Winter 1999

Winter 1999

The Harshbarger Administration Well Never Know

“We’ll see if he’s going loony left.” – House Speaker Thomas Finneran, Sept. 16, 1998, when asked if he would be endorsing Attorney General Scott Harshbarger, the Democratic candidate for governor. Nov. 3, 1998: Scott Harshbarger is elected governor. Places congratulatory call to newly elected governor of Minnesota, Jesse Ventura, the Reform Party candidate and(...)

Read More »

Civic Culture and Good Government

Massachusetts is a state high in civic participation and government performance, according to a measure devised by two academic researchers. Tom W. Rice of Iowa State University and Alexander F. Sumberg of the University of Vermont have come up with a “civic culture index” that ranks Massachusetts as the second most civic state in the(...)

Read More »

Will Massachusetts Have Clean Elections

Events of 1998 proved that Massachusetts voters do not agree with their elected officials on the role of money in politics. A proposed “Clean Elections” law calling for public financing of candidates was rejected last year by the Legislature. House Speaker Thomas Finneran said it would be a “frivolous” use of taxpayer money to fund(...)

Read More »

Articles of Faith

Faith and politics mix in fascinating and sometimes fruitful ways. People of religious faith can bring moral uplift into the sometimes tawdry world of politics, and people of political faith can bring passion and conviction to social causes. But there is something about politics that is on guard against the ways of faith. It’s not(...)

Read More »

Education, Religion, and Prayer

Reverend Eugene Rivers and writer Wendy Kaminer cross swords over the separation of church and state, the plight of public schools, and the power of prayer

There are many quiet, noncontroversial, apolitical members of the clergy in Massachusetts–but the Rev. Eugene Rivers is not one of them. As one of the founders of Boston’s Ten Point Coalition, Rivers has been on the forefront of the battle to stop gang violence and delinquency in the city, a cause that has won him(...)

Read More »

The Chaplain is in the House

It’s one of those little-discussed State House mysteries: Why does the House of Representatives have a chaplain who starts each day’s session with a prayer, while the Senate has no regular cleric and rarely prays together? Are representatives more spiritual than their senatorial counterparts? Or does the House simply require more divine inspiration–or intervention–than the(...)

Read More »

The AntiAid Amendment

Every time the debate over public financing of private and religious schools heats up in Massachusetts, we hear the same legal arguments from each side of the debate: Funding advocates claim the state’s ban on government aid to private and parochial schools was motivated by 19th-century anti-Catholic bigotry and has no place in contemporary law.(...)

Read More »

School Vouchers

School voucher programs, which give government checks to parents to send their children to private or religious schools, are currently operating in just two communities nationwide–Milwaukee and Cleveland. While the Milwaukee program has survived challenges all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Cleveland effort is still under review by the Ohio Supreme(...)

Read More »

Democrats and Republicansthe Long View

When he took office in January, Gov. Paul Cellucci promised to make up for what some consider the single biggest failing of the Weld-Cellucci administration. He vowed to rebuild the Massachusetts Republican Party, which has languished under years of executive neglect. A look back at the last half-century of voter registration records shows just how(...)

Read More »

Catholics in the Legislature

Protestants may have ruled in colonial Massachusetts, but there’s little doubt who’s in charge on Beacon Hill today: Catholics. Massachusetts is one of the most Catholic states in the country, with about half the population considered adherents. (By contrast, only about one-fourth of the U.S. population is Catholic.) By some measures, Massachusetts has the second(...)

Read More »