day, I guess.

I wrote a rebuttal letter to the editor of the Townsend Times. We'll see if they print it.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Pop Quiz Time!

Sorry for the lack of posts recently, folks. I'm up to my neck in caucus stuff and I'm also running my campaign for DTC Chair, so I hope you'll bear with me for the next few weeks. In the meantime, enjoy a fun quiz.

On The Issues
is a website that tracks both national and state candidates on their positions on various issues.

They have a Massachusetts page with a list of candidates past and present complete with nifty graphs and analysis.

Just for a goof, I took their Vote Match Quiz
On that quiz you can select how your votes are going to be compared so I chose Political Philosophy. My results were not terribly surprising.

Your Score

You scored the following on the PoliticsMatch questions:

Personal Score 95%
Economic Score 4%

Where You Fit In

Where your Personal score meets your Economic score on the grid below is your political philosophy. Based on the above score, you are a Hard-Core Liberal.

I'm nearly off the chart!

I know some folks would take that as an insult, but I wear it proudly.

So much for the opinion that I am a SOCIALIST/COMMUNIST.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Romney Kicks the Can

From the Sentinel & Enterprise

At a recent Statehouse hearing on a proposed education reform bill, Mitt Romney (R-Fantasy Land) faced off with Sen. Robert Antonioni (D-Leominster) about the bill's particulars. Namely, the bill would propose a shorter timeline for the state to intervene in struggling schools, and greater power for school administrators to hire and fire teachers.

Sen. Antonioni is having none of that:

"So much of the tone of the bill seems to be making it easier to get rid of personnel, and (incorporate) performance pay," said Antonioni, a Leominster Democrat, whose sister is a teacher at Leominster High School. "I'm concerned about that. There's a feeling it's more about blaming the individuals who are there than improving resources."

Romney also wants to create a program that would offer bonuses to teachers who instruct advanced placement courses in math and science, as well as more pay for teachers whose instruction leads to higher test scores.

Look, I know that test scores are important, but they don't tell the whole story. I'm not an education expert, but from a grassroots level, based on my experience with my son what I hear from other parents with kids in public schools, we are not impressed with the current standards and only giving us more of the same isn't going to cut it either.

We need standards that are about more than just fitting a kid into a one-sized fits all box. We need to teach our kids to THINK not just memorize facts for standardized tests.

Deval Patrick is really on to something when it comes to education. In his plan the focus in on innovation, not just tossing money to teachers. I also appreciate his support of charter schools. I support public non-profit charter schools too, and not just because my son happens to attend one in Fitchburg.

Leominster High School has recently adopted some principles of the charter school movement: Student as worker. Small class sizes. School as community.

Leominster High School has partnered with Parker Charter Essential School, one of the first charter schools in Massachusetts. Together they are changing the dynamics of public education. The focus is on innovation, not just kicking the can down the line.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Uh... this is a joke, right?

Google is not always your friend. I was poking around Google looking for some information, and I came across a link to Worcester Magazine. I did a total double-take at this headline:

Murray picks up endorsements

In a dramatic statement at a fundraiser in Pride’s Crossing, Mayor Timothy Murray announced that his campaign for lieutenant governor has received endorsements from every public union in the state, the full Massachusetts Congressional delegation, the Shrewsbury Street Neighborhood Association, the graveyard shift at the Rte. 20 UPS facility, and six major characters from the Star Wars universe. “Don’t jump to conclusions,” said campaign spokesman Michael Cohen. “The mayor is merely testing the waters.”

Further down the page is this head-turner

In other developments, Worcester Mayor Timothy Murray was officially anointed as the party’s candidate for lieutenant governor, and will run with overwhelming favorite gubernatorial candidate Deval Patrick on a joint ticket.

“Just because they say so, doesn’t mean the mayor has made a final decision,” said Murray campaign spokesman Michael Cohen. “We should know more in a few weeks.”

Okay, okay, here comes the punch-line:

Murray wins big

It was a landslide for Timothy Murray in the race for Massachusetts lieutenant governor, as Worcester’s mayor took the state in a runaway victory. “I’m gratified,” said Murray. “Just don’t tell them that this town doesn’t have real mayors.”

