Saturday, September 30, 2006

Forgive Me, Myself

Ever thoughtful Mark D. Snyder (activist and QueerToday blogger) sent me clicking with his comment on a Dianne Wilkerson post. As many in the gay-rights and other lefty communities, he is conflicted about the senator's personal life weighed against her accomplishments. He suggested reading another view -- the religion column in InNewsweekly by Rev. Irene Moore.

We did and pass along the suggestion. Her view is a very different angle.

Disclaimer: I was raised as a Protestant Christian.

Disclaimer 2: I'll try to make this my last Wilkerson-related post. Do check out the long, anonymous supporting comment on her on my previous post on the troubled senator.

The cultural and religious issues that insinuate themselves into the civics and politics of Second Suffolk Senator Dianne Wilkerson are pervasive. Many voters, including me, have long appreciated her support for such issues as red-lining mortgages and particularly for equal rights for all.

Yet, it has been the position here in numerous posts (including here) that Wilkerson's criminal history and ethical lapses have far exceeded her allowance. They must be such distractions that we question her ability to stay on task and continue to deliver for constituents.

A Crook?

She brings then President Richard Nixon to mind when he told the nation, "People have got to know whether or not their president is a crook. Well, I'm not a crook."

To hear her tell it, her good votes are all you need to know about her. Shut up and sit down. At the pre-primary Democratic-Party forum in JP, Wilkerson even showed such hubris as to claim, if you added up everything all the other legislators had done, it "wouldn't equal half of what I have done."

Cut us a thin, very thin, slice of that one, Dianne. It may be time for an ego-ectomy.

A Martyr?

Rev. Monroe not only agrees with Dianne's judgments of her worth, she brings in God issues (hey, it's a religion column). She suggests that folk just want to hold down the uppity Black woman.

She rips into Chang-Diaz' calls for an anti-Nixon ethical senator. For example:
Faith, however, is neither what needs to be restored in Wilkerson's voters nor what Wilkerson lacks. Her voters know the spiritual place Wilkerson operates from, where she starts her day and what motivates her. "It's their faith in me, and my faith in God, why I feel blessed coming to work," Wilkerson told me this week. Trained as a civil rights lawyer, Wilkerson sees herself as a public servant. "I'm not here for me, I'm here for the people," Wilkerson added. And her legislative record and public voice speak for themselves.
We don't know anyone, even competing candidates for the seat who deny Wilkerson's legislative record. So, a question includes whether people can continue to trust her if she doesn't file her taxes while they do, apparently takes campaign funds she should not for personal use, doesn't pay her condo fees as they must, and maybe even lies under oath.

Rev. Monroe writes that Chang-Diaz' bringing these up in the campaign is "mudslinging." She even abuses poet Maya Angelou's words by hauling out "You may write me down in history with your bitter, twisted lies. You may trod me in the very dirt, but still, like dust, I'll rise."

So when verifiable truths becomes "twisted lies," how is that serving any of us?


Not so oddly, Wilkerson's base of Black voters in Roxbury supported her strongly at the polls. In her typical fashion, she used this as proof that she was communicating well with and serving them better, no best.

Yet as Bay Windows reports, Wilkerson did not do as well among Latinos and whites. Also, she seemingly split the GLBT vote with Chang-Diaz and lost swatches of JP and the South End. She seems to have abused ethics too long for many.

Rev. Monroe quotes an unnamed Wilkerson supporter as, "Wilkerson has based her life on equality, equity, justice and fairness, also tenets of the bible, so her life and her life's work go hand in hand with her spirituality."

Progress?

We saw that, in its perverted way, when Wilkerson gave her apology -- in the classical sense of defense -- at the party forum. "I'm not perfect," she said. "I'm a work in progress." The undercurrent there was clearly that she was just like the voters, all too human.

So, after Mark drew Rev. Monroe's column to my attention, I read it and let it sit. Overnight, I had my own little epiphany as a result.

Wilkerson has twisted an essential Christian principle and belief, that forgiveness is for Jesus. Sinners need to seek it and change. By freely forgiving herself for all transgressions, or at least the ones she's caught and found guilty of, she is taking that authority so precious to practicing Christians for herself. Moreover, as far as voters, her legislative peers and law-enforcement officials are concerned, she has no reason to alter her behavior. She is, after all and above all, a work in progress.

To the rest of us with greater control over our impulses, work in progress includes the work. Dianne needs to show us that she's working on it, not just waiting to get caught and forgive herself again.

How about starting with two years without federal or state indictments? How about paying her multi-thousand dollar condo bills or moving out? How about coming to terms with and straightening out the allegations of perjury in her testimony on that murder appeal of her nephew? How about fully explaining or returning those questionable campaign-fund disbursements? And on and on and on.

I disagree with Wilkerson on her being perpetually blameless for her sins and crimes. I disagree with the column on her that it is unfair to call her on her repeated breaches of trust, honor and honesty.

She stands at the most important fork in her road today. She can continue down her old path or suddenly (and unlikely) act right.

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Dianne Limps Back to Golden Dome

Lessons abound following yesterday's full recount that affirmed incumbent Dianne Wilkerson's primary victory in the Second Suffolk Senate race. Lead challenger Sonia Chang-Diaz ended up 767 votes short out of 12,933 in the 10 wards.

A Superior Court Justice ordered the full recount, which ran all yesterday until 9 p.m.

The Globe quoted
Wilkerson as, "I hope now we can move on." The irony in that statement is likely lost on the speaker. She has weighed herself with so much legal and scandal baggage from her personal life, every step will be leaden -- and watched.

Chang-Diaz at last conceded, thanking all involved. More significantly, she got to play the good-government guardian all the way. As the Herald has it:
"Although the final outcome was not exactly as we hoped, I believe the recount process has ensured that every citizen in this district has won something: faith in our voting process," lead challenger Sonia Chang-Diaz said. "And that alone has been worth the extra time and effort of the past week."
Wilkerson's true believers are wont to call Chang-Diaz an opportunist for hopping in the sticker campaign when Wilkerson couldn't be bothered to get the 300 signatures to get on the primary ballot. Of course, Wilkerson then became an opporunist herself in the same race.

Her great legislative record now reeks of association with her personal life. (Look later today for a final, we hope, piece on evaluating Wilkerson.)

So this whole process has elevated newcomer Chang-Diaz on the local political scene. We hope to chat with her about this and certainly expect her to try to become a player.

In that vein, an important, albeit cynical, lesson from all this is how Wilkerson has been surviving both the election and her various convictions and disgraces. This screams loudly that she is in effect an old boy of the network fame. She's been in power for over a decade. She's been involved in important legislation. Many lawmakers, political organizations, and voters see her as doing well for them. In self-interest, they have supported and will support her until she makes that impossible.

Unless an angel of wisdom or self-control visits her, Wilkerson is likely to make supporting her impossible. She barely managed to do that this time.

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Friday, September 29, 2006

Chink in 1913 Laws' Armor

Tip of the electron to The Fray for posting this first.

Those dreadful, bigoted laws so beloved of Gov. Willard Romney and AG Tom Reilly got a kick today from a Superior Court Judge. Thomas Connolly said that Rhode Island law did not specifically forbid same-sex marriage. Thus, couples from that state can marry here.

Nah nah nah nah.

The plaintiffs were Wendy Becker and Mary Norton of Providence. Reilly said he would not challenge the law but suggested that Rhody officials might.

Their attorney commented, "At last the fence of discrimination has been removed at the border of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Loving, committed, Rhode Island couples can now affirm their relationships in the most public and respected way our society knows."

The couple have been partners for 19 years. They have two children.

