Monthly Archives: October 2010

Lyme disease meeting 11/10 with state wildlife biologist

Lyme disease study committee got lots of materials this week re Lyme disease & deer. Meets 11/10 with state biologist expert re solutions

Study says banning texting does not lower crashes

Car crashes increased after texting bans enacted, per study by Highway Loss Data Institute http://ping.fm/Rt8Ex

Weekly Political Report – Week Ending October 22, 2010

Week Ending October 22, 2010

As the election for Governor entered its final two weeks, the candidates seized on a series of job and budget reports to try and make their case to voters. According to a Patrick administration jobs report, Massachusetts lost 21,000 jobs in September and 3,000 in August. However the unemployment rate in the state fell from 8.8% to 8.4%. Republican Charles Baker and Independent Tim Cahill both pointed to the job loss numbers as a failure on the part of the administration, with nearly 300,000 residents out of work. Baker called the job losses in September the third worst in the country, behind only California and New York. In contrast, Governor Patrick drew attention to the drop in unemployment, the steepest drop since 1976, which he said was an indication that Massachusetts is emerging from the nationwide recession ahead of other states.

 

In addition to the employment statistics, Administration and Finance Secretary Jay Gonzales announced this week that Massachusetts ended FY2010 with a $163 million surplus. According to Gonzales, the surplus resulted from the administration’s budget management and came despite tax collection growth of only 1.5% compared to the prior fiscal year.  Because of the surplus, Gonzales confirmed that $50 million which was originally designated to be spent out of the stabilization fund will now remain in the rainy day fund. House Minority Leader Brad Jones (R-North Reading) and other Republicans were quick to point out that the state only achieved this surplus through the use of one-time revenues, local aid cuts and assessing $1 billion in new taxes during FY2010. Republican candidate for Governor Charlie Baker called on Governor Patrick to return the surplus to Massachusetts taxpayers.  The surplus for FY2010 comes as the state also announced that tax collections were up for the first half of October, up $89 million from the same period one year ago. Income tax collections were up 17.7%, sales tax receipts were up 7.4% and estimated income tax payments were up 20%.

 

A new poll by Western New England College was released this afternoon on the Governor’s race. The poll shows Gov. Patrick with a 44-36 lead over Republican Candidate Charlie Baker. It surveyed 400 likely voters and has a 5% margin of error. It also showed Independent Tim Cahill with 8% of the vote and 5% percent of voters preferring another candidate.  5% of those polled were undecided.  The poll’s timing, with two weeks remaining before the election, led some analysts to label the race Deval Patrick’s to lose. His mid to upper single digit lead is consistent with a Rasmussen report released earlier this week. Rasmussen Reports currently has the Massachusetts Governor’s race as “leans Democratic.”

 

 

John Nunnari, Assoc AIA

Weekly Political Report – Week Ending October 15, 2010

Week Ending October 15, 2010

 

A poll released on Wednesday by Suffolk University and 7 News shows Gov. Patrick with a 46-39 advantage over Republican Candidate Charlie Baker. The poll, which surveyed 500 likely voters and carries a 4.4 percent margin of error, showed Independent Tim Cahill with 10 percent of the vote and 1 percent for Green Rainbow candidate Jill Stein.  Four percent of those polled were undecided.  The poll showed Patrick with a slightly more comfortable lead while Tim Cahill remained in a distant third place. On Thursday, Baker released his own internal poll which had leading Patrick by 7 points. Baker’s poll of 800 likely general election voters was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies from October 10th-12th and had a margin of error of 3.5%. Neither poll reflected any bump that might have occurred after former Attorney General Tom Reilly, the former Democratic candidate for Governor who lost the primary in 2006 to Governor Patrick, endorsed Charles Baker’s campaign on Thursday, saying Baker was the right man for the job.

 

Reverberations from Treasurer Tim Cahill’s lawsuit against former senior strategists continued this week. Cahill filed his lawsuit last week after the resignation of John Weaver, a senior strategist on the Cahill Campaign, and the subsequent resignation of Cahill campaign manager Adam Meldrum and political director John Yob. Cahill alleges that these senior staff members collaborated to give confidential campaign materials and strategy to his opponents.  The three senior strategists gave sworn statements in Norfolk Superior Court on Thursday that they did not share internal campaign information with the Republican Governors Association and the Baker campaign. Instead, according to their lawyer, Cahill’s lawsuit was an attempt to prevent the three from speaking out against improper coordination between Cahill’s campaign and the Lottery Office, which Cahill oversaw as Treasurer. Attorney General Martha Coakley announced on Thursday that she would open an investigation into whether taxpayer money was used to fund the lottery advertisements in support of Treasurer Cahill’s campaign. In keeping with Coakley’s request, Cahill agreed to stop running the ads during the investigation.

