Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Deval.. what are you thinking?

From the Herald: At least one Dem has some sense.

Gov. Deval Patrick greenlighted the renewal of a controversial multimillion-dollar taxpayer-funded giveaway to Hollywood stars yesterday, even as he signed a $27.05 billion budget that squeezes the Bay State for another $860 million in new taxes.

The tax credit is meant as an incentive to draw filmmakers to Massachusetts. Amid the ongoing fiscal crisis, legislators wanted to cap star salaries that could count toward the credit at $2 million per actor, and the fiscal 2010 budget Patrick signed ratified that.

But yesterday, Patrick also signed a $51 million supplemental spending bill for this year that prevents the cap from becoming law.

“This is money for nothing,” said Rep. Steven D’Amico, a Seekonk Democrat and tax credit foe. “Mel Gibson doesn’t need our tax dollars.”

A Patrick spokeswoman did not comment on the issue.

One State House source estimated the revenue lost by not imposing the star cap at about $20 million a year.

Beacon Hill sources said Patrick was responding to complaints Hollywood honchos lodged with the state film office that the proposed cap on star salaries was a major rewrite of tax law.

Senate President Therese Murray, whose Plymouth district could be home to a new studio, also supported maintaining the full tax credit for movies.

The new state budget, which takes effect tomorrow, hikes the state sales tax by 25 percent to 6.25 percent, and allows cities and towns to raise meals and hotel taxes. That new revenue allows the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority to hold off a planned $100 million toll hike.

Patrick vetoed $147 million from the budget the Legislature sent him, including money for food assistance, senior health care, and kindergarten expansion grants.

Patrick also deepsixed a budget proposal to keep information about who receives state tax credits private. He had asked lawmakers to require the state disclose who receives them.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Beacon Hill Roll Call Tax credits for energy savings

Last week the House voted to eliminate a provision that would allow Deval, when he takes control over the seven Sheriffs offices on July 1, to void any contracts that the Sheriffs signed after April 1. The bad news for us is that this will not allow Deval to do any reforming of this overly priced, patronage supported, self serving group of State workers.

If anyone has the money to do work on their homes, please check to see if the items purchased fall under the new energy rebate programs. This program is not just for the rich and doesn't require you to spend thousands on wind turbines and solar units. Insulation, roofing, appliances, windows, doors, etc must be approved. A list can be found at www.energystar.gov/taxcredits. You may also check on the IRS web site for eligible energy saving products. www.irs.gov. Keep all your receipts for the end of the year as you will be able to write off these expenses at the end of the year..

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ethics bill update

Well the clock is ticking, as most of you already know. The legislature has approved the ethics overhaul and while some of it's very good, some key issues are not in it.

a ban lobbyists from making or soliciting campaign donations
did not include a wire tap authority for the AG's office.
the bill exempts the legislature from open meeting laws
does not allow Sec of State to issue rules regulating lobbyists.
does not ban gifts from friends and family members

it still allows 5,000 donations to political parties

Devall, has a few days left to make more political hey out of this, while holding hostage, the propsoed toll hike and sales tax increase. Next Monday at the Town Hall, the Pike board will meet once again to vote on the toll increase

Fund raising is happening on both sides and millions will come from every possible sector of society who wish to use those funds to buy political favors from those who continue to live in their own little world.

By this time next week, we (regular working and non working class people) will have even less respect for those, who we have allowed to do so much long term damage to our great State.

Lets see what happens next week.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Pam... to busy to vote on Transportaion Reform?

From the MWDN.... Representative Richardson could not vote on Thursday on the historic Transportation Reform Bill. She missed the vote because of a family event. Two other reps, one from Amherst and one from Springfield missed the voting also. Perhaps they are related to Pam in some way.

Not that her vote would have mattered in the big picture, but it does show how unimportant her responsibilities are to her job and the voters of this district in these severe times.

Published only on Framingham.com was this announcement below. Nothing from her about this public meeting anywhere else, not even to her e mail constituents who have signed up for notifications.

Note the time.. 1 to 2 PM and the suggested topics of conversation.

FRAMINGHAM, MA -- State Rep. Pam Richardson had scheduled a "Coffee and Conversation" meeting at Annie's Book Stop/Espresso Paulo in the Nobscot Shopping Center on Water St. on Friday, June 19th from 1 to 2 p.m.

The House has called an emergency session Friday to vote on the budget. Richardson will need to be in Boston to cast her vote, so will be unable to hold her "Coffee & Conversation" meeting. However, she would very much like to hold the meeting, and has rescheduled for next Friday, June 27, from 1 - 2 p.m. again at Annie's Book Stop/Espresso Paulo, Water Street, Framingham.

