Category Archives: Politics

Candidates visit GLAD meeting

The Greater Lowell Area Democrats held their monthly meeting at the Chelmsford Radisson yesterday morning and heard from a number of candidates who will be on the ballot for the September 9, 2014 Democratic primary. Here’s who was there and what they had to say:

Martha Coakley

Martha Coakley
, candidate for Governor and current Attorney General, said “we have to be prosperous and fair,” a message she repeated several times during her remarks. She acknowledged that the state is still struggling to get back to where it was before the recession, but she our best opportunity to provide everyone with an opportunity to prosper is by providing the best education possible at every level, from pre-K through college. Coakley said the greatest economic asset of the Commonwealth is our skilled an educated workforce and we have to continue to strengthen that through improved education. She said she was proud of what she’s done as Attorney General in holding big banks accountable for their shoddy practices during the foreclosure crisis and in challenging the Defense of Marriage Act nationally (it was in a case brought by Coakley’s office that the US Supreme Court held DOMA unconstitutional). Finally, she stressed the importance of improving behavioral health and mental health treatment. Obtaining care for those types of conditions should be as available and as good as treatment for diabetes and heart disease.

Leland Cheung

Leland Cheung, candidate for Lt Governor and current Cambridge City Councilor, explained that he is the son of Chinese immigrants and that his family frequently visited China. The experience of his parents and his own exposure to China has made him appreciate the freedoms we have in America even more. Cheung earned degrees from Stanford, Harvard and MIT and became a venture capitalist, but he said the lessons of his youth drove him to get involved in public service so he ran for and was elected to the Cambridge city council. There, he’s been a bridge builder who seeks common solutions to problem. He said his experience as a local elected official is unique among the candidates for Lieutenant Governor; the state, he says, faces the same challenges as does Cambridge. He said our goal should be to make the innovation economy work for everyone, not just the venture capitalists.

Barry Finegold

Barry Finegold, candidate for Treasurer and current State Senator, explained that he grew up in a middle class family, that he worked multiple jobs to pay his way through college and law school and that while he was originally attracted to Washington and national politics, a mentor convinced him that the place to make a difference in people’s lives is at the local level. Barry returned to his hometown of Andover, was elected selectman, then state representative, and then state senator. One of the issues he’s vigorously promoted is financial literacy for students and for all citizens. He said greater financial literacy would have reduced the impact of the foreclosure crisis and will reduce the problems faced as our aging population reaches retirement age. As Treasurer, he would ensure that our pension funds reflect our values so he would divest from fossil fuel investments yet he wouldn’t act restlessly because he understands the importance of a financially secure pension system. He also promised to have a state lottery that “works for and not against people.”

Michael Sullivan

Michael Sullivan, candidate for Middlesex District Attorney and current Middlesex Clerk of Courts, explained that his first job in the DA’s office was in Lowell. Here, he saw the affect a DA can have on crime and the community because “we’re not going to jail our way out of our problems.” He stressed that if he wins the race, the DA’s office will be transparent, accountable and will make better use of available resources.
Other candidates who spent a few minutes introducing themselves to the 50 or so people in attendance today were:

Ratha-Paul Yem

Ratha-Paul Yem, candidate for the 18th Middlesex Representative District

Dave Ouellette

Dave Ouellette, candidate for the 18th Middlesex Representative District

Charlie Shapiro

Charlie Shapiro, candidate for Governor’s Council (3rd District which includes Chelmsford but not Lowell).

Barbara L’Italien

Barbara L’Italien, candidate for the 2nd Essex and Middlesex Senate District (the seat now held by Barry Finegold).

Greater Lowell Area Democrats (GLAD) To Meet Tomorrow ~ Saturday April 19, 2014

Reminder ~ the next GLAD Meeting is tomorrow ~  SATURDAY!

The next regular breakfast meeting of Greater Lowell Area  Democrats (GLAD ) will be tomorrow  Saturday April 19, 2014 at 8:00 AM SHARP! in our usual location in the Independence Grill at the Radisson Hotel Rte. 110 in Chelmsford.

