Shortlink

Manic Monday Markup 7/21/14…

…And the World:

We begin today in the Ukraine, where Dutch investigators have arrived to take over the investigation of the crash of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, shot down last week, likely by pro-Russian rebels. A train with the remains of the victims has apparently left a rebel-controlled town and Malaysia says the rebels have agreed to hand over the black boxes from the plane.

Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to be urging both sides to let investigators do their work, after a series of tense conversations with the British & Australian Prime Ministers, both nations that lost citizens. Obama has urged Putin to keep his word. It occurs as European leaders feel more open to the harder line of the US. The BBC reports that the Ukrainian Government based in Kiev has ordered its forces to keep clear of the crash site. Meanwhile, the Netherlands, which is the home country of the overwhelming majority of the 298 dead, has been hit hard and one town in particular.

Russia is said to support Australia’s resolution about the downed airliner at the UN, if Russia is not blamed, however.

In Gaza, the Israeli offensive to root out Hamas militants that are firing rockets into Israel continues. However, the death toll is rising considerably among Palestinians and maneuvers over the weekend and today have been particularly deadly for both sides. Haaretz writes that it is clear that Benjamin Netayahu knew of the risks in launching a ground offensive (25 soldiers dead), and would probably like nothing more than an exit strategy. Despite calls from some members of the Israeli cabinet, there is no policy to reoccupy Gaza. Efforts continue for a cease-fire and President Obama has ordered Secretary of State John Kerry to find one quickly. And an Israeli voice against the move into Gaza.

And in “Not helping,” we have this little gem from Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Leiberman.

Honduran bus operators and American Border guards are finding less children are trying to make their way north to the United States.

The Feds:

President Barack Obama signed an executive order banning discrimination against LGBT employees who work for companies with federal contracts. Local connection to the event under “City Slickers.” The order did not carry any significant religious exemption following fears that courts could use the Hobby Lobby decision to discriminate against LGBT employees.

Don’t miss our briefing from the Motor City on  the Warren-Clinton divide.

The Providence Mayoral contest remains as scrambled as ever according to Rhode Island Public Radio.

Chris Christie to resign in January in order to concentrate on presidential run? Don’t hold your breath.

In Georgia, Republicans Jack Kingston and David Perdue are making their final pitches to voters ahead of this week’s runoff. The winner will face off against Democrat Michelle Nunn.

The City of Detroit is suspending its shutoff of water to residents with unpaid bills for 15 days.

Montana is widely seen as a race that Democrats will lose come November, but a new poll finds the race tightening.

The State of Things:

It just is not a day in Holyoke without somebody trying to beat the crap out Mayor Alex Morse (figuratively, mind you). On the one hand, some cannot agree economic development projects are happening in the city. On the other, Morse continues to face what will likely be an adverse ruling about suppressing the terms of former City Solicitor Heather Egan’s exit. However, the Masslive article here seems more about advertising their appeal to the Supervisor of Records than providing any new information. The Supervisor does not, as a rule, lay out a timetable for review. Of course, such an article would not be complete without blind speculation by Morse’s opponents. Bottom line, Morse appears in the wrong on non-disclosure, but turning it into a sideshow as his opponents have is irresponsible.

Maura Healey has enchanted The Boston Globe’s Adrian Walker. A great summary of the race no matter where you stand.

Commonwealth Magazine offers some buzzkill to Martha Coakley’s aura of gubernatorial inevitability. Meanwhile, Democrats held a weekend of action to prep for the impending general that will follow September’s primary. Steve Grossman goes on the air.

Fiscally, Longmeadow is cool with Casino repeal or not.

City Slickers:

Detective Michael Carney of the Springfield Police Department was on hand for President Obama’s signing of the anti-discrimination executive order for federal contractors. Carney, who is openly gay and active in organizations that promote LGBT equality within law enforcement appears in shots of the president.

Springfield will sell some property to MGM ahead of the November referendum on casinos.

Ward 8 Councilor Orlando Ramos has an ordinance before the Council tonight that is designed to register the city’s apartment stock and thus regulate housing better against blight and unsafe conditions. It is based upon Boston’s ordinance.

