Left In Lowell

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January 15, 2013

Addressing the Core Transit Issue

by at 8:45 am.

I was watching local news this morning and they had a segment on Governor Patrick’s and MassDOT’s new transportation plan (pdf). I think I owe the Governor a small apology as the things listed prominently as revenue sources for addressing the structural deficits, crumbing infrastructure, and needed transportation investments included MBTA fee hikes. I was all set to write a huffy blog post about that, and I will get to that in a minute, but it appears that the mention of MBTA fee increases is modest, if anything, in the actual report, so now I’m a little miffed at Channel 7 instead.

Since that early report, I have heard the Governor on WBUR on my way into work (audio not up yet) and read some online articles like on Boston.com and skimmed the revenue section of the report itself (as linked above). I have to say, the plan/report takes the situation pretty head on and has a very wide net in its revenue suggestions. And the report is not Boston-centric; although of course most of the public transit is in the Boston area, there is a call for a Boston-Springfield line (long overdue) and other projects. (more…)

January 5, 2013

Thoughts on the Senate Special Election

by at 11:35 am.

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.

December 8, 2012

Gratitude Tour

by at 9:33 pm.

Which was a lot of what was on the menu tonight at Hookslide Kelly’s. Forgive the quality of the vid as it was taken by my cell phone held over my head for the entire time. :)

Warren seemed energetic (I have no idea how after three or more events today) and she expressed a lot of thanks, both specific and general, in her nearly 20 minutes at the podium.

November 8, 2012

Coordinated Campaigns

by at 12:28 pm.

On Monday I posted my ground-eye view of the state’s local Democratic campaign. Now, we’re through the other side and lots of people are examining what went right and, though you might not see it, anything that went wrong. (People love a success and cluck at a failure, after all.) After the Coakley disaster, the state Democratic party, headed up by John Walsh, did some serious soul searching. Since grassroots campaigning is Walsh’s stock in trade, I’m not sure that there was much he could have done during that January, 2010 special election, if the candidate wasn’t accepting advice. And certainly, Coakley, while a smart prosecutor and an OK stumper, was not the sort of candidate to inspire the grassroots to action in the middle of a cold month and a short lead time.

But examine it the party did anyway, and came up with the coordinated campaign idea. In 2010, the coordinated campaign reelected Deval Patrick to the Governorship in the middle of a pretty tough year for incumbents, and the “red wave” that swept the rest of the country largely passed us by, losing the Dems only some seats in the House and gaining them one in the state Senate. Even the gains for Republicans (15 to 30 state House seats) weren’t enough to disturb the Dem supermajority.

I worked on that campaign a bit in 2010, and there were some bugs to work out with the coordinated campaign. For instance, there was always tension between turning out voters for local races that might not vote for Patrick, and vice versa. Everyone worked together, but there was some grumbling. When the results of working together became apparent (fewer losses in MA, a reelection for Patrick despite the economy), I think those concerns were alleviated. The efficiency of shared resources overcame the peculiarities of local vs. statewide campaigns. (more…)

November 7, 2012

Lowell Went for Warren…Heavily (Updated)

by at 7:59 am.

According to the Boston.com results page, with all 33 precincts in Lowell reporting, the vote count was Warren: 19,678 to Brown: 13,905.

So much for all the face time he put in here, and the local “Democratic” endorsements he touted. Wonder if Rita is sweating it? There are a number of longtime supporters of hers that appear to be very angry with her. She hates it when people don’t like her…that has to be unpleasant.

This means the margin of support for Warren in Lowell was 58.7% to 41.6%. Yeah, you read that right. A huge difference of 5,773 votes.

Let me bask in that number for a few days on behalf of the amazing, wonderful, capable, hardworking campaign staff and the core set of volunteers that showed up to so many canvasses, phone banks, rallies, and visibilities. Compared to those folks, I’m just an occasional worker bee. Kudos to Andrew Howe and Ariela Gragg who ran the regional office. You deserve this margin of victory!! It’s all yours.

