Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Food fight, or why does St. Rep. Hargraves hate Democrats?

On January 26 Republicans in Townsend held their caucus at Town Hall in The Great Hall. Which, as you can imagine by the name is a very large room that can easily hold at least 100 people. There are more than 900 registered Republicans here in Townsend, so I'm sure they expected quite a crowd. The actual headcount of folks who showed up though was 10 (yeah, ten) people, including St. Rep. Robert Hargraves (R-Groton).

According to the Community Journal, there was some discussion at that caucus about how effective the Democrats in Townsend have been in holding and publicizing events. Sound good, right? It does until you get to this quote in the article from Hargraves:

"State Rep. Robert Hargraves tells fellow Republicans,'Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.'"
(jerky comment, his, emphasis mine)

Nice to know that your St. Rep. considers you to be the "enemy." So, I decided to write a Letter to the Editor of the Townsend Times It's sorta longish, but this is the point:

"Might I remind you, Sir that you represent ALL the people of the First Middlesex District, not just the Republicans. Your constituents have a right to expect that as our representative you will not only work hard to represent our interests, but also that you will treat all of your constituents with respect, regardless of their party affiliation."

I'm not saying Hargraves has to love us Democrats out here in First Middlesex, but if he's going to make those kind of divisive comments AND do it in public, then he's got some 'splainin' to do. Which so far he hasn't done. I sent a copy of my letter to his office, but so far, no response. (this is me, not holding my breath)

Later (probably tomorrow), a Hargraves supporter (tries - badly to) lets me have it - and then I give it right back. I need to type it up because it's print only.

Oh, yeah - not to brag (okay, it's bragging a little) but we held the Townsend Democratic Caucus on February 4 in Town Hall, Meeting Room 2 and we had to bring chairs in from Memorial Hall to accomodate the 30+ folks in attendance. Not a huge crowd, but hey it's 3 times as many folks as the Republicans had. :-)

And we're back.

School vacation is over and it's back to school (for the kid - and me) and back to blogging (me, not the kid) I started to write up this post, but didn't get a chance to post so I'll just sum up:

Deval Patrick in Fitchburg

Deval paid a visit to North Central Mass. last Tuesday, making a stop at Brownie's Tea and Talk in Fitchburg. There was easily 50 people crammed into a tea shop that seats maybe 15 people during regular business hours. The crowd stood literally shoulder to shoulder to listen to Deval speak. Folk got an opportunity to ask questions about education, health care and business.

There were some Fitchburg politicos in attendance. A few city counselors, an aide to St. Rep. Goguen and former Fitchburg Mayor Mary Whitney sporting a Deval Patrick sticker on her lapel.

Speaking of Deval, there will be a HUGE rally in Boston on March 11 at Faneuil Hall. This is going to be a great time. Folks will be coming from all over the state. The event is free, but tickets will be issued to ensure that that the event isn't overbooked. Grab a buddy and head over the RSVP form

Should be quite the shindig!


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Leone on Death Penalty: Update

To follow up on my earlier post about Gerry Leone and the death penalty, I have received an e-mail from former Middlesex DA candidate Mike Festa detailing his initial misunderstanding on where he thought Gerry Leone's position was on the death penalty.

From Mike Festa:
"Just read your blog on Gerry Leone...I was wrong about Leone's position on the death penalty, but my information came early on in the campaign from a reliable source. I'm sorry that I put you in a position of having to apologize; would you please post that I accept full responsiblity for the misunderstanding."

First, I'd just like to thank Mike for the e-mail. He is a true gentleman. I think this is an honest misunderstanding and since there is not much in the way of issues on Gerry Leone's website it's not surprising to me that a misunderstanding like this could occur without a clear record.

As I mentioned before, Mr. Leone will be updating his website and I hope that he will specifically address the issue of the death penalty.

Mike also mentioned in his e-mail that in the next week or so he will be sitting down to talk with both Gerry Leone and Jarrett Barrios to talk about their candidacies in depth. Mike is not sure if he will endorse either candidate, but he will look into the matter seriously before making a decision whether or not to endorse.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Apology to Gerry Leone

Busy, busy, busy....

It's school vacation, so I will be somewhat scarce this week, but I'll be popping in to do some drive-by posts.

First, I owe Gerry Leone an apology.

