Monday, March 30, 2009

Pam's Newsletter ... does it tell the whole story?

Bill Toughens Lobbying Laws and Gives More Tools to Regulators

BOSTON-State Representative Pam Richardson joined her colleagues in the Massachusetts House of Representatives in passing a broad package of ethics and campaign finance reform. The bill, which now goes to the Senate for consideration, gives stronger investigatory power to the Secretary of State and State Ethics Commission, places more rigorous regulation on lobbyists, and provides for more disclosure and enforcement of campaign finance law.

"This bill proves that we take the public's concerns very seriously," said Representative Pam Richardson. "These changes are our response to the loss of public trust and confidence in government. They will go a long way toward helping us restore that trust."

Through the work of Rep. Richardson and other Members of the House, this package
expands on the work done by the Task Force on Public Integrity appointed by Governor
Patrick in November.

The bill embraces such proposals as enhancing the civil powers of the Secretary of State to enforce lobbying laws, imposes a $10,000 fine or 5 years imprisonment for violations of lobbying laws and gives the Attorney General the ability to call a statewide grand jury for inquiries into local corruption. It also addresses the area of campaign finance and it expands the power of the State Ethics Commission to regulate conflicts of interest, gifts and gratuities to public employees, requiring public officials to avoid any appearance that they can be improperly influenced.

If passed, the bill would double the disclosure requirement of legislators to file during off-election years and permit the Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCFP) to refer violations of campaign finance laws directly to the Attorney General (AG). It further prohibits officials from using campaign accounts to pay fines for ethical violations and mandates electronic filing of $500 donations prior to an election contest.

The bill, announced on the same day the first representatives participated in mandatory ethics training on the House floor, passed 153 - 0.

"Too often, the public has come to see people in government playing by a different set of rules than the rest of the world. This bill - the first ethics legislation taken up by the House in 15 years -- will help restore the public's confidence in government," House Speaker DeLeo said. "In this bill, we empower those agencies charged with enforcing our ethics and campaign finance laws, increase the penalties on violators of our lobbying laws, and make elected officials subject to increased transparency and lobbying requirements. I look forward to working with Governor Patrick and Senate President Murray as we fix the way the people's business is done."

The bill includes the following provisions:


· Would reduce the minimum threshold for incidental lobbying. for executive agents from 50 hours or $5,000 to 25 hours or $2,500;

· Would reduce the minimum threshold for .incidental lobbying. for legislative agents from 50 hours or $5,000 to 25 hours or $2,500;

· Would expand the definition of what constitutes a client for lobbying purposes;

· Would require lobbyists to annually complete a certification course conducted by the secretary of state;

· Would vest the Secretary of State with the authority to promulgate regulations for the implementation, administration and enforcement of lobbying laws;

· Would require the Secretary of State, upon request, to issue confidential advisory opinions on lobby laws;

· Would increase penalties for late filings by lobbyists and employers;

· Would enhance the Secretary of State's civil powers to enforce lobbying laws, including vesting him with subpoena power;

· Would expand the disclosure requirements for lobbyists;

· Would increase the penalties for violations of lobbying laws from $5K to $10K or imprisonment for up to 5 years in state prison or 2.5 years in county jail;

· Would codify the crime of obstruction of justice and makes a violation punishable by a $25K fine and up to 10 years in state prison, or both;

· Would increase the maximum criminal penalty for giving or receiving a bribe from $5K/3 years imprisonment to $100K/10 years imprisonment;

· Would vest the state ethics commission with expanded regulatory authority;

· Would include executive agents in the revolving door statute;

· Would allow the Ethics Commission, in addition to a fine, to recover the proceeds, or the economic advantage, realized by the public official as a result of a violation of the ethics laws;

· Would establish a statewide grand jury, thereby allowing the AG to investigate crimes that cross county lines and to convene inquiries into local corruption matters without relying exclusively on local grand jurors;

· Would require lobbyists to obtain a license from the Secretary of State upon registration and allow the Secretary, upon cause shown, to suspend or permanently revoke a license;

· Would prohibit any gift by a lobbyist to a public official and would increase the penalty for violation of the gift ban from $2,000 up to $10,000 or 5 years imprisonment, or both;

· Would require that all state, county and municipal employees receive a summary of the conflict of interest law within 30 days of becoming an employee and every year thereafter All employees would be required to sign an acknowledgment form stating they received the summary;

· Would require that all state, county and municipal employees to take the State Ethics
Commission's on-line training program within 30 days of hire, and every 2 years thereafter; and Would require the State Ethics Commission to establish a certification program so that each municipality has 1 person knowledgeable about the ethics laws who can train municipal employees

Campaign Finance:

· Would require campaign finance reports to be filed twice in the non-election year;

· Would require sub-vendor reporting (if a candidate hires a consultant and the consultant makes further expenditures, the consultant would have to disclose those expenditures);

· Would increase fines for late filing from $10 per day to $25 per day;

· Would require disclosure of all donations to inaugural, recount and legal defense funds

· Would authorize the removal of a candidate's name from the ballot for failure to file campaign report if OCPF has commenced legal action;

· Would require mayoral candidates in cities with 40,000+ populations to e-file with OCPF;

· Would require mayoral candidates in cities or towns with populations of 50-100k to file with OCPF if more than $5K is raised in an election cycle;

· Would require individuals to reports disclosing such expenditures;

· Would streamline the administration of public financing program for statewide candidates;

· Would clarify that contributions from .professional corporations are prohibited;

· Would authorize OCPF to refer local non-filers to AG for prosecution; and

· Would establish a Special Commission to study the creation of a new Office of Public Accountability which would oversee ethics, campaign and political finance, and lobbyist registration

What is missing from all this good news is this: The House voted 153 to 0 in favor of NOT including, making the legislature subject to the States open meeting law, banning campaign contributions from lobbyists, creating a commission to study the states many quasi-public agencies and prohibiting convicted felons from registering as lobbyists. The bill does not go far enough and left out many important reforms that some in the House wanted, including reforms set forth by Deval.