Twitter Chatter:

Few mediums like Twitter have been able to capture both the scale of the tragedy in the crash of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, but also the reverberation of outrage, disgust and struggle over getting answers. Appropriately, then the medium also conveys well progress, if one can call it that, on that front as well. Today we award the tweet prize to Maxim Erastavi, a reporter in Ukraine and Malaysian Prime Minister Mohd Najib Tun Razak. Erastavi’s tweet noting the deal Razak hammered out with rebel leadership concisely describes the situation, but really, what forces Razak to share this week’s honors is Erastavi’s simple “Ok, wow,” which really underscores the surprise that something could cut through the posturing and tragedy and get something done.

However, the Prime Minister himself deserves plaudits, too. While we certainly agree the rebels did it and Russia is complicit if not directly responsible, one cannot fault Razak, only a few months after the other Malaysian Airliner disappeared, for taking a different path. His country withheld blame and now, it appears that at a minimum the dead will get the dignity they deserve. Honestly acknowledging the urge to react more stridently, for now it seems Razak has found a better outcome for now.

Shortlink

Briefings: Ready for Hillary, Pining for Warren…

Warren for President Swag (WMassP&I)

Warren for President Swag (WMassP&I)

DETROIT—On the second day of one of the left’s most prominent organizing and issues conferences, Massachusetts’ own US Senator Elizabeth Warren remained as hot a ticket as she did when the event was held in neighboring Rhode Island during her contested 2012 election. Prompting several standing ovations and a sea of “Warren for President” signs, the Cambridge Democrat laid out her vision of where progressive stand and the stakes involved.

Warren, who has by now grown accustomed to her rock-star status, seemed a bit surprised by the crush of signs and paraphernalia. Still, it took little for her to get past that point and what she wanted to discuss was in near total sync with the folks in the room.

Continue reading

Shortlink

Manic Monday Markup 7/14/14…

…And the World:

We begin today in Egypt, where the government there has proposed a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, which has launched rockets at Israeli cities prompting retaliatory bombings of the Gaza Strip. The Israeli cabinet is set to meet to discuss the proposal. Doubts the cease-fire will work abound. Elsewhere, Israel shoots down a drone from Gaza and the Palestinian Authority calls for UN intervention in Gaza.

There is an effort in Afghanistan to reform its constitution and weaken the presidential powers, which have been near dictatorial, in favor of more power in Parliament. Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry over the weekend announced a deal between the two presidential contenders to audit all of the ballots from the highly contested presidential runoff.

In British political potpourri, Labour Party leader Ed Miliband wants to meet Barack Obama badly, but The Guardian says that alone is not going send him to Number 10 Downing Street in next year’s elections. It comes as a new poll shows Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative Party with a micro-lead, although it really is too far ahead in the future to read much into it. Cameron, meanwhile, is in the midst of a Cabinet reshuffle, which includes moving William Hague, the Foreign Minister, out of the cabinet. And the Church of England votes to allow women bishops.

South Africa’s antiapartheid Nobel Laureat, Nadine Gordimer, dies.

Skirmishes along the Ukraine-Russia border lead to flaring temperes.

The Feds:

There appears to be an emerging compromise to replenish the Federal Highway Trust Fund before it runs out of money at the at the end of the month. The White House also will begin ratcheting up pressure to get the funds in place. Independent economists agree with the urgency the White House is placing on the matter.

Elizabeth Warren has hit the road again heading into Red territory. She campaigned for Democrats’ Senate nominee in Virginia Natalie Tenant, the state’s current Secretary of State.

The AP looks at what is all but assuring the GOP hold the House, but also notes the lawsuits that could upend the party’s redistricting in Florida and maybe North Carolina, too.

Ads have begun to hit the Connecticut gubernatorial race. See the ones from Dan Malloy and Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, who must face 2010 nominee Tom Foley before the general election against Malloy.

In the NY Labor beat, talks between the Long Island Railroad and its union appear to falter. Meanwhile, a bookstore owner who had fired four employees after voting to establish a union in his store, rehires four of the employees (he gave a severance to the fifth) after public pressure led him to reconsider his actions.

The State of Things:

Legislation has been filed to establish new protections for women’s health clinics following the Supreme Court’s striking of the Massachusetts buffer zone law last month. Also on Beacon Hill, Gov. Patrick issues his vetoes for the state budget, but the legislature may overturn some of them.

The Probation trial in federal district court will go to the jury this week.

