Mike the Mad Biologist

Enough about the Straight Bullshit Express: here’s an election I can believe in. In Massachusetts’ Second Suffolk District, the Democratic primary for State Senate features Sonia Chang-Diaz and Dianne Wilkerson. For the very little that it’s worth, the Mad Biologist endorses Sonia Chang-Diaz.

On many issues, there isn’t much difference between Chang-Diaz and Wilkerson–were Wilkerson to win, it certainly wouldn’t be a disaster; Wilkerson’s record is pretty good. But here’s why I plan to vote for Chang-Diaz:

  1. Chang-Diaz supports publicly funded campaigns; Wilkerson is against them.
  2. Speaking of campaign finance, for a very long time, Wilkerson fought (and ultimately lost) charges that she engaged in illegal campaign finance activities. And I can’t quite forget that she was a write-in in 2006 because she wasn’t organized enough to get 300 signatures. That definitely says “I care.”
  3. Dianne Wilkerson supports the $800 million Columbus Center, which, as far as I can tell, is a wealth transfer from the state to developers and wealthy apartment owners–most Democrats oppose this project, including Marty Walz, the State Rep. Most of the jobs that would be generated by this project wouldn’t wind up back in the local community; there are better ways to pump $800 million into the economy.
  4. Wilkerson supports the construction of the BU biohazard level 3 laboratory (which would be located in the South End). Chang-Diaz argues that this won’t do much for the residents of the district, and imposes all sorts of costs (who wants to own a house next to a BL3 lab?).
  5. Chang-Diaz seems less likely to engage in the corporate-give-away race to the bottom, without tangible benefits to the district.
  6. Chang-Diaz wants the minimum wage to be indexed to the cost of living (just like senators’ and representatives’ salaries).

Wilkerson has done many good things, but I think Chang-Diaz will be better.

Comments

  1. #1 Dan
    September 16, 2008

    Mike- RE: your point #4. I would have thought that you, a microbiologist, would be in favor of facilities for microbiology research. (A BL3 facility in every backyard?) Is this a NIMBY thing, or are there good reasons that it shouldn’t be at that particular place?

  2. #2 Al Willis
    September 17, 2008

    Just to be clear, it’s a level 4 bio-lab–not a level 3. There are already several level 3 facilities in Boston. While there are several level 4 labs throughout the country, none of them is in as densely populated area such as Boston’s South End and Roxbury neighborhoods. I was present when the National Institutes of Health tried to convince attendees that a level 4 bio-lab was safer in the city than in a suburban or rural area. Needless to say, we didn’t believe them.

    Level 4 labs have the most deadly and incurable pathogens such as anthrax and small pox while level 3 labs do not.

    And while many elected officials attended the meeting to challenge the NIH’s findings, Senator Wilkerson was noticeably absent, even though at a candidates forum last week, she said she was against the bio-lab, which we know is untrue.

  3. #3 Brian X
    September 20, 2008

    I’ve always found it strange that this part of Boston kept reelecting Wilkerson. The heart of her district is Roxbury, an area that has numerous community activists, most of whom would have to be more qualified than she is to be on Beacon Hill. And yet they keep electing a space shot with known corruption problems. Maybe the activists don’t want the job?

  4. #4 Bob
    October 28, 2008

    For the same way reason one doesn’t put nuclear plants in dense, urban areas, it makes sense not to put infectious disease labs there either. Not because they’re particularly unsafe but because it’s just bad risk policy. Those sorts of facilities are best put out in the sticks to protect them from people as well as to protect people from them.

    Outside the city, anyone lurking around the perimeter sticks out like a sore thumb and it’s more socially acceptable to send out a guard to say howdy. Part of risk management is to not creep out the locals and a good way to do that is to surround a facility with a lot of trees.

    (speaking as a once and future nuclear safety guy)

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