Tito Jackson for Mayor of Boston


If you’re reading this and live in the city of Boston, I implore you to vote in the City of Boston Preliminary Election on September 26th, 2017.  Preliminary elections are notorious for low turnout meaning a handful of people get to decide who will represent our city, and they usually don’t reflect the full range of ideology within the city.  There are four candidates running for mayor of Boston, and the two who receive the most votes will advance to the general election in November.  If you live in Districts 1, 2, 7, & 9, you will also have a preliminary election for City Council, again with the top two vote recipients advancing to November’s general election.  Please commit yourself to voting on Tuesday and encourage your family, friends, and colleagues to vote as well.  You can find your polling location online at http://www.sec.state.ma.us/WhereDoIVoteMA/bal/MyElectionInfo.aspx.

Okay, if I’ve convinced you to vote, you may be wondering who you should vote for.  I’d like to encourage you to vote for Tito Jackson for Mayor of Boston.  Tito is a lifelong resident of Boston’s Grove Hall neighborhood and since 2011 he has served on the City Council as the representative of District 7 (all of Roxbury, parts of the South End, Dorchester, and Fenway neighborhoods).  I’ve come to know him in recent years primarily through being active with Boston Public School parents and students to defend against three consecutive years of severe budget cuts from the Walsh administration and the threats of corporate education reform organizations, and advance a just and equitable model of public education.  As Chair of the Boston City Council’s Committee on Education, Tito frequently meets and works with parents and students of Boston Public Schools.  He recognizes the good work that BPS teachers and students are already doing, at a time when it is fashionable to attack public education as failing.  He understands that schools will get better only if every school and every student receive equitable resources and we address problems due to poverty, inequality, and physical and mental health.

As you might imagine, education is one of the key issues on Tito’s platform.  But he is also very concerned with housing.  If you’ve tried to rent or buy a home in Boston in the past couple of decades you know it’s an extremely competitive housing market where an increasing demand for a static supply of housing stock has forced rents and mortgages through the roof.  Members of Boston’s working and middle classes are finding it increasingly difficult to afford to live in the city.  And when new housing is built, developers inevitably target it to high-end buyers.  Tito is committed to making housing economically viable for all by increasing the number of truly affordable housing units.

Of course it’s easy to make promise that look great on a webpage, but there’s something about Tito that sets him apart from other candidates: he is truly a representative of the people who listens to them and works to resolve their problems.  A couple of years ago, Boston was selected as a candidate to host the 2024 Summer Olympic Games.  I had mixed feelings on the issue myself.  On the one hand I enjoy the Olympics and it would be a treat to have it in our great city, but on the other hand I know that the cost of the Olympics can be economically devastating to the host city.  Although the supporters of the bid promised that no public funding would be used for the Olympics, many citizens were concerned about the lack of transparency around the contents of the actual bid documents.  Tito was initially supportive of Boston 2024 but listened to the growing concern of his constituents and filed a subpoena forcing the Boston 2024 organizers to release the full, unredacted bid.  As feared, the bid put Boston on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars in public money, and that was before any inevitable cost overruns.  This is just one instance of Tito listening to his constituents, acting on their concerns, and working toward greater transparency and equity in Boston government.

If you’re still not convinced to vote for Tito, perhaps you just really like Marty Walsh and see no reason to change mayors, I’m going to ask you to still go ahead and vote for Tito Jackson in the preliminary election on Tuesday.  I honestly think that Marty Walsh will be a better mayor if he faces a strong challenge from Tito, and has to defend his past decisions and plans for the future, and learns to be a better leader by listening to what Tito and his supporters have to say.  If after six weeks of intense campaigning and debates, you’re still not convinced that Tito would make a better mayor, go ahead and vote for Walsh in November.  But I think the more that people get to see and hear Tito Jackson and how he is speaking for the everyday people of Boston, the more you’re going to want to vote for him.

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Upcoming Protests and Rallies in Boston Area


Spring is here and with it comes lots of opportunities to make your voice heard.

