Saturday, October 31, 2009

Phillips Street Park Opening

After a successful community process, the Phillips Street Park on Beacon Hill reopened yesterday. Mayor Tom Menino joined City Councilor President Mike Ross, City Councilor John Connolly, State Representative Marty Walz and Parks Commissioner Antonia Pollak to cut the ribbon of the park. The Mayor and Councilor Ross worked to secure the funds for the park.

Several members of the community worked long hours to design the park so it can cater to many uses. I had the pleasure of sitting in on the community process for the Beacon Hill Civic Association, and the best part is -- despite the relative small area within the park -- it really does have something for everyone. The area near Phillips Street includes a new drainage system that leads to the sewer system, an ideal situation for dog owners. The lower area of the park includes a jungle gym that is perfect for older children.

Not surprisingly, when you live in a dense neighborhood like Beacon Hill and are planning a park that caters to so many individuals, there can be debate as to the best layout and design of an open space. I applaud all of those who contributed to the design of the Phillips Street Park and the compromises that were made to create an area that appeals to a large audience. The park looks beautiful.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Beacon Hill Neighbors for Mayor Menino

I was proud to sign the letter below, which is being distributed to my Beacon Hill neighbors this week.


Dear Neighbor,
We are writing as Beacon Hill neighbors to urge you to vote for Mayor Menino on November 3. With the municipal elections a few days away, we felt that it was time to look at the Mayor’s record and the positive impact he has had on the City of Boston and specifically on our neighborhood of Beacon Hill.

We find that what drew us to Beacon Hill – and has kept us here – are those quality-of-life issues the Mayor cares deeply about and on which he has had a profound effect. Our local parks have been completely transformed. The Myrtle Street Playground has received at least two makeovers since Tom Menino took office and, thanks to strong community input, the Phillips Street Playground will soon open as a multi-purpose park.

Our neighborhood institutions have been infused with energy and resources. When the Hill House Community Center outgrew its facility on Joy Street a few years ago and required an additional site, several of us turned to the Mayor. Although the City could have sold the vacated fire station on Mount Vernon Street for a substantial profit, Mayor Menino decided instead to give it to our neighborhood so that local programming could expand and flourish. Similarly, when the Beacon Hill Nursery School needed additional outdoor space, the Mayor made sure that public space was made available to increase the boundaries of the nursery school’s backyard.

We feel safer on our streets and in our homes, in and around our neighborhood. For those of us who are new – and not so new – to Beacon Hill, safety is a key concern. Many of us remember a time when it was not prudent to walk in and around our neighborhood after dark. With the Mayor’s focus on community policing, a strengthened working relationship with our public safety officers, and the added vitality of those businesses that are open in the evening, we feel safe to be out any time of the day or night.

Aside from the tangibles, there’s a growing, active partnership with City Hall that Mayor Menino has fostered. Leaders in our community have worked with the Mayor to organize neighborhood clean ups and to create a unique partnership to maintain trees, keeping our neighborhood clean and green.

Finally, when many of us were frustrated by Suffolk University’s plans, we reached out to the Mayor, and he listened. And then he made sure that university expansion did not have a negative impact on our neighborhood. We truly believe that our interests are the interests of his administration.

While we strongly appreciate the focus and support of Mayor Menino over his time in office, what we value most is the opportunity to carry on our work with him. We want to build on our successes and to continue to work on those issues, such as a new public school and future development that respects the community process—matters which the Mayor has pledged to pursue with us.

As we look at the real issues that face our community, it is clear that there is only one candidate who cares about our neighborhood. Tom Menino has been there for us. We need to be there for him on November 3 and beyond.


John Achatz, Mount Vernon Street
David Beardsley, Pinckney Street
John and Suzanne Besser, Mt. Vernon Street
Tom Clemens, Goodwin Place
John Bowman and Leslie Donovan, Beacon Street
Gene and Meredith Clapp, Charles River Square
Tom Compton, Joy Street
Ryan Foscaldo, Charles Street
Steven Kaufman and Amy Ryan, Phillips Street
Susan Haas, West Cedar Street
Meghan Haggerty, Joy Street
Monica Halas and Rob O’Connor, S. Russell Street
Kim Jennings, Beacon Street
Jeffrey and Cheryl Katz, Myrtle Street
Mark Lewand and Jessica Goranson, River Street
Ross Levanto, Myrtle Street
Jay Livingstone, Revere Street
Brad and Sharon Malt, West Cedar Street
Rajan and Hilary Nanda, Garden Street
John Natoli, River Street
Paula O’Keefe, Chestnut Street
Robert and Elizabeth Owens, Mt. Vernon Street
Joel and Martha Pierce, Garden Street
Jason and Penny Pingree, Joy Street
Jim Stone and Cathy Douglas Stone, Lime Street
Keith and Elllen Plapinger, Joy Street
Kathy Plazak, Myrtle Street
Fred and Christine Pratt, West Cedar Street
Daniel A. Taylor, Phillips Street
Rob Whitney, Phillips Street
Nick and Leigh Anne Yoo, River Street

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Additional Ward 5 Endorsements

The regular October meeting of Boston's Ward 5 Democratic Committee took place last night.

