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You might have been sensing a theme rising in our small city community lately. It’s a theme that is spreading out across the country, but it has special significance to Lowell. Call it the DIY movement. Or self-sufficiency. Or making things.
There may at first glance not seem a specific link between groups like Mill City Grows, small local businesses like Sweet Lydia’s, and “makerspace” groups which are also becoming the buzz around here, but in effect, it’s about people in a community doing for themselves. Whether that’s sustainable gardening, using Kickstarter to raise enough funds to open your own sweets shop, or sharing incubator or machine space with others, it’s about innovating ways at the grassroots level to do for yourself, alongside a community of people, what cannot be accomplished alone.
It’s a movement that asks, what if we could feed ourselves with safe, locally grown food, even in the city? What if I could learn to machine my own parts? What if I could start a business in such a way that causes the community to have a stake with me?
That it’s happening so much in Lowell is a product of several things converging…first, the energy of new, young, professionals engaging in their community. Also, an emphasis on the new economy and innovative economic ideas by the city and its Planning Department, and the doubling of that by a University which is expanding by building such things as the Nerve Center. Lastly, Lowell’s unique history of industry and innovation creates a narrative that is a good foundation for a new wave of doers.
I’ll even admit to being infected myself. I might not be interested in a community garden space with one of Mill City Grow’s new gardens (after all, I do have a half decent backyard much closer to home) but I’ve been inspired by them to really up the ante this year in producing my own veggies. I’ve started collecting ideas on Pinterest and even am cataloging my own journey with DIY projects to make urban gardening easier and more productive (and woodchuck proof). I’ve always had an interest in planting since I was a kid, but now I mean business. (Well, not literally, since I won’t be selling anything, but I hope to have enough excess to give to family and friends, and even to make regular trips to the MV Food Bank). My goal is not to go pretty, but utilitarian, with sub-irrigated DIY buckets, towers, and some indoor growing (since I have this amazing, largely unused, southern-exposure windowed four-season room in my house going to waste).
Yeah, it’s getting that crazy. There’s just something in the air in Lowell these days. A doing thing. Stay tuned. (And our new show, Threads, will definitely be talking to some of Lowell’s new makers too!)
I know, I know, can’t we at least enjoy a few days off between major statewide elections, right? But too bad. Dems, are you ready? I think I am.
The sort-of crowning of Rep. Ed Markey has irked not a few grassroots types, I’m sure. Personally, I’d like a half-decent primary too, it does some good things, like increase the scope of the debate, but especially, gets the grassroots woken up and organized early enough to do some good - since a special election has such a short timeframe. One would hope that the engine that elected Elizabeth Warren (like, perhaps, Elizabeth herself) comes forth to inspire us to pick up the work again, once we’ve gone through the primary (hint, hint, Senator Warren!). And I’m always looking to repeat the MA-05 special election primary to replace Meehan, which is my gold standard for a great, feisty, interesting primary, but which lacks the circular firing squad we sometimes see (*coughChrisDohertycough*).
I’ll be honest, there are probably candidates I could love more than Ed Markey, just on the grassroots-outsider-tough fighter sort of feel. But. But. I love Ed Markey’s environmental record, and his roughing up of the oil companies, especially BP after the horrific oil spill. I feel like everyone else sort of have given them a pass, though given the ferocity of their continuing feel-good marketing campaign I think they still feel damaged (good. and you aren’t convincing ME). He has fought hard to try and get a carbon tax on oil/coal/gas, one key component holding renewable energy back (since it has to compete with a giant, subsidized, established industry).
If there is a more important issue than our economy and the flagrancy of the financial sector which Elizabeth Warren has spent so long fighting against, it’s the environment. Specifically, global climate change. Every decade has been warmer than the last, and we’re no longer talking about trying to avoid the tipping point. We’re talking about just how far past the tipping point we’re going to go. This is disaster. This is destruction of our entire human civilization. And without addressing both the inevitable (now) outcomes of climate change, and finding a way SOON to cease making it worse, the financial meltdown is gonna look like a boom economy compared to where we will end up.