The House did vote 155 to 0 in favor of taxing bribery income and corrupt gifts. This was a no brainer for sure.

The House did vote against H3853, an amendment to require independent expenditures to be reported,more than 250.00 a year. The long of this is, that the famous 527 groups who pay for TV ads will fly under the radar. They also rejected an amendment to have legislators require ethics training at the beginning of each two year term. The House also rejected an amendment to ban PAC contributions... a big deal for this State, as it is commonly known, that PAC money is one of the big reasons why we have one party in this State.

All of this goes to the Senate, where we could see a gutting of some of the bills language and intent. In another move by the Senate, they rejected the request from the MBTA from erecting billboards on it's property to help raise revenue. Seems like a dam good idea to me.

The Senate has also sent to the House a 278 page bill that makes major changes in the States transportation system. While looking good on paper, it leaves out reform of huge salaries, pension and health care benefits. One very big agency will be formed but without meaningful reform, it may turn into more of a finical mess loaded with inefficiencies and patronage. Voting records provided by Beacon Hill Roll Call.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Patrick aides directed hiring of Walsh

The plot thickens as we learn today from the Globe, aides to Deval controlled the hiring of Walsh and her salary and her job description. This just won't go away for Deval and his band of party loyalists.

Contradicting a series of steadfast denials, internal e-mails show that Governor Deval Patrick's top aides controlled the appointment of state Senator Marian Walsh to a high-paying job at a state authority, from setting her salary to crafting her job description.

They also provided the agency's talking points for the news media in an attempt to quell a public uproar.

"I'm going to send you a proposed job description from [Patrick chief of staff Doug Rubin] soon," Patrick senior adviser Jay Gonzalez told the two top officials at the Massachusetts Health and Education Facilities Authority in a March 11 e-mail.

As of late this week, one of those officials, HEFA chairman Allen Larson, continued to say that the push to hire Walsh came from the authority.

"I would deny that," he said when asked if the Patrick administration engineered the hiring. "We have been looking for the additional staff expertise since I got on the board. We have been working with the administration to figure that out. But I do not consider this an orchestrated matter."

The e-mails indicate, however, that Larson and his staff worked closely with Gonzalez, Patrick's undersecretary of administration and finance, in the days leading up to the board's decision on March 12 to hire Walsh as a $175,000 a year assistant executive director. (After Patrick's action kicked up a political firestorm, Walsh requested this week that the salary be reduced to $120,000.)

The e-mails were released to the Globe after a public records request.

The salary level of $175,000 originated with the administration, the e-mails indicate. They also show that Rubin drafted Walsh's job description. Patrick's press office wrote the script for public statements by the agency.

On the weekend before the Patrick-controlled HEFA board unanimously approved Walsh's appointment as assistant director, Larson asked Gonzalez to justify why the Democratic lawmaker should be paid more than $128,500. That was the amount that a Burlington-based consulting firm, The Survey Group, reported as the average market base pay for the position.

Larson asked Gonzalez to contact Rubin for backup information that would support a $175,000 salary.

"Generally, it's lower than the $175,000 figure," Larson wrote to Gonzalez, referring to the consultant's survey of pay at other government agencies. "It would be helpful if Doug or others could send along some comparables so that we have substantive justifications."

There is no e-mail that describes how the administration responded, but other documents show that after the board vote, the agency's executive director, Benson Caswell, wrote Walsh offering her the job at the $175,000 salary. Another document shows Walsh's total salary package, which includes retirement benefits and healthcare coverage, would have totaled $242,442.

The entire story

Friday, March 27, 2009

Mosquito Control Spraying in Eastern Mass

As some of you may or may not know, the State sprays pesticides at out homes every year to control mosquitos. While my personal preference my not be yours about pesticides use, I would like you all to know, you can opt out of having your property sprayed. Notices are sent out to those of us who want to opt out of the program in February, of all months. Our paperwork had slide into a pile of "to do" stuff, so today I went to my favorite office in Town, the Clerks Office, and delivered my paperwork.

Here's what to do. Send or drop off to the Clerk's office in your town, stating your name, address, phone number and a brief statement instructing them not to spray any pesticides on your property. You must put up some clear markers at each end of your property lines, so the drivers can tell where to stop and start spraying. Details on the web site.

Go to this webs site below for more details on the time when they will spray, dates and the types of pesticides they use.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Could this really work in Mass? talk about recycling!