Campaign spokesman Michael Cohen said the swearing-in ceremony will be held the first week of January, adding, “He’s still up in the air about this thing, as far as you know.”

Ha-ha-ha, okay, you got me. Very funny, but when did Worcester Magazine turn into The Onion?

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Freep This Poll!

The Lowell Sun's Question of the Day is:

If the election were held today, for whom would you vote?

Right now Kerry Healey is in the lead with 48%

Deval Patrick has 24%

Tom Reilly has 27%

Deval Patrick supporters, get on over to the Lowell Sun and vote!

Update: Deval Patrick wins with 48% of the vote. Not that it's scientific or anything, but still. Yay!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Good Health to My Friend in Lowell.

Get well soon, wishes to my favorite Lowell blogger Lynne of Left in Lowell. She's been down for a week with a kidney ailment.

She's back today with a great post about the confusion over the new "Part D" of the Medicare prescription drug benefit. She makes the point that her grandmother was paying $12/month for eye drops that now, thanks to Republicans of the "let's drown government in the bathtub" variety, and their evil scheme to undermine ANY social program, grandma is now paying $50/month for the same eyedrops.

Hey Repugs, yeah government programs suck if you don't set it up right to begin with.

There is a great reply to Lynne's post at her blog from "Tim Little" It's all good, but this part is particularly on point:

I think that DP [Deval Patrick] made a good point the other evening: that government still has relevance, and that the stereotype of Big Government is neither workable nor applicable. Government can be effective and efficient and compassionate, and it can complement the private sector; we just need elected officials who have the vision and wherewithal to make it so, and the support of voters to put them in office in the first place.

- Tim

A lot can be said about a society by how they care for their children and the elderly. We are morally responsible for both. Can anyone really say that we don't need universal health care? Now.

Special Election Primary Today - Go Vote!

Today there will be primary elections in Somerville and the towns that make up the 2nd Worcester district. (Ashby, Ashburnham, Gardner, Royalston and Winchendon)

Blue Mass Group breaks it all down

Get out there and vote!

Monday, January 09, 2006

Deval Patrick on Tour

This weekend the Deval Patrick campaign made stops in Lawrence, Lowell and Groton.

The Lowell Sun covered the Deval Patrick meet & greet at the Brew'd Awakening in Lowell.

Sounds like there was a good turn-out. . There's more coverage at the Lowell Democratic City Committee blog.

I was at the Groton DTC annual dinner which, as mentioned in the Sun article, took place later that same evening. I haven't seen any newspaper coverage, so I'll just briefly sum up here:

The Groton Democratic Town Committee held its annual dinner Sunday, January 8th at the Bull Run Restraurant in Shirley. The dinner was co-sponsored this year by the Middlesex and Worcester Dems together with the town committees of Ayer, Pepperell, Shirley and Townsend. Deval Patrick was the featured keynote speaker, but we also had brief comments from various candidates for statewide office including:

LG candidates Sam Kelley, Tim Murray and Andrea Silbert.

Middlesex DA candidates Jarrett Barrios, Mike Festa and Gerry Leone.

Secretary of State candidate John Bonifaz.

The turnout of 110 people was incredible. Every candidate that I spoke to was amazed that so many people turned out on a cold, leftover snow on the ground, Sunday night. I'm glad that the candidates got to see how many dedicated activists there are out here in North Central Mass. This area has a very large percentage of unenrolled voters and they went overwhelmingly for Romney in the last election. I think now after the last four years of empty Republican promises, that we could swing the unenrolled voters by reaching out to them. The Mass Dems Victory 2006 campaign is a great way to start that outreach process.

But first... lemme get through the February 4th caucus!

Friday, January 06, 2006

Blue Mass Group is All Over the Reilly Kerfuffle

David makes the point that it's not so much illegal what Reilly did in placing a call to the Worcester District Attorney to ask that they not release the autopsy report (which would be illegal anyway) of the teenaged sisters Shauna and Meghan Murphy who were killed in an alcohol-related car accident last October, it's just inappropriate.