The committee endorsed Mike Ross in his race to be re-elected as Boston's District 8 City Councilor.

The committee also endorsed Steve Murphy for re-election as an at-large Boston City Councilor.

Earlier this election season, the Ward 5 Committee endorsed John Connolly and Ayanna Pressley for at-large City Council seats, and in September, the committee endorsed Mayor Menino for re-election.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

My Poll is Better Than Yours

My fish is always bigger than yours.

In political-speak, my poll always turns out better for me than yours.

Last weekend, the Boston Globe published a poll that showed Mayor Menino a comfortable 20 points ahead in the race to be Boston's Mayor. However, Boston Phoenix reporter David Bernstein rained on the Globe's parade, citing a poll released by the Mayor's opponent, Michael Flaherty, showing the race as being far tighter (though the Mayor still led by seven points, which is not exactly a small margin).

It should not surprise anyone that Flaherty's team felt the race was closer than the Globe's poll indicated. Here's where it gets interesting, though. Bernstein concluded, "I think the race looks much more like Flaherty's poll than the Globe's."

As an observer, I must say that Bernstein's conclusion is somewhat baffling. Why would a reporter trust a poll released by one of the candidates over a poll conducted by another publication?

I actually sent Mr. Bernstein a Facebook message asking him why he trusted Flaherty's numbers so much. I will update this post if he gets back to me.

I also have not seen the actual data related to Flaherty's poll. However, based on a college course on research, there are other questions and concerns I have.

One example: Poll results are influenced by how questions are asked. What would stop the Flaherty camp from asking a few questions during the poll that might cast doubt on the Mayor before asking for the voter's preference in the election. After hearing something negative about a candidate posed as a question, the voter is more likely to lean away from that candidate.

I certainly don't blame any campaign from using this style, and I am not saying the Flaherty camp used this tactic in this case. However, it's one reason why we should all be trained not to trust polls released by a given campaign.

Editor's Note: I am volunteering for Mayor Menino's campaign in this election.

Hustle Award: JetBlue Airways

I always appreciate people who work hard. I was raised to believe that a little sweat and hard work goes a long way.

This week, the JetBlue team impressed me with its worth ethic, and as a result, it has earned more of my loyalty.

I flew to New Orleans for work, and my return flight was scheduled for Thursday mid-day, a direct flight from Louis Armstrong Field to Boston.

Arriving at the airport the customary two hours early, the line at the JetBlue counter stretched out the front door of the terminal. A power outage, I was told, made things a mess. The guy in front of me was on a 10:30 flight to New York. It was already 10 in the morning.

I looked up and saw a literal flurry of activity behind the JetBlue counter. It was organized chaos, including numerous employees who-- my guess is-- don't normally haul bags around.

With that type of effort, it did not take me long to check in.

At the gate, the aircraft I was to ride to Boston was delayed inbound. I would find out later the delay was due to a mechanical check-up at the plane's origin.

When the plane finally landed an hour late, the ground team in New Orleans, along with the flight attendants, cleaned and serviced the aircraft in about ten minutes. A half hour later, I was in the air on the way to Boston.

It's not often that I praise airlines, because, frankly, there's rarely praise worth bestowing. But JetBlue this week put a lot of extra effort into their service. And this weary passenger definitely appreciated it.

P.S. The guy in front of me made his flight to New York, too.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Good Friends

Kudos to my friend Brian who set up a special TV for Yankees fans at his social gathering last night!

The placard under the TV says "Yankees Viewing"
South Boston, Mass.
October 17, 2009

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A Chat With Congressman Capuano

Last night I sat in on a call with Congressman Mike Capuano, who is running in the special election to fill the Massachusetts U.S. Senate seat formerly held by Senator Ted Kennedy.

That seat is currently held by Senator Paul Kirk, who was appointed by Mass. Governor Deval Patrick. However, he holds the seat only until the special election, which is scheduled for January 19, 2010. The primaries for the Republican and Democratic parties are set for December 8.

I have been pretty busy volunteering for the local races in Boston this year, and I have not paid attention to the U.S. Senate race. However, I could not pass up the chance to speak to Congressman Capuano.

The call was arranged by Congressman Capuano's campaign, and it was a casual conversation with a few local bloggers. I was on one of those free conference call dial-ins, along with Mike Ball of "Marry in Massachusetts" (it was great to meet him), and an anonymous blogger from (He says he stays anonymous so as to not upset his boss.) Mike has posted his own entry based on the call.