Bathroom time may not be wasted time after all: A year’s worth of your poop can be turned into 2.1 gallons of useable diesel. And the Norwegian capital of Oslo plans to put all that waste to work powering 80 of its buses with fuel made from the Bekkelaget sewage treatment plant, which houses the waste of 250,000 people.
If all goes as planned, the city’s other waste treatment plant, as well as biofuels made from food waste, will eventually contribute to the total supply—and with serious results: Fueling 400 or so buses this way would reduce 30,000 tons of carbon emissions a year.
While the idea certainly has an “ick factor,” it’s not like gas-station attendants will have to start shoveling sewage directly into a bus’ fuel tank.
The biofuel is actually made from methane that is collected by a sewage treatment plant after microorganisms break down the waste. While switching to this bathroom-friendly method will cost the city 15 percent more to pay for new buses and the added maintenance fees, the benefits still outweigh the negatives: The cost of fuel at the pump is cheaper and it’s carbon neutral. Lives might be saved with the lower emissions of nitrogen oxide and fine particle matter in the air. The buses aren’t as loud. And before you turn your nose at this just yet, consider this: The fuel doesn’t smell.

Ok.. all kidding aside folks... Discover Magazine... with their numbers as a base line, we could power over 6000 vehicles a year, (if we had 4 million hooked to waste water plants), in and around places like the MWRA treatment plants and any other waste treatment facilities. I presume, after breaking it down with microbs it would take on a reduced form and perhaps be harmless. But in the long run it could help stop the pollution of our oceans here in Mass, reduce air pollutants with less urban noise.

Deval's answer to critics of Senator Walsh's 175K pay

Senate Republicans blasted Gov. Deval Patrick’s choice of UMass dean Stephen P. Crosby to review salaries at the state’s 52 quasi-independent agencies yesterday, saying somebody “more independent” is needed.

Patrick tapped Crosby - a former secretary of administration and finance to GOP Govs. Paul Cellucci and Jane M. Swift - for the 90-day study after the flap over Sen. Marian Walsh’s $175,000 job at an obscure funding agency.

Ok... sports fans, Deval has appointed an insider to review the salaries of the independent state agencies. What a great idea.... and I'll bet in 90 days, Mr. Crosby will write in a press release, that all of these groups salaries are within excepted levels of comparable private businesses. Thus.. Senator Walsh will be making that 175K in 90 days. Any takers?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Cahill, lottery, fund raising... I can't make this stuff up

State Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill is facing a state ethics inquiry for awarding a $21 million state lottery contract to a company that was secretly paying Cahill's close friend and fund-raiser, Thomas F. Kelly, tens of thousands of dollars in consulting fees, according to multiple people who have been briefed on the investigation.

Investigators from the state Ethics Commission interviewed Cahill this month about his decision in 2004 to award the contract to Scientific Games to make scratch tickets, despite a recommendation from his own staff that Scientific Games receive less state work, said two of the people who have been briefed. Both spoke on the condition of anonymity because Ethics Commission investigations are confidential.

The investigators also have collected e-mails, campaign finance reports, and other documents, the people said. The investigation follows a Globe story in August that detailed Kelly's work on behalf of Scientific Games and Kelly's relationship to Cahill.

Cahill's office did not respond to a request for comment. The treasurer, addressing the issue in the past through a spokeswoman, has said that he was unaware of Kelly's financial relationship with Scientific Games.

Kelly also declined to comment. The Ethics Commission, which makes it a practice not to confirm or comment on investigations, also would not comment.

The commission's inquiry comes at a politically sensitive time for the Democratic treasurer, who is considering running for governor next year, either as a Democratic primary challenger to Deval Patrick or as an unaffiliated candidate in the general election.

Ethics Commission investigators have asked at least one person about Cahill's level of knowledge of Kelly's financial relationship with Scientific Games and about political contributions the company's executives made to the treasure

Consider this wake up call on eating red meat

WASHINGTON - Eating red meat increases the chances of dying prematurely, according to a large federal study that offers powerful new evidence that a diet that regularly includes steaks, burgers, and pork chops is hazardous to your health.

The study of more than 500,000 middle-age and elderly Americans found that those who consumed the equivalent of about a small hamburger every day were more than 30 percent more likely to die during the 10 years they were followed, mostly from heart disease and cancer. Sausage, cold cuts, and other processed meats also increased the risk.

Previous research had found a link between red meat and an increased risk of heart disease and cancer, particularly colorectal cancer, but the new study is the first large examination of the relationship between eating meat and overall mortality.

"The bottom line is we found an association between red meat and processed meat and an increased risk of mortality," said Rashmi Sinha of the National Cancer Institute, who led the study published today in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

In contrast, routine consumption of fish, chicken, turkey, and other poultry decreased the risk of death by a small amount, the study found.

"This would be the Rolls-Royce of studies on this topic," said Barry Popkin, a professor of global nutrition at the University of North Carolina, who wrote an editorial accompanying the study.

"This is a slam-dunk to say that, 'Yes, indeed, if people want to be healthy and live longer, consume less red and processed meat.' "

There are many explanations for how red meat might be unhealthy: Cooking red meat generates cancer-causing compounds; red meat is also high in saturated fat, which has been associated with breast and colorectal cancer; and meat is also high in iron, which also is believed to promote cancer. People who eat red meat are more likely to have high blood pressure and high cholesterol, which increases the risk of heart disease. Processed meats contain substances known as nitrosamines, which have been linked to cancer.

Regardless of the mechanism, the research provides new evidence that people should follow long-standing recommendations to minimize red meat consumption, several specialists said.

"The take-home message is pretty clear," said Walter Willett, a nutrition expert at the Harvard School of Public Health.

"It would be better to shift from red meat to white meat such as chicken and fish, which if anything is associated with lower mortality."

The American Meat Institute, a trade group, dismissed the findings, however, saying they were based on unreliable self-reporting by the study participants.

"Meat products are part of a healthy, balanced diet, and studies show they actually provide a sense of satisfaction and fullness that can help with weight control.

"Proper body weight contributes to good health overall," James Hodges, the group's executive president, said in a written statement.

Monday, March 23, 2009

I'm not encouraging tobacco use... OK?

Now before you non smokers get on the high horse... let me please say, I don't want any child smoking anything not even tobacco. And I do hope that more of us will stop smoking commercial cigerets, especcially now, the tax increase has hit some of you smokers and some of you will soon be hit with another increase in federal tax. It's a dollar 1.00 each pack. Now we are paying a heafty price in Mass now, of 2.51 a pack.... so, some of us, pay 8 dollars a pack now. Now while that may seem "trivial" as Deval would say, but if your not working and have a habit of buying one pack a day, you now will not buy something else, to buy a pack. Or... you'll quite and save thousands, but most will pay for a pack no matter what.

Side issue... do any of you remember when the cig tax was increased, to get more money to tobacco control and cessation? That was millions and millions.. and we all said.. .that's money destined to the general fund.. and today smoking fans, hardly a dime goes to tobacco programs.

In that light, I want to post a alternative to the high taxes. I'm a customer of This group of Indians are affiliated with the Seneca Tribe. And of coarse, they have no obligation to pay taxes.. Thank God... so.... you can save half of what you are paying now. All you pay is for shipping ( and no State and Federal Taxes) and with that cost, I still save 40.00 a carton. OK.. I will stop, but not today.

I have no vested interest in this company, have not been paid or given free smokes. They carry organic tobacco and even smoke cessation patches... at a fraction of what they are in CVS. Kid safe web site and you pay by check.

don't shoot

Deval targets pension loopholes

Reported in the Globe over the weekend was another in a long list of unethical and somewhat outrageous retirement policies while the State is awash in financial trouble. While I will never begrudge a working man his just due after 30 years on the job, the abuses never seem to stop. Moe seem to be trying to get something for nothing. Volunteering at a library is not what I call working for the pension. And Mr. Simmons, Devals pick for Stimulus Czar, is getting the most out of the system, for getting fired from the State years ago. While only 1 in every 500 employee of the 50,000 that are in the system, take home more than 100,000 a year, the continual spotlight on the abuses and years of politicians saying there would be change, it's seems very unlikely that any meaningful reform will come of this. We all know, who is making the political contributions and to whom, as we also know, the Reps from this area will never get behind any reform of any kind, including Deval, because it will mean votes in 2010. Check out on the OCPF web site (address to the left) and see if your rep gets money from the Carmens unions.

This move is more smoke and mirrors to detract us from the more serious issue of increased tolls and gas tax. He's still doing "damage control" over the resent appointment of Senator Walsh and Alisoi's sister, which he claims is trivial, but it's not trivial with the public, and he will have to account for this move later, if he doesn't stop it now.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Making Home Affordable Web Site

If you or anyone you know are looking for the new web site sponsored by the Federal Government for helping home owners with their mortgages, please pass this on.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Grade the Mass State House

I hope all of you concerned readers and outraged tax payers will pass this blog address on to as many as you know, who actually care about what is going on at the State House. This is a State wide poll that will run all year long.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

From a former State Rep.. on the Speakers authority

AS A former reform-minded state representative, one of my pet peeves is how the media can create a perception among the public that their individual lawmakers are at the mercy of House speakers when it comes to legislative business, and that there is nothing these individual legislators can do.

A case in point is the March 13 story about the legislative staff pay raises and promotions by the outgoing and incoming speakers (Page A1). The reporter wrote, "The House speaker has absolute authority to hire, promote, or grant pay raises." The fact is, a speaker can only do what a majority of legislators allow him to do. Any House member can question the actions by Salvatore DiMasi and Robert DeLeo, and if he or she can obtain the support of a majority, such actions can not only be undone, but more important, the speaker's "absolute authority" can be curbed or eliminated.

Media reports highlighting a speaker's authority mislead the public into believing their representatives share no blame for a speaker's action. The representatives are happy with this because it allows them to duck their individual responsibility.

Anyone who is outraged at these latest shenanigans by the former and current speaker should contact their representative and demand that he or she initiate legislative action to stop such actions.
Frank Jakubowicz, Pittsfield

Something to consider, as we make changes for the future. But as most of you know already, change has to happen at the rep level.

Official's kin had no-work state job... from the Globe

Transportation secretary's sister got $60,000 Legislature post in August

Her title was chief of staff, but she had no staff and reported to no one. That did not prevent Carol Aloisi from collecting a $60,000 State House salary for six months, until a state representative found her - literally - sitting in his new office and put her to work.

