Manic Monday Markup 6/11/12…

…And the World:

IT’S BAAAAAAAAAAAACK! Eurozone bailouts return*.  Spain would want us to include the asterisk.  Over the weekend, Spain accepted a bailout from the European powers that be.  However, it appears, despite its size, to be bailout light.  First of all Spain appears to have been pressured to accept the bailout, rather than string along until its problems are worse (if only Greece did this).  Anyway, the bailout is not for the government, but for the countries reeling banks that are near moribund due to bad loans on property.  Spain hopes it will be spared the draconian budget cuts Greece, Ireland and Portugal have endured.  It is worth contrasting Spain to Ireland, who also had reeling banks.  Ireland acted to guarantee all of the country’s banks a move that forced it into bailout and austerity.  Spain needs the money to recapitalize their banks to keep financial system liquid.  It is not proposing to pay Spanish banks’ debts if those banks fail.

Meanwhile, Mario Monti, the Prime Minister of Italy, braces for the markets’ attack on his country.  Monti, the technocrat appointed the country’s premier after Silvio Berlusconi was dumped, has made considerable progress righting his country’s finances even as its economy slows along with the rest of Europe.  However, the nation still has a high debt to GDP ratio and needs considerable reforms of its labor laws in order to encourage growth.  Monti had rejected the austerity-only approach of Germany and favors the growth agenda of French President Francois Hollande.  Yet, his agenda has also angered many in the establishment, which has left the main parties in Italy fearful of enacting his whole agenda.  Most of Monti’s reforms cannot be performed administratively, they require approval of the Italian parliament.

Even as progress is being made in the United States on gay marriage, it remains in neutral Down Under, where Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard maintained her opposition to gay marriage.  She cited her own domestic partnership with a man as proof that “love” is all that is needed.

The Feds:

The statement of the obvious award goes to John Ellis (Jeb) Bush for pointing out the rightward leap his party has taken noting, correctly, that his father (Bush 41) and Ronald Reagan would not be welcome in today’s party.  While he accused the president of similar ideological partisanship, his comments were refreshingly notable.  He also opined that neither Romney or Obama would likely get the economy to recover any faster given the situation in Europe.

Meanwhile on Romney, the man himself has said that the American public does not want more police or firefighters.  Romney specifically cited failed recall of Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin as proof.  Of course, Romney also forgot that police and firefighters retain full collective bargaining rights that the state used to have.  An additional point.  While declining state local aid and falling property tax revenues are also to blame, the Springfield Fire Department took the bulk of Control Board cuts in the throat.  While effective streamlining and prioritizing have kept the department functional (even making it through a whole year recently without any fire-related deaths), the department is grossly understaffed in comparison to the police department.  Romney seems to think Springfield (and every other community) can do more with less, especially firefighters.  President Obama’s jobs bill includes money to maintain staffing levels for police and firefighters to tide communities over until local revenues recover.

The folks at the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee would like us to note that although Walker was not recalled, the State Senate in Wisconsin has reverted to Democratic control.  Although the legislature is not poised to reconvene before November’s election, no further Walker initiatives are expected to pass between now and then.

Connecticut decided last week to stick its head further into the lion’s mouth than President Obama did when his administration required birth control be covered under the health care law.  Officials from Connecticut deemed abortion an essential health benefit that must be covered in insurance plans for Connecticut residents created under the federal law.  It is unclear, what if any exemptions would apply or if this is the equivalent of the birth control requirement on the federal level in terms who must comply.

If you did not like Ray Flynn before for endorsing Scott Brown, you may have another reason not to like him.  The former Boston Mayor has been palling around with Brown for some time, but the revelation that he will host a fundraiser for a Republican running for Congress in Rhode Island could raise further eyebrows.  Don’t waste the energy lifting your brows.  Observers think Flynn and others were actually Republicans all along who merely took the “D” just to get elected.  This fundraiser seems like more proof.

