Saturday, May 29, 2010

Endorsement: Mike Lake for State Auditor

Mike Lake addresses supporters at his campaign kick-off.
April 28, 2010

Today I start a series of posts that outline how I plan to cast my delegate votes next week at the State Democratic Convention in Worcester.

If you sense a theme across my choices, you will see it is one of activism. I was surprised to learn that each of the statewide offices in Massachusetts can have an active role influencing issues that matter to me, including healthcare and investments in the private sector technology economy (which is the sector I work in).

The State Auditor's job is to make things run more efficiently, saving money and cutting waste. And Mike Lake is the right person for that job. I worked along side him in 2008 as a part of now State Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz's field operation. She was a grassroots candidate, and grassroots candidates need organization, which Mike Lake helped provide. As one of the downtown Boston field coordinators with Mike, I marveled at home he kept the ship moving even in the middle of the madness of election day.

Mike is a scary smart person. He has something like four or five or six degrees; I lost count. He also worked in an operations position within the Clinton Administration at a very young age. His academic accomplishments should not overshadow the fact that Mike is, fundamentally, a people person. He's been working very hard to meet as many people as possible during this campaign.

And when he speaks to people, what comes across is that Mike has three or four ideas about how, from the first day as State Auditor, he will make a difference. Cutting waste and saving taxpayers money. He wants to engage the public to make citizens aware of how the Auditor's office can help.

Mike will bring 21st-century efficiencies to an office that has not had a new leader in a long time. Just by listening to him for a few seconds, one gets a sense of the passion he has for his potential role. Mike is certainly not the typical politician. His speech is one of action, not of past laurels.

He might not be the most well known candidate, and given the long-term political connections of his opponents, that's not a surprise. But Mike is competent, bright, and deserves the chance to be evaluated by all Democrats in Massachusetts via a primary. I look forward to voting for him at the convention to give him that chance.

Are The Red Sox Even Playing?

Congrats to the Boston Celtics, who last night won the NBA Eastern Conference Championship and have advanced to NBA Finals for the second time in three years. The C's were not supposed to get this far. In fact, they weren't even supposed to get close.

It's great the NBA Finals will come back to Boston. Two years ago, the NBA did a great job bringing the basketball theme to the Rose Kennedy Greenway by the Garden. They erected a huge replica of the NBA logo and, of course, a giant basketball. It was neat.

And every local fan I talk to is happy the Celtics can distract them from the lowly Red Sox. In fact, I am not even sure why the Red Sox are trying. So far as I can tell, their fans have given up. A few weeks back, I was able to get reasonably priced, good seats to a Red Sox-Yankees game the day before the game. There is surprisingly less pink in the Fenway Park stands of late.

Except for one problem. The Red Sox are not playing that badly. At four games above .500, the Red Sox would actually be in first place of their division if they made their home out west. (Texas, the current leader of the American League West, is a game behind the Sox in the standings).

I hear that David Ortiz is horrible. Except when I look at the stats, he's doing much better now (or perhaps fans just have a ridiculously inflated sense of how he should be doing). He's batting .265 for the year (including his admittedly very slow start). Not great, but certainly not as bad as people claim. He's tied for the team lead with 10 home runs (More HRs, by the way, than the Yankees A-Rod).

The problem is the Red Sox are in a very tough division. Of the nine teams across the Majors that have a better record than Boston's sluggers, three of them are in the same division (Tampa Bay, my New York Yankees and Toronto). But that doesn't mean Boston stinks.

So while the Celtics continue their march toward a Championship, the Red Sox are quietly gaining momentum. Of course, not if you ask a Red Sox fan. To them, the season might as well be over.

And by the way, I am a Yankees fan. How about that?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Congratulations Mercedes and Jason!

Mercedes Fereck and Jason Carrasco introduced as husband and wife.
Hyatt Regency Boston
May 15, 2010

Neighborhood Bars

A week ago, I had the honor of witnessing the marriage vows of Mercedes Fereck and Jason Carrasco. Following the ceremony, I had some time to kill. A few of Mercedes' family's friends from Maryland and Scranton, Penn. wanted to go visit the bar that inspired Cheers on Beacon Street. I decided to escort them there. One of the guests asked me, "Well since you live nearby, when we enter Cheers, will everyone know your name?"

