September 30, 2005
Judith Miller caves; will testify in Novak-Plame-gate
As everyone knows by now, NY Times reporter Judith Miller ended her self-inflicted martyrdom by agreeing to testify before the Novak-Plame-gate grand jury, thereby releasing herself from jail.
A lot has already been said about today's events, and I don't have a lot to add. Here are my two cents: (1) Miller's claim that she has "finally" received a "personal" waiver from her confidential source (Scooter Libby, Dick Cheney's chief of staff) is patently absurd - Libby's lawyers were widely quoted today as saying, essentially, we gave her the same waiver we gave her months ago, and we have no idea why she went to jail over this issue. Fact is, it became clear that Fitzgerald was going to keep her in jail for months longer, so she caved. Thus proving that the NY Times was flat-out wrong, to claim (as they repeatedly did) that Miller would never cave so there was no point in keeping her incarcerated. (2) Arianna Huffington is absolutely right that Miller ought to follow in fellow Plamegate reporter Matt Cooper's footsteps and promptly publish, on page 1 of the NY Times, a full account of what she told the grand jury and of her role in the whole nasty Plamegate affair. The Times has really sullied itself over its now-revealed-to-the-world-as-laughable insistence on what a martyr Miller was when, in fact, her source released her from confidentiality ages ago. The least it could do is make public its reporter's involvement in one of the most vicious political vendettas to have come down the pike in a while.
We look forward to hearing from Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald in the near future.
The Zell Miller of Charlestown?
Fascinating column by Brian McGrory today about Charlestown State Rep Eugene O'Flaherty. It's mostly about O'Flaherty's opposition to Melanie's Bill, which would increase penalties for DWI repeat-offenders, along with a good deal of general mockery. (I don't know the details of the bill, but I'll say that I have as little sympathy for DWI repeat-offenders as possible.)
Going over their history, McGrory quotes an email he received from O'Flaherty after Finneran's indictment:
''I rarely write responses to low-level journalists but you really tick me off to the point where I wish I had been in high school with you so we could have playfully wrestled after school and you could have gone home to Mommy with tears in your eyes along with a black eye and a sore arse like I'm sure you did on more than one occasion."
How statesmanlike. To my knowledge, O'Flaherty has not walked the streets of Charlestown with his pants around his ankles, but this is pretty close.
Extra-juicy rumors (scroll to end) have been floated on this site about the possible candidacy of gay ex-priest Christopher Schiavone to challenge O'Flaherty -- "a vehement opponent of gay marriage", says McGrory -- for his seat. If that happens, grab the popcorn -- it'll be one for the ages.
Adam Reilly joins the blogosphere
Adam Reilly, who has written some of the Boston Phoenix's most interesting articles on local politics, has a new Phoenix-sponsored blog called Talking Politics. It's on our daily reading list, and should be on yours too! Welcome to the blogosphere, Adam.
Comcast blows off the voters
Boston Mayor Tom Menino and challenger Maura Hennigan squared off in a debate of sorts on WGBH's "Greater Boston" on Wednesday night. I wasn't able to watch it (anyone out there care to offer a report?), but certainly voters in the city of Boston should want to see it before they decide how to vote on November 8.
So it's depressing to read in the Herald that Comcast, which apparently had originally agreed to make the debate available on its "On Demand" service until Nov. 2, has now reneged, and will make it available only for 48 hours after its initial broadcast.
On the one hand, it's hard to get too worked up about this. Apparently, Comcast applies the 48-hour rule to all Greater Boston programs, and there's no indication (yet) that there's any secret conspiracy afoot at Comcast to withhold access to the Menino-Hennigan debate. But on the other hand, is it really so much to ask of a cable company that they go just a little bit out of their way to improve democracy in the communities it supposedly serves? I have no doubt that Comcast has the technology to make this particular program available through election day, as they originally said they would. So why not do it? Comcast spokeswoman and former Cellucci/Swift/Romney press aide Shawn Feddeman offered no explanation beyond saying that the 48-hour rule is their standard operating procedure. Well, that's really not good enough. This debate was the only time these two candidates will be going head to head, it's important for Boston voters to see it, and there's no reason beyond sheer laziness that Comcast couldn't make it available.
So talk to Comcast (the "contact us" feature at this link wasn't working when I wrote this post, but hopefully it'll be fixed soon - UPDATE: Adam Reilly provides some phone numbers in the comments below). Tell them you want them to make the debate available until election day, and that it's part of their responsibility as the major cable TV provider in the area to do so. Comcast says it "has always believed in investing in the communities we serve." Here's their chance to prove that they mean it.
September 28, 2005
Don't make him angry...
