Massachusetts Must Move Forward on Our Own

With the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, coming on the heels of the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch, it is clear that the America as we have known it for the past 70 years, a time in which the United States attained and maintained its supremacy in the world and achieved unprecedented prosperity for its people, could be coming to an end. That may sound dramatic, but we don’t think it is overstating the case.

In our view, the principal reason why America has prospered since the end of WWII, despite our many missteps (Vietnam, Watergate, and Iraq being the top three) is because we have expanded the rights of all of our citizens and we have welcomed people from all over the world to partake of, and contribute to, our wealth and our democratic ideals.

As regards the latter point, we would note that the majority of the Nobel prizes awarded to Americans in recent years have been won by persons who were immigrants. And let’s not forget that Steve Jobs’s father came from Syria and the parents of one of the founders of Google emigrated from Russia. They came to this country, as immigrants always have and still do, to create a better life for themselves and their families and to contribute to their new country.

However, there should be no doubt that the newly-constituted Supreme Court not merely will take us back to the pre-1930s, but rather will be in the vanguard of a new movement.

The court in recent years already has eviscerated the Voting Rights Act and (via the Citizens United case) has entrenched the ability of the ultra-rich to throw unlimited amounts of cash into our electoral system.

Now, with the ascension of two more conservatives, the Supreme Court may turn back the clock on much of what most Americans have taken for granted for the past three generations in the realms of the rights of women, persons of color, and persons of different sexual orientations.

Hopefully, the Democrats will gain control of the House of Representatives in the fall — and we say that not so much because we love Democrats, but because we need at least one house of Congress to act as a check on the White House — but that will not change the direction of the Supreme Court.

So what does that mean for us in Massachusetts and the other states on the coasts (with a few pockets in between)?

In concrete terms, let us be welcoming to all people; let us be the safe harbors for a woman’s right to choose (when the Supreme Court eviscerates Roe v. Wade, as it surely will); let us increase the minimum wage and be supportive of unions; let us prepare for the effects of climate change; let us enforce strict gun laws (to keep crime and mass shootings down); and let us make our states’ educational systems world-class.

We need to be everything they are not

Think of it this way: Let’s build our state’s economy to take advantage of what they are giving up.

This will require two things: Out-of-the-box thinking by our elected leaders and an unprecedented partnership between the state and the business community, which must be convinced to partake of a partnership with the state in order to pursue our common goals.

In short, we must take our future into our own hands as we never before have imagined.

It will require  lot of hard work and sacrifice — but given what is happening at the national level, we have no choice.

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Boston Councilor Ayanna Pressley Defeats Congressman Capuano:Capuano Won Chelsea with 54 Percent of the Vote

Boston Councilor Ayanna Pressley Defeats Congressman Capuano:Capuano Won Chelsea with 54 Percent of the Vote

The world was turned on its nose Tuesday night in the Congressional District 7 race when Boston City Councilor

Council President Damali Vidot joined Ayanna Pressley and Chelsea residents outside the polls on Tuesday afternoon. She is also joined by School Committeeman Julio Hernandez.

Ayanna Pressley surprised everyone with a solid victory, ousting Congressman Michael Capuano from the seat he has held for 20 years.

Capuano conceded the race around 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday after a long day of campaigning that included prominent stops in Charlestown with Mayor Martin Walsh at his side rallying voters with State Rep. Dan Ryan and State Sen. Sal DiDomenico late in the day.

Pressley did visit Chelsea on Tuesday, where she enjoyed great support at a rally in front of the Williams School.

Both candidates had campaigned heavily in Chelsea over the last six months, with many seeing the city as a battle ground for what ended up being only a very small number of votes – with the election seeing only a 15 percent turnout and 2,106 votes cast in the race.

Pressley and Capuano also had major elected official support in Chelsea, with Councilors such as Leo Robinson, Roy Avellaneda and State Rep. Dan Ryan with Capuano. Meanwhile, Council President Damali Vidot, Councilor Enio Lopez and School Committeeman Julio Hernandez.

Districtwide, Pressley took the race by 18 percent, winning 59 percent to 41 percent. Pressley enjoyed great support south of Boston and in Dorchester and Mattapan – where voter turnout was heavy and she took many precincts in a 70-30 percent split.

In Chelsea, Capuano won with 1,138 votes (54 percent) to Pressley’s

Citywide in Boston, Pressley beat Capuano 64 percent (40,452 votes) to 36 percent (22,831 votes).

In places like Charlestown, Somerville and East Boston, voting was light, and even though Capuano won Chelsea and Everett, it wasn’t enough votes to counter the surge on the other side of downtown Boston.