The State of Things:

The debate over debates continues.  However, a new twist has emerged.  The widow of Scott Brown predecessor, Vicki Kennedy, has invited Elizabeth Warren and Brown to a debate hosted by Tom Brokow at Kennedy library in Dorchester.  Brown has agreed to only a few debates and his campaign has refused to negotiate with the Warren campaign except through the media.  Traditionally, such debate issues are settled through a meeting of the campaigns rather than trying to score points.  The Boston Globe has already called Brown out for refusing media consortium-type debates which would reach a broader audience.  Brown has preferred the much small audience of two radio debates, to which Warren has not yet agreed.  The Globe argued in its editorial that such debates fail to reach the wider audience that a statewide media debate across several TV channels would.

Beacon Hill is poised to approve another bailout for the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority after its approved cuts and fare hikes proved insufficient to close the $51 million dollar deficit.  The money will come from a surplus out of the inspection sticker fund.  Local transit authorities will receive $2 million collectively as well.

During Netroots Nation in Providence this weekend, Elizabeth Warren, hoarse from campaigning gave a rousing speech to conference-goers.  Among her gems was a reminder to Mitt Romney that corporations are, in fact, not people.  However, her visit was somewhat marred by right-wing blogger, ostensibly for Legal Insurrection, that harassed Warren during her visit.

City Slickers:

The Springfield City Council will hold its meeting, as rescheduled from last week.  Tonight’s meeting was originally planned for last week, but was postponed after the shooting death of officer Kevin Ambrose during a cal to a domestic dispute.  The council will consider financial matters and a home rule petition to lengthen the Council’s term.

Former Springfield City Council Morris Jones died over the weekend.  He was 77.  Jones had been the subject of our cynicism over the years, but he was widely praised by other politicians in the city.  The Republican cited his work to get the Mason Square branch library reopened, a notable achievement in light of the crucible undertaken to restore the full-service neighborhood library.

Twitter Chatter:

We had to do a tie today.  Rob Cohen, a member of the MaPoli Twitterverse tweeted this morning this tweet, which not only has the effect of manipulating to ironic effect Romney’s more, hmm, self-destructive comments.  Indeed, Mitt Romney’s awkward or outright gaffe-tastic comments invite such pointed remarks like those found in Cohen’s tweet.  We also point out a parody account of Mitt Romney, @MlTTR0MNEY.  In this tweet, the parody account pulls out a quote from the above linked Salon story and offers a decidedly Romney-esque reaction.  It is entirely plausible to see Romney offer that kind of response if confronted with those old quotes from firefighters in a campaign stop today.  We would like to think Romney would not be so…ridiculous.  But you never know.


WMassP&I @ Netroots…

Providence Skyline (WMassP&I)

PROVIDENCE–Once again Western Mass Politics & Insight has joined the online activist left, this year in Providence.  The proximity of the annual blogger and progressive activist convention to Massachusetts offers exciting opportunities for Massachusetts-specific topics–both Blue Mass Group and Elizabeth Warren will be here.

The importance of events like these bring people together from all over the country to trade ideas, makes friends and work harder to achieve democratic (not the small “d”) and progressive goals.

We are not here as press.  We did not come here to offer a curious insight into the world of liberals.  Rather, many of the panels and discussions offer important advice about how to blog better and have an impact.  Moreover, it should surprise nobody that our political sympathies are far more on the progressive side and this type of conference is a perfect fit.  These sympathies have led us to support Democrats over Republicans over the years.  Indeed, your editor-in-chief was both a delegate to this year’s Democratic Convention in Springfield and is active in local Democratic politics.  That said, it is critical to note, here in a city where municipal elections are partisan, we take VERY seriously the notion of nonpartisan election in Springfield.  This blog is party-blind in municipal politics.  We retain our values and our beliefs, but we take no position relative to the political affiliation of a non-partisan official.

We feel such a statement is important in light of the fact that some Republicans in Springfield government have claimed unequal treatment.  That will not happen on this blog.  Who knows, if you listen to us and do as we wish, we may endorse a Republican for a partisan office!  Indeed, our stated opposition to incumbent or challenging Republicans is based on their records and not merely their partisan affiliation.

In the meantime, we will be here in Providence learning and meeting new people from New England and across the country.  We will be attending Blue Mass Group’s forum on Massachusetts politics as well, so if you follow us, message us to catch up!