Five 2014 candidates are scheduled to attend, speak and take questions. For Treasurer Barry Finegold;  for Middlesex DA Michael Sullivan: for Lieutentant Governor Leland Cheung;  for Governor Martha Coakley; for 3rd District Governor’s Council Charlie Shapiro. Since the convention is drawing near and many members are also delegates and DSC members, other candidates may decide to join us as well.

AGENDA: The regular agenda will include: the report of the Chair; a vote to accept the revised GLAD By-Laws; OCPF training in Chelmsford; Mass Dems convention updates/ including the balloting process; GLAD member/alternate updates;  Ad Hoc event committee update; and other issues on the minds of  GLAD members, associates and guests.


Next Meeting ~ May 10,  2014. Joe Avellone , candidate for Governor and Deb Goldberg,  candidate for State Treasurer – are scheduled for the May 10 GLAD meeting (please note the earlier date). Also, election of officers will take place.
Please join us at this meeting of area Democrats.
For more information:

Tip O’Neill Announces a Run for Congressional seated being vacated by John F. Kennedy

If you think that the Congress of today has always been this way, well just remember Massachusetts Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill - the way he served, his work ethic and the way he ran the House of Representatives when he was “Mr. Speaker.” A man of the 20th Century,  he believed that government works and should take an active role in fighting poverty and injustice.  A  man with a genius for getting things done, his colleagues elected him as Speaker in both the Massachusetts House and U. S. House of Representatives. At his death in 1994, O’Neill was eulogized as one of the twentieth century’s most gifted politicians but also as a man who never forgot where he came from. As his North Cambridge neighbors said, “His hat still fit.”

Tip O’Neill Announces Run for Congress

On This Day... 

      …in 1952, Thomas P. (“Tip”) O’Neill of Cambridge announced that he would run for the Congressional seat being vacated by John F. Kennedy as Kennedy began a campaign for the Senate. O’Neill had already served seven terms in the state legislature. He would serve in the U.S. Congress for the next 39 years, the last ten as Speaker of the House. An affable man who believed “all politics is local,” O’Neill played an important role in national affairs —supporting civil rights, opposing the Vietnam War, and leading the fight for liberal causes. Although one of the most powerful men in the nation, at his death in 1994, O’Neill was remembered as a man who “never forgot where he came from.”
Speaker O’Neill came to Lowell  to support 5th District Congressman Jim Shannon. He is pictured here at The Speare House circa 1980 with my parents Jim and Marie Kirwin (and me).

Third District Day in Washington

US Capitol

I just returned from a quick trip to Washington for Third District Day, an event hosted by Congresswomen Niki Tsongas which brought several hundred people from the Congressional District she represents here in Massachusetts to the US Capitol to hear from top elected officials and policy makers from Massachusetts and from around the country. It was an excellent and informative event and will be the basis of a number of blog posts in the coming days as I recount the remarks of each of the speakers who included:

Congressman Adam Smith (Wash. – 9th)
- Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee

Edward Davis
- Former Boston Police Commissioner
- Former Lowell Police Department Superintendent
- WBZ/CBS News Homeland Security Correspondent

Ted Leonsis
- Founder and CEO of Monumental Sports and Entertainment
- Owner of the Washington Capitals, Wizards and Verizon Center
- Lowell (Mass.) High School Alumni Hall of Fame

Holly Petraeus
- Director of Servicemember Affairs at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Congressman Richard Neal (MA – 1ST)
- Senior Member of the House Ways and Means Committee
- Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Self Revenue Measures
- Dean of the Massachusetts House Delegation

Congressman Joseph Kennedy (MA – 4TH)
- Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs
- Member of the House Committee on Science and Technology

Senator Edward Markey (MA)
- Member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation
- Member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
- Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works
- Member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship

Senator Elizabeth Warren (MA)
- Massachusetts Senior Senator
- Member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
- Member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
- Member of the Senate Committee on Aging

Luke Russert
- Television and Radio Journalist
- Correspondent for NBC News

General James F. Amos
- Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps
- Member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: US Department of Defense