He thought the answer was yes. As anyone who lives in Boston knows, the answer is definitely "No." The Hampshire House on Beacon Street is primarily a tourist destination (even though its owner is a very, very good neighbor). But when one thinks of Boston, they think of Cheers, and they think of the neighborhood bar. And Boston certainly has them.

I love neighborhood bars. I love going to the counter and simply ordering "a beer." [Side note, why can't one just go to a bar and get served when simply ordering "a beer"? They do it in the movies all the time, but when I try, the bartenders get rather agitated.]

A neighborhood bar should not be part of a chain. It should be friendly and be staffed by people that live at least nearby, if not in the same neighborhood. It's owners should be concerned about the quality of life on the streets around the establishment. The beer should always be cold.

The neighborhood bar on Beacon Hill that I like the best is "The Hill Tavern" on Cambridge Street. I went there first when I didn't even live in Boston. On New Year's Eve, 1998, a group of high school friends and I traversed into the city from Arlington, and we landed at The Hill.

The Hill is friendly, has a nice menu, and it offers outdoor seating. I often go there after community meetings.

However, my favorite neighborhood bar in Boston is "The Mission" over on Mission Hill (in Roxbury Crossing). I am not sure why I like the bar so much; maybe it's because there is always a good deal of activity there by people who actually live in Mission Hill.

Of course, I have not been to too many neighborhood bars in Boston, and I am always open to visiting new ones. So if you see some guy who says simply "I will have a beer" at a watering hole near you, it's probably me.

Side note: A friend told me last night that if you step up to the bar in Pennsylvania and order "a lager," you get a Yuengling. I guess that's getting close to my ideal.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Boston Ward 5 Endorsements

It was a long night for Boston's Ward 5 Democratic Committee this past Tuesday, but in the end, the group handed out endorsements, just days ahead of the Democratic Convention in Worcester.

Following a candidates forum for those running for statewide offices, the Committee endorsed the following candidates:

Governor-- Deval Patrick (By Acclamation)
Lt. Governor-- Tim Murray (By Acclamation)
Attorney General-- Martha Coakley (By Acclamation)
Secretary of State-- Bill Galvin (By Acclamation)
Treasurer-- Steve Grossman

Steve Grossman received 19 votes from the committee, versus nine for his opponent, Boston City Councilor Steve Murphy. All 19 of those votes were needed for the endorsement, as a 2/3 vote of members eligible and present is necessary.

No endorsement was made in the race for State Auditor. Mike Lake and Suzanne Bump both received 12 votes. Guy Glodis did not attend the forum ahead of the meeting, and he was not nominated as part of the endorsement proceedings.

By the way, Lt. Governor Tim Murray addressed the forum during the night, and he was fantastic. Too bad I didn't wear by Tim Murray t-shirt!

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Mother's Day Fun Fact

Mother's Day is a huge day for restaurants. My mom told me this morning it's actually the biggest day of the year for eateries. And the reason is pretty simple. Most guys don't cook; so they take their moms to brunch. Meanwhile, for Father's Day, typically families eat in. Fittingly, I discussed this with my mom over brunch this morning.

Happy Mother's Day, mom!

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Scary Scott Brown: Episode 1

I did not vote for Senator Scott Brown, but I respect that he is the current junior Senator from Massachusetts, and I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. At first, I was ok with some of the moves he made. He voted to pass the jobs bill, proposed by the President and other Democrats, shortly after he took office. Better yet, he was authoritative about his vote, which he delivered early in that roll call.

But this week I saw a very scary side of Scott Brown. His latest proposal would allow the United States to strip citizenship from anyone, without a hearing, if it is believed that person is a terrorist or is aiding terrorists. It is one of the most ridiculous, anti-American proposals I have ever heard of. To put it in perspective, as "The Massachusetts Liberal" points out, even Glen Beck says the proposed law is unconstitutional.

Citizenship is a cherished right, and certainly it comes with responsibilities. However, there is a constitutionally outlined process that allows the U.S. government to strip someone of its citizenship. It's called treason, and it's punishable by death. However, in the spirit of our democracy, treason must be tried in federal court. The law proposed by Brown and his equally delusional counterpart, Sen. Joe Lieberman, would allow the government to strip citizenship without trial-- without a hearing, even.

