Where is ACORN when you need it?

Tuesday is Election Day and I’ll be following the results on the school bond issue I’ve been helping with here. I’ve been working primarily with two younger women – one is the head of the Young Republicans, a stay-at-home mom and school volunteer and the other is a young woman who was the volunteer coordinator for our local Obama effort in 2012.

The (mostly) Republicans on the bond committee approached me and asked me to help and I then asked the Obama volunteer, Amanda, for help. She was generous enough to agree and she’s put together all of the information we’ve collected canvassing so we have a list of “yes” voters for GOTV on election day. Amanda is a single mom, her son is 9 years old, and he attends the public school that will benefit most from the bond issue. She went from agreeing to help because I called her and begged her to taking this whole thing very personally and emailing me every 4 minutes with completely speculative “updates” on what she overheard at McDonalds or whatever.

I don’t have any sense of how it’s going to go. We have a mayoral race that is on the ballot so that might generate some turnout, but our mayoral races are non-partisan and we have a “weak mayor” structure where the city council has all of the power so it doesn’t matter who wins that, really. I voted for the incumbent because I like him personally. He canvassed my house yesterday. After I told him I already voted for him he asked me how I think the school bond will go and I told him I don’t know. Republicans here over-rate my political predicting abilities, generally, after they all thought Obama would lose in 2008 and then again in 2012 and I told them he would win, so the mayor asked in a pleading way, hoping for good news or thinking I was going to pull some ACORN magic out of my hat. He then said with real certainty “it will be close” in this sort of grim way, and maybe he’s right.

The unofficial count on local races and issues here are announced in the entry area of the courthouse, so people who are candidates or otherwise very invested in the results gather at the courthouse and wait for the Board of Elections member to arrive and read the vote totals. This count will be quick because they’re only tallying about 5000 votes. I don’t go as a general rule, and I probably won’t go this time either because the GOTV will be run out of my house and it’s unlikely I’m putting my shoes back on once I’m back at my house after the polls close.

What races are you watching?

This is a pretty good preview of state and local races one might want to watch.

Open Thread: Another Liberal Dem Running for the House

Among the many news stories that got overlooked while the GOP terrorists were holding the economy for ransom: Massachusetts had a primary on Tuesday for Ed Markey’s old seat in the House of Representatives. Senator Warren sent out an email that she wasn’t endorsing any candidate “because we are lucky to have a number of great candidates. The men and women running in this election have a tremendous amount to offer to the Commonwealth, and many of them worked their hearts out for our campaign last year…”, Katherine Clark had a head start at fundraising, plus the endorsement of EMILY’s List. Peter Koutoujian was spoken well of by people I trust, including Charles P. Pierce and the owner of Waltham’s Back page Books. Carl Sciortino had the best YouTube ad.

Results, per the Boston Globe:

State Senator Katherine M. Clark bested six Democratic rivals Tuesday, winning her party’s nomination in the race to succeed Edward J. Markey in the House of Representatives and setting her on course to probably become the state’s newest member of Congress.

Clark, a Melrose lawyer, captured 31.6 percent of the vote. Middlesex County Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian and state Representative Carl M. Sciortino trailed with 22 percent and 16.1 percent, respectively.

As the Democratic nominee in a liberal district north and west of Boston — one that voted by more than 30 percentage points for President Obama over Mitt Romney last November — Clark is now the strong favorite going into the December general election. She will face Frank J. Addivinola Jr., who won the Republican primary Tuesday night…

Now, my fellow Massholes, it’s up to us to show up and vote on December 10 to make sure that the Repub carpetbagger goes back where he belongs (Boston).

Unskew the polls!

We had a Democratic mayoral primary last night as mistermix mentioned. Just to emphasize the point he made (and throw in some links), a Siena (pretty respected pollster) poll showed a few days ago:

Richards Lead Over Warren Increases to 36 Points

Here’s what actually happened:

Warren defeated Richards with 58 percent of the vote. Richards received 42 percent of the vote.

Turn-out was very low. I didn’t vote myself because I had a meeting scheduled on me at the last minute…and because I thought it was a done deal after the Siena Poll.

Because this is New York State, there’s a million lines to run on and they’ll do this all over again in November with one additional Green Party candidate.

A friend of mine just started a local political blog. Here’s his take on it.

Show your hand


I saw that Cuccinelli in Virginia released his education plan (pdf) so I thought I’d compare his work to model bills churned out by ALEC, the corporate-owned state law factory.


Review and reform teaching requirements and establish paths to teacher licensure external to education institutions.

Model Law that corporations wrote:

Offer teaching credentials to individuals with subject-matter experience but no education background with the Alternative Certification Act, introduced in seven states.


Create and expand Virtual Classrooms. Provide legislation that will eliminate barriers to successful implementation of a virtual school curriculum such as seat-time, pupil-teacher ratios and high school course hour requirements.

Model law that corporations wrote:

Send taxpayer dollars to unaccountable online school providers through the “Virtual Schools Act,” introduced in three states, where a single teacher remotely teaches a “class” of hundreds of isolated students working from home. The low overhead for virtual schools certainly raises company profits, but it is a model few educators think is appropriate for young children.

