Tuesday, March 06, 2007

A letter from Chairman Johnston

Dear Friends:
It is a busy time for Democrats here in Massachusetts .
The Democratic Caucuses are over and we will begin to hold forums around the state in March. State Party officials will be holding forums to solicit your input to create the 2007 Action Agenda that will be presented at the State Convention on May 19, 2007 at the University of Massachusetts Amherst . You can log on to our website at www.massdems.org for more information and to locate a forum near you. Forums will be held in each of the state's 10 Congressional districts. We hope you will join us as we ‘March into Democratic Action'.
It is not too late to apply for add-on status for the State Convention. If you are a youth, disabled, or a minority, you are eligible to apply for add-on status. More details and an application are available (here).
College students are encouraged to apply to the Massachusetts Democratic Party for the John F. Kennedy Scholars Program and the John Joseph Moakley Democratic Intern Program . The Kennedy Scholarship is a $1,500 scholarship for the fall semester awarded to one male and one female applicant. The Moakley Internship is a ten-week internship and a $2,500 grant. Details and an application are available (here).
I am also pleased to announce the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Annual Dinner will be held on April 30, 2007 at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel in downtown Boston . More details will be coming in future newsletters.
Thank you for your continued activism.
Philip W. JohnstonChairman

Thursday, February 15, 2007


Democratic Party Chairman Phil Johnston had this to say about Mitt Romney's lack of support from Massachusetts Republicans:
“The big news emanating from Mitt Romney's announcement for the presidency is the marked absence of support from his own party in his own state. Massachusetts Republicans can see through his flip-flops and pandering and they're deserting Mitt in an unprecedented way. Mitt's going to have trouble explaining to his right-wing allies why two former Massachusetts Republican governors and hordes of Massachusetts Republican legislators and party officials are choosing to support anyone but him. Massachusetts Republicans understand better than anyone else that the Romney Administration was a dismal failure. They know that his 2002 campaign promises to improve the Massachusetts economy fell flat. Romney had one of the worst records in the country for job creation. His abandonment of the state during his last two years of his term was an embarrassment to the Republican Party and all Massachusetts ' citizens. In fact, his efforts in 2004 to increase seats in the legislature were a catastrophe for Republicans as Massachusetts voters increased the Democratic majority in both the House and the Senate. It should come as no surprise that the Republicans that know Mitt Romney the best are fleeing quickly from his campaign for the White House.”

Monday, January 29, 2007


Media consolidation has been rampant since the 1996 Telecommunications Act was passed. Before this legislation lifted caps on ownership, no single radio corporation could hold more than 65 stations. Today, for example, Clear Channel Communications controls close to 1500. Without caps, these radio conglomerates continue to steamroll local radio, buying up independent outlets, and scrubbing politically divergent commentary from the air.

Boston is a prima facie example. In Dec. 2006, we learned, without warning, that our only progressive talk station was taken down by Clear Channel. So, who owns the media and why is this important for Democracy and, in particular, Democrats?

Radio networks by and large are owned by conservative corporations like: Walt Disney/ABC Radio -72; Clear Channel -1500; and News Corp (Fox). These corporations gain immense influence over what information is made available. As consolidated corporations, they are able to stifle viewpoints, spin the information, and narrow the range of debate nationwide. It is well known that talking points are faxed to conservative radio talk hosts. The networks are not only concerned with profits but with advancing the “right” agenda. Corporate interests are inconsistent with the fair and balanced broadcasting conditions set forth in their FCC license. Moreover, this”public interest” trusteeship is successfully ignored without any accountability.

In 1951, Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas said, “Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us”. If radio networks are owned by ultra-conservative groups or corporations that make concerted efforts to restrict programming and limit political viewpoints, then Democracy suffers. To emphasize this point note the enormous disparity between conservative vs. progressive talk radio. During an average week, there are 43,000 hours of conservative talk compared to 3,000 hours of progressive talk programming. 95% of talk radio is conservative. In Boston alone, the line-up of conservative talk programming is staggering, i.e. Rush, Carr, Savage, Severin, Hannity, etc. with no “Truth to Power” progressives to ameliorate the problem. This is not good for Democracy or Democratic efforts to move their important agenda: the Iraq war; healthcare, counting all votes; and so on.

This it is not because progressive talk isn’t successful or in demand. In 2006, it grew by 36% overall and skyrocketed in markets where it was allowed on air, given a decent signal, and afforded some reasonable marketing efforts. But that’s a story for another time. The time has come for Congress to take a long look at the massive, unrestricted consolidation of radio during the last ten years.

