I've been hearing about the controversy surrounding the arrest and indictment of Jason Vassell at UMass Amherst for stabbing two guys during a fight. I keep thinking that there has to be more to the story than what I am hearing from Vassell's supporters, but every time I search the news and blogs out of curiousity, I find absolutely nothing that supports the prosecutor's case. Nothing. Nada. Bubkus.
Is there another side to the story? Is it beleivable?
Financial crisis provides the opportunity to do things that would otherwise be unpalatable. As I sorta' deciphered from his remarks to the Globe, the Mayor thinks Conte Middle School is gonna' go buh-bye:
Despite Gov. Deval Patrick's promise to forego cuts to Chapter 70, or school aid, funding, Mayor John Barrett III says the school department isn't in the clear: The city will most likely shut down the aging Silvio O. Conte Middle School next year to help compensate for the loss of funds this fiscal year and next.
The proposed informational meetings where the mayor will be seeking input from residents are a wise move.
As a manager, whenever I have had to make across-the-board cuts, I have almost always put the issue before my staff and asked - "How can WE best get through this?"
People are usually willing to share burdens if they believe it is for the greater good.
¶ 9:46 PM1 comments
Monday, January 26, 2009
Understanding the Problem
I continue to believe that my Psych 101 prof is one of the most brilliant minds I have ever met:
The effectiveness of the conservative branding campaign on "government" is in fact a central reason we are in the economic mess we are in today. The notion that government is an evil--among some voters a necessary one, but among most voters an evil nonetheless--is what led Democrats to remain silent for much of the last eight years as George W. Bush turned record surpluses into record deficits in the name of scaling back government intrusion; weakened or eliminated regulations that had been in place for decades to protect American consumers, homeowners, retirees, and people saving for their retirement or their kids' college education; and failed to regulate new threats that were as preventable as they were foreseeable, such as unregulated commerce in "commodities" most people don't understand (e.g., derivatives) or putting too much money into risky investments without enough capital to back it up if good-times loans were to go bad. And the effective branding of government as the problem is part of what has led, over three decades, to Democrats remaining relatively silent as our infrastructure crumbled because of their (well founded) fear that their conservative opponents in the next election would attack them for their "tax-and-spend" profligacy. The result has been that we cut taxes to the wealthy and failed to invest in our future in times of relative prosperity, while creating the conditions that will require nothing short of massive government deficit spending, extraordinary governance, and a lot of luck to get us out of an economy that is still in free-fall.
Nearly every community is "going to see blood," said Mayor John Barrett III of North Adams, who expects to "limp through" June but anticipates having to close one or more schools and lay off a significant number of city workers after that.
In regards to schools, shutting down one of the elementary schools would be a huge mistake. I hope that this is not what he is suggesting.
¶ 2:24 PM0 comments
Considering that I listened with gritted teeth to this same asshole declare several times over the past 8 years that 'Democrats hope that the country falls into recession so they can win elections' and that 'Democrats want American soldiers to die so that they can protest the war' I have to think that he is a classic case of psychological projection.
Gonna' Get Ugly
It appears that Speaker DiMasi is either on his way out or is about to lose control of his caucus:
mbattled House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi, dogged by a series of influence-peddling controversies involving close friends, is considering resigning his post as early as next week, according to two members of his leadership team with knowledge of his thinking.
"He has not told anyone definitely what his plans are," said one of the members. "He is considering his options."
"No final decision has been made," said the other leadership team member. Both spoke on the condition of anonymity.
If this is true, why the hell did he run for Speaker a couple weeks ago? My initial reaction is not terribly charitable.
¶ 7:11 PM0 comments
Why removing highway speed cameras is considered national news, I have no idea, but the mention itself is interesting.
¶ 10:04 PM0 comments
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
January 20th, 2009
It is now midnight on one of the more historic days of my 40 years as an American citizen and I just want to mark this place in time. The inauguration of President Obama is one of those few moments that I can easily predict my great-great grandchildren will be reading about. Far too often the events that make the history books have a sudden tragic or scandalous bend - 9/11, Katrina, Pearl Harbor, JFK, Watergate, etc... Not today.
In my lifetime I cannot think of an American event that has been entirely and deliberately part of the process of our republic and been as positive and, well, hopeful. You don't have to like Obama (and I know at least a few of you are already convinced that he is akin to the anti-christ) to understand the significance of his presidency from a purely human perspective.