During Mike Festa's campaign for Middlesex DA, Festa mentioned to me that Leone was the "conservative" in the race and that he supported the death penalty. My intention was to support Festa's campaign, so I wasn't interested enough in Leone to double-check his stand on the death penalty and I should have, so I apologize for that.

Well... I e-mailed the Leone campaign with a request for a statement from Mr. Leone about his stand on the death penalty. I didn't hear anything from the campaign for some time, so I decided to give the campaign a call. I spoke to a very nice campaign staffer who told me that:

"Gerry Leone is against the implementation of the death penalty in Massachusetts."

That's a good start. I'm not a lawyer (nor do I play one on TV), but to me there is a bit of wiggle room in that comment for someone that may personally support the death penalty, but would not be an active player in seeing it reinstated in Massachusetts. I hope that Mr. Leone will address this issue as he continues to campaign across the state.

Mr. Leone's staffer also told me that the campaign intends to update his website to include information about a variety of issues very soon. The site is done in-house and is not farmed out, so in the words of the kind young man who answered the phone, it may be a while, but they plan to do it soon.

I hope so because I'm sure I'm not the only person left with the wrong impression of Gerry Leone.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

I Have a Lot of Thoughts.

Adam Reilly of Talking Politics has an interesting take on my recent post about Chris Gabrieli. I think we're going to have to agree to disagree on some issues here.

Adam says:

"I'm not sure if Gabrieli is the Democrats' best hope to reclaim the Corner Office. But let's suppose he is. In that case...Who cares how grassroots party activists feel about his prospective candidacy?"

Who cares what the grassroots think? I think every candidate running in every statewide, town or city race better damn well care about what the grassroots think. We make the phone calls, walk the precincts, carry the signs and get out the vote. An organized grassroots campaign is the best hope Democrats have to succeed. Don't take it from me, listen to Mike Dukakis. Not to go all Alex Forrest on the subject, but you just can't ignore us grassroots types now and then expect us to do the work later.

The February 4 caucus is proof positive that Tom Reilly doesn't understand that the grassroots matter, but Deval Patrick does and that's why he ended up with so many delegates.

Adam again:

"The top priority for Massachusetts Democrats should be electing a governor for the first time in two decades, not bolstering the collective self-esteem of the grassroots."

Hold up. First, the self-esteem comment is just silly. The second part is the meaty issue. I think we can all agree that the goal is getting a Democrat elected, but which candidate, and who gets to decide? The voters should, but we all know that stuff goes on behind the scenes. Agreements get made, understandings are reached --but not always honored, right Mister Mayor?

Indulge me a moment. Imagine if the caucus totals were flipped, and Tom Reilly had won the more than 2/3 of the delegates elected that Deval Patrick did. Would we still be having this conversation? I doubt it. Would Chris Gabrieli, even after the botched LG vetting, still be considering a run for Governor? Again, I doubt it. No one would want to be seen as rocking the party establishment boat.

For reasons unknown to me, Reilly's poor showing at the caucus seems to have triggered some sort of Plan B. Apparently to some in the party establishment the idea of someone not connected to the party machine getting the nomination is unsettling, so now we're seeing the recruitment process for a new standard bearer at work here. We're reality based, right? Let's be realistic. Pleasant personalities aside, and bearing in mind that Gabrieli is well thought of by a certain group of democratic activists, would he really make that good of a candidate?

Adam seems to think so:

"But Gabrieli isn't just a legitimate prosepct because he's rich--he's a smart, thoughtful guy who knows his shit and has paid his dues. (Remember 2002?)"

The dues thing means nothing to me and uh, yeah I sure do remember 2002. I don't think Adam is doing Mr. Gabrieli any favors by bringing that failure up. The O'Brien/Gabrieli ticket is the best argument there is against the idea of nominating people based on so-called "electability."

I don't mean to pile on here, but Chris Gabrieli has had two unsuccessful shots at elective office. If he hasn't been able to get elected to anything up to now, what are the real chances of him being successfully elected Governor? From a standing start, I'd say not too good--no matter how much money he throws around.

I agree with Adam on this score: the top priority is to elect a Democratic Governor. But I reject the idea (not Adam's) that since the party's anointed pick got stiffed at the caucuses that there is a need to keep looking for a "more electable" candidate.

We have an electable candidate, and his name is Deval Patrick.

As much as some folks like to talk a good game about party unity, they don't seem to understand that Gabrieli getting into this race would do nothing but cause conflict. We split the democratic vote three ways and we end up with Governor Kerry Healey.


