Meet the Dirty Dozen

Dirty_Dozen

ACTION ALERT: The Dirty Dozen are led by Committee Chairs Jay Kaufman and Michael Rodrigues. The other ten members are Denise Provost, James Arciero, James Timilty, Thomas Stanley, Timothy Toomey, Benjamin Downing, Eric Lesser, Alan Silvia, Daniel Wolf and James Dwyer. On January 28th, these twelve lawmakers voted in the Joint Committee on Revenue for an 80 percent tax hike, and the entire Legislature is scheduled to vote on the measure on Wednesday at the Constitutional Convention.

The stakes are high. We need your help with advocating against the new tax. Let us give you some background.

Opposition to the proposed tax scheme grows daily. Some oppose it because it is poorly written. The measure writes into the state constitution specific language on income thresholds and earmarked revenue. Others oppose the new tax because it raises the rate for top earners to 9.1 percent. The effect of the increase will likely be disastrous. High-wage industries won’t see our state as a friendly place to build, and the best and brightest will be driven away.

Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance opposes the graduated income tax proposal. The current flat tax on income builds in protection from economic downturns and ensures fairness.

The Dirty Dozen call it a millionaire’s tax. We call it what it is: an 80 percent tax hike on the state’s economic leaders. The Dirty Dozen love to quietly pervert the tax code, and we won’t let that happen. Working in secret is their top strategy for kow-towing to special interests at the expense of a healthy Massachusetts economy, so Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance will scream their intentions from the rooftops.

As part of a grassroots strategy against the graduated income tax, constituents of State Representative Jay Kaufman and Senator Michael Rodrigues, leaders of the pro-tax hike effort, received educational mailers from us explaining how these two are working to pass the enormous tax increase. To view a copy of our mailer, visit our homepage at: www.MassFiscal.org.

To take part in the grassroots campaign against the 80 percent tax hike, contact your lawmakers and urge them to oppose the graduated income tax.

Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance · 18 Tremont St, Suite 707, Boston, MA 02108, United States
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2015 per diems

And the winner is:

Beacon Hill Roll Call

By Bob Katzen

Updated:   02/22/2016 09:26:09 AM EST

THE HOUSE AND SENATE. There were no roll calls in the House or Senate last week. Beacon Hill Roll Call has obtained the 2015 official list from the state treasurer’s office of the “per diem” travel, meals and lodging reimbursements collected by the Legislature’s 157 state representatives from Jan. 1, 2015, through Dec. 31, 2015. The list reveals that representatives collected a total of $239,732. Combined with the $63,590 that the state’s 38 senators collected as reported in a recent Beacon Hill Roll Call, the grand total for both branches is $303,322.

Under state law, per diems are paid by the state to representatives “for each day of travel from his place of residence to the Statehouse and return therefrom, while in the performance of his official duties, upon certification to the state treasurer that he was present at the Statehouse.” These reimbursements are given to representatives above and beyond their regular salaries.

The amount of the per diem varies and is based on the city or town in which a representative resides and its distance from the Statehouse. The Legislature in 2000 approved a law doubling these per diems to the current amounts. The payments range from $10 per day for legislators who reside in the Greater Boston area to $90 per day for some Western Massachusetts lawmakers and $100 per day for those in Nantucket. Representatives who are from areas that are a long distance from Boston’s Statehouse most often collect the highest total of annual per diems.

Some supporters of the per diems say the system is fair and note the rising costs of travel, food and lodging.

They argue many legislators spend a lot of money on travel to the Statehouse and some spend the night in Boston following late sessions. Others say that some legislators accept the per diem but use all of the revenue they receive to support local nonprofit causes. They say that not taking the per diem would leave that money in the state’s General Fund to be spent on who knows what.Some opponents argue most private-sector and state workers are not paid additional money for commuting. They say the very idea of paying any per diem is outrageous when thousands of workers have lost their jobs and homes, and funding for important programs has been cut. Others say the per diem is especially inappropriate given the 3-cent-per-gallon hike in the state’s gas tax that the Legislature approved in July 2013.

The 2015 statistics indicate that nearly one-half (78) of the state’s 157 representatives have received reimbursements ranging from $18 to $8,730, while a little more than one-half (79) have so far chosen not to apply for any money. State law does not establish a deadline that representatives must meet in order to collect the per diems.

The representative who received the most per-diem money in 2015 is William “Smitty” Pignatelli (D-Lenox) who received $8,730.

LOCAL REPRESENTATIVES’ PER DIEMS FOR 2015

The dollar figure next to the representative’s name represents the total amount of per diem money the state paid him or her in 2015. The number in parentheses represents the number of days the representative certified he or she was at the Statehouse during that same period. Representatives who have not requested any per diems have “0 days” listed. That is not meant to imply that these representatives didn’t attend any sessions but rather that they chose not to request any per diems.

