Millennials A-Massing: The Wunderkinder Start off Early These Days…

UPDATED 1/12/15 1:20AM: For grammar & clarity.

Jesse Ledermand and Mark Riffenburg (WMassP&I)

Jesse Lederman and Mark Riffenburg (WMassP&I)

Since Senator Edward Kennedy’s death in 2009, Massachusetts has endured a near endless election cycle that at last ended last November. While countless cities like Holyoke and Springfield will hold municipal elections this year, young candidate running in those cities could make 2015 a big year, too.

Following news that Holyoke Ward 6 Councilor Todd McGee would not run for reelection, Mark Riffenburg, 20, who once ran at-large unsuccessfully, announced he would seek the open seat. Down the road in Springfield, Jesse Lederman, 19, organized a campaign committee last year to run at-large in 2015.

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Manic Monday Markup 1/5/15…

…And the World:

We begin today in Indonesia, where the government has begun to crack down on airlines after the loss of an AirAsia flight in the Sea of Java among the nation’s islands. Flight QZ8051 disappeared December 28 of last year and Indonesia officials now say the flight crew did not follow orders about dealing with foul weather. Nevertheless, the nation’s air safety has come under fire and new weather rules have been put in place. Recovery workers believe they found the plane’s tail section, where the black boxes are located.

The African National Congress, South Africa’s governing party celebrates 103 years.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to freeze tax transfers to the Palestinian Authority in retaliation for its application to join the International Criminal Court is getting the Bronx cheer from all quarters. The Isaac Herzog-Tzipi Livni bloc has panned it and now the country’s president, Reuven Rivlin, who as a member of Knessett was part of Netanyahu’s Likud party, has also condemned the move.

In Isareli election news, the religious party Shas and its leader’s political career face an existential crisis. While Moshe Feiglin, who briefly challenged Netanyahu as leader of Likud, will form his own party for the March elections.

As British elections begin to kick into high gear, one Guardian columnist considers whether the launch of Labour’s campaign may be what gets voters to listen to leader Ed Miliband’s message.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny breaks his house arrest calling his detention “illegal.”

French President Francois Hollande has lent his voice to the argument that sanctions against Russia are not working. However, no change in policy is likely until Germany—and its fluent in Russian Chancellor—shifts its and her attitude.

The Feds:

As Republicans take power in Washington this week, Democrats have released early details about their own autopsy of last November’s results. An early prescription is more competition on the state level, where Democrats have suffered the worst losses over the last few elections.

Meanwhile the extremists in the House Republican caucus, namely Texas Rep Louis Gohmert and Florida Rep Ted Yoho plan to challenge John Boehner for the speakership. Good luck with that.

The AP checks into the hype over Illinois’s new Republican governor.

Tributes and honors for former governor Mario Cuomo who died New Year’s Day. His speech to the 1984 Democratic convention went viral that day. The New York Times’s obituary is here. The Times also considers the impact the 1977 mayoral race had on Cuomo’s later indecisiveness and his melding of religious beliefs and public persona. The New York Post, with whom Cuom often sparred, thanks him for saving the paper.

Returning to an item from last week, the idea of cutting PATH service is very unpopular, but Second Avenue Sagas, a transit blog in the city, cautioned that this is only a proposal. It should not be used as a way to take eyes off of Governors Christie and Cuomo’s veto of port authority reform legislation.

California Governor Jerry Brown is sworn in for a fourth term and gives his Inaugural address.

Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra announces his reelection bid. Former gubernatorial counsel Luke Bronin is said to be mulling a bid, too, among other challengers.

The State of Things:

Over the weekend former Massachusetts Senator Edward Brooke died, aged 95. He served from 1967 to 1979 and was a somewhat outspoken liberal within the Republican party. He was the first popularly elected black US Senator (previous African-American senators, elected during Reconstruction, were chosen when senators were appointed by state legislators). The Boston Globe’s obituary is here. Adrian Walker remembers Brooke’s lasting impact

Charlie Baker appoints Linda Spears to lead the Department of Children & Families. Spears worked for the organization that criticized the departments and filed a suit which was at issue during the campaign.

Gov. Deval Patrick’s portrait was unveiled yesterday. This weekend, The Globe also reviewed Patrick’s legacy.

Jury selection begins in the Tsarnaev trial.

“Mahty” has some turnover. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s press secretary Kate Norton steps down for a job as a consultant. Martha Coakley campaign spokesperson Bonnie McGilpin is joining the Walsh comms team.

Worcester Magazine names Ed Augustus, Jr the person of the year. Originally expected to just hold an interim role as City Manager, Augustus has taken the job on a permanent basis.

City Slickers:

Springfield City Council President Mike Fenton was sworn in for another year as head of the chamber. Our story soon.