Congressman Mike Turner (R-OH-10TH)
- Member of the House Armed Services Committee
- Chairman of the House Armed Services Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee
- Senior Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
- Co-chair of the Military Sexual Assault Prevention Caucus

Congressman Michael Capuano (MA-7TH)
- Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee
- Member of the House Financial Services Committee

Week in Review, April 6, 2014

Three issues with long term implications arose at last Tuesday’s City Council meeting. The council repurposed an existing public safety grant to help fund five new police officers who will begin work at the end of June. The council ratified the School Committee’s proposal to the state school building assistance agency that the city’s priority is renovating Lowell High School. Council Belanger, when commenting on a report on the amount raised by an increase in the meals’ tax, made it clear that he will advocate an increase in the amount of money the city devotes to marketing. Details of all three of these items are contained in my post about the council meeting. The comments to that post make particularly interesting reading since former City Manager Bernie Lynch clarified a couple of points.

The city seemed to settle down a bit after the Monday night selection of Kevin Murphy as our new city manager. I wrote a post documenting the vote taken on Monday night and another sharing my reasons why the council made the right choice in selecting Murphy.

The new city manager expected to begin work by the middle of this month which also means he will be resigning his seat in the state legislature. I wrote a post reviewing Kevin Murphy’s election to the 18th Middlesex District back in 1996 with a review of the current geographic and demographic make up of the district.

Chris Scott on his Column blog listed all of the announced and rumored candidates, a group which includes (according to Scott):

• Brian Donovan, who is active in St. Margaret’s parish and has already held a fund-raiser at Mt. Pleasant. He is not Nangle’s cousin, but he is close with the representative. He managed Nangle’s first campaign.
• James Leary. Leary was elected to his 5th-term on the School Committee last fall. He said he’s gearing up for the race and will resign from the School Committee if elected.
Those apparently interested in running include
• Mehmed Ali, a former Lowell National Historical Park ranger who is back in the Mill City after working for the U.S. Government in Iraq.
• Fred Bahou, a member of the Greater Lowell Technical High School the last five years.
• Dave Ouellette, a city code enforcement officer.
• Mike Sheehan, who is employed by the city as a custodian at the Wang Middle School.
• Rithy Uong, a former city councilor and currently a guidance counselor at the high school.

That’s it for this week’s review. I’m busy preparing for today’s Moses Greeley Parker Lecture which I’ll be giving at 2 pm at the Lowell National Park Visitor Center at 246 Market Street. The topic is “Lowell and the Law.” Admission is free. Please join us if you can.

“Infiltrating the Democratic City Committee”

Judith Durant, a Lowell resident who was a top grass roots campaigner for the recent U.S. Senate campaigns of Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, decided to get involved in the Lowell Democratic City Committee and attended last night’s “reorganization meeting.” Here’s her report:

I’ve been a registered Democrat living in Lowell’s Highlands for 13 years. During this time I’ve been an active volunteer in presidential and senatorial elections. As a Warren Warrior in 2012, I decided to attend the Lowell Democratic Caucus for the first time.

The caucus process was a mystery to me. I found my ward table and asked how this thing works. I learned that we would be electing a number of delegates, an equal number of men and women, and that any registered Democrat from our ward could run. I asked those who were running if they supported Warren so I could vote for them. As we had fewer participants than slots in our ward, none of the nominations was contested.

I attended the caucus again in 2013. Being that this was not an election year, turnout was even lower than in 2012 and we did not fill the slots. I wondered how these positions would get filled, but didn’t really give it too much thought.

This year I attended once again; there were a lot of people, and many candidates for statewide offices spoke. I put my name in to be a delegate, and as there were more candidates than positions, I feel lucky that I got in. Dick Howe commented that I looked awfully happy for someone who was going to be stuck in a hotel ballroom for hours on end.

Lately I’ve been wondering how that whole caucus thing comes together. I learned that city and town committees, functioning under rules set up by the State Committee, organize and run the caucuses. What surprised me was how difficult it was to learn who comprises the Lowell Committee and how one gets involved. I did a Google search for Lowell Democratic City Committee and found a link for Lowell Republican City Committee, but not a trace of the Dems. This, thought I, is wrong. So when I found out through other activists that the LDCC was planning a reorganization meeting for April 3, I decided to attend.