Rep. James Arciero, $4,940 (190 days); Rep. Cory Atkins, $0 (0 days); Rep. Jennifer Benson, $0 (0 days); Rep. Colleen Garry, $1,300 (50 days); Rep. Thomas Golden, $0 (0 days); Rep. Kenneth Gordon, $0 (0 days); Rep. Sheila Harrington, $0 (0 days); Rep. Marc Lombardo, $0 (0 days); Rep. James Lyons, $0 (0 days); Rep. James Miceli, $774 (43 days); Rep. Rady Mom, $0 (0 days); Rep. David Nangle $4,004 (154 days); Rep. Jennifer Benson $0 (0 days); Former Rep. Stephen DiNatale $1,404 (39 days); Rep. Kimberly Ferguson $3,744 (104 days); Rep. Sheila Harrington $0 (0 days); Rep. Harold Naughton $0 (0 days); Rep. Dennis Rosa $1,008 (28 days); Rep. Jonathan Zlotnik $0 (0 days).

Special Elections

Mailers target Hay as Democratic Party chair appeals for help

By Matt Murphy, State House News Service

Updated:   02/25/2016 01:58:28 PM EST
A mailer targeting state rep candidate Stephan Hay is being called misleading by state Democrats.

A mailer targeting state rep candidate Stephan Hay is being called misleading by state Democrats.

BOSTON — Massachusetts Democratic Party Chairman Thomas McGee has reached out to his legislative colleagues seeking manpower to help blunt an “all-out blitz” planned by a right-leaning independent group backing two Republicans running for House seats in special elections to be decided next Tuesday.

The Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, a conservative non-profit that has spent heavily in election cycles to target Democratic candidates for state office, started blanketing the Fitchburg-Lunenburg area targeting Democrat Stephan Hay, a Fitchburg city councilor, over transparency, internet sales taxes and illegal immigration.

A letter sent to supporters on Tuesday from Jordanne Anderson, of the MassFiscal Alliance, said she needed to raise $23,000 in seven days to “execute MassFiscal’s mission” ahead of the March 1 special elections in Fitchburg and Peabody.

“The plan is an all-out blitz,” Anderson wrote.

MassFiscal officials could not immediately be reached for comment on how much they planned to spend on the two races.

With Gov. Charlie Baker planning to campaign over the weekend in both Fitchburg and Peabody on behalf of Dean Tran in Fitchburg and Stephanie Peach in Peabody, McGee emailed legislators Thursday asking them and their staffs to help staff a phonebank at Democratic headquarters in Boston.

“We can’t match the Republicans and their allies with outside spending, but, with your help, we can beat them with grassroots support,” McGee said in the message, obtained by the News Service.

McGee, a Democratic senator from Lynn, attached a copy of a MassFiscal mailer being distributed in Fitchburg and Lunenburg “repeating the same ridiculous accusations they charged many of you with last election.”

The mailer stated that Tran supports making legislative committee votes available to the public and giving preference to veterans over illegal immigrants in public housing, and opposes taxing sales on the internet. Under Hay’s name and photo, the card states “declined” next to all three issues, suggesting the Democrat did not respond to MassFiscal’s campaign questionnaire.

The issue of veteran preference in public housing is a particularly sensitive one given that many House Democrats faced similar charges from MassFiscal in 2014 that they supported illegal immigrants over veterans.

The charge is grounded in a vote taken during debate on a veterans’ benefit bill to uphold the ruling of the House chair that a Republican amendment to give preference to veterans in public housing over undocumented immigrants was not germane to the bill and therefore out of order.

Rep. James Arciero, a Westford Democrat who was targeted with the same accusation by MassFiscal in 2014, called the claims “bush league” at the time. “It’s a smear campaign. To suggest the Massachusetts Legislature somehow supports illegal immigrants over veterans is absurd,” he said then.

MassFiscal Eecutive Director Paul Craney defended the 2014 mailers at the time as a “black-and-white” representation of the lawmaker’s voting record.

McGee told lawmakers in his Thursday letter that they did not have to even come to downtown headquarters to participate in the phonebank, but could do it from their districts with a computer. He also said shifts would be available on election day to help get out the vote for the two Democrats running.

Hay and Tran are running for the seat vacated by Stephen DiNatale, a Democrat who left the Legislature after being elected mayor of Fitchburg. Democrats are also trying to reclaim a seat in Peabody that the party held until the death of Joyce Spiliotis in 2014. Republican Leah Cole won that seat in a special and resigned last year mid-term to focus on her nursing career.