Among the new business the Council is expected to address this term is a new solicitation ordinance.

Twitter Chatter:

We’re going wonky today for the tweet prize. With Congress coming into session and little expected to happen over the next two years (though you never know), one issue that in theory should be bipartisan is transportation funding. Left and right, despite reservations seem okay with a gas tax increase, but it is unlikely to happen because many on the right find it abhorrent and wants the feds to stop paying for transportation projects and leave it to the states (How’s that going?). Today we award the tweet prize to Dave Weigel, the irreverent reporters from Bloomberg who poses a very simple question. How can conservatives oppose the gas tax, but demand consumption-based taxes? As a bonus, some of the replies are actually thoughtful responses and not just mindless invective.


The Year in Springfield, 2014…

In Springfield politics, 2014 was almost all about the competitive state & county elections. (WMassP&I)

In Springfield politics, 2014 was almost all about the competitive state & county elections. (WMassP&I)

Another year has come to a close and without a doubt, it was a huge year in Springfield politics primarily for state offices. Springfield area legislative delegation underwent one of the more dramatic and in some cases sudden transformations in recent years. New legislatives in three different seats will represent the city in Boston next week.

In local political news, the early battle over police leadership was an early flashpoint. The City Council selected Michael Fenton as its president, making him the youngest Council president by some accounts, among other historical footnotes. While the council was somewhat drowned out by the legislative races, there were changes in 2014. Of course, the fate of casinos had a definite impact on the city.

Thus, the year in Springfield! Continue reading


Our Top Fourteen Stories of 2014 (and Runners-up)…

Political Campaigns in Hampden County dominated our coverage this year. (via

What were WMassP&I most popular stories of 2014? There was certainly no shortage of news in this jam-packed election cycle. From titanic statewide contests to down to the wire local primaries, this year may be remembered as one of the most critical in state and local politics. No fewer than seven competitive races (either in the primary, general or both)—plus a special election for the State House—captured the region’s attention.

Analyzing our data from our friends at Google, we have compiled the top fourteen stories from 2014 based on page views. Similar stories in sequential spots have been lumped together to get in as many top reads as possible. We have excluded the home page (obviously the most viewed), categories and tags, and our standing pages such as the political guide, election guide and “about us” page. Additional details of the data used available upon request! Data runs through 12/30.

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Manic Monday Markup 12/29/14…

…And the World:

We begin today in Greece, where a failure to secure the supermajority needed to fill the largely ceremonial presidential office has prompted new elections. The added uncertainty could derail the country’s painful progress since the last elections in 2012, a condition of the bailout the country received from international lenders. Polls show anti-bailout (or more aptly anti-austerity) left-wing politician Alexis Tsipiras is primed to win the most votes. He has demanded a renegotiation of Greece’s bailout and if he insists on it and Europe does not agree, once again the nation could face expulsion from the Eurozone. Tsipras and his party would like to spur a broader Euro revolution. Incumbent Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, leader of the center-right New Democracy party, has called for elections on January 25.

Indonesian rescuers say that the AirAsia flight that disappeared en route to Singapore from Surabaya is probably at the bottom of the ocean. But the country has asked for help with a deep sea search. The crash is another black eye for Malaysian aviation, which has suffered mightily after the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines 370 and flight 17, which was likely downed by rebels in Ukraine. The cause of AirAsia’s disappearance remains a mystery, but the comparisons to Flight 370 are inapt for now, especially because until this crash AirAsia had a great safety record.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has submitted a proposed statehood resolution to the United Nations Security Council. While a US veto seems probable, it comes in the context of an Israeli election and reports from Palestinian authorities that Arabs may outnumber Jews within Israel, the West Bank and Gaza by 2016.

Croatia’s presidential candidates advance to a runoff after neither secure 50% of the vote.

In a surprise move, Russia prosecutors say they will move forward the announcement of the decision in Alexei Navalny’s trial by more than two weeks in an apparent attempt to thwart plans for protests ahead of a likely guilty verdict.

The Feds:

President Barack Obama struck a defiant tone in an interview with NPR’s Steve Inskeep saying he will use his veto pen to halt rollbacks of health care reform and environmental protection.

In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo disappointed advocates of reform of the Port Authority after he vetoed a major piece of legislation that would transform power and oversight in the beleaguered agency. After the scandal involving the George Washington bridge and embarrassing overruns at the new World Trade Center train station, reformers hoped to improve accountability and minimize the political influence from the governors of New York and New Jersey. Supporters are undeterred, however.

Cuomo and his Garden State counterpart, Chris Christie who was bruised by the Bridge scandal and faces sinking approval at home, have endorsed other reforms, including potential cuts to PATH service which links New Jersey cities with Manhattan, much to the consternation of mayors along the Hudson River including Jersey City’s Steven Fulop, a rising star in Jersey politics.

