DANIEL E BOSLEY sent me the following email...
RE: Open Letter...
From: "Bosley, Daniel - Rep. (HOU)"
To: "Jonathan A. Melle"
Date: Thursday, December 4, 2008, 7:28 AM
Please remove me from your email list. I have asked this before and am politely asking again. They are repetitive and serve no purpose. You are among many that I am asking to remove me from their mailing list as they clog up my email and we are limited in the amount of space that we get on our servers for email. You are no longer a citizen of Massachusetts and I would rather that I leave space for the emails that come to me from around the state concerning state issues or more importantly, from my constituents.
I understand that you have a right to free speech, but would ask that you limit yourself to those who correspond with you or your web site. And please, this is not a criticism of you or your right to free speech. But let’s use some discretion and common sense here.
Thanks for your cooperation,
Re: Jonathan Melle's reponse
Dear Daniel E "BUREAUCRAT" Bosley:
You say that my writings are repetitive, but so aren't the recurring or revolving financial problems the state government is facing: The "Big Dig", The State Budget DEFICITS, Special Interest Lobbyist $'s, Closed Door Legislative Sessions, and the like. Instead of criticizing me for my written redundancies, why don't you fulfill your ambition and be "elected" Speaker of the House and fix the state's long-term fiscal crises?
Do you remember your now failed secretive rider to the FY2009 Massachusetts State Budget, which The Boston Globe called "The Bosley Amendment"? The state's largest big business lobbyist group payed you to propose into law without even one public committee hearing to give huge offshore tax breaks to large corporations that would have further deepened the state's one-plus-billion dollar fiscal year budget deficit. This FACT leads me to ask you, Dan Bosley, who are your REAL constituents? I mean none of the businesses you were doing special interest work for are in your Northern Berkshire Legislative District! You are just another CORRUPT money-grubbing Beacon Hill Pol who screws the people to profit off of the vested state and corporate interests!
Since I follow your every political move, Dan Bosley, let us take a look at your perverse public record. You, Dan Bosley, are a big supporter of the state's monopoly on gaming: The (not so) great system of regressive taxation that is entitled "The Massachusetts State Lottery Commission", YET, you also oppose expanded gaming in the private sector that was Governor Deval Patrick's flawed 3 casino proposal. That means that you support regressive taxation so long as the state has a monopoly of redistributing poor peoples' limited dollars to the vested state & corporate interests' already wealthy flush respective coffers.
Let us look at your public record on "Clean Elections". A majority of the voters passed "Clean Elections" into law in the November 1998 state election. In the FY2004 Massachusetts State Budget (July 1, 2003), you supported abolishing the "Clean Elections" law as a secret rider to the state budget without even one public hearing! Between the Autumn of 1998 and the Summer of 2003, you both voted in favor of and in opposition to "Clean Elections"! FLIP-FLOP!
You have held $100 per plate fundraisers at the Pier 4 restaurant in Boston. You, Dan Bosley, have served on economic development committees not to create living wage jobs, but rather, to economically develop your own campaign coffers with corrupt special interest dollars. You have used your campaign dollars to finance trips to the Caribbean, Alaska and other far off places, while local and state taxpayers have paid your public salary and received greatly diminished public services.
You, Dan Bosley, have some nerve taking on both my dad (over ten years ago) and me. I know why you are so top-down and intimidating! The big wheels in Pittsfield and Boston politics did NOT want my dad and I to speak out against the CORRUPTION in city and state politics. Pols like Stan Rosenberg, Andrea F. Nuciforo II "Luciforo", Denis E Guyer, Carmen C Massimiano II, and the like, told you to take my dad and I on. Instead of having a conscience, you chose to be a BUREAUCRAT and follow orders with total banality and self-interest.
I had great hopes for you, Dan. You were going to take on Tom Finneran years ago, despite the fact that you were his loyal subordinate. For a while, you spoke out against the corruption in Massachusetts State Government, you told me that we were friends despite our public differences, and you made some of the most intelligent policy points of any public servant I have ever listened to. I hope you do NOT sell out completely. I hope a piece of you will still be the good man you have at times shown yourself to be in politics. I was hoping you were going to run for Speaker of the House so you could use your public policy expertise, good causes, and friendly demeanor to reform the state government.
Dan, I hope you prove me wrong on my criticisms of your perverse public record. You were one of Massachusetts' best hopes for reform. If you would STOP being a BUREAUCRAT and begin again being a Legislator, then the glimmers of hope you have demonstrated could be realized for the benefit of the commonwealth and its citizens.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008 - 4:51 PM EST
"State tax collections off 4.6 percent"
Boston Business Journal
Massachusetts collected 4.6 percent less last month than during November of last year, the Department of Revenue announced Wednesday.
The figure was $41 million less than the revised projection Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration set on Oct. 15.
Sales tax collections were down 5.7 percent year over year. Corporate and business taxes were down 87.3 percent year over year, $43 million off revised projections.
“November is a small month for tax collections overall, as there are no quarterly estimated payments due for most taxpayers and refunds are completed for income and corporate returns filed on extension,” said DOR Commissioner Navjeet K. Bal. “Collections in December and especially January, which is a big month for estimated payments, will provide a better indication of the state’s revenue picture for the remainder of the fiscal year.”
The state fiscal year ends June 30.
The year-over-year slide followed October’s 4.8 percent decline compared to the year-ago October and September’s 4.9 percent decline compared to the same month in 2007.
For more on this matter, please go Mary E Carey's Blog page:
My new local (Manchester, NH) 1/2-hour TV show appeared on MCAM-TV #23 at 9:00 P.M. this past Thursday, 12/4/2008. I may have a letter dissenting against Mayor Frank Guinta published in the Manchester Express this upcoming Monday, 12/8/2008? We will have to wait and see.
My two most recent expressions of Free Speech unfortunately left out my aversion to my downtown Ward 3 Alderman Peter Sullivan or someone who sounds an awful lot like him, and North Adams' Dan Bosley, but there is always more time for me to talk and write about them, respectively!
My thoughts on Daniel E Bosley's latest exchange with me is somewhat similar to Peter Sullivan's, or someone who sounds an awful lot like him, political attacks on me. To take Dan "Bureaucrat" Bosley's latest emails to me at face value, I guess that I would believe him that he "respects" my Constitutional Right to Free Speech, including criticizing his deficient and hypocritical public record. However, under Dan Bosley's thin facade, I strongly believe that he is really and truly intimidating me from speaking out on public policy issues, including against the government and its corrupt Pols.
I come from the political school of human rights. I believe that the purpose of each and every authority or government is to both guarantee and protect each and every persons' God-given fundamental entitlement to Life, Liberty and Property, or human, civil and legal rights under law. The purpose of each and every authority of government is to elect people who will work for this end. Anything short of this, I BLOG, WRITE, SCREAM, SPEAK, and WORK for a government that will protect the people from the corrupted politicians and like power elites.
I will always speak my good conscience as long as I live! I will always write, speak and work for human rights. Authority and government does NOT impress me! Reforming corrupted men --and now women-- is a day in and day out process of hard work. Upholding human rights is what I do, no matter how people view me. The following "Traditional Shaker Hymn" best represents who I am.
"How Can I Keep From Singing?"
My life goes on in endless song
above earth's lamentations,
I hear the real, though far-off hymn
that hails a new creation.
Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear its music ringing,
it sounds an echo in my soul.
How can I keep from singing?
While though the tempest loudly roars,
I hear the truth it liveth.
And though the darkness 'round me close,
songs in the night it giveth.
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that rock I'm clinging.
Since love is lord of heaven and earth,
how can I keep from singing?
