Manic Monday Markup 3/31/14…

…And the World:

We begin today in Turkey where local elections appear to have favored Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AK party despite weeks of protests and shutdowns of social media networks.  Erdogan and Parliament were not on the ballot, but the mid-forties polling his party received by the prime minister to carry on and possibly retaliate against political enemies.

In France, local elections there tell a different story.  While the Socialists kept Paris’s mayoralty (the City of Light elected its first female mayor), they lost across the country elsewhere prompting the resignation of the current government.  President François Hollande and his party have suffered from flagging support in recent months.  He will appoint a new government amid the shakeup. One of the biggest winners? The mainstream center right party, the UMP, won the most positions yesterday, but Marrinne Le Pen’s far right movement, which scored some of its highest vote totals ahead of European Parliamentary election later this year.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was convicted of taking bribes, likely ending any future speculation that he may return to electoral politics.  Olmert became acting prime minister after the late Ariel Sharon suffered a debilitating stroke, and after elections took the title formally.  However, he had to resign and handed leadership of the Kadima over to Tzipi Livni, who current serves as Justice Minister under the Likud-led government of Benjamin Netanyahu.

Dipolomatic progress? Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met in Paris more hopeful than ever that a diplomatic solution may be found in the Ukraine.  However, Kiev seems skeptical or outright hostile to proposals to give outlying regions more autonomy.

Polls suggests Indians will favor the Bharatiya Janata Party in elections next week, installing Narendra Modi as Prime Minister, defeating the incumbent Indian National Congress Party. Premier Manmohan Singh did not run for another term.  The Congress Party’s leader is the scion of Jawaharlal Nehru’s family, Rahul Gandhi.

The Koreas exchange fire across a disputed sea border.

A new report emphasizes the impact of climate change, with the worst yet to come.

The Feds:

Abby Goodnough, a Health Care Reporter for The New York Times, has a good item today on the day to day impact the Affordable Care Act in Kentucky, perhaps a microcosm of the nation.

Also in The Times, questions about Latinos interest in politics as they grow disillusioned by the failure of Immigration Reform to advance.

Albany lawmakers have agreed to a budget, and it includes money for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Pre-K program, but it comes at the cost of his control over city schools and liberals hopes for robust campaign finance reform.

The arrest of California State Senator Leland Yee amid a broad corruption probe that included a longtime Chinatown underworld figure continues to surprise people in Sacramento, even as it draws national press attention.

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy officially makes the plunge into a reelection campaign.

Two big retirements out of Michigan.  House Intelligence Chair Mike Rogers and House Ways & Means Chair David Camp both announce retirements between the end of last week and this beginning of this one. Both are Republicans and only Rogers seat is likely within Democrats’ reach this year.

The State of Things:

The closure of North Adams Regional Health Center has rippled into the Massachusetts governor’s race.  Martha Coakley, as attorney general, got involved early in the crisis, trying to stop the emergency room’s closure, but acquiescing when it appeared unsafe to keep it open.  Treasurer Steve Grossman also chimed in, saying the state has a “moral responsibility” to restore services to northern Berkshire County.  Vermont health providers are preparing to pick up some of the slack in the meantime.

Tomorrow is election day across the commonwealth. Locally, there is the 4th Hampden Race in Westfield. It is John Velis vs. Dan Allie.  We have endorsed Velis, but the GOP is all in for Allie.  In the region north of Boston there is the special senate race between Rep. Jason Lewis, the Democrat and Melrose Alderman Monica Medeiros, the Republican.  This seat opened when Katherine Clark vacated her Senate seat to take Ed Markey’s US House seat.  Also of note is the 16th Suffolk House seat, formerly held by Kathi-Anne Reinstein, a race between Roselee Vincent and Todd Taylor, Democrat and Republican respectively.  Two other Boston area specials, including Mayor Marty Walsh’s seat have their general election tomorrow, but the primaries were the important affairs in those races.

Lowell has a new City Manager.  Holyoke will need a new auditor.

Over the weekend, the City of Boston stopped to honor the two firefighters who died in last week’s wind-whipped blaze in the Back Bay section of the city.

Longmeadow and MGM will head to arbitration after failing to reach a surrounding community agreement.

City Slickers:

A welcome center in downtown Springfield center for UMASS opened today.

Incoming Police Commissioner John Barbieri plans a presentation for the community about his vision for the department when he takes over in June.