Moving on to policing after the death of two NYPD officers, many cops turned their back on New York Mayor Bill de Blasio during Officer Rafael Ramos’ funeral. Police Commission William Bratton, while expressing understanding for cops’ concerns, criticized the action as disrespectful and out of place for a funeral. Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani echoed those sentiments. De Blasio also faced boos at a police academy ceremony.

In a similar vein, Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson made public an exchange of letters with one citizen who could not understand why the chief and his police force tolerated protesters who favor of reforms following the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown.

The Courant profiles incoming Connecticut House of Representatives Minority Leader Themis Klarides.

Vermont Yankee just over the border in Vernon has shut down.

The State of Things:

The Boston Globe reported today on a flurry of appointments Gov. Deval Patrick has made in his waning days in office. Well, apparently the Herald got there first on this story. Or did it?

The Globe also has an Editorial calling for the legislature to close the lobbying loophole for municipal governments. We concur.

While other pay raises determined by statute are on ice for now, those required under the state constitution are still in play and the outgoing Patrick must make a recommendation by his last day in office.

WBUR looks back at Boston’s first year with “Mahty.”

Boston won’t have a mayoral race next year, but City Council elections are already heating up.

As of today, the Vermonter has been rerouted up the Connecticut River line through Northampton and Greenfield. It will no longer stop in Amherst.

The Fourth Estatements:

Channel 10 in Israel is going dark and blames Bibi, but apparently efforts to save one of the country’s only two private TV stations continue.

City Slickers:

Paul Tuthill at Northeastern Public Radio describes how it was that the new railcar facility came to Springfield.

Meanwhile, The Republican considers how fading jobs drained the middle class in the Pioneer Valley and Springfield in particular.

Springfield Police Commissioner John Barbieri led a contingent of the city’s finest to the funeral of slain NYPD officer Rafael Ramos in Queens.

Twitter Chatter:

This is the last Twitter Chatter of 2014 and so we will end on the high and low notes of today.

The first is from our top story. If polls hold steady, it seem possible that Alexis Tsipras could become Greece’s next Prime Minister, potentially upending the austerity that his country has endured. It remains to be seen whether his promises are deliverable or his ideals practical, but amid a long list of somewhat confrontational tweets (albeit translated via Google), there is one that stands out about the aspirations of his political movement to change more than just the bailout terms. The hope appears to be to change the political system itself.

As translated by Google, it reads “We are not the continuation of what has ruled the country for decades. We are the refusal. #syriza.” If using Chrome, right click and select translate.

The other tweet is more lighthearted, obviously, than the fate of Greece and the Eurozone, but it is potentially a transformational event as well. Sharing the tweet prize today is Mayor David Narkewicz of Northampton, who tweeted from the new station in his city. The photo included is of the building crowd, waiting the historic return of passenger service, and the station’s Amtrak code, which seems primed to get plenty of use in the days and weeks ahead.


Briefings: Lesser, Claus Hold Pre-Christmas Summit…

State Senator-elect Eric Lesser and Santa Clause on December 24 appearing on the same radio show. (via Facebook/Lesser campaign)

NORTH POLE, Disputed Territory—Continuing his preparations for taking office on January 7, State Senator-elect Eric Lesser met briefly with Santa Claus after appearing on a Springfield radio show ahead of Claus’s annual international sojourn.

Lesser, who is Jewish, said he was pleased to meet someone who brings cheer to so many people, something Lesser said was essential. “I’m willing to work with anybody to make sure the people of the 1st Hampden & Hampshire District have a great holiday, ready to ring in a happy 2015,” Lesser, 29, said. “We’re going to have a lot of work ahead of us in the New Year.”

Claus, age unknown, said despite the religious differences, he was well aware of Lesser, having spent years reading periodicals like Politico and The New York Times Magazine as a sort of “cheat sheet” to the beltway’s naughty & nice. “I really like Eric. Ironically, when he lived in Washington, he was one of the few DC denizens who regularly qualified as ‘nice’ in any given year.”

Lamenting for a moment that it would have been gratifying to actually have a “Washington insider” who was NOT getting a lump of coal in his stocking, Claus paused and added, “Come to think of it, Lesser got a pretty amazing gift last month, didn’t he?”

Nothing evokes the spirit of the season more than a good laugh. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from WMassP&I! Please enjoy your holidays and holiday season!


Manic Monday Markup 12/22/14

The Feds:

We begin today in New York, where a weekend double-killing of two New York City police officers has poured gas on the divide between demonstrators demanding a change in policing procedures and the cops themselves. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is finding his relationship with his city’s cops are also at a low point. The gruesome crime appears to have been committed by a disturbed 28 year-old man who shot his ex-girlfriend in Baltimore before traveling to Brooklyn where the two officers were slain. He later killed himself. Police union officials resorted to inflammatory rhetoric, suggesting de Blasio’s permissive attitudes about protests were to blame. The mayor himself has called on protests to cease until the two officers are laid to rest.

There is no shortage of commentary on this heinous episode, but Ta-Nehisi Coates wins that round. Read his assessment of the situation. Like now.

…And the World:

After threatening the US if it retaliates for hacking Sony Picutres, the Internet, or what Internet North Korea has, goes down.

The New York Times looks at failures of British and Indian intelligence agencies leading up to the 2008 attacks in Mumbai.

Pope Francis inveighs against the Vaitcan bureaucracy accusing them, among other ailments, of “spiritual Alzheimer’s.”

Tunisia has a new president.

Facebook caves to pressure from the Russian government and blocks an event page for a protests against the possibly impending incarceration of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

The feathers fly in Israel’s election scheduled for March. Yet another poll shows Labor ahead, but the right-wing parties still winning more seats. Meanwhile, after former President and Prime Minister Shimon Peres criticizes Benjamin Netanyahu for presiding over an Israel in which a third of its residents are poor, Likud, Bibi’s party, lashed back. Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog rode to the defense of Peres, who is among the last of the country’s leaders from its founding generation.

The Feds (cont’d):

President Barack Obama’s December seems far better than his November.

The Washington Post’s Katie Zezima profiles one of the negotiators behind last week’s historic shift in US-Cuban relations, Ricardo Zuniga.

US Rep. Michael Grimm, who won reelection by double digits last month, will plead guilty to felony tax evasion following his federal indictment earlier this year.

Little movement so far since the idea of expanding gamin in Connecticut was raised.

The Government Accounability Office says states will face either sharp deficits or tax increases to balance budgets in the coming years.

The State of Things:

In the twilight of his tenure, Governor Deval Patrick rode the new Knowledge Corridor route of the Vermonter from Springfield to Greenfield with US Rep. Richard Neal and other dignitaries. His administration was responsible pushing repairs to the line to reroute and speed up the trip to the Green Mountain State that used to take an out-of-the-way path. Formal service along the Connecticut River route with stops in Greenfield and Northampton starts December 29. Holyoke will begin service once its platform is complete next year.

Holyoke marked the anniversary of the slaying of Office John DiNapoli today.

Some feel Western Mass is getting short shrift from governor-elect Charlie Baker.

After being reassigned to Florida, incoming Senate President’s partner Bryon Hefner has quit his job with a public relations firm. The move came after criticism earlier this month.

The Boston Globe analyzes Governor Patrick’s imprint on the judiciary. The Globe’s Capital section profiled newcomers to Beacon Hill including the 413’s own Eric Lesser. Dude gets around, doesn’t he?

Longmeadow residents will get a shot at a special Town Meeting to declare a mulligan after rejecting a proposal to rezone the area around Longmeadow Shops and permit an expansion.

The Fourth Estatements:

David Carr writes about Sony’s decision to pull The Interview and the failings of Hollywood itself.

The Republican on the death of WWLP founder William L. Putnam. He died this weekend at the age of 90.

While the moves appear not to have solved Meet the Press’s problems, The Washingtonian looks at how David Gregory lost his job amid changes at the top of NBC.

Rolling Stone asks Columbia’s Journalism School to investigate what went wrong on its story about a rape on the campus of the University of Virginia.

City Slickers:

Leading off with a bit of vanity. We began our new segment “A Planned City” last week with an Editorial/Analysis piece on how the real and heartening news of Union Station’s renovation will be wasted if city decisionmakers do not begin thinking about what comes next right now and does so with modern, urban planning practices

Ron Chimelis explores the impact of Bud Williams’s Hanukkah-gate.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield will delay its decision on Cathedral after the appointment process for its stakeholder groups moves more slowly than expected.

Historic preservation remains a sticking point in building out MGM.

Twitter Chatter:

Truly a day like today makes choosing a tweet prize winner is difficult. We choose a more positive tone this day. With his governorship coming to a close, Deval Patrick can, as President Barack Obama recently said, affirm he has done right by the commonwealth—east and west. Could more have been done? Of course, but today’s ride up the Knowledge Corridor between Springfield and Greenfield is an excellent example of his impact and efforts to transform the state for the better. Today we award the tweet prize to Patrick’s official Twitter account (which will pass to Charlie Baker’s team next month) for its recognition of the progress, aboard a train taking the new route alongside one of the region and this project’s other champions, US Rep. Richard Neal. With only a few more tweet prizes between now and the end of his time in office, it only seems right to acknowledge him now and in this way.