Agawam Town Councilor James Cichetti discusses the resolution of his campaign finance reports and getting onto the ballot. Cichetti was denied a spot on the Democratic ballot because he had not registered as a Democrat in enough time. He claimed he received conflicting information between the Agawam town clerk and the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office and appealed the ruling, but it appears unlikely he will run if he wins.

The 1st Hampden & Hampshire Senate race comes to Mass Politics Profs. Jerold Duquette, one of the professors of the poli sci blog, discusses the political implications of ambition. He isolates Ludlow School Committee member Chip Harrington and former White House aide Eric Lesser as the major contenders in the race.

Elsewhere in the legislature, Rep. Aaron Vega describes his opposition to raising the state’s charter school cap. Meanwhile, perhaps facing a tough fight for a full term as senator, Senator Don Humason is touting some projects in his district as part of a bonding bill. Left unclear if whether he had anything to do with the projects’ inclusion or not, but an obligatory quote from him is there.

City Slickers:

Springfield officials announced their intent to sue to reclaim 195 State Street, formally the School Department building, on the grounds that the developers breached their agreement with the city. Work, some of which has been done, was supposed to be completed by now. While WWLP had a report today on the property, initial credit goes to The Reminder’s Mike Dobbs who raised questions about the project’s sluggish project in a June column  on casinos.

Our profile of Chief Administrative & Financial Officer T.J. Plante is up. Be sure to check it out!

Police Commissioner John Barbieri will meet with the Public Safety Committee to discuss his anti-crime initiatives.

Twitter Chatter:

Economic Development has and will likely remain one of the most crucial and difficult challenges of the City of Springfield. While other factors including crime, livability and infrastructure, few issues like the economy feed off of and into those other matters as much. Too often, it seems like the almost desperate need to find something, anything has driven a lot of the city’s development policy, which in turn hampers long term growth and the other issues that face Springfield. This is why today’s action on 195 State Street, whether win or lose, is good. Today we award the tweet prize to none other than the City itself. This comes DESPITE our discovery that the Mayor’s Office has blocked our Twitter account from the municipal one. While a bit cluttered from a stylistic point of view, the tweet conveys (with an assist from the media, see City Slickers) something that we are thrilled to see: accountability. Developers walk all over Springfield all the time and too often the city quivers in their wake. Not today, it seems.

Shortlink

Please Support WMassP&I through Election Day!

Yesterday, Western Mass Politics & Insight launched its first crowd funding campaign. This effort is intended to raise funds needed to continue providing the news, commentary & analysis of this busy local election cycle, while staying up on the policy and politics in the cities and towns of the Pioneer Valley.

I know many of our readers visit WMassP&I to see what is happening in Pioneer Valley politics and policy. It is a point of pride that we are able to be that source and to offer it in detail for readers from Springfield to Boston and beyond. From our campaign website:

There are very few resources devoted to the granular details of municipal politics & policy and state law and elections. When questions arose about how the Quinn Bill and residency laws were affected by collective bargaining, WMassP&I broke down state labor relations laws for readers. At the height of the biomass debate in Springfield, WMassP&I was there with detailed accounts of both the Council andZoning Board of Appeals hearings. In the midst of an historic election in Westfield, WMassP&I dug into campaign finance reports, investigated the candidates and then explained how the result came to pass. In Springfield’s first municipal elections without a mayoral race, WMassP&I interviewed almost all Council candidates in competitive races. As a local state Senate race found itself before a state body, WMassP&I described the history of ballot challenges.

I hope you will contribute my campaign to help ensure I can keep this going through Election Day! Check out campaign video below to see what we’ve brought over the last eight years and see why we need your support now.

To contribute to our campaign, visit our campaign website hosted on Indiegogo.com.  Thank you for your support!

-Sincerely,
Matt Szafranski, Editor-in-Chief.

Shortlink

Manic Monday Markup 7/7/14…

…And the World:

We begin today in Israel, where the death of three Israeli teens continues to rock the situation there. Following the teens’ death, for which Israel has blamed Hamas, a Palestinian was brutally murdered in an attack Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called “abhorrent.” Six Israelis have been arrested for that crime and Haaretz reports three have confessed. Meanwhile the political landscape has been rocked as well.