Aloisi, the sister of state Transportation Secretary James Aloisi Jr., was assigned in August by House leaders to the onetime office of former state representative Rachel Kaprielian months after Kaprielian had vacated her post to head up the state Registry of Motor Vehicles.

After seeing this, as most of you will agree... we can't be shocked at any story like this. I wonder, how many positions are there in the total state budget, just like this one? Could we guess at hundreds? or could it be thousands? If you go to the Boston Globe on line, you will see over 100 comments from outraged residents.

Deval better do something about this, even the one party loyalist must be hiding their faces now.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Beacon Hill Roll Call.. Pam's Newsletter


This weeks Beacon Hill Roll Call report:

H 3415, The House and Senate 145 - 0 and 37 -0 approved a supplemental budget and sent to Deval for his paw print to raid the Rainy Day Fund for this years 2009 budget. The amount of 237 million will pay for snow removal (105 Mil) , give the State 90 days to process your tax refund w/o paying interest and a reduction of 286,000 in the Governors office.

My spin... sure pay for snow removal in an emergency situation, but they could have cut 132 million from places like, the Legislators salary and perks, 40 Mil, Fraud, 10 million, wage freeze and pay raises 160 million, combining state agencies, 30 million.

H 3415 Prohibit pay raises and impose hiring freeze for State employees;
rejected the amendment 9 28

More bad news for the taxpayer, but good news for all State mployees. While I'm well aware of many sectors of State Employment that are not being paid well at all, like health care workers, and social service workers, etc, many of the other functions of the State cost to much money and when toll workers make more than teachers, something has to change.

Pams New Letter: FYI.. You can't get this from her web site.

I've only copied and pasted the first section:

Our state and our community face unprecedented times. The staggering economy, plummeting tax revenues, job losses and fiscal crisis has created challenges not seen in decades. There is not a family, neighbor or friend not feeling the strain created by this economic crisis.

In order to meet these challenges government must reform and change. It must be more responsive, more efficient and more effective in delivering services. We must question past practices and identify innovations and 21st century solutions.

The House of Representatives is working aggressively to reform and retool state government. We have identified several priority areas:

Rules Reform
It is clear we need to change the way state government does business and work harder to restore the public' trust and faith and transparency in all that we do.

We recently passed a set of reforms governing the operations of the House of Representatives:

- Mandate ethics training for all members, officers and employees

- End "phantom" voting

- Limit the Speaker's term to 8 years

- Prohibit members, officers and employees from receiving gifts from lobbyists

- Require electronic and internet access of bill and budget text

These reforms complement a set of initiatives previously acted upon which curbed late-night sessions and prohibit all-night sessions, leading to a more transparent and open state government.

Now I know that some of you could care less about what she says and does, while some of you would like to know this information for various reasons. But I want you all to know that what she has published and laid claim to as nothing more than out right proganda and very misleading. One might interrupt her work as really beneficial to us and how we could feel better about her work in reforming the mass State House.

This is just not true. She and her one party loyalists have rejected the following in ethics reform:

Rules Reform: H 2009 House Rules Not even close to living up to a higher standard of openness, fairness and equality.

Equal Representation on Ethics Committee: defeated 22 - 133 just as it sounds, equal is the part the one party refused on this vote

Audit House Accounts: defeated 16 - 137 yup.. they want no part of auditing

Removal of Committee Chairs and Leadership: again defeated 17 - 137 so once again, if you are caught in unethical and illegal behavior, you get to keep your job.

Values Based Ethics Training: defeated 17 - 137, they say that the current training is adequate... we all can believe that eh?

Raiding Rainy Day Fund: defeated 20-133 they don't want a two thirds approval before raiding the fund.

So when you hear, our reps say, and most will say, they have done much in the way of ethics reform already this year, please keep the truth in mind for future reference. They clearly have their own agenda to protect and to serve and to a great extent it doesn't serve us at all. More lip service and no results.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Deval .. how could he do this?

Governor Deval Patrick, who campaigned on a platform to fight business as usual on Beacon Hill, has given one of his earliest political supporters a $175,000-a-year job as an assistant director at a state bonding authority, a position that had sat vacant for more than a dozen years.

State Senator Marian Walsh's appointment was approved yesterday by the board of the Massachusetts Health and Education Facilities Authority, which is dominated by Patrick appointees. The new post will give her a pay raise of nearly $100,000 a year. The agency said Walsh will head its new effort to reach out to other authorities and state agencies to create savings by pooling resources.

Republicans sharply criticized Patrick yesterday for appointing Walsh, a nine-term West Roxbury Democrat, to such a high-paying post as the nation slides into serious recession and the state government is slashing its budget and laying people off. The appointment comes as unemployment in the private sector has risen to 7.4 percent.

"Creating a job for Marian Walsh does not count as one of the thousands of jobs Governor Patrick promised to create in Massachusetts," said Barney Keller, the GOP spokesman. "Instead of rewarding supporters with high-paying jobs, the governor should focus on creating jobs for the thousands of unemployed taxpayers."

Two years ago, Patrick appointed Walsh's husband - Paul V. Buckley, a retired District Court judge - to the state's Industrial Accident Board, a post that pays $113,000 a year. That job will sharply increase his state pension. Walsh had applied to Patrick's Judicial Nominating Commission to become a district court judge, but she withdrew her name a year ago.