Update: From Fran on facebook, it looks like Chelmsford went for Obama, 9,906 to 9,534. A small margin of victory, but for Chelmsford, that is insane! Kudos to the Chelmsford crew! Also, I am guessing (someone wanna check?) that the 11,530 to 7,900 loss for Warren there was a smaller margin than the Coakley/Brown special election?

PS - Golnik couldn’t even win in Chelmsford, his 7,449 to Tsongas’ 11,413 is a pretty poor showing.

November 6, 2012

Election Day Open Thread

by at 12:43 pm.

Taking a short break to eat lunch before going on to more tasks for GOTV. I was stationed at the Pyne Arts School for the whole morning, and there was hardly a lull even in the mid morning. I think turnout is going to be surprising, both in Lowell and statewide.

What are you seeing? Hve you voted yet?

November 5, 2012

Ground Game: An At-Grade View

by at 10:35 am.
rallylowellramahlo_sm
Friday’s Rally at Lowell’s West End Gym. Photo credit: Ariela Gragg, Lowell Field Organizer for the Elizabeth Warren campaign.

Yesterday, after a few hours canvassing, I wound down the day at the Warren campaign phone bank location, making calls to remind supporters to GOTV. Standard operating procedure of a grassroots campaign. I met a woman who had been there since 1pm, who had made an astounding 12 pages of phone calls that day. She told me this was her first time ever doing any campaign work of any sort for any candidate. “Really?” I asked her. She had actually gotten a phone call invitation to the rally with Elizabeth for last Friday (she would have been in that crowd of the above photo) and had attended, and promptly signed up to work GOTV. I was pretty astounded, but not surprised, by her committment.

I’ve met an awful lot of people who have never touched a campaign before in their lives during the weeks and months leading up to this weekend. Like another woman from Chelmsford, my canvassing partner yesterday afternoon, who was also a new face in election campaigning.

Elizabeth is the sort of candidate money can’t buy - both literally, but also figuratively. She’s intelligent and full of substance, inspiring, optimistic about what we can accomplish, and genuine. All protests from Republican ads to the contrary. And when people hear her speak, or have a chance to meet her, they can see it.

On the canvassing circuit, I’ve talked to a lot of undecided voters over the last few weeks. There are still a few out there even now. Something they cite a lot is their disgust at the parrying back and forth over the airwaves - they don’t know who to believe, and they are sick of being “spun” to. For my part, I’ve told the truth about the ads Brown has run against Warren - that they are very misleading, and many of them outright lies, using victims of asbestos and others to twist truth into unrecognizable falsehoods. There’s not a lot of time to go into details, but I tell them what I can of the background behind those ads. But I am beginning to believe that ads - all ads, from all candidates - should be banned from TV. They are not helping people make good decisions about candidates, they are only confusing, particularly when you throw third parties into the mix (which, thankfully, in our Senate race, don’t exist, thanks to the People’s Pledge).

Make the people hear from the candidates directly. Replay segments from debates in full. Networks need to stop making tons of cash off of our democracy - turning it into a demock-racy. Anyway, this is a tangent…

The fact remains, though, that Warren’s campaign is historic in more ways than just the possibility she might be the first female Senator from MA. I can feel it when I am volunteering, but it’s also evident in the numbers.

