Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Another great column in the Times about what America Needs---Education

Education has been on my mind this week. One of my workers who recently spent 3 years in maximum security prison in MA got his G.E.D. after working with me, studying, getting his own place and with help from ABCD. Congratulations! It is a long road, but we need to get ourselves going.

The Boston Public Schools are atrocious, I try and hire kids who attend these schools all the time. We can't sugar coat it, we have to do something about it, but the leadership in our city is not there.

Some food for thought:

For me, the most frightening news in The Times on Sunday was not about North Korea’s stepping up its nuclear program, but an article about how American kids are stepping up their use of digital devices: “Allison Miller, 14, sends and receives 27,000 texts in a month, her fingers clicking at a blistering pace as she carries on as many as seven text conversations at a time. She texts between classes, at the moment soccer practice ends, while being driven to and from school and, often, while studying. But this proficiency comes at a cost: She blames multitasking for the three B’s on her recent progress report. “I’ll be reading a book for homework and I’ll get a text message and pause my reading and put down the book, pick up the phone to reply to the text message, and then 20 minutes later realize, ‘Oh, I forgot to do my homework.’ ”

Josh Haner/The New York Times
Thomas L. Friedman
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Times Topic: Arne Duncan
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I don’t want to pick on Miller. I highlight her words only because they’re integral to a much larger point: Our unemployment today is not only because of the financial crisis. There are some deeper problems. If we’re going to get more Americans back to work, we will need more stimulus from the U.S.G. — the U.S. government — from the top down. But we will also need more stimulus from the P.T.A.’s — the Parent Teacher Associations — from the bottom up.

The deeper problems fostering unemployment in America today can be summarized in three paragraphs:

Global competition is stiffer. Just think about two of our most elite colleges. When Harvard and Yale were all male, applicants had to compete only against a pool of white males to get in. But when Harvard and Yale admitted women and more minorities, white males had to step up their game. But when the cold war ended, globalization took hold. As Harvard and Yale started to admit more Chinese, Indians, Singaporeans, Poles and Vietnamese, both American men and women had to step up their games to get in. And as the education systems of China, India, Singapore, Poland and Vietnam continue to improve, and more of their cream rises to the top and more of their young people apply to Ivy League schools, it is only going to get more competitive for American men and women at every school.

Then, just as the world was getting flattened by globalization, technology went on a rampage — destroying more low-end jobs and creating more high-end jobs faster than ever. What computers, hand-held devices, wireless technology and robots do in aggregate is empower better-educated and higher-skilled workers to be more productive — so they can raise their incomes — while eliminating many lower-skilled service and factory jobs altogether. Now the best-educated workers, capable of doing the critical thinking that machines can’t do, get richer while the least-educated get pink slips. (We used to have a receptionist at our office. She was replaced by a micro-chip. We got voice mail.)

Finally, just when globalization and technology were making the value of higher education greater than ever, and the price for lacking it more punishing than ever, America started slipping behind its peers in high school graduation rates, college graduation and global test scores in math and critical thinking.

As Education Secretary Arne Duncan put it to me in an interview, 50 years ago if you dropped out, you could get a job in the stockyards or steel mill and still “own your own home and support your family.” Today, there are no such good jobs for high school dropouts. “They’re gone,” said Duncan. “That’s what we haven’t adjusted to.” When kids drop out today, “they’re condemned to poverty and social failure.” There are barely any jobs left for someone with only a high school diploma, and that’s only valuable today if it has truly prepared you to go on to higher education without remediation — the only ticket to a decent job.

Beyond the recession, this triple whammy is one of the main reasons that middle-class wages have been stagnating. To overcome that, we need to enlist both the U.S.G. and the P.T.A. We need teachers and principals who are paid better for better performance, but also valued for their long hours and dedication to students and learning. We need better parents ready to hold their kids to higher standards of academic achievement. We need better students who come to school ready to learn, not to text. And to support all of this, we need an all-society effort — from the White House to the classroom to the living room — to nurture a culture of achievement and excellence.

If you want to know who’s doing the parenting part right, start with immigrants, who know that learning is the way up. Last week, the 32 winners of Rhodes Scholarships for 2011 were announced — America’s top college grads. Here are half the names on that list: Mark Jia, Aakash Shah, Zujaja Tauqeer, Tracy Yang, William Zeng, Daniel Lage, Ye Jin Kang, Baltazar Zavala, Esther Uduehi, Prerna Nadathur, Priya Sury, Anna Alekeyeva, Fatima Sabar, Renugan Raidoo, Jennifer Lai, Varun Sivaram.

Do you see a pattern?

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Great column by Friedman in the NY Times

A friend in the U.S. military sent me an e-mail last week with a quote from the historian Lewis Mumford’s book, “The Condition of Man,” about the development of civilization. Mumford was describing Rome’s decline: “Everyone aimed at security: no one accepted responsibility. What was plainly lacking, long before the barbarian invasions had done their work, long before economic dislocations became serious, was an inner go. Rome’s life was now an imitation of life: a mere holding on. Security was the watchword — as if life knew any other stability than through constant change, or any form of security except through a constant willingness to take risks.”

It was one of those history passages that echo so loudly in the present that it sends a shiver down my spine — way, way too close for comfort.

I’ve just spent a week in Silicon Valley, talking with technologists from Apple, Twitter, LinkedIn, Intel, Cisco and SRI and can definitively report that this region has not lost its “inner go.” But in talks here and elsewhere I continue to be astounded by the level of disgust with Washington, D.C., and our two-party system — so much so that I am ready to hazard a prediction: Barring a transformation of the Democratic and Republican Parties, there is going to be a serious third party candidate in 2012, with a serious political movement behind him or her — one definitely big enough to impact the election’s outcome.

There is a revolution brewing in the country, and it is not just on the right wing but in the radical center. I know of at least two serious groups, one on the East Coast and one on the West Coast, developing “third parties” to challenge our stagnating two-party duopoly that has been presiding over our nation’s steady incremental decline.

President Obama has not been a do-nothing failure. He has some real accomplishments. He passed a health care expansion, a financial regulation expansion, stabilized the economy, started a national education reform initiative and has conducted a smart and tough war on Al Qaeda.

But there is another angle on the last two years: a president who won a sweeping political mandate, propelled by an energized youth movement and with control of both the House and the Senate — about as much power as any president could ever hope to muster in peacetime — was only able to pass an expansion of health care that is a suboptimal amalgam of tortured compromises that no one is certain will work or that we can afford (and doesn’t deal with the cost or quality problems), a limited stimulus that has not relieved unemployment or fixed our infrastructure, and a financial regulation bill that still needs to be interpreted by regulators because no one could agree on crucial provisions. Plus, Obama had to abandon an energy-climate bill altogether, and if the G.O.P. takes back the House, we may not have an energy bill until 2013.