Say what you will about Obama's performance over the next four/eight years, but 100 years from now, January 20th, 2009 will get its own mention for no reason other than the simple fact that it happened. I do believe that today has been a visit to a mountaintop.
¶ 12:00 AM2 comments
Monday, January 19, 2009
Could he have seen all the way to 2009?
The day before he was assassinated Dr. King declared-
¶ 9:21 AM1 comments
NORTH ADAMS — Citing poor holiday card sales, Crane & Co. announced on Tuesday that it has eliminated 22 jobs at a North Adams facility.
The 22 employees have been laid off from Crane's personalized design services facility on Curran Highway. They will be able to apply for other jobs within the company during a 12-week period in which Crane will maintain their benefits, including health insurance, the firm said.
Western Massachusetts largest locally owned supermarket chain, Big Y Foods Inc., laid off an unspecified number of workers Monday.
The Springfield-based chain did not immediately say how many people were laid off nor what job descriptions were targeted.
(They cut senior people with high hourly wages and those who are perceived to be pro-union. Big Y currently has no union.)
¶ 6:19 AM0 comments
Saturday, January 10, 2009
50 Herbert Hoovers, er... Governors
While I was gone Krugman asked about one of the great economic ironic contradictions of recessions:
As a nation, we don’t believe that our fellow citizens should go without essential health care. Why, then, does a large share of funding for Medicaid come from state governments, which are forced to cut the program precisely when it’s needed most?
An educated population is a national resource. Why, then, is basic education mainly paid for by local governments, which are forced to neglect the next generation every time the economy hits a rough patch?
And why should investments in infrastructure, which will serve the nation for decades, be at the mercy of short-run fluctuations in local budgets?
That’s for later. The priority right now is to fight off the attack of the 50 Herbert Hoovers, and make sure that the fiscal problems of the states don’t make the economic crisis even worse.
The Proposition 8 campaign has filed a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of California laws that require campaign contributors to disclose personal information, claiming donors to the campaign have been threatened.
The suit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Sacramento, cites numerous examples of threatening e-mails, phone calls and postcards – including death threats – allegedly made by opponents of the November ballot measure that banned same-sex marriage in the state.
Ron Prentice, chairman of the Yes on 8 campaign, charged the harassment was made possible by the state's "unconstitutional campaign finance disclosure rules."
California's Political Reform Act, which voters approved in 1974, requires the name, occupation and employer of any individual who makes a campaign contribution of $100 or more.
The system needs more transparency, not less. The notion that campaign contributions are private speech is ludicrous.
Someday I'll collect all the vile things that have been sent to me over the years for taking political and policy positions. They aren't pretty.
¶ 8:23 PM1 comments
I've got mixed feelings about pardoning the former Speaker of the MA House, but the repercussions of his conviction seem WAAAAYYY out of wack for the crime of obstructing justice in a civil case. Regarding the pardon request, though, it bugs me that the levers of justice are far more easily accessed by those with friends in high places. There are many more folks far more deserving of a pardon who have zero chance of getting one former governor, let alone four of them, to sign a letter on their behalves.
Finneran's loss of pension argument sounds like the same the logic that supporters of Leo Senecal used to try and get his retirement plan reinstated. I'll be curious to see if there is a double standard when this plays out.
¶ 2:33 PM2 comments
Thursday, January 08, 2009
In Memory of my Uncle - Tom Roach
Uncle Tom passed just before Christmas in the University Hospital that he played a large role in building. The Detroit Legal News has a good piece on his career and legacy at the University of Michigan.
My Vacation and the Bailout Dear Senator Kerry, Senator Kennedy, Rep. Olver:
While taking a once-in-a-lifetime whole family vacation (19 of us from around the country!!) to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico over the holidays, I couldn't help but notice the four or five dozen private jets gridlocking both ends of the tarmac at San Jose del Cabo's tiny little airport. It seems that many of the rich and famous chose to vacation in the same region as the Roach family.
Being a family of aviation geeks, my brother and I jotted down a few of the tail numbers from these multi-million dollar jets to see if we could see whom we had been unknowingly rubbing elbows with. One large $45 million Bombardier Global Express stood out from the rest:
TAIL NUMBER N399GS CITIFLIGHT INC C/O CITIGROUP CORPORATE AVIATION
Could you please explain what a jet belonging to a corporation that has received approximately $45 BILLION in taxpayer money over the last 90 days was doing parked on the tarmac of Mexico's trendiest luxury vacation spot on New Year's Day? I am sure there is a completely innocent explanation.