Joseph Landolfi, the governor's spokesman, did not respond directly to the GOP criticism. He issued a statement saying that Walsh was "highly qualified" for the post and that the governor's office looks forward to working with her.

Walsh's office said she would not be available to comment on her new job.

In a joint statement, the Massachusetts Health and Education Facilities Authority chairman, Allen Larson, and its executive director, Benson Caswell, said Walsh's 20 years of experience in the Legislature gives her the credentials for the job. "She is a highly qualified and well-respected individual," they said in the written statement.

Walsh had originally been slated to take over as executive director of the facilities authority, but the governor's staff backed down after the Globe published an e-mail in May 2008 from a Walsh adviser to Patrick's chief of staff that detailed a plan to push Caswell out of the $225,000-a-year position, pack the board with Patrick supporters, and then have the board appoint her to his position.

Walsh, the Senate majority whip, will see a significant boost in her current $76,440 state salary. But the authority is not part of the state pension system, and her new salary will not boost her state retirement benefits. The agency, which secures tax-exempt capital financing for hospitals, colleges and universities, cultural and research institutions, and human service providers, has a private savings retirement system.The veteran lawmaker had been looking to give up her seat for a state job for several years. Beacon Hill officials have said her relationship with Senate President Therese Murray has been strained. She has held the Senate seat since 1992, after serving two terms in the House.

Murray issued a statement yesterday praising Walsh, saying she has been a "strong advocate for her constituents and a champion of important issues."'

Caswell has extensive experience in public bonding and non-profit debt.

Walsh's credentials in public bonding are not as strong. She holds a theological degree from Harvard Divinity School and a law degree from Suffolk University. She has worked on state finance and financial regulation issues, serving as Senate chairwoman of the Joint Committee on Taxation and the Joint Committee on Banks and Banking. She also led efforts in the Senate to force private, nonprofit organizations to open their books to the public.

Walsh was one of the first state political figures to back what was then considered a long-shot bid by Patrick to win the Democratic nomination for governor in 2006. Within days after winning the governor's race, Patrick, having vowed to upend the political culture on Beacon Hill, told reporters that state legislators should not expect patronage appointments from him.

DiMasi/DeLeo twins?

What was a bad week for Salvatore F. DiMasi when he resigned as House speaker turned out to be a great week for a dozen House staff members, who got raises and promotions on DiMasi's way out the door.

On his second to last day in office in January, DiMasi boosted the pay of 10 House employees, including his driver, Daniel Petrigno, whom he made a court officer, one of a cadre of uniformed men and women whose primary responsibility is keeping order in the House.

He gave thousands of dollars in raises to two other court officers and to staff members working for favored committee chairman. The pay increases ranged from 4 to 66 percent and cost $65,000.

That tally increased when his successor, Representative Robert A. DeLeo, assumed office the same week and immediately gave his entire staff raises, some as high as 56 percent. In the following weeks, he hiked the pay of several staff members working for his new leadership team.

It is not unprecedented for a new speaker to give raises to his staff members, to reflect their new responsibilities, nor is it routine. But some questioned whether it was appropriate for an outgoing speaker to be so generous, especially given the ethical cloud hanging over DiMasi when he left, or for any raises to be given at all, in such grim economic times.

"Now is clearly not the time for us in government to be seeking pay raises, " said Representative Karyn Polito, Republican of Shrewsbury. "I'm hearing daily from individuals and families who are suffering more than ever. It is incumbent upon government officials to demonstrate a connection to our constituents. We may need to consider salary freezes, hiring freezes, and furloughs as a way to balance our budget during this crisis."

DeLeo spokesman Seth Gitell defended the raises for aides of the new speaker and the new leadership team, saying in an e-mailed statement that they "reflect entirely new jobs and expanded responsibilities." He said the total amount paid to staff in the speaker's office and House Ways and Means Committee is less than that of their predecessors.

Combined with increases DiMasi gave out in spurts over the past year, the two House speakers bumped staff pay more than $900,000 over the past 11 months as the national economy began a precipitous decline and the state confronted an ever greater deficit.

DiMasi could not be reached for comment.

Many of the increases in staff salaries were made as lawmakers themselves were receiving an automatic 5 percent pay raise in January that added more than $500,000 to the House payroll. Just 17 out of 160 representatives, including Polito, declined the raises, citing the weak economy and the financial struggles of their constituents.Continued...

DeLeo was not among those 17.

In his last days in office, DiMasi gave raises to aides of Representative Joseph F. Wagner, Democrat of Chicopee, and Representative John J. Binienda, Democrat of Worcester, according to payroll records. They are chairmen of the transportation and revenue committees. He also increased the hours and pay of an aide to Representative Richard J.Ross, Republican of Wrentham, whose last-minute switch on Governor Deval Patrick's casino plan helped ensure its defeat in committee last year. DiMasi was the proposal's most ardent foe.

He also found a job for defeated Gloucester representative Anthony J. Verga, who started working as a $40,000-a-year senior administrative aide in the House clerk's office on Jan. 7. DiMasi attempted to add a carpenter to the House payroll, according to one legislative official, but was thwarted by DeLeo, who halted the hiring before the man's paperwork was complete.

DiMasi gave a promotion and 3.7 percent raise to his driver, Petrigno, making him a $38,500-a-year court officer.