The agenda for the 7:00 meeting was to reorganize the ward and city committees. By 7:10 I was the only person besides the Chair of my ward at our table, so by agreeing to I became secretary of the ward committee. Eventually two others showed up so we now have a treasurer and an associate member.

All ward chairs remain chairs. All city committee officers in attendance remain officers. Raymond Russell is now Affirmative Action Outreach Adviser (way to go Raymond!). The floor opened for discussion and I mentioned that it may be a good idea to create a web page or a Facebook page for the committee. Lynne Lupien, who was also in attendance, volunteered to create the page. I will try to help in creating and collecting content. Paul Sweeney suggested that we create an ad hoc committee to travel to other towns that have active committees and collect ideas for invigorating the Lowell Committee—we now have such a committee who will report back at a to-be-scheduled meeting in May.

I would love to see a large and active Democratic Committee in Lowell, and to that end I will work with others to communicate and reach out to other Lowell Democrats. There’s a long row to hoe, but I believe we can progress. Each ward can have up to 35 members, with various associate members added as needed. Like the Lowell Democratic City Committee on Facebook–the page was created as I typed this up. We’d love to see you at the next meeting.

St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast: more love-in less roast by Marjorie Arons-Barron

The entry below is being cross posted from Marjorie Arons-Barron’s own blog.

Southie’s traditional St. Patrick’s Day breakfast was anything but traditional yesterday.  A testament to the new Boston, a majority-minority city, the breakfast was hosted for the first time ever by a woman, a person of color, a Haitian-American, and a resident of Dorchester…all wrapped up in the energetic and charismatic persona of State Senator Linda Dorcena Forry.

Dorchester was well represented among breakfast attendees, reinforcing the sense that the new Boston is on its way to becoming a rainbow coalition.  Dorcena Forry had prepared a few videos to marry her to the Southie part of her First Suffolk Senate district.  They were a success, as was Governor Patrick’s touching farewell ballad, his last St. Patrick’s Day breakfast as Governor. Hugging the Senator, the Governor said, “This is what a Forry and a Patrick look like these days.”

Other high points were Congressman Stephen Lynch, an old hand at this event, with humor on target and effectively delivered, and, relegated to the end of the program, GOP gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker, who was emotional in paying a tribute to the generosity of the Dropkick Murphys but also crisp, funny and off-color in skewering Councilor Bill Linehan, who won the sour grapes award of the day by skulking off for Ireland because he was not hosting the event.

Many of the speakers paid tribute to Tom Menino, announced just hours before to be suffering from metastatic cancer.  But it wasn’t the former mayor’s serious illness that cast a pall on the proceedings.  That was achieved by the singular failure of the majority speakers to be funny. It was as if they didn’t understand the goal of a roast.

There was a dreadful video featuring outgoing Senate President Therese Murray, shown looking for the next step in her career.  It was interminable and  prompted nary a smile.  (Pity its narrator Warren Tolman, obviously included to achieve visibility for his Attorney General campaign, saddled with a bad idea poorly written.)  Another failed video featured Murray’s counterpart in the House, Bob DeLeo, the video highlighting a string of “selfies” showing the Speaker at different ethnic eateries in Southie.  That dog didn’t hunt either.

Gubernatorial candidates Martha Coakley and Steve Grossman and Senator Ed Markey were also flat. The traditional breakfast format requires wit, sometimes pointed, sometimes self-deprecating, but usually good for a laugh.  Throughout, there were few laughs, not even any of the traditional groans that bespeak good-hearted attempts at humor. Slightly more successful than most was Senator Elizabeth Warren, who – in addition to jabs at new New Hampshire Senate candidate Scott Brown -noted that Charlie Baker was known as the heart and soul of the Weld administration, (pause), “which is like being called the smartest Kardashian.”  Baker laughed amiably.

