There's a Way to Keep Horse Racing Alive and Help Our Economy and Environment

Friday, August 19, 2016

I never liked the idea of turning the Suffolk Downs racetrack in East Boston and Revere into a resort casino.  Being from Revere, I feel strongly that there are better uses for that property than gambling.  The city and its people will be better off if their future is not chained to a casino.    

I can see a beautiful housing development arising one day on the  old Suffolk Downs, a project that capitalizes on the site’s two abutting Blue Line train stations and its proximity to Revere Beach, the first public beach in the nation and still one of the best and safest natural beaches in the U.S. 
Except for one thing, I was not sorry when the Gaming (Gambling) Commission rejected the Suffolk Downs casino bid and gave the Eastern Massachusetts casino license instead to Steve Wynn, whose team is now building their casino in Everett, a few miles from the all-but-dead racetrack.

That one thing would be horses and horse farms.  More precisely, I’m talking about the preservation of open spaces and farmland.
There are more than a thousand farms, out of nearly 8,000 farms overall in Massachusetts, devoted to the breeding and care of horses. 

During the years it was striving to secure a casino license, Suffolk Downs constantly pointed to the value of these horse farms, job-wise and economic-impact-wise.  It warned of dire consequences for these farms if it did not get the casino license and had to close the track.  There was only a little hype in those warnings.
Now comes the University of Massachusetts to tell us there’s a way to reinvent horse racing in the Bay State and keep those horse farms, which represent 30 percent of all the agricultural land in the Commonwealth, from becoming house lots, apartment complexes, office parks, strip malls and the like.

Last month, the Center for Economic Development, part of the Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning at the UMass, Amherst, released a study proposing the creation of a horse park on approximately 150 acres in some rural or suburban part of the state with good access to the kinds of roads that would make it fairly easy for large numbers of persons to drive there.
The horse park would consist of three main features:
  • A large ovular track for thoroughbred horse racing.
  • An equestrian center capable of hosting a variety of events, such as dressage competitions and hunting/jumping contests.
  • A retirement and retraining farm where up to 40 retired racehorses could be housed
“Thoroughbred racehorse breeding is an important component of the Massachusetts Equine Industry, whose vitality is directly tied to the availability of racing opportunities within the Commonwealth,” the study notes.

The new racetrack would account for $66.3 million in annual economic output and sales statewide, and support the creation of 664 full-time jobs, which would add roughly $38 million of labor income to Massachusetts households.
The study predicts that the equestrian center would generate $31.7 million in annual output and sales, and create 280 full-time jobs good for $14.5 million in household income.

Further, the study suggests that the retirement/retraining farm would become a significant tourist destination, requiring 11 full-time employees.  The total economic impact of this part of the horse park is estimated at $800,000 per year.
The three authors of the UMass study, who include two professors with doctorates, say the park could be developed at a total cost not likely to exceed $150 million.  In a world where some National Football League teams are said to be worth $2 billion, that hardly seems la ridiculous or impossible sum.

The natural endowment of Massachusetts is beyond priceless.  The land itself has always been and will always be the most valuable thing in Massachusetts.  Unquestionably, the horse park would help to preserve that irreplaceable endowment, that incalculable value.  Our hope for its creation should be a fervent one.
The UMass study, “Towards the Creation of a Horse Park in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: A Feasibility Study,” may be found at:


Gun Manufacturing's Large Role in MA Economy Has Not Deterred AG Healey

Thursday, August 11, 2016

It was good, I guess, that the Massachusetts Medical Society weighed in Tuesday in favor of Attorney General Maura Healey’s actions strengthening the state ban on assault weapons by expressly having it cover an array of so-called “copycat” weapons.

It was good, too, that 19 mayors from across the state announced yesterday that they have put their support for the AG’s position on copycats in writing.
But I was sold on the idea July 20, the day Healey undertook this particular initiative, when I read that Boston Police Commissioner William Evans was in her corner. 

If the person ultimately responsible for protecting the lives of hundreds of thousands of Bostonians and keeping the peace in our capital city thinks it’s a good idea to keep copycat assault rifles out of Massachusetts, that’s good enough for me.
No regulatory change, however, is ever likely to alter this strange fact of life: Massachusetts is hopelessly bifurcated on the issue of firearms.