Obama probably did the best he could do, and that’s the point. The best our current two parties can produce today — in the wake of the worst existential crisis in our economy and environment in a century — is suboptimal, even when one party had a huge majority. Suboptimal is O.K. for ordinary times, but these are not ordinary times. We need to stop waiting for Superman and start building a superconsensus to do the superhard stuff we must do now. Pretty good is not even close to good enough today.

“We basically have two bankrupt parties bankrupting the country,” said the Stanford University political scientist Larry Diamond. Indeed, our two-party system is ossified; it lacks integrity and creativity and any sense of courage or high-aspiration in confronting our problems. We simply will not be able to do the things we need to do as a country to move forward “with all the vested interests that have accrued around these two parties,” added Diamond. “They cannot think about the overall public good and the longer term anymore because both parties are trapped in short-term, zero-sum calculations,” where each one’s gains are seen as the other’s losses.

We have to rip open this two-party duopoly and have it challenged by a serious third party that will talk about education reform, without worrying about offending unions; financial reform, without worrying about losing donations from Wall Street; corporate tax reductions to stimulate jobs, without worrying about offending the far left; energy and climate reform, without worrying about offending the far right and coal-state Democrats; and proper health care reform, without worrying about offending insurers and drug companies.

“If competition is good for our economy,” asks Diamond, “why isn’t it good for our politics?”

We need a third party on the stage of the next presidential debate to look Americans in the eye and say: “These two parties are lying to you. They can’t tell you the truth because they are each trapped in decades of special interests. I am not going to tell you what you want to hear. I am going to tell you what you need to hear if we want to be the world’s leaders, not the new Romans.”

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Friday, April 02, 2010

Martha Coakley announces new Open Meeting Post

Your browser may not support display of this image. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Office of the Attorney General



(617) 727-2200

(617) 727-4765 TTY


March 31, 2009 Emily LaGrassa

(617) 727-2543


New Division will Focus on Education and Outreach as AG’s Office

Assumes Responsibility for Open Meeting Law Enforcement
BOSTON – Attorney General Martha Coakley has named Robert Nasdor as the Director of her office’s newly-created Division of Open Government. In this role, Nasdor will oversee the Attorney General’s Office’s work to enforce and provide education and training on the state’s Open Meeting Law. On July 1, 2010, the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) will assume responsibility for enforcement of the Open Meeting Law (OML) from the state’s District Attorneys, who previously enforced the law as it pertains to municipal bodies.
“The recent changes to the Open Meeting law provide for greater transparency and clarity—both of which are hallmarks of good government,” said Attorney General Martha Coakley. “Our office’s approach to enforcement of the Open Meeting Law will focus on education and training, and it is our hope that if all local government officials understand the law, we will prevent violations. Bob is a seasoned attorney whose career has focused on public interest advocacy and he shares my commitment to open government. I am confident that he will bring top-notch leadership to this new division and will be a great resource for municipal officials.”
Nasdor, a Sudbury resident, is a graduate of Rutgers University School of Law. He previously served as the Legal Director at the National Center on Homelessness & Poverty in Washington, DC, where he directed the law and policy agenda for this national homeless legal advocacy organization. From 1997 through 2005, Nasdor served as the Executive Director of the Legal Assistance Corporation of Central Massachusetts, directing a 20-attorney civil legal services program serving 3,500 low-income clients annually.
Under Ethics Reform legislation enacted in 2009 the AGO will assume responsibility for all enforcement of the OML. Previously, the AGO was responsible for enforcement of the OML as it pertains to state boards and committees, while the state’s 11 District Attorney’s were responsible for enforcement of OML as it applied to municipal and county boards and committees. In order to allow for more consistent enforcement and to provide for more training

and education of municipal and county officials, all enforcement was transferred to the AGO, effective July 1, 2010.

Recognizing that most OML violations are the result of a lack of awareness or understanding of the law, the Attorney General’s new Division of Open Government will focus on providing training and educational resources to public officials who are subject to the OML. The Division of Open Government will provide training through two key means:

1. Online: The AGO will develop a comprehensive website that will provide updated OML guidelines, links to the OML and the AGO’s regulations, links to the advisory opinions and hearing decisions that we will be issuing, and other educational materials and resources.
2. In-person: The new division will also conduct in-person, regional trainings. In addition, the AGO will also continue to accept requests to speak from associations representing municipal officials, city managers, city solicitors/town counsel and city/town clerks, and other officials subject to the OML, as well as the news media.

The new division’s goal is to be a recognizable and readily accessible resource for officials, the news media, and the public.

Because the AGO has the authority to issue binding interpretations of the OML—something that the District Attorneys did not have—the AGO will be able to help officials avoid violating the law by providing guidance before action is taken. The AGO will provide both formal and informal guidance to municipalities and other officials. For example:

* Officials and other interested parties can ask for a written opinion from the Division of Open Government, which will apply the OML to a specific set of facts.
* The Division of Open Government will be able to respond to questions and concerns posed by local officials over the phone.

In addition, the AGO plans to issue procedural and substantive regulations that will help to fill in any gaps in the OML and respond to issues that arise.

Mike Ross's Citizen Committee announced

Mike Ross announced in January that he is putting together a citizens committee on how Boston can be better. His announcement says the committee is full of innovators who have brought fresh energy and ideas to Boston.

I contacted Mike and the chairperson Ed Glaeser expressing my interest in the committee, but I didn't make the cut.

I was interested that in the announcement it noted that committee person Klare Allen is a resident of the Boston Housing Authority, but it doesn't mention where any of the other people live. I wrote the following note to Councilor Ross, I'll let you know what response I get:

Dear Mike,

I was disappointed that you weren't interested in having me on your committee. I had spoken to ChairPerson Glaeser about it and he thought I might be able to add something to it. Anyway, I wish you and the city well with it. I would suggest saving libraries or having a real long term plan and discussion about libraries would be a great way to make a great city.

I have one question. In your announcement it mentions that Klare Allen is a resident of the Boston Housing Authority. I have met Klare and I know she is a poor black woman. I also notice that the announcement doesn't mention where any of the other people live. Is there a particular reason that you only identify where poor black women live? I'd appreciate it if you would update your announcement and
let everyone know where all the appointees live. I know you care about equality and transparency.

I look forward to your response.

Kevin McCrea

Mike Responds:

It was to highlight that she lives in public housing - yes - that is important to me, and I hope to the public, that a member who lives in public housing is on this committee because this isn't just about CEO's and academics - that our city is strong enough to attract talent internationally, but lift up talent who currently lives here. She and I spoke.

Hope to see you at the meeting, and we will produce more complete bios.


Thursday, April 01, 2010

My editorial against closing libraries

This printed in these weeks edition of the South End News.

Recently it has been reported that there is an emergency fiscal "crisis" with the Boston Public Libraries and that 10 of the 26 branch libraries may have to be shuttered. But, the numbers do not add up, and there is no real emergency. The crisis is one of honest government, proper planning, and responsible investigative journalism.