Suggested topics for discussion should be sent to:

Friday, June 19, 2009

On brighter note.. no sun screen needed

I know some of us are still not working and it does suck big time. While not wanting to paint a picture of prosperity for everyone, Mass added 2,600 jobs in May, the biggest increase since May of 2007. We are still 111,000 down since May of 2008.

Hang tuff, cut where you can and don't be down on yourselves. It happens, many times, not because of our work ethic, production or talents, but based more on the ideas of huge profits and a throw away society. It's not anyone's fault, be we have contributed to a system that only rewards profit, bad business decisions and a political system that only serves the rich.

Transportation Reform at State House.... is it enough?

The long awaited Transportation Package, in it's 175 page length has been approved by the Senate and is off to Devals desk. At the very same time, a group of BU students discovers flagrant campaign violations where Deval is paying for travel for his wife for non political reasons. He just can't seem to stay out of the media spotlight for a week.

The vote in the Senate reflects a distention 27 - 11 (The House voted 130 - 25) among who is not clear, except for Senator Spilka. I can't wait to see who else voted against it. Pike Board member Mary Connaughton has raised some concerns about exactly how will the big dig debt be paid, now that the State is raising the sales tax and dedicating millions to the Big Dig, it falls short, now and in the future. Even with a gas tax increase I don't see the tolls coming down in my life time.

A few key measures are still not in play but it is refreshing to see that Senator Spilka welcomes the idea of tolls on 93 and 95. In their defense, to study 175 pages of anything as important as transportation reform in less than a day is one reason to question the whole package. If an attorney (Senator Spilka) has trouble digesting the bill, one can only imagine how hard it would be for most of the elected elite to interrupt.

The budget includes a series of tax increase in everything from satellite TV to alcohol, decreases local aid by 15%, eliminate 50 line items, (no word on which ones) and funding for 800 local projects. And still no pay reduction for the Legislature. What wasn't taken off the books was the funding of the Quinn Bill... it now gets 10 million for current employees, but doesn't fund any new hires. Locals will be able to add to the meals and hotel tax to make up for the 15% shortfall in revenue.

In the next 10 days, after all is said and done in secret, we will be faced with the reality of what has already been decided. I am still predicting, a gas tax increase and or a toll increase, if not now, before the end of this year, when it will become clear as a bell, raising a sales tax now is bad for the economy and the revenue projections will be far less than they predicted.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Want to know their salaries?

We are treated to a web address that shows ALL the salaries of ALL the 98 thousand State employees, thanks to Mr. Joe Dwinell at the Herald.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Beacon Hill Roll Call and M-16's

As you all know, the Stimulus money coming to Mass is ready and Obama wants it spent wisely. He also has demanded transparency with guidelines on how to accept the funds. The House passed 150 - 0 a bill to change several state laws to make sure we could meet the "use it or loose it" guidelines. They are:

extending from 18 to 26 weeks unemployment benefits if enrolled in training programs.

Expediting some state procedures that must be followed by companies who bid on contracts and requiring all jobs being created using the stimulus money be abolished when the federal money stops.

Mass is getting 8.7 billion in funds and as we all know, unless we are watching every dam dime, fraud and waste will take more than 20%. The change voted on would allow notices soliciting bids from companies to do work for the State be posted on a state owned and operated web sites, instead of the newspapers, which have done this for years. The Senate has already approved a similar version and the House measure goes back to the Senate for consideration.

Any bidding for contracts that has anything to do with public money, must be in full view of us all. We all are old enough to know how bad the insider bidding process has not worked for us here in Mass over the years. But this Deval approved change in the laws, which will allegedly speed up projects, will, if history is any indication, will be fraught with waste, fraud, shoddy and incomplete work and used as a political advantage for Deval.

Those of us who live closer to Wayland can rest easy tonight knowing that the Town is ordering 3 M-16's. Along with many other Towns and cities across the State who are getting free, retired military weapons, which include grenade launchers. Since 1994 over 1000 of these weapons have gone to police departments around the State. This information was initially withheld from by the State Police but later provided by the Defense Re utilization and Marketing Service.

While there are rules governing how many of these guns are allowed per 10 full time officers, many police chiefs have either mothballed them, used them in ceremonies or just buried them away. Framingham has 16 M-16's but the public has not the right to ask why. May we NEVER see a reason for those weapons to be deployed.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Coming down the pike.....

The next few weeks will be historic in many ways. Elections in Iran may force the price of crude past 80 bucks a barrel, and I thought 3.00 a gallon for gas on July 4th was going to be outrageous... throw on 19 cents tax increase a gallon and we are 3.50 by late summer.

Deval sends cigars and flowers to DeLeo and Murray and is now in violation of their own ethics rules.... you gota love this... the flowers can't be the ones we buy at Alston Cambridge exit off the Pike from homeless guys.. no.... they have to be over 50 bucks... and you bet those cigars are more Cuban related than Virginia.