My heart goes out to the Murphy family. I know that I wouldn't want private information about my family members like autopsy results released to the media and I don't fault them at all for asking for help. But for me, here's the rub: The Worcester DA knows the law. Reilly knows the law. Why would Reilly feel that he needed to intervene?

In an opinion piece in the Globe Brian McGrory quotes Reilly:

"Protecting that family and their private medical records -- no, I don't regret making that call and keeping those records confidential," he replied. ''I would do that for any family to protect their rights and their deceased children's rights."

But the fact of the matter is, this is not just any family. This particular family knows Reilly and has contributed money to his campaign. In his press conference yesterday, Reilly indicated that he has made simlilar calls in the past, but would not reveal the details involved. That information is useless without details. Were these calls also made on behalf of Reilly supporters?

If Reilly has a habit of making these types of calls for supporters, it's not just inappropriate, it's an abuse of his power as AG and he should be called to account on it.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

2nd Worcester Special Election - Campaign Finance

From the Sentinel & Enterprise

Tuesday, January 3rd was the deadline to file campaign financial disclosure forms with the state. In the lead in the democratic money race is Robert Rice of Gardner who has raised more than $9,275 and spent $3,930 in the reporting period between November 1 and December 23.

Michael Ellis, also of Gardner has raised $6,825 and has spent $2,400.

Mike McCallum of Ashby has raised $2,575 and spent $4,259, but he has also contributed $17,050 of his own money to his campaign.

According to the article, McCallum doesn't attribute his donation level to his Ashby residency:

"I started my campaign later then the other guys, so I would expect that my fundraising would be behind them," he said. "As I raise it, it will make the books balance. I also don't think there is anything wrong with a candidate spending there [sic] own money on a campaign."

That's a whole lot of money to be sure, but it will all come down to how effectively, not to mention successfully, that money is spent.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

2nd Worcester Special Election - Meet Candidate Dennis Venuto

I have been trying as much as possible to publish information as I get it about the candidates for the 2nd Worcester special election as there is not a lot of newspaper coverage about the election. I understand that there are candidate profiles in the recent Gardner News (subscription required).

Joining democratic candidates Rice, Ellis and McCallum is the Independent candidate Dennis Venuto. Mr. Venuto was unable to collect enough signatures to have his name placed on the ballot, so he will be running as a write-in candidate.

Mr Venuto is originally from New Jersey. He has lived in Gardner for the last 10 years, having moved to Massachusetts from Texas. He is married with six children and he is a self-employed contractor.

I recently had an opportunity to exchange e-mail with Mr. Venuto and he was kind enough to answer a few questions:

Susan M: What is your background in public service?

Dennis Venuto: The only public service I have done has been as a firefighter and when I have donated time to help the community that I live in. I have 20 years service as a firefighter in 4 states. Also back in 2004 when Gardner was struck by 2 major house fires, putting about 8 families out of their homes, I started collecting donations of clothes, housewares and other items they might need to re-establish their way of life.

SM: What motivated you to enter this race?

DV: I ran for mayor of Gardner this year and during that campaign I found out that the majority of the problems facing the city were caused due to the lack of funding from the state. Also over the past few years I have been involved with a local issue where a builder wanted to put 100 homes into the neighborhood I reside. There were many concerns with this including open space. After everything was said and done this builder went ahead and cleared some land that was to remain untouched. The way the current laws and ordinances are written there was nothing that could be done and now that part of the open space is gone forever.

SM: What issues are important to your campaign?

DV: The issues that I feel are important are:
  • Returning monies that were cut to the communities.
  • Strengthing the Open Space laws to give the communities more power to control what happens in their areas.
  • Supporting the fire and police departments.
  • Support of programs that benefit the elderly and children of the communities.
SM: What do you want people in the 2nd Worcester district to know about you and your campaign?

DV: I moved to the Gardner area in 1994 and stayed because, like many others that have moved to this area, this area has a certain type of appeal to raise a family and it needs to be perserved at all cost.

My campaign is a sticker/write in campaign so I will be going around to all communities knocking on doors and trying to meet as many people as possible.

The first debate will be held on Thursday, January 5, 2006 at 5:30 PM at Mt. Wachusett Community College.