First the numbers: according to the Boston Globe, the library budget this year is 41.1 million dollars, for which it is reported there is a 3.6 million dollar shortfall, which is about nine percent. The announced response to this is to close 38 percent of the branch libraries? Clearly, more than meets the eye is going on here. Three million, six hundred thousand dollars is less than two tenths of one percent of the 2.4 billion dollar City budget, and hardly rates as a crisis forcing us to board up public institutions without a proper vetting of how important they are to our civic life.

As thoroughly explained in the enlightening book "Shock Doctrine" by Naomi Klein, governments and politicians have moved away from being honest with their citizens by creating false "crises" to force "reforms" on people that they could not do democratically. In a debate last year, Mayor Menino trumpeted the fact that he had not closed one library during our national economic meltdown. I pointed out that he had indeed closed the Kirstein library, and he retorted that it just moved to Copley Square. Will he use the same logic for these 10 branch libraries? He certainly didn’t run on a platform of closing 40 percent of our civic institutions. Closing libraries is the modern equivalent of book burning, as Adrian Walker’s bank robber subject John McGrath so aptly put it this week.

I believe the media is most to blame for this state of affairs. Why aren’t they asking these basic financial questions? As I and others such as the Municipal Research Bureau and the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation have been pointing out for years, we have an unsustainable financial model, especially when it comes to pensions and health care for government workers. This didn’t just happen in the last month, and it is no excuse to ram the shuttering of all these libraries down our throats without an honest, transparent analysis and discussion of our long-range civic goals and priorities. Last year at this time, City Hall was telling the press that we were facing 900 school layoffs and 200 police layoffs. As I wrote last year, this was again another fake "crisis" and was just being used to scare the populace so that the politicians looked good when they cut far fewer jobs, or none as in the case of policemen. I am saying it here now: the City of Boston is not going to close 10 libraries this year, City Hall is not being honest with the citizens, and if I am wrong I will personally donate $50,000 for books to the library system. I believe for the media to have their own sustainable economic model, they need to start doing their job and asking these questions, instead of asking where Tom and Gisele were last night.

We espouse that we are the Athens of America, but the recent news would suggest otherwise. We are talking about closing schools and closing libraries because of lack of money, but yet when two convenience store clerks are murdered the politicians are quick to come up with funds and proposed rules for requiring security cameras. I feel I am living more in Oceania than in Utopia. Yet the facts again point out the fallacy in their thinking. Surendra Dangol was killed in a convenience store with a security camera; it took 20 days to arrest his alleged killer. Gerardo Serrano was killed in a convenience store without a security camera; it took only four days to arrest his alleged killers. I didn’t hear a single politician ask about the cost of those proposed cameras and rules. It takes real leadership to say to a shocked and grieving public that to make a just and safe society we need to spend more on libraries and schools, and less on security cameras.

What is the solution? First of all, pray for Mother Nature to give us $7.5 million during this Easter season. What do I mean? Well, with help from Councilor Ayanna Pressley’s office I have figured out that we budgeted 15 million dollars for snow removal this year, and thankfully, we have only spent $7.5 million so far. So, if we can somehow make it through to Easter without breaking out the plows we will have a pot of gold that can help us survive the "crisis" for another year while we have a well-thought-out discussion on the future of libraries in Boston.

Mayor Menino has been talking about using eminent domain downtown; he could take back Heyward Place and put the $2 million his friend collects for parking fees tax free back into City coffers. We could ask why we are giving $30 million in tax breaks and grants to Liberty Mutual, or perhaps ask their CEO Ted Kelly to at least make a 3.6 million contribution from his $27 million dollar salary to the libraries in exchange for those credits. Most important of all, perhaps, we should ask how the taxpayers got put on the hook for $800 billion in TARP debt, but we couldn’t get 3.6 million dollars for libraries?

When my mother was working a full-time job and raising her three children on her own, we didn’t have money for a TV, let alone childcare. She had us go to the library after school and wait until she could pick us up. I sat for hours safely reading, learning, and imagining wonderful things. I wouldn’t want any child in Boston to lose out on that same sense of wonder, safety and potential that is enclosed within each and every library because of a dishonest, fake "crisis."

Kevin McCrea is a South Ender and former candidate for Mayor of Boston.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Editorial which could be written for Mass. and Boston

When the Legislature convened its fiscal session a year ago, Louisianians expected lawmakers and Gov. Bobby Jindal to streamline the state's bloated bureaucracy without crippling our future.

The Times-PicayuneLouisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.What we got instead was a one year fiscal Band-Aid.

So lawmakers begin this year's session Monday facing an even worse fiscal outlook. Despite $248 million in mid-year cuts, they may need to trim as much as $400 million more from this year's budget. Then, they have to slash another $1 billion in expenditures to balance the 2010-2011 budget.

To say that lawmakers will have to make hard choices is an understatement. Yet they must find the vision to look ahead and pass reforms that help stabilize the state's finances for years to come and end the current cycle of jagged cuts that are eviscerating vital services.

To that end, Louisiana has to significantly reduce its number of state employees and slow down the growth of salaries and benefits, which are asphyxiating the state's budget.
Despite significant efforts by the Jindal administration to trim the bureaucracy, Louisiana has more than 100,000 state workers. That's unsustainable. This session, the governor and lawmakers must pass serious measures to cut that number, such as state Treasurer John Kennedy's unsuccessful proposal last year to eliminate 15,000 jobs over three years. That would save hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

The state also needs to reform a structure that for years has led to automatic pay raises for most state workers. Last year, 98 percent of classified state workers got a pay hike. The number is down to 61 percent this fiscal year, and that's progress. But giving pay increases to six of every 10 state workers is still jaw dropping in the face of monster deficits and while most Louisianians are seeing their income drop or stagnate.

Legislators shouldn't buy the old argument that state workers deserve special treatment because they earn less than their private counterparts. That's just not true, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The department said private employees nationwide earned $27.42 in salary and benefits per hour worked in December, while employees of state and local governments got $39.60 in salary and benefits per hour worked the same month. The complete report is on the Web site of the department's Bureau of Labor Statistics, at

Another fallacy is that the public sector needs to pay more to attract or retain employees. But governments are not having trouble filling positions, in great part because people are attracted to the relative stability of public work compared to the private sector.

Lawmakers also need to reform the state's pension program to adjust it to our new fiscal reality and to place it more in line with the benefits most Louisiana workers receive. That means revising provisions that let some state workers retire with almost full benefits at a very young age. Those terms were created decades ago, under more auspicious fiscal conditions and lower life expectancy. It's also unfair to ask taxpayers, many of whom don't have traditional pension programs anymore, to finance much better benefits for state workers, especially in the current economic climate.