Manic Monday Markup 6/4/12…

City Slickers:

Springfield tops the ticket today following the death of Police Officer Kevin Ambrose.  Ambrose was killed responding to a domestic disturbance call on Lawton Street.  The shooter, Shawn Bryan, took his own life after shooting Ambrose twice as well as his girlfriend.  A restraining order had been issued by Springfield District Court only hours before the confrontation.  Twenty-seven years ago, Officers Alain Beauregard and Michael Schiavina were killed while responding to a traffic stop.  They were the last Springfield police officers to be killed in the line of duty.  Their killer took his own life, too, after being surrounded by police.  An accessory to the murder remains in prison having been denied parole several times since the murders.

Our deepest condolences to Ambrose family in light of this terrible tragedy.  We reproduce, in full, Mayor Domenic Sarno’s statement on the death of Officer Ambrose:

June 4, 2012 – On behalf of the City of Springfield and our residents I extend my heartfelt condolences to the family of Springfield Police Officer Kevin Ambrose who wore his badge with honor and integrity and served our City with a tremendous amount of pride and passion. The thoughts and prayers of everyone at Springfield City Hall are with Kevin’s loving family at this very difficult and emotional time.

The men and women in blue at the Springfield Police Department, like police departments throughout the country, are faced with very challenging, difficult and dangerous situations on a daily basis. For this, we owe a tremendous amount of gratitude to our police officers and their families.  Today, Officer Ambrose paid the ultimate sacrifice protecting and serving the residents of our City. He will be sadly missed by his fellow officers and the community at-large.

After receiving news of the fatal shooting Monday afternoon, Mayor Domenic J. Sarno went to Baystate Medical Center to visit with Officer Ambrose’s family and members of the Springfield Police Department.

Flags at Springfield City Hall and all municipal buildings will be lowered in honor of Officer Kevin Ambrose.

…And the World:

In Japan, where Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has engaged in a cabinet reshuffling ahead of planned votes to raise taxes in the island country.  The reshuffling occurs as Noda is courting the opposition party to secure passage of a tax increase needed to pay for rising social program costs weighed against an aging an declining population.  However, the efforts carries great risk for Noda and his Democratic party, whose differences with the opposition Liberal Democrats are becoming increasingly muddled.  Prior to Noda’s party’s win in 2009 the Liberal Democrats had essentially ruled Japna for half a century.  Japan’s political system has never particularly stable, but since popular Prime Minister Junico Koizumi left office in 2006, Japan has had 5 Prime Ministers.  Further blurring of political lines could cost both parties and scramble Japanese politics further.

Meanwhile in Europe, politicians and central bankers are scrambling to contain the latest deluge overtaking the Eurozone.  At the moment, the most pressing problem is not Greece, whose possible, if not probable exit from the Eurozone, is only a problem insofar as the precedent it sets.  Rather, the biggest concern right now are Spanish banks, which are hemorrhaging deposits and losses on mortgages.  The latest proposal calls for a banking union which would essentially federalize the system that supports the single currencies’ banks.  France and the EU’s leadership are behind the effort, but Germany, whose approval is necessary (especially as most steps to save the Euro have come at some risk to German taxpayers) remains uncommitted.  However, Germany, which has sought tighter fiscal control of national budget as part of the new fiscal compact, may bite if countries fully agree to cede a great degree of fiscal sovereignty.  Meanwhile, Ireland, whose constitution require a referendum on most treaties approved those new measures in a vote this weekend amid low turnout of barely 50%.

On a considerably lighter note, Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her diamond jubilee this weekend.  The sovereign of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand the Bahamas and several other countries, she has reigned for 60 years now.  Jubilee celebrations were held this weekend and today, across the commonwealth, including a bit of political unity in Australia.  She is the second longest reigning monarch after Queen Victoria who was on the throne for three years and seven months longer than Elizabeth.  The Boston Globe has links to photographs of the Queen throughout the years.  Of course the celebrations were a bit darkened by Prince Phillip’s hospitalization for a bladder infection.