We have some of the strictest gun laws in the nation and some of the busiest, most profitable gun manufacturers in the nation.  We’re a liberal state delighted to supply conservative states with all the guns they want.
We who live under the Route 128 bubble too often forget that the making and the marketing of deadly weapons is a big, booming business in the Bay State.   

“The economy of Western Massachusetts and the entire Knowledge Corridor Region has been steeped in the production of firearms since 1777, when George Washington selected Springfield as the site of the nation’s first arsenal,” the Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts proudly notes. 

Since that time, says the Council, “the area has spawned a number of arms manufacturers, accessory manufacturers and job shops to support the industry.  These major players within the world of firearms production, Smith & Wesson, Savage Arms, Ruger, Colt, Marlin & Mossberg, were not only an epicenter for innovation during the industrial revolution, but are still developing advanced manufacturing techniques today.”
According to a current year “State by State Economic Impact Report” from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the spectrum of gun manufacturing in Massachusetts accounts for 7,091 jobs. 

The total annual payroll for these jobs stands at $515,414,900, and the annual per-employee wage and benefit package averages $72,686, the NSSF reports. 
These are what Mike Dukakis was very fond of calling “good jobs with good wages.”

When she announced her crackdown on copycat assault rifles, the Attorney General, to her credit, was not looking over her shoulder at the gun industry’s half-a-billion-dollar Massachusetts payroll and the seven thousand Massachusetts families holding secure spots in the middle class because of the vigorous American trade in guns.

She was what John Kennedy, one of Dukakis’s heroes, would have called “a profile in courage.”


Blogster's Miscellany: From a Cape Cod Reef to Those Ever-Risky Backyards of MA

Friday, August 5, 2016

AS EXCITING AS LAWMAKING.  In March, federal funds and proceeds from the sale of state recreational saltwater fishing licenses were used to create an artificial reef in the Atlantic Ocean, two miles south of Saquatucket Harbor in Harwich.  The 9.9-acre reef is providing a breeding ground and habitat for black sea bass, scup, tautog, and various other marine organisms.  Departing from its usual fare, the State House News Service yesterday posted on its site a silent film of the reef, shot by a diver on June 15.  You can gather how my life is going by how I: (a) eagerly clicked on this video, and (b) proceeded to enjoy every moment of it.  So fascinating, so tasty, those little creatures of the deep.

IF CIGAR FLIES, YOU SHOULD TOO. Garrett Bradley, the longtime Hingham rep who has resigned from the legislature, effective August 1, to take on larger role at his law firm, was giving his farewell speech to the House on Saturday afternoon, July 30, when he offered a tip on the Speaker, Bob DeLeo, to the newer members of the House.  “The Speaker never smokes a cigar, he just chews on them,” Bradley related.  “If he’s just chewing, that’s good, but if he breaks it in half or throws it across the office, it’s time to go.”  Bradley, age 46, has been one of DeLeo’s favored lieutenants.  His departure creates a vacancy in the second assistant majority leader slot.
BIG ZAP MIGHT BE GOOD FOR SENATE.  In an interview published August 4 in Bloomberg Businessweek, reporter Joshua Green asked Elizabeth Warren, the Bay State’s senior U.S. Senator, “I know you have grandchildren.  I don’t know if they watch Saturday morning cartoons.  But a banker I spoke to at the Democratic convention said he worried (that) you and Bernie Sanders would become the liberal Wonder Twins if Democrats take over the Senate.  How will you and Bernie work together next year?”   She responded, “We will touch our rings together and use the lightning bolts to energize all of our colleagues.”

CITY OF BROTHERLY LIBERTARIANS. I’m still trying to figure out what our lovable former Republican governor, Bill Weld, was up to on the floor of the Democratic Convention that second night in Philadelphia.  Asked why he was there by a reporter/cameraman for a web news site whose name escapes me, Weld basically said he was an old friend of Hillary Clinton (true) and just wanted to be there for her at this biggest moment in her political life.  Weld has raised unconventionality to an art form, as we were reminded several weeks ago when he joined the ticket of Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson as vice presidential nominee, so there was probably no better way for Weld to keep that unconventionality streak going than by going to an opposing party’s convention.  Maybe he was on a secret mission from Johnson to enlist Bernie’s bitter-enders?  Or maybe he was just bored and wanted to have some fun in Philly.
PROGRESS CAN ASK TOO MUCH OF US. The Boston-based Pioneer Institute wants the state “to embrace transponder technology for a wider variety of applications, such as parking and retail services.  A newly published institute report “explores transponder use in other states and encourages cooperation between public agencies and private industry to simplify and rethink customers’ transportation experience.”  Said Pioneer Executive Director Jim Stergios, “Whether it’s dealing with a parking lot ticket machine or sitting in line at a drive-thru window, Massachusetts commuters face a number of unnecessary hurdles.  Transponder technology has the capacity to consolidate these different services and extend their use, to make life easier for millions of people.” Time and trouble will doubtless be saved when transponders can pay for coffee, burgers, ice cream, dry cleaning, etc., at the drive-thru windows of our lives, but we’ll be sacrificing those special moments with the window clerks as they hand us our change.  Are you really prepared to see “Have a good one” vanish from the land…whatever “one” might be?