The rumor is that servicemen and women who were forced to re-up past their enlisted dates could get 500.00 a month for every month they were forced to stay... retro back to 9-11. This is the fairest proposal I've ever seen for the young vets who have been deployed multiple times, now in multiple wars.

Banning texting and non hands free cell phones is coming and none to soon. Every day now while driving I run into, or get behind or almost get run into and see just how bad it's gotten. Young more so than older, I guess we have less to say or be heard, are endangering us all.

And while we demand ethics and transportation reforms, that must be done in the next few weeks, ALL of the State House deliberations are behind closed doors and most rank and file house and senate members are also excluded. The system of secrecy will be something that is used against most of them next year in the election.

The FDA is going to be in the business of regulating tobacco. More information for us to read on the package, we will know now, exactly what other chemicals are put into the cigs, harder to find places that sell them and scientific evaluation of smoke free products will begin very soon. Funny though, they pass over menthol... an additive to Newports that are favored by our African American brothers and sisters. It's about time the FDA regulated this drug as they do with any other known health risk. History shows us, we just can't rely on the tobacco companies to police themselves and not make smoking worse than it really is, by adding known carcinogens. Greed and denial on the cigarette manufactures side forced the FDA to step in along with a trying to quit President, a dying senior Senator and more well meaning, but zealot anti smoking do gooders. Humans smoked tobacco long ago and survived. But they didn't smoke as much as we do and it certainly didn't have added chemicals in it.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Pension Reform done, two to go, Sals pension on hold

Good news has come from the State House in the form of Pension Reform. ALL the proposals have been adopted by the conference committee and while more needs to be done in capping huge pensions, the fact that Beacon Hill finally gets it... is worth something to the voters. Let's demand the same results for ethics and transportation reform. As one analyst said today, The House needed to make friends before toll increases and gas tax increase.

And wouldn't you know, finally some common sense takes hold of the pension board. DiMasi's recent indictment shook the halls and perhaps was a wake up call for those still on the Hill, looking to game the system.

The patient is off the respirator and is breathing on their own now. Let's see in the coming weeks if the new remedies will allow the patient to go home and live a productive life.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Stimulus will ramp up in Mass.. TARP funds being paid back?

Some positive news from the White House... Obama wants to cut the red tape and save or create 600,000 jobs. We in Mass can hopefully look forward to spending wisely 15 million on highway work all over the State, repairs of air fields a new sewage treatment plant etc etc, and 25 million for youth summer jobs. In the bigger picture, money will go to fund 135 education jobs, 5,000 new cops, 200 rural waste and water treatment, improvements in 90 VA centers and 20 Superfund clean up sites. I think what is holding States from getting this money, may not be Washington itself, but the States inability to get these funds under the current government guidelines. All these funds have to be keep track of and I'll bet, even our State (our own stimulus czar) has not yet figured out how to do anything with the money, that doesn't take on unethcial behavior, in terms of the open bid process or other rational accounting standards. Remember, Deval is off and running and he certainly wants to claim as much credit for the stimulus money as he can and the feds may have made it difficult for Deval to use this money to his advantage.

On a side note, Lobbyists from about 60 Mass companies have increased spending at the White House for the first three months of this year. First Wind spent 120,000, Raytheon spent 1.36 million, Mass Mutual Life Insurance spent 790,00, Sepracor spent 1.3 million, State Street Bank spent 210,000 (recipients of Trap money) and our old buddy Josh Boger at Vertex spent 180,000 along with the other 55 companies who have spent money on lobbyists.

And 10 banks have applied to return 65 billion or so in TRAP loans... and they say we made a few bucks on the interest. Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, but the truth seems to be, that these big freaking money pits don't want the pay restrictions that the TARP money comes with. I guess it s good to see some of the big players passing the stress tests, whatever they are, but Citi seems to be the one that didn't pass... seems like they may have more trouble.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Deval, Cahill, The Legislature and the Democratic Convention

Our Governor wants to the Legislature to move 22 million dollars from the "Lawmakers PAC" which is used to fund renovations of the State House, into the general fund. The executive branch has already moved it's 1.1 million into the fund. Deval has said he will veto that line item if it is not in the budget. My question is, where the hell does that money come from and who contributes to that fund? I never knew it existed.

Mr. Cahill, while putting on the "Money Conference" is underwritten by some very large banks who deal with Cahill for this States bond and investment funds, including the states pension fund. While on the surface everything looks fine and YWCA who does great work, partners with Cahill to raise money, these same contributors are skirting campaign finance laws and Cahill is taking money from those who do business with the State.

This past weekend, in Springfield Mass, the Dems had their own version of a Love in. With all the press coverage of DiMasi and friends being indicted and the continual cycle of corruption coming from the State House, one would think that perhaps a new direction would have come out of the event. Perhaps even some would apologize to the people of this state.