The House speaker has absolute authority to hire, promote, or grant pay raises. In 2008 DiMasi used that power to reward some and ignore others, handing out more than $700,000 in raises and promotions. In July, DiMasi gave his 19-member staff 6 percent raises. Deputy communications director Victoria Bonney, whose duties expanded last summer, saw her pay jump 35 percent. DiMasi also gave 6 percent raises to the 24 employees of the House human resources department, the House clerk's office, and House counsel's office.

Those employees had last received raises in 2007.

In September, DiMasi gave 3 percent raises to all other lawmakers' staff members and the 17 House court officers. For about two dozen aides, that bump came on top of raises of varying amounts they received earlier in the year, according to payroll records.

In the last few months of his speakership, DiMasi gave out another batch of raises, mostly to aides of his committee chairmen. Conspicuously missing from the list are aides to legislators backing Representative John H. Rogers, then the majority leader, who was battling DeLeo to succeed DiMasi. DeLeo was thought to be DiMasi's choice.

Binienda and Wagner said their ties to DiMasi had nothing to do with the promotions or raises their aides received in DiMasi's final days in office.

Binienda, the former Revenue Committee chairman, said he lost an aide last year and was not permitted to replace him. Because other staff members had to take up the slack, they received increases, he said.

"The hardest thing about being a chairman is keeping your staff happy," said Binienda, who now chairs the Rules Committee.

Wagner said the small raises his aides received were more than offset by cuts he made in other parts of his office budget.

"I'm not sure how many legislators offered to cut staff in response to things happening here economically," Wagner said. "I made that offer. In view of all I did on that front, these [pay raises] were very reasonable."

But Representative Daniel E. Bosley, Democrat of North Adams and one of DiMasi's closest allies, said he specifically did not ask for staff raises, though his employees deserved them.

"We're in fiscal crisis," said Bosley, who chaired the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies. "We were down two people and didn't ask for permission to hire because we were in a fiscal crisis. My kids were working 12 or 14 hours a day. I would have loved to have given them something, but I chose not to do that."

Since his resignation, DiMasi too has been collecting checks compliments of the Commonwealth. Last month he started receiving a state pension of just under $60,000 a year, according to the State Retirement Board. The benefit is based on 33 years and three months of service. He received credit for a full year of service in 2009, even though he resigned in January.

Concert's on the Common

As those of you who live in and around Framingham know, Jim Egan and his crew have put on Concerts on the Green for years and is now in danger of not doing any concerts this summer because of funding. It costs a fair amount of money to sponsor these free events and I'm posting this as a way for us to help, (if you are employed) keep this great event going. Checks can be made out to Town of Framingham Concert Fund and mailed to Jim Egan at the Town Hall. This is one of this Town's great free family outdoor events that all of us can appreciate. I'm in for 100.00 but every donation counts.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Pam Richarson's News Letter

Rep. Richardson Discusses Budget with Hemenway Elementary School PTO

Representative Pam Richardson met with Hemenway Elementary School's Parent Teacher Organization last week to discuss the State Budget.

The lively discussion included questions regarding historic local aid numbers and proposals which would bring more revenue to Framingham and help avoid potential cuts to services

If you would like Representative Pam Richardson to attend an upcoming PTO or community group meeting to discuss the State Budget reply to this email or call (617)722-2582 State Budget Discussion


Monday, March 30th
7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Costin Room, Framingham Public Library

Noah Berger, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center will lead a presentation and discussion on the Massachusetts State Budget. All residents are welcome. Light refreshments served. For more information Contact Representative Pam Richardson (617)722-2582

How they Voted here in Mass March 2-6 Read it and Weep

The house and Senate approved Deval's plan to reorganize a few departments, Transitional Assistance emergency shelter programs is now part of the Dept of Housing and Community Development.

The "Seven-member Independent Redistricting Commission" was defeated by most, 133 to 22. This is very bad for us and next year, you will see districts carved up like a Thanksgiving Turkey. They all should be ashamed of themselves.

The 28 member legislative Redistricting Commission .. did get approved 132 - 20, it's made up of 23 Dems and 5 Rebub's. More partisan politics here... will do nothing to stop the discriminatory practice.

The Senate approved a bill that the State will "guarantee Turnpike Dept", more bad news

The Senate rejected 12-26 an amendment prohibiting the Mass Turnpike from raising tolls beyond what is needed to prevent the Mass Turnpike from defaulting on it's bonds. They just don't listen to what the public wants.

Total time the taxpayers are charged for March 2-6. House met for 4 hours and the Senate met for 4 hours and 12 minutes. Great work if you can get it....

Report Examples of Waste from Stimulus funding

The main man, Obama's pick for watchdog over the stimulus money, 787 billion dollars, a guy named Earl Devaney. He's the guy charges with making sure money that is being sent, doesn't end up as party favors for a select few. As I've read in the WSJ, many of the systems and procedures laid out as requirements, to get stimulus money, are just not there yet. They actually have around 350 million dollars in their coffers to help with the process of watching where this money goes.

He also states that fraud typically accounts for 7% of all big contracts... that's 55 billion in fraud they already have reasoned. The man and his lieutenants will have their hands full.

