Mike the Mad Biologist

Yes, I’m travelling today, but that doesn’t mean I can’t harangue you (and, yes, I sent in my absentee ballot).

If you’re a member of the Coalition of the Sane, tomorrow’s election, at the national level, is unappealing. The Congressional Democrats’ unofficial motto of “Vote for us because we won’t be as dreadful as the Republicans” is hardly inspiring. I’m definitely sympathetic towards those who don’t want to vote for the Democrat–all I would ask is that you consider how worse your local Republican alternative is before you abstain or write in a third party. But it really is disgusting to have to choose between Democrats who would limit (sorry, I meant ‘save’) Social Security and Republicans who would kill it.

That being said, there’s no excuse not to vote at all: ballots are full of state and local offices and referenda. Which brings me to Massachusetts, where I’m sure my endorsements will be the proverbial game-breaker. Or not.

For the state offices, I support Deval Patrick as governor and Tim Murray as lieutenant governor. While I’m not happy with Patrick’s educational policies, overall, he’s been able to control the budget* (and maintain a good bond rating) while minimizing layoffs and service cuts. Patrick has also been a good supporter of science in Massachusetts, and he’s also revitalized the state college system. He’s also done some humane things that have little political reward, such as strengthening programs that help convicts return to society. Tim Murray has done a lot of yeoman committee work.

Despite her dreadful Senate run, Coakley has been very good on gay rights and on the housing crisis. She has also caught and fined so many corporate scofflaws that her office generates five dollars for every dollar spent–no government waste there. She also took utilities to court and lowered electrical bills for the state by $100 million. She earned your vote.

The rest of the Democratic ticket, well, is less unsavory than the Republicans. Vote the ticket. Locally, for me, Rep. Marty Walz is better than the Republican, even though I’ve been disappointed by her willingness to cut the corporate tax and her championing of education ‘reform.’ I’m less than impressed with State Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz because she didn’t defend funding for the arts which are a substantial part of Massachusetts’ economy.

Then there are three referenda. Question 1 would repeal the sales tax on alcohol products. Quite simply, we need the revenue–Massachusetts doesn’t have a sovereign currency, so something has to get taxed. Vote no on 1.

Question 2 is difficult, in part because of the way it’s worded. A Yes vote would repeal the state law allowing the issuance of a single comprehensive permit to build housing that includes low- or moderate-income units. Right now, if a developer adds low- or moderate-income units, requirements of the many different regulatory permits are removed. This is a good thing in suburban areas, where zoning regulations and other procedures are used to ‘zone out’ poor people, turning cities into warehouses for the poor. On the other hand, in cities, this will be used by unscrupulous developers to run roughshod over local communities (e.g., building a thirty story apartment building right next to the Boston Public Library). I say vote yes.

Question 3 would lower the state sales tax to three percent. As with question 1, we need the revenue. What are we going to do? Let our roads and mass transit decay even further? It’s not like we’re going to raise the income tax to make up the shortfall. Even Charlie Baker supporters get this.

So get out there and vote!

*Unlike the federal government, Massachusetts can’t print its own currency, so we can default on our loans (or, at least, have interest rates rise as our bond rating slips).

Comments

  1. #1 NewEnglandBob
    November 1, 2010

    I agree with your choices and will vote that way also.

  2. #2 Kierra
    November 1, 2010

    On question 2. The law as currently written states that a community can reject any proposed project if they already have 10% affordable housing. If the community allowed enough affordable housing to be built, then they wouldn’t have to worry about developers building projects that they don’t like. If the local communities are mad about this law, it seems to me that the real problem is that those communities haven’t been proactive about getting to the 10% affordability mark. Boston currently has almost 20% affordable housing (http://www.massaffordablehomes.org/mahamap.html), and so does not have to worry about these projects.

  3. #3 Physicalist
    November 1, 2010

    I’m voting no on Question 2. People I trust say it’s been an important tool in providing what affordable housing we have.

    I’d be willing to scrap 40B if something better were offered, but Question 2 would apparently do nothing to generate more affordable housing. I see the downside of 40B, and it’s not an easy call, but I say vote no.

    (You called the rest of them correctly.)

  4. #4 istanbul nakliyat
    November 2, 2010

    housing to be built, then they wouldn’t have to worry about developers building projects that they don’t like. If the local communities are mad about this law, it seems to me that the real problem is that those communities haven’t been proactive about getting to the 10% affordability mark. Boston currently has almost 20% affordable housing (http://www.massaffordablehomes

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