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All In -- Second Suffolk

Democracy in the express lane...

Suffolk Superior Court Judge Mitchell J. Sikora Jr. ruled this morning that Second Suffolk voters (and all of us) get the benefit of a full recount of the sticker/write-in ballots. Apparent loser candidate Sonia Chang-Diaz' crew managed to get enough votes to force recounts in 8 of 10 wards. Rather than extend the deadline, Sikora said to count them all.

Chang-Diaz' attorney, William McDermott sued yesterday claiming that because the initial recount had not settled the first set of uncounted ballots until last Friday, she didn't have the full time to seek 50 qualified voters in each ward. She had the weekend and Monday until 5 p.m.

He said "case was 'a terribly unusual situation' and an issue of 'public confidence in the accuracy of the election.'"

Heading into today's recount of about 25,000 ballots, Chang-Diaz is 692 votes behind incumbent Senator Dianne Wilkerson. Two other candidates, Democrat John Kelleher and Republican Samiyah Diaz, whom the winner will face in November's general election have a few hundred votes each. Diaz ran on both party tickets, apparently as a spoiler for Chang-Diaz.

This is actually a victory for democracy with the recount. With the allegations of incompetence and poll workers not knowing how to or refusing to count the non-automated ballots, the whole Second Suffolk district was called into question.

We won't ask again why Mayor Menino and Secretary of State Galvin didn't insist on a full recount first. Good on Judge Sikora.

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ConCon Coming -- Don't Rest

On the first Wednesday in January 2007, we get to see whom we elected in November 2006. For marriage equality, this is huge. Meanwhile, we must, as the the rural cliché has it, dance with the one we brung.

On November 9th, two days after the general election, a General Court that still includes retiring or defeated obstructors and anti-gay legislators meets together in Constitutional Convention. Key in their undone business from early this year is the amendment that would strip SSM rights from homosexuals.

A confluence of forces should hearten equality folk, at least for January. First, you can't overstress how important the growing public acceptance and support of SSM is here. That promises a certain defeat if such an anti-SSM amendment were to get on the 2008 ballot. Most legislators say they want to further the will of the people, which is often another way of saying they don't want to associate themselves with a losing vote.

Pushing this along is confirmation of this in the recent primary votes. Between weak or no opposition for November, numerous pro-civil-rights legislators will take the place of the tired old dogs, who quit or were ousted.

Together, these trends make it almost certain that if this dreadful amendment passes the pending ConCon with the 51 of 200 votes necessary to advance it to next year's ConCon, it will die then. Of course, such groups as MassEquality don't want it to live beyond November 9th.
Meanwhile, neither side on this amendment wants to reveal its counts of pledged legislators. Which leaves us to wonder:
  • What effect do the losses of retiring or defeated anti-SSM legislators have on the waffling lawmakers?
  • Will they take this as handwriting under the Sacred Cod and disassociate themselves from this loser?
  • Will some harden up in deference to their conservative voters and make a stand for the amendment?
  • Will the misguided let-the-people-vote forces overrule the protect-the-minorities ones?
You can see why both the pro-equality side and the Dark Side continue to fight this one fiercely. We could end up with nearly another year of strife and division, or we could toss this rubbish out.

It could go either way. You can be sure the Mass Family folk are lobbying hard in their last gasp for this amendment. If you are for marriage equality, the very least you can do is tell you legislator between now and November 9th.

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Thursday, September 28, 2006

'nuff of Dianne, for Some

Today's Bay Windows has a great follow-up piece on Dianne Wilkerson's likely primary victory in the Second Suffolk Senate write-in/stick-on contest. Laura Kiritsy's revealing breakdown is the reasonable analysis to counter our rants.

The short of it is that the two heavily gay areas of Wilkerson's district went for the progressive reformer, Sonia Chang-Diaz. As the article puts it, "in the South End and Jamaica Plain, neighborhoods with large gay populations, leading some observers to conclude that despite Wilkerson’s legislative leadership on LGBT issues, gay voters were unwilling to stick with the embattled incumbent at the ballot box."

The margins included:
  • JP -- Chang-Diaz by 1499
  • South End -- Chang-Diaz by 214
  • Roxbury -- Wilkerson by 2277

The precincts with the greatest gay concentrations were strongest for the reformer. "Take the area around Peters Park and Union Park Street in the South End (Ward 3, Precinct 7). There, voters backed Chang-Diaz over Wilkerson 185 to 85. In the neighborhood surrounding the Boston Center for the Arts, also in the South End, (Ward 5, Precinct 1) Chang-Diaz won 176 votes to Wilkerson’s 103. "

Wilkerson's base of African-American and Latino voters was strong for her and provided the victory:

  • Cathedral Housing Project and D4 police station area (70% of color in Ward 8, Precinct 1) was 61 Wilkerson and 15 Chang-Diaz.
  • Blackstone Square and Villa Victoria area (57% of color in Ward 9, Precinct 1) was Wilkerson 81 and Chang-Diaz 57.
Everyone seems to agree that the split LGBT vote retained enough support for Wilkerson to be important in this victory. Yet, it wouldn't have take much to put Chang-Diaz in as the Dem candidate.

Do check the full article for reactions from the candidates and their various supporters.

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Kick 'em When They're Down

There may be a post-November 7th career for Kerry Healey in Ottawa. She already has the Tory got-bucks, tailored-rules mentality. She certainly must like the right-winger move up North this week.

You know those gay rights, oldster rights, women's right and all those other lefty rights? Fuhgeddaboudit! The Conservative government has simply axed the legal-rights program that protected minorities and helped their court battles for the past 30 years.

As covered in CNEWS, this is just the latest right-wing lie that stomps on previously protected minority rights.

In particular, it notes the campaign statements by now Prime Minister Stephen Harper on this area. "He said, 'Don't worry, if you elect me as a prime minister, the courts will hold me in check'," Liberal MP Omar Alghabra told a news conference.

"(Then) what does he do? He cancels the Court Challenges Program, which is supposed to hold him in check."

The program has helped fund successful legal actions that "broadened the rights of Canadian seniors, women, the disabled, homosexuals, religious groups, aboriginals, and minority-language groups." Specifically:
  • Defining women's pay-equity
  • Simplifying the necessary argument for a sexual-assault conviction
  • Opening schools for French-Canadians
  • Guaranteeing English-language rights in Quebec
  • Affirming religious freedoms
  • Helping homosexuals "win equality protection under the Charter of Rights in landmark 1990s cases that led to a slew of new legal benefits and eventually paved the path to same-sex marriage."
Imagine how our lieutenant governor could snuggle into the arms of this movement. She wants to reverse same-sex marriage here. Boy, could stripping the weapons minorities have for legal battle make her happy!

Up North, the Tories stopped this program 14 years ago when they were in power. The 1994 Liberal government restored it. To this day, Tories have remained Republican-irritated that they have to help fund attacks on their regressive policies. Power is supposed to come with arbitrary privileges, right?

In a Karl Rove-esque moment, Harper's chief of staff's doctoral dissertation and other published papers hint that this was coming. As that Ian Brodie wrote in Do the "Haves" Still Come Out Ahead in Canada?:
"Three interests - official language minority groups, feminists, and homosexual rights groups - have been particularly successful at pursuing their objectives through the courts," Brodie wrote when he was a professor at the University of Western Ontario.

"All three of these interests consider themselves traditionally 'disadvantaged' groups in Canadian society, and so their success is puzzling."

The paper, which he co-authored in 2003 just before joining Harper's staff, suggests "a solution to this puzzle."

The paper concludes that the so-called "haves" really do come out ahead in our legal system - and that's because the Court Challenges Program has simply helped reverse the definition.

"In other words, these self-described 'disadvantaged' groups win because under the new conditions they are now among the 'haves'," Brodie writes in the paper, co-authored with the University of Calgary's Ted Morton.

"Being among the 'haves' has given them the resources required to become repeat players and succeed in judicial politics."
A Tory official, speaking anonymously said that "If there are any future injustices, he said, offended groups can simply use the news media or the political process to pressure government. Or they can launch lawsuits with their own money."

A few other Tories have distanced themselves from this spiteful move. Also, the Canadian Bar Association called killing the program dishonest. "They're making it sound like these fringe groups were the only ones accessing it," said Guy Joubert, a vice-president at the association. "That's definitely not the case. . . . What this move has done is silence the voices of marginalized Canadians."

So, if Kerry and D.C. Republicans get tossed in November, they might consider emigrating to Canada -- only legally, please. Why settle for simple amendments and an occasional law to institutionalize your spite and disdain? Think bigger. Change the system to keep the downtrodden where they belong.

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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Toss All Rascals!

As we await the embarrassing confirmation of Senator Dianne Wilkerson's primary victory and near certain re-election, get a grip. The day of the rascal politician belongs in another era. We simply have too much at stake to send the unethical and crooked to represent our interests in office.

She in particular grieves us. She has a long history of co-sponsoring and occasionally sponsoring civil-rights and marriage-equality legislation. She even gave one very memorable and moving speech in favor of same-sex marriage.

That is not enough. It does not compensate for over a decade of personal failures -- felony convictions for income tax evasion, recent revelations of bounced checks on her condo, the probability of indictment for perjury on testimony in a nephew's murder appeal, and on and on and on and on.

Wilkerson is not the only egomaniac who expects and often gets voters to overlook her inability to control her appetites and her disregard for the rules the rest of us play by, so long as she can show the a record of good votes. Yet, her prolonged and painful disregard for law, decency and the public should disqualify her from consideration for office.

Early on, one might have compared her to U.S. Rep. Wilbur Mills. That powerful, lefty-thinking Democrat ended up only as a stripper-chasing carouser. He pales in contrast to the brazen and continued indulgence of Wilkerson. Yet, in the end, at least he had the decency not to run for office when it was obvious he could not control his personal life.

Oddly, not only do Wilkerson's local voters seem to prefer her (however marginally) over an equally progressive, but unproven Sonia Chang-Diaz. The latter promises the performance, without the disgrace.

Indeed it was quite a shock to read that while the Boston Globe and other liberal editors endorsed Chang-Diaz in the primary, organizations such as Mass Equality and gay-rights supporting papers like Bay Windows came out firmly for our good voting/bad living incumbent. We surmised that she is the devil that they all know, no matter how dishonest, dishonorable and deceitful . They chose the dung encrusted Wilkerson over the clean candidate with the same politics.

That's wrong.

Supporting personally unethical and irresponsible politicians is much like bad driving. Those who keep their focus just in front of the hood are are dangerous and short-sighted -- and like to run into another vehicle. There's a lot of information to assimilate to stay a good driver, good voter or worthy endorser. You need to look down the road and to the sides. Limiting yourself to just the short-term goal of getting elected or arriving fastest is no longer adequate, if it ever was.

There is a very good chance that Wilkerson won't serve out her term. She has legal actions, criminal and civil, peeking in her windows. She will be further distracted by them and possibly face more trials and convictions. As little attention as she seems able to apply to her duties as it is, that will be even more unacceptable.

Wilkerson is really only the worst current example. We need, as Chang-Diaz is so quick to point out, a higher standard for our elected officials.

If you really need vicarious pleasures of picaresque heroes, read or watch a version of All the King's Men or The Last Hurrah. Those destructive rascals belonged to a different century. Let them stay there.

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Second Suffolk Recount, Mostly

Let's say it up front. The Boston Globe is doing a good job on the recount for the Second Suffolk Senate primary race.

Regular readers know we see it as a disgrace that the big local paper runs press releases from the MBTA and police. For example, it's shameful that they have followed up neither the man who died on the Orange Line tracks nor on the city cop who plowed into a car on Route 128, killing the driver. For the latter, was he on alcohol or some other drug, was he tested, was her car in the breakdown lane, and were its flashers on? The fact that none of that ever came out suggests the worst of both the cop and the investigating officers. Left to its own though, the Globe is unlikely to tell us, unless the widower files a lawsuit.

To the matter at hand, Sonia Chang-Diaz was left 692 votes behind out of about 25,000 cast. She had a Monday 5 p.m. deadline to gather signatures for a recount. That was a big strain on a newcomer but normally okay. However, the city and state had done a mini-count on 8 wards whose write-in/sticker votes were not tallied at all. That was a distraction.

Now, it appears:
  • Chang-Diaz' sigs met the minimum 50 per in 8 of 10 wards of the district.
  • Recounts on those start Friday.
  • She didn't have enough in the Grove Hall/Franklin area or Chinatown.
  • Incumbent Dianne Wilkerson, also a write-in/sticker candidate, supports the recounts, but only in areas of Roxbury, the South End and upper JP, where she is strong.
  • Chang-Diaz is filing a lawsuit in Superior Court for an extension on her two missing wards because of the odd partial ballot count.
Chang-Diaz has not conceded yet. She brings to mind Cicero's dum spiro spero -- while I breathe, I hope. Yet, it could well happen that she wins...unlikely but possible.

Meanwhile, she's doing for all of us. Forcing the recount with a highly questionable and incompetent poll job on these votes is the right thing. We need to believe that our votes count, each one. At present, no one can be sure. Also, it is likely that the final tally will differ from the current one, damning for the whole process.

Ethics/voter rights secretary-of-state candidate John Bonifaz must be alternately smirking and stomping. The current SoS Bill Galvin certainly should have whipped into action with Mayor Tom Menino to require the full recount. Hanging on to the literal interpretation of the recount rules spits on the voters.

It's a pity Lyndon Johnson isn't still president. I'd bet that Galvin and Menino, and maybe Gov. Willard Romney would get persuasive calls, inspiring them to act or have the feds help them.

At the least, any poll worker who chose not to count ballots or locked away the write-in class ones to avoid democracy needs to be canned. They don't get paid much, but they do have as a rule a strong insider identity in this process. I'm sure we can find enough of us who are willing to do the job, the whole job.

So where was Billy Galvin when the trouble came down? It's all cupcakes and milk to be the boss when things go well. It's when there's trouble that we find out who's a leader.

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Monday, September 25, 2006

Feisty Four at FOX25

With no intention of posting on tonight's first gubernatorial candidate's debate -- somebody stop my fingers! -- I tuned in and was amused and bemused for 70 minutes. Because I didn't take notes, I feel somehow empowered to give impressions. Read no farther if you want objective reportage.

After Deval Patrick's ho-hum and somewhat defensive last debate as a candidate leading into the primary, I feared he might struggle tonight. Not to worry, he was solid and by far the class of the stool sitters.

Disclaimer: This blog supports and has endorsed Patrick since the spring.

Before the moderator Chris Wallace's very first smirk of the evening, questions included:
  • Will Green-Rainbow's Grace Ross have any impact?
  • Will Independent Christy Mihos go more after Republican Kerry Healey or Democrat and front-runner Deval Patrick?
  • Will Healey address the failures of the Romney administration or just attack Patrick?
  • Will Patrick get whiny or defensive?
Next Day Pointer: Tuesday a.m., we see that FOX has the debate and related videos and commentary up on its site.