Peach is running against Democrat Thomas Walsh, a Peabody city councilor and former state representative who is trying to return to the Legislature.

Who showed up at Scalia’s funeral — and who didn’t

Remembering Justice Scalia

February 20 Washington Post
The farewell to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia took place in the resplendent Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the largest Catholic church in the United States. Hundreds of friends and admirers, many from the top echelons of Washington’s legal and political worlds, gathered for a send-off that was supposed to be, as Washington Archbishop Donald Cardinal Wuerl joked, in his opening remarks, “a simple parish family Mass.” A knowing laugh rippled through the pews.

Funerals in Washington are rarely simple when it comes to such larger-than-life figures as Scalia. For many in the crowd, it was a day to mourn a man they knew and loved. For others, showing up was an affirmation of conservative bona fides and membership in this city’s power elite.

Wuerl name-checked a few VIPs in attendance: Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.; Vice President Biden; former vice president Richard B. Cheney; former House speaker Newt Gingrich (whose wife, Callista, sang in the choir); and Catholic University President John Garvey.

Others created a frisson when they arrived, included Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch; Sen. Ted Cruz (a former Supreme Court clerk who stepped away from the campaign trail to attend the service); and Ted Olson, the renowned Washington lawyer who argued the 2000 Bush v. Gore case before the Supreme Court and, in 2013, the test of California’s same-sex marriage ban. There was also a section of judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit — including three rumored to be in the running for Scalia’s seat: Merrick Garland, Sri Srinivasan and Patricia Millett.

But it was an absence that created a firestorm. Conservatives loudly criticized President Obama for snubbing the longest-sitting justice when the White House announced he would not attend. Rejecting the notion that the decision was political, press secretary Josh Earnest defended sending Biden as “somebody that had his own personal relationship with Justice Scalia and his family.” What’s more, he said, Biden’s security footprint would be less disruptive. “We believe we have settled on an appropriate and respectful arrangement,” he said.

The president and first lady paid their respects Friday, when Scalia’s body lay in repose in the Great Hall of the Supreme Court.

It’s rare for a justice to die in office, so there’s little precedent for presidential attendance. In 2005, President George W. Bush spoke at the funeral of Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist. President Dwight Eisenhower came to the service for Chief Justice Fred Vinson in 1953 but did not attend the funeral of Associate Justice Robert Jackson a year later. All the other justices of the past six decades died after leaving the bench, and presidents attended some of their funerals but skipped others.

Politics aside, the presence of a president is still considered a big deal, the ultimate posthumous tribute in this most status-conscious of cities. There is always the discreet rubbernecking as mourners look to see who’s seated in front.

Scalia’s son, the Rev. Paul Scalia, officiated, offering a heartfelt homily to the man he and his eight siblings called “Dad.” Bible verses were delivered by Leonard Leo, vice president of the conservative Federalist Society and Associate Justice Clarence Thomas. Scalia’s extended family sat in a large section at the front, with his former court colleagues and miscellaneous politicians at the section to their left.

Because the service was a traditional Mass, there was less of the posturing that has characterized other notable farewells. The 2001 service for Katharine Graham was a bipartisan gathering filled with her A-list friends: Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, Henry Kissinger, Warren Buffett, Yo-Yo Ma and a busload of senators. More than 4,000 people attended that ceremony at the National Cathedral, guided to their appointed seats by ushers.

Diplomat Richard Holbrooke may never have gotten the secretary of state title he coveted, but two U.S. presidents — Obama and Clinton — attended his 2011 invitation-only memorial at the Kennedy Center. VIPs had reserved seats; B-listers were relegated to general-admission tickets.

Presidents Bush and Obama attended the 2008 private funeral for “Meet the Press” moderator Tim Russert, with 1,500 others showing up for a memorial that included Condoleezza Rice, Madeleine Albright, John F. Kerry, Alan Greenspan and Mario Cuomo. The event, complete with a surprise performance by Bruce Springsteen, was televised live on MSNBC. The Russert memorial was famously mocked by New York Times reporter Mark Leibovich, who used the gathering to open “This Town,” his withering 2013 look at D.C.’s political and media culture. “You had the Democrats, the Republicans, the Clintons, the newscasters, Barbara Walters. I mean everyone was there,” he told NPR. “And I remember sitting there, and I was struck by how this memorial service for a beloved newsman could so quickly degenerate into a networking opportunity. People were throwing business cards around, people were trying to get booked on various shows. The funeral as cocktail party.”

Scalia’s Mass, in contrast, was a dignified affair, with soaring organ music, incense and more than 100 priests following his casket out the door. Tweeting was banned, glad-handing kept to a respectful minimum, and reporters were prohibited from approaching anyone.

Very non-Washington, as these things go. Scalia would have loved it.

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