Her campaign officials say they expect to have 24,000 volunteers working for them on Tuesday roughly 10 in each of the state’s 2,174 precincts to get her supporters to the polls. That would be by far a record number in Massachusetts. In the days before the election, they expect to knock on one million doors and make two million phone calls.
[…]
It has 48 field offices and 74 paid field organizers, including several veterans of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. On Saturday alone, they made more than 370,000 phone calls and knocked on more than 123,000 doors…

Having been involved in the Democratic party apparatus since the Governor’s race in 2006, I can tell you that the Warren campaign is deeper and wider than any statewide campaign I’ve ever even imagined, let alone worked on. Couple to that the state Democratic party’s “Coordinated Campaign” where the party is working together with down-ticket races and pooling their resources, and the breadth and scope is enormous. Never before in all the grassroots I’ve worked has there been a thorough “poll checking” process, at least in this city (maybe it’s done commonly in Boston). Poll checking is when you have people at every polling place, checking supporters off a list as they vote, so that when you print canvass and phone lists for the afternoon and evening shifts, you’ve struck off all those already voted so you are not wasting your time. You need a LOT of bodies to enable poll checking, as well as implementing the right technology to get the information into the system as quickly as possible. That’s on top of the bodies you need at the phone and walking the streets, and the ones doing visibility and data entry and other jobs.

In the Times article linked above, the Brown campaign tries to turn sour grapes into wine:

At a Brown rally here on Sunday, former Gov. William F. Weld, a Republican, cast the race as a showdown between “man versus machine.” He said that just as a machine was working to get Ms. Warren elected, a machine would tell her how to vote. “The machine never rests,” he said.

If by machine you mean people like the woman I met last night, who had never once stepped foot into a campaign office in her long life, but did seven hours of phone banking in one day, or my new Chelmsford friend who, despite recently coming off a horrific injury, was walking the streets talking to voters for hours on a Sunday afternoon. If by telling Warren how to vote, you mean as constituents who are so motivated by their convictions and by the ability of this candidate, Elizabeth Warren, to fulfill their hopes and dreams that they would sacrifice hours and days of their personal time to volunteer for her, then yes, guilty. Guilty as hell.

Fired up, ready to go. THIS is how we should be electing people. Not with money and ads and robocalls. But with people power. I’m ready to get to work. Are you? Volunteers are still needed. Sign up here.

PS - Senator John Kerry will be at the Lowell office today at 5pm, 73 E Merrimack St, Lowell. That would be a good time to stop by and sign up for some hours tomorrow!

November 2, 2012

You Want a Rally?

by at 6:39 pm.

This is a rally. I took this pic before the rally started, I had to leave…I could barely get in and out to get some pics.

Around the corner, still more people. The entire floor was crowded. The cars lined up for blocks around.

Only a few more days until Election Day…if you have not volunteered, now is the time! My weekend is full of GOTV and I’ll be doing it on Tuesday as well.

October 24, 2012

No, Pal! It’s Brown That’s The Liar

by at 11:53 am.

So, I’m out holding a Warren sign with several others today at Chelmsford/Stevens, maybe 10 minutes before Art Ramalho arrived, and some gimoke slows rolls the intersection to yell out, “Fuck her! She’s a liar!

Talk about being a prime candidate for Mike Hayden’s anger management seminar. The 3-5 openly hostile commuters (over 1.5 hours) all seemed to look the same, sorta like me. I even joked that I should make a bumper sticker that said,

This Middle Aged, Fat, Bearded, Angry, White, Male is NOT Voting for Scott Brown!
(Go Figure)

(more…)

October 22, 2012

Rita Goes National

by at 2:50 pm.

And she goes like a pro. Right onto the front page of one of the most trafficked liberal blogs in the country, Daily Kos, in a post by Joan McCarter.

Heckava job, Rita!

This rationale for Scott Brown as a woman-friendly candidate is just nausea-inducing.

At his event, Brown was bolstered by the former mayor of Lowell, Rita Mercier, who pointed to Brown’s wife and daughters as evidence of his support for women, calling them “three adorable good woman that are strong and vibrant and independent. You don’t get that way unless you have a strong man that allowed you to blossom.

[bold is Joan’s.]

Local level city politicians rarely get in the news like this, so you know it’s pretty special. Usually it’s at least a state Rep doing or saying something stupid that goes viral.

I would like to point out that calling Brown’s wife and daughters “adorable” is also kinda weird and condescending.

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