A surprise was that Ross had her best performance to date. For example, Healey hit her with saying you want to do this, that and everything without raising taxes, how can you do that. Ross was ready and cited something $5 billion she'd get from flat taxes and savings, basically hitting the rich families and corporations, Robin Hoodishly. She seemed to be talking out the top of her hat, but with great conviction.

Mihos was in Healey's pointy face all night. Pointy had another meaning as he kept pointing accusingly at her as he called her administration corrupt, do-nothing and irresponsible. He'd hit at Patrick now and then, but he was hunting for Healey skin tonight.

His best points were those she lobbed to him. She kept saying the Big Dig deaths, costs and everything wrong were the legislature and Turnpike Authority's fault. She and Gov. Willard Romney were trying to fix the mess of those dreadful Democratic lawmakers.

Mihos was on the Authority before Acting Governor Jane Swift with Republican Party head Kerry Healey saw that he was tossed. He does not seem to be one to forgive or forget.

Unfortunately for Healey, he also was able to tell her and the viewing public where she was wrong and where she was lying. The governor's office had the figures and reports all along and did nothing.

When it was his turn to chime in, Deval returned to the big kid's theme lacking in Healey and Mihos' nah-nah charges. He said that it was the job of the governor to collaborate with the legislature to get a handle on these big issues. Avoiding responsibility and blame were not his way.

The tenor varied by candidate. Unfortunately for her, Healey was strident and unbelievable again. Someone told her too often and too clearly that her role in the debate was to attack Patrick unrelentingly. So, each time she had a 1 minute question or a 30 second rebuttal, she'd quickly turn it to saying not what she would do but what Patrick would do.

First of all, she should be about convincing us to vote for her and why. Second, only a loyalist coming in could believe that she knew and could predict what Patrick thinks, feels and how he'll act. By extrapolating way out on his statements she failed to convince that he was too general. Instead, she showed that all she had was a plan to get people to vote against Deval. He may be physically short, but by concentrating so much on him, she made him look real tall tonight.

Let's all pick up the dailies tomorrow and watch for Adam Reilly's take at the Phoenix on Thursday. Get your political Jones satisfied meanwhile with the usual suspects, Blue Mass Group, Ryan's Take, .08 Acres and the like. Oh, yeah, be sure to cruise Universal Hub for links to the best punditry. (Links are left in the blog roll).

Honestly, narrow little fellow that I am, I would have been more excited had the debate covered whether the candidates would fight or support the anti-same-sex-marriage amendment at the November 9th ConCon. In lieu of that, I'll see what the MSM sloggers and the bloggers have to say.

I'd like to get through with one of these TV debates without the obvious cheap physical comments, but I must be too shallow. To Christy, where did you get that odd tan, looking like bronze enamel? It was distracting and maybe blinding to the other candidates.

And Kerry, is it too late to redo the do? She is an ectomorph with a long, long, thin, thin face. She can't help that and most in her horsey set likely think you can't be too thin. But the hair doesn't move and it's way out the side off her ears. Her head nods and turns, but the rigid salon-blonde hair just stays put. That's a personal Astrodome. Do we talk to the face or to the do?

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Likely Full Recount in 2nd Suffolk

Pounding the streets and pushing door bells seems to have worked for Sonia Chang-Diaz' crew. The Second Suffolk Senate candidate says she turned more than the minimum 500 signatures -- 50 from each of 10 county wards to trigger a full recount of the write-in/sticker ballots.

After a Keystone Kops-style mishandling, she is supposedly 692 votes short of victory behind incumbent Dianne Wilkerson. Secretary of State Bill Galvin and Boston Mayor Tom Menino required a count of 8 precincts that went totally uncounted. However, they stuck to the rules of triggering a full recount by requiring her to scramble over the weekend to come up with the sigs.

Our position is that the incompetence and miscounting should have been its own trigger. This was a chance for Galvin to show some leadership. Why should he start now, though?

After a handful of her supporters helped her scour supermarkets and streets, she turned in the results at 4:47 p.m., 13 minutes ahead of go-home-and-sulk time. Elections folk are supposed to certify the request to get it on.

There were four write-in/sticker candidates. Republican S. Diaz and Dem. J. Kelleher got single percentages, enough to queer Chang-Diaz' chances. In theory, any of the four could come out of a recount with the victory. The likelihood is strong that Wilkerson will keep the spot for the November election against the Republican spoiler.

Chang-Diaz is sanguine, acknowledging that she has a slim chance of winning. However, her campaign called for dumping Wilkerson on ethical grounds. All of us lefties know and say that Wilkerson has a strong record in the Senate and has sponsored or co-sponsored a lot of good laws. However, her inability to control her personal life distracts and brings her judgment into serious doubt.

Thus, Chang-Diaz said in effect, I can match Dianne's lawmaking, and I'll do it responsibility. Don't you want a legit senator? So, her recount effort sticks with the responsibility theme.

The apparent affection of nearly half of the Second Suffolk's voters for rascal Wilkerson defies reason but has a strong emotional basis. Boston has a history of winking at scofflaws in office. Go figure.

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See Sean Bless

...Bless, Sean, Bless...

Anyone hoping for insight from Boston Archbishop Cardinal Sean O'Malley's blog had better crank that up to praying. He's in Rome and the area on God's business. Unfortunately, this first blogging is just a travelogue, plus constant reminders that he reads and speaks several languages.

Read about Sean's reading French. Read about his giving a homily in Italian. Read about his buying newspapers in three languages.

What, you say he's in the seat of the RC Church's power, so you expect substance? Content yourself with pictures, many pictures. By the bye, it appears as he is in so many of the pix blessing folk, O'Malley isn't taking the shots or posting them.

If you were looking for expansion on the Pope's statements on Islam or same-sex marriage or AIDS prevention or abusive priests, fuhgeddaboudit. Likewise, don't look for Sean's thoughts and feelings on religious or political issues. He writes about pretty churches, pretty sculpture, and the religious rituals he performs or participates in. Fair enough, but not far enough.

The hint that he is testing his currency is his slipping in LOL several times. Actually, he does the pre-teen girl version "lol", but he is trying.

Maybe he'll visit a shrine and there'll be a miracle -- he'll regain his courage.

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Hidden Debate

We really intended to remind readers to tune into FOX25 in Boston for the first gubernatorial debate tonight, but have to note this is very Boston.

If you look at coverage in the Globe and the Herald or on any other TV station, you will be hard pressed to find the particulars. The key info is:
On Monday night, September 25 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:10 p.m., FOX25 will air ‘Battle For The Statehouse: The Gubernatorial Debate’ live from the FOX25 news studios. Hosted by FOX25 and The Boston Herald, the live debate will be the first time the general election candidates go head-to-head.
The FOX site has drooling details of the candidates. As much as the papers and other MSM ignore the basics, 25 puts the essentials up top.

Ask a cop where such and such square is and he's likely to pull out the streets book. Bostonians love to give square esoteric names -- they separate the true locals from all others.

The Globe is edited that way as well. In this case, unusually, they eventually put the key details, the when and where. Many of their stories don't bother. If you don't know, you shouldn't live here, eh?

The Herald is funnier. It co-sponsors the event and its article on the debate doesn't list time and station. It tucks it in a separate item.

Grow up, kiddies. Getting the news shouldn't be a death march or scavenger hunt. Put the essentials in the article and put them up front.

End that rant.

This debate is a trial for the two biggies. I'm not sure what it will mean for the two minor candidates. Independent Christy Mihos supposedly can draw away some tax-ophobes from Healey and Green-Rainbow Grace Ross remains the let's-solve-all-big-problems-don't-know-how candidate. How distracting the two minor players will be in the debate is unknown. It's fair to hear from them, but their presence could well destroy the pacing of this mere hour-long debate.