One of my biggest issues federally is the Cape Wind project off the islands of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard. To summarize, a private developer wants to install windmills in the open water. I support the project. Numerous federally funded reports have proven the project will not impact the environment, shipping lanes, or anything else for that matter. Well, it will impact the site lines of many residents who live on the shores near the proposed site. Cutting to the end of the story, the windmills are not up yet.

Congressman Capuano said last night he supports Cape Wind. He said that given all the studies that have been done, he sees no reason for holding up the project. He noted that the project might change slightly (maybe there will be five or 10 less windmills), but it should move forward.

I also asked Congressman Capuano about Pakistan. This week, the White House has indicated it is focused on Al-Qaeda and not necessarily the Taliban (a position I support). For that reason, Al-Qaeda activity in Pakistan could be considered more important than meeting our objectives in Afghanistan.

Congressman Capuano said that the Pakistan government has recently stepped up to the plate and is doing what it needs to do to diminish the influence of Al-Qaeda in its country.

From a page-two perspective, the most interesting part of last night's call, in my opinion, was at the beginning. Congressman Capuano explained why he was running. As an analysis, it's fair to say he's not running because of the glamour of the Senate. He spoke as if House members and Senate members are pretty much the same and can accomplish similar things.

He noted that it would take a long time for him to achieve significant seniority in the House, and for that reason, he felt a move to the Senate would help him accomplish more effectively what he finds important.

I have not made up my mind yet in the U.S. Senate race, but I have to say Congressman Capuano has impressed me of late.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Sunday, October 04, 2009

My Nephew Comes Home

It took a while, but I was able to get this video posted. My new nephew, Peter William, arriving to his home last Sunday, greeted at first by Buddy the dog. You will also see my other nephew David in the background. Welcome home Peter!

North Stonington, Conn.
Sept. 27, 2009

WCVB Introduces "On the Record"-- Ditch the Pop Quiz

Kudos to WCVB Channel 5 in Boston. Today they launched a new show, "On The Record," which is focused on local political issues. It aired right after national political program "This Week" at 10 a.m.

One of the main reasons there's a general decay in public interest in politics is because the media doesn't cover local politics. And when they do cover them, they tend to focus on the horse race and not on the issues that matter to the people.

WCVB's "On The Record" was refreshing. It's all about local politics, and the format kept a nice pace that should even be attractive to those who don't follow the subject 24/7. It's only a half-hour, and the content wasn't nearly as dry as other local political shows (which I don't even bother to watch).

In its first episode, the show covered the Mass. Senate race. Hosts Janet Wu and Ed Harding interviewed Senate candidate and U.S. Representative Mike Capuano (he did well). The roundtable discussion following the interview focused on other candidates, noting Steve "My ad is on every 10 minutes" Pagliuca and the fact that Martha Coakley, according to one panelist, started running for the seat before former Sen. Ted Kennedy passed away (but as another panelist pointed out, is still the front runner).

I do have one serious complaint. WCVB should never ever again put a pop quiz in front of one of its guests. They sprang one on Capuano, asking very esoteric questions that I would not expect my elected officials to know off the top of their heads. Pop quizzes are attractive because they make the politicians squirm; except they don't add to the debate. Plus, now that they've done one, it will cause any future candidate to second guess whether they want to come on the show.

Great job with the new program, WCVB. But ditch the pop quiz.

My Favorite iPhone Apps (so far)

I have had my iPhone for a couple of months now, and it is slowly becoming more and more a part of my life. My favorite feature is probably the Google App voice search, where I can speak to the phone-- rather than typing-- a search term.

Unfortunately, I have stepped into forbidden territory among many of my fellow iPhone users. I have actually purchased iPhone applications. Surprise, surprise, the purchased apps are often better and more feature-rich than the free ones.

Here's a review of iPhone apps I have recently purchased that I enjoy:

ESPN Fantasy Football. My fantasy team is 0-3. However, one cannot put into words the joy I felt last Sunday, when I was able to quickly change out Dwayne Bowe for Lee Evans from my brother's house in Connecticut, upon learning that Bowe was hurt and would not play. If there was just some way the app could make my players produce more points, all would be well.

CNN. App just launched this past week. It's pretty cool to watch Live CNN from my phone, and it's also neat to go on my phone and get the top news in video form with a few touches. Though the top stories have not been updated since early yesterday. I hope it's more timely moving forward.

Speaking of being timely, though...

ESPN Radio. ESPN Radio Sports Center, updated every 20 minutes. How great is that! I can listen as the Twins and Tigers duke it out for the right to play my Yankees!

Enjoy your Sunday!