Even these reforms would not be enough. Lawmakers also should make it easier to spread the pain of deficits, by expanding the governor's ability to make budget cuts across the board and at higher percentages than now allowed. Legislators and Gov. Jindal also need to have a frank discussion about repealing constitutional restrictions that have left higher education and health care exposed to disproportionate cuts.

Of course, Louisianians expect lawmakers not to make matters worse. Ignoring warnings of fiscal disaster, the Legislature last year passed unaffordable tax breaks, including a repeal of the Stelly tax plan that is helping balloon this year's deficit and will hurt state government for years.

Yet some lawmakers are still in fiscal wonderland. They have filed numerous bills that would exponentially increase deficits for state and local governments, including proposals to raise the already generous homestead exemption. Another ill-conceived measure, by Rep. John Alario of Westwego, would raise the state supplemental pay to most police officers, sheriff deputies and firefighters. Those employees provide important services, but their salaries and benefits seem competitive enough already. And every penny in additional pay has to be cut from other services, mostly education and health care, that have already been severely affected.

Most Louisianians appreciate the gravity of our fiscal situation and the need to publicly evaluate our state's priorities while protecting our future. Some lawmakers do as well, judging by some of their recent statements on the matter. They should not let this session go by without major fiscal reforms.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Some positive thanks!

I called up Ayanna Pressley's office to get some financial information. They were very polite, and got back to me about a week later with the information I requested. I wrote an editorial for the Boston Globe about what a farce the closing of the libraries is, but they seem to have ignored it.

Anyway, it might seem as if I'm bashing politicians here all the time, so I'd like to say something positive about one who has lived up to her campaign process of "access".
I am still waiting for a call back from Councilor Connolly on why he thinks the Open Meeting Law is restricting his work as he told a group in Brighton. It has only been 3 or 5 months.....

Monday, March 22, 2010


Here I am getting blisters on my palms and trying out my new gppro camera, thanks to raoul and our team usa hovercraft shirt!

morning in Baja

This trip has been the most physically grueling I've taken. We get up at 6:30, eat and are on the road at 7:30, we ride until just before the sun starts to set, with just a lunch break over the Baja 1000 course. Today will be the 6th and final day of riding. We started out with 6 riders, and by day 4 we were down to just me and the two guides, the others all needed time off, including an ex-police officer about my age, in excellent physical shape. The three amigos rode like the wind down the pacific coast, often at top gear 3/4 throttle through sand, rocks, washboard dirt roads and through rivers. No fun at all.

I picked up a bug somewhere and was fighting that off for the last two days, I feel a bit better this morning after 6 delicious steak tacos. Mexico is muy tranquillo (very calm) and everyone is nice, the kids line up at the side of the roads to give us high fives as we come into the tiny towns along the way.

Looking forward to Cabo tonight, 1000 miles of dirt trails in 6 days deserves a drink!

Friday, March 19, 2010

having no fun at all in baja

amazing scenery, toughest trails ever, we were supposed to do 210 miles today and ended up doing 67 in 11 hours, leaving five guys stranded in the desert mountains with no water. An almost potentially dangerous situation.

Saw a mexican eagle, a rattlesnake, and some men with bravado fall by the wayside.

viva mexico!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Petition to save the Libraries--please sign up

There is a petition drive underway to try and stop the
> closing of a number of Boston Public Library branches,
> including locally, the Fields Corner Branch. The Dorchester
> Reporter has a fuller description of the issue.
> Also, the Globe reported on the public hearing last week.
> I am collecting signatures via email for the petition
> drive. If you would like me to add your name, please respond
> to this email and say that you want to added, and give you
> full name and address (for example):
> Please add my name to the petition:
> John Doe
> 123 Main Street
> Dorchester, MA 02122
> I will attach hardcopies of any emails that I receive to
> the petition sheet I submit, so that your source email will
> be confirmation of wanting to be on the petition.
Mike Cote

Thursday, March 11, 2010

city council hearing on giving liberty mutual 16 million in tax breaks

shirley kressel has a post at blue mass group:

My comment:

I don't know when people are going to wake up that our business and political priorities are contrary to what is good for the majority of the citizens.

The leaders and executives at Liberty Mutual don't need libraries, they live in communities that value education and libraries, not the inner city neighborhoods of Boston. If they do live in Boston, you can be sure that they are relatively close to Copley which will always be there.

What they do need is even more money for their pockets, and few well placed contributions to candidates is well worth the return on investment. I believe John Keith at Universal Hub did the research and showed that Liberty Mutual executives gave about $16,000 to Mayor Menino last year, what is that rate of return? $16,000 to 16 million?

This tower will be near the corner of Berkeley and Columbus the old Salvation Army building. Blighted? Hardly.

But then again, the Mayor signed off on nearly 6 million in tax breaks a year for 1 Beacon Street because it is in a blighted area. Perhaps being 180 steps away from so many lawmakers at the State House makes an area blighted.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Margery Eagan outlines the facts!

Margery Eagan in the Herald today finally outlines the facts of a recent study showing how government workers make more than the private sector, especially when health and other benefits are included.

When I was in Las Vegas a few weeks ago as a birthday present from my wife, we went to Denny's on Sunday morning because they give you a free breakfast on your birthday. (Yes, I am always trying to save money. If its free it's for me!) Our waitress was clearly exhausted as she was rushing around to a packed house. She looked to be in her 30's with braces. When she got to our table she apologized in advance and told us she was tired, we empathized with her. She said she was a nurse and had done 3 straight night shifts but she had to do this shift at Denny's as well.

I don't know why, but I started to get angry and sad, and literally a tear came to my eye, and I thought of: Steve Murphy. These politicians just don't understand how hard average citizens are working just to try and make ends meet. A women works as a nurse and then works at Denny's on weekends clearly to pay her bills?? Meanwhile, all last year Steve Murphy goes from campaign stop to campaign stop telling everyone how much he loves his job and then 2 months after getting elected he is off running for a statewide office? Amazing.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Update on McCrea v. Flaherty: Don't believe the City Council!!

Believe it or not, the McCrea v. Flaherty case is still not over, nearly 5 years after it began. We were supposed to go to court in February but the presiding judge was busy.

We asked the City Council if they would allow us to video tape the hearing. You will see councilors such as Mike Ross and John Connolly talking about how they care about transparency and how they are making sure that the BRA boards have to be videotaped.

But, when it comes to their own transparency????? NO, NO, NO. They wrote a letter to the court explaining why it was important that they and their attorneys were not videotaped while they were explaining to the court about how transparent they are!!!!

And, of course, the court decision came back in their favor. So, in a court case about how important transparency is, the City Council and the Courts have acted against such a horrible thing as someone quietly standing to the side and video taping the procedures. I'm so proud of our democracy!