DANGER LURKING ON PATIO, PART 1: Speaking of summer fun, a la videos of fish on Cape Cod, consider these facts next time you go to throw a fillet on the barbie:  according to the State Fire Marshal, there were 431 fires involving grills, hibachis and barbecues reported to the Massachusetts Fire Incident Reporting System between 2011 and 2014, all of which resulted in 20 civilian injuries, three firefighter injuries and $3.5 million in property damage.
BETTER WHEN I DIDN’T KNOW. I have been going up to the Massachusetts State House for decades.  I love the State House for its classical architecture and for how it uniquely blends the qualities of a good museum with the flavors of a normal, busy office building: the profound and the prosaic all rolled into one big beautiful Bullfinch masterpiece.  But, if pressed, I could not tell you which portrait of a former governor hangs where, nor would I be able to give you any details on the lives and work of most of those long-gone guvs.  So, I was caught by surprise this past Monday when education and religious advocates associated with the Center for School Reform at the Pioneer Institute publicly asked for the relocation of a portrait of Gov. Henry Gardner, which now hangs to the right of an entrance to the House chamber, in the center of the third floor.  This spot is much too prominent, these folks assert, and thereby accords Gardner a degree of undeserved honor and respect. They find in Gardner, a member of the Know Nothing Party who served as governor from 1855 through 1858, an abhorrent figure, “a symbol of bigotry.”   The Gardner portrait “belongs in the State House,” allows Jamie Gass, director of the Center for School Reform, but not in a “position of prominence.”  Before Monday, I knew nothing of this Know Nothing exec; now, when I avert my eyes from his portrait, I shall know the seductive sensation of self-righteous symbolism.

NEWS FLASH! TEACHER UNIONS HEART HILLARY.  This had to be the most unnecessary press release in the history of Massachusetts.  On Wednesday, the Massachusetts Teachers Association put it in writing that its board of directors had voted “to concur with the National Education Association’s recommendation of Hillary Clinton for president.  The MTA is the state affiliate of the NEA.  Was anyone expecting the teachers to embrace The Donald?
TRY CALLING HARVARD GUYS LOSERS, “SAD.”  Speaking of Trump, the Harvard University Republican Club late yesterday sent a letter to its members and alumni informing them that, for the first time in its 128-year existence, it would not be endorsing the Republican nominee for president.  The Harvard group is the oldest chapter of the College Republicans in the nation.  “Donald Trump is a threat to the survival of the Republic,” it declared.  Read the letter in its marvelous entirety at:

TYCOONS FEAR HIS SHORT FINGER ON TRIGGER. The final word on Trump in this post goes to Senator Warren.  In the aforementioned Bloomberg Businessweek interview, Warren was asked, “Given that the financial industry has given Hillary $41 million this election vs. $109,000 for Trump, do you think banks will exert renewed pressure within the Democratic Party?” Said she, “I don’t see it as a swing back to Democrats so much as I see it as supporting sanity.  The financial-services people, as much as many of them would like to see more deregulation, are also deeply frightened by the prospect of a Trump presidency.  Nuclear war is bad for business.”   
DANGER LURKING ON PATIO, PART 2: “It’s only a matter of time before the fear of local Zika transmission we are experiencing in Florida becomes the reality for every state in the nation,” stated Ed Markey, the Bay State’s junior U.S. Senator, yesterday in a press release concerning the promising efforts now under way in Boston to develop vaccines to prevent the spread by mosquitos of the Zika virus, (“Senator Markey Joins Doctors and Researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess in Boston to Discuss Promising Zika Virus Vaccine Candidates”).  Markey  says it’s time for the Congress “to pass a robust emergency funding package to deal with this growing crisis.”