In her victory speech Tuesday night, the Boston councilor repeated the phrase that “Change can’t wait.”

“You, your families and friends expected more and these times needed more from our leaders and our party,” she said from her watch party at Dorchester’s IBEW hall. “These times demanded a party that was bold, uncompromising and unafraid…It isn’t enough to see the Democrats back in power, but…it mattered who those Democrats are. And, while our president is a racist, misogynistic, truly empathetically bankrupt man, the area that makes the 7th Congressional District one of the most unequal was cemented through policies drawn up long before he ever descended the escalator at Trump Tower. In fact, some of those policies were put in place with Democrats in the White House and in control of our Congress. They are policies so ingrained in our daily lives that we’ve almost convinced ourselves that there wasn’t anything we could do about them. As we know, change can’t wait.”

In his concession speech, Capuano noted that many established legislators within the 7th district were also ousted, including state representatives in the South End of Boston and Jamaica Plain.

“Clearly the district wanted a lot of change,” he said. “Apparently the district is upset with a lot that’s going on. I don’t blame them. I’m just as upset. So be it. This is the way life goes…The last eight months most of you have worked very hard for us. I’m sorry it didn’t work out, but that’s life and this is ok. America is going to be ok. Ayanna Pressley is going to be a great congresswoman and Massachusetts will be well represented.”

For Chelsea leaders like Rep. Ryan and Sen. DiDomenico – who both worked for Capuano and counted him as a mentor – the news was hard to digest and seemed to come out of nowhere due to the Congressman’s great support in the Chelsea for two decades.

“It’s too early to digest the results from across the entire 7th district,” said Ryan on Tuesday night. “But early indications tell me that the voters of Charlestown and Chelsea chose to reward Congressman Capuano’s years of dedicated service with votes. He opened doors of opportunity that have allowed me to serve and he continues to teach by example. I congratulate Congresswomen-elect Pressley. I’ll look forward to working with her as we continue to move our district in a positive direction.”

With the win, Pressley scored one of the biggest upsets in Massachusetts politics in a long time, and she also becomes the first African American woman to represent Massachusetts in Congress.

Candidate Rachael Rollins takes open

seat in District Attorney Race

Rachael Rollins upended the candidacy of four other opponents Tuesday night to take a very crowded district attorney race – coming to victory with an overwhelming vote in Boston citywide.

The district attorney represents all of Boston, and Chelsea, Revere and Winthrop.

Rollins captured the victory by winning the large Boston citywide vote with 40 percent, or 33,656 votes.

In Chelsea Rollins carried the vote with 600 votes, or 32 percent. Evandro Carvalho brought in 434 votes (23 percent), followed by Greg Henning with 303 votes (16 percent). Shannon McAuliffe, who worked in Chelsea for many years, did not turn that fact into votes, slipping down to fourth place with 273 votes (15 percent). Linda Champion got 239 votes (13 percent).

Rollins had found a great niche of support in Chelsea as well, with many City Councillors Leo Robinson and the Ward 4 Democratic Committee, among others.

Rollins will be the first female-candidate of color to hold the position in the history of the Commonwealth.

“I am honored and humbled,” she said. “But I also need to say – for all of us – that this is earned. As a 47-year-old black woman, I have earned this. We have earned this. This is the time for us to claim our power and make good on our promises to make true criminal justice reform for the people in Suffolk County.  Reform that is progressive – that decriminalizes poverty, substance use disorder, and mental illness. This is the time to create a system that puts fairness and equity first as a model for the Commonwealth and the nation.”

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Capuano and Pressley Debate in 7th Congressional as the Democratic Primary Approaches in Sept

Capuano and Pressley Debate in 7th Congressional as the Democratic Primary Approaches in Sept

With the Democratic primary coming up on Sept. 4, Congressman Mike Capuano and Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley discussed the issues of transportation and housing, among others, in the Massachusetts’ 7th Congressional District Debate held at UMass Boston on Tuesday, August 7.

From the start, the two sides agreed on their stance against the current administration, although the stance wasn’t simply to be anti-Trump. Capuano pointed to several issues, including healthcare and women’s rights.

“With Donald Trump in the White House, we are in the fight of our lives,” he said. “He’s threatening everything that we care about.”

Challenger Pressley stressed that she wasn’t dismissing the efforts of the incumbent Capuano, who is serving his 10th term in Congress, and his experience, but she emphasized the district’s need for activist leadership.

“What this district deserves, and what these times require, is activist leadership, someone who can be a movement and a coalition builder because, ultimately, a vote on the floor of Congress will not defeat the hate coming out of that White House,” Pressley said. “Only a movement can, and we have to build it.”