When tyrants tremble in their fear
and hear their death knell ringing,
when friends rejoice both far and near
how can I keep from singing?
In prison cell and dungeon vile
our thoughts to them are winging,
when friends by shame are undefiled
how can I keep from singing?
No, not even Peter Sullivan or Daniel Bosley, will EVER "shut me up". I will go on in my life, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, decade after decade, writing, speaking and working for human rights for ALL Peoples! I will always criticize those in authority and government, such as Mayor Frank Guinta who persecutes people and abuses his power for his own selfish political gain, who stand in the way of each and every American Citizen and/or Citizen of the World from their human rights to FREEDOM, EQUALITY, JUSTICE, LIBERTY, LIFE, WELFARE, FAMILIES, and SAFETY!
Jonathan Alan Melle
"House colleagues stick by DiMasi: Say Vitale charges don't taint speaker"
By Matt Viser and Andrea Estes, Boston Globe Staff, December 20, 2008
Members of the House remained supportive of Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi yesterday, despite the ethics controversy that resulted in a grand jury indictment this week of Richard Vitale, DiMasi's personal accountant.
The sense of loyalty to the speaker, whose close friends and associates are now the subject of both state and federal grand jury investigations, was virtually unanimous among a sampling of representatives interviewed yesterday. The only faint signs of dissent were voiced by House members who declined to be identified. Even the small Republican minority declined to call for a change in leadership.
Representatives said that no allegations have been directly leveled against DiMasi, therefore they will not seek his ouster. DiMasi, who has denied helping his friends, has said he will be seeking reelection to another two-year term when the Legislature reconvenes in January. The vote for speaker is scheduled for Jan. 7.
"I'm sure that it's sending some shock waves through the membership," said Representative David L. Flynn, a Bridgewater Democrat, referring to Vitale's indictment. "But I'm not sure that it will change the election. Unless we see some more surprises, it seems to me that the speaker certainly has got the votes and at the present time there would be no opposition. I think it goes back to the old adage: You're innocent until proven guilty."
Representative Daniel E. Bosley, Democrat of North Adams and a staunch DiMasi ally, said the new information "doesn't change anything for me.
"I think he's fine," Bosley said. "I think people are waiting to see what happens. It still hasn't connected the dots to the speaker. I have faith in him. I've known Sal DiMasi for 23 years. I've never seen him doing anything untoward."
Richard Vitale, a close friend of DiMasi's, was indicted Thursday on 10 misdemeanor counts. The preceding investigation indicated that Vitale had repeated, direct contacts with DiMasi as he secretly pushed legislation on behalf of an association of state ticket brokers, said Attorney General Martha Coakley. Vitale sent information to DiMasi's personal e-mail account as he sought to trade on his high-level connections, Coakley said.
Coakley's findings directly contradicted DiMasi's strenuous denials in an April interview with the Globe, when he said he had no idea that Vitale had been working on behalf of the brokers in 2007. The brokers were backing a bill that would have gutted the state's antiscalping laws. The bill was approved in the House, but stalled in the Senate.
Vitale was indicted on charges of failing to register as a lobbyist and illegally making campaign contributions beyond the $200 limit permitted by lobbyists. His lawyer said he is innocent.
Two members of the House - Robert A. DeLeo, House Ways and Means chairman, and John H. Rogers, House majority leader - have been campaigning to succeed DiMasi, but neither has shown any interest in challenging the speaker directly. Both have said they would run only if DiMasi steps down.
Bradley Jones, House minority leader, also declined to break publicly with DiMasi, although he did call on DiMasi to provide more information. He called ethical controversies "an increasing distraction that commands people's time, energy, and attention."
"Every day, members are waiting for another shoe to drop," Jones said. "The speaker, if his goal is to remain as speaker, needs to get this whole thing resolved.
"That means being more forthcoming," Jones said. "You are a public official and you have a different standard than John Q. Citizen."
Representative Jay Kaufman, Democrat of Lexington and an unswerving DiMasi supporter, said he believes that DiMasi's only sin was not paying attention to what his friends were doing without his knowledge.
"I think this is largely a story of betrayal," Kaufman said. "Some of the speaker's good friends traded on his name and their friendship. And Sal is maybe guilty of being blind to their actions."
In a press conference announcing Vitale's indictment, Coakley said Vitale was paid $60,000 by the ticket brokers group while attempting to keep secret his work on its behalf.
She said that Vitale had repeated contact about the ticket brokers' legislation with both DiMasi and a key lieutenant, Thomas M. Petrolati, House speaker pro tempore.
It was the first time Petrolati has been publicly drawn into the expanding controversy. Coakley portrayed Petrolati as being among those most involved with the legislation.
Petrolati's alleged involvement also contradicts statements made by the speaker. In the April interview with the Globe, DiMasi said he did not believe that Petrolati or any other member of his leadership team met with Vitale or the ticket brokers, led by Ace Ticket owner James Holzman, to discuss the bill.
Some DiMasi supporters said they were deeply concerned about the inconsistencies uncovered by the Vitale case, but would support DiMasi, anyway.
"It's incredibly unsettling - the e-mails and the meetings," said one representative, who did not want to be named for fear of appearing disloyal. "Of all the things that have come out, that is the most dangerous to the speaker and the most concerning for the members.
"But unless things change dramatically between now and then, I will vote for him," the representative said. "I don't have evidence of wrongdoing or illegal behavior by the speaker, and I'm not going to leap to conclusions without evidence."
"More heat on DiMasi"
The Berkshire Eagle - Editorial, Monday, December 22, 2008
In refusing to further address the specifics of the legal and ethical controversies swirling around him, House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi says he doesn't want them to distract the state from its important business, but it is his refusal to do so that is creating the distraction. With the state grand jury indictment Thursday of his personal accountant and close friend, Richard Vitale, Mr. DiMasi's forthrightness is required now more than ever before.
The simmering controversy heated up considerably when Attorney General Martha Coakley brought a 10-count indictment against Mr. Vitale in an investigation of claims that he used his Beacon Hill connections to repeatedly lobby the speaker on behalf of Massachusetts ticket brokers without properly disclosing those activities as required by law. Mr. Vitale has argued that he was a strategist not a lobbyist, while investigators assert he was a lobbyist, failed to register as one, and attempted to conceal his lobbying activities.
In 2007, Mr. Vitale worked as an advocate for legislation gutting the state's anti-scalping laws on behalf of the Massachusetts Association of Ticket Brokers. That legislation, backed by the speaker, passed the House but remains bogged down in the Senate. In the spring, back when Mr. DiMasi was discussing the issue, he told The Boston Globe that he never talked about the legislation with Mr. Vitale, but the attorney general maintained that Mr. Vitale had repeated contact with both Mr. DiMasi and House Speaker Pro Tempore Thomas M. Petrolati about the legislation. The attorney general also asserts that Mr. Vitale was paid $60,000 by the ticket brokers association, which he attempted to keep secret.
The Legislature will be confronting a variety of knotty problems when it returns in January, almost all of them related in some way to the floundering economy. Tough budget cuts are in the offing, some most likely to local aid, while the state prepares to make its case for a chunk of the "use it or lose it" federal economic stimulus package President-elect Obama will propose. Speaker DiMasi needs to get out in front of the growing Vitale controversy for it not to be a distraction. If he has nothing to hide he has no reason not to do so, and in the process he can squelch the unseemly jockeying for position by pretenders to the speaker's throne that also threatens to serve as a distraction this winter.