The Feds:

Paul Krugman outlines how government spending has fallen…wait fallen?  But…but…Democrats…big spenders…myth…  No.  Governments on all levels have shrunk under President Obama.  Sadly, this shrinking has come with tangible costs to the overall economy.  More than 600,000 government jobs have been lost.  Does anybody think the economy would be worse off if 600,000 Americans were still employed?  Indeed, the unavoidable austerity the states have had to impose reflects the austerity that has ravaged Europe and Republicans only want more.

Meanwhile, Mitt Romney continues to play duck and cover on the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill that would offer women more tools to ensure that they receive equal pay for equal work.  The bill is up for a procedural vote tomorrow.  For the record, Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts has announced he opposes the bill because he says it would hurt businessmen small businesses.  Right, that must be it.

And tomorrow is make or break for Wisconsin Democrats.  The polls favor union-busting Governor Scott Walker, despite a criminal investigation, but turnout will ultimate decide the outcome.  Also on the ballot are recalls for three State Senators, but only two at best are competitive.

The State of Things:

How bipartisan?  Senator Scott Brown likes to tout that he was the tie-breaking vote to pass Wall Street reform (an inaccurate statement as there were 60 votes, but only 59 were necessary due to Senator Robert Byrd’s recent death and 60 is not tie-breaking in a 100 member body).  However, the Boston Globe has uncovered emails between Brown’s office and the Treasury department showing his office working to WEAKEN the regulations that will be developed under the law.  That lobbying by Brown’s legislative director came after Brown had already personally weakened the law as a condition for the senator’s vote.  Apparently, that $2.5 million Brown got included more than just a weaker Financial Reform bill.  It included persistently lobbying by a US Senator to smothers the reforms passed in the wake of the worst economic crisis in generations.  Thanks, Senator!

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Warren won a commanding 95% of the delegates at this Saturday’s Democratic convention.  Marissa DeFranco launched a noble, but futile challenge to get onto the ballot.  She needed 15% and got less than 5%.  Political observers say Warren muscled DeFranco out and it is true that her campaign was working the floor.  However, it was clear from the cheering during Warren’s powerful speech to the polite golf game clapping during DeFranco‘s (not an original thought) that delegates were never that into DeFranco.  For what it’s worth, Republicans did the same thing to Christy Mihos in 2010 to ensure Charlie Baker had not opposition.  DeFranco never had the money or the organization to even visit vast sections of the state more than once if at all.  At best, the drama on Saturday was at worst ginned up by Warren’s own people (a job well done, Bernstein writes).  Warren won this fair and square and she and Brown have already begun haggling over debates.

City Slickers (cont’d):

One more convention related note.  Springfield area Democrats put together a video about post-tornado rebuilding over the last year.  We link it for you below.

Twitter Chatter:

The outpouring of support for Officer Kevin Ambrose and his family is palpable on many levels, but few are as easily perceived as it is via Twitter.  His funeral will include representatives from police departments across the Commonwealth and, indeed, likely across the Country.  Today, on behalf of those departments who recognize Officer Ambrose as one of their own, we award today’s tweet prize to the Miami-Dade and Bedford, Mass Police Departments.  They are not the only departments sending their condolences over Twitter or other means (Billerica, Canton and Tyngsborough to mention only a few), but their tweets are representative of how far and deep the death of an officer in the line of duty is for police officers everywhere.


Tardy Tuesday Takedown 5/29/12…

…And the World:

Syria continues to fall further into chaos following a Friday night slaughter that killed over a hundred civilians in the town of Houla.  The event was documented by UN observers, but also shows that the cease-fire proposed by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is not working.  The attack on Friday prompted a rare, unanimous condemnation from the UN Security Council as neither Russia nor China, which have both backed the regime of Bashar al-Assad, vetoed the statement.  Russia dropped its resistance to a strong condemnation blaming the Syrian regime after it saw evidence that any other possibility was remote at best.  Since Sunday, host countries all over the world have expelled Syrian envoys out of protest for the slaughter after evidence from UN observers showed that many civilians killed in Houla were shot at close range.

Israel has taken a rather major step of recognizing and funding non-Orthodox rabbis.  Unlike in the United States, many more Jews identify with Orthodox movements rather than Conservative or Reform movements, at least among those who classify themselves within such movements.  Many Jewish (non-Arab) Israelis are secular and although the state identifies itself as Jewish, it has since its inception had no mandatory state religion.  Still, it has funded Orthodox rabbis, which have caused some consternation, especially among Conservative and Reform Jews in a kibbutz.  The new deal identifies a funding stream different from the one Orthodox Jews receive and it does not give Conservative or Reform rabbis jurisdiction over the religious courts.  Many social contracts like marriage and divorce are not managed by civilian courts, but by religious courts, which has angered many secular Israelis.  This move may be in part due to the merger of Kadima into the Israeli government, which has advocated for civil marriage in Israel.  While the move was praised by Opposition Leader Shelley Yachimovich, it has caused discontent within the government prompting one minister to threaten to resign.  Orthodox religious parties in Israel have long held sway in Israeli government due to their majority-making votes to form a government following elections that usually result in no party with a majority of votes in the Knesset.

The Feds:

The New York Times writes today in a length article about the process in which the White House places terrorists on the “kill list.”  After being placed on the list, those designated are eligible for death via drone strike.  The process differs from that of George Bush who apparently did not take on a role as personally as President Obama has.  Obama has done so, it seems to take some responsibility for the killings undertaken, especially those in countries where there are questions of sovereignty, like in Pakistan and Yemen.  Moreover, there are further concerns both inside and outside the administration that the practice of drone strikes inspires radicalism as much as it kills radicals.

Turning attention to South of the Border, another Connecticut Senate race plods along with another debate.  Congressman Chris Murphy received the endorsement of the Democratic convention earlier this month by a resounding margin, but former Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz got enough convention votes to make the primary.  Bysiewicz has tried to paint Murphy as a hypocritical insider, alluding to an obscure (and misunderstood) vote on carried interest and his contributions from the financial industry.  The second accusation may have some weight behind it, if liberal groups were not lining up behind Murphy en masse, like the  Working Families Party of Connecticut.

The State of Things:

It won’t go away, but it doesn’t seem to matter much either.  The embarrassing dissent from debate on the issues to the cesspool of nonsense over Elizabeth Warren’s Native American heritage has shown to have little impact on her chances.  After a poll that showed the issue having no impact on her ratings, it appears that maybe the whole imbroglio has been little more than a distraction, not a detrimental hit to Warren.  Although Brown still harps on it, lest he actually explain himself for, well anything, both residents and Boston Mayor Tom Menino, who has famously not endorsed anybody for the race, are calling on the election to move onto other things, like those that actually make a difference in people’s lives.  Point of clarification, the Native American thing did matter to some…to those who wanted to pile onto their reasons for disliking Warren.

Scott Brown’s latest ad is drowning in misleading statements.  First, lets engage in a bit of technicality here.  Brown was not a “tie-breaking” vote for Wall Street reform.  Rather he was the 60th vote needed to overcome a Republican filibuster.  Indeed Brown has been, since his election, a key vote in maintaining the obstructionism that his party and its Senate leader, Mitch McConnell have promulgated.  That vote came at the expense of $19 billion in savings for the financial industry and other giveaways to financiers.  The original bill included a funding provision, which required the financial industry to help pay for the reforms Congress just passed.  Also the ethics reform he  passed?  A watered bill that failed to cover firms that buy and sell inside information from folks in government.

The Massachusetts Senate passed its budget finalizing the second step in the annual process of give and take.  The House passed its budget earlier this year and now the two must be reconciled.  The Senate saved a Taunton mental hospital and added a few provisions to deter illegal immigrants’ usage of state services, a feel good measure designed to fix a problem that is not really much of one.  Should we be grateful it doesn’t criminalize being dark-skinned? The budget also boosts local aide for cash-strapped cities at the same level that the House did.

City Slickers:

If you have not seen it already because On Springfield linked it, we recommend Bill Dusty’s write up about the prospect of a casino in Springfield.  In short, many fear a casino in the city would be a citadel that would suck all the air out of the restaurant, arts and entertainment seen in the city.

