Matt O’MalleyA relentless and sincere activist Boston City Councilor, Matt O’Malley keeps his eyes on many prizes. He reaches for and works for them, but never despairs when he can’t grasp one.

He has represented District 6 — West Roxbury, most of Jamaica Plain, and slivers of Roslindale, Mission Hill and Roxbury — for four two-year terms. While young for the job, he earned his way working for or to elect many pols, including Steve Grossman and Tom Menino. He spoke of some of the important lessons. For example, Mayor Menino would see him in City Hall and immediately scold him, saying to get out of the building and go talk to the constituents. He quipped that he judged his success for a weekend when Menino was Mayor by how many times he ran into Tom. If its three or four, he figured he was hitting enough of the right events and locations.

We had a rambling talk, though we never got around to the Pats. Click below to listen to a half hour or so of his views on the Summer Games 2024, casinos, schools and even compost.

O’Malley chairs the Council’s environment committee and is vice chair of its education one. His fingers are in many other pies and he does not hesitate to research a topic and render a judgment. For example, for his main committee, he is proud of having worked with the late Mayor Tom Menino on crafting and passing BERDO, the Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance. That pioneering act requires the city’s medium and larger buildings to track and report energy use, and then makes those data public.

It’s likely that his counterparts in many cities don’t do much with environmental responsibilities. O’Malley on the other hand drills down also into such quality-of-life matters as making drinking-water filling stations available for seniors, joggers, everyone. Likewise, he’s driving curbside composting and pushing to up rates of single-stream recycling (WR and JP, two of his district’s neighborhoods lead the city).

On the controversial topic of the bid for the 2024 Summer Games, he’s a believer. He sees it as a real opportunity for the city. However, he is detail oriented enough to demand much greater “sunshine’ in making the process going forward to be truly transparent. He doesn’t believe, despite organizer and promoter claims that there won’t be public funds required. He’ll push for candor and specifics.

On another hot topic, casinos, he is close to my skeptical view. He tried unsuccessfully to get Boston’s citizens a vote in the propose Everett one. Listen in to hear how he thought the approval process should have gone.

He now hopes Gov. Charlie Baker will put a hold on all casinos except Springfield’s. He thinks that city stands to get the greatest benefit from one and wants to see it as a test case before other development goes forward.

He calls himself a skeptic “at best” on casinos. He says Mayor Marty Walsh was right to sue over the Everett one. Listen in to hear what he would have liked to have seen in terms of affected municipalities having a say.

In the main, O’Malley is a Walsh supporter. We both knew and respected Menino. We figure Walsh has some on-the-job learning to pick up more of Menino’s savvy. Yet, O’Malley finds the new mayor competent, open and accessible.

This sow has some of some of this, some of that. Expect more of these as I line up other city councilors.

~Mike

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Popular Boston City Councilor Matt O’Malley comes on Tuesday, January 27th. We’ll talk a range of topics from his very positive Environment Committee efforts to the plans for the city schools. We’ll surely get to the Olympics bid and maybe a Patriots’ scandal.

He represents District 6 — West Roxbury, Jamaica Plain and slivers of Roslindale and Mission Hill. That makes for a very diverse and demanding set of issues and constituents.

If you can join us live, click here at 2:30 on 1/27. Of course, you can listen to him on demand later at that URL, back here at Left Ahead or on our iTunes channel.

Aaron Leibowitz, NoBostonOlympicsIt’s not showtime yet, but auditions are underway for the big stage of the 2024 Summer Games here in our wee burg of Boston.

Somehow Boston edged our the U.S. competition to become the USOC pick. Now of course, it will go up against numerous cities around the world for the same prize. Or is it a prize after all and not a curse?

Last week I sat in for the unabashed boosters who proclaim the (to them) certain glories of hosting an Olympics games. While clearly skeptical, I tried to put their position forward, the likes of thousands of jobs, huge advances in infrastructure and housing, tens of thousands of new jobs, and all financed privately with no tax dollars. There is another view.

Today Aaron Leibowitz represented No Boston Olympics with that view. It centers from every angle with we don’t know.

NoBostonOlympics leads the public opposition. It starts with the secrecy and obfuscation. Leibowitz notes that the bidding process to this point lunged and plunged ahead in camera. Under the umbrella of Boston 2024, the boosters have gone from we’ll tell and show you nothing, to we won the bid for the U.S., to we’ll surely be transparent…eventually, to we’ll show reporters our bid but they can’t have copies, to we’ll have public meetings around town. Those meetings do have a schedule, which is here, starting next week and then one monthly through September.

I’m not sure Boston Mayor Marty Walsh reads the dictionary the same way as most of us. He has claimed repeatedly that this drive to host the games will be entirely transparent and open. So far that has not at all been the case. Whether opening up the bid and books and process to hoi polloi will turn us too into boosters will only be seen if that happens.

Meanwhile, WBUR stepped in with its own poll of citizens. A bare majority was in favor of having the games here, a third were opposed, but most tellingly, three quarters wanted a public vote, like a referendum, on the matter. Leibowitz noted that in cities seeking games, 70 to 90% of the public normally supported the bid.