No one is predicting the imminent collapse of “Big Media” but the fight may be easier now that Congress is controlled by Democrats. In particular, Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) will be in a key position, as Chair of the Telecommunications Committee, along with Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), who has proposed the Media Ownership Reform Act, to hold hearings. In the Senate, Sherrod Brown and Bernie Sanders, longtime allies of media reform, are ready to use newly won seats to help with legislation to advance the reform efforts. These are the important Congressional delegates to contact to express any support for reform.

A grassroots effort has been started in Massachusetts by progressive Democrats. The group, Save_Progressive_Radio_Boston on Yahoo, has three main goals at this time: initiate a public awareness campaign and signature petition at www.bostonprogressivetalk.net; lobby the General Manager of Clear Channel-Boston with email, letters, and calls to reconsider his “business’ decision and bring back our talk radio format; and, identify potential new advertisers for progressive talk radio.

The group is making an appeal to all Massachusetts Democrats to stand up for our political voice and let your preferences be known to Clear Channel. The contact information is:

Michael Crusham
General Manager
99 Revere Beach Pkwy.
Medford, MA 02155
Phone 781-396-1430
Fax 781-391-3064

Thank you, Pat O’Leary

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Patrick says he will restore budget cuts

By Andrea Estes, Globe Staff

Governor-elect Deval Patrick announced today he will restore $383 million in budget cuts made by Governor Mitt Romney, saying that the state can afford the spending and that the cuts would hurt education, social services, and other needed programs.

"Overwhelmingly, these broad-based cuts, especially coming mid-year, have a serious negative impact on thousands of Massachusetts residents who have planned for the relief and relied upon the services these programs provide," Patrick said in a statement.

The money that Patrick plans to restore after taking office next month includes funding for preschool and kindergarten programs, domestic violence hotlines, and elder outreach.

Patrick said that slightly higher-than-expected state revenues in November and December paved the way for his decision. His administration will look for savings in the second half of the state's fiscal year.

Romney originally slashed $425 million on Nov. 10, saying that the cuts were needed to avert a spending crisis caused by the Legislature dipping too deeply into reserve funds.

He restored $41 million of that total on Dec. 1, after November tax collection figures came in. Also, the state's psychiatric hospital executives and mental health advocates had warned that the cuts would have required the hospitals to stop admitting new patients and the state Department of Mental Health to eliminate about 170 staff positions

(what are you thoughts)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Are Romney Budget Cuts Politcal Payback...?

Three months into the States Fiscal year why the cuts now? With projected revenues coming in at or above expected levels why now? Even if Governor Patrick quickly overturns these budget cuts next year a lot of people and organizations who had written this money into their budgets are going to be in big trouble..(see below article) Boys and Girls Clubs, health Care Workers etc. Thanks Mitt it’s a hell of a way to say goodbye.

Romney's cuts set off howls of protest

By Edward Mason , Staff writer
Daily News of Newburyport

Gov. Mitt Romney's $425 million in emergency spending cuts will cut some $630,000 from youth organizations, food pantries, museums and chambers of commerce in Greater Newburyport.

Romney slashed a broad swath of state spending, in order to balance the state budget. The governor said the cuts could be absorbed by the agencies that administer the affected programs, but local officials predicted people would feel real pain and in some cases wreak havoc.

Locally, the Newburyport YWCA would suffer one of the largest cuts, $100,000.

"We have been expecting a $100,000 allocation earmarked for our programming, said Sally Carlson, the chairwoman of the Newburyport YWCA's steering committee. "If that were to be cut, it has the potential to seriously impact the programming we offer as well as our staffing."

Carlson said Romney's cuts are being met with confusion.

"Some of these checks were ready to be cut, and the last time I checked the state had a surplus," Carlson said. "People don't really understand what is motivating this."

The Pettengill House, a Salisbury social services organization, is another local institution that might see its state aid pulled. It gets $75,000 from the state to support school-related programming.

"We work closely with local schools to ensure that children and their families are getting the services we need," said Pettingill's executive director Deb Smith. "A lot of people depend on us for that. We can't lose that funding. I can't even imagine what would happen if we lost it."

Cuts in Salisbury include the town's Chamber of Commerce, the proposed boardwalk there and the at-risk youth programs, among others. Salisbury Town Manager Neil Harrington said he questions the authority Romney has to freeze the money after it's been appropriated through the Legislature.