Jim Braude provided a simple example of the law's ludicrous nature during yesterday's "Jim and Margery" Show on 96.9 WTKK-FM. As he put it, certainly in the past many Irish Boston residents supported the efforts of some of the groups in Northern Ireland who were pushing for independence from the U.K. By certain definitions, those groups were terrorist organizations, meaning under the law proposed by Scary Scott, contributors to the groups could be stripped of their U.S. citizenship.

What bothers me even more is that I think, deep down inside, both Sens. Brown and Lieberman know their law doesn't have a chance to pass Constitutional muster. They made the proposal for two reasons. First, they can tell their constituents they mean business. A caller to "Jim and Margery" yesterday said, "It's about time we grew some balls." Those callers are, of course, Scary Scott's base, and they can cry liberal foul when the law is challenged by the lefties.

Second, and this scares me the most, by proposing the law, Scary Scott can "compromise" by "settling" with a second proposal that is perhaps not nearly as aggressive--but still strips Americans of there liberties. The second proposal would be like a much more powerful Patriot Act. It may or may not pass the Constitutional test, but that doesn't matter to the New England Senators. At that point, they would have tried not once, but twice, to pass a law that "simply cracks down on those citizens whose actions would indicate they don't want their citizenship anyway."

Scary, scary stuff, people.

Sunday, May 02, 2010


From the door of the White Hen Pantry on Cambridge Street.
May 2, 2010

The cliche that you don't realize how important something is until you don't have it rings true time and time again.

Yesterday in Boston, residents were suddenly told mid-day that the water coming out of their taps was no longer safe to drink. The main aqueduct bringing drinking water to Boston from the west sprang a significant leak, cutting off supply to the city and several other towns in eastern Massachusetts.

The impact is being felt in ways one would not imagine. No one is selling coffee today; apparently every store has coffee makers with hard-wired water supplies. Last night, the bartender at the Aquitaine in the South End juggled a pitcher of water as she meticulously washed her tools; she could not use the sink or the spritzer that serves soft drinks. I boiled water late last night; I could not brush my teeth without a water source.

Certainly things could be a lot worse, especially if public officials and City employees were not as responsive as they were, distributing information about the water issue (even if they did use memos, like the one above, with rather interesting spellings). Boston Transportation Department vehicles drove the streets last night using loudspeakers to inform residents.

It's when things like this happen that I wonder what it would be like if other things I took for granted just suddenly weren't available. Certainly there are the staples of living; water being one of them. But what about other more modern amenities that are pretty important? I always think first about cell phones. What would life be like without a cell phone? It's the subject of another much longer post.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Statewide Candidates Forum on May 18

I have taken on a new role recently as secretary of the Boston Ward 5 Democratic Committee. It's more work than you think, especially given that the committee is very active. I just put the finishing touches on the notice for the next committee meeting, which is more of an event that's open to the public.

On May 18, Tuesday, the Boston Ward 5 Democratic Committee is hosting a forum for Democratic candidates running for any of the statewide offices in Massachusetts. Those offices include Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, Treasurer and Auditor. The event will be held at the Boston Architectural College on Newbury Street, at the corner of Newbury and Hereford Streets.

From 6:30 to 7 p.m. on May 18, candidates will have the chance to meet with members of the community. The forum starts at 7. Given how the forum is scheduled, it could be one of the last times the candidates will appear, in some sort of collective form, ahead of the Mass. State Convention in Worcester in early June.

All are invited to attend!

If you don't get it, well, I just can't help you

More and more people are declaring that "People get it."

I hear it a lot at work. I talk about someone my company might want to partner with, and I hear, "A good idea; they get it." I talk about a potential political candidate I might want to help out, and my friends nod emphatically, "He gets it."

Typically, when someone says someone else gets it, I merely nod. My acknowledgement is mainly out of relief. If someone is telling me that someone else gets it, that means I must get it, too. Thanks heavens. I certainly want to be part of the club, and I am guessing that getting it is a prerequisite for membership.

To say that someone gets it means, undoubtedly, that you get it. Yet you proclaim that fact in an indirect way that makes other people want to get it as well. In truth, if you don't agree with someone else it could be that they get it, and you don't. And then you are in bigger trouble.

This weekend I will try hard to find out what it is, even though, so I have been told, I get it.