The grand jury indictment comes shortly after the convening of a federal grand jury to investigate the state's awarding of a since canceled pair of multimillion-dollar contracts to Burlington software company Cognos ULC, which had made payments to Mr. Vitale and other mutual friends of Mr. DiMasi. This is another potential distraction Mr. DiMasi needs to be more forthcoming about.
"Failure to comply with the lobbying laws can result in a corruption of the system," said Ms. Coakley Thursday, and it is obvious that the attorney general takes those laws seriously. Lobbyists have long had an undue influence on legislators in both Boston and Washington, and enforcement of those laws is the only method of keeping them in check.
Mr. Vitale will get his day in court, but it is the court of public opinion that must concern Mr. DiMasi, as it does any elected official. Mr. DiMasi refuses to cooperate with the State Ethics Commission's investigation, as if somehow it has no jurisdiction over him, and given the toothless nature of the commission he may be able to brush it off. Along with the economy, however, ethics reform will be high on the agenda of lawmakers this coming session, and ethics laws may finally emerge with fangs. Mr. DiMasi's distracting behavior may also fuel the growth of ethics legislation with bite.
"Economy poised to dominate 2009 legislative session"
www.southcoasttoday.com, By David Kibbe, Standard-Times staff writer
December 29, 2008
BOSTON — The Legislature returns to Beacon Hill on Jan. 7, 2009, facing more uncertainty than it has in years, with worries over a recession and ethics controversies threatening to dominate the 2009-10 session.
Gov. Deval Patrick has made more than $1 billion in emergency state budget cuts this year, and the budget he will propose in late January might be worse.
State and local leaders still have an ambitious agenda, though it is likely to be overshadowed by the economy. Gov. Patrick is going ahead with a scaled-back plan for education reform, and he is proposing a shake-up of the state's transportation bureaucracy.
Big Dig debt haunts the state. A fight over toll and tunnel hikes and a debate over increasing the gas tax seem certain.
Through the gloomy forecast, many hope, will come opportunities for reform, both in the way the state does business and in ethics and lobbying laws.
Here are some of the issues that will generate headlines in 2009:
At the final count, tax revenues might be down more than $2 billion below what was budgeted this fiscal year. January tax numbers, including important but volatile capital gains, will signal whether the governor has to make a second round of emergency cuts this fiscal year, which ends June 30.
House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi is predicting that local aid will be cut as much as 10 percent in next year's state budget, the worst hit since after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
Sen. Mark C.W. Montigny, D-New Bedford, said he will push to continue to develop New Bedford's waterfront as both a working port and an arts and cultural center. Gov. Patrick included $10 million from Sen. Montigny's plan in the state's wish list for the federal economic stimulus plan.
Sen. Montigny said the first phase, the rehabilitation of the Star Store, and the second phase, private investment in housing and restaurants, had provided momentum.
"I feel it can be sustained even through difficult times," said Sen. Montigny, the Senate chairman of the Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets Committee.
Lawmakers seemed close to passing legislation to address the home insurance crisis last session, but the clock ran out on the formal session at the end of July. Last-minute redrafts attempted to save consumers money, while providing incentives for insurers to write affordable policies on the coast.
Part of the problem is the complexity. Both insurers and a homeowners' group had problems with the original bill.
The problem has been acute for the Cape and Islands, but it has spread to Greater New Bedford and other coastal communities. Insurance companies have pulled back, sent premiums skyrocketing, or pushed residents into the FAIR Plan, the state's insurance of last resort.
Rep. Antonio F.D. Cabral, D-New Bedford, the House chairman of the State Administration and Regulatory Oversight Committee, said he will join with Southeastern Massachusetts legislators on another push.
"That's an issue that we are going to continue to work on to try to get a resolution that is really a helpful resolution in terms of homeowners around the coastal areas," he said.
Sen. Robert O'Leary, D-Barnstable, is optimistic something can be done.
"I think it's going to be hard," he said. "It's always been hard. My sense is that this issue isn't going away, and the situation is going to get worse, because the perception of risk is growing."
The Legislature will be consumed by a fight over toll hikes on the Massachusetts Turnpike, tunnels and the Tobin Bridge early this session. Anger over those toll hikes has given more momentum to proposals to raise the state's 23.5-cent per gallon gas tax as an alternative.
At the same time, Gov. Patrick is working on an overhaul of the transportation bureaucracy. He's trying to find a way to handle the Big Dig's debt and maintain the state's aging infrastructure.
Rep. Cabral is proposing to charge "green fees" on vehicle registrations, with heavier vehicles, like SUVs, paying more. It's part of a financial plan he's putting together to fund commuter rail projects outside Boston, as well as other transportation projects.
"I think it's a great opportunity, and we are going to be right at the table to see that whatever gets resolved in the end, commuter rail and rail service to communities like New Bedford are part of that process," Rep. Cabral said.
Sen. Montigny said he wants Gov. Patrick to begin construction on the Fall River-New Bedford rail line south of Cotley Junction in the next legislative term, to prove his commitment to the project.
"The money and language are in there, and I want to get it implemented," Sen. Montigny said.
Subpoenas and indictments have been flying around Beacon Hill this fall and winter, and some wonder if it will only get worse in the new year. Former Sen. Dianne Wilkerson, D-Boston, was indicted on charges of accepting bribes. Prosecutors say a photograph shows her stuffing $1,000 from a government informant into her bra.
Rep. DiMasi's campaign treasurer was indicted by a state grand jury on lobbying and campaign finance violations in an effort to deregulate the ticket resale industry.
Gov. Patrick has convened a task force to study ethics reforms, and so have House Republicans.
Sen. Montigny said there is a "tremendous opportunity to fix government" and rein in special interests. He hoped to see "the strongest lobbying reform in the country."
"It isn't just the scandals that have gone on in Boston," he said. "It's the collusion between special interests and the way things get done on Beacon Hill."
The casino debate raged in 2008, but so far, it's quiet heading into 2009. Gov. Patrick doesn't seem to be in any rush to refile his casino legislation with a faltering economy and Rep. DiMasi, an avowed casino opponent, still running the House.
But things can change quickly. The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, which wants to build a resort casino, is hoping for a key federal ruling on its application for land in trust in Middleboro as soon as this spring.
That would put the issue back before Gov. Patrick and the Legislature, since a full, Class III casino would require a compact with the state. A number of state legislators also believe state budget cuts will spur new calls for gambling dollars, even with an industry downturn.
At a time when tax revenue might be in short supply, Gov. Patrick hasn't ruled out putting his cards on the table a second time.
"DiMasi loses ally in bid to keep post: Reelection vote looms next week"
By Matt Viser and Andrea Estes, Boston Globe Staff, December 30, 2008
A top House lawmaker who has flourished under House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi said last night that he would not support DiMasi's bid next week for another two-year term.
Representative David Torrisi, the House chairman of the Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, said he would vote "present" next week, a decision he labored over for months.
"The allegations are serious, and I think it's time for new leadership in the House," Torrisi, a North Andover Democrat, said in an interview. "Quite frankly, I was hoping he would have stepped down by now."
Torrisi is the first Democrat to break with DiMasi and go public with his concerns that the ethical investigations surrounding the DiMasi make it difficult for him to continue as an effective speaker.
"I do think that people, our constituents, expect more from us," Torrisi said. "The cloud that has been cast upon us is vast."
Torrisi has been close to DiMasi, who attended his wedding in 2006.
It is unclear whether Torrisi's comments will prompt other members to follow. Privately, several lawmakers said last night they were deeply troubled by the allegations surrounding the House speaker and are torn over whether to vote for him.
Others said they are leaning toward supporting him, but could change their mind before the Democrats vote in a caucus on Jan. 7.