The Herald paints this as a Kerry Healey must win debate. We figure they are just beating the drum because of their sponsorship. Truth be told, neither big has to win this, but neither can afford to lose it badly or look like too much of a jerk.

The Globe says this is a test for both, but particularly for Deval Patrick. My take from the info they select is that Deval has actually done things. So Healey will try to twist them and make him defensive. She, on the other hand, will try the same routine of distancing herself from the bad of the Romney administration and trying to take credit for the good. It's kind of like driving over your grandfather with the tractor to win the race at the county fair. Mitt better stand back.

This may be when she starts on the Patrick as quota king as DFA Cambridge notes. We have gotten one of those nasty push-poll calls where a strategy of running down his civil-rights role in the Clinton administration is clearly at work.

Maybe Jon Keller will interview Phil Johnston after Healey's attacks tonight. If she smacks Affirmative Action and immigrant children's rights together, we'll know how willing she is to play race cards as well as tax ones.

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Hit 'em Again Healey

Our Lady of Perpetual Punishment, Kerry Healey, posts a fascinating résumé-let. Given that her best shots dribble right off the end of the barrel, we can assume that she'll try the razzle-dazzle. She'll want us to assume accomplishment and responsibilities. So, she won't discuss any of this mess.

There is a more bloated version, but the one she puts on the Meet Kerry Healey section of her Website reads:
As Lieutenant Governor, Kerry Healey assumed a broad range of responsibilities in the Romney-Healey administration. She has drawn on her background in criminal justice to promote tougher public safety laws. Kerry has been a leader in efforts to increase penalties for sex offenders and drunk drivers. A vocal advocate for victims, Kerry has also championed legislation to mandate post-release supervision for convicted criminals as well as legislation to track violent criminals (including domestic abusers) using GPS technology.
That is followed with the then-my-father-got-sick routine. She does a Deb Goldberg about having to work during high school. Lackaday.

This is not the worst CV padding in political history, far from it. However, she has taken a little bit of icing and is trying to frost a big cake.

Consider:
  • Bachelor's in government, Harvard
  • Ph.D. in poly sci and law, Trinity, Dublin
  • Public safety consultant, Abt Associates
She claims "...at Abt, she conducted extensive research for the U.S. Department of Justice related to child abuse and neglect, domestic violence, gang violence, victim and witness intimidation and the prosecution of drug crimes." Oddly enough, for all this important work, Abt's site cites her published work as only a few things, only one as solo author.

Maybe she worked undercover.

She does not have a J.D. and is not a lawyer. Her law and safety education is just that.

She does claim to have helped raise over $1 million for the Beverly branch library, again as a co-chair. Likewise, she must be a real team player, because she was a member or co-chair of other charity efforts. As at Abt, she didn't run the show or provide the vision.

She taught as non-tenured, non-certified, adjunct faculty in criminal justice and social policy at Endicott College and UMASS/Lowell.

I don't know anyone who has verified any of this. The achievements are so low level, it doesn't seem necessary. If she used this stuff as padding, she lacks imagination.

However, as looey, what has she done?

In her description, this Healey/Hillman regime would be a mirror of a Tom Reilly one -- all prosecution, all the time. The "broad range of responsibilities in the Romney-Healey administration" she asserts seem to fall into (by her definition) punishment:
  • Promoting "tougher public safety laws."
  • Leading "in efforts to increase penalties for sex offenders and drunk drivers."
  • Trying to get laws "to mandate post-release supervision for convicted criminals as well as legislation to track violent criminals (including domestic abusers) using GPS technology."
And the pattern is...pile it on to please, appease and deceive the voters. The throw-away-the-key and up-the-penalty ploys don't work, which she surely saw in her book learning. Yet, to a public fearful of crime, these aural tricks are siren songs.

The expense and illogic of increasing punishments has never made us safer. At its extreme, capital punishment does not deter would-be murders, but that does not stop the basest politicians from demanding it.

Healey's pattern seems to spit in the faces of the law enforcement, judicial and penal systems. When they have handed out their worst to offenders and those convicted pay their civic debt, life is supposed to go on for all of us, including the offenders. Healey is proposing in various forms that we keep kicking them.

If we have a system that supposedly hands out apt penalities, let's demand the rest of it. Instead of spending the money extending prison sentences (very expensive and non-productive), how about spending less and concentrating it on counseling, educating and repatterning the offenders. Get 'em some training and jobs to remove the drives to reoffend.

But we shouldn't have to tell her this. Anyone studying law and criminal justice should already know this stuff.

Now we come to the lip of the canyon. Look down and tell me what Healey did before or during the Romney/Healey administration? What were her accomplishments that would justify turning over the governor's office to her? What leadership has she shown that prepares her for this role?

None of that is on the big or little résumé. Talk to us, Kerry.

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Sunday, September 24, 2006

Healey's Anti-Marriage Equality

Over at Know Thy Neighbor, Tom Lang gets down on Kerry Healey's attacks on same-sex marriage, as well as on running mate Reed Hillman's lickspittle me-too. Lang wants to keep it in voters' minds that the GOPeers want to rescind marriage rights and substitute a yet-to-be-defined civil union structure.

That must be more of that Republican just trust us campaigning...sops for the simpleminded.

Lang points out that Deval Patrick and his running mate Tim Murray are strongly in favor of same-sex marriage. They want the current anti-SSM petition to lose at November Constitutional Convention.

Lang also quotes himself from a speech he gave for Deval at a fundraiser:
I look at Equal Rights along these lines. I don't consider it as an 'issue' to be discussed BY candidates but as the 'qualifying factor' for any candidate to be worthy of OUR consideration…
And Healey's position? When she hid behind Mitt's three-piece, it was simply that she disapproved of SSM and would begrudgingly accept civil unions. Lang got Healey spokeswoman Amy Lambioso to expand on this in June. She said of her boss:
"Kerry is against same-sex marriage but for civil unions. She is for the amendment to ban same-sex marriage and would vote for it if it reaches the ballot in 2008. If elected Governor, Healey will work on civil union legislation." When asked by KnowThyNeighbor what the language would be in Healey's "civil union" proposal i.e. "civil unions with all the rights of marriage" or "civil unions with rights 'to be determined,'" we were told, "it is premature to ask that as that would not be until 2008."

Don't think that Reed Hillman, who is Healey's and the GOP's choice for Lt. Governor is any better. When KnowThyNeighbor asked what Hillman's stance was on the subject, the spokeswoman told us, "Reed Hillman believes in everything that Healey does." When I responded with, "surely there must be something that Hillman would like to add or clarify in a statement, " I was told, "No, everything that Kerry Healey says is EXACTLY what Hillman says.
So, there we go. If you want to take existing rights away from homosexuals, you know which team to choose. In contrast, the good guys are for full civil rights, including gay rights. As Healey likes to say, the choice is clear.

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Saturday, September 23, 2006

Healey: Know When to Shut Up

Okay, let's get it straight. One candidate for governor figures she'll try over two continuous days to demand that the other side rework its party personnel. Hmm.

We tried to ignore Republican Kerry Thin-Résumé Healey's call for the ouster of Massachusetts Democratic Party Chairman Phil Johnston. However, she apparently has never learned a lesson most of us pick up around three or six -- know when to shut up.

Following Healey's anti-immigrant rants, Johnston said:
I think the language that she's using borders on race baiting, and I think that's fear-mongering of the worst sort, and I think she ought to stop it and she should not run a campaign that plays to the worst instincts in people.
That's reminiscent of the Monty Python routine about the camel spotter in England. "How many camels have you seen?" "Nearly...one."

