Electoral process failed in Bourne

NO ONE KNEW much about Kari Macrae last May when she ran for a seat on the Bourne School Committee.

She ran unopposed, so there was no rival to question her credentials or challenge her policies. The lack of an opponent also meant the news media ignored the race. The news stories following the election barely mentioned her — she was listed in the last paragraph of a Bourne election wrapup in the Cape Cod Times and the next-to-last paragraph of a story in The Enterprise.

On May 18, the day she was elected, she posted a video on TikTok that offered some insight on why she had run for the post. 

“So pretty much the reason I ran for school board and the reason I’m taking on this responsibility is to ensure that students, at least in our town, are not being taught critical race theory,” MacRae said. “That they’re not being taught that the country was built on racism. So they’re not being taught that they can choose whether or not they want to be a girl or a boy. It’s one thing to include and it’s one thing to be inclusive. And it’s one thing to educate everybody about everything. It’s completely another thing to push your agenda. And, with me on the school board, that won’t happen in our town.”

The video went largely unnoticed. Only after Macrae landed a job as a math and business teacher at Hanover High School on August 31 did that video and others she made start gaining some attention.  

On September 22, several Bourne parents, including one who was described as a member of “a two-mom parenting unit raising a transgendered child,” shared screen grabs of Macrae’s posts with Boston.com, which reported that the Bourne Educators Association was calling for her resignation. 

On September 24, Hanover High principal Matthew Mattos met with Macrae and told her he was looking into her social media posts. Five days later he terminated her, writing in a letter that “I have determined that continuing your employment in light of your social media posts would have a significant impact on student learning at HHS.”

On November 29, Judicial Watch, a conservative foundation, filed a lawsuit against Hanover High School officials on behalf of Macrae, alleging the school district was violating her First Amendment rights.

On December 6, Macrae announced she was running for the state Senate seat of Democrat Susan Moran with the backing of the Massachusetts Republican Party. Macrae said she had no intention of resigning from the school committee if she was elected to the Senate.

“Definitely,” MacRae said in an interview with the Cape Cod Times. “My career path is done as a teacher for right now,” . It will take me a few years to work on that. But I want people to know I’m committed to the (school) board. I want people to know I’m not a racist or bigot or transphobe. I just want to be active and let people know there are things that should not be taught in the schools.”

Two days later Anne-Marie Siroonian, a former chair of the Bourne School Committee, launched an effort to recall Macrae. She said Bourne is an inclusive community and Macrae’s social media posts are “rooted in hate.” Siroonian said she would run for Macrae’s seat if the recall is successful.

No matter where you stand on Macrae’s views, it seems clear the electoral process failed in the town of Bourne. With no competition for her school committee seat and no media scrutiny of Macrae, she took office as an unknown quantity. The time to learn where a candidate stands on issues is before an election, not after.

BRUCE MOHL 

 

FROM COMMONWEALTH

Rollins confirmed: Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins was confirmed as US Attorney for Massachusetts by the Senate with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking a tie vote. Rollins will be the second woman and the first Black woman to serve in that position.

– Republicans opposed the nomination, arguing Rollins’s decision to not prosecute 15 low-level crimes made her soft on crime. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz called her a radical left-wing district attorney. Republican opposition forced the first roll call vote in the Senate on a US attorney nomination since 1975, according to Sen. Ed Markey.

– The departure of Rollins as DA means Gov. Charlie Baker, who also had qualms about Rollins’s decision to not prosecute certain crimes, will appoint a temporary replacement. Read more.

T cuts decried: Rick Dimino, the president and CEO of the business group A Better City, condemned the MBTA’s decision to pare back bus and Mattapan trolley service to less than pre-COVID levels because of a shortage of drivers. Dimino said less service was a step in the wrong direction, and urged the T to do more to attract driver recruits – or seek an exemption from the Pacheco law and bring in private bus operators to provide service. Ridership at the T, even on the bus system, remains well below pre-COVID levels. Read more.

OPINION

Make it easier: Jarred Johnson of TransitMatters says buses operating at Logan International Airport often pick up passengers away from the curb – sometimes several car lanes away – forcing passengers with baggage to navigate across traffic to board a bus. Johnson says Massport, which operates the airport, should do everything it can to make using public transit as easy as possible. Read more.

FROM AROUND THE WEB

 

BEACON HILL

Newly elected State Rep. Jamie Belsito of Topsfield is sworn in, bringing the House back to its full complement of 160 members, 130 of whom are now Democrats. (Salem News)

After declining to seek reelection, Gov. Charlie Baker says he is “just back doing my job.” (MassLive)

Advocates are urging state lawmakers to pass a comprehensive election reform bill, which would include making mail-in voting permanent and allowing Election Day voter registration. (MassLive)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS  

A fire at a metal recycling facility in Everett not far from the Encore Boston Harbor casino sent a plume of black smoke over the city. (Associated Press)

The Holyoke City Council falls to overturn an ordinance barring city employees from serving on the city council. The measure passed 8-5, but failed to gain the nine votes needed. The decision means two recently elected city councilors who work in the Holyoke schools will have to quit one of their jobs. Kevin Jourdain, the top vote-getter on the council, said everyone knew the rules before the election and they shouldn’t be changed after the fact. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)

Lynn mayor-elect Jared Nicholson says replacing the Pickering Middle School and adding additional school space are top priorities for him. (Daily Item)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Nearly 5,000 COVID cases and 700 deaths in US nursing homes could have been avoided over a two-month period last summer had more staff members been vaccinated, according to a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. (Boston Globe

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Rep. Ayanna Pressley pushes a resolution to strip Colorado Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert of her committee assignments for using “hateful, racist, and Islamophobic tropes” against Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. (GBH)

Joe Battