The Belmont Citizen-Herald
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
A Belmont Citizen-Herald editorial
Question 1: Simply put, Hell Yes
Despite what you may have
heard, it is in the best interest of your town to vote Yes on Question
The debate over this ballot
question has been one of the most preposterous ever seen in this state.
At the same time, proponents have not done the best job promoting
specifics about what will happen when the income tax ends.
Let’s look at some facts
· According to the fiscal
2009 state cherry sheet, the town of Belmont will receive about $6
million from state income tax proceeds this year [another $2 million
will come from lottery funds]. And yet, Belmont taxpayers put as much as
$100 million into the state coffers. Do the math: $100 million in, $6
million back. There is the “social compact” and then there is the blind
· By approving this measure
you will equalize the local aid process. For far too long, your town has
been subsidizing giveaways, malfeasance and corruption in other places.
At the same time, Belmont is being strangled by high property taxes that
deliver what many of you openly contend are “inferior” schools and
· When was the last time a
major city like Boston in this state had a Proposition 2½ override or
debt exclusion to fund education, municipal services, build a school or
repair streets? Answer: Never. Yet you are constantly asked to pay more
while whole tracts of land in Boston are not even taxed [some haven’t
been taxed since urban renewal]. Take your money back and let other
cities float multimillion-dollar overrides to pay for their services.
· If approved, residents
will have to choose to pay more in property taxes via override to
preserve services or live without those services. That’s a given. But
even a working class family in Belmont will get more back than they will
ever be asked to pay in new property taxes. Most Belmontians will see
much more than the $3,700 promoted by proponents.
· The net positive effect
of thrusting more than $20 billion into the economy during the next two
years is immeasurable. Countless billions will go into private-sector
job creation, which will more than make up for government jobs lost.
Charitable giving will increase. There will be more consumer spending
[and maybe even more lottery spending] meaning that sales, gas, and
other tax revenues will go up and could revert back to cities and towns.
Establish fairness, give
yourself a pay raise, and take control of your local services. Vote Yes
on Question 1.
The Boston Herald
October 22, 2008
Yes on 1!
By Holly Robichaud (Blog)
On November 4th
Massachusetts voters should vote Yes on 1. I could name example after
example of wasteful spending as reasons why to vote in favor of
eliminating the income tax, but most readers see them on a daily basis
in the Herald.
So here is the number one
reason to vote Yes: IF VOTERS REJECT QUESTION 1, THE GOVERNOR AND THE
LEGISLATURE WILL TAKE THE DEFEAT AS VICTORY FOR HIGHER SPENDING AND
If you ever want to lower
your tax burden and to control state spending, then support Yes on 1 is
the best first step.
The Boston Globe
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
In income tax debate, 41% figure is 100% iffy
Foes cite poll about perception of waste
By Eric Moskowitz
Forty-one percent of
government spending is wasted. That's the statistic state income tax
opponents splash atop their website, proclaim on yard signs, and begin
with in their 150-word argument in the official state voter guide.
But that figure doesn't
come from a line-by-line review of the state budget or an audit of
government practices. It's merely perception, the result of an April
poll that asked 500 voters to speculate on the share of every tax dollar
that state government wastes.
That tally was part of a
wider survey by a Republican pollster and might have remained obscure
had the Committee for Small Government - the group behind a Nov. 4
ballot question to repeal the income tax - not picked up on it.
Now it is roiling those who
worry that wiping out the income tax, and the roughly $12.5 billion
annually it generates, would also wipe out public education, public
safety, and public infrastruc ture, not to mention the state's credit
rating or its overall economy.
"It's an absurd number,"
said Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers
Foundation, a business-backed budget research group. "That's pulled out
of the air. The public may think there's 41 percent waste, but that has
nothing to do with the facts."
But supporters of repealing
the income tax say the figure is meaningful whether or not voters know
its origins - and whether or not it's precise.