The last chance to voice your opinion on the casino slated for Springfield may be tomorrow when the gaming commission holds a hearing at the MassMutual Center at 4 pm.

Twitter Chatter:

Today we are going in a little bit of a different direction. Instead of political snark or heavy burdens, we are going more diversionary for today’s Tweet Prize. For those who know how to use Twitter well, it is a great way to share information of all kinds, including historical tidbits and whatnot, including pictures.  Today is the opening of baseball season and although the Red Sox’s home opener is not until Friday, the season has begun.  Today we award the Tweet Prize to Presidential historian Michael Beschloss for tweeting a bit of history on this start of the season. One hundred and two years ago, Fenway Park opened and it remains the oldest ballpark in use by the MLB. Its opening competed with the Titanic’s sinking for news coverage, but the photo today of Fenways’ 1912 opening is a great way to mark the opening of a new season.


Despite Rocky Marriage, Allie and GOP Target Velis Together in 4th Hampden…

UPDATED 3/30/14 8:07PM: For grammar & clarity.

John Velis (via Facebook/Velis campaign)

The relative calm of the race in Westfield to fill Don Humason’s rep seat suddenly ended this week as two hit pieces went out against Democrat John Velis, one of which has since been owned by Republican Dan Allie.  Not only did the tone change, but it came as Massachusetts Republicans and conservative groups upped their efforts to keep the seat in the GOP’s column, a tacit admission that they could lose.

Dan Allie (via Facebook/Allie campaign)

The Bay State GOP and its satellite groups have been bolstering Allie, despite rifts that have erupted between Allie and the party in the past. The state GOP had sent out a fundraising email, touting Allie’s pledging “no new laws,” but much more has followed recently.  The Marlborough Republican City Committee has spent $5400 on canvassing for Allie according to a March 24 campaign finance report.  Republican figures across the Bay State have also been hustling to help Allie across the finish line.

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Manic Monday Markup 3/24/14…

…And the World:

We begin today in the Indian Ocean, where Malaysian officials now believe the missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 ended.  In a press conference, Malaysian authorities essentially extinguished all hopes that any survivors would be found.  The Sydney Morning Herald writes about Chinese journalists’ difficulty in reporting the story in Malaysia.  China has been particularly critical of the island nation’s response to the situation.  The search is now focused hundreds of miles off the western coast of Australia.

President Barack Obama is in Europe talking Russia and Crimea, hoping to firm up allies’ support in the face of Russian aggression toward its neighbors.  British Prime Minister David Cameron says there will be no G8 meeting in Sochi and indeed, there may not be a G8 much longer.  Russia is on the outs.  But it is not all bad news for Vladimir Putin.  Outgoing Afghan president Hamid Karzai backs the Russia seizure of the Ukrainian peninsula.  Meanwhile, those in Crimea opposed to a union with Russia are finding it unsafe to stay amid public pressure and bullying from pro-Russian mobs.

Obama also announced new measures to track down African warlord Joseph Kony.

Turkey’s ban on Twitter continues and the government there is pressing to make work-arounds difficult while journalists and lawyers worked to lift the restriction in court.  Whether successful or not, one expert says Turkey is fighting a losing battle and people are still using it.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas agrees to extend peace talks…if Israel freezes settlement development.

The Feds:

The New York Times considers three presidents’ confounding efforts to woo Vladimir Putin.

Colorado’s Supreme Court may be taking on a case that could begin reversing the longstanding legal right to terminate employees who test positive for marijuana despite a doctor’s prescription.  Meanwhile, this week’s US Supreme Court case over contraception and Hobby Lobby could implicate more than just birth control including women generally, gays and beyond.

In Rhode Island, Gordan Fox, the history-making speaker of the House of Representatives resigned his leadership post, triggering a scramble to fill what is considered the Ocean State’s most powerful post.  Federal and state officials raided office and home last week of the twenty year veteran of the legislature, he was the first openly-gay speaker of a state House.  Majority Leader Nicholas Mattiello says he has the votes to be speaker (including a few from the body’s six Republicans), but Michael Marcello, the other rep jockeying for the position will force a floor vote.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie appears unconnected to the George Washington Bridge Scandal…or so says his lawyers.  The firm that conducted the interview has long had ties to the governor’s administration and seems unlikely to end the legislative and federal probes into the matter.

A prominent Connecticut State Senator Ed Meyer announced his retirement.  However, Meyer, the Senate chair of the environment committee has a successor in mind: Edward Kennedy, Jr.