You can't make this stuff up!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Greetings from Nicaragua

I have had a lovely few days here in Nicaragua. I am thinking of opening a motorcycle dealership here because it is less corrupt than Boston. I cleared some land with a couple of locals and a chainsaw for a friends project, met with his builder and laid out the new buildings, and talked about how we can make it as ecologically friendly as possible, such as solar hot water heaters, recharging rain water, using grey water to irrigate the garden, etc.

I was out surfing with my friend who i was staying with and his girlfriend. we had a perfect quarter mile long beach to ourselves. just at dusk an oliver riddley turtle came ashore and i got into a foot race with a local with a machete to save the turtle. i was able to convince the gentleman that it would bring him good luck to let the 100 pound turtle go, and back into the surf i directed him. i love turtles, and to see one hacked up on a perfect evening would be terrible.

ive been staying in total surf shack. we have a composting toilet out side, one tap of running water for dishes which hadnt been done for eons until i washed them this morning. i havent had a shower since i left the states 5 days ago, just making frequent trips into the ocean to swim, surf, and body surf. played soccer with the local kids on the beach, and bought some souvenirs for friends back home.

it turns out that this weekend was motorcycle weekend, so about 300 bikers and i enjoyed the beach side shacks, the ac-dc coverbands, and the dancing and the drinking and the partying went on well past when i went to bed at 3 am, after helping two american girls get rides on motorcycles with guys who knew how to ride, and werent drunk!

It has been very relaxing, and the people are friendly, and you really get a sense of how much we use and waste in the western world. do we really need a wii, a flatscreen, 3 cars, movie theaters, etc. why not get out for a hike, play some ball with the locals and be exhausted leading to a good nights sleep!

still, cant wait to get home to see Dr. Lora!

many young folks here, very idealistic, very fed up with the futility of governments. they are starting eco tours, trying to save parklands, and trying to educate and enpower locals. very rewarding.

hope everyone is doing well in boston, i watched the usa lose to canada in hockey in a room full of canadians (tons of them here) so i was happy for them.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Email reply from the Governor's Office

I got an automated email from the Governor's office:

Dear Mr. mccrea:

Thank you for taking the time to apply for appointment to a state board or commission. All of your information was successfully added to our electronic system, which allows us to search for civic-minded constituents whose interests and expertise match the requirements for any given board.

Governor Patrick deeply appreciates your commitment to serving our communities. We will remain cognizant of your areas of interest as the Governor moves forward with appointments to the over seven hundred state boards and commissions. Should you have any questions or concerns, or if you would like to add additional information to your profile, please reply to this message or call us at 617.725.4055.

The Appointments Team
Office of Governor Deval L. Patrick

I called the phone number and asked when the decisions would be made by and I was put through to the voice mail of Madelin (sp?) Grant. I left a message asking when the decision would be made, with my phone number.

I will keep you apprised of the situation loyal readers!

What does it take to get good schools?

There are two articles today which, I believe, approach the same topic. In the Boston Globe there is an article about how the City of Boston has not evaluated teachers in order to get rid of bad ones and improve education for all. In the NY Times there is an article about the head of several successful schools about how the most important thing in a successful school is getting good teachers.

Do I need to explain further?

How much does the Governor care about filling posts?

These are the positions on the Finance Commission which are appointed by the Governor to oversee the independent Financial Commission which is supposed to be the watchdog agency for the City of Boston. As you can see, 2 positions are open, 2 positions expired and only former Mike Ross worker Reuben Kantor is legitimate. With a hat tip to the Zak, you can apply for this position (unpaid) at:

Mr. Paul J. Minihane Chairman Chair 10/09/2009
Mr. Reuben Kantor Seat 1 07/17/2013
Mr. Robert O'Connell Seat 4 08/09/2007

Kind of hard to believe that the State or City really wants anyone overseeing their finances when no one is appointed to the commission overseeing the finances.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Monday, February 15, 2010



Valentine's Day is my birthday, so this year my wife surprised me with a weekend in Vegas. We left friday morning and came back Sunday night and the fun almost never stopped. We had a wonderful suite at the Venetian, we saw Cirque du Soleil "O" at the Bellagio, saw Penn & Teller at the Rio, I played in a Poker tournament at the Mirage and came in second, won money playing craps, saw some other sights, Clara went shopping, and because I miss New Orleans and Mardi Gras so much, I bought the biggest pair of beads I've ever seen. They were quite the topic in the airports flying home!

As usual, on the flight out of Boston the TSA official didn't know what security level we were at and told me that the public is on a 'need to know' basis and then proceeded to give me an overly hard time. Penn & Teller have a very funny bit in their show where they purchased one of the airport metal screening devices for $4800 and they showed how they set it at different levels for different types of passengers (the one at Boston City Hall is set very low, like for first class passengers). They also showed a number of dangerous weapons you can bring through the device such as plastic 'comb/knives'. They also sold the Bill of Rights printed on a metal plate the size of a credit card to carry in your wallet. They are sold for $5 ( and I got Penn to sign mine after the show. They are avowed libertarians, and Penn is an atheist. Funny enough a Haitian cab driver the night before the show told us he doesn't like Penn because he has vanity license plates which say "NO GOD" because he is an atheist as well. My hat is off to them for being boldly patriotic and against the erosion of our civil rights during their show, a potentially bad thing for their bottom line. They are also very funny, although I was a bit disappointed they were still doing tricks I saw them do in Boston over a decade ago.

Happy Lundi Gras!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

please support sarah wenig!

I'll never forget being at their candidates forum the very day The Globe broke the story of the deleted emails. The 3 of you each spoke well about the issues at hand, Menino - well, you know. Then he was endorsed by adults old enough to remember Watergate and so smug they didn't even consider their own credibility. It was the scariest thing I ever witnessed in civic life. These people would endorse the slightly veiled second coming of George Wallace if they were told to by the right person. So I'm running for delegate and in that crowd, I need to bring my own votes. PLEASE refer to your lists and encourage friends and supporters to come to the Ward 5 caucus, Saturday 2/20 @ 9:00 am - in the Guatemala Room of the Community Church, 565 Boylston st, 2nd fl, Copley Sq. My # is 617.835.2565. Give it to your friends. Ask them to vote for me, one more independant voice needed in the Back Bay area.

Sarah sent this to Sam Yoon, Michael Flaherty and I!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Don't you wish you had a job like this!:

The Boston Herald today reports on the huge salaries pulled down by Boston workers including a custodian making more than $100,000 a year.

My favorite quote is from John Tobin:

The extravagant perk drew a sharp rebuke yesterday from a flabbergasted City Councilor John Tobin, who said, “You have to live in a cave not to realize the good old days were good old days.”

The Jamaica Plain councilor said the city’s big-spending ways are hard to justify in the face of school and police cutbacks, library consolidation and other belt-tightening moves.

“It’s just hard to say it’s business as usual in the economy we’re in,” Tobin said.