NoBostonOlympics cites the invariable massive cost overruns in Olympics going back 60 years or more. Many have pointed to white-elephant stadia and other facilities after what Leibowitz called “a three-week party.” Moreover, Olympics history shows that a lot of public money, paid by taxes, will be required; the Boston 2024 folk and Mayor Walsh swear that we are different and this Olympics would be privately financed.

Leibowitz and I kicked around the billions of preparatory infrastructure improvements. That is a fascinating sales point for pro and con sides. The pro-Olympics folk hold that having to plan and prepare for games would force the Boston area to invest in roads, bridges, housing, mass transit and other permanent public goods. The con folk make it plain that if we need these, we should simply do them without the huge added costs associated with the Olympics.

There are those arguing that we are so clever here that we can show the IOC and the whole world the right way to host games physically and financially. Leibowitz counters that much of the process and costs are out of the host city’s control and responsive to IOC requirements. Those who believe that we in Boston and Massachusetts can avoid the pits into which the other host cities have fallen are simply “naive,” he says.

NoBostonOlympics is also hosting public meetings, with notifications on the mailing list, main site, and Facebook page. At the least, they want that promised transparency. They think a public vote, maybe a ballot referendum next year would make sense. They are also lobbying legislators and city councilors.

Leibowitz said they were getting some good responses already. However, he cited a quote in a Boston Magazine article that so far pols are afraid to be openly anti or even questioning of the Olympics. Until the public is also expressing skepticism, being anti-Olympics may be seen as “unpatriotic.”

~Mike

icon for podpress  No Boston Olympics [24:19m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

hkurdle.jpgBoston really wants to play with the big kids. That’s going to take more than local teams winning national championships. Olympics 2024 or bust! is the cry.

In the first of two parts on Boston’s bid to host the 2024 Summer Games, I dealt with the pro side as framed by both Boston 2024 and the feasibility study commissioned by Massachusetts. I decided not to ask one of the organizing committee members to join us. Instead, I worked off and summarized their materials.

If you want details of how Boston might be able to pull this off, go to both links above. On the Boston 2024 site, be sure to start with the FAQ. The commission report lays out the challenges in venues, infrastructure, transit, housing and more, with their possible fixes.

Residents of the area are not yet sold on converting Boston’s success in winning the US bid into expectation of becoming the host city over its international competition. The selling has begun in earnest though. Meanwhile, I touch on the major pro side points.

Next week, Aaron Leibowitz of the No Boston Olympics folk joins me with a less sanguine view. If you can catch him live, click here Tuesday, Jan. 20th at 2:30PM Eastern. You can play it on demand later at that link or back here at Left Ahead.

~Mike

icon for podpress  Boston Olympics 1 of 2 [23:51m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

I’ll do two podcasts on Boston’s bid for the 2024 Summer Games. We got the bid to represent the US. Let’s forget for the moment that major foreign cities, some of which have already hosted games, are in the running for the bid. The IOC decides that in 2017 after all the smiles, drinks, gifts (and worse), promises and more change hands.

Bostonians are already clearly divided. This week I’ll chat up the pro positions. I didn’t go for one of the Boston 2024 boosters. They’ve made their pitches, publicly and in camera. I’ll run down the promises without the hucksterism.

If you want to catch it live, click here at 2:30PM Eastern on Tuesday, January 13th.

Next week I’ll bring in a principal of the No Boston Olympics opposition group. Catch that live at 2:30PM on Tuesday, January 20th at this link.

After the shows, they’re available on demand at their live URLs, back here at Left Ahead or on our iTunes channel.

~Mike

Charlie BakerCharlie Baker trimmed his lumpy physique but not his wishy-washy ways. He did and said enough to win the governorship of MA. Now what?

I look back at an amazing 8-year run by outgoing Gov. Deval Patrick. He wasn’t supposed to win or get re-elected. He was buffeted with the dreadful economy an do-little legislature and big troubles form transportation to health care to education and beyond. He astonished us all. Plus he was a hero for diversity and non-discrimination, including squashing same-sex marriage opponents.

Baker campaigned on vague promises of upgrading nearly everything. Like a stereotypical pol, he sets up strawmen. He’s likely to claim victories over them.

We here love the idealized Republican governor — a necessary balance to a hypothetical lefty juggernaut and the huge dose of New England fiscal conservatism to which we pretend.

I touched on his vague promises and what we are likely to see.

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Wasn’t going to do it, wasn’t going to do it, but wingers’ hateful rhetoric drove me to touch on the nasty work that is the murders of Officers Liu and Ramos, on protests about dead young black men, and blaming the first on the second. The stupid hate-mongering of the likes of Rudy Giuliani (Mr. Gov. 9-11), NYC PBA prez Patrick Lynch,, and a raft of FOXnews braying heads was too much.

No, the protesters did not cause the police deaths. Neither did President Obama, AG Eric Holder nor NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio. No, the answer is not to shut up and never, ever call bad police for egregious acts.

