Can't Take Excitement, Post-Snowpocalypse? Don't Dare Read a Blogster's Miscellany

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

YOU SAVE MONEY ON T BUT LOSE YOUR MIND:  Last August, the American Public Transportation Association issued a press release saying the average Bostonian who used public transportation to get to work, rather than operating a car for that purpose, saved $1,087 per month and $13,045 per year.  Given the recent nonfeasance of the MBTA, the average Bostonian can be forgiven if she says, “Please, Lord, let me stop saving money this way!”

IF YOU HAVE TO ASK HOW MUCH OLYMPICS COST, YOU CAN'T AFFORD ITThe Boston Globe reports that organizers of Boston’s 2024 Olympics bid “are wooing wealthy business executives to join an elite group of private financial donors known as the ‘Founders 100’ ” and that getting into the group will cost an individual at least $50,000 and a company at least $100,000, (“Olympics group calls on wealthy executives,” 1-23-15).  Some experts on philanthropy in the Hub subsequently opined that fundraising for a putative Olympics would not have an adverse impact on giving to other, more established worthy causes. Apparently, these prospective donors are so well off that they have multiple checks of the $50,000 variety to toss around. Not one of them ever says to the president of small non-profit who comes knocking on his door, “Sorry, I’m all tapped out for this year.”  Sure.
EXAGGERATE IF YOU WANT TO RESONATEWho knew you can’t believe someone who sends you an email looking for a donation?  A recent Harvard faculty working paper (whatever that is) found that fundraising appeals from political candidates were more effective when they told recipients they were behind in the polls.  A news release on the working paper provided this example of a “message that resonated” with prospective donors: “BREAKING: A new SurveyUSA Poll has Democrats LOSING to Rick Scott in Florida, 41-42!!!  Now is the moment to DETHRONE the king of voter suppression and his allies in key battlegrounds.”  The authors of the working paper said, “Emails emphasizing that the preferred candidate was barely losing raised 60 percent more money than emails emphasizing that he was barely winning.”

NO ONE WILL EVER LOVE YOU, AMERICA, LIKE RUDY: Do you recall how, in 2002, when Mitt Romney was running for governor, his handlers brought in former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani to put a shine on the campaign, and how Giuliani had just the right touch with the man (and the woman) on the street, semi- famously responding to a North Ender who offered to buy him and Mitt a cannoli by wrapping his arm around the guy and saying, “No, let me buy you a cannoli,” while Mitt stood awkwardly by, seemingly anxious about messing up the campaign schedule?  Now “America’s Mayor” has become the pol with the opposite of touch: he infamously told a dinner gathering in Wisconsin last week, “I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America.  He doesn’t love you.  And he doesn’t love me.  He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.” No doubt those words sent a jolt of excitement through every Democratic operative in the land.  Obama will be sending Rudy a love letter every week if he keeps talking like that.
NEVER MIND THE AQUIFER, WHAT ABOUT HIS LUNGS?  Speaking of the Globe, did you happen to see the story last month about the folks on Cape Cod who are up in arms about NStar using herbicides to kill vegetation below its power lines, (“Cape residents protest NStar’s use of herbicides,” 1-20-15)?  The director of Protect Our Cape Cod Aquifer was quoted as saying, “NStar’s cocktail of herbicides, with their unknown long-term side effects, has no place on Cape Cod with its fragile environment.”  The story was accompanied by a photo of a worker spraying herbicides from a big device strapped to his back.  He wasn’t wearing a mask or any protective clothing that I could see.  I surmised that (a) the worker was a person of at least normal intelligence, and (b) the “cocktail” he was lugging around can’t be all that toxic if he’s willing to breathe in its particles all the live-long day.

OUR VALUES NOT STRENGTHENED BY ANONYMITY:  Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Associate Justice Robert Cordy was right: Being a citizen means there are times when you have to stand up and be counted.  Formerly Governor William Weld’s general counsel, Cordy authored the opinion for the majority in a case decided in favor of the Boston Globe, which had sued to obtain the names of jurors in a murder trial.  Access to information about jurors, he wrote, “promotes confidence in the judicial system by, among other things, providing an independent nongovernmental verification of the impartiality of the jury process, and educating the public as to their duties and obligations should they be called for jury service.”  Chief Justice Ralph Gants dissented.  “We have had few instances in this Commonwealth where jurors have been threatened or harassed after their verdict, but many jurors fear the possibility, especially where they reside in or near the communities of the litigants or the litigants’ families,” wrote Gants.  “I also fear that the creation of a juror list to be included in the case file may, over time, diminish the fairness and impartiality of jurors.”  We ask young men and women to risk their lives in the defense of our nation and its values.   Is our state asking too much if it publishes our names should we be called to serve in relation to the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution?
FIVE YEARS LATER, A SLAP STILL STINGS: In a guest column in CommonWealth magazine, former Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation Jim Aloisi pulled the curtain back on a sharp disagreement he had with the Senate chairman of the legislature’s Joint Committee on Transportation in 2009, (“Aloisi’s fixes for the T: Get rid of MassDOT board, 2-11-15”).  “The MassDOT board is a vestige of a political battle, not of thoughtful public policy,” Aloisi wrote.  “The 2009 Transportation Reform bill that I filed with the legislature did not include a MassDOT board – that was an invention of the Senate, and its former transportation chair, Steven Baddour of Methuen.  He and I were feuding about my opposition to his ‘reform before revenue’ approach to the bill, an approach that I feared (rightly) would lead to reform without much meaningful net new revenue.  Creating the board was meant as a slap to me; its entire rationale for being was a way to reduce my power as secretary.  Even after I received assurances from both the then House and Senate chairs that the secretary would be on the board as an ex-officio member, that did not happen.  The change in the law placing the secretary on the board took place several years later, after it became clear that the construct enacted into law in 2009 freezing out the secretary was untenable.”  The art of governing is only made better when a public servant, or a former public servant, tells us candidly  what happened when an important piece of legislation was created -- or rather, his version of what happened.  I hope Steve Baddour will now avail himself of the CommonWealth franchise to share his version -- or to slap back, as the case may be. 



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