I'm not shocked to read that delegates there from Metro West would be quoted as saying, "The party has nothing to do with it" said Farooq Karim-Mirza of Framingham. And Natick's Rep Linsky, who voted for DiMasi saying, We're doing the important work that the people send us to Beacon Hill to do", And "we're not going to let the action of a few of our colleagues keep us from doing that type of work".

The best case for mental evaluations of not only our elected eleite, but some of the delegates also. Their denial is going to come back and haunt them next year, I promise. Their shallow words are matched with their incompetency.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Deval is off and running, duck and cover folks

First off, another 800 million is cut from the newest budget propsoed by Deval. Local aid will take another hit it appears. Revenue collections were down in April. The game playing is heating up, with three different budgets being floated, with and without the sales tax increase. Nothing is in stone yet... and while this is going on, we learn today from the Globe and Herald, Deval's team knew about the Cognos software issue and how Deval didn't want to pick a fight with DiMasi in 2007. Look for this to be ammo in next years race.

All ethics reform meetings are closed to the public and the Senates version of the reform package, still does not exclude gifts to lawmakers, independent oversight and more teeth in the investigative procedures. Since the House approved the two Hack Holidays in Boston, it will now be up to the Senate to either keep or reject those two holidays, Bunker Hill and Evacuation Day.

Deval has hired an Obama cheerleader, David Plouffe was Obama's campaign manager. His spin on Deval will be that Deval is the reformer. So we may have Cristy Mihos as a Republican, Tim Cahill as either an Independent or he may force a run off as a Democrat. The millions that will be raised for these campaigns... all to make a lowly 6 figure income.

Besides Mihos's, I don't think there is one person connected to Beacon Hill, I can trust to run the State. And Mihos's opposition to Cape Wind keeps him off my list to vote for. I'm hoping another figure will come out of the dark and run against all of them who is beyond reproach.

The legal proceedings this summer will conclude with many more revelations and expose even more unethical behavior. Even the hard core supporters will not be able to defend actions by the ruling party and if they do, they will hold no weight and only serve to validate the voters descent within the party to vote for people who are not tied into such a corrupt and unethical system.

On a brighter note, this weekend should be sunny and warmer... take time to breath in some clean air and take a moment to witness the growth of a new spring. It's one of the only things left we have that isn't taxed, regulated or prohibited.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Pam fights for more room for farm animals

From the Globe:

Beacon Hill lawmakers considered a bill yesterday that would impose comprehensive restrictions on farms, requiring that animals be housed with room to stand up, lie down, turn around, and extend their limbs or wings.

If passed, the legislation, sponsored by Representative Pam Richardson, a Framingham Democrat, would bar what activists call some of the most egregious practices on farms: small cages for egg-laying hens, veal crates for calves, and gestation crates for pigs.

Such cases are rare occurrences in Massachusetts, and Richardson has not seen any in her district, she said at a public hearing yesterday before the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. Nevertheless, the bill would prevent such practices in the state, she said.

We need another piece of legislation that covers a non problem. I guess her equestrian degree has helped her with the farm animal Bill, but I wonder who has paid how much to get this going. Do the pigs and chickens at the State House need more room to stand, lie down and sleep?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Perhaps some justice for DiMasi and friends

Three Beacon Hill power brokers and former House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi have been indicted on corruption charges today in connection with a State House scandal involving software contracts, according to court records.

DiMasi, his former accountant Richard Vitale, lobbyist Richard McDonough and software broker Joseph Lally have been indicted, records state. The U.S. Attorney’s Office has called a press conference for 3:30 today to announce “a public corruption matter.”

Also DiMasi's top attorney Lou Rizoli is resigning at the end of this month. This could also have a bearing on Cahill's connections to the lobbyists for the software company, in that Cahill has denied any ethical wrong doing in awarding the contract..

This story has legs.

Monday, June 1, 2009

GM, DARE and Town Meeting

So we now are witnessing the 4th largest bankruptcy in this counties history. We now own 60% of GM and if you ever thought about buying a new car, head out to the dealers who are going under. Huge deals are being made to sell off their inventory. And the market rose 225 points... who said there's no money to be made in the market?

DARE has risen from the grave in a few communities south of here. With the recent teenage drinking accidents that have happened, lately, cops and a few ill informed parents are trying to raise money to keep this program alive. DARE America should file for parental bankruptcy and not get bailed out with any tax dollars.

The MWDN asks if Town Meeting is worth it with such low turn out. They report 127 of the 187 elected members showed up to do their civic duty through the last meeting. The largest attendance was for the SMOC lawsuit to approve another 350,000 in legal fees. Certain parts of Town have higher TMM attendance in the more affluent and educated percents, not surprising, but some in other percents don't show up much at all. While the system seems to need some new blood and some reform on the attendance policy, the alternative (City Form) may well end up costing us more in the long run, but no one has leaped forward to do anything about it.