The Los Angeles Times report on Netanyahu’s response noted that Bibi is resisting a broad offensive into Gaza in response to rocket fire from there. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s party is splitting from its marriage with Netanyahu’s Likud. Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog says the prime minister’s governing coalition is on the edge of collapse and some of its members should bail to form a center-left government.

In Ukraine, the army there is making gains on separatists after President Petro Poroshenko ended the unsuccessful ceasefire. The government seized a key town over the weekend.

Iraq fails to name a Parliamentary speaker or form a government, complicating its political crisis further.

In Africa potpourri: Egypt’s new president regrets that journalists were tried for at all, possibly laying the groundwork for a pardon.As many as 60 women and girls may have escaped from the Nigeria-based Boko Haram extremist group, although hundred more remain captured.

Is ex-French President Nicolas Sarkozy the target of a vast left-wing conspiracy?

The Feds:

From a strictly procedural standpoint, it may be too soon to tell, but the Supreme Court’s decision to order lower courts to revisit ostensibly distinguishable birth control cases casts doubt on the limits of its Hobby Lobby decision.

In case you missed it, John Boehner had an Op-Ed about his “lawsuit” against President Obama’s relatively few executive actions. That he need explanation betrays how much of a reach it is. The White House Counsel is not worried and some Dems are happy.

Ever wondered how press flacking works? Jon Lender at The Hartford Courant breaks down one such example in Connecticut with Gov. Dan Malloy’s Communications Director Andrew Doba.

The Washington Post says the NSA’s data collection programs sweeps in and retains more info than the agency claims.

The New York Times profiles Domenic Recchia, the Democratic opponent to Republican US Rep. Michael Grimm who faces federal charges for fraud.

Students are getting in on the suit challenging North Carolina’s new, onerous voter screening laws.

The State of Things:

Boston, often touted as a  paradigm of success for residency ordinances for city employees, has a problem. Their residency ordinance does not work very well, although officials are looking to do better. This blog is agnostic about residency, but remember this.

In better news, “Mahty” announced the city’s new Fire Commissioner. Mayor Marty Walsh has tapped Joseph Finn, the city’s longest serving chief to the top job at the Fire Department of New England’s largest city.

With Eric Suher’s surrender of a liquor license to Northampton authorities, Mary Serreze describes the jockeying for one of the city’s coveted pouring permits. This substantially lowers the financial barriers for would-be mixologist entrepreneurs who can obtain the license for much less from the city directly than it would buying an existing license directly from the previous holder.

Gov. Deval Patrick is in Springfield to sign a gas leak bill intended to protect the commonwealth’s natural gas infrastructure following reports on their condition and the 2011 explosion in the city.

Our report on the campaign of Ludlow School Committee member Chip Harrington, whose brand at home may be granting him the liberty to grind out progress elsewhere in the district.

In local personnel: Holyoke inks new three contract with Police Chief and Westside hires a new City Solicitor.

The Fourth Estatements:

Dave Weigel at Slate.com points out the eighth, ninth, tenth, er, umpteenth time the media has declared some event or another “Obama’s Katrina.” Even Hurricane Katrina was not, in itself, Bush’s Katrina, but one in a series of catastrophic setbacks for George the Younger in 2005. None are of Obama’s problems are of the same scale as Katrina, but the media just can’t help themselves.

WGBH is one of the homes of the Muzzle Awards this year. The public official awards are written by Northeastern Journalism professor and blogger Dan Kennedy.

City Slickers:

The head of the Springfield Business Improvement District lays out the groups three-year plan ahead of expected impacts from I-91 construction and the impact of a casino, if built.

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno was asked to write the opposition summary to the casino-repeal legislation. He was flattered, but declined.

Reconstruction of a major intersection in East Forest Park to begin today.

Twitter Chatter:

Sometimes it seems like the Beltway Media gets caught in its own feedback loop so bad that some on the left AND the right of opinion-based media go into a total facepalm. Among the more tired tropes about the Obama presidency are declarations of the president’s latest Katrina. It gets embarrassing at times and serves to show how often times journalism is the problem. Obligatory note of self-awareness: we endorsed the president for reelection and fully stand by that decision. But when even the center-right is exasperated, maybe it is time for the phrase’s retirement.  Today we award the tweet prize to Justin Green of the Washington Examiner, who’s humorous, but somewhat spot-on dig at the latest overuse of “Obama’s Katrina” shows how ridiculous it has become.