I kicked around several real solutions, some pretty easy and others difficult. There is first and easiest accurate, transparent reporting on all police shootings nationwide. There is refining the 10 or so styles of civilian review board around and creating templates for small, medium and large municipalities…and seeing they are put in place. Let the citizens have and feel ownership of the process to restore trust in cops.

There’s a medium-hard step of continuing to reduce the percentage of men in prison, mostly of color and mostly for non-violent offenses. There’s the hard of seeing all communities have access to decent education, training and jobs. There are others.

Don’t come around screaming we dare not criticize police, regardless of what they do. The prolonged, continuing, massive, widespread protests show we are past the tipping point here. The citizens want to have cops on their streets. They want to trust the police. We know what will make that possible.

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The strange and unfortunate decision by the full Appeal Court of the First District in the Michelle Kosilek case gets not only my thoughts yesterday. The insightful legal view today came from Jennifer Levi, director of the Transgender Rights Project at Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD).

She has been involved in the case and similar ones for a long time. She too expressed surprise and disappointment at the 3 to 2 panel majority’s finding that Kosilek could be denied sexual-reassignment surgery. That came despite the strong majority of Department of Corrections medical and mental health professionals saying such treatment was necessary.

Levi would not be backed into saying what the motivations of the three-judge majority was in denying treatment or in overruling trial judge Mark Wolf’s decision. She did concur with dissenting Judge Ojetta Thompson’s inference. That opinion noted the difficulty many have in thinking about what they find “strange…immoral…unfamiliar.”

See the scathing dissent to understand the legal issues and the flaws in Tuesday’s decision. The 117-page ruling, majority and dissents, is here. Fortunately, Judge Thompson in the lead dissent covered the content of the majority decision thoroughly. You can start on page 71. Judge Mark Wolf’s original 128-page decision from two years ago is here. He shows his work and analyzed all the ideas and details.

She discussed the dismal and daunting options left to Kosilek, who can appeal to the SCOTUS or live with the DOC’s solution of hormone treatments and cosmetics instead. No decision on appeal has been made.

She spoke of the implications of this ruling. Not only does this imply that the DOC can deny such surgery to transgender inmates, this can extend to other medical treatments. Largely, under Eighth Amendment standards, we provide necessary care for the likes of heart disease, broken bones and such. Yet, here the majority ruled that the DOC is not allowed to shop for doctors to support its denials (footnote on page 57), but can take a second, minority opinion if it chooses. Likewise, the majority ruled on what seems to be a red herring of pre- and post-operative security concerns for Kosilek. From her prison behavior and from the experiences with other transgender inmates, Wolf was correct in dismissing such arguments, I say.

Click below to listen in as Levi discusses both the Eighth-Amendment issues and the relationship between the district’s Court of Appeals panels. She does not see how this case even qualified for a full en banc review.

I’ll keep tabs on this case and follow up as necessary. It is a sad ruling.

~Mike

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In a Scalia-level travesty, the federal Court of Appeals here considered the case of Michelle Kosilek a second time and a 5-judge panel overrules both a 3-judge version and the US District Court trial judge, Mark L. Wolf. By 3 to 2, they denied sex-reassignment surgery to the transgender inmate. That decision rejected the previous courts’ reasoned findings that the MA Department of Corrections was violating Kosilek’s Eighth Amendment right to avoid cruel and unusual punishment by denying surgery.

See the scathing dissent to understand the legal issues and the flaws in Tuesday’s decision. The 117-page ruling, majority and dissents, is here. Fortunately, Judge Thompson in the lead dissent covered the content of the majority decision thoroughly. You can start on page 71.

Judge Mark Wolf’s original 128-page decision from two years ago is here. He shows his work and analyzed all the ideas and details.

This is a real and serious blunder that will not understand. That is scant comfort to Kosilek, who has been fighting for surgery for over a decade into her life sentence. Her remaining hope is a SCOTUS hearing. Of course, as of today we don’t know her intent or if the SCOTUS would hear the appeal.

I spoke of the decision, but honestly, you can’t do better than reading Thompson’s dissent.

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Forget the dramas of stage, screen and radio where the bad guys paid their debt to society. They walked out of prison and reinvented themselves as good guys.

We can’t have that and look to the Hester Prynne or Jean Valjean models. It seems Americans can’t stop piling on convicted felons, even long after their terms are over. State and federal laws work for perpetual punishment. Forget that limiting chances for employment keep someone poor and make them more likely to re-offend. One mistake is too many.

I kicked state and federal perpetual-punishment forms for convicted felons who have served their terms. While the feds claim to refer to state laws on this, they mandate a remarkable set of restrictions — juries, elections, holding office, federal employment or contracts and on and on. Some require getting a Presidential pardon, similar to many states that require one from the governor and sometimes legislature as well.

I wandered into Mark Walberg territory, as he has run afoul of MA restrictions and is about to beg for a pardon here. (Instead, he should lobby for reforms for the many thousands affected by perpetual punishment and not just himself.)

Finally there’s musing on the reasoning behind this vindictiveness against former felons. I’ll put it down to the Protestants who make the laws. One strike and you’re out. We could learn from the Catholics here.

icon for podpress  Perpetual Punishment for Felons [24:33m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download