Our write-up on last week’s Council meeting.

And the Valley Advocate looks at whether Rebuild Springfield, the public-private partnership set up to rebuild the city after last year’s tornado, is listening to all of its residents as it formulates its plans.

Twitter Chatter:

It came to our attention some time ago that in fact, when a state senator, Scott Brown imbibed in birtherism.  Such a statement today would probably be the kiss of death for Brown as he faces reelection this year, but it did happen.  Interestingly enough, it actually has, but in a much different context.  A tweet today caught out eye, linking to a Boston Globe political cartoon makes the connection between Brown and the nation’s birther-in-chief, Donald Trump.  Indeed, the entire Native American nonsense, especially since Brown has embraced it with the zeal of Donald Trump, has become incredibly similar to the idiotic ramblings of the Donald or worse Arizona’s nauseating Joe Arpaio.  For tying the Globe’s illustrated jab, Brown and the Donald together so succinctly, we award our tweet prize to Suzanne Williams, a follower of ours on Twitter.


Manic Monday Markup 5/21/12…

…And the World:

World leaders have descended upon the United States for talks, first at Camp David, and now in Chicago. G8 leaders met at the Presidential Retreat in Maryland, sans newly re-inaugurated Russian President Vladimir Putin. The G8 summit focused on Syria, Iran and of course Greece and its ever-growing woes. In Chicago, NATO leaders met and formalized a plan to hand over security to Afghan forces as planned in 2014. However, the rift between the United States and Pakistan remained, complicating supply lines between landlocked Afghanistan and the NATO countries that need to resupply their troops.

Alexis Tsipiras, the leader of Syriza, the Left-wing partly likely to win elections in June and largely seen as the reason Greece failed to form a government, was in Paris warning the continent of the risks everyone faces if austerity is not rejected everywhere. However, there are efforts to form a new alliance in Greece to counter Tsipiras rise, which is widely seen as a harbinger of Greece’s exit from the Euro, despite his stated desire for Greece to remain in the single currency.

The Feds:

A new debate on how far anti-Bain Capital ads go in attacks on Mitt Romney.  Newark, N.J. Mayor and Obama supporter Cory Booker criticized “personal” attacks which appeared to be a reference to such ads as well as the aborted effort to re-tie Obama to the controversial pastor, Jeremiah Wright.  Still, the broader debate has led the Obama campaign to recast its attacks on Romney as an effort to undermine his claims as a jobs creator.  Romney’s claims to be a jobs creator, at least on the scale he purports, have been shot down by fact checkers (as have jobs charges Romney’s hurled at the President).  Still, as the Plum Line notes, it risk alienating Democrats with ties to the investor class, with whom, incidentally Booker is quite close.  Booker appears to be backtracking on his comments, but Ezra Klein at the Washington Post also sets straight that Romney’s problem at Bain is not what he did, but what he should have learned…and didn’t.  Also check out the President’s superb rebuttal to Romney’s key qualification.

Rare for the Republican, but their story on the National Review’s eagerness to paint Elizabeth Warren as a plagiarist, gets them a spot in “The Feds.”  Last week as the right-wing tried desperately, albeit successfully, to keep the heat on Warren for trivial issue, the standard bearer of Conservative thought overshot the bow and accused Warren of plagiarizing another book on financial planning.  Except, they used the paperback publishing date, not its hardcover debut when comparing it to another work.  Indeed, Warren appears to be the victim, rather than the culprit of a plagiarism scandal.  The Review’s shame here.

And bizarreness in Minnesota.  After Rick Santorum won its caucuses, Ron Paul supporters have hijacked its delegates from the Land of 10,000 lakes and depressed many longtime party activists.  While not viewed as endangered generally, the event also had the effect of benefiting Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar, who faces reelection this year.  The Republicans’ choice is a not-very-well-known high school teacher who also bows at Ron Paul’s altar.