The conservatives love to say, but the earth has fluctuated climate in the past. Yes. It has. Usually a lot more minor and a lot more slower, but it has cooled/warmed in a cycle going back to the dinosaurs. But also, giant empires have fallen because of much smaller climate change. (Hell, the dinosaurs died out due to climate change.) Picture a world in which half its population has to flee into other half’s populated areas to survive terrible weather extremes or the inability to grow crops where once crops flourished, or the masses who have always lived on the coast having to flee inland. Do you think we could take in a good portion of the Mexican population and keep our country intact? Do you think we can let half of Mexico’s population starve to death and keep our country intact? Can Canada double its population with environmental refugees from the US and remain a prosperous country? This is what we are facing if we don’t turn back now. I’m not exaggerating, that’s actually the middle-level scenario science models are displaying. The worst case is…you don’t want to know.
There are consequences in turning our planet’s climate back millions of years to much higher average temperatures. By burning the carbon locked in the earth at the time of dinosaurs, that’s exactly what we’re doing. Except instead of taking millions or tens of millions of years to do it, we’re doing it in a couple hundred. Trees can’t migrate in a decade or two. Populations of animals and, yes, people, can’t just pick up that quickly and rebalance the ecology in what amounts to seconds in the geological scale.
If Ed Markey becomes our standard bearer, either before the primary or after it, I think I’d be fine with that. In fact I’d be more than fine with it. I’d be pretty damn happy, and ready to get to work.
In a full, regular session CM Bernie Lynch made his case for what he views as the most fiscally prudent way forward, taking into account the $6.4Million the Commonwealth has certified as Free Cash. The CM presented a detailed slide presentation in an effort to convince a majority of the City Council to support his fiscal sensibilities. Your mileage may vary, but Lowell is doing swell on so many fronts. Shouldn’t we just follow along?
A lazy man may say “Yes.” But, we have a Plan E Charter and our Council cannot, in good faith, simply roll over should this manager, or any manager, wink. Fortunately, CM Lynch presents a very solid case for the fine shape we are in. That fact makes it that much tougher to recklessly bat at his logic.
Below we find two of Lynch’s favorite metrics: Cash Reserves & Excess Levy Capacity
These metrics are measures of frugality. We don’t blow our budget and we don’t, contrary to popular myth, tax Lowellelians to death. (The last point drives UTL President Paul Georges nuts.) The take away here is that it is good to build up a rainy day fund, while concurrently leaving money in folks pockets. Some may argue that raising taxes EVER is a torrential downpour. They are full of crap, imho. Next…
Elizabeth Warren, despite the all-out, and early, Wall St lobbying in opposition, has been nominated to the Senate Banking Committee, where she can do the most good for the economics of the middle class.
Warren’s big claim to fame, after all, is her long study of economics, bankruptcy, housing markets, and other family finance concerns. She cut her political teeth in her opposition in the late 90s on opposing the bank-and-credit-company backed bankruptcy reform, which initially was successfully fought off, until under the Bush administration it passed, with the support of formerly-opposed, newly elected Senator Hillary Clinton.
Putting this woman in the position of safeguarding her best political triumph, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and doing more work of the same, is the obvious choice. But it was never assured, due to the influence Big Finance has in D.C. So I’m glad the Dems are starting to really buck their capitulating ways (Exhibit B: Obama is not pre-negotiating with himself on the “austerity crisis”). Maybe there’s something salvageable about the party on the federal level after all!
I just returned from a roundtable event with Elizabeth Warren here in Lowell at Mambo Grill, focused on women-owned small businesses, where I got to both be at the table, and also tweet my little heart out. (Dick Howe Jr, sitting nearby, was likely feeling a bit smug over that.) If you happened to catch my Twitter stream this afternoon, you would have been treated to quotes and photos from the event.
The local visit is part of the rolling out of the latest Warren endorsement - not only was Elizabeth joined by first-Congressperson-to-endorse Rep. Niki Tsongas, but also by Sheila Bair, former chair of the FDIC, a Republican who has never endorsed or campaigned for a Democrat but has decided to wade into this race. A G.W. Bush appointee, Bair worked with Warren on issues of stopping foreclosures and helping consumers during the financial meltdown, then also when Warren had oversight of the TARP program and the formation of the CFPB.