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Chris Gabrieli: Don't go away mad, just go away.

As has been reported by many bloggeristas, there seems to be a draft Gabrieli campaign underway. The Boston Globe reports that there is a committee formed and they are trying to obtain the 500 signatures from elected delegates needed in order to place Gabrieli's name before the delegates at the Convention.

I don't know Gabrieli, but I've heard him speak at last year's statewide DFA conference. At that time there was a rumor going around that he was going to get into the Governor's race, but for whatever reason decided not to. That should have been case closed, but as we saw from the LG debacle, it ain't over, 'til it's over.

I can only speculate why this is happening. Are the so-called "party insiders" so disappointed with Reilly that they are looking for a better candidate -- better than Reilly, anyway? I get the feeling that Deval Patrick's delegate totals from the caucuses are weighing heavily on the Mass Dems folks that like to think that they have things under control.

What I don't like a whole hell of a lot of is the idea that if Gabrieli goes through with this, he will attempt to poach committed delegates from both Reilly and Patrick and that is just bullshit.

If Gabrieli wanted to be in the Governor's race, then he damn well should have gotten involved before the caucus and actually done the work. Having this "committee" do the work for him with his blessing, but not his involvement (yeah, right) is damn passive-aggressive and is also an insult to grassroots democratic activists who have been busting their asses to work for the two announced candidates.

What's worse though is the idea that all a person has to do to get into the race this late, is not so much based on support, but the ability to say, "Right. Who do I make the check out to?"


Sunday, February 12, 2006

Leone: Does he or doesn't he?

I've been busy with hockey this weekend (not me, silly - my son!) spending most of my Saturday up in Hanover, NH (Cavaliers 9/Hanover - 1) The guys played great so win or lose, that makes the two hour drive each way worth it (okay, winning is better!). Before I dashed out though, I did hear that Mike Festa has decided to drop out of the DA race. Shai at the DFA Blog for Cambridge has a nice wrap up.

It's really our loss out here in Middlesex County. I really like Mike Festa. He's a nice guy and great candidate. He has a lot of passion for the job, and I always enjoyed talking to him, as I saw him around on the campaign trail. I felt that Mike had the experience and the ideas that I thought made him well suited to be the next Middlesex DA. I'm sure he will bring that experience and passion to bear in his new project to put together a national resource center for state criminal justice policymakers. I wish him the best of luck.

So here's what I need to know. Does Gerry Leone support the death penalty or not? Mike Festa told me that Leone supports the death penalty, but I can't find anything on his website about it. I've contacted Leone's campaign and I hope to hear something soon.

This issue is very important to many people either for or against. I think all the candidates running should be upfront about where they are on this issue.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Hello, Deval? Sorry I missed your call.

Not much time for blogging recently. I pushed off so much stuff to do caucus work, that I have been scrambling to catch up. I'm running for DTC chair in my town and that has kept me busy too. There's a whole other story to that, but I'll save that for another time.

So as I do everyday, I left my house in the afternoon to pick up my son from school. We had errands to run so we didn't get back until late afternoon. When I walked through my door, I noticed I had a message, so I pushed the button and listened.

"Hello, Susan? This is Deval Patrick."


My first thought was that it was a robo-call, but he mentioned my name twice, so unless they've seriously improved the ability to personalize robo-calls, this was no robo-call.

He very kindly went on to thank me for my work in helping to organize our caucus here in Townsend and to let me know that due to late caucuses and more reports coming in, he had actually done better than the 2/3 originally reported by the Globe. He left his number and asked me to call him back, if I had a moment.

Sure, I have a moment. I called him back, but he had already left for the day, so I left him a message to congratulate him on his success at the caucuses and to thank him for his call and to let him know that we're working hard out here in Townsend for his campaign, and we will continue to do that.

If anyone needs more proof of the difference between the campaigns, I think this pretty much says it all. It's not even the phone call. For all I know, the campaign just took a random sampling of town organizers to call -- I doubt that, but it's possible. The point is that Deval Patrick understands and appreciates who is doing a lot of the work in this campaign.

Tom Reilly on the other hand, is working hard to avoid getting too close to us unwashed masses of dedicated activists. Blue Mass Group has a great post about that and how it can come back to bite a candidate in the ass later. Just who does Reilly think is going to do this work should the unthinkable happen and he gets the nomination?