So, to sum up that it is hard to justify the work that the Mayor and the City Council have done in approving these budgets and signing these contracts and hiring these people. Of course, John Tobin has voted for the budget every single year that I can remember. Remember, the only real role that the City Council has is to review the budget and know the numbers.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The importance of a good health care plan...

Health Care Plan
> > A wealthy hospital benefactor was being shown around the hospital when
> > during her tour, she passed a room where a male patient was masturbating
> > furiously.
> >
> > "Oh my GOD!!" screamed the woman, "That's disgraceful!!! Why is he doing
> > that??"
> >
> > The doctor who was leading the tour calmly explained, "I'm very sorry
> > that you were exposed to that, but this man has a serious condition
> > where his testicles rapidly fill with semen, and if he doesn't do that
> > at least 5 times a day, he'll be in extreme pain and his testicles could
> > easily rupture".
> >
> > "Oh well, in that case, I guess it's ok." commented the woman.
> >
> > In the very next room, a male patient was lying in bed and it was
> > obvious that a nurse was performing oral sex on him.
> >
> > Again, the woman screamed, "Oh my GOD!! How can THAT be justified?"
> >
> > Again the doctor spoke very calmly, "Same illness, better health plan."
> >

Only in New Orleans....

A flight was cancelled yesterday because the pilots were 2.5 hours late because of the parade. A passenger on the plane who was also a pilot suspected them of being drunk, so he called 911 and the flight was grounded!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Not a good day for my sewer main to back up in New Orleans...

Today was the day of the New Orleans Saints Super Bowl Parade. It also happened to be the day that my main sewer backed up, and I had to get the City out to dig out the sidewalk to fix the broken pipe.

This could either turn out great or horrible..., it seems to be in that gray area under the sidewalk where it is hard to determine if I own it or the city owns it.

Hopefully the great spirit of positivism and Mardi Gras will have this end in a good way, but we are still waiting to get someone out there....

Update, the Superbowl parade is being broadcast live on, so far it is 50 minutes late, but that is New Orleans, the Big Easy....

I watched the game with my New Orleans friends in the shirt I last wore at the Superdome for their home playoff game in 2006, good kharma!!!

Who DAT????

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Steve Murphy is running for State Treasurer!

Apparently the one month of this term is enough already!

I can see how with Steve's excellent performance with the Boston City Budget
of voting for pay raises for councilors while city services are being cut
that people would think he is the change they are looking for!

Read more here!

Robert Jubinville is running for Governor's Council!

I have met this gentleman, and he seems to understand that reform is needed not just with our politics but with our courts. is the link.

I hope you will consider him for your vote!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Mayor puts out great proposal to ban smoking in public housing!

I give credit where credit is due, and I like the new proposal by the Mayor to ban cigarette use in BHA Housing.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Dance a thon-next Saturday for Haiti victims

Benefit: "HOUSE OF LOVE for HAITI" Dance-A-Thon
A 12 HOUR DANCE-A-THON & MUSICAL EVENT presented by Boston HouseMusic Coalition / Love & Nappiness together with ROXBURY YMCA & PARTNERS IN HEALTH

Start Time: Saturday, February 6, 2010 at 12:00pm
End Time: Sunday, February 7, 2010 at 12:00am
Roxbury YMCA (Gymnasium)

285 Martin Luther King Blvd.
Roxbury, MA

Fort Hill --lookout for issues

Over at Universal Hub, there has been a discussion about Daryl Settles from Bob the Chef's and the Beehive fame trying to put in an establishment on Centre Street. Some people, including my friend John Keith, think the people there are behind the times in not wanting to get hip. I disagree. I have lived there and own property there, and I feel so much more at peace up there than I do here in the South End where life seems to be constant battle between jealous neighbors, devious developers, and keeping up with the Joneses. My comments:

John Keith-

My good friend. I think you seem to have become very angry (okay, many of us who
run for office to do good things are angry at the status quo) but this anger at
the Fort Hill residents is misplaced. I have lived and worked in Fort Hill for years,
most recently living on Highland Street in Summer 2008. It is a great area, with nice
friendly neighbors who look out for each other. It actually reminds me of the way
the South End was 15 or so years ago, back when people cared more about architectural detail
than how much square footage everything had.

There are some points to the NIMBY attitude on the hill, but isn't that their prerogative? I proposed putting a restaurant and community
gathering place into the old plantation building at the top of the hill owned by Mel King's brother.
I met with the neighbors, we talked about different ideas, they indicated they didn't want
a restaurant and we dropped the idea. The building still stands abandoned, dangerous and an eyesore,
but the 'democratic process' worked. The people I know (including tenants) love living on the Hill,
and I think it is a great area, otherwise I wouldn't own property there.

Just because not everyone wants what the South End has, doesn't make them bad or stupid, just wanting
something different in life. You (of all people!) should appreciate that. Not everything in life
needs to be real estate values (My South End properties have gone up in value, my Fort Hill ones down), but I will agree with you that if amenities like a local bar, restaurant and grocery store went in, that
the values would go up. But then, maybe the people that make the neighborhood great might not be able to afford it anymore and have to move out, sort of like the South End......

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Is Democracy real in the USA?

This is a fascinating article which articulates much better than I could, how corporate America and the wealthy have taken over our system. I love the phrase "pliable candidates", an excellent description.

Thanks to my friend Mark.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

anyone want some specific sox tickets? send me an email:

From the Red Sox for season ticket holders:

We realize that now more than ever the type of commitment and dedication you have shown is not easy. Yet your passion and devotion remains constant and helps to give Fenway Park a home field advantage that is unparalleled across the league. You are truly the lifeblood of this organization. As a small token of our gratitude, we want you to be among the first to have an opportunity to purchase additional tickets for the 2010 season, before they are made available to the general public on January 30.

If you want some tickets send me an email,, tell me which dates and how you will pay.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Representative of Boston?

I went to my wife's annual work party last night and had a wonderful time. She is a psychologist who works for a professional psychology association, staffed by many smart, educated people, many with Ph.D's. It was held at the College Club on 44 Commonwealth Avenue, a beautiful building.

There were slightly more than 50 people, two hispanic: my wife and the husband of another associate, and one African American, the banker who has helped the company out. During the Yankee swap, (we won some glass globes to water our plants) I asked for a show of hands of how many people in the room had gone to Boston Public Schools. One man put his hand up, the insurance agent for the company who had gone to Boston Tech, a now defunct school. Anecdotally, I have met many successul people in many walks of life who went to Boston Tech, what happened?

So in a 50 percent minority city, a growing successful business has less than 5 percent of its workers and associates as minorities and no members of the Boston Public Schools. This is a super progressive firm as well, with health care, time off, owned by a lesbian couple with many openly gay employees, by all accounts a great place to work for both employees and owners.

It is hard for me to not come to the conclusion that BPS is not filling the jobs of today or teaching for the jobs of tomorrow. It is not totally the fault of any one group, the Mayor, the Superintendent, the teachers, the parents, but until we acknowledge the huge failure that it is, instead of saying 'we're getting better every year' we are not going to have substantive change.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

NY Times outlines changes for the City Council...