Guv Wisely Eases Himself Away from High-Income Housing Easement

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Charlie Baker stepped away this week from the case of the State House lawn easement for real estate developers.  To do otherwise would have been foolish.  Our governor is no fool.

As Baker stepped away, with Secretary of State Bill Galvin nipping at his heels, he seemed a little perturbed at having been drawn innocently into the matter. 
The easement, he noted for the benefit of The Boston Globe, “has been approved by so many entities that are supposed to worry about those things,” meaning, “How the hell did I wind up worrying about this?”

Here was an instance where a small matter causes a big problem for someone in high office, illustrating how vulnerable to harm and blame the mighty ones of our political system are.  Every day when you’re governor, something you don’t see coming can blow up in your face.
Let’s recap the situation…

Late last week, Baker filed a supplemental budget with the legislature that included an authorization to sell an easement to a piece of the State House lawn to the developers of an adjacent building at 25 Beacon Street.  We’re talking about a sliver of land obscured by bushes and shrubs.
The 25 Beacon Street property, which was the headquarters of the Unitarian Universalist Association for 89 years, is being turned into six luxury condominiums, each to be sold for between $9 million and $11 million.  In 2014, the developers, SDC-DLJ Beacon Hill, acquired 25 Beacon and three buildings behind it for $23.6 million. The easement was needed to create window wells on the ground floor for three apartments for au pairs, live-in child care employees.  Without the window wells, the reconstruction work would not meet code.

A price for the easement had not yet been determined but it was supposed to be at market rate, and the money from the sale was supposed to go into an account for maintaining the (quite-beautiful) grounds of the State House.  
Among the agencies that have already approved the easement are the Boston Board of Appeals, the Boston Inspectional Services Department, the Boston Parks and Recreation Department, and the Beacon Hill Architectural Commission.  In other words, SDC-DLJ Beacon Hill, has run the gauntlet.

Baker and Galvin disagree on whether the easement has also been approved by the Massachusetts Historical Commission.   Baker says it has; Galvin says no, not hardly. 
An approval letter from the commission to the developers reportedly covers only the interior renovations and changes to the building and is silent on the easement.  The Globe reviewed a copy of the letter and reported that it “mentioned the addition of window wells as part of the rehabilitation but did not mention the easement on the State House grounds.”

This past Monday, Baker announced that he was dropping the easement authorization from the supplemental budget because the Massachusetts Historical Commission “no longer supports” it.  That really set off Galvin, who chairs the commission. 
“He (Baker) has repeatedly misstated the facts on this issue,” Galvin told The Globe’s Frank Phillips.  “At some point, a misstatement becomes a misrepresentation.  The governor should be capable of understanding the difference.”  Ouch.

One may infer that Baker withdrew the easement to keep the tiff with Galvin from turning into a brawl.  It’s a lot of trouble to fight with Galvin, one of the smartest and toughest persons in the annals of Massachusetts politics, and it never pays.
I think Baker’s reasons for withdrawing are more fundamental.  I think they relate to general concerns in our society about income inequality and the particular concerns in Massachusetts about a housing market that’s gone crazy, killing so many dreams of home ownership and sending so many young men and women out of state to more affordable venues.

The web site for 25 Beacon unabashedly proclaims: 
“Welcome to Boston’s most prestigious new address, offering a fortunate few a life of unsurpassed luxury in an exclusive residence that marries Beacon Hill’s charm and history with a stunning luxury condo that epitomizes modern elegance.  In an age of sleek towers, 25 Beacon is a boutique building, impeccably finished, offering wonderful views, on-site garage parking and a coveted Beacon Hill address adjacent to the State House and across from Boston Common.”

Where is the politician today who would say, “A life of unsurpassed luxury for the fortunate few?  You bet ya!”
Not on the third floor at the State House, that’s for sure.


By Sasso's Ingeniously Simple 3-Point Index, Hillary Edges Out Trump

Friday, July 22, 2016

For my money, John Sasso has produced the best analytical framework for understanding who will become the next President of the United States.

 “Demographics and regional electoral factors do matter in the general election. But deep and emotional judgments about candidates ultimately drive Americans’ choice of a president,” Sasso wrote in a Boston Globe op-ed piece, (“The values battle in the general election,” 5-19-16). 
“The most salient variables,” he continued, “are voter perceptions of three characteristics: a candidate’s personal political strength, voters’ trust in the depth and sincerity of the candidate’s convictions, and, most importantly, whether the voters think that the candidate ‘cares’ about people like them.”

