Tuesday, August 31, 2010

MA Unemployment Rate Higher than Region's

Governor Patrick keeps saying that Massachusetts is coming out of the global recession "faster and stronger" than the rest of the nation. But as the State House News Service reports, the state's unemployment rate remains a cause for serious concern, with Massachusetts continuing to post jobless numbers that are higher than all but one of its New England neighbors and well above the regional average.

Citing newly-released data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, SHNS notes that the Commonwealth's unemployment rate of 9 percent is significantly lower than Rhode Island's rate of 11.9 percent. However, Massachusetts still ranks higher than Connecticut (8.9 percent), Maine (8.1 percent), Vermont (6 percent) and New Hampshire (5.8 percent).

Even with unemployment holding steady at 9 percent, this number is unacceptably high, and proof that much more needs to be done to create jobs and get the state's 312,000 unemployed residents back to work.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Another Patrick Judicial Appointee Withdraws

What is it with the Patrick-Murray Administration and its judicial appointments?

For the second time in five weeks, one of the administration’s judicial nominees has been forced to withdraw his name from consideration prior to a confirmation vote of the Governor’s Council.

The latest casualty is Chris Maclachan, an attorney at the Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA), who was recently nominated by Patrick to serve as an administrative law judge for the DIA at a salary of $94,700 a year. In a letter dated August 20 (a Friday, naturally), Maclachan abruptly pulled himself out of the running, citing “persoanl (sic) reasons.”

After doing some digging, the State House News Service discovered the real reason behind Maclachan’s withdrawal: although he listed his place of residence on his nomination form as Haverhill, MA, Maclachan is actually a longtime resident of Derry, New Hampshire. This revelation came to light after Governor’s Councilor MaryEllen Manning spoke with Maclachan, who admitted to her he only recently began renting an apartment in Haverhill.

Manning, you may recall, was one of two Councilors to raise questions about another Patrick nominee, Attorney David Aptaker, who was in line for a position at the Middlesex Family and Probate Court before it was learned he had failed to disclose some controversial political campaign donations. Aptaker’s withdrawal was announced on – what else – a Friday: July 16 to be exact, or five weeks to the day before Maclachlan ended his candidacy (for more information, see our July 2 post, "Tim Murray Pulls a Sergeant Schultz"; our July 15 post, "Where Was Tim?"; and our July 17 post, "If It's Bad News, It Must be Friday").

We appreciate Councilor Manning’s due diligence in vetting candidates that come before the Governor’s Council, which is chaired by Patrick’s second-in-command, Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray. Perhaps if Murray himself did a better job vetting these candidates ahead of time, the administration would have been spared the embarrassment of yet another botched nomination.

Globe Backs Health Care Plan Design

The Boston Globe has come out in support of one of the Senate Republican Caucus’ major reform proposals, agreeing that cities and towns should be given more flexibility to design their health care plans without having to go through the collective bargaining process.

In a Sunday editorial, the Globe called on legislative candidates to endorse municipal health care plan design, as well as a series of pension reforms and a proposal to move Medicare-eligible municipal retirees off their local health plans and onto Medicare. The health care savings alone would save cities and towns $175 million in the first year.

“Almost every candidate claims to favor reform, but many shun the difficult choices,” the Globe noted, adding that savings from the proposed reforms “would go a long way toward keeping cities and towns solvent in the near term.”

All of these money-saving ideas were included in an August 18 “open letter” to legislators and candidates from Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation President Michael Widmer (above, right), who said, “It is imperative that the Legislature act in 2011 to help municipalities address the unsustainable increases in the costs of health care and pensions that are leading directly to the layoffs of teachers, police, fire and other local employees.”

The so-called municipal relief bill that passed this session “fails to address either of these issues in a meaningful way,” he added.

Friday, August 27, 2010

In Case You Missed It...

The Fox 25 Morning News crew came to Senate Minority Leader Richard Tisei's hometown of Wakefield this morning for it's latest "Zip Trip" stop. Be sure to check out Senator Tisei's tour of his "Five Favorite Places in Wakefield" with morning personality VB by clicking here.

Monday, August 23, 2010

ON THE AIR: Senator Tisei Discusses Democrats' 'Conversion' with Charley Manning

Senate Minority Leader Richard R. Tisei (right) was a guest this afternoon on WRKO's Charley Manning Show.

During the half-hour segment, Tisei took phone calls and discussed today's Boston Globe story about Democratic incumbents who are facing strong Republican opposition in the fall elections and are now embracing the GOP's position on issues like taxes and public benefits for illegal immigrants to help their re-election chances. Tisei also spent some time talking about the Patrick-Murray Administration's recent branch closings and fee increases at the Registry of Motor Vehicles, where the average waiting time for consumers has jumped 40 percent since 2008.

Click here to listen to the segment in its entirety.

Friday, August 20, 2010

ON THE AIR: Senator Tisei on Fox 25 'Zip Trip'

The Fox 25 Morning News crew is heading to Wakefield -- the hometown of Senate Minority Leader Richard R. Tisei -- for a live broadcast next Friday as part of its popular "Zip Trip" series. In preparation for the visit, morning personality VB (above, left) joined Tisei for a brief tour of the senator's "five favorite places in Wakefield." The segment is set to air next Friday, so be sure to tune in to find out what made the list.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Latest Jobs Figures No Cause for Celebration

The Patrick-Murray Administration issued a press release today touting the latest jobs figures for July as a sign the state is “rebounding” from the recession. The truth, however, is that Massachusetts is barely treading water.

The statewide unemployment rate remains at 9 percent, with 312,300 residents still out of work. Some communities are experiencing even higher, double-digit numbers, with Lawrence posting a 12.4 percent unemployment rate in June (July figures for individual communities are scheduled to be released on August 24).

Just today, the State House News Service reported that “Massachusetts remains far from its jobs peak of 2001 and the state has turned to federal loans to keep unemployment checks flowing.” Although the state has added 36,600 jobs in the last year, it’s also seen a net loss of 154,000 jobs since Governor Patrick took office.

The Patrick-Murray Administration can issue all the press releases it wants, but that doesn’t hide the fact that much more needs to be done to get the Commonwealth back on track and get Massachusetts residents back to work.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Senator Tisei's Statement on NPV Signing

Senate Minority Leader Richard R. Tisei issued the following statement today regarding Governor Deval Patrick’s decision to sign legislation authorizing Massachusetts to join a multi-state compact to elect the President by national popular vote:

“With the stroke of a pen, Governor Patrick today is scrapping a system established by the Founding Fathers that has been in place for over 200 years and has worked well for generation after generation.

This is nothing more than an attempt to circumvent the Constitution, promoted by individuals who are still not over the fact that George Bush defeated Al Gore in the 2000 Presidential Election. It’s a terrible idea that will disenfranchise many voters and will give disproportionate power to those states with large population centers.

The sad part is how quickly this bill made it through the Legislature and on to the governor’s desk. If Governor Patrick and the Legislature had placed the same priority on job creation, tax relief, and other legislation that would actually help the taxpayers of the Commonwealth, rather than catering to a narrow special interest group, our state would be in much better shape.”

Monday, August 2, 2010

ON THE AIR: Tarr on 'Broadside' Tonight

Assistant Senate Minority Leader Bruce E. Tarr will be appearing as an in-studio guest on New England Cable News' "Broadside" tonight to discuss casinos with guest host Michael Graham, who is filling in for Jim Braude. The show airs live at 6 p.m. and will be re-broadcast at 8 p.m.