These changes could almost verbatim be established in Boston, if you changed "NY" to "Boston", and reduced the number of councilors and aides commensurate with the size of NY vs. Boston.

This is great food for thought, thank you NY TIMES:

Published: January 22, 2010

IN Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s State of the City speech on Wednesday, he spoke of the City Council as if it were an equal partner in government. Indeed, the mayor’s surprisingly close re-election, the unusual defeat of a handful of council members and some spirited races in the general election in a city where winning the Democratic primary is tantamount to victory, might lead one to expect the 51-member body to be imbued with new democratic vigor. However, the council members inaugurated this month have joined a body whose governance structure is hardly more democratic than a high school student council’s — where the principal calls the shots.

Ultimately, all City Council decisions are made by the speaker and the speaker’s staff. The speaker controls which members get to sit on which committees and who heads those committees, what legislation comes up for a vote, the hiring and firing of the 250-plus central staff and the money that members get to dole out to their districts.

Since the 1989 City Charter reform enlarged the Council’s powers, a strong speaker has been seen as necessary to counterbalance the mayor, but this balance doesn’t hold. Because the current speaker, Christine Quinn, has so much control over the Council, Mayor Bloomberg can deal almost exclusively with her, ignoring the members and, by extension, their constituents.

The consequence of a cozy relationship between the speaker and the mayor is a Council that goes along with the mayor on most major issues. That’s why we’ve seen the City Council approve — at the mayor’s initiative — the rezoning of large areas of the city for high-end development, congestion pricing and the overturning of referendum-approved term limits.

Fortunately, creating a representative and transparent City Council that can check mayoral power won’t require a wholesale rewriting of the charter. All that is needed are three small but significant changes.

First, the Council should reform its process for approving the city budget. The mayor now prepares the budget with his Office of Management and Budget and city agencies, and then submits a relatively final document to the Council. Council committees hold hearings to review the mayor’s plan, but they have no real ability to make changes.

The Council’s budget negotiating team then spends torturous hours behind closed doors, proposing a few alternative cuts, which are usually rejected by the mayor’s side, and haggling over additional expenditures, which make up a tiny fraction of the whole. The final size of the Council’s “pot” is decided between the speaker and the mayor.

There are better alternatives. For instance, Council committees should vote on the components of the budget under their purview, like Congressional appropriations committees. Votes in committee would be in the form of resolutions and would therefore lack the force of law, but they would be a template for the Council’s negotiations with the mayor and carry more weight than the current closed-door deliberations.

This would engage more members earlier in the process, instead of allowing all the action to happen around the end-game exercises of the negotiating team, and encourage the Council to look at the budget in greater detail and more comprehensively. Best of all, city agencies would have to publicly substantiate the worthiness of their programs or risk an embarrassing vote in the Council.

Second, we need to restructure how the Council is staffed. The members of the central staff, which provides technical assistance and policy advice, serve at the pleasure of the speaker, meaning they can be fired at any time.

So if a councilman requests an analysis of a particular piece of legislation, staff members need to assess whether that councilman is in good standing with the speaker and whether his proposal is likely to get the speaker’s support. If the answer is no to both, then the request gets a low priority on the work pile. This results in some good ideas never getting a full vetting and some bad ones that are never put to rest.

As many parliamentary democracies have already done, the Council should establish a legislative services commission that sets the rules for hiring, compensation, promotion and retention of legislative staff. The result would be a professional staff that works for the Council as a whole, is better insulated from politics and better able to provide objective aid and analysis.

The third fix is to reform how the speaker is selected, and it would require a charter amendment. Instead of being chosen by the council members, the speaker should be popularly elected citywide (and the redundant public advocate position should be eliminated). The speaker should then be subject to a recall vote by three-fourths of the council members; if the speaker lost that vote, a special election would then be held to fill the position. This would ensure that the speaker remains responsive to council members and the electorate.

With these reforms, the speaker would lose some power, but gain a public mandate akin to the mayor’s — as well as leadership over a strong institution that could fulfill its true potential as an agent of democracy.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Great time to build!

I realize I can seem very negative sometimes, and I apologize for that. I'm actually in a very good place personally. I've committed to buying 4 buildings in the last month, I'm very busy with many different projects, and I'm even thinking about trying to take a vacation.

But, when I read the news I get angry. When I interact with government I get angry. I have put myself into a personal news blackout for the last couple months. I don't read the Globe or Herald except when people refer me to articles. I scan the NY Times every day or so, and I try and read Sunday papers. As always, I don't watch Television.

I'm angry that we don't have universal health care. I'm really angry that we are sending 50,000 troops to Afganistan. What a waste of money. Does anyone really think we are going to bring democracy to a country that has its own cultural traditions? We will look back at this in 25 years as the debacle it was. While we don't educate our children for the economic war we are battling everywhere in the world, the rest of Earth is laughing at us.

Locally, politicians tell us they are valuing education when the truth is that we cut education in Boston last year in order to give more money to cops and firefighters overtime. Not one fire death in Boston (a good thing), so why do we need overtime? (Very simplistic I know, but the overall point in terms of management of resources needs to be understood)

So, to end on a positive note: it is a great time to build! I put an ad online for plumbers and electricians and had 200 responses within 2 days, some people bidding against themselves to drop their prices. Put some people to work, and get some projects to spruce up your house! Or let me do it for you!

Have a great weekend, and enjoy the 50 degree day on Monday and then tell me we don't need to worry about Global Warming.

I will be in court Monday afternoon for the fifth year of the McCrea v. Flaherty and Boston City Council case. The law says I get a hearing in 10 days. That is why Brown won, people are sick and tired of different sets of laws for the connected and for the people, like an aristocracy. No City Councilors will be there, as they haven't had to once in five years. Why get involved?


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I voted for Martha....

But, I can't say that I don't understand Brown winning. An editorial in the Herald summed it up:

“It’s about the 25 percent increase in sales tax, Deval’s promise to cut property taxes, Dianne Wilkerson padding her bra, Chuck Turner kickbacks, Galluccio’s DUI, Buonomo ripping off the copiers at the Registry of Deeds, Gerald Amirault, three indicted speakers and four criminal senators.”

I know I'm tired of being treated like a second class citizen by the elected officials. Tom Menino tells me I don't understand finance but yet the assessment on my house keeps going up. My taxes went up by $3600 this year. The assessment on his house went down. He makes more money than I do, why does he make bad real estate investments if he knows finance so well.

I'm hoping he gives a class on finance so maybe I can learn more. I'd like to be able to take care of my family as well as he takes care of his family.

wink, wink, nudge, nudge

Sunday, January 17, 2010

How not to run a legal department

A couple of times over the last few years I have put Freedom of Information Act requests in to the City of Boston legal department to find out how much time and money that the in house counsel has spent on certain cases, such as the McCrea v. Flaherty case. (Which is still going on by the way, 4.5 years later, despite what the City Councilors would like you to believe. They are still spending money on it.)