"I'm going to be very, very careful before I will assume somebody has done something," said Representative Mary Grant, a Democrat from Beverly. "I'm an, 'innocent until proven guilty' here."
She said if the vote were held today she would support DiMasi, but added, "I don't know where it's going. There's time between now and then."
State and federal authorities are investigating large payments made to DiMasi's friends and close associates by special interest groups seeking favors on Beacon Hill. One of those friends, his accountant Richard Vitale, was indicted Dec. 18 by Attorney General Martha Coakley for failing to report $60,000 he received from an association of ticket brokers.
DiMasi's spokesman, David Guarino, said in a statement last night that "Speaker DiMasi enjoys overwhelming support from the members and is proud of the House's accomplishments under his leadership, from landmark healthcare legislation to nation-leading energy reforms. The speaker is focused on the important issues before the House in the next session and won't be distracted from the challenges facing the Commonwealth."
Torrisi acknowledged that DiMasi would almost certainly win reelection, a prediction that several members made last week.
DiMasi has been calling legislators into his office, trying to shore up support as he explains why he has been fighting the state Ethics Commission, which has gone to court to try to force him to provide records relating to a state software contract.
Torrisi met with DiMasi for about 20 minutes Dec. 22, where he told him he would not vote for him again.
"I'm sure he's disappointed," Torrisi said. "But I need to do what's best for my district, for the Commonwealth, and my own personal conscience."
Torrisi expects DiMasi to punish him by revoking his chairmanship, which provides him $7,500 in additional pay and several extra staff members.
"I'm sure my political career, I wouldn't say it's in jeopardy, but it's off the track a little bit," Torrisi said. "I won't have the same voice at the table and have that benefit anymore. But at the end of the day this is something I felt pretty strongly about."
Other chairmen were quick last night to jump to DiMasi's defense.
"I'm sad there are people that would feel that way," said Representative Daniel Bosley, a North Adams Democrat. "There's no charges, there's no allegations, it's just newspaper stories. I don't think we should guide ourselves by that."
Two members of the House - Robert A. DeLeo, House Ways and Means chairman, and John H. Rogers, House majority leader - have been campaigning to succeed DiMasi, but neither has shown any interest in challenging the speaker directly. Both have said they would run only if DiMasi steps down.
Torrisi is backing DeLeo in that fight.
Matt Viser can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Andrea Estes can be reached at email@example.com.
"Seize the pay... of bloated hacks: Carpe per diem!"
By Howie Carr, Sunday, December 7, 2008, www.bostonherald.com, Columnists
So it’s up to Gov. Deval Patrick to decide how much of a pay raise the Legislature gets next month.
Forget the bogus mathematical formulas, Gov - give the solons the hike they so richly deserve.
Nothing. Zero. Nada. The goose egg. The doughnut. Bupkes.
According to the law - admittedly, a laughable word to use when discussing the Legislature - the solons must get a raise based on the previous year’s “median household income” in the state.
Most people who don’t have hack jobs took a pounding this year. But the actual 2008 income stats won’t be available for months. So the governor and his Payroll Charlies who make the call have to . . . wing it.
On second thought, Deval, don’t just freeze the legislators’ pay. Cut it. Make them feel our pain.
I’m not saying every solon is a drunken, corrupt buffoon. It’s that 90 percent that give the other 10 percent such a bad rap. Wilkerson, Marzilli, DiMasi, Rogers, Spellane - it’s been another banner year for ethics on Beacon Hill, yes?
Already these dolts are paid a base of $58,237.15, plus “bonuses” for their alleged roles in “leadership.” Every year more and more of these bums get bought off with that extra $7,500 that can be removed at the whim of the speaker, who also grabs an extra $35,000.
But there’s more. All the reps who live more than 50 miles from Beacon Hill - a third of them - get to take more than $150 a day off their federal income taxes for every day the Legislature is in session. This is why they so seldom adjourn. It would require them to pay taxes like the rest of us do.
And don’t forget another cash perk, their “per diems,” the money they collect for showing up to work each day (or just saying they do, on their cheat sheets).
The per-diem rate goes up the further you live from the State House. If you live in Boston or Somerville, you get $10 a day. Weymouth is $18, Worcester is $36, and so on, all the way up to $100 for Nantucket.
Do you get paid extra for actually showing up at your job? I didn’t think so. So far this year, Rep. Dan Bosley has collected $15,390 just in per diems. In second place is Rep. Denis Guyer, with $10,824.
But wait, it gets better. Some of these statesmen are collecting per diems, then charging their traveling expenses to their campaign committees. In the real world, that’s called “double-dipping.”
What a great country. They get a pay raise, and their constituents get to pay $7.50 every time they drive through the harbor tunnels. And the guy who gets to make the call on how much extra the reps get is Deval Patrick, who in 2006 promised everyone he would cut their property taxes - how much has your bill gone down?
Article URL: www.bostonherald.com/news/columnists/view.bg?articleid=1137371
"Tax law debuts amid controversy: State cracks down on businesses that shift profits out of Massachusetts"
By Casey Ross, Boston Globe Staff, January 2, 2009
Corporations in Massachusetts will pay hundreds of millions of dollars more in state taxes this year: A law that takes effect today prevents companies from avoiding taxation by shifting profits out of the state.
The new tax provisions are expected to raise up to $400 million in additional funds.
The Legislature passed them to combat some companies' strategy of moving profits to their business units in lower-tax states.
Under the new law, companies will have do what is known as combined reporting, which requires them to apportion tax payments, based on the amount of profit their operations earn in Massachusetts.
Companies will also be prevented from changing their incorporation status at the state level just to avoid paying taxes.
Some companies will pay less under the changes.
But Republican lawmakers are trying to get the new law repealed, arguing that its implementation would be disastrous to companies that are already laying off employees and paring operations because of the recession.
"In the long term, this could be devastating to the economy," said Senate Minority Leader Richard Tisei, a Wakefield Republican.
He plans to file a bill to repeal the law. "Any economist would tell you that raising taxes in the midst of a recession is not a good idea," he said.
Democrats, who dominate the Legislature, said they intend to keep the tax changes in place.
State Senator Cynthia Creem, chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Revenue, said the law is meant to eliminate inequities in the state's tax structure and should be implemented regardless of economic circumstances.
"We did this because it's fair," she said. "Personally, I'd be reluctant to take a different position now and say we don't need to reform and we don't need to be fair."
The debate over repeal will take place as state officials grapple with a budget deficit that Governor Deval Patrick on Tuesday said will require $1 billion in additional spending reductions.
A spokeswoman said Patrick favors keeping the new tax provisions.
"Taken together, these changes modernize our tax structure, create a level playing field for businesses of all sizes, and generate much-needed revenue for the Commonwealth," spokeswoman Cyndi Roy said.
To soften the impact, Patrick and legislators agreed to a gradual reduction in the corporate tax rate.
Starting in January 2010, the rate will be reduced from the current 9.5 percent, the fourth-highest in the country, to 8.75 percent. Annual reductions are scheduled to continue until the rate reaches 8 percent in 2012.
Republican lawmakers said they suspect Democrats may try to postpone or stop the reductions to generate more tax revenue.
The rate cuts are "never going to happen," said House Minority Leader Brad Jones, a North Reading Republican.
"I would not in the least be surprised to see some legislation where in paragraph X it postpones the reduction to 2015 or eliminates it completely."
Both Creem and Patrick said they have no plans to pull back on the rate reductions.
Meanwhile, the amount of money the state would collect under the tax change is less clear as the weak economy continues to eat into corporate profits.