Capuano said his run has been a combination of both votes and advocacy. “Votes are important, and, by the way, with Democrats in the majority, we brought healthcare to 20 million people,” Capuano said. “Votes are part of what we do, but advocacy behind those votes and part of those votes is just as important on a regular basis, and my record shows we do both.”

Capuano, who cited how the district has seen its public transportation grow during his tenure, said his experience matters.

“In the final analysis, the votes on the floor of the house are going to be, for the most part, the same,” he said. “The effectiveness of what’s behind that vote will be different.”

Fighting for a majority minority district, Pressley also noted her frustration against the charges of identity politics being lobbied against her. The first woman of color elected to the City Council, Pressley recognized the importance of race and gender but said it can’t be recognized for the wrong reasons.

“[Representation] doesn’t matter so we have progressive cred[ibility] about how inclusive and representative we are,” Pressley said. “It matters because it informs the issues that are spotlighted and emphasized, and it leads to more innovative and enduring solutions.”

The debate was hosted by WBUR, the Boston Globe and UMass Boston’s McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies. It was moderated by WBUR’s Meghna Chakrabarti and the Boston Globe’s Adrian Walker.

The Democratic primary will be held on Sept. 4, while the general election is on Nov. 6. However, the race between Capuano and Pressley will be decided in the Sept. 4 primary.

The 7th district encompasses parts of Boston, Cambridge and Milton, and all of Everett, Chelsea, Randolph and Somerville.

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Battleground Chelsea:Capuano Draws Local, National Endorsements

Battleground Chelsea:Capuano Draws Local, National Endorsements

When the chips were down a few years ago and few were willing to stand up, rock the boat and call on President Barack Obama to slow down deportations from the country and places like Chelsea – Illinois Congressman Luis Gutiérrez told a crowd of people at Pan Y Café in Cary Square last Friday that one man stood with him.

That man was Congressman Michael Capuano, and the popular Latino congressman from Illinois appeared with Capuano Friday morning, July 20, in Chelsea to endorse Capuano and remind voters here how hard Capuano has been working – both in good times and bad times.

“Ten years ago I came to East Boston to tell President Obama to stop the deportations,” Gutierrez said. “There wasn’t a lot of Democrats who wanted to strongly tell our president to do that. Barack Obama was popular, we liked him and we wanted him to success, but the deportations were continuing. Not many wanted to do that. Mike didn’t hesitate. We met with immigrant groups together 10 years ago to deliver that message and we’ve been working together every since then on these issues.”

Gutierrez has become a very popular member of Congress in the last few years as immigration issues have come to the forefront and he has combined with others like Capuano to tell the stories of those caught up in the system. Capuano took him on a tour of two locations in Chelsea Friday and one in Boston – talking to Latino and immigrant groups throughout the City. It reinforced that battle ground nature that Chelsea has taken on within the congressional race between himself and challenger Ayanna Pressley.

On Friday, he also received the endorsement of Councillor Leo Robinson and Roy Avellaneda. State Rep. Dan Ryan, who previously endorsed him, was also in attendance – as were several local movers and shakers.

“I didn’t know a lot about Mike when I came on the City Council many years ago, but on the advice of a neighbor and other councillors, I met with him and he was a solid guy,” said Avellaneda. “I looked at his resume and I’ve never looked back and never regretted supporting him. I’ve called on Mike so many times over the years for an issue regarding Chelsea…He earned my vote back then and has for the last 20 years.”

Robinson reminded everyone that Capuano has always brought home important monies for Chelsea from the federal government, including money recently allocated for rebuilding Quigley Hospital at the Soldiers’ Home.

Capuano was gracious, and said he really appreciated the support from Chelsea and Gutierrez, his colleague in Washington, D.C.

“It’s nice when you’re under the gun to learn who stands with you,” he told the crowd, moving on to the immigration issue and the family separation he recently saw in a trip to the Texas/Mexico border. “It’s a simple question. Do you like people or don’t you? Do you want to be a country that’s welcoming or don’t you?…None of us would have said that we would live in a country where the official policy was to rip nursing infants from their mothers…It’s horrible and it’s not right. Infants and their mothers should be together…Unless Democrats get the House back, we won’t have any progress on these issues. If Democrats get the House back, I promise you we will deal with the TPS (Temporary Protective Status) issue. We will deal with the infants ripped from their mother’s arms. We will have honest discussions and debate about comprehensive immigrations reform. It will be difficult, but at least we will have a chance because we’ll be talking about it.”