The normally mild-mannered Eisenthal Report turns green, grows enormous muscles and busts out of its shirt:
Outgoing Massachusetts Secretary of Administration and Finance Eric Kriss gave an interview that appeared in this morning's Boston Globe. In this interview, Kriss said that Massachusetts cities and towns are "in their worst financial shape ever" and that this is "a crisis largely of their own making." Kriss blames "overly generous" salary increases for public employees, a "failure to control" health care costs, and "aversion to development that could spur new tax revenue." These comments can be best described as bizarre and out of touch with the reality that faces local governments in Massachusetts. [my emphasis]
Yup, more victim-blaming from the Romney administration. Really, municipalities are facing the same squeeze that middle-class families are facing: Spiraling health care costs and real estate prices, which make it difficult to develop because it dilutes the tax base. Add Prop 2 1/2 making it impossible to raise revenues to fill the gap, and you've got a nasty squeeze.
I mean, "a failure to control health care costs"? How the hell does the city of Framingham or Leominster or whatever do that? Shouldn't that be the state's job? The feds'?
I came down hard on Charlie Baker -- probably unfairly and on too little information -- for bringing these things to light with Kriss and Romney in the room. If this is what he was objecting to, then he's got a point. My bad.
Patrick backs ACT
This is welcome news:
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Deval Patrick will deliver a speech today endorsing a plan [The Health Access and Affordability Act, written by Health Care for All] to establish universal health coverage [sic] in Massachusetts that is funded by hiking cigarette taxes 50 cents a pack and by creating a new payroll tax for employers that do not offer worker health plans.
Well, the bill is not a universal health care bill. The Globe really needs to get its facts straight.
But the bill is a major step forward, and Patrick's support is good to hear. Perhaps this will give the bill some traction and visibility, at least among his grassroots supporters. And it's also a way for him to distinguish himself from the Dem pack, for the time being.
Reilly's campaign committee issued a statement yesterday saying the attorney general will address the state's healthcare issues in the future, adding: ''No candidate can match Tom Reilly's experience and record of accomplishment in healthcare."
Great. Prove it by supporting the bill.
(Hat tip to the Healthy Blog.)
Someone commented here once, "A good DA could indict a ham sandwich." Well, Tom DeLay is no ham sandwich, friends.
The dominoes may be falling...
September 27, 2005
Somerville News: Jehlen wins by 1700+
Jehlen 7466, White 5747, according to their source in White's campaign.
Should it have been this close? Does it reflect well on White? Or is this a statistical blip on an obscure special election? Heck, even we didn't say much about it after Jehlen won the primary.
Second Middlesex and Boston City Council elections are TODAY!
If you live in Boston, Somerville, Medford, Winchester, or Woburn (ward 2 only), be sure to stop by your polling place today. Preliminary elections for Boston City Council, and the final election for the Second Middlesex Senate seat (Democrat Pat Jehlen vs. Republican Bill White), are happening right now. Cos reports below on one of the contested Boston City Council elections.
Please treat this post as an open thread on today's elections. Seeing anything interesting out in the field? Drop it in the comments! --David
Since Boston City Council races are nonpartisan, there are no party primaries, but any race that has more than twice as many candidates as offices holds a preliminary today to narrow the field.
Boston has nine council districts, which each elect one councilor, plus four at-large councilors elected by the entire city. There are fifteen candidates on the ballot for the four at-large seats, so today's citywide preliminary will pick the eight who will be on the ballot in November. In most of the city, that's the only race on today's ballot.
The at-large race is getting all the attention. In one district, however, there are more than two candidates running for district councilor: the 9th, comprising Allston-Brighton. There are three candidates, and voters will choose two to advance to November 8th. One of those three is Dan Kontoff, popularly known to locals as "Dan the Bagel Man".
The incumbent is Jim McDermott, now finishing his first full term. In 2003, he was a new incumbent, having been elected in a special election mid-term. His opponent was the same Dan Kontoff, who garnered 17% of the vote in his first run for office. Since then, Dan also put his name forward as the Green-Rainbow candidate for state rep in the 18th Suffolk Special Election, which Michael Moran, the Democrat, won handily. This will be his third run for office.
The twist this time is another new candidate, Paul Creighton, is challenging McDermott. McDermott tried to get Creighton thrown off the ballot and avoid a preliminary, but it didn't happen. McDermott will probably have no trouble advancing to the November ballot, but if Kontoff gives Creighton a serious challenge for the second slot, it will be noteworthy. And if the Bagel Man surprises everyone by actually getting the second slot, it could be the big story of today's election.
September 26, 2005
2nd Middlesex Senate: Special election is TOMORROW
Not sure where to vote? This site will tell you.
Don't forget to vote!