So yesterday’s breakfast had plenty of Kumbaya, and relatively little ha-ha-ha. Not even a mini-cameo video of former Senate President Bill Bulger, longtime star of the event, could evoke its past success.  One wonders if the sharp repartee of the past was put aside, even subconsciously, in the interest of comity in the newly diverse environment.  Perhaps next year, when Dorcena Forry is no longer a first-time emcee, we can be treated to the sharper jabs and inside humor captured this year only in her well produced videos.  As for yesterday, however, I hope the corned beef they served at the Convention Center was tastier than the generally bland corn delivered up at the mic.

I welcome your comments.

Scenes from today’s So. Boston St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast

Screen and Twitter pics from the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast ~

US Senator Elizabeth Warren greets hundreds at the breakfast ~

Photo: Fwd: 4 pictures for you

Head Table with State Senator/ candidate for Treasurer Barry Finegold at the far left, Senate President Therese Murray left of podium, Congressman Stephen Lynch seated to the right ~

Photo: Fwd: 4 pictures for you

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny ~ having the Irish PM a first!

Photo: Fwd: 4 pictures for you

Mayor of the City of Lawrence Dan Rivera with Host State Senator Linda Dorcen-Forry ~ (from the Mayor’s twitter feed…)

Embedded image permalink

Greater Lowell Area Democrats (GLAD) To Meet Tomorrow ~ Saturday March 15, 2014

Reminder ~ the next GLAD Meeting is tomorrow /  SATURDAY!


The next regular breakfast meeting of Greater Lowell Area  Democrats (GLAD ) will be tomorrow  Saturday March 15, 2014 at 8:00 AM SHARP! in our usual location in the Independence Grill at the Radisson Hotel Rte. 110 in Chelmsford. (Some members may be leaving to attend Paul Sheehy’s funeral in Lowell so we will move the speaking program and agenda expeditiously.)

Four 2014 candidates are scheduled to attend, speak and take questions. For AG Warren Tolman; for Middlesex DA Michael Sullivan: for Lieutentant Governor Jonathan Edwards and James Arena-DeRosa. Other candidates may join us as well.

AGENDA: The regular agenda will include: the report of the Chair; Ad Hoc event committee first report;  delegate caucuses update;  candidate updates for the 2014 Constitutional and other races; activities of Democratic State Committee; 2014 nominating convention updates and other topics on the minds of GLAD members, associates and guests.

Senator Barry Finegold - candidate for State Treasurer – has rescheduled for the March 15 GLAD meeting.
Please join us at this meeting of area Democrats.
For more information:

In the Merrimack Valley ~ Mayor Rivera Awards an Ambulance Contract

Ambulance contacts continue to be a  thorny issue in the Merrimack Valley. Some area communities like Andover and my own in Tewksbury have 911 emergency ambulance services covered by the local fire department. Others like Chelmsford and Lowell use a private contractor. In recent years, the Lowell City Manager  has negotiated a fee to be paid to the city. Not so in Lawrence where until a few days ago the city used a private, well-known area contractor. New Mayor Rivera has hired Lawrence General Hospital to provide ambulance services wanting to ”strengthen the hospital’s standing in the region” as it ramps up plans for a $72 million expansion and to end what he describes as the “impropriety’’ that hung over the  service  under the administration of former Mayor William Lantigua. One charge had ambulances being sent out of the country in a tit-for-tat Lantigua arrangement.

Rivera’s transition team recommended that the city would get quicker, better service and a financial benefit from allowing the city’s fire department to do the work. But Rivera has chosen a different path with Lawrence General. The new provider LGH will also not pay a fee to the city. Swirling through this action are recorded political contributions to both Lantigua and Rivera, political connections as a former state rep is hired as the ambulance provider’s lobbyist and the Mayor’s pledge that doing business with the city of Lawrence will be different than in the past.

Patriot Ambulance based in Chelmsford used to provide the ambulance service and owners have recently engaged the lobbying services of former State Rep David Torrisi.  Of note ~ Rivera’s highly respected Chief of Staff is Lisa Torrisi – the new lobbyist’s sister.

Stay tuned -  with “no comment” yet from Lawrence General, Patriot or Torrisi, there may be more to come.

Eagle-Tribune writer Keith Eddings lays out the story … read it here: