All’s fair in love and redistricting

The main takeaway from Tuesday’s Special Joint Committee on Redistricting  announce-a-palooza was the explosion of new majority-minority voting districts, 10 for the House map, bringing the total to 20, and a new Senate district for Springfield, for a total of 3 majority-minority districts on the Senate map.

Four of the House districts have Latino majorities, including an “incumbent-free” district in Lawrence. The proposed district maps are here.

With the ghost of the 2000 redistricting debacle  that ended up in federal court and brought down former House Speaker Thomas Finneran flitting about, committee chairmen Sen. Stanley Rosenberg, an Amherst Democrat, and Rep. Michael Moran, a Boston Democrat, took every opportunity to proclaim that the “fingerprints” of Bay State citizens were on the maps.

Cynics may guffaw at Moran’s assertion that “openness and transparency has added to the value of these maps.” But a Boston Herald editorial calls redistricting a thankless task, and praises the work of Moran and Rosenberg. To their credit, the committee conducted an extended listening tour instead of slinking off behind closed doors which has become the norm on Beacon Hill. There were 13 public hearings compared to the five dog-and-pony shows held 10 years ago. More than 400 groups and individuals testified.

The map “reflects the positive intent of this committee to do the right thing” said Rosenberg, who made a point of invoking the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Most voters, 92 percent to be exact, would remain in their current districts. Rosenberg also took a dig at Rep. Thomas Petrolati, a Ludlow Democrat, who chaired the House Redistricting Committee the last time around. Rosenberg said that he felt “significantly closer to the House chair than 10 years ago.”

Both Moran and Rosenberg also emphasized that the committee decided to add the state’s first- ever public comment period. The committee plans to accept input on the maps before members vote on the final outlines. Legislative debate is scheduled for the week of October 31 when members can propose amendments.

The process wasn’t free of politicking. According to a State House News Service report (subscription required), Reps. Paul Mark, a Hancock Democrat, and Paul Adams, an Andover Republican, plan to move into newly created incumbent-free districts instead of staying put and running against their House colleagues. The Eagle-Tribune reports on Adams’s plans and in an editorial says it isn’t surprised that the Democratic-controlled Legislature would arrange it so Adams and another Republican freshman would face off against each other.

Rep. Brian Ashe, a Longmeadow Democrat, hinted that his newly Republican-oriented district was payback for his vote against casino legislation. He told the Springfield Republican that the House leaders never contacted him about the changes.

New Bedford gains a fifth seat in the House under the new redistricting map, but the Standard Times points out that the districts of several senior Democratic lawmakers went untouched, while those of some freshman and Republicans in the region were considerably gerrymandered.

Not everyone was on board with the efforts to create majority-minority districts. Latino activists weren’t pleased that Chelsea did not get a majority-minority district and some African American activists want to see one of the Boston districts redrawn to create a black majority.

                                                                                                                                                        –GABRIELLE GURLEY


Joseph Lally, the star government witness in the corruption trial of former House Speaker Sal DiMasi, faces sentencing today. Lally’s lawyers have asked for a 1-year sentence.

State Rep. Bruce Ayers of Quincy, where anyone under the age of 18 is required to have parental permission to have a body piercing or tattoo, is pushing his bill to make that a statewide regulation.

The Salem News reports on a packed State House hearing focused on legislation dealing with the Feoffees, the name for trustees of the Little Neck peninsula in Ipswich.

Massachusetts drivers are being warned to stop for school buses.

South Boston politicians are turning out in a big way for indicted former Rep. Brian Wallace. Jack Hart, Nick Collins, Jack Hart, Bill Linehan, Ray Flynn, and Steve Lynch have all put their names on a fundraising invitation for Wallace, who was recently indicted for campaign finance violations.


The state has threatened to decertify Freetown’s libraries because the $109,000 budget was $1,860 short of the state’s formula despite an increase in funding for the third year in a row.

Harrisburg, the Pennsylvania state capital, is teetering between filing for bankruptcy and allowing the state to take control of its finances, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.


WBUR’s On Point interviews William Black, a law school professor and former financial regulator who says the federal government should aggressively prosecute Wall Street officials responsible for the nation’s real estate collapse. In CommonWealth, Suffolk University’s Nir Eisikovits says the Occupy movement is neither inarticulate nor incoherent. Boston’s occupiers fail to connect with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who was across the street from Dewey Square yesterday for a speech.

New York magazine profiles the downbeat generation driving the Occupy movement, and doesn’t find cause for hope in the movement’s future. “It’s hard to build a potent counterculture,” the magazine writes, “when some of the people it’s meant to appeal to are just hoping for the chance to put on a tie and report to their cubes.”


Four months after announcing he would retire, former Massachusetts congressman Bill Delahunt moved his campaign office into a building owned by a family trust that benefits his daughters and ex-wife, the Globe reports. The lobbying firm Delahunt set up after leaving Congress now rents the space.


Mitt Romney took a beating but kept on ticking, according to at least one of the National Review’s commentariat. Associated Press (via US News & World Report) says Herman Cain learns front-runner status comes complete with a bull’s eye jacket. The Weekly Standard says Romneycare was the hot topic and its author may have been stretching the truth on his previous statements of whether it’s good for the country. Rick Perry re-introduces the country to Romney’s Guatemalan landscapers. Time’s minute-by-minute analysis of the Republican debate is pretty hilarious. More reaction from the punditocracy here and here.

Here’s what Cain’s 9-9-9 tax plan looks like.

Republicans hope to make Elizabeth Warren’s fiery rhetoric a serious liability.

The early award for greatest political merchandise of the 2012 election cycle goes to the Obama campaign, which is selling coffee mugs emblazoned with the president’s long-form birth certificate for the low, low price of $20.


The state Supreme Judicial Court cast doubt on the legitimacy of the sale of hundreds, if not thousands, of foreclosed properties by ruling that buyers may not have clear title to the houses if the foreclosing lenders didn’t follow all proper procedures in seizing the property, the Globe reports.

Josh Ozersky, in Time, says the bankruptcy filing of Friendly’s and other fast-food chains is another sign of a failing middle class.

WBUR’s Radio Boston discusses a new study from a team at Boston University suggesting Groupon is not good for business.

Jon Huntsman, who is still a candidate for president, pens a Wall Street Journal op-ed column calling for the downsizing of banks, and the repeal of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Banks are doing a decent job of downsizing themselves, though: Bank of America has shrunk enough to cede the title of the country’s largest bank to JP Morgan Chase, while Goldman Sachs just booked a quarterly loss for the first time in more than a decade.


Enrollment in the state’s public colleges and universities reaches an all-time high, WBUR reports (via AP).


Paul Levy says the drive towards global payments is “the big lie” in curing health care costs and takes the New York Times to task for buying into the spin.

WBUR’s Sacha Pfeiffer reports that scientists can now predict with reasonable certainty who will get Alzheimer’s, leaving people with the difficult decision of whether to be tested for a disease with no cure.

An experimental vaccine appears to cut the risk of malaria transmission in children in half.


Big Dig officials are trying to determine the size of the sinkhole under the tunnel.


Clean energy employs 64,310 in Massachusetts, according to an unusual state-funded study.


Brockton police are investigating the conduct of two constables, witnessed by a city councilor, who allegedly drew a gun at an elementary school while serving a civil warrant on a man who is delinquent on his child support.


No more free-riders on

The New York Times looks at the latest palace intrigue in the House of Murdoch.