Manic Monday Markup 2/2/15…
…And the World:
We begin today in Australia, where an election in the state of Queensland has rocked the political Land Down Under. Three years after annihilating the Labor party in the state parliament, the Liberal-National (LNP) coalition suffered a huge setback falling from 73 of 89 seats to less than 40. Due to Australia’s complicated voting system, final results are not expected for days and a hung parliament probable, but Labor’s leader in the state, Annastacia Palaszczuk seems likely to form the next government. The leader of the LNP in Queensland lost his own seat, setting off a battle for succession in the state.
On the federal level, Prime Minister Tony Abbott is feeling the pressure as his governance is partly to blame (although not exclusively) for the results in Queensland. His leadership of the Coalition seems secure for now, but in a major speech he conceded that changes in in how he and his party leads the country are needed.
In Ukraine, renewed fighting between Russian-linked rebels and the government has prompted President Barack Obama to consider selling arms to the government in Kiev. However, that is far from certain. Meanwhile, the Kremlin’s approach to the country’s economic headwinds has some scratching their heads for the lack of urgency.
In Israel, the election campaign is getting nasty with Likud trying to get a group advised by former Obama campaign staffer Jeremy Bird banned from participating in the election. Likud accused the group of being connected to the Zionist Union, but V15 is fighting back. For its part, the Zionist Union, a fusion of Labor and Hatnuah, denies the allegation and accused Likud of panic in the wake of allegations Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife took the value of bottle deposits that belonged to the state and that both engaged in profligate spending. An argument in Haaretz says V15’s activities are legal.
Elsewhere in Israeli politics, Haaretz profiles Stav Shaffir, the youngest member of the Knesset and whose activism on financial issues has made her one of Labor’s stars in the Zionist Union and a Youtube sensation.
Greece’s failure to elect a president prompted an election, but Italy has no such problems and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s success there may grant him leverage for broader reforms of the Italian state.
Egypt upholds mass death sentence for 183.
In England for a trade mission and likely as a presidential candidate abroad, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie appeared to back parents who do not vaccinate their kids, saying their beliefs must be balanced against the government’s interest in requiring vaccinations. His office later clarified, but Christie has had anti-vaccine dalliances before.
Obama’s penultimate budget was released today. Among the details are more spending on infrastructure and allowing gay couples in non-marriage equality states to qualify for survivor benefits. Gasp, Republicans are unimpressed.
Connecticut US Senator Richard Blumenthal is on the cusp of major victory as his military suicide prevention bill nears passage.
The Los Angles Times says California AG Kamala Harris’s Senate bid was a long time coming.
The State of Things:
Senate President Stan Rosenberg’s commonwealth conversations will start this Wednesday.
We weigh in on Senator Eric Lesser’s bill to study expanded rail service between Springfield and Boston.
The Holyoke City Council will likely engage once again its new favorite pastime, Jon Lumbra-bashing, as it receives a letter from a former employee whose name still appears on a city account. Lumbra said he would correct the matter.
The Massachusetts House of Representative voted to abolish term limits for the Speaker.
While incumbent Westfield Mayor Dan Knapik is under consideration for a town manager job out east, City Council President Brian Sullivan, brother to former mayor Richard, will announce his campaign for the Whip City’s top job tomorrow.
With City Hall closed, tonight’s Council meeting has again been cancelled.
Likewise city officials slated to meet with non-profits and state housing personnel over the homeless being housed in city apartments have postponed again.
Among the postponed items for the City council is Lamar’s digital billboard permit. However, they have withdrawn their request with the intent to reapply—again.
The Pioneer Valley Planning Commission is proposing a municipally-owned bike sharing program for Springfield and Holyoke.
In honor of the snow, we’re keeping it simple for the Tweet prize. Only essential services at City Hall today per the city’s official twitter account, our de facto winner this week.
Please be advises: Springfield City Hall is Closed today. Essential Services Only
— CityofSpringfield,MA (@SpfldMACityHall) February 2, 2015