In Sasso’s opinion, “The experience of recent presidential elections suggests that convincing swing voters that you possess these qualities can make all the difference in voters’ final choices of a president.”  He concluded with: “This values battle is one that Clinton will welcome, wage ferociously – and likely win.”  (The Globe editors should have underlined likely.)
A political mastermind, Sasso helped to put two Democrats from Massachusetts, Michael Dukakis (1988) and John Kerry (2004), within reach of the presidency.  We can always profit from heeding him but perhaps no more so than now, as we absorb the effects of Trump’s coronation this week in Cleveland by the GOP and anticipate the responsorial moves Hillary Clinton will make next week at the Democrat convention in Philadelphia.

The more I think about what Sasso wrote  -- and I have re-read “The values battle” several times over again today -- the more I agree with him: Hillary will win in November.
I figure that Trump will win the contest in voters' minds over the first characteristic, personal political strength, while Hillary will win it on the third characteristic, caring about people like them.

The shooting match could then come down to whom the voters trust to have the deepest, most sincere convictions.  The electorate will have a hard time making that call. Ultimately, more will decide that Hillary holds her beliefs more genuinely than Trump.
A majority will make that judgment, I think, based on Hillary’s lifelong political activism and involvement, and compared to Trump’s late-in-life, impulse-is-king plunge into politics at the highest level.

Disclosure: I’ve known John Sasso casually for 17 or 18 years.  I like and admire him because he’s very smart, he's not the least bit self-important, and he seems to have a very good time doing what he does.
Think I’ve gone overboard calling him a mastermind?  

Consider that Sasso has made a good living as a solo practitioner in the fields of government affairs and communications for close to 30 years and that his company, Advanced Strategies, does not even have a web site. 

And if this John Sasso has a LinkedIn profile, I’ll be damned if I can find it.

Baker Wasn't Thinking Politics When He Signed Transgender Bill in Private

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Boston Globe’s State House bureau chief, Frank Phillips, wrote that Charlie Baker’s decision to sign the transgender public accommodations bill on Friday, July 8 -- behind closed doors and with no fanfare -- “was not the most adroit political move.”

Baker’s “socially liberal credentials took a hit with his decision not to have a celebratory signing ceremony for the legislation,” Phillips wrote. 
The closed-door signing was, in Phillips’s words, a “slight that has rippled through the very disappointed LGBT community.”  

Phillips thought Baker “appeared not entirely comfortable with the transgender issue.” 
Further, Phillips speculated that the governor timed the release of a proposal to prevent undocumented immigrants from obtaining Massachusetts drivers’ licenses for Thursday, July 7, in order to shore up his standing with “his party’s right flank” in advance of signing the transgender bill.

I respect Frank Phillips but disagree with him on this.
I think the governor was totally unconcerned with making an adroit political move on public accommodations for the transgendered because the issue will quickly fade from the consciousness of the public and will have zero impact on his re-election bid in 2018.

As for improving his standing with conservative Republicans, that goal belongs in Baker’s “Nice to Do” file, not the “Must Do.”  What are the right-wingers going to do if they’re unhappy with Baker, vote for Dan Wolf?
I think Baker’s still smarting from being booed off the stage at an LGBT networking event in Boston on the night of Wednesday, April 13, for refusing to say if he would, or would not, sign the transgender bill.

He’s also smarting still, I think, from being publicly disinvited on Thursday, April 7, to an April 26 dinner in Washington, D.C. of the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce for the same reason.
I’m not saying the booing and the disinviting loom large in Baker’s mind or that he’s nursing a grudge. 

I think Baker just wanted to let the most impatient public advocates for Senate Bill 2407, An Act Relative to Gender Identity and Non-Discrimination, know he didn’t appreciate the way they treated him during the long spell the bill was bottled up in the legislature.
If I can imagine a thought bubble above the governor’s head as he got ready to sign the bill on July 8, it would say something like, “They jammed me for months.  I get to jam them for a minute.”

The governor never complained publicly about any harsh treatment because he understood that the booing, the disinviting, etc.,were legitimate parts of the political process. 
It’s time anyone feeling slighted by the private signing of the bill came to the same understanding of the governor’s action here.  It was his legitimate prerogative to forego a public signing ceremony.