Corporate tax collections through the first five months of the state fiscal year, ended Nov. 30, were down more than 22 percent, or $126 million, from the same period the prior year.
Officials expect that downward trend to continue into the new year.
Casey Ross can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From: "Bosley, Daniel - Rep. (HOU)"
To: Jonathan Melle
Subject: RE: Open Letter to Dan Bosley! I WILL ALWAYS SPEAK MY GOOD CONSCIENCE AS LONG AS I LIVE!
Date: Thursday, December 4, 2008
Internet Blog Page: www.ongeicocaveman.blogspot.com/2008/12/for-archives.html
Jonathon, I asked very nicely and I made a point of saying that I am not criticizing or stifling your right to "Dissent" as you call it. Blog all you want. However, I will now add your emailand name to my delete account and be done with it.
For the record, though, please get your facts straight as you write about me. First, there was no secret budget amendment on the corporate reporting bill. My amendment was in the Clerk's hands and on the rostrum for the entire day. I believe that the amendment was a good one and the fact that most of it was adopted by the conference committee and is now law speaks to that. The amendment did not give huge breaks to businesses for money that would accrue to Massachusetts. Get your facts straight and please don't refer to some blog or post as your proof as that may not be right. Give the amendment to an accountant and have them explain it.
Further, although you have the right to post on your blog and in email, stating that I was paid to offer this amendment is illegal, untrue and slanderous. Stating that I am corrupt is also slanderous. If you keep this up, I will refer this to a lawyer. Again you have the right to post, but not to post lies that slander another person.
Second, I voted to put the clean elections issue on the ballot and the voters changed ti. I had nothing to do with drawing up or offering a secret amendment.
Third, we have had this conversation before. I do not like the state lottery more than I like gambling. However, it is already law and brings over $900 million to cities and towns. Unless you can find a way to fund cash strapped cities and towns, I would suggest that we keep the lottery in place.
Lastly, and this is the crux of the issue, isn't it? I never "took you on" not did I have any quarrel with your dad. Yet, you insult me because I was the rep when we abolished county government and your dad was a Commissioner. I wish you had been at the meeting where I asked the Commission to do something relevant that would justify their positions. I suggested that they form a telecom association and bring broadband to the Berkshires. I suggested that they form an electricity co-op like the Cape. But they chose to do nothing and we couldn't justify charging cities and towns for a county government that ran a survey crew and the treasurer's office along with a few other minor duties. By the time I got into government, the D.A.'s office, the jail, and the planning commission had already been moved out. there was nothing for them to do and we abolished them. I am sorry that you have held a grudge all these years. It is not my intent to answer you anymore and I won't know if you answer me as I am putting you on a junk mail list. However, let me say this; Jonathon, think about what you write. Your list of people you hate or write against continues to grow longer with all of your perceived slights. this list is growing so long that it can't be everyone is corrupt or mean spirited. Think about this and try to adopt a more positive outlook.
"2008: State government year in review"
By Jim O’Sullivan/State House News Service, Saturday, December 27, 2008
Boston, Mass. - Ethics scandals, including those that led to the resignations of two state senators and others that will dog other top Beacon Hill figures into the New Year, were pieces of a mosaic that coalesced in the public consciousness into what the capitol press corps named the top story of 2008: corruption on Beacon Hill.
Not even the free-falling economy and the decimated state budget could keep up with the allegedly cash-grabbing and constituent-groping pols this year. While the fiscal news kept getting worse, the police blotter for public officials kept getting longer. Even a Celtics world title in the middle of the calendar couldn’t stem the flow of negativity. Consider that the top five stories of 2008 were, to varying degrees, negative.
To quote the governor, the state indeed appeared “awash in cynicism.”
Per tradition, the News Service asked reporters who cover the State House to list the top 10 stories of the year, the press secretary of the year, and their predictions for next year’s biggest story. (Dirty laundry: For a group of people who blow past deadlines for a living, the capitol press corps, tasked with submitting their lists by Dec. 22, proved startlingly adept at, well, blowing past deadlines.)
Bold headlines dominated the year, preventing major stories from cracking the top 10. The expected – but not-yet-materialized – domino effect from Barack Obama’s capture of the presidency, revelations that Gov. Deval Patrick plans to release and promote a book in 2010, an ice storm that left much of the state powerless for swaths of December, massive public borrowing to improve infrastructure – all of them commanded attention, but none made the top tier.
National stories like Obama’s election as the nation’s first black president, and the on-the-ropes economy had major implications here at home, where Massachusetts Democrats, after going first for Hillary Clinton, resoundingly backed Obama over John McCain.
“We made history, and people obviously at the beginning of the year people didn’t know who was going to win, but it was an exciting, historic race from the start,” said Kevin McNicholas, a radio reporter and one of the Hill’s senior media denizens.
McNicholas continued, “But of course that’s tempered by – nothing to do with Obama’s election – but it’s tempered by the financial meltdown, and people know it’s going to get worse before it gets better.”
Asked the biggest story specific to the Golden Dome, “Inside the building ... the budget problem, which is just getting bigger and bigger and bigger.”
The top 10 stories of 2008, per the State House press corps:
1. Ethics flaps taint Hill figures
2. Casino legislative battle and defeat
3. Economic meltdown
4. Budget contretemps as revenues crippled
5. Sen. Kennedy’s battle with brain cancer
6. Reps. Rogers and DeLeo jockey for successor position
7. Ongoing decline of state GOP
8. Transportation agencies’ problems/tolls v. taxes
9. Voters decriminalize possession of less than an ounce of marijuana.
10. TIE: Former Gov. Romney’s presidential campaign, major tax increases, passage of $1 billion life sciences package.
PRESS SECRETARY OF THE YEAR
Voting resulted in a rare three-way tie, with Gov. Deval Patrick’s press secretary Kyle Sullivan, DiMasi communications director David Guarino, and Kofi Jones of the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development knotted. No plans for a recount.
TOP STORY OF 2009
Reporters expect Sen. Edward Kennedy’s battle with cancer to be the top story of 2009.
THE TOP 10 STORIES OF 2008
1. This week’s getaway day disclosure that Robert Coughlin, a former state rep and Patrick aide, had been fined $10,000 for covertly hustling for a gig with an industry whose tax breaks he was simultaneously helping to write, tied a nice year-end bow on things. In all, the list of public official misbehavior – alleged and otherwise – in 2008 is long and depressing. It might’ve been Howie Carr’s favorite year, providing the public sector-loathing scribe with enough material that some columns appeared to suggest that, in fact, the pols were in some sort of perverse collusion, eager to boost the career of their longtime tormentor. In fact, three individual cases could’ve ranked in the top 10 on their own. Some reporters conflated allegations against former Sen. Dianne Wilkerson, that she took $23,500 for work on a liquor license bill, with allegations against former Sen. James Marzilli, accused of sexually assaulting women on several occasions. Both resigned, both await trial. The Middlesex County register of probate, John Buonomo, resigned after prosecutors charged him with stealing thousands from office copy and cash machines, acts they said were caught on tape. Attorney General Martha Coakley on Dec. 19 announced that a close associate of House Speaker DiMasi had been indicted on charges he had illegally lobbied for a ticket-resale bill, including sending emails to the speaker and Speaker Pro Tem Petrolati. Toll collectors were allegedly nailed for pilfering cash from the Pike. House Majority Leader John Rogers battled allegations that money from his campaign account was used by his political consultant to make payments on a vacation home that Rogers owned – in what the Norwood Democrat called a joint arrangement. House Financial Services Committee vice-chair Rep. Robert Spellane is dealing with allegations of additional campaign finance irregularities. State Rep. Jennifer Callahan said she was verbally threatened and later politically disciplined after backing Rogers over Ways and Means chair Rep. Robert DeLeo in their feud over who gets to succeed DiMasi, claims some of her colleagues dismissed as kooky. The House pursued voting-rule changes after Rep. Charley Murphy was recorded as voting in roll calls on a House budget order. Normally, Murphy’s vigilance in representing the good people of Burlington would have been commended by good-government watchdogs. This was different because he was in St. Croix at the time. Meaning someone else was pushing the button.