A few towns in Metro West just got 1.7 million from grants from the Stimulus money. These are for law enforcement primarily and should be watched for fraud and useless programs.

Please feel free to write to this address and print out a copy of what you sent, it may be very interesting to see if they do anything with the intell.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Sate House Roundup ..worth the read

By Jim O'Sullivan

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, FEB. 27, 2009…..."I got backed into the corner of my grocery store Saturday," Senate President Therese Murray said Wednesday, "and couldn't move, by people yelling at me."

The mob, who spotted Murray despite her weekend attire of sweats and a baseball cap, had sensed that the climate on the Hill has begun to emanate the strong odor of pending taxation. On a lot of things.

In the queue, per Gov. Deval Patrick's fiscal proposals: Hummers, Tootsie Rolls, Dr. Pepper, Motel 6 stays, Budweiser, telecommunications services, and lunch.

There's an estimated $20 billion less than needed to maintain existing transportation infrastructure over the next two decades, a $900 million or so hole in this year's state budget, and that whopper of a $3.5 billion deficit due to kick in July 1. Not to mention the seemingly doomed Big Dig debt deal that has the state on the hook for a $363 million payment, a situation "out of our control", turnpike executive director Alan LeBovidge said Thursday.

Republicans on Thursday tried to make the claim that new revenues were not needed, a suggestion preposterously D.O.A., given current trends. Many of those consumer products, though probably not all, will cost more sooner rather than later due to the state increasing its take.

"There's no question that we're going to need more revenue," Murray said outside her office, at a safe remove from the belligerent horde. "How we get that revenue, the devil's in the details, and we're working on it."

And, of course, gasoline. They want to tax gasoline, do the kings and queens of the Hill. The frame for this debate this week became, finally, the signed, sealed and delivered $100 million toll hike, assigned in two stages beginning next month, and set to double tunnel tolls by July. The choice foisted upon the House and Senate: Patrick's 19-cent gas tax, or a variation thereof, or significant toll hikes. Or a better idea, if you've got it.

Patrick's 141-page bill went bafflingly unfiled until 5:15 on Tuesday afternoon, three hours or so after the Pike vote. No one seemed to be able to explain this final delay in any detail, but it's accurate to report that the few extra hours - after a vote conditional to the success of legislation that had not yet been fully authored - cost the administration something dear in the court of mild dementia that is the Legislature's collective consciousness.

Lawmakers, some of whom must now explain to constituents (i.e., voters) why they failed to prevent a $100 million toll hike AND still support the nation's highest gas tax, gathered outside the inexplicably chosen small meeting room and fairly buzzed with negative energy. Sen. Karen Spilka was "profoundly disappointed." Rep. Steven Walsh claimed North Shore and Metrowest working families (i.e., voters) had "a gun to [their] heads."

Rep. David Linsky, gifted two weeks ago with subpoena power as chair of the House Post Audit Committee, flexed that juice right away. Even after the meeting, Turnpike and Executive Office of Transportation staff could not furnish legislators or reporters with a copy of the $100 million motion that had just carried, prompting Linsky to threaten, seemingly in partial jest, one newly hired EOT official, "Do you need a subpoena?"

The governor spent part of the week in Washington, gathering with other governors to talk economic recovery with the president. The gubernatorial takeaway, public version, was $594 million in temporary Medicaid relief for the Commonwealth, a faucet that opened Wednesday as part of the $15 billion all the states will receive under the new economic stimulus.

The Legislature spent part of the week doing … not much, publicly, anyway. The Senate called a formal session for Thursday, and then scrapped it with zero public warning. The House, two weeks after committee assignments, sort of lazed through the week, and members say they are growing impatient with a pace that, aside from numerous meetings that register nil on the real-world-impact scale, is charitably described as languid.

Top deputies to Speaker Robert DeLeo, who say things like "Bob had his game face on" when he filled out committee assignments because he matched reps to skill sets, concede that it is time for the House to stop spinning wheels and begin business in earnest. It is not just the outside perception held by the viewing public, but lingering divisions over the DeLeo-Rogers fight and, more recently, DeLeo's distribution of leadership plums that have some in the House out of sorts.

STORY OF THE WEEK: Most of the dissent on whether or not to raise the gas tax came from the infirm minority, but just how to do it remains an elusive compromise.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "You're out-Matt Amorelloing Matt Amorello." - Mary Connaughton, Tuesday, to Transportation Secretary and Pike board chair James Aloisi, invoking the name of the departed Pike board chair and former state Sen. Matthew Amorello. Anytime a state government figure's name becomes suitable for use as a verb, it is cause for some review. In this case, Connaughton appeared to be referring to Aloisi's leadership style, as board meetings presided over by Amorello were notably contentious affairs. No different than Tuesday, when Patrick's newly chosen transportation chief and one of only two Romney-era holdovers on the board had at it repeatedly. Regardless, Matt Amorello, wherever he is, must have felt a little wistful.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK, NON-AMORELLO DIVISION: "We go to work, we pay our taxes, and we all feel like we're being screwed by you people." - Louis Antonellis, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 103 business agent, detailing Wednesday to the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center board how the union feels about the state's handling of the $1 billion industry incentive, which he labeled "corporate welfare" and deploying the ever-pejorative "you people." Board officials said the incentive has created about 900 jobs so far.

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