This promises to be a down and dirty six weeks plus of campaign. Johnston's calling Healey, well, sort of calling her, was pretty mild. Yet, she couldn't attribute that to Democratic candidate Deval Patrick.

She decided not to take the defensive. Heimmigrationon ploys are in fact aimed at people of color, even if she just uses the term immigrant without discussing their heritage and DNA. Word on the street is like in Texas with Mexicans, they come here to take our jobs and line up for welfare. That plays well in Republican political circles. So what?

What's odd here is that Healey figures she'll go on the attack yet again. Repeatedly, she demanded that Patrick call for the ouster, and of course, the subsequent restructuring of the party in the end game of a big campaign. She never discussed the underlying issues, just smeared Johnston.

Well Patrick laughed and said Johnston spoke for himself. Johnston apologized, but we're not sure for what -- nearly saying she was a race-baiter? Nearly one melanin-challenged race baiter.

Race is an underlying issue in this contest, as is class, as is gender. Everyone, his sister, nephew and daughter-in-law has to note that Patrick will be the first African-American or Healey will be the first woman elected governor of Massachusetts. You don't suppose this paragon of liberalism has voters who have held down the two sets they represent, do you? You don't suppose Massachusetts is long overdue to choosing the best candidate, regardless of skin color or chromosomes?

Healey needs to cut the crap. She may appeal to the voters she has sewn up with such drama-queen tricks. I don't see her making any headway with that 49% unenrolled with this. If she wants to play xenophobic to the detriment of children, she can expect to get called on it.

We can only hope when her ex-cop running mate and Republican party functionaries step up her already sneaky, nasty campaigns that Patrick doesn't try to meddle in the campaign organization. That's really not within her power. She has to learn when to make a point and move on.

Kindergarten is over.

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Okay Recount Response from Bill and Tom

While it is extremely unlikely that the Second Suffolk Senate recount will change Dianne Wilkerson's primary victory, it is very likely to produce incremental elections improvements.

In a minor thrill here, Secretary of State Bill Galvin and Boston Mayor Tom Menino did do as we hoped -- support the recount. They are playing by the narrow rules, which means candidate Sonia Chang-Diaz still has to scramble over the weekend and Monday workday to produce enough signatures. That would be a minimum of 50 each verifiable voters in each of the 10 wards affected.

From here (and with Secretary of State candidate John Bonifaz in mind), one would think that Galvin and Menino would have gone a step farther. They did recount the 8 totally uncounted wards' write-in/sticker votes, but with witness' allegations of incompetence and avoidence of counting at numerous polls, Galvin at least should have jumped on this.He should have required the recount regardless of signatures or whether any candidate request it.

A piece in today's Boston Globe notes that Galvin did investigate Boston elections three years ago. Then, "In 2003, he found numerous violations, including understaffing of polling places, campaigning too close to the polls, and inadequate provision of privacy for voters as they cast their ballots...Last year the US Justice Department sued the city, alleging that election workers improperly influenced and coerced Hispanic and Asian-American voters with limited English skills."

So you can also see Da Mare's motivation here. He supports Galvin's lead or saddles his city with minor scandal and outside supervision even longer.

Bonifaz' losing primary bid has put the Secretary's role in the light. If there is a justifiable set of circumstances for an active government role, this is certainly one.

I'd have a very high expection that my vote count. Right now, I have only a moderate belief that this will happen in my city. Show me, Tom and Bill.

Incidentally, the poll workers and managers who seemingly didn't bother to count the Wilkerson/Chang-Diaz/Kelleher/Diaz votes all fell under the new rules. Each received one to three training sessions on write-in/sticker procedures. Clearly this investigation needs to go beyond saying they need training.

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Friday, September 22, 2006

Count 'em, Don't Weep

Oh, my. Home early to repair the projector screen for my professional society and I miss news. Sonia Chang-Diaz sent us a press release announcing that she would call for a recount in the recent primary election for Second Suffolk Senate.

Blue Mass Group is just running the release here. Our basic background is here. Our suggestion that a full recount would serve two key purposes is here.

We would hope that Secretary of State Bill Galvin and Boston Mayor Tom Menino would enthusiastically join in the call and help in any way they can. It is certainly in their interests, and ours, to try to restore some faith that a cast vote is a counted vote.

Her campaign has until Monday, 5 p.m. to turn in 500 verifiable signatures. They must be registered voters in each of the 10 affected wards, at least 50 per ward.

By the bye, the Boston Globe's lead editorial today calls for Galvin's office to investigate this whole mess and make sure systems and training are working by the November general election. That's a damned short time and likely unrealistic for the training, but a noble effort.

Chang-Diaz admits in her release that she has only a slim chance of overcoming the 700+vote lead. However, she's all about ethics and responsibility. So, not calling for an honest election where there clearly has been disregard for procedures and basic voting rules would be quite a surprise.

Even if she only confirms her narrow loss, she's done the right thing, for all of us.

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Go, Go, Hugo

For those who can't get enough of the UN speech by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, look for the whole thing. The Black Commentator has it all here.

Beantown Ballots Blow


Back in Boston, the Second Suffolk Senate FUBAR raises the question of which is worse:
  • An election system that citizens cannot rely on to count their votes?
  • Voters who reelect the rascal as hero instead of installing an honest legislator?
As of late last night, the count of 8 precincts whose write-in ballots were added to the tally only after a court order seemed to have extended incumbent Dianne Wilkerson's total margin over second-place reformer, newcomer Sonia Chang-Diaz. Previously, she was ahead by 141 votes and after the missing precincts received a public tally at Boston City Hall, the difference may be over 900.

At the Herald last evening, Kimberly Atkin's ran the mayor's statement:
The unofficial count of the eight remaining precincts by the city'’s Elections Department this afternoon showed that incumbent Senator Dianne Wilkerson won the Second Suffolk Senatorial race. Wilkerson had an additional 946 votes to challenger Sonia Chang-Diaz'’s 385 in the eight uncounted precincts, bringing the unofficial total of votes to Wilkerson 6,395 to Chang-Diaz'’s 5,703.
She added:
The total number of ballots cast in the wards and precincts in this senatorial district is 25,423, with 12,490 blank votes and 12,933 votes in this race. Challenger John Kelleher had 403 total votes and challenger Samiyah Diaz had 302 total votes.
Even if we assume that the votes from the 8 missing precincts were accurate, Chang-Diaz reasonably is considering what to so. Wilkerson, for the third time, has declared victory. That is the New England way of debate -- shout it and repeat it until people accept your position.

Today, the Globe reports that Chang-Diaz "has hired election lawyer William McDermott to discuss whether to pursue a recount." If she does, she would only have the weekend to gather the 500 signatures required.

With the voting irregularities posted on by Cos yesterday, a reasonable mayor and secretary of state would start a recount of all write-ins in this race. Wilkerson likely would remain on top, but that at least would:
  1. Give citizens some confidence in this process.
  2. Show state and local officials what our bumbling poll workers and managers need to know to do their jobs minimally.
So, we are left with the philosophic and civic question of why, why the devil, how in hell could voters return Wilkerson to office? She likes to say, "I'm not perfect. I'm a work in progress." That excuses nothing. Scandal after scandal, she has shown a disregard for laws and regulations, and for the voters.

She had championed solid legislation for years. Indeed, she deserves praise for that. Yet, it is well past time for someone who cannot manage her personal life well enough to avoid convictions, fines and other distractions from her duties to move aside.

