Winter 1997

With Senate President Tom Birmingham

Thomas Birmingham, in the regal office of the Senate President, says he feels like the proverbial kid who shows up for dessert. He gets to enjoy the delicacies–in this case his tasteful surroundings–without having labored through the main course. Sen. Birmingham has risen quickly in the Senate. He became chairman of the education committee shortly(...)

Read More »

Gun Control That Works

Gun Control That Works

About two years ago, David M. Kennedy, a researcher at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, had an idea about the youth violence that was plaguing Boston. He reasoned that the simplest way to stop kids from shooting each other was to get guns out of their hands. That meant figuring out how and why young(...)

Read More »

The Trouble with Term Limits

Term limits are a solution that cannot work, to a problem we do not have. Enacted by the voters in 1994, under prodding from the anti-government crowd, the law has yet to make much of a difference in Massachusetts politics. Indeed it will be several years into the next century before the term-limits law will(...)

Read More »

Fools on the Hill

Fools on the Hill

“The natural tendency of representative government, as of modern civilisation, is towards collective mediocrity.” – John Stuart Mill, Considerations on Representative Government Or, as a lawmaker down in Texas used to say: If there wasn’t a bunch of dadgummed fools in the Legislature, it wouldn’t be representative government, would it? It’s part of our American(...)

Read More »

Counterpoint

Congressman Barney Frank is one of our most able and progressive legislators. I usually agree with him, but this time he has it wrong–a New Bedford casino will not bring the benefits he expects. -First, extensive experience elsewhere shows us that casinos haven’t delivered on their economic promises. -Second, the issue here is not prohibiting(...)

Read More »

New Ways in Weymouth

WEYMOUTH – It is the nature of government to respond to the crisis of the moment, and last fall the crisis on the minds of town officials had to do with voting machines. W hile many other towns and cities had updated their voting systems with modern, reliable tabulators, Weymouth was still using punch-card equipment(...)

Read More »

Argument

The case in favor of a gambling casino in New Bedford run by the Wampanoag Indians is straightforward. This is a proposal to let adults do what they wish to do with the money they legally possess. And it is a proposal to do something in a part of the state–Southeastern Massachusetts–that has been hurt(...)

Read More »

Demise of the punch card

At least 30 towns in Massachusetts are making a decision similar to Weymouth’s on replacing their punch-card systems. Secretary of State William Galvin is urging towns to update their voting technology, which has intensified competition between the two leading companies in the field, Texas-based Business Records and LHS Associates, Inc., of Methuen. Weymouth clerk Franklin(...)

Read More »

The License Game

Not long ago, getting a license plate for your car was a simple matter of standing in a long line at the Registry of Motor Vehicles, and then exchanging a check for a standard, government-issue plate. With plain numbers and letters, and the Massachusetts tagline, the plates wouldn’t win any design awards–but that seemed to(...)

Read More »

Lottery Winners and Losers

You can’t buy a lottery ticket in Leverett, a tiny town about 10 miles north of Amherst, but the people there still come up winners. Leverett’s town treasury took in $115,090 in lottery-derived local aid last year. In Quincy, lottery tickets are big business–some $62 million was plunked down in the 1996 fiscal year. Quincy(...)

Read More »