March 30th – Blessed are the Peacemakers: Faithful People Gather to Speak out for Peace – 7-8:30pm at St. Bartholomew’s Church, Cambridge

Join Massachusetts Peace Action’s Faith Community Network on March 30 to connect with other people of faith who are coming together to work toward a more peaceful world through reducing the threat of nuclear weapons and our warfare economy.  We will be joined by a number of honored speakers, including: Mayor Denise Simmons, Rev. Paul Ford, Senior Pastor, Union Baptist Church, and Jim Stewart, Director of First Church UCC shelter

March 31st – Our Revolution Boston Rally – 7-9pm at Orpheum Theater

Partnering with “Raise Up Massachusetts”, Our Revolution is taking the next step to organize an unprecedented grassroots effort in Massachusetts around issues such as $15 minimum wage, paid family medical leave, criminal justice reform, immigrants rights and wage inequality.  These issues and others will be highlighted at a the rally by local activists who will be joined by Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

April 6 – DROP the MIC! Confronting Militarism In Our Communities – 7-9pm at First Baptist Church of Jamaica Plain

Speakers: Maggie Martin and Matt Howard, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Karlene Griffiths Sekou, Black Lives Matter Boston,  and Mike Prokosch, Dorchester People for Peace

April 15 – Tax Day Protest  – 1-4pm at Cambridge Common Park

April 22 – March for Science – Boston – 1-4pm at Boston Common

This Rally for Science celebrates the discovery, understanding, and sharing of scientific knowledge as crucial to the success, health, and safety of the human race. We join together to champion not only science itself, but also publicly funded and publicly communicated scientific knowledge as a pillar of human freedom and prosperity. We unite as a diverse and nonpartisan group to celebrate Boston as a space for scientists and scientific research and to support of five main goals: Communication, Funding, Policy, Literacy, and Improvement.

April 22 – Kids’ March for Science – 1-4pm at Boston Common

The Kid’s March for Science (Boston) celebrates the youngest members of our scientific community. We join together in support of dynamic and inclusive science education for all future scientists and supporters of science. We believe kids should have a voice in the decisions that shape the world they will inherit. Kids are scientists at heart, always observing and asking questions — science is fun and family friendly!

April 29 – March for Climate – 9am-4pm at Boston Common

A sister march to the People’s Climate Mobilization in Washington, DC.  With the 100 days of action and April march, this coalition will leverage their power once again, to resist the Trump administration and corporate leaders’ efforts to thwart or reverse progress towards a more just America.

 

I hope to participate in as many of these as possible.  If there are other events coming up not listed, please let me know in the comments and I will update.

Upcoming Protests and Rallies in Boston Area


Here’s a list of gatherings in the Boston area where you can make your voice heard on a variety of issues at risk in our current political environment. Please share the list and attend as many events as you can.

Saturday, January 14th:

Sunday, January 15th:

Monday, January 16th:

Thursday, January 19th

Friday, January 20th

Saturday, January 21st

If you know of any events not listed, let me know and I will update.

Also call or write your members of Congress and Massachusetts state government on the issues that matter to you.

The “We’re His Problem Now” Calling Sheet provides tips, scripts, contact information, and calls to action.

Beer Review: Riverwalk Gnomad


Beer: Gnomad Farmhouse Ale
Brewer: Riverwalk Brewing Co.
Source: Bottle
Rating: **** (8.4 of 10)
Comments: Beer pours out golden with much effervesence and a thick head.  The scent is caramel with a warm, yeasty malt flavor.  The head is persistent while drinking and offers a light mouthfeel.  A nice example of the style.

Photopost: Halloween Prowl


On Saturday we went on a Halloween Prowl at the Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary. For this non-scary activity, we were lead along a candlelit trail through the woods where we met costumed characters telling their stories, including a druid, an opossum, a dragonfly, a dung beetle, a witch, and my absolute favorite, a great blue heron singing Sinatra tunes (“…egrets, I’ve known a few…). Along the way we saw a barn full of jack-o-lanterns and finished off with a hot cocoa, popcorn, s’mores, and a campfire singalong. It was a great family activity, and while it seemed to be mostly younger children even my nearly 9-year-old son enjoyed it (except for the singalong, which he wanted to leave as soon as possible, as is his wont).

Book Review: What Was the First Thanksgiving? by Joan Holub


Author: Joan Holub
TitleWhat Was the First Thanksgiving?
Publication Info: Grosset & Dunlap (2013), 112 pages
Summary/Review: This is a simple but honest children’s history of the settlers of Plymouth Colony and the Wampanoag people and what really happened on that first Thanksgiving.  There’s a fair amount of myth-busting as well as using surviving records to determine actual events.  There’s also a short history of how Thanksgiving became an American holiday and a detailed chapter about visiting Plimoth Plantation (very useful to my son and I since we’re taking a field trip there next month).

Rating: ***

Harpoon UFO Pumpkin


Beer: UFO Pumpkin
Brewer: Harpoon Brewery
Source: Can
Rating:  **** (8.4 of 10)
Comments:

I am fond of Harpoons UnFiltered Offering (UFO).  I am fond of spicy pumpkin beers.  So opening this can of delight made my autumn, beer wise.  It’s a beautiful orange beer with a foamy head.  The aroma is full of spice which also infuses that flavor, balanced with sweet malts.  Delicious!

 

From the same brewery:

Photopost: Old Sturbridge Village


To celebrate the beautiful weather our autumnal holiday, I wanted to get out of the city, get the kids outdoors, and enjoy some foliage. We go to do all three with a visit to Old Sturbridge Village, where we also witnessed an ox plowing competition, rode on a stagecoach, watched a musketry demonstration, and was amazed by a potter at at work at the wheel, among other things.

Here are some highlights of a most photogenic day.

Beer Review: Harpoon Octoberfest


Beer: Octoberfest
Brewer: Harpoon Brewery
Source: Can
Rating: ** (6.7 of 10)
Comments:

A copper-colored beer that pours out with light carbonation and a thick head.  It offers a toffee aroma and a flavor of roasted grain, caramel, and mild hops on the aftertaste.  The head evaporates swiftly making the beer look flat.  It’s drinkable, inoffensive.  A good beer for a crisp autumn day.

Note: I previously reviewed this beer on draft and had a more favorable opinion.

From the Same Brewer:

Vote NO on Massachusetts Question #2, UPDATE


Last night I witnessed the Boston School Committee vote unanimously in favor of a resolution to oppose the Massachusetts ballot question #2 which proposes to expand charter schools in the Commonwealth by 12 every year for perpetuity while offering no additional education funding.  The Boston School Committee is one of 164 school committees (and counting) across Massachusetts who have come out against question #2.  None has come out in favor of it.  While the BSC is appointed by the elected mayor of Boston, the rest of these school committees are directly elected representatives of the people.  They join other elected officials in city councils (including Boston), Senator Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts Democratic Party, and even  Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, a strong supporter of charter schools, in voicing the people’s’ opposition to this reckless initiative.  The point is not that charter schools are bad – their value for good or evil is not relevant to this debate – but that the fiscal irresponsibility of introducing 12 new schools each year with no funding will devastate municipal budgets and ultimately harm all children regardless of where they go to school. Please join them in standing up to the big-money interests campaigning for this measure by voting No on #2 on November 8th (and then getting together on November 9th to fight for better funding for all of our schools). Remember to tell your friends and if you want to get more involved you can volunteer with Save our Public Schools and/or make a donation.

Here’s an updated list of articles. opinion pieces, and videos expressing the urgency of voting No on 2. The first post listed is the best, concise summary if you’re short on time, but they’re all worth reading and sharing with your friends and on social media.


 

Massachusetts Voters, Please Vote NO on Question #2


If you read this blog and live in Massachusetts and are not already aware, there is a ballot initiative question when we vote on November 8th regarding the expansion of charter schools in the Commonwealth by up to 12 new schools per year. The initiative offers no means for paying for this expansion so it would inevitably result in further defunding existing public schools and school closures.

So far, 120 school committees, 8 city councils,  the Massachusetts Democratic Party, The Massachusetts Municipal Association, and the NAACP have come out in opposition to this ballot initiative.  Even people who are big supporters of charter schools, such as Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, believe that this particular initiative is fiscally irresponsible, and are voting no.

As usual, other people who are far more informed and eloquent than I am are better about writing about this issue, so I encourage you to read these articles that explain why the ballot initiative is bad for Massachusetts and who is behind funding it.  The first post listed is the best, concise summary if you’re short on time, but they’re all worth reading and sharing with your friends and on social media.


Having read all that, I hope you will join me in voting No on 2 on November 8th.  Remember to tell your friends and if you want to get more involved you can volunteer with Save our Public Schools and/or make a donation.

Beer Review: Mystic Table Beer


Beer:  Table Beer
Brewer: Mystic Brewery
Source:  Draft
Rating: ** (6.7 of 10)
Comments:  A hazy golden brew with a bread crust aroma and a mild banana flavor.  It’s light, refreshing, and low alcohol and drinkable if not very exciting.  Seems like a good summer beer for people who do not like bold beer flavors.

My Vote For President (and some more important things)


I know everyone has been waiting to see the official 2016 Presidential endorsement of a minor blogger with 289 followers, and here it is!  Actually, I think endorsements are mostly bunk and it drives me crazy how the media constantly speculates over who will endorse who and how many votes an endorsement will gain when I believe endorsements have very little sway in electoral outcomes.  That being said I thought it would make an interesting exercise just to lay out my thought process on voting in November.  And if like-minded individuals stumble upon this post, I believe it may help them too.

So, this November 8th, I will be casting my vote for President for Jill Stein of the Green Party.

I can hear some of you already crying out that a vote for Stein is a vote for Donald Trump.  But you ignore that United States President is elected by the Electoral College.  I live in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts which is perhaps the most Clintonian state in the union.  Even if every Massachusetts citizen voted their conscience, Hillary Clinton is genuinely preferred by most of the voters and would win the state by a comfortable margin.  All of Massachusetts’ 11 electoral will go to Clinton no matter regardless of my vote.  This is true in the majority of the states and the District of Columbia.  If you live in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio,  Pennsylvania, and Virginia, and want to stop Trump, by all means please vote for Clinton even if you don’t like her! If you live anywhere else you can safely vote your conscience for any candidate of you choice (although if your conscience tells you to vote for Trump, you should reexamine your conscience).

Why then, you may ask, will I be voting for Stein and encouraging others to consider to do so?  Here are four reasons:

  1. I think Stein would make a good President – Voting for a candidate one actually likes is such a strange idea in American politics, but I believe that the more people who do so the more likely we’d end up with public servants who best represent our nation’s hopes and dreams.  Too many people chose instead vote for a candidate that they think will win (because they like to be on the side of winners) or the lesser of two evils (because they want to stop the most reprehensible candidate without considering that they are still electing evil).  No candidate is 100% perfect, but I’ve been following Jill Stein’s career since she ran for governor of Massachusetts in 2002 and appreciate her efforts.  Her background is as a medical doctor and as an activist she’s had success in advancing environmental and electoral campaign reform issues.  The issues that she puts in the forefront of her platform include those that are near and dear to my heart including poverty-reduction, public education, racial justice, environmental protection, greater equality for all, public transportation, and a foreign policy based on diplomacy rather than militarism.
  2. I believe we need more than two political parties – The Democratic and Republican parties do not come close to representing the full-spectrum of political thought in our country.  I think there needs to be many more viable parties in national, state, and local politics to both encourage greater participation in our democracy and better representation in governments.  A criticism I’ve seen lately is that third parties run “vanity candidates” for President and if they really want to make a change they should start the party at the local level and work up.  I’ve been frustrated that many elections in Massachusetts – from mayor to Congress – feature Democrats running opposed and wish that there were Green Party challengers, but ultimately this criticism misses out on a few points.  First of all, local elections get very little media attention to start with, and third-party candidates virtually nil.  Running  a presidential candidate who can’t win has an air of vanity to it, but it’s also an advertisement that makes people aware that the party even exists.  It’s akin to the fashion designer who makes a complex get up for a model to wear down a runway in order to get people to buy their off-the-rack clothing.  Secondly, many states require parties to win a certain percentage of votes in an election in order to earn and retain access to appearing on official ballots and to get matching funds from the government.  Running a Presidential candidate is a way that third parties can keep their party alive for the next local election.  It’s a screwed-up system, but for the time being, a necessary one.
  3. It can send a message to Hillary Clinton, and make her a better President – Over the course of her long public career as First Lady/”Co-President,” Senator, and Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton has repeatedly advocated for policies that have hurt the most vulnerable in our nation and abroad.  This includes supporting unnecessary wars for “regime change,” dismantling social safety nets, increasing mass incarceration, privatizing public schools, deregulating the financial industry, and trade deals that allow international corporations freedoms from United States laws and regulations.  For these reasons I cannot vote for Clinton.  The primary election against Bernie Sanders helped push Clinton to abandon some of her older policies and adopt more progressive policies, but I fear that once she is President she may resume her old ways.  If Jill Stein wins 5-10% of the vote in a Clinton stronghold like Massachusetts that will be a sign to Clinton that the status quo is not acceptable and she will need to govern from a more progressive position.
  4. The Presidency is overrated – I expect this may be my most controversial position, but the power of the President is not as great as everyone thinks.  I frequently see charts showing how the country prospered during certain Presidencies and faltered during others as evidence of a particular President’s greatness or weakness.  But these charts treat the Presidency as if it is in a vacuum, ignoring all the other factors that affect the well-being of our country, including Congress and the Supreme Court, state and local governments, business, the actions of the citizenry, and foreign affairs.  While the Presidential election gets up to two years of coverage, and Presidents and candidates have constant media attention, it is dangerous to overlook the other elections for Congress, state and local governments, and ballot initiatives.  The low participation in these elections have moved our governments away from being representative of our communities, and right-wing corporatism organizations like ALEC have taken advantage of this to elect politicians friendly to their interests and pass legislation authored by ALEC.  We need full participation in our politics at every level to counteract this and give power to the people where it belongs.

So I implore everyone reading this to the following things:

  • Verify that you are registered to vote and if not find out the requirements and deadlines, and register ASAP!
  • Find out what will be on your ballot and research every candidate and ballot initiative.
  • Be aware that there may be primary or preliminary elections.  Make sure to vote in these too!
  • Contribute to your favorite candidates by volunteering, donating, or even just talking about them with your friends.
  • Keep voting in every election your eligible, not just in Presidential election years.  Be aware that not all election days are in November.
  • Keep in regular contact with your elected officials – mail, email, phone, in person – and remind them where you stand on the issues you care about most.
  • Make sure that even politicians you like know when you think they are wrong.  Don’t accept the idea that these are “attacks” that “hurt” the good politicians.  Dissent is necessary for healthy government.
  • Remember that electoral politics are just a portion of what makes our democracy work.  Most of the great advancements in US history came when people who cared got together to make a change.  Commit to being active in your community to whatever level you are able.

Beer Review: Harpoon Trippel


Beer: Trippel
Brewer: Harpoon Brewery
Source: Bottle
Rating: ** (6.9 of 10)
Comments:  Harpoon’s version of a Belgian Trappist ale is golden, a bit cloudy, and effervescent.  The aroma is clove and musty grains.  The taste is a mix of bananas, apricots, and spices.  The beer leaves not lacing and the head evaporates quickly as does the bubbles.  It’s an okay beer, but seems like it should do more to live up to its Trappist heritage.

Harpoon Sticke Alt


Beer: Sticke Alt
Brewer: Harpoon Brewery
Source: Bottle
Rating: *** (7 of 10)
Comments: Another product of the Harpoon 100 Barrel Series celebrates a recent trip of staff to Germany. This beer is a reddish-brown with lots of carbonation looking all the world like a root beer. The aroma is sweet too, chocolate with some fruity hops. The flavor is chocolate too, but the hop bitterness makes it a dark chocolate rather than a sweet chocolate. A nice treat.

Beer Review: Beer Works Zwickel Stick


Beer: Zwickel Stick
Brewer: Beer Works
Source: Cask conditioned
Rating: *** (7.9 of 10)
Comments: This cask conditioned German unfiltered lager was on tap at the Boston Beer Works on Canal Street on Independence Day weekend.  It’s a honey colored beer with a finger-width head.  The aroma is mildly grainy and grassy, while the flavor is sweet up front and creamy, followed by a grain aftertaste.  The head remains for sometime and the beer has a sticky mouthfeel.  While this is a German-style beer it reminded me of being in an English pub.

Beer Review: Jack’s Abby House Lager


Beer: House Lager
Brewer: Jack’s Abby Brewing
Source: Can
Rating: *** (7.9 of 10)
Comments: A sparkly golden beer with a fresh cut grass aroma, this lager has a grain flavor with a balance of sweet malts.  It’s basically a beer’s beer, and it’s delightful

 

Book Review: We Love You, Charlie Freeman by Kaitlyn Greenidge


Author: Kaitlyn Greenidge
TitleWe Love You, Charlie Freeman
Publication Info: Chapel Hill, North Carolina : Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2016
Summary/Review:

This book is difficult to describe in a few sentences.  The Freeman family moves from Dorchester to a rural town in Western Massachusetts where they will live in an apartment at the Toneybee Research Institute with a chimpanzee named Charlie.  They are part of an experiment to teach a chimpanzee to communicate and were chosen because the children know how to use sign language.  There are some immediate racial overtones as the Freemans are an African American family constantly being observed by the white research staff at the institute and it is located in a predominately white town adjacent to a predominantly black town.  The book is told from multiple points of view, although the key narrative voice belongs to Charlotte, the older daughter who is the first to feel unease at the institute and at her high school.  There are also flashbacks to 1929 where the story of a woman named Nymphadora, a school teacher and member of a secretive society of African American women, reveals the dark origins of the Toneybee Institute.  This is a distressing book because it documents the unraveling of the Freeman family set against continuing racial prejudice.  It’s upsetting since no character really intends to cause harm by under the circumstances their actions lead to sadness and suffering.

Recommended booksSong of Solomon by Toni Morrison, Bailey’s Cafe by Gloria Naylor, and In Love & Trouble by Alice Walker
Rating: ****