Ohio was the poster child of online for-profit K-12 scams for years, but now I think Pennsylvania has us beat. Here’s great reporting out of Maine with details on all the sleaze. As usual, there’s a Bush brother involved.


Enact Parent Empowerment And Choice Act Legislation For Parents In Failing Schools.

Model law that corporations wrote:

Create opportunities to privatize public schools or fire teachers and principals via referendum with the controversial Parent Trigger Act (glorified in the flop film “Won’t Back Down”), introduced in twelve states.

Here’s an inspiring story about how parents in Florida banded together and beat Michelle Rhee’s lobby shop when they parachuted into that state to sell Parent Trigger. I’m waiting for a movie about how grass roots public school parents beat Michelle Rhee and Jeb Bush but I’m not holding my breath. That’s a movie that will never be made.

For the second straight year, significant parent opposition to “parent trigger” legislation in Florida has led to defeat in the legislature despite powerful supporters, including former governor Jeb Bush. The parent trigger campaign in Florida has recently been marked some unusual episodes, including the gathering of signatures on a pro-parent trigger petition by StudentsFirst, Michelle Rhee’s advocacy group, that includes names of people who didn’t sign it. Tampa Bay Times columnist John Romano said in this piece that the petition backfired: The petition was supposed to prove this pro-charter school legislation had grass roots support among parents, but instead it highlighted what critics have been saying all along: This law is about pushing Jeb Bush’s education agenda, and little else.

Read more

Open Thread: NYC Hipsters for Centrism

Back when I fled the Bronx for a midwestern state university, I used to tell dorm mates hoping to make a reverse migration that my NYC Regents diploma mandated a lottery with the winners losers required to leave town to make room for aspiring youngsters from the midwest. Ah, nostalgia. Noreen Malone brilliantly revives an old trope to report for TNR on “Moderate Chic“:

Despite the unseasonably kind weather, the palms were turning brown and the hanging petunias were crying out in thirst last night on the terrace at Chelsea’s Maritime Hotel. The fashionable crowd, filled with Celine bags and Vogue staffers, and more than one pretty young jewelry designer draped in her own wares, didn’t seem to notice. They had gathered at the event grandly dubbed “Young New York” to fete Scott Stringer, who is the current Manhattan borough president. The gray-haired Stringer is short, balding, and wears rimless glasses. He is a middle of the line Democrat, well-liked by the Upper West Siders who are his neighbors and looks the part of the hilariously bureaucratic office he is running for, New York City comptroller. Despite his years of well-thought-of (if low-profile) public service, Stringer’s candidacy is mostly notable because he’s the only man among the Democratic primary field who has not very publicly frequented prostitutes (or taken on investment banks, which perhaps help fund the trusts of many of last night’s attendees). And now, too, the Stringer campaign is known for its glittering support: It has suddenly become the cause celebre among a certain strata of downtown types, who have embraced moderate chic with a wholeheartedness not seen in Manhattan since the first Obama campaign.

… [Lena] Dunham, clad in a short white dress and a one-sided braid, was greeted by a bright raised salute of iPhone photography. She spoke of wanting to support a candidate (for the office that does the accounting on the city’s finances) “with a record of respecting women and the issues that matter to them.”

Dunham, whose show chronicles a group of liberal-arts-educated young women living in the formerly working-class Polish neighborhood of Greenpoint, also spoke passionately against the rising cost of living in New York. She bemoaned the Europeans who did not know that a one–bedroom apartment shouldn’t cost $6,000 per month, a figure that did not seem to shock the crowd. She did not mention Stringer’s role, just last week (maybe motivated by worry about losing the support of the monied real estate community), in agreeing to the Mayor Bloomberg-backed plan to rezone Midtown East for skyscrapers that will help New York better compete with places like Shanghai, and which will significantly push the city farther down its increasingly expensive Bloombergian way.

Anyway, no matter! Involvement in local politics requires provincialism; Dunham made it haute. She joked she doesn’t even know how to order food when she leaves the City. She was mad that the Soho loft where her artist parents had lived now is by gaudy mass-marketers Victoria’s Secret and Sephora. “We can’t have our generation’s next Patti Smith moving to Tampa!” said Dunham. “That’s going to seriously fuck our shit up.” It was the second dig she’d made against Tampa (the first was as the punch line to a long list of places like Austin young creatives might move to instead of a Sephora-filled New York). I realized what moderate chic seeks to achieve. Or, rather, to preserve: the liberal façade cloaks a conservative impulse, which is the wish to keep the values of one’s own people preeminent….

While I was having a ’70s flashback, it occured to me that Tom Wolfe (does anyone under fifty who wasn’t a liberal-arts major even recognize his name?) doesn’t get enough credit for at least one very of-the-moment political tactic. His targets at the time may have been strictly friend-of-a-friend exaggeration, but “Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers” is pretty much the whole of the Tea Partiers’ tactical game — sending outrageously costumed fear-mongers to intimidate/ blackmail government bureaucrats into paying off their “leaders”, rather than spending scarce funds on projects that would actually support their communities. Guess some of those GOP grifters do learn from the past, after all.