The State of Things:

A note of political interest in Westfield, for once, where the City Council recently selected a replacement for Peter Miller of Ward 3, who resigned last month.  Councilors selected Ann Callahan, a former aide to former Westfield Mayor Kevin Sullivan, now the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs.  Under Westfield’s charter, the council must select the next highest vote-getter, which could have resulted in the bizarre situation where the loser of the one-on-one for the ward race could have been selected.  However, Miller had no opponent in 2011, meaning that the Council had a free hand to pick whomever it wanted.  It took four ballots, though.

AMEN!  A Boston Herald reader speaks!

The Supreme Judicial Court threw out the statements made by a Northampton Arson suspect in a case that, before the suspect Anthony Baye was caught, had left Noho gripped with fear.  The court said State Troopers “employed multiple problematic tactics” that required the charges to be thrown out.  Hampshire County prosecutors will continue to pursue the case, however.

City Slickers:

In the middle of the Valley Press Club Roast, City Councilors received a terse response from Mayor Domenic Sarno after they demanded better from the mayor with regard to the City’s finances.  Councilors had complained earlier in the week that the mayor was slow to inform them of the state of the city’s finances and suggested he was trying to box them into passing his revenue measures lest the council be blamed for city layoffs.  On the link to the mayor’s response, Bill Dusty has included links to both the Council and the Mayor’s letters.

City Council Planning and Economic Development Committee looks at the Mayor’s nominees for the Historical Commission while the full body looks at a few home rule petitions and the planned revision of the city’s ordinances that take place every quarter century or so.

Springfield’s City Council receives an odd, but well-earned award for holding the most fascinating public meetings.  Pete Goonan, who like your editor-in-chief has the distinct honor of watching almost every meeting is quoted as calling them “entertaining,” which they most often are, despite otherwise soporific topics.

Twitter Chatter:

Today’s tweet prize winner is Progress Mass, who turned us onto the Herald letter linked above.  For pointing out a notable failure of the media to actual get a clue from its own readers, Progress Mass wins the tweet prize.  However, in true form of a tweet prize winner, Progress Mass also brought us to contemplate ourselves.  Do we do the same thing?  Well, yes and no.  We are not a frontline media company like the Herald (sorta) is.  We do not deny the fact they we engage in advocacy journalism in both reporting and opinion.  The Herald makes no such declaration.  Moreover, the response we get from readers is mostly positive.  Certainly if we are guilty of the same thing as the Herald is, then our response is (a) we are not the Herald or anything like what they purport to be, but also (b) the only negative feedback we get is the errant, terse and wholly uncreative missive that neither illuminates nor offers any intellectually credible advice.  There are left-wing publications guilty of far worse than the Herald as there are right-wing rags guilty of far worse than the Herald.  We feel we do not belong in either extreme.  In the end the comparison is apples and oranges.  Introspection is always welcome and for also spurring it in us, even if we and Progress Mass agree on most things, the fine people over there win this week’s tweet prize.


Tardy Tuesday Takedown 5/15/2012…

Our apologies for bringing the Weekly look a day late.

…And the World:

Greece appears poised for new elections.  After each of the top three vote-getting parties failed to reach a deal on a coalition government and the President of Greece failed to broker one, the only solution left is fresh elections.  If Alexis Tsipras’s Syriza party wins the top slot as polls suggest, it could form an anti-austerity government that rejects the European bailout with it.  That would likely plunge Greece into political and economic chaos if it get booted from the Euro as a result.  Europe would then have to use all its strength to keep the rest of the Euro together and prevent an economic catastrophe.  The Guardian has a view on what a “Grexit” would look like.

Notably, Ireland may face a similar choice that could expel it from the Eurozone depending on how the people vote.

Meanwhile, the other election from last week leads to a more stable result.  Francois Hollande was sworn in as the President of France today.  Wasting no time amid the Eurozone tempest, Hollande immediately went to Berlin to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The Feds:

Last week, the Washington Post grabbed the attention of the media and political watchers with a story about Mitt Romney’s “vicious” attack on a schoolmate perceived to be gay when the ex-governor was 18.  Now, such reach backs into history are of debatable value.  However, if there is one analysis you should read on the subject to contemplate whether the ghosts of teenage Romney live on in adult Romney, it is this one by the Boston Phoenix’s David Bernstein.