In the toss-around that is the rather tired old “bipartisan endorsement” game in the Commonwealth these days, why should you care about Sheila Bair’s? Because unlike other endorsements, this one has gravitas. It might not be a recognizable name to you, but in terms of really knowing Warren and her work, in places where it matters to average people, you can’t beat this former Chair of the FDIC.
It was great to hear Bair in person, and her reasons for endorsing Warren that go beyond party lines. For her, it’s about Warren’s real, tangible work on behalf of consumers, the middle class, homeowners, and squaring the financial system so that it’s fair for all. She said, specifically, that Warren is not anti-bank or anti-business, but rather is for an equal playing field for citizens and businesses alike.
Oh hell, I was on fire on my smartphone, I’m just going to include my own tweets here:
— LeftinLowell.com (@leftinlowell) October 17, 2012
[Apologies, previous Tweet has a smartphone-induced typo in Bair’s name.]
Bair: “Until we end ‘too big to fail,’ we won’t have a stable financial system…that’s why I have endorsed @elizabethforma.”— LeftinLowell.com (@leftinlowell) October 17, 2012
When a reporter asked the obligatory question about bipartisaniness, Bair responded with concrete examples of why Elizabeth Warren was the one who would do the real work:
— LeftinLowell.com (@leftinlowell) October 17, 2012
Two things of gleeful personal note: the silly press people had to ask Warren about the asbestos lawsuit thing, again, which I imagine has to be tiresome beyond belief, but in her response, Warren cited the asbestos union, the many victims, and the victims’ lawyers who’ve expressed dismay over Brown’s lies about the case. Glad to have helped with that.
Second, I got to ask a roundtable question, and I was debating talking about DBE issues (Disadvantaged Business Enterprise, a designation for federal DOT work as a women- or minority-owned business, for which my business was certified for several years) but…I decided to air out a long-standing frustration I have with a simple and obvious way that Dems can combat the “deregulate and untax businesses and they’ll grow!” idiocy from Republicans. I mentioned my own personal experience - that it’s the DEMAND from customers, not taxes, which are the arbiters of whether or not I expand as a business. If I have more work than I can handle, I hire. If it dries up, I shrink. Taxes and regulation have very little to do with it. If I can make money by expanding, of course I will!
This has been annoying the hell out of me - it’s such a simple, easily understood concept Dems could use to whack their Ayn Randian Republican opponents over the head with in debates and on the stump. Warren was all over it - citing the jobs bills that Brown voted against and helped to kill, which would have increased spending money in the hands of the employed, indirectly helping even my B-to-B business, nevermind the construction and infrastructure jobs bill which, as a WBE/DBE at the time, might have helped me land some really big contracts. Which would have forced me to hire, in all likelihood.
[Note to LiL readers: if this sounds familiar, it’s because I’ve said it before, and certainly the Mr. has said it before, to whom I give original credit.]
Anyway, I was grateful to finally get that little gem out in a meaningful way. I hope it is useful to her and she uses it! Now I just need to find a roundtable with Obama that I can crash…
By now, you’ve probably seen all three lying scumbag ads from Scott Brown tripling down on the Cherokee heritage thing. In it, he outright lies, since there is evidence that Warren did NOT get ahead because of her listing herself in a lawyer’s directory as having Native blood, and there no evidence whatsoever that she did get ahead. Yet the ads say over and over “she got ahead” because of it. (The ONLY argument you can make is that Harvard, for a time, “got ahead” by listing her a female minority briefly. However, Warren was hired by then, and she had nothing to do with that. To accuse her of “lying to get ahead” is to A) assume she is lying about her heritage that was passed down by her parents, and B) that everyone and everything that has come out about how she never used this to get her jobs is lying. Occam’s Razor, people.)
You might have also seen the latest ad where Brown attacks her work on the asbestos case he has been bringing up over and over at debates. He selectively pulled out quotes from the Globe which were seriously out of context, and distorted the truth to the point of lying again.
This is the result of having a Karl Rove acolyte running your campaign. Everyone remembers the swiftboating of John Kerry - lying about his war record, taking what is a big strength of Kerry’s and making it an albatross around his neck. It became so synonymous with Karl Rove tactic it became its own verb.