All I know is that if you want a candidate with no message, but has a large bank account and has only a passing interest in being governor, then Tom Reilly's your guy. I'm sure it's easy to work on this campaign, because they aren't doing anything.

I am tired of a system that puts up candidates, not based on their vision, or their committment, or their passion, but by their bank account and their number in the potential statewide candidate's queue. I want a candidate who wants THIS job.

Deval Patrick is that candidate. He needs us, and we need him and I will work my tail off to see that he's elected.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

2nd Worcester - Kerry Healey Shakes Her Money Maker

Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey made an appearance in Gardner this Saturday to stump for Ashburnham Selectman, and Republican St. Rep. candidate Jonathan Dennehy.

Healey made with the usual Republican mantra: blah, blah, blah, democrats suck, taxes bad, services good.

"That's the direction we need to be going, lower taxes, not higher taxes," said Healey, pumping her fist in the air amidst cheering Dennehy supporters.

Healey also said in a brief interview before the 65-person rally that she supported improvements to the speed and schedule of the Fitchburg commuter rail line.

"From a preliminary investigation, we're looking at more service in the Fitchburg area," Healey said.

Hey, that sounds good! Let's get right on it. Oh, wait...

Healey said it was too early to get into many specifics about when those improvements might be made as the state is still in the midst of a public consultation period.

Looking... Yeah, that pretty much sums up the Romney/Healey adminstration. Just looking. To support upgrading the rail system in Central Mass. isn't exactly a courageous stance. What would really show some courage is if this administration would get off their asses and actually do something about it. (this is me, not holding my breath)

The special election is this Tuesday.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Caucus Day

sco at .08 has an excellent run down of how the caucus works (or should work anyway!) with some excellent followup commentary by Patrick A, himself a distinguished blogger in his own right, before he got too busy to blog.

Don't I know it. :-)

Anyway, I wish everyone a great caucus. We have a lot of work here to do in Townsend. This town went in a big way for Romney in 2002 and the word is that the Reilly folks have been organizing here in town, although I cannot confirm that because nobody is sayin' nuthin'.

No worries. We have a very dedicated core group of Deval Patrick supporters here in town and we've spending our time making phone calls and doing what we can go get out our votes. No matter how it ends up, it's been a very good experience and we'll be able to build on that as the campaign season goes forward.

Happy Caucus Day, Democrats!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

3rd Worcester - Goguen's Seat Up For Grabs?

State representative Emile Goguen ("D"-Fitchburg) said in December that he was leaning toward retirement and now folks are lining up to toss their hats in the ring.

Former Fitchburg Mayor, Mary Whitney is considering a run. She was mayor of Fitchburg until 2002 when Whitney, a Democrat was unseated by Dan H. Mylott, a Republican who... is also considering a run for Goguen's seat.

City Counselor Stephen DiNatale is running with Goguen's endorsement, and has already formed a committee.

In the same article they also mention that Susan Koeck might also run again. She ran against Goguen unsuccessfully in 2004.

I don't have a lot of knowledge of the inside of the Fitchburg political scene, but I do know that Whitney and DiNatale are fairly conservative. Seems lots of Democrats out this way tend to be conservative. Go figure.

The hell...?

What in the world is going on in the Lt. Gov. race? I turned my computer off just long enough to go to tonight's DFA meeting in Littleton and when I got there I found out that St. Fleur had dropped out of the race.

I thought someone was playing a joke on me.

If I had not been so busy today, I would have blogged about the Reilly/St. Fleur appearance on last night's Chet Curtis Report on NECN. It was actually pretty interesting. Reilly didn't say much and spent most of the interview looking rather gratefully at St. Fleur. St. Fleur had plenty to say about her background and what she added to the ticket and her desire to help people. She also spoke about opportunity, hope, community, and responsibility for each other. It sounded great, but it also sounded familar -- probably because Deval Patrick has been saying something similar ever since he started his campaign.

This whole running mate thing has been a train wreck from the git-go. Bottom line: Mr. AG, you're not the boss of me, and I don't need anyone to tell me who to vote for, so knock it off.

And if I hear the word "unity" one more time from so-called activists/party loyalists who think that we should all "go along to get along" I'm gonna start pinching heads off.

Andrea Silbert is right. The voters will decide who the Lt. Gov. will be, not the AG.