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Nathan Smolensky Announces as Independent in Congressional Bid

Nathan Smolensky Announces as Independent in Congressional Bid

Nathan Smolensky, a non-profit manager from Somerville, has announced that he will be running as an Independent for Massachusetts’s 7th District Congressional seat.

“We need Independent voices to speak up,” says Smolensky, “now more than ever. The parties are becoming increasingly polarized, and that means more strong-arming and undermining in our politics, and somehow even less getting done. The Democrats and Republicans are locked in this endless tug-of-war, and the American people are paying the price. But we can break the partisan stranglehold by demonstrating a formula for Independent success, and if we do that we can really change things.”

Smolensky’s own brand of non-partisan politics is focused on themes of empowering local solutions by making the federal government more symbiotic with local efforts, improving government efficiency by addressing wasteful and unsustainable spending programs, and making long-term policy possible by creating a blueprint for Independent success that can pave the way for a shift of the political landscape away from the volatile pendulum swings of the current paradigm.

The 27-year-old Somerville resident is currently best known for his work with the non-profit Massachusetts Chess Association, where he has served as president since 2013. In that role, he has spearheaded the organization’s educational initiative, Chess for Early Educators, which currently has pilots for curricular programs run by regular schoolteachers in several Somerville public schools.

Massachusetts’s 7th Congressional District is comprised of the municipalities of Somerville, Everett, Chelsea, and Randolph, roughly 70 percent of the city of Boston, and about half of the city of Cambridge and the town of Milton. Since taking its current shape in 2013, it has been won by incumbent Democrat Michael E. Capuano, also of Somerville, without a general election challenge. Its lopsided nature, however, can be a boon for independents, argues Smolensky:

“That’s the beauty of running in a district like this one. There’s no third-party or spoiler stigma. You’re not asking anyone to throw their vote away. You don’t have that bogeyman of the greater evil to scare people away from voting Independent. This is the kind of environment we [Independents] can thrive in, and, thanks in part to gerrymandering, there are a lot of places we can find it.”

Currently, Capuano is facing a primary challenge in Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley. No other candidates have announced intentions to run.

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Ward 4 Democratic Committee Elects Delegates to the State Convention

Ward 4 Democratic Committee Elects Delegates to the State Convention

Registered Democrats in the City of Chelsea Ward 4, held a Caucus on February 3, 2018 at the Chelsea Public Library to elect Delegates to the 2018 Democratic State Convention.

Elected Delegates are:

Olivia Anne Walsh

91 Crest Ave.

Luis Tejada

103 Franklin Ave.

Thomas J. Miller

91 Crest Ave.

Theresa G. Czerepica

21 Prospect Ave.

This year’s State Convention will be held June 1-2 at the DCU Center in Worcester, where thousands of Democrats from across the Commonwealth will come together to endorse Democratic candidates for statewide office, Including Constitutional officers and gubernatorial candidates

Those interested in getting involved with the Chelsea Ward 4 Democratic Committee should contact Attorney Olivia Anne Walsh, Ward 4 Chair, at 617-306-5501.

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Chelsea Wards to Elect Delegates to Democratic State Convention

Chelsea Wards to Elect Delegates to Democratic State Convention

Registered Democrats in these will hold a caucus on February 3, 2018, 10:00 a.m. at Chelsea Library to elect delegates and alternates to the 2018 Massachusetts Democratic State Convention.

This year’s state convention will be held June 1-1 DCU Center in Worcester, where Democrats from across the state will come together to endorse Democratic candidates for statewide office, including Constitutional Officers and gubernatorial candidates. The caucus is open to all registered and pre-registered Democrats in Chelsea Wards 1, 2 & 4.

Pre-registered Democrats who will be 18 by September 18, 2018 will be allowed to participate and run as a delegate or alternate.

Youth, minorities, people with disabilities, and LGBTQ individuals who are not elected as a delegate or alternate may apply to be an add-on delegate at the caucus or at  www.mass.dems.org.

Those interested in getting involved with the Democratic ward committee Committee should;

Jose Vaquerano Ward 1 617-279-3867

Sandra Brown Ward 2 617-466-1548

Olivia Walsh Ward 4 617-305-5501

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Candidates for State Rep. Seat Must Also Battle Winter Weather: State Primary to Fill O’Flaherty Seat Scheduled for next Tuesday

Candidates for State Rep. Seat Must Also Battle Winter Weather: State Primary to Fill O’Flaherty Seat Scheduled for next Tuesday

Candidate Chris Remmes said he learned to deal with cold ears in opting to wear his Red Sox cap instead of warmer ski hats or ski masks - which might worry those answering their doors.