Boston voters share their love of picaresque politicians with such traditionally corrupt cities as Chicago and New Orleans. We need to get over that. We should not accept the terrible with the good. With bright, focused progressive candidates like Chang-Diaz we can have good legislation from an honest and honorable legislator.

We should not have to cede trust to get decent laws.

Follow-Up Editorial: The Globe came on heavy in an editorial today on this. It reads that even with one to three training sessions, the city polling folk blew this. It calls for an extra-Boston investigation right now. "The secretary of state's office is the right place to launch such a probe. And with the final election just over six weeks away, there is no time to waste."

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Most Boston Votes Count

While we're waiting for the Second Suffolk Senator write-in vote count, we have considerable experiential evidence of much wider irregularities at Blue Mass Group in a post by Cos.

The city and state admit to eight precincts with zero tallied write-ins. Hence, we have a count of those. That's not a recount; they never had a tally.

If Cos' report is anywhere near accurate, it looks like we need a full count on all the Second Suffolk precincts. The story has it that some poll workers were told not to bother and that it wasn't necessary. Others disqualified ballots that did not add an X or darken the oval next to the write-in or sticker; that conflicts with the laws and regulations that those are not necessary.

We're betting this ends up dragging on Florida style. However, don't expect a high court here to get involved. What we need is what voters expects -- count 'em, twice if needed.

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SSM Primary Victories

Everyone -- except the most hard-core nasties -- see this week's primaries as affirmation of same-sex marriage here in Massachusetts. The short of it is that same-sex marriage proponents won their primaries, SSM opponents either lost or where they are retiring were replaced on the Dem side with pro-SSM ones.

Also, one of the most long-term, firmest opponents was dumped for a pro-SSM guy.

The overview statewide is covered nicely in this week's Bay Windows.

The parallel with Canada is again striking. They too have a history of SSM. As with Massachusetts, reality eventually trumps fear. People seeing married gay couple, often with kids can stop thinking of them as the other and being accepting them as us.

In both places, most voters want to move on and see their politicians get on with real business.

However, there are outliers, those pups who won't stop worrying the old, familiar sock. A very amusing example was in today's Globe as a letter from the MassResistance/Article 8 guy (apparently not available online except in the archives). It's short and delusional:
RESULT HARDLY A REFERENDUM ON GAY MARRIAGE

THE STARK headline of your Sept. 20 post-election article "Vocal foe of same-sex marriage unseated" (City & Region) seems intended to give the reader the impression that the defeat of state Representative Marie Parente, of Milford, was a mini referendum on the same-sex marriage issue. Is that wishful thinking on the Globe's part?

In fact, as the article itself says, the victor, John Fernandes, said the major focus was on "pocketbook issues" such as property taxes and Big Dig spending. It's entirely possible that most of the voters didn't even realize there was a difference between the candidates on gay marriage. The Globe should save its editorializing for the editorial page.
BRIAN CAMENKER
Newton
So, there Presente has been in the legislature, over 20 years of anti-gay and anti-SSM talk and bills. He would have us believe that the voters didn't know what she was about.

From here, it's rather plain that not only did they know her -- and many other old-line anti-gay types -- but they are tired of it all.

Let's do something real. This election shows that even the conservative towns know when to move on.

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O'Malley Slinging Electrons

Well, we can be pretty sure he won't be dishing Benny the Rat's bulls, or even calling his boss Benny. However, there is something endearing about Cardinal Sean O'Malley blogging.

That's right, prince of the church, Boston archbishop and jolly friar O'Malley will be in the blogosphere as of today, or perhaps have it rotate around him.

The first entry is a TEST TEST TEST. At his blog, it reads, "Cardinal Seán returns to Rome as a newly elevated Cardinal " with a note to check back for news from his trip, written remotely by O'Malley (but posted by a minion).

Good Catholic paper that it is, the Globe got the story first. The gist is that he uses email and is ready for showtime. He's on a 10-day visit to the Vatican and will recount his sights if not insights.

We hope that he does write his own stuff. What is allegedly his statement on this is clearly from a flack's keyboard:
I am . . . looking forward to a new opportunity to communicate directly with Catholics of the archdiocese through my own blog. While this is a new venture for me and for the archdiocese, I am eager to take advantage of the latest technology and mode of communication to share with Catholics of the archdiocese my experiences as I return to Rome and, more importantly, to share with everyone a sense of what it is that Boston's archbishop does on business in Rome representing the people of the archdiocese.
Yada yada. You know his real stuff has to be better than that.

The article quotes Internet scholar Jonathan Zittrrain as saying that O'Malley has to get real for this to work. As he put it, "The key to successful blogging is that . . . one feels like on the receiving end of a conversation, that you get what you would learn if you had a beer with a person, rather than what you would learn if they had a press conference, (but) not all public figures can afford to do that, because almost anything they say will be seen as an official statement, and anything off the cuff that might be regretted or repudiated they could get in trouble for."

We'll have to see if he does that. He looks like a good drinking buddy.

Meanwhile, the Wordpress-based blog has a Boston Herald look -- lots of pix, few words and nothing to exercise the brain. It's kind of ugly with dark background and non-resizing left border. It smacks of a Mac production. Also, so far, there are no links, no mailto anywhere -- not interactivity at all -- and no podcast or audio of any type.

Let's see how the content fleshes out.

I'm sure the diocese has a stat counter on. Treat our red buddy like any new blogger. Give him a thrill and hit on the site. After his first 10-day test, he'll decide whether to join us for real.

WHOIS note: This apparently was a quick decision. The archdiocese didn't grab the blog domain until last week. However, they registered it for five years. O'Malley is at least thinking a long run.

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Wilkerson Vote Drags On

The powers at state and city level have fast tracked the Wilkerson/Chang-Diaz recount. In a real Boston duh moment -- clumsiness not fraud -- it seems 8 of 73 precincts' votes didn't even get counted.

The dailies, broadcast and blogs carry this update. Probably the best coverage is at the Boston Globe.

According to the Herald
, the count of missing precincts is to occur at 2 p.m. at Boston City Hall today under order of Superior Court Justice Mitchell J. Sikora. Teams of two -- likely closely monitored -- will tally ballots from Ward 4 Precinct 9, Ward 10 Precinct 9, Ward 12 Precincts 1 and 2, and Ward 19 Precincts 3, 8 and 9,; and Ward 19, the report reads.

Everyone's real sorry, can't understand how it happened, and at least feigns outrage. The newly challenged Secretary of State Bill Galvin hopped right in to show that he can imitate John Bonifaz in trying to remedy voting issues.

The short of it is that Dianne Wilkerson has a lead of 141 votes out of a little over 2,500. She figures that the recount is delaying her victory, but that it will come.

On the other hand, this is hand counting, which will now be done very carefully. The totals will change as well as the additions. Math says that Wilkerson's lead should hold, but Sonia Chang-Diaz can return to her election-night attitude of cautious optimism.

We of course would like to see Wilkerson turned out.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Sticker Vote to Recount?

Short of punched paper butterfly ballots, you'd have to work real hard to come up with a vote that can be as confusing. In the Dianne Wilkerson/Sonia Chang-Diaz run for State Senator, we managed to do just that.

Word on the Second Suffolk vote
is that 48% to 46% loser Change-Diaz wants a recount. What, do you suppose, might make her think this was not the cleanest, clearest victory for the seven-term incumbent Wilkerson?