"We put it in quotes," said
Carla Howell, chairwoman of the Committee for Small Government, which
petitioned to put the question on the ballot. She was referring to yard
signs that declare "41% in Mass. Government" and are accompanied by a
message to cut waste, cut taxes, and "Vote YES on 1." The committee also
put the phrase in quotes in 3.35 million copies of the official
Massachusetts voter guide, which is printed by the secretary of the
Commonwealth's office and includes proponent and opponent arguments for
each ballot question.
Howell, a former
Libertarian gubernatorial candidate, said she found it useful to be able
to cite a number; the survey of 500 likely Massachusetts voters -
conducted by the Republican pollster Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates -
provided her with a tangible figure. But the actual percentage, 41, is
not essential, she said.
"It could be low. It could
well be that the state government is wasting 70 percent of our dollars,
or more," Howell said. "It's the nature of government to be wasteful."
Charles Ormsby, who gave
$65 to the committee and put its yellow-and-black campaign sign in his
North Andover yard, said he has no qualms about displaying the figure,
although he thinks the exact percentage is unknowable.
"If I had to guess, I'd say
it's even greater," said Ormsby, who is retired from the defense and
computing industries and serves on his town's School Committee, as a
fiscal conservative and opponent of overrides.
Ormsby said he wants
government to be able to operate more like the private sector, without
things like union contracts, lifetime pensions for employees, and
prevailing-wage laws for contractors. He sees cutting the income tax -
and the revenue it generates - as a start. "Government tremendously
overspends for what it gets," he said.
On the other side,
opponents of the ballot question acknowledge that there are
inefficiencies in state and local government but call this a blunt and
destructive way to address it. In ads, phone banks, and door-to-door
campaigns, they note that wiping out $12.5 billion - roughly 60 percent
of total tax revenues and 40 percent of state spending - would likely
eliminate or reduce all manner of public services, trigger thousands of
layoffs, and harm the state's most vulnerable.
The 41-percent figure
followed an indirect route from polling data to the Committee for Small
Government's literature and signs.
Howell's committee received
it from Citizens for Limited Taxation, which organized the 1980
effort to pass Proposition 2½ and restrict property taxes. Fabrizio,
based in Alexandria, Va., coordinated the question with Citizens for
Limited Taxation while conducting a wider election poll in Massachusetts
for another client, said Barbara Anderson, executive director of
Citizens for Limited Taxation.
"He said, 'Would you like
us to ask that?' and I said sure," said Anderson, who started a campaign
called "Hell Yes! Question 1," to assist Howell's group.
Howell may not have been
wild about that name, but she loved the shared statistic, Anderson said.
And, she said, "It does show people's instinct that an awful lot of what
state government does is waste."
Team 5 Investigates
Sunday, October 26, 2007
Cops Want Extra Pay For Using Computers
Critics Say Proposal Takes Advantage of Town
Residents in Framingham are
talking about a new cost to the town courtesy of the local police union,
which says officers need to be paid more because they use computers.
Debate broke out at the
last Framingham Town Meeting after members were asked to approve extra
pay for the police officers whose union said $41,000 a year would settle
a its claim that a new requirement to file reports on a computer was an
unlawful change in working conditions.
"The police department
asked us to fund laptops for the cruisers and now that we provided them
they're suing us because we're making them use them?" asked Rebecca
Connolly, a Town Meeting member.
"Do we not allocate this
money to them and give them crayons?" quipped Steve Orr, another Town
The computer stipend would
be paid in addition to the extra pay all Framingham officers already get
for defibrillator use, fingerprinting and photography.
Town Meeting member Jim
Rizoli was part of the majority who voted to shoot down the proposal.
"It's taking advantage of
the goodness of the people and the town to pay you for something you
should already know how to do," Rizoli said. "Think about it. What
police officer today does not know how to use a computer?"
In nearby Natick, Mass.,
however, officers get a 2 percent annual stipend in "recognition of the
advanced technological skills Natick patrol officers possess".
