Sunday, October 16, 2011

City Council Choices: The Core Four

Boston holds municipal elections on Tuesday, November 8. My district city councilor, Mike Ross, is running unopposed, so the only real choices for me are in the at-large Boston City Council race.

I will be voting for Ayanna Pressley, John Connolly, Felix Arroyo and Steve Murphy. They are the four incumbents in the race, and after evaluating all of the candidates, I believe they are the best people for the job.

Every election, by definition, is a choice. From a high-level perspective, my picks reflect a picture of what Boston looks like today and it will look like in the future. I typically keep the future in mind when I vote; I would like to think most people do. And one other candidate in this year's race-- a former city councilor who wants his old job back-- well, in my opinion he represents too much of a return to the past.

Ayanna Pressley has an impressive paper resume. Born out of state, she was raised by her mother (who tragically passed away earlier this year after a long bout with an illness). Ayanna went to Boston University, and she worked her way through the ranks within the offices of various elected officials, including Senator John Kerry, and it was Kerry who flanked her when we first met. Few Boston politicians her age understand the truly diverse makeup of Boston and the challenges all Boston's residents face. Few can cross the apparent chasms presented by Boston's diversity better than Ayanna.

John Connolly is the hardest working politician I have ever met. He has spent the past several years, including two years after an initial defeat seeking the office he now holds, listening to people all over the City and developing forward-looking (dare I say "progressive") plans for Boston's future. He's taken a leadership with green and environmental issues and the concept of sustainability. He believes, like I do, that Boston's economy will be shaped by the industries that will define the future, and that the time is now to prepare an economic environment that is favorable to those industries.

Above all, what shapes all the politicians receiving my votes is their commitment to the nuts and bolts of constituent service. Felix Arroyo has sent me two cards in the mail when I appeared in the back pages of my neighborhood's weekly newspaper, congratulating me for my professional accomplishments. Steve Murphy is very close to the issues of groundwater refreshment that are so important to my neighborhood and adjacent Back Bay.

The existing four at-large city council candidates seem to get along together. They've claimed the past two years have been very productive. That cooperation and spirit is necessary to tackle the big challenges facing Boston, chief among them the lack of confidence in the city's schools and a consistent mindset among the young and bright that, while Boston is a great place to play, the suburbs are where strong families grow.

I have faith that the current incumbent at-large city councilors are up to the task.

Monday, October 10, 2011


The movie "Fame" was pretty bad. But there was one speech near the end that stood out. A diamond in the rough, if you will. An illegal copy is below, but here's the text:

"There are some things success is not. It's not fame; it's not money or power.

"Success is waking up in the morning so excited about what you have to do that you literally fly out the door.

"It's getting to work with people you love.

"Success is connecting with the world and making people feel. It's finding a way to bind together people who have nothing in common but a dream. It's falling asleep at night knowing you did the best job you could.

"Success is joy, and freedom and friendship.

"And success is love."

Jenny Garrison in "Fame" (2009)

Elizabeth Warren-- First Impressions

A pose with Elizabeth Warren
Hanover Street, Boston
October 9, 2011

U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren stopped by the North End in Boston yesterday, ahead of the annual Columbus Day parade. I got a chance to meet her and chat with her for a brief moment. I also saw her on the campaign trail. Some initial impressions are below.

-- She's a much better campaigner than Martha Coakley. No offense to our Attorney General, but Ms. Warren appears much more at ease with voters. She has a very casual manner that voters respond to. One example: We were flanking her, alerting people walking down the sidewalk to "meet Elizabeth Warren, candidate for U.S. Senate." One innocent walker turned around to look at us, and by the time he faced front, the candidate was right in front of him. "Well, I am right here, so you really don't have a choice," she said, while extending her hand.

-- She's very quick on her feet. I asked Ms. Warren her thoughts on the recent decision by Bank of America to charge fees for debit card use. "At the very least," she responded, "the banks need to be a lot more open about these changes so they can be held accountable." A fair point, and a good answer.

-- Her husband is fantastic. While Ms. Warren was working the crowd, a few volunteers and I chatted with her husband, Bruce Mann. For the rest of this campaign, I will refer to him as "The Man." He was incredibly personable, down to earth, and a great advocate for his wife. He told great stories about how he met Elizabeth and their professional pursuits.

Above all, I think the Warren-Mann team are likeable. I would want to sit down to chat with them about life over coffee, and I genuinely think they would be interested in such a conversation as well. That bodes very well for the long campaign ahead. Thank you, Ms. Warren, for running.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Technology That Just Works

You know the feeling when a new piece of technology just works? It's when, a few days after a purchase, you can't remember life without what you bought.

I have had that feeling a bunch of times in my life. The classic example is my iPhone. I bought it in July of 2009. At the time, you could still take out the AT&T SIM card from one phone and place it in another. I wasn't a huge smart phone guy; my phone before the iPhone was a disposable, pay-as-you-go phone I bought on New Year's Day 2009. As one could imagine, I bought the cheap phone in an emergency. I put in my SIM card from my old, destroyed phone, and I was off and running just fine.

When I bought the iPhone, I did so to take a look at these things called apps. It was for work, as I could see the iPhone as being an important new way for my clients to reach strategic audiences (I work in marketing). I figured I would flip the SIM card back between the iPhone and my pay-as-you-go phone as needed.

Well, it turns out I never used the pay-as-you-go model again. And I truly can't remember not having the iPhone.

I also can't remember what life was like before HD television. I do remember, before HD, that I would sometimes prefer to go to a bar to watch a really big game, just to experience a better view on better televisions. I have no such motivation now.

I am still waiting for the same feeling with my iPad. Time will tell.