Officials scramble to reopen a Houston shipping channel after a devastating oil spill.

The State of Things:

Opponents of the commonwealth’s casino bill have filed their first court papers with the Supreme Judicial Court in hoping to reverse the Attorney General’s decision that the ballot initiative to repeal the law is disallowed under the constitution.

Massachusetts Republicans held their convention in Boston over the weekend to select their nominees for statewide office.  Everything other than governor was anticlimactic and establishment-preferred nominee Charlie Baker seemed to narrowly nudge Tea Party challenger Mark Fisher off of the primary ballot.  Except that Fisher is now going to challenge the decision, including possible legal action.  The academics as Mass Politics Prof’s try to figure this mess out.

Sorry folks.  While maybe Senator Richard Ross should have found a way to avoid filing this bill, he was actually facilitating a right  of citizens under the commonwealth’s constitution to file legislation.  This one’s a misfire.

Obligatory note on the Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day parade.

Worcester Polytechnical High School is getting an A-list commencement speaker: POTUS.

City Slickers:

The Mayor’s Community Review Board released a report last week that called for some changes in how the department deals with the public, something Commissioner-designate John Barbieri will have to consider when he takes the reins in the June.  The mayor is adamant as ever about not instituting a board with final authority to issue discipline and the Council is adamant as ever, to press for a new board with that very power.

The Reminder expands on the impact of Rep. Cheryl Coakley-Rivera’s resignation and, what it means that the seat will not be filled until January.  Mike Dobbs also reached out to the now four individuals looking at the race.  Carlos Gonzalez and Sal Circosta have already been reported as running.  We noted Melvin Edwards at the time of Coakley-Rivera’s announcement, but it appears former mayoral aide Thomas Walsh is eyeing the seat too.

A light agenda for the City Council tonight, but at least it includes Facebook!

News of a possible new factory at the former Westinghouse site is gaining momentum among local officials reports Northeastern Public Radio’s Paul Tuthill.

Twitter Chatter:

Democrats are frequently criticized for their maneuvers at conventions to keep certain people off the ballot.  While Marissa DeFranco came nowhere close to making the ballot in 2012, that Elizabeth Warren marched past the primary unchallenged did not go without criticism from the Massachusetts GOP.  So it is especially notable that the Grand Old Party’s own convention this year should be so fraught with Fisher now contesting the results after apparently getting enough to win.  Today we award the tweet prize to Stephanie Ebbert, one of the Boston Globe’s political reporters who covered the state Republican convention, observing with photographic evidence, that the event was oddly packing up even before the results were revealed, perhaps foreshadowing the questions about the count.  Also, runners up goes to Ebbert’s noting of the bizarre-world praise her paper was getting at the convention. 



Manic Monday Markup 3/17/14…

…And the World:

We begin today in Crimea, where voters there in an election result fitting a former Soviet region voted overwhelmingly to join Russia.  Given the turnout and measures taken to ensure the proper result, this poll is simply no credible.  Yes, it would seem that a majority really did want this result but mid-90’s?  Please.  Were a poll in the US held about whether or not for the country be annexed by England, the no vote would be less than 90%.  Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin formally recognizes Crimea’s independence.

Anyway, Crimean officials are working to effectuate the split from Ukraine quickly as reports surface of protests in other Eastern Ukraine cities urging a split from Kiev and unification with Russia.  Ukraine called up reservists over the weekend.  President Obama and the European Union imposed sanctions on Russian officials, with more possibly on the way.  Over the weekend, the UN Security Council failed to pass a resolution condemning the Crimean vote due to Russia’s veto, but China, notably abstained and, while needling the West, condemned foreign intervention in national domestic affairs.

The search continues for the Malaysian Airlines flight that disappeared earlier this month with more starts, stops and U-Turns in progress.  The latest includes a request for satellite data from upwards of 22 nations.  Malaysia resists greater US involvement in the endeavor as potential terror links are probed.

In South Africa, Julius Malema, the one-time head of the African National Congress’s Youth division says he expects his movement, the Economic Freedom Fighters, to win all provincial elections in addition to the national one, which would see Malema become President.

As the Russian diplomatic crisis consumes the White House and the media is fixated on the Malaysian jet, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is meeting with President Obama to discuss peace in the Middle East.  John Kerry has told Abbas peace will require tough decisions.  The Los Angeles Times reports Palestinians rallied in the territories ahead of his visit.