Newton police also get paid
an extra $1,215 a year plus two hours of computer training at overtime
"It just doesn't pass the
straight-face test," said Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts
Taxpayers Foundation. "Obviously, they shouldn't be paying any time. But
it's particularly egregious given incredible fiscal pressures the
state's facing and cities and towns are facing."
Team 5 Investigates tried
to talk to the union's attorney, police and the town's lawyer, but no
one wanted to talk on camera because they're still negotiating.
The Massachusetts Police
Association said stipends are common, but a Team 5 review of police
contracts found computer stipends seem to be isolated to Metrowest.
"There's an increased
training," said Jim Machado, MPA president. "It's not only doing the
reports. It's the record-keeping and the retrieval and things of that
nature which go into the total package, the total technological
Widmer said taxpayers
should be wary.
"Police officers have a
critical job and they get paid for that," Widmer said. "But these extra
creative ways of padding the paycheck really are not appropriate, and
undercut the bond with the taxpayers."
The police union, however,
has a different take.
"When these jobs become
where the ability to earn money isn't commensurate with the dangers and
sacrifice that they're families make, they'll be a shortfall of police
throughout the commonwealth," Machado said.
The Boston Globe
Saturday, October 25, 2008
T to delay bond offer until after election
Doubt over Question 1 a factor in decision
By Eric Moskowitz
Concerned that a ballot question to repeal the state
income tax could discourage investors, the MBTA will delay a planned
$350 million bond offering until after the Nov. 4 election, the T's
chief financial officer said yesterday.
The underwriters advising the MBTA on the bond sale
have said uncertainty about Question 1 could nudge up interest rates and
cost the T money, said Jonathan Davis, CFO of the MBTA.
The T is delaying the offering even though the MBTA
receives no direct funding from the state income tax. Actual elimination
of the tax - and with it, the roughly $12.5 billion annually it
generates for the state - would undoubtedly harm the state's credit
rating and limit the ability of Massachusetts, and its cities and towns,
to borrow to pay for everything from roads and bridges to prisons and
university buildings, analysts and officials have said.
"It would totally undercut the Commonwealth's ability
to service its debt, and the whole stability of the Commonwealth," said
Stephen P. Crosby, who served as secretary for administration and
finance under Republican governors Paul Cellucci and Jane Swift and is
now dean of the McCormack Graduate School of Policy Studies at UMass-Boston.
"It would be catastrophic."
Davis, who is also deputy general manager of the
Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, said the T would wait until
the day after the election to sell the bonds to retail customers and
Nov. 6 to sell them to institutional investors. The $350 million
assessment bonds will cover the T's annual capital budget.
"We're not desperate for the money," Davis said. "We
certainly can wait" two weeks.
The MBTA receives about half of its roughly $1.4
billion in annual revenue from a dedicated portion of the state sales
tax, and other funds come from a variety of sources, including T fare
and federal funding, with about 10 percent coming from assessments
billed to cities and towns in the service area. But because that money
comes directly from state aid to cities and towns - and is fueled by the
income tax - the underwriters told the T to wait, Davis said.
If the ballot question passes, the state income tax
rate would drop from its current 5.3 percent to 2.65 percent on Jan. 1
and would be eliminated entirely a year later.
The T's decision follows a report released earlier
this week by the Lexington-based economic analysts Global Insight saying
that Question 1's passage would harm the state's bond rating, because it
would eliminate roughly 40 percent of state revenue and limit the
state's ability to spend in the future. Among other things, that would
make existing debt payments occupy a larger percentage of the budget and
further leverage the state, according to the report, which was
commissioned by four leading business-backed groups who want to keep the
tax in place.
"If this passed, this would expose Massachusetts to
almost immediate downgrading of credit and dry up access to funds," said
Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation,
which helped fund the study. "It would have a domino effect that would
have drastic impacts for public and private financing in the
Carla Howell, lead advocate for Question 1, said
yesterday that taxpayers would benefit if the state had to hold off on
issuing bonds to pay for more projects and instead learned to operate
within its means, just as taxpayers do.
"The state needs to quit spending and borrowing,"
said Howell, a former Libertarian gubernatorial candidate and the
chairwoman of the Committee for Small Government, which petitioned to
place Question 1 on the ballot. "They're racking up some of the worst
debt in the country, because they won't stop their addiction to
"It's reckless and destructive, and it's a ticking
time bomb," she added.
Two months ago, Moody's Investors Service assigned
the state a strong Aa2 rating and gave it a stable outlook for its
general obligation bonds. But it noted the ballot question was a "credit
challenge" on the horizon.
More recently, Standard & Poor's, in a financial
report on the state, also warned that passage of the question would hurt
the credit rating.
"If this ballot initiative receives voter approval
Standard & Poor's would place Massachusetts' [general obligation] bonds
on CreditWatch with negative implications pending legislative
deliberation on the measure," said the report, by analysts Karl Jacob
and Robin Prunty.
However, they also noted that the state's finances
and general outlook was strong.
Globe Staff Writer Matt Carroll contributed to
The Boston Herald
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Wilkerson freed on $50G bond after extortion arrest
By Jessica Fargen, Mike Underwood and Laurel J. Sweet
State Sen. Dianne Wilkerson
was set free this afternoon on a $50,000 bond after appearing in federal
court on attempted extortion charges following a “painstaking” 18-month
investigation, during which she was allegedly caught on tape stuffing a
cash bribe into her bra, according to a complaint.
“Dianne Wilkerson accepted
these cash payments in exchange for her official duties and
responsibilities,” said U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan during a morning
news conference at the federal courthouse.
Wilkerson, who was carrying
$6,000 in her purse when she was arrested today, faces charges of
attempted extortion and theft of honest services as a state senator,
stemming from a money-for-legislation sting operation, officials said.
A federal criminal
complaint alleges that Wilkerson was busted for accepting eight bribes,
totaling $23,500, in exchange for her influence on Beacon Hill.
One undercover video shows
Wilkerson allegedly taking $1,000 in cash from an undercover agent and
stuffing it into her bra during a June 2007 lunch at No. 9 Park.
Wilkerson also allegedly
used one $1,000 bribe to treat herself to a night of gambling and dining
at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut.
She is due back in court
Nov. 17 in Worcester for a probable cause hearing. She did not enter a
plea at today’s “initial appearance” on her criminal complaint.
Wilkerson appeared before
U.S. District Court Magistrate Timothy S. Hillman this afternoon dressed
in a raspberry top and black slacks.
Wilkerson, 53, is under
court order to not lose or destroy any documents, including her cable TV
Wilkerson’s attorney Max
Stern called the government’s case a character assassination.
“It’s totally limitless,”
Stern said of the court orders, adding it will include what she spends
“on groceries.” He also said the $6,000 Wilkerson had in her purse today
was for “expenses.”
“We’re going to take a look
at her finances carefully to see if she’s reporting her taxes
correctly,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney John T. McNeil.
The complaint alleges that:
• In exchange for payment,
Wilkerson pressured the Boston Licensing Board, the mayor and the City
Council and held up pending legislation in the Senate, including
legislation increasing the salaries of the Boston Licensing Board.
• Wilkerson ultimately
introduced legislation to increase the number of liquor licenses
available in Boston, and then manipulated the timing of that legislation
at the request of undercover agents.
• Between June 2007 and
March 2008, Wilkerson took $8,500 in cash payments from an undercover
agent and a cooperating witness to assist in obtaining a liquor license
for the Dejavu nightclub in Roxbury.
• Wilkerson proposed that
an undercover agent, posing as an out-of-state businessman, become
involved in the development of a piece of state property in Roxbury.
• Wilkerson proposed
legislation that directly designated a property to a private entity for
development in order to avoid the ordinary bidding process.
Wilkerson left her Roxbury
home this morning with about 20 law enforcement officers, according to
neighbors. One neighbor said her hands were behind her back.
Wilkerson was defeated in
the Democratic primary by Sonia Chang-Diaz, but has launched a sticker
campaign in the general election. This morning, four Wilkerson
supporters who stood across the street from her Roxbury home, handed out
political brochures in support of Wilkerson’s sticker campaign.
A message left at
Wilkerson’s State House office this morning was not immediately
Wilkerson has weathered her
fair share of scandals during her 15 years in office, but these latest
allegations are the most serious. If convicted, the senator could face
up to 20 years in prison on each count.
In August, Wilkerson agreed
to pay a $10,000 fine and forgo about $30,000 in debts she said her
political committee owed her after acknowledging she failed to keep
proper campaign records from 2000 to 2004.
Wilkerson has also spent
time in a halfway house for federal income-tax evasion and narrowly
escaped home foreclosure.
Wilkerson graduated from
Springfield’s American International College, earned a law degree from
Boston College and was sworn in as the state’s first female black
senator in 1993.
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino,
who said he was briefed by the FBI on the case yesterday, said today,
“It’s a very sad day.”
Mike Adaskaveg and Ed
Mason contributed to this report.
The Boston Herald
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Another salon, another indictment
By Howie Carr
Try not to let this destroy
your faith in the integrity of the Massachusetts Legislature.
Look on the bright side:
Only 5 percent of the state Senate has been indicted this year, first
the pervert in the Prius Jim Marzilli and now Sen. Dianne Wilkerson. At
least she wasn’t stuffing the cash into her pants, like the reprobate
Register of Probate John Buonomo two months ago.
No, Dianne was stuffing the
payoff into her bra.
If only the campaign for
Question 1 to abolish the state income tax had cash, this would make a
perfect 30-second TV spot. Apparently Dianne didn’t get the memo, that
all hacks were supposed to stop stealing until Nov. 5, so as not to
alert the taxpayers as to the true nature of the kleptocracy that
governs this benighted state.
Given the nature of the
evidence against her, it seems likely that Dianne is going to be the
third felon senator in a row from the 2nd Suffolk District - Bill Owens,
Royal Bolling Sr. and now Miss Dianne, who until now only had a mere
misdemeanor conviction for income tax evasion.
I love the fact that the
barroom in question was named “Dejavu,” because that’s what I’m getting,
deja vu, reading this FBI complaint. This is almost exactly the same
sting operation the FBI ran in Somerville 25 years ago. Somewhere, a guy
named “Jack Callahan” is smiling.
Let’s look at some of the
winners and losers here:
Attorney General Martha
Coakley, loser. This happened, literally, under Martha’s nose. Martha,
the Crime Watch in your neighborhood failed.
Speaker Sal DiMasi, loser.
Martha is now going to have to start turning over some rocks that the
culprits are hiding under, and her No. 1 target these days is Sal’s,
ahem, accountant. I predict she turns up the heat.
Secretary of State Bill
Galvin, winner. No need to worry about Dianne’s sticker campaign now.
Gov. Deval Patrick, winner.
Now he doesn’t have to give her that $107,000-a-year job on the
Industrial Accident Board after she loses next week. But we won’t forget
the robo-calls he made for her before the primary.
Mayor Mumbles Menino,
loser. So what if he only took a call from her, he still has some
’splainin’ to do, about why he was such a big Dianne backer in the
Black ministers of Roxbury,
losers. Remember that sticker campaign for Sister Dianne - never mind,
Public Corruption Unit,
U.S. attorney’s office, winner. This is a nice appetizer, now it’s time
for the main course - the Boston Fire Department.
Sen. John Kerry, winner.
Wasn’t Dianne supposed to be some big speaker at the 2004 Democratic
convention here in Boston, but then got yanked at the last minute? Good
Sen. Barack Obama, winner.
She’s been with him at a Boston event at least once, but so far we
haven’t been able to come up with a picture. So far.