Meanwhile, no, Mitt, the bulk of the nation’s debt is not President Obama’s fault as almost all of today’s deficit is due to policies passed under President Bush.  Indeed, based on the Time’s The Caucus blog, Romney engaged in more lies saying the President bailed out the “public sector.”  Yes, a reduction in public sector jobs of 500,000, a first for a recession, is bailing out the public sector.  Tell that to the Springfield employees who are staring down the barrel of layoffs this fiscal year.

With the Wisconsin recall race heading into its final three weeks, Democrats face an uphill battle to unseat Scott Walker.  Oddly, despite the poll herein linked, it seems unlikely that Mitt Romney will win Wisconsin in November.  It almost makes you wonder if Wisconsin Democrats should have held off on their timing to try and force the recall to match up with the Presidential election.  Either way, for Democrats to win this critical recall election, they’ll need to lean on turnout hard core.  However, new video of Scott Walker showing he had/has plans to go further on union-busting could prove damaging to the embattled Republican governor.

The Massachusetts Senate race is back in the spotlight in a national, rather than State setting following JP Morgan’s revelation that it lost $2 billion in sketchy trades.  Elizabeth Warren, the likely Democratic candidate to challenge Scott Brown, came out with a full-on media blitz pointing out more than ever Wall Street needs a cop on the beat.  Warren was on Maddow, on CBS with Charlie Rose, in the Washington Post, etc…

The State of Things:

Questions are arising over the late-night move by Rep. Eugene O’Flaherty to move the Chelsea District Court into the oft-criticized Boston Municipal Court system.  The action is being viewed as a play to help out an embattled ally of O’Flaherty’s, Kevin Murphy, the district court’s clerk magistrate.  The move, which seemed to come without the knowledge of most member, would still require approval of the Senate and Gov. Deval Patrick.

In light of the Senate Race’s place in “The Feds” today, consider the bottom two paragraphs.

Cong. Richard Neal has aparently qualified for the ballot in his effort to run for reelection in his reconfigured district.  As a result of a redistricting, Neal who was once Springfield’s mayor, has gone from the 2nd Massachusetts District to the 1st.  He faces Andrea Nuciforo and Bill Shein who live in communities to the west added to the newly drawn district.

City Slickers:

The Republican questions whether City Council President Jimmy Ferrera’s Casino Site Committee will have any real power or relevance as Western Massachusetts Communities compete for a casino license.  The law squarely puts negotiating power in the mayor’s hands, although the City Council will have a role both under the gambling law and land use ordinances.  It is hard not to wonder if Ferrera bumbled this one in another attempt to show off he can play with the big boys.  Ferrera says he telegraphed his plans in January, but obviously not in any clear fashion.  It is unfortunate because he is both right that the Council should be involved and he has assembled a pretty good group of people, but it may be for naught.  If his impertinence only serves to further alienate the City Council from the casino process, we will all know who to blame.

Finally, Springfield’s LGBT community is ginning up enthusiasm for its second Pride celebration in as many years.  Despite the city earning a designation for its gay-friendliness a few years ago, only in the past year has the city’s gay community begun to really capitalize on it.  A full schedule of Pride events are available at the link, including a Flag-raising to be attended by Mayor Domenic Sarno.

Twitter Chatter:


Today the Massachusetts Senate is debating a bill to reduce Health Care Costs in Massachusetts.  The bill is long overdue and had been expected to be worked on long before this point in the session.  Still it is a necessary debate that the commonwealth needs to have in order to control health costs.  It is the necessary second component of Health Care Reform.  While this blog is agnostic about Single-Payer, it certainly must be investigated as an option.  Indeed most English-speaking Western Countries like Canada and the UK use it to provide health care.  However, the Massachusetts Senate voted down a proposal to merely “study” the issue.  Buwuh?  Studying is a bad thing?  Senator Jamie Eldrige of Acton sums up the absurdity of that with a tweet quoting Boston Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, whose father is an astronaut (h/t David Bernstein).  Really?  We can’t even look at it?  Eldridge has won our tweet prize before so although he is the technical winner of this week’s tweet prize, we hope he will tell Chang-Diaz for us that it really is a team win for the tweet prize today.