2. The failure of Patrick’s casino proposal, the culmination of a long battle whose repercussions bore heavily on the progress of other legislation and created uncommon tension between the governor and the speaker, ranked second. Gov. Deval Patrick and Speaker Salvatore DiMasi warred over the issue, DiMasi resisting Patrick’s promises of major economic benefits and Patrick calling for more openness in the legislative process. The subplots were tasty. Other than DiMasi, Patrick’s main critic on the issue was House Economic Development and Emerging Technologies Committee chair Rep. Dan Bosley – the man he’d tried to hire as an economic development adviser. The governor ran into trouble with quickly discredited job creation projections. The administration feuded with DiMasi over who was using more inappropriate techniques of “persuasion,” and the speaker made his presence felt by paying a shirt-sleeved evening visit to a committee hearing on the bill, an appearance that brought breathless Patrick aides to Gardner Auditorium to watch. Bosley postponed a committee vote on Patrick’s bill when the result was still in doubt, and hours later announced a score that went the way the North Adams Democrat wanted it to. Then, the night the full House voted on the bill, Patrick scooted to New York City to sell a book he’s writing. There were recriminations aplenty, and the whole thing could happen again next year – with fundamentally different dynamics.
3. The state unemployment rate hit a five-year high in November, a third straight month of job losses in a state that has still not returned to its 2001 jobs peak. Sustained foreclosures and a gimpy housing market – November showed a 22 percent year-over-year plunge in home sales and a 17 percent drop in prices, according to the Mass. Association of Realtors – reflected the state’s inability to stave off the ravages of the global crisis. For most of the year, fuel prices placed even greater strain on commuters’ wallets, already dealing with slowing income growth, higher food prices, and, for Pike drivers, tolls expected to climb in 2009. The pain is expected to continue. In mid-November, the New England Economic Partnership projected a total loss of 135,000 jobs by the middle of 2010. Thus far, the recession has hit different pockets of the state in sharply differently degrees. While the Boston-Cambridge-Quincy job market has swelled over the past year by 8,500, the Worcester area has dropped 3,100 jobs, the Springfield region has shed 2,700 jobs, and New Bedford has lost 1,100. There are, seemingly, two (or more) economies in the Commonwealth. The statewide seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate through November was 5.5 percent, up from 3.8 from the prior November. Regional fluctuations were dramatic, with the Lawrence-Methuen-Salem area topping the list at 8.3 percent, nearly twice the Framingham region’s 4.3 percent rate.
4. Inextricable from the economic crisis is the uppercut dealt to the state budget, with the damage for the six-month-old state operating budget still untold. Led by Gov. Deval Patrick, a government expansionist, the state delved into the $28.2 billion budget with $1.1 billion in cuts and raids on state reserves. More cuts are likely early next year, with local aid on the block, too, after major state safety-net programs bore much of the earlier incisions. State finance documents project a decline in tax collections of about 3.6 percent for fiscal 2009, instead of the assumed 3.8 percent growth. As capital gains crater, Senate budget chief Steven Panagiotakos has pegged next year’s deficit between $2 billion and $3 billion. The political implications are major: Patrick has already acknowledged his education reform will be trimmed by the fiscal realities. His property tax relief promise seems terribly jeopardized. The impact of the economic stimulus packages the Legislature passed before Patrick came to office, and those they parceled out to individual industries under his watch, could be sharply curtailed by the recession, as companies from biotech to construction to the film industry feel the pinch. In some quarters, momentum gathered behind increasing the state’s major money-making taxes, including sales and gas, setting up major battles between revenue-seekers and the more fiscally conservative. House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi has shown new receptivity to Patrick’s bid to allow cities and towns to impose more taxes, and Senate President Therese Murray has opted for the “everything is on the table approach.”
5. May brought news that Sen. Edward Kennedy has terminal brain cancer, triggering an outpouring of bipartisan affection for the Senate’s second longest-serving member and one of the icons of liberal political history. Kennedy’s treatment has allowed him to continue working in the Senate, with occasional appearances, but his long-term prognosis has not changed. The surviving member of the legacy’s most prominent generation, his condition played into a dynamic but fleeting political possibility in Massachusetts: that all of the state’s top three elected positions could open. According to that parlor game, Kennedy could be forced from his seat by his health, or worse, while both Sen. John Kerry and Gov. Deval Patrick joined the Obama administration. As it turned out, none of those three possibilities came to pass. Kennedy delivered a stem-winder at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, and many in the party treated it as his valedictory address. Senate President Therese Murray, who got her start in politics as a 12-year-old volunteering for Kennedy’s Senate campaign, summed up the sentiments of many in the state, saying on the day of his diagnosis, “I’m not ready to hang crepe.” Nevertheless, the positioning for a potential Senate opening continued.
6. While Speaker Salvatore DiMasi dealt with questions about his ethics, he worked to quell and eventually learned to live with more trouble in his own House. Emboldened by the year’s worth of unflattering stories about the speaker, both Ways and Means chair Rep. Robert DeLeo and Majority Leader John Rogers, who nominally should be among DiMasi’s staunchest supporters, undermined him throughout the year by lining up votes in the event of his departure. During formal sessions throughout the year, House members quietly cornered one another, in offices or on the floor, at dinners and in phone conversations, as both sides kept guarded lists of committeds, uncertains, and certain nos. A block of progressives with committee posts emerged as the single group firmly loyal to the speaker – a group that counted among others Reps. Byron Rushing, Ruth Balser, Frank Smizik, and Jay Kaufman, all of whom had been plucked from the rank-and-file by DiMasi. Accusations between the two camps, comically different claims of vote-counts, and tension in the chamber marked much of the year in the House, ending with DeLeo’s side claiming a wide lead and Rogers quietly working to shore up his base. After summoning his chairs last January for an ear-chewing, DiMasi this January faces uncertainty over how many votes he’ll earn in his promised re-election bid. He left the door open to punishing the members who have clearly flouted his admonitions against hustling votes for would-be successors.
7. November’s state elections marked a low point for the Massachusetts Republican Party. Their 24-member minority dwindled to 21 – barely 10 percent of the Legislature. They passed the second year in a row without any representation in either the 12-member Congressional delegation or in the six constitutional offices. Then the House GOP started squabbling, prompting House Minority Leader Bradley Jones, who clung to a narrow lead in the face of a challenge from Rep. Lew Evangelidis, to quip, “People say it's not time for a shootout in the lifeboat. The fact is we're not in a lifeboat, we're in the water.” In Massachusetts, the presidential primary vote went to Hillary Clinton, but not before some intrapartisan drama. Senate President Therese Murray harpooned much of the state’s male political establishment in late January for siding with Barack Obama. Clinton won here nonetheless.