I think the voters of Massachusetts deserve way better than Karl Rovian, swiftboating lying scummy campaigns. And so do the people affected by the asbestos lawsuit against Travelers…not a one of the victims, workers, or any other person on the victim’s side of that lawsuit from Travelers has said anything but positive things on Warren’s role in the case, preserving future victims’ rights to sue and get compensated. The “disastrous results” Brown quotes in his ad are from long after Warren left the case, in a decision that Warren utterly disagrees with (vacating the payments).
So also say the Asbestos Workers Local 6. If Warren indeed was on the side of wrong on the asbestos case, these are the people you would think would be applauding Brown for his attacks and highlighting of this issue. Instead, they are calling on Brown to pull his ad immediately for being a lie. Via BMG, their open letter (bold mine):
Dear Senator Brown:
At your first debate with Elizabeth Warren, you accused her of siding with Travelers Insurance Company to deny people with asbestos poisoning their benefits and added, “I hope all the Asbestos Union Workers are watching right now.”
As the Business Manager of Asbestos Workers Local 6 – which represents 450 asbestos workers in Massachusetts – I can attest that many of us were watching and were shocked and upset by your mischaracterizations and politicization of this serious issue. We were also disappointed to see your totally unsupported and unsupportable subsequent allegation that asbestos victims “have died as a result of her efforts,” as well as to see you repeating these false attacks in your second debate and in a new false, misleading, and offensive television attack advertisement.
The truth is that Elizabeth Warren represented Travelers at a time when the company was on the same side as a vast majority of asbestos victims. Elizabeth fought for a principle that most asbestos victims agree with strongly: that settlement trusts are an important part of the law and should be continued to be used. To say otherwise is either ignorant of the facts or a cynical lie designed to trick people to vote for you.
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer caused by asbestos exposure. There is no cure for mesothelioma and the average life expectancy from diagnosis is generally from six to eighteen months. In our union, many of us have watched family members and or friends suffer and die painful deaths from this horrible disease.
We think it is inappropriate of you to use misleading personal attacks to distract people from your record against working families in Massachusetts, and we think it is offensive for you to campaign on the backs of suffering mesothelioma victims to win votes.
We would like to request a meeting to discuss this issue with you further as soon as possible and certainly before the next debate on Oct. 10, and before you make more false attacks. We are indeed watching your comments on this and other issues and have a keen interest in them.
Francis C. Boudrow
International Association of Heat & Frost Insulators and Asbestos Workers Local #6
303 Freeport Street
Dorchester, MA 02122
Anyone wanna take the bet that Brown will meet with them or pull his ads? Didn’t think so.
Poor Gov. Chris Christie. Coming off an awful Republican convention in which he was a keynote, Standard and Poor’s “lowered its credit outlook for New Jersey from stable to negative.” Why so? (Bold mine.)
While Standard & Poor’s did not change the state’s AA- rating — one of the worst among the states — it warned the more drastic step of a lower rating loomed if Christie’s nearly 8 percent growth in revenue failed to materialize.
“We revised the outlook to reflect our view of the risk of revenue assumptions we view as optimistic, continued reliance on one-time measures to offset revenue shortfalls, and longer-term growing expenditure pressures,” John Sugden, a credit analyst for Standard & Poor’s, said.
Christie has spent much of the year boasting of a “Jersey Comeback” — an assertion that has fizzled in recent months as state revenue has fallen short of expectations, unemployment has risen and foreclosures remain a drag on the real estate market.
What’s Christie’s risky revenue assumption? That cutting taxes will increase the state’s revenues! The Governor’s response to S&P? Double down!
Unswayed by the latest batch of economic news, Christie repeated his call for an income tax cut at an appearance in Bergen County and said it was a “joke” that Democrats had not yet delivered the cut.
I hate having to state the obvious, but…trickle-down economics doesn’t work. Cutting taxes does not increase revenues. It decreases revenues. If I get a pay cut at work, I don’t take in more money than I did before the cut.
Why is basic math so hard for conservatives to understand? Look, we can disagree, and do, about what government should be involved in and how much it should spend. But can we, please, just agree on basic freaking addition and subtraction? George H.W. Bush called Reagan’s supply-side plans “voodoo economics” over thirty years ago - he was right then, and he’s still right. Tax cuts have slashed revenues in states who have implemented them, and destroyed our national budgets. Conservatives complain about deficits but make them worse…the Bush tax cuts account for a very large percent of our deficit right now, along with his war bill, and the severe downturn he left behind him.