The New York Times considers the progress (and what still needs to be done) on gender equality in Morocco.

Toronto’s Rob Ford has another challenger.

The Feds:

Democrats are sounding alarms about the November elections and among the reasons for panic (at least according to the Beltway, the most important is turnout issues in non-presidential years) is the entrance of Scott Brown in the New Hampshire US Senate race.  Brown declared his exploratory committee to run against incumbent Jeanne Shaheen.  He has to still win the GOP primary first and the candidates already in the race made their voices heard.  Shaheen welcome Brown to the race by urging him to sign a people’s pledge much like the one he pressed Elizabeth Warren to sign in 2012.  Brown is taking a pass on that and calling Shaheen a hypocrite because she raised money in the West Coast.  Not exactly the same thing as undisclosed SuperPAC money, Scotto.

Charlie Pierce at Esquire has some advice for Brown and we remember our favorites from campaign 2012 including Brown opposing money for firefighters and putting the Springfield tornado and one, wealthier Springfield neighborhood in an ad, while taking little interest in residents of another.

The AP reports that efforts to improve the government’s response to Freedom of Information requests have not been up to snuff despite promises from Obama.  The Week  offers some ideas how the president could change that.

Is Texas king for job growth? Maybe not argues Washington Monthly.

Newtown experiences difficulty in keeping up with demand of mental health services 14 months after the Sandy Hook shooting.

The State of Things:

After a disastrous transition from the state to federal rules for its website, the Massachusetts Health Connector is dumping its contractor that it had hired to build its online exchange.

State Senator Linda Dorcena Forry kicked off the annual South Boston St. Patrick’s Day breakfast yesterday, becoming the first woman of color to host the event.  In the eyes of some, she actually made it better than it usually is.  The breakfast has been traditionally hosted by the State Senator from Southie, but last year South Boston City Councilor Bill Linnehan tried to usurp that role because Forry while Forry’s district includes South Boston, she lives in its southern Dorchester regions.  Linnehan backed off in the end.  David Bernstein offers his reasons for why this event has overstayed its welcome.

Elsewhere in St. Patrick’s Day politicking, the South Boston parade went on without any LGBT marchers as hoped and without “Mahty,” the city’s mayor, something which Bernstein noted, it long has.

Speaker Robert DeLeo released the House’s minimum wage bill.  Liberals are not thrilled with it, particularly the dollar and change increase in the tipped employee wage over three years.

Mary McNally, originally slated to run for District Attorney in Hampden County to succeed Mark Mastroianni, decided to drop out of race.

City Slickers:

Mayor Domenic Sarno has, as expected, completed his interviews with the candidates for Police Commissioners.  Pete Goonan reports that the interview locations were surreptitiously scheduled with only a day’s notice to the candidates as to the locations.  Our profiles of the candidates will continue, but we profiled Deputy Chief Robert McFarlin, widely viewed as the favorite, last week.  The Republican joins the chorus of criticism of Sarno’s entirely non-public selection process.

JUST IN: The heads of the Springfield NAACP, the Greater Springfield Council of Churches and Arise for Social Justice release a statement blasting Mayor Sarno’s selection process and laying out a series of grievances against McFarlin, some of which WMassP&I noted and others it did not including rather overt allegations about his career in the department.  McFarlin has reacted to it as well.

Rep. Cheryl Coakley-Rivera resigns from the legislature.  There will be no special election to fill the seat, WWLP reports, leaving the seat open until next January.

The Pine Point express library branch opens in the former neighborhood library.

Springfield in the running to host a new factory to build MBTA cars on the former Westinghouse site in East Springfield.

Twitter Chatter:

The referendum in Crimea has been received so incredulously by much of the world that some European countries placed it in quotes to emphasize that it was called does not properly reflect what the vote taken at the end of a gun actually was.  Countless figures have taken the opportunity to express their thoughts on the subject in their own.  One senator did so with an appropriate and heavy dose of snark.  Today we award the tweet prize to the junior senator to our south, Chris Murphy, who is also the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Affair Affairs subcommittee on Europe.  As much of the world condemned and/or disavowed Sunday’s vote, Murphy notes that two nations did recognize it.  With Syria and North Korea’s recognition, Murphy tweeted he realized the error of his criticism of the vote These bastions of freedom and democracy showed him the way.  Not really.