8. What casinos were to the end of 2007, transportation financing dilemmas have been to the end of 2008. After years of ignored drum-beating, the issue finally surged to the top of the state’s agenda, as a projected $20 billion deficit over 20 years in mere maintenance funding and worsening debt problems at two major quasi-public transportation agencies appeared to force the rubber to the road. Legislative support began to coalesce behind a gas tax, in part because it seemed more palatable than a $100 million toll hike preliminarily approved by the Turnpike Authority. Gov. Patrick chose a mid-December blizzard as the best time to appoint his new transportation chief, James Aloisi, a Big Dig veteran who will be tasked with writing Patrick’s long-delayed transportation reform package. Acrimony between the branches has cropped up over tolls and, earlier in the year, over how much the state should reach out to aid the Turnpike Authority, facing mounting debt problems. But Patrick appears to spy in the size of the problem an opportunity for productive collaboration.
9. Voters’ decision Nov. 4 to remove criminal penalties from possession of under an ounce of marijuana stunned many on Beacon Hill, many of whom appeared more consumed with the failed Question 1, which would have eliminated the state income tax, and the successful Question 3, banning dog racing. Proponents argued that holding less than an ounce of marijuana should not result in a long-term criminal record, while opponents of softening the state’s drug laws insisted the change would have broader results. At year’s end, the debate dwelt on implementation, as law enforcement authorities said that once the pending law takes effect Jan. 2, there will be significant problems, such as how to cope with a clause that forbids punishment beyond a $100 fine – including for bus drivers, foster parents, and police officers.
10. Three-way tie:
- Former Gov. Mitt Romney, who announced in late 2005 he would not seek re-election and spent much of 2006 out of the state pre-campaigning, hung around for a while in the Republican presidential primary, but in the end couldn’t keep up with a resurgent John McCain. The Belmont Beefcake was badly wounded in Iowa when former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee took first and then in New Hampshire, where McCain romped. Romney won Michigan, but suffered key losses in South Carolina and Florida, where Romney uttered his unfortunate “Who let the dogs out?” and “You got some bling bling here!” remarks.
- The state passed sweeping tax hikes, including a $1-per-cigarette-pack cigarette bump, which proponents said could generate $175 million annually, and a package worth nearly $500 million in new impositions on businesses, with a promised overall corporate rate cut down the road. Other targeted tax hikes passed as well, amounting to what Republicans called the largest collective tax hike in the state’s history.
- Gov. Deval Patrick’s signature economic development initiative got his signature in June in a heavily stage-managed ceremony at the Joslin Diabetes Center. The $1 billion life sciences incentive was the launch-pad for the state’s top figures to travel to an industry convention in San Diego, hoping to make their major investment of taxpayer dollars pay off in increased investment. The bill’s fascinating journey through the legislative process, with heavy revisions and extensive lobbying, saw Patrick’s proposal buffeted by critical lawmakers but, in the end, largely intact.
From the State House News Service staff: have a wonderful holiday season and best wishes for a successful 2009!
"A tough reform package"
The Berkshire Eagle, Editorial, Thursday, January 08, 2009
Governor Deval L. Patrick Tuesday proposed an admirably comprehensive overhaul of the state's loophole-riddled and largely unenforceable laws and regulations pertaining to ethics and lobbying. The governor's 12-member ethics task force has done its job, efficiently and well. Now it is up to the Legislature to do its job and turn these proposals into law.
The scandal involving former state Senator Diane Wilkerson, who was arrested on federal bribery charges, was a high-profile embarrassment, but it is the indictment of Richard Vitale, a close friend of House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi, on charges of violating lobbying and campaign laws that most dramatically revealed the need for reform of ethics regulations and laws. Mr. Vitale claims he acted as a "strategist," not a lobbyist, Secretary of State William Galvin found his investigation hamstrung by a lack of tools, and the Ethics Commission is little more than an afterthought. The task force addressed all of these issues.
The proposed legislation expands the definition of lobbying to include "strategizing" or "planning." Lobbyists who fail to register with the secretary of state will be fined and they will be required to register even if they work only a handful of hours per week. The penalties for a bribery conviction, unchanged for 46 years and the weakest in the nation, will be extended to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Penalties for violating conflict-of-interest laws will also be increased and the Ethics Commission will be given increased enforcement authority.
The reform measure gives the power of subpoena that the secretary of state's office has long needed to follow through on its investigative duties. While giving wiretapping authority to the state attorney general raises alarms because of White House wiretapping abuses, the Bush administration skirted judicial approval. The task force recommendation requires that approval be given before the attorney general can use wiretaps in a corruption probe.
The indifferent reaction to the task force proposal by Senate President Therese Murray and the belittling response of Speaker DiMasi indicates this reform legislation will have to be pushed by the rank-and-file. We agree with Governor Patrick that "the actions of a few have cast a cloud over all." However, if his reform measures are defeated, watered down or buried in a committee, those actions of a majority will cast a cloud over all.
"Ferrante's swearing-in must carry new recognition for change"
Published: January 08, 2009, 5:55 am, Gloucester Daily Times, 36 Whittemore Street, Gloucester, MA 01930 - 978-283-7000 - www.gloucestertimes.com - Opinion
Congratulations are again in order to Gloucester's Ann-Margaret Ferrante, Cape Ann's new state representative, who was sworn into office yesterday morning.
Ferrante, one of just two new arrivals at the Statehouse to have unseated incumbents this past election year, won the 5th Essex House seat last September when she topped a three-way primary that included seven-term incumbent Anthony Verga. Defeating Verga also made her the only new representative to have ousted a member of the House leadership.
But while she no doubt deserves the usual learning curve that comes with the first few months in elective office, she should certainly keep in mind that her presence in the Legislature was due to a clear declaration by voters that they have had enough of business as usual. And it's important that other members of the Legislature recognize and welcome her as a walking, talking symbol of that voters' call as well.
Minutes after her swearing-in yesterday, the House opened with its selection of Speaker, and once again chose Salvatore DiMasi, who remains under the cloud of an ethics investigation. Ferrante, in fact, cast her vote with DiMasi. That's hardly a vote that signals any challenge to the status quo. And it's not as though she owed DiMasi anything; let's face it, he actively used his power and influence to protect Verga from Ferrante's challenge, when she ousted the 14-year incumbent in a September primary.
Ferrante clearly recognizes, however, that as a freshman legislator, she should pick her battles carefully. Alienating a Speaker who became a lock for re-election on Day One of her term would not be worth the resulting struggle to get Cape Ann's priorities and needs on the agenda - and that is indeed one of Ferrante's charges from her Gloucester, Rockport and Essex electorate.
But, with "business as usual" back in place on the leadership front, Ferrante should resolve not to let that get in the way of keeping her campaign promises to be "more prepared" and "more aggressive" in behalf of her district.
That includes working with Gloucester city officials on expanding the definitions of the Designated Port Area and more flexibility for Gloucester Harbor, as she noted during the campaign; and working toward reforming the state's system of allocating money for school construction projects, which has left Gloucester out in the cold in recent years. And it means generating more state clout behind reforming federal fishing regulations that have put far too many clamps on the industry throughout the district.
Surely she is qualified to keep that promise, by training and experience. She once worked on the staff of state Sen. Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester. She is a lawyer with a land use and marine industrial practice. She has worked with Congressman John Tierney, D-Salem, and U.S. Sens. Edward M. Kennedy and John Kerry on the economy and ecology of commercial fishing, and on bringing more than $14 million in disaster relief to the local fishing community.
She understands the economic struggles and personal heartaches of fishing. Her father, Joseph, was a commercial fisherman until he was disabled in 1994. One of her best friends was Matteo Russo, who just last week perished with his father-in-law, John Orlando, when his fishing trawler sank on Middle Bank. And she recognizes that district voters need help in other areas, too, notably water and sewer rates and other forms of economic development.
There are early signs that Ferrante is being well-recognized by her legislative colleagues. House Ways and Means Chairman Robert DeLeo, House Economic Development Chairman Daniel Bosley and even Senate President Therese Murray have all thus far greeted her with open arms.