If I was a more cynical sort, I’d say that most trickle-down adherents actually know that what they peddle is a crock of snake oil, but they inflict the country with this policy anyway so that when the deficit inevitably balloons, they can slash the budget in places that will hurt the worst off in our country - that they really, underneath it all, mean “trickle-UP” - cutting taxes for the wealthy so their buddies can get even more gawd-awfully rich and the gap between them and the rest of us gets wider.
And a number of conservatives do know this, and do do this, aka the Norquist “drown it in a bathtub” admission. But I believe the real core of the Republican party, especially its voters, are merely obsessed with “supply-side economics” in a religious way, clinging to trickle-down dogma. You know, like when you see an interview with Tom Cruise, and the host tries to talk about the science of mental health, and Tom Cruise bounces up and down on the couch in denial that mental disease even exists, because his crazy ass religion tells him so. You can try to get him to stop bouncing and listen to the empirical evidence, but dogma prevents him from hearing you.
Well, that’s most trickle-down adherents for you. They keep bouncing, because if they stop and actually think logically, never mind view and digest the evidence against it, it would throw their entire worldview upside down, and that is a very uncomfortable place to be.
(Article via dkos.)
You guys with the man crush need to know, he just LOOKS like the Captain of the football team. Scott is the water boy, … for Wall St.
In 2008, Scott Brown sought and received the endorsement of the AFL-CIO in his campaign for re-election to the state Senate. Brown did not try to hide his Republican leanings, but he did stress his support for the issues important to the working people of Massachusetts. He mentioned he was a member of two unions — dating back to his time as a magazine model.
But after two short years in the U.S. Senate – manipulated by extremist Republican colleagues – Brown has changed. He has become much more K Street, Washington D.C. than Main Street Wrentham. He is Wall Street’s favorite senator.
His votes are now consistently against the interests of working class men and women, and he prioritizes the issues of the privileged class. He favors the doubling of student interest rates, which benefits his wealthy banker friends, who donate generously to his campaign. He doesn’t vote to extend unemployment benefits for out of work Americans until the Senate approves tax breaks for millionaires.
This is not the Scott Brown we thought enough of to give him our endorsement four years ago. This time around, he has refused to acknowledge our requests for his positions on important issues. As a former colleague and friend for nearly a decade, I worked closely with him on a number of important matters. Party affiliation did not matter to him then. Now it clearly does.
Do not believe what you are hearing about Brown being an independent voice. He has turned his back on his Massachusetts constituents, regularly siding with the archconservative leaders of his party to the detriment of those of us back home.
From the Blog of Record:
BOSTON — The historic health-care cost-control law signed by Gov. Deval Patrick Monday will hurt the bottom lines of Massachusetts hospitals and limit their flexibility to grow, a major credit-rating agency warned.
“The legislation is credit negative for Massachusetts hospitals because it will limit their revenue growth and reduce their operating flexibility,” Moody’s Investment Services wrote in a credit analysis of the new law.
In 2000, my family’s health care insurance, which included dental and vision, cost me less than $300/month. It was BC/BS and had all the bells and whistles. There were $15 co-pays. It was subsidized by my employer. In 2012, I buy insurance direct, no dental or vision, for $1100/month. We have $30 co-pays and $250 deductibles. Actually, the claw back provisions effectively keep us from seeking care, as we aren’t quite sure what we will get stuck paying. That is exactly what the insurer wants. People paying premiums, but not using the insurance.
So, to the fat cats I say, SUCK IT UP!
There is a redistribution of wealth here in America. But, it is NOT the ones you will see inferred in Mitt Romney campaign slurs or on Super PAC media buys. It IS the various ways the system; via cable bills, health insurance, college loans, home mortgages, ect. that the fat cats suck the middle class dry. If we swam in a muddy river and came out with leeches stuck to our neck, wouldn’t we pull them off? Yet, we happily sign up for monthly installments to pay for the priviledge to have certain stuff.
I can go without cable TV. Health care?
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