How about:
  • Wilkerson didn't bother getting the 300 signatures to get on the ballot for re-election.
  • Thus, she had to run a sticker campaign.
  • Voters have to write in the name or take an adhesive sticker the candidate provides, mark the write-in box, and apply the sticker in the right place on the ballot.
  • Chang-Diaz thinks Wilkerson is too ethically challenged for office; she joined the sticker campaign for it.
  • Boston police officer John Kelleher join in the campaign, also saying Wilkerson was no longer fit for office.
  • Republican Samiyah Diaz ran on both Republican and Democratic primary slates, apparently to knock Chang-Diaz off and improve her chances to win in November.
  • Nothing prohibits running on two slates for the same office.
The sticker thing is stinky enough. Voters were confused and the ballots must be hand recorded, lending itself to errors or worse.

The resulting tally with 100% reporting came in at:

Candidate Votes Pct.
Dianne Wilkerson 5,466 48%
Sonia Chang-Diaz 5,325 46%
John Kelleher 393 3%
Samiyah Diaz 275 2%

Given the hand tallies and bad feelings, a recount seems reasonable.

Well, that's not all that easy either. The Secretary of State has the steps and forms.

For Boston wards:
  • A candidate filing for recount has six days from the election to file the forms for a recount.
  • Then the candidate has four more days to gather enough voters signatures supporting the request.
  • In this case it is 500 verifiable signatures of voters.
  • The signatures must be at least 50 in each ward.
  • The 10 wards are spread from parts of Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Chinatown, Dorechester, Fenway, Jamaica Plain, Mattapan, Mission Hill, Roxbury and the South End.
Wilkerson has declared victory. TBD.

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Worst SSM Foe Tumbles

Ding. Dong.

The only incumbent legislator to lose the primary yesterday was Marie J. Parente. She lost resoundingly to John Fernandes, 59% to 41% in the Tenth Worcester.

She has been a hangnail on the finger of government as State Representative since 1981.

Parente is a fellow traveler in the caravan of Emile Goguen and Phil Travis. They are the old-line anti-gay, anti-same-sex-marriage gang. Fortunately their retiring or losing reflects what we see statewide among voters. The public as a whole wants to get on with real legislative business, considers SSM a closed matter, and does not want to punish homosexuals for being homosexuals.

For Goguen's Third Worcester seat, Stephen DiNatale won the Democratic slot (66% of the vote). For Travis' Fourth Bristol spot, Steven D'Amico beat three others in the primary with 38% of the vote. Both face Republicans. More on these later.

Fernandes skunked Parente throughout Mendon, Milford and Upton. He goes against Republican Robert P. Burns come November.

While there might have been much to make of Parente's stances, Fernandes "said he won by staying positive, talking about real issues and showing voters he has the right vision for the district’s future," according to the MetroWest Daily. "I rejected the idea that the way you set out to defeat an incumbent is to attack their record and tear it apart," said Fernandes. "People said I could not win a campaign by running by her, and said I had to run at her."

Parente is 78 and had talked about retiring as Travis and Goguen are. The seats of the latter two will also have SSM-friendly Democrats running in November, further reducing the anti-SSM gang size.

Parente has long been one of the most conservative DINOs in the legislature. We can't imagine many will miss her.

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Boston Globe: Get Your Clichés Here!

How many clichés can you cram in a single op-ed? Well, we could try to count Scott Lehigh's today in the Globe.

What? You say it's not news to you that Deval Patrick is Black or that Kerry Healey is a woman? How about that Patrick was "virtually unknown" before this campaign? Wait, wait...how about Healey will claim that Patrick is a tax-and-spend liberal?

Oh, you knew all that? Damn! There goes his column.

The barber shop/beauty parlor philosopher is your source for only the plainest truths. If you don't know that you're tall or skinny or wrinkled or sweating, turn to Scott. If you are outside and want to know if it's hot or raining, Scott's your man. If it is glaringly obvious, he's all over it.

I don't believe that -- even as a party game -- all of us working as a group could string together this much obviousness. Surely in his high school class, Scott Lehigh was voted Most Likely To Comment On The Weather.

Actually, this column is worth reading. It is an object lesson.

You are certain to read and hear a lot of what he drags out from his bag of simplemindedness between now and November 7th. You can train yourself to filter out these clichés and remain focused on meaningful issues and arguments.

If you see that tripe even here, you must ignore it. The writer or commenter is dull-witted or having a bad day.

There are real and important issues to resolve before the voters. We only have seven weeks to do this. If we let clichés rule the debate, the Republicans have won.

Meanwhile, you can be sure that those with the least to say will say the most. You can identify it easily with Scott's material. Transcend it and find someone with insight.

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Limping Dance Post-Primary

Here, we can dance a restrained victory jig. Our upticket guys won the Democratic primary, but our downticket endorsements were hit and miss.

We aced the top spots, governor (Deval Patrick) and lieutenant governor (Tim Murray). Those are our candidates for substantial change and leading us out of legislative and economic stagnation.

The voters overwhelming rejected our secretary of state candidate, John Bonifaz for incumbent do-nothing, William Galvin (17% to 83%).

Similarly, we favored Phillip (not-a-lapdog-for-George-Bush) Dunkelbarger for U.S. House, Ninth District. Steve (bend-over) Lynch retained the seat (77% to 23%).

It looks like troubled long-term state Senator Dianne Wilkerson eked out a win over the ethics with progressive politics candidate, newcomer Sonia Chang-Diaz (48% to 46%). Two nothing in particular candidates, John Kelleher and Samiyah Diaz at 3% and 2%, may have drawn enough votes away from Chang-Diaz to make the difference. That's too bad, Wilkerson has shown that she just can't control her personal life enough to stay in the job. Plus, if she is convicted of perjury, she's likely gone early into her new term. Maybe our choice will get there after all.

A joy in the state Sixth Suffolk House race was that Willie Mae Allen (52%) knocked back William Celester (43%) and Wayne Wilson (5%). That is a vote for change and ethics. Good on her.

The blow to the ankle at the bottom of the ticket is that Maura stepping-stone Hennigan will be the new Suffolk Clerk for Criminal Business to the SJC. She outpolled Robert Dello Russo 54% to 46%. It's clear that she just wants to use the job and voters to get something better. Then some functionary like Dello Russo will take over when she escapes to her perceived higher calling. I suppose in such a dour town, we deserve some comic relief.

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Half Way to Rescue in Mass

The steady breeze you feel from Massachsetts is the collective sighing of happy liberal and progressive voters. Deval Patrick won the Democratic primary for governor last night.

He'll be coupled with lieutenant governor candidate Tim Murray. Together, they are the absolute best pair to haul us out of the economic, social and political mire of the past 20 years.

Later posts will analyze return results for these and other races. The key numbers for the top spots are Deval Patrick 50%, Chris Gabrieli 27%, Tom Reilly 20%; Tim Murray 43%, Deborah Goldberg 34%, Andrea Silbert 23%.

Last night, even before an early declaration for Deval, Jon Keller and other pandering pundits were chanting Black-or-woman. Disregard any that stress how we are almost certain to come out of November with a first in one or the other as a governor here. With what's at stake, that a so what, a distraction.

What's real and obvious is that Democratic voters throughout Massachusetts, left, center and right, want a substantial change. Patrick for certain and Murray as his sidekick clearly represent that.

The real analysis will be how likely the Patrick/Murray team can convince our 49% fence straddling unenrolled voters of the same. Last night, Patrick's manager, John Walsh, stressed that they aren't going to suddenly shift what they say to suit this second half of the contest, the seven-week sprint.

We have a damned good idea of the messages and tactics likely to come from Republican candidates Kerry Healey and Reed Hillman. Those wheezing scare tactics about tax-and-spend ultra liberals have gotten one Republican administration after another into the executive offices, with dreadful stagnation resulting.

It's time a leader and visionary to bring real change. We're half way there.

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