At the request of a Dorchester resident, I recently asked the City legal department how much they have spent on the 99 Melville case, where the City is kind of arguing against their own zoning code on behalf of a politically connected family. This case has been going on for six or 8 years I believe.

The City's response to my request: "The City did not hire any outside counsel on this case, nor did the City incur or bill any other expenses regarding this case. Additionally, Assistant Corporation Counsels do not track work by the hour. As a result, the City does not have any records responsive in either of these regards."

In other words, the City doesn't keep track of its time so it has no idea how much it is spending on any case. Is there a law office in the private sector anywhere in the world which operates like this? How can they decide whether to settle a case or not? How can they figure out who is being efficient and who isn't? How can they know if anyone is getting anything done?

But of course, they don't want to know the answers to these questions because then actual performance reviews might take place, and accountability might kick in, and we can't have that at Boston City Hall.

Where is the Boston About Results for the City Law Department that Harvard Economics professors are crowing about in the Boston Globe? I run a tiny business, but I keep track of how much time I spend on every lawsuit I work on, and how much time and money is spent on every job. But then, like Tom Menino so graciously explained to me in the debates: I don't understand finance.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Running for the open State Senate seat left by Galluchio--Marjorie Decker

Sources have let me know that Marjorie Decker, Cambridge City Councilor is going to be running for the Open Senate seat.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

National Teacher's Union takes on task of eliminating bad teachers

The NY Times today talks about how the AFT has a woman (who spoke to the BTU during the campaign) who is seriously tackling the issue of ensuring that we have good teachers.

I think this is the crux of the charter school debate. No politician wants to take on the teachers union, yet they have to do something about improving education. One of the problems (not the only one) is how to deal with teachers who are not effective.

Measuring teacher performance and having a mechanism to eliminate teachers would seem to be part of the solution.

I'm amazed when I speak to kids in schools how often they talk about teachers who didn't care, or they thought weren't teaching the subject very well. The first step is to give every teacher help to become a better teacher, often, I suspect, like many of us, they aren't aware of their own shortcomings. When they are teaching our future, we need to make sure they are at their optimum.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Snapshot of America-2010


I think this sign sums up the United States perfectly right now. We are spending all of our money on security, which creates no value, while we can't even do the basic things like spell.

What good is it going to do to spend billions on Afganistan to bring democracy and capitalism to the Middle East (yeah, right). We have so much democracy and capitalism here, with the Supreme Court about to approve more money in politics, and the Congress using our money to bail out huge corporations. That's not capitalism, that's corporate welfare.

How long will we be able to maintain our standard of living when people can't even spell?

As I was leaving Boston, I asked the TSA person what security level we were at. She clearly didn't know so she said "the same". I said, "I haven't flown in about 6 months so I don't know what it is, could you please tell me?". She told me "You don't need to know what the security level is." Clearly, she doesn't either. What has it been, two weeks since the underwear bomber came through? Don't you think it might be good to know what the danger level is in order to be prepared?

Who is the enemy?


Postscript: I just read the NY Times. They report: Meanwhile, China last week tested the fastest bullet train in the world — 217 miles per hour — from Wuhan to Guangzhou. As Bradsher noted, China “has nearly finished the construction of a high-speed rail route from Beijing to Shanghai at a cost of $23.5 billion. Trains will cover the 700-mile route in just five hours, compared with 12 hours today.

We spent 20 billion dollars on the Big Dig, to go from 6 lanes of traffic above ground to 6 lanes of traffic below ground for around 20 miles of road. The failure of America to not build a high speed train between Boston, NY, and Washington is a symbol of how we can't get things done in this country, and we are setting ourselves up to have our clocks cleaned by the competition.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

DPW chief Royer shoved out by Menino administration

Universal Hub reports that Dennis Royer, the DPW chief who did good work in Denver has been cleaned out of City Hall.

I met his wife Linda, who was appointed to the Main Streets program when she got to Boston, when I was out collecting signatures for Mayor. She signed my nomination sheets, and said she knew who I was and we ended up having an involved conversation.

I was amazed how much she told me about the "inside" knowing that I was running against "the man". She compared her and her husbands experiences in Denver with how things are in Boston. I thought about using her quote in one of the debates:

"I am amazed at how Bostonians tolerate such a low level of services from their government." This from a woman who works for government agency and whose husband was head of DPW. I asked about how her husband found working here, and she specifically talked about the unions and Menino. She said her husband found that the city workers didn't care about the city and about trying to improve it, they just cared about their job and their perks. I asked if Menino would let him do his job and institute reforms, and she explained how Menino would let him do some things but not other things and that he absolutely micromanaged. He was frustrated with not being able to do what he wanted to improve things.

It does not suprise me one bit that he has left, and I wish him and his wife all the best.

So there are two positions open now. Don't keep holding your breath for a "new" Menino administration full of reform.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

City sells $451,000 building for $100 after $500 campaign contribution to Menino!

The more things stay the same, the more things stay the same:

But remember there is no quid pro quo in Boston!

West Roxbury Transcript does reporting, Globe doesn't

The West Roxbury transcript did some good reporting, and the Menino administration admitted they have been violating the Open Meeting Law in regards to selecting the school committee for the last 17 years. Big surprise.

Another news:

Vornado Trust and partners who own the hole in the ground at Downtown crossing are being considered for tax breaks by the BRA. Why not, we need to give more tax breaks to the rich, right? Menino and the BRA love Reaganomics, give to the rich and trickle down to the poor!

So, if you lie to the city, break your promises, get things rushed through permitting, and then destroy a business district---and you are rich and connected, you get tax breaks!!

However, if you are a middle class citizen who had their house devalue last year, you go to work, pay your bills, are decent and honest with your neighbors. You get a tax increase to make sure that Lisa Menino continues to make more than $100,000 a year as a secretary.

Isn't America a great country?

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Boston Globe editorial about me and transparency

Notice that in the second paragraph he says how good Boston About Results is and then in the fifth paragraph says he can't get any information from it. That's good?

Check out the comments section, someone says it much better than I could have:

Professor Glaeser confuses 'reporting' with 'transparency'.

The Menino administration uses Boston About Results as advertising, reporting oddball statistics carefully selected to make the organization look good. If Boston About Results went away today, nobody would miss it and city government would behave about the same.

McCrea and others want real transparency, giving residents easy access to the information the city would prefer to hide, like every payment of more than $1,000. If that raw information were made public, it would have a real impact on how tax dollars are being spent.

The difference between reporting and transparency comes down to who decides what information is presented; if the publisher (Menino) decides then it's reporting. If the subscriber (McCrea) decides then it's transparency.