"I wouldn't presume to say it was taken away at this point," he said. "The governor has played a card that for whatever reason he wants to use at this point. Whether or not he will prevail in the end is not clear at this point."

Harrington said that Romney already vetoed the spending and that veto was overruled by the Legislature. He would not say if he is optimistic about getting the money, adding that "it is really a question ... of what will happen when the new governor takes over."

"We could use the money, as several cities and town could," he Harrington said. "These are needed programs and the money was appropriated through the legislative process. And I am hopeful that in the end we will receive the funds."

Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley, which serves Greater Newburyport, estimated Romney's cuts reduced elder services spending statewide by $13.7 million. Anne Proli, associate executive director of Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley, said the governor's cuts would keep her agency from hiring more people to investigate claims of senior abuse. It also would reduce the amount of money available to local councils on aging, which provide opportunities for seniors to socialize.

It also cut money for seniors who want to be cared for at home rather than at nursing homes - even though the Romney administration passed a law this year allowing seniors to use Medicaid money to pay for home care so they wouldn't have to go into nursing homes.

"He's being wise and people foolish," Proli said.

The governor also cut more than $1.4 million for Salem State College, including $800,000 for the school's nursing program. Sen. Frederick E. Berry, D-Peabody, said only Romney's frequent trips out of state can explain why he cut money badly needed to train nurses.

"How can you live in this state and not realize there's a nursing shortage," Berry said.

The governor said the budget cuts were necessary to balance the budget. The Legislature balanced the fiscal 2007 $25.7 billion budget by borrowing $450 million from the stabilization, or rainy day, fund. Romney vetoed that transfer in October, and acted because the absence of that or other money would put spending out of line with revenues.

Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, said Romney was jumping the gun by ordering these emergency budget cuts just four months into fiscal year.

"There was no reason to rush into action here," Widmer said. "This is a vastly different situation than when we were in fiscal free fall. The picture in this case exact opposite."

Area lawmakers said Romney, who is considering a run for the White House, acted to burnish his reputation as a fiscal conservative.

"I think it must play into the bigger political picture for the governor," said Sen. Steven A. Baddour, D-Methuen, whose district includes Newburyport, Amesbury, Merrimac and Salisbury. "But from a Massachusetts perspective, it doesn't make any sense."

However, Romney spokesman Felix Browne said the governor was erring on the side of caution because there was no guarantee state revenues would improve sufficiently to cover the money borrowed from the rainy day fund.

Lawmakers said it is unlikely they could restore the funding while Romney is in office. They are looking for Gov.-elect Deval Patrick to reverse Romney's cuts once he is inaugurated.

However, legislators and North of Boston service providers are encouraged to not rely on Patrick to undo what Romney has done.

"Gov.-elect Patrick will review the budget he inherits and the cuts Gov. Romney has proposed - and will balance the budget," said communications director Richard Chacon, in an e-mailed statement. "He does not believe that significant depletion of the rainy day fund is fiscally responsible and will review cuts, where necessary and prudent, to balance the budget."

Staff writers Angeljean Chiaramida and Stephen Tait contributed to this report.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

So now what?

Now that Deval has won the race for Governor what should his first priority be?

Monday, November 06, 2006

A letter from Chairman Phil Johnston

Tuesday will be among the most important days in the long history of our state. For if we do our final work over the next 48 hours, we will elect the first Democratic Governor and Lieutenant Governor since 1986. This coming January, Deval Patrick and Tim Murray will restore an administration which truly cares about the interests of every citizen in Massachusetts . As Deval has said so many times during this campaign, his will be an administration which welcomes everyone with good, new ideas, regardless of political party. He and Tim understand that this campaign is only a means to an end; the end is to provide hope to every citizen in our state.

When I was just starting out in politics, I worked in Robert F. Kennedy's presidential campaign. I found his campaign to be incredibly inspiring; the memory of Robert Kennedy and his passion for racial, economic and social justice has stayed with me to this day. I must say that Deval Patrick reminds me of RFK in many ways. He brings the same high ideals and sense of commitment to building a more decent and more just society to politics. I believe that his campaign represents a truly revolutionary moment in our state. It is important that we seize this moment. We need your help to make sure that Deval not only wins on Tuesday but that he receives a strong mandate from the voters so that he can govern successfully over the next four years. We are on the precipice of a great victory for our people--let's bring it home! Thank you for all you have done to make this possible.

Best ,