SB 2407 is now the law in Massachusetts.  That’s all that’s going to matter six months, six years, six decades from now.



In the Line at Social Security, I Wonder, Have We Made It Too Easy to Quit?

Friday, July 8, 2016

One of the smartest, most perceptive persons I have ever had the good fortune to know, a gentleman from Worcester who has had a long and highly successful career in accounting and insurance, once said to me, “I’m willing to insure you for your bad luck, but I’m not so ready to insure you for your bad behavior.”

I thought of my friend’s comment on Wednesday morning of this week as I was standing outside the  Social Security office in the lobby of the Tip O’Neill federal building, 10 Causeway Street, Boston.  My wife and I were in line, waiting to be called for an appointment I had set up to discuss her eligibility for Medicare.  (Yes, damn it, we’re getting to “that age.”)
Against my better instincts, I fell into a conversation with an old gent standing behind me who instantly tried to learn if I was a Trump supporter.  “Which one do you like?” he pressed.  The skeptical look on his face suggested he’d pegged me as a Hillary man.  “Neither,” said I.  That was enough to keep him friendly.

Meanwhile, my wife started kibitzing with a together-looking woman of approximately my wife’s age, who was in line ahead of her.  The woman was with a muscular man on the younger side of middle age who turned out to be her son.  She shared that her son was pursuing a Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability, (which in MA has a state component, in addition to a larger federal component), and that she was there to attest to the details of his medical history, including a recent (ostensibly minor) stroke. A six-footer who had his back to me most of the time, the son was standing straight and tall. He used neither a cane nor crutches. 
My wife has always had the effortless ability to elicit from strangers some of their deepest thoughts and fears.  She never pumps people; they just tell her things. In less than five minutes on Wednesday, she learned that the son was 40 years old and had struggled for years with an addiction to narcotics, which had contributed to his health problems and convinced him that he now was incapable of ever holding down a job.

I obviously do not know enough about that man’s situation to say he does not deserve SSI.  I am not a physician and thus have no standing to disagree with any medical professional who would be willing to certify that the man’s drug use had destroyed his health and rendered him incapable of gainful employment. 
That will not discourage me, however, from opining that the possibility alone of obtaining SSI encourages someone like that 40-year-old man to throw himself on the mercy of the federal and state governments rather than test his mettle again in the job market.

We definitely need to have SSI for disabled persons, but we provide that humane support at the unquestionable risk of attracting considerable numbers of persons who are kind of ill and kind of debilitated, and who have lost the drive, the wherewithal, to fend for themselves, and who, in that state of loss, have convinced themselves no further struggle of a moral nature is required of them and that they are within their rights to partake of the resources of the government for the rest of their lives, which, given the ever-improving capabilities of medical science and all of the material comforts America offers its citizens, could easily last for 30 or 40 more years.
I should note that no disabled person will ever live well on SSI alone.  The standard monthly federal benefit for an individual is now $733, while the program’s monthly state benefit for an individual is $114.   Who can go far on $847 a month?

To anyone reading this who says my opinion is too large and heavy to rest on the flimsy scaffolding of a quick, disjointed encounter in a Social Security line, I would answer, Yes, you are correct:  I have no idea whether that man will ever secure SSI.  He may, in fact, have no chance of that; however, I do know personally of at least two individuals who wrecked themselves when young on alcohol and drugs and who are now collecting SSI, so I know this is indeed a viable option today for the booze-scarred, the heroin-wasted and the oxycodone-crazed.  “Success” on this score inspires others -- where one goes smoothly down the SSI route, three will surely follow.

I believe in the Commonwealth with a capital C.  And Franklin Roosevelt, the father of Social Security, is my all-time political hero. I believe we are our brother’s keeper. I also believe that, after we keep him intact during worst part of his life, we should aim to return him to the wild as soon as possible.
Last night, as I rode the Orange Line home, I was thinking about if I should, and how I might, write this post when my eyes drifted to a woman sitting in a wheelchair by one of the car doors.  I hadn’t seen her until the crowd thinned, as it usually does on the Orange Line during evening rush hour, at Wellington Station, Medford.  Like most of the commuters aboard that train, she looked a little tired. Yet fatigue could not obscure her essential grit.  Her chin was set a little high; her lips were just shy of a grimace.  The woman’s clothes were those of a typical middle-aged, white collar, working woman in Boston today.  She looked to be about 40 years of age.   She made my decision for me.