Candidate Chris Remmes said he learned
to deal with cold ears in opting to wear
his Red Sox cap instead of warmer ski
hats or ski masks – which might worry
those answering their doors.

Frozen pens, rain-frazzled hair and thermal-insulated snowsuits aren’t typically the things of political campaigns, but cold weather campaigning has been the only option for the candidates of the 2nd Suffolk District over the last few weeks due to a unique race that has transpired over one of the worst winter stretches in years.

Snow came down and the temperatures dipped into the teens for several days earlier this month, but nonetheless candidates Roy Avellaneda, Dan Ryan and Chris Remmes – all Democrats vying for election in next week’s March 4 Primary – have not taken a day off or curled up on the coach to make phone calls.

There simply is not enough time.

The three candidates have been out in the thick of it; and oh the stories they have to tell.

“I was at a Senior Center the other day and bringing in several boxes of pizza for a meet and greet,” said Avellaneda. “I was all scarfed up and had my big rain boots on as I carried the boxes. I took a step and slipped, and literally fell completely on my back. This was in front of a bunch of people who were inside looking out at me. I landed flat on my back. When I got up and went in, one guy told me that any guy who would break his back for a state rep seat had his vote. That’s been the reaction across the district. Everyone is amazed the candidates are coming out. Most say that because I’m willing to come out in this weather, then they are impressed enough to vote for me.”

At the Dan Ryan campaign, they have learned a few tricks through the experience of trudging through the snow and ice to get our their message.

“Normally, you would go out for about three hours at a time, but that’s not possible in sub zero temperatures,” said Adam Webster of the Ryan Campaign. “You go out for 15 minutes and come in and warm up and then go out again. We’ve been doing everything a regular campaign would have done in warmer weather, but the cold has made it trickier. You do learn how to deal with strange, cold weather things like how pens freeze up all the time. They freeze really quick in this weather, so you learn to have a stash of pens in your pocket so you always have a warm one ready. You learn these little things as you go.”

Candidate Chris Remmes said going door-to-door in the snow requires a different tack and attention to the details of how one dresses.

“I’ve knocked on more than 3,600 doors already in the district,” he said. “Generally, with the weather situation, I think it’s mostly attitude. You work on 80 percent attitude, and the other 20 percent is warm clothing. I have figured out how to dress properly for sure. However, you have to keep in mind what you look like when people answer the door. You can’t wear a big knit ski cap or a ski mask even though it’s very cold. So, my Red Sox hat has gotten some major wear.

“Also, earlier in the campaign – in January – you only had a limited time to campaign because it got dark at 4:30 p.m.,” he continued. “You can’t go to a door or hold signs in the dark. So you have to plan carefully ahead, and I tended to do two-hour clips at a time and then take a break. That proved to be about what I could tolerate.”

Meanwhile, there is also a bit of strategy involved in figuring out how to be efficient and how to keep the campaign rolling even when the rest of the world has seemingly stopped in its tracks due to bad weather.

“We’ve focused a lot on a real neighbor to neighbor and friend to friend approach with our campaign,” said Webster of the Ryan Campaign. “Instead of only going out and knocking on the doors of strangers, we’ve developed a network of supporters reaching out to people and luckily that can be done from the warmth of their homes. We have been knocking doors and holding signs too, but networking has proven important.”

Remmes said he has found that indoor activities have proven helpful, and his campaign has moved in that direction this week – including two house parties in Chelsea.

“In the last week or so, we’ve done a lot of host parties, which is a good way to meet people,” he said. “Chelsea is going to be a central piece of this election, so my last two parties are going to be in Chelsea. We’ve naturally also done a lot with social media and phone banking, which helps us take a break from the cold.”

Avellaneda said it has been interesting to learn how to stay efficient and on the move in times where there are snow emergencies or blizzard warnings.

“You can’t predict the weather,” he said. “When it comes to door knocking, we find ways to continue. For example, there was one blustery weekend when we planned to hit a neighborhood of single-family homes, but we couldn’t because of the snow. So, we changed up and concentrated on a few large apartment buildings that we were going to do later. Where we were going up elevators and through hallways, we could campaign in the warmth when it wasn’t compatible outside. That was a day when you weren’t allowed to drive the streets. You can’t stop though because you can’t take a Saturday off. There’s just not enough time in the campaign.”

And that campaign is quickly coming to a close, with voting taking place next Tuesday, March 4. Because there is no Republican on the ballot, the winner of the Primary likely will be the automatic winner of the April 1 General Election.

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