 

Following the House and Senate’s passage of a $420 million supplemental budget last week, the Legislature sent the spending bill to Governor Patrick on Tuesday. The spending bill will fund $203 million in Medicaid costs to cover services for the elderly and disabled, the Department of Corrections at $21 million and help shore up the State Police account with an additional $5 million. Nearly $200 million will be set aside for the state’s rainy day fund.

Republicans had held up action on the bill in the Senate but backed down after the inclusion of two amendments that will require Governor Patrick’s administration to disclose additional budget details about state spending needs.  The Governor, who has 10 days to sign, amend or veto any portion of the bill, has indicated that he will send at least one portion of the bill back to the Legislature with an amendment. The portion in question deals with how quickly ambulance companies will receive reimbursement for services.

 

 

John Nunnari, Assoc AIA

Weekly Political Report – Week Ending October 8, 2010

Week Ending October 8, 2010

 

After a week of discussions between leadership and the Republican caucus in the Senate, the Senate passed a $420 million supplemental budget during a Friday session.  Republicans in the Senate had been holding up action on the bill all week, questioning why the state needs to spend this money at this time. The Senate passed spending bill included two Republican amendments which will require Governor Patrick’s administration to disclose additional budget details about state spending needs.  Minority Leader Richard Tisei (R-Wakefield) and Assistant Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) had previously objected to the lack of detail about the state’s Medicaid spending – which comprises the majority of the spending in the bill. The House passed its version of the bill on Monday of this week.

 

Governor Patrick continued to be adamant this week about the need for the Legislature to quickly pass a supplemental budget.  According to the Patrick Administration, without the supplemental funding many state programs and services would be in jeopardy, including the possibility of jails closing and disabled and low-income residents losing access to health care. The spending bill will fund $203 million in Medicaid costs to cover services for the elderly and disabled. Additionally, it will fund the Department of Corrections at $21 million and help shore up the State Police account with an additional $5 million. $195 million will be set aside for the state’s rainy day fund.

 

New developments surrounding Paul Loscocco’s resignation from independent gubernatorial candidate Tim Cahill‘s campaign continued this week. Loscocco, a former Republican State Representative from Holliston announced last week that he would no longer be campaigning as Tim Cahill’s running mate, and then endorsed Charlie Baker the same day. This week Treasurer Tim Cahill filed a lawsuit against former senior strategists John Weaver and John Yob, former campaign manager Adam Meldrum and political director Jordan Gehrke. Cahill alleges that these senior staff members collaborated to give confidential campaign materials and strategy to the Republican Governors Association and the Baker campaign both before and after leaving the Cahill campaign.

 

According to the National Journal Group’s The Hotline, the Governorship in Massachusetts is the 22nd most likely to see the incumbent party lose in November.  In the most recent Rasmussen poll from last week, Gov. Deval Patrick held a slight 47-42 lead over the Republican nominee Charlie Baker, which was within the margin of error. The Hotline ranking represents the first time that the Governor’s race in Massachusetts has been defined as a down-to-the-wire toss-up. Other Democratic states in which the Governor’s seat is more likely to change party hands include Oregon, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

 

The Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM), which measures business confidence in the state through a survey it sends out to its members, said this week that business confidence was flat last month after rising for the last two months. The AIM confidence index is currently at 47.6 on its 100 point scale.  The index reached its all time low last year at 33.3 in February of 2009 (compared to a high of 68.5 in May 1998).

 

The state’s tax collections for the month of September were announced this week and they were up $250 million from the same period one year ago, an increase of 14.2%. The Department of Revenue now expects to beat benchmarks by $197 million. Revenue Commissioner Navjeet Bal said that September is one of the largest months of the year for tax receipts. The Patrick Administration pointed to the September numbers as evidence that the state is moving away from its recession and has started to climb out of its historic downturn.

 

 

John Nunnari, Assoc AIA

Earthquake in Medfield

Earthquake today in Medfield, per MEMA call to Chief. So mild, 1.2 – 1.3 on Richter scale, it was hard to notice.

Validity of school liability waivers in issue

New Jersey’s  Supreme Court just ruled that public entities cannot condition provision of service on the recipient signing a liability waiver.  Our Massachusetts schools require parents to sign such liability waivers before allowing our children to participate in school events, and the N.J. case now draws the validity of those waivers into question.

This N.J. case presents an argument that may give Massachusetts parents a means to still bring such claims for their children against public service entities, such as the public schools, for injuries their children sustain as a result of the negligent acts of the schools and its employees.

In Massachusetts the standard school waivers were fairly recently upheld by a Supreme Judicial Court case as being binding on the child, in a case involving a Newton cheerleader who got hurt, and the court confirmed that the signed waiver meant that child had lost her right to be compensated for her injuries.   However, the N.J. case rationale creates a new possible opening for the student to argue that the waiver the school forced the parent to sign before allowing the student to participate in the sports activity should be void as against public policy where schools sports are such a “public service” provided by a government entity.  Basically one would claim that participation in school sports cannot properly be conditioned upon waiving liability claims for injuries caused by the school’s negligence, because the school sports are part of the public service of education.