But it's important that they not view her as a sort of substitute for Verga, and somehow just one more new lawmaker to bring into the status quo. While she is indeed a Democrat and part of the overwhelmingly dominant party, and she even earned an unopposed ride through the November general election after her primary triumph, she is hardly taking her seat as a sign that voters think all is well on Beacon Hill.
She formally arrived at the State House yesterday backed by the good wishes of all, but also with high expectations to bring change, and to aggressively fight for the voters of Cape Ann.
We wish her well in that promised quest — but hope her colleagues recognize her role as well.
"Bosley discusses the future"
By Meghan Foley, North Adams Transcript, Monday, February 16, 2009
ADAMS -- Members of the Maple Grove Civic Club got a first hand account at their meeting Sunday afternoon of the financial trials the state is facing, and how the financial situation along with the federal economic stimulus bill will affect this town.
State Rep. Daniel E. Bosley spoke about the difficulties faced by state and local budgets for the remainder of fiscal year 2009 and for FY10.
"You're going to face budgets in town that are absolutely horrendous," Bosley said to about 80 club members gathered at the Polish National Alliance on Victory Street.
He said the same is true on the state level, which is looking at a $4 billion shortfall for the FY10 budget.
"This is the worst recession we've seen in this country since 1929 to 1930, and we don't know where it is going to end," he said. "There is just no more money out there and no tax money coming in."
Jeff Lefebvre asked if there was any way the town would get level funding in the coming fiscal year.
Bosley said he didn't think so and what the state was offering to communities was tools such as increasing the meals and lodging taxes by 1 percent and taxing utility companies for all the poles they have within a municipality's borders.
He said with the $787 billion stimulus bill awaiting Obama's signature, the state is expecting to received an estimated $11.5 billion over two years. Of that at least $2 billion to $4 billion is expected to go toward infrastructure projects over the next two years, he said.
The projects Adams submitted to the state in January with the hope they may receive funding from stimulus bill include the overhaul of Summer Street, rehabilitating sidewalks, repairs to the Adams Free Library, repairs to the Registry of Deeds and the Greylock Glen.
Joe Nowak of Adams asked who will make the decision as to what infrastructure projects will get funding from the stimulus bill and how the money will be handed out.
Bosley said a Web site is being set up so people can track where every penny received by the state goes, and while he believes the governor should make the decision where the money goes, a structure should be in place to make sure the whole state benefits.
"What we need to do is to get more money into the system on the ground, and the best way is to do little projects all over the state," he said.
Bosley addressed options the state is considering to raise revenue including upping the gas tax by 27 cents and putting chips in the windshield of vehicles to tax people on how far they drive.
"I want you to know up front that I am not in favor of this," he said of the gas tax.
He said the gas tax is currently 23 and one half cents, and it hasn't increased since 1991.
"Chances are there will be some increase, but I think it should be little," he said.
He added that the system should be reformed so that the gas taxes collected from Berkshire County are going to infrastructure projects in the region and not to pay off the Big Dig and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's debt.
Before electronic chips are put into car windshields, more money needs to be put into the Berkshire Regional Transit Authority so people have the option of taking public transportation.
Bosley also spoke about his new assignment as vice chairman of the Joint Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets, and how for the first time in over 10 years Berkshire County will not have a legislator representing it as a committee chairman.
"The new speaker and I don't agree on a couple of issues, and I didn't join his team," he said, speaking of Robert DeLeo.
Bosley said it will be the first time since 1996 he will "not be in the room" when big legislative decisions are made.
"A lot of these things are decided in the Speaker's office before they come to the floor," he said. "So I'll have to put in amendments, and I don't know if people will except them," he said.
He said the vice chairman position will allow him to spend more time with his family and reconnect with his constituents, but also to put in motion projects from Berkshire County that will benefit the region such as the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts new science center.
To reach Meghan Foley, e-mail email@example.com.
"Lobbyists, business leaders make case for new tax code"
By Dan McDonald, GateHouse News Service, metrowestdailynews.com/state - Posted July 9, 2009
BOSTON — Lobbyists and business leaders showed up en masse to plead with state lawmakers to narrow the scope of tax regulations they say has negative local ramifications and make the state less attractive to international companies.
Tax policy enacted last year punishes foreign companies, according to the international business lobby, who have subsidiaries in the state by slapping such companies with taxes for investments in their Massachusetts outlets as well as normal business transactions like loans or royalty payments with such subsidiaries.
To trigger the tax regulation, a foreign company that has a presence in the state must generate at least 20 percent of its payroll, property, and sales from the U.S. or have 20 percent of its intangible income, like royalties, based in the U.S.
Essentially, instead of using the U.S. income apportionment of a state company, the state is taking a worldwide view to taxable income, which means companies are being forced to pay more, according to corporate tax experts.
The tax regulations would affect variety of businesses with local ties .
They include: Unilever, which owns the Breyers Ice Cream facility in Framingham; Sun Life Financial, which is headquartered in Wellesley; Alcatel-Lucent an IT company that has a location in Newton; Areva Inc., a nuclear power plant contractor with facilities Marlborough; GlaxoSmithKline, a drug giant that has a location in Westborough; Nestle Corp, which owns a water bottling plant in Framingham; and Schott Corp., a transformer, inductors, and magnetic component manufacturer that has its New England sales representative based in Lexington.
As the tax code is currently written, according to the Associated Industries of Massachusetts, the state will tax, under the state's combined reporting law, foreign companies, that have no business operations or effectively connected income in the U.S. despite the fact that the federal government does not tax this income and the income is already taxed in the foreign country in which it is located.
If the federal government is not going to tax, goes their logic, why should the state?
Eileen McAnneny, senior vice president and associate general counsel for that group, said the present tax structure casts the "widest possible net for inclusion of income" yet narrowly tailors for allowable expenses. The outcome, she says, does not advance the state's tax goals of equity and simplicity.
The combined reporting law has frustrated the business community and seated before the Joint Committee on Revenue at the State House Wednesday, she implored lawmakers to "take control of the state's tax policy or risk further harm to the state's reputation."
"It pulls the welcome mat from under our feet," Alan Pasetsky, vice president of tax counsel for Nestle Holdings Inc., told members of the Joint Committee on Revenue yesterday at the State House.
Legislation, however, has been filed by state Rep. Daniel Bosley, D- North Adams, that would narrow the international scope of the state's tax regulations.
Alluding to his company's Framingham Poland Spring bottling plant, Pasetsky said, "DOR thinks any transaction between two entities is abuse," even if it is a transaction between a bottler and foreign parent company.
The way the current regulations are set up, said Pasetsky, it makes more sense to seek a loan, not from a parent foreign company because that will essentially draw in the company, if it makes earns more than 20 percent interest on the loan, to be taxed by the state, but from a foreign-based bank where no such tax would be incurred.
"That seems to defy logic," said state Rep. Joseph Driscoll, D-Braintree.
It makes Massachusetts look like its "closing its door," to the international community, said Pasetsky.
"We're already paying taxes to foreign countries...your'e getting hit once by Massachusetts and once by Switzerland," he said.
R.C. Hammond, spokesman for Organization for International Investment, said last night the present tax policy was a step in the wrong direction for the state's economy. "We want to incentivize any type of company to come into Massachusetts," said Hammond.
New facilities equal new jobs, said Hammond, and allow the state to continue to compete in international marketplace.
According to Hammond's organization, so-called in-sourced jobs in the state employ 173,000.
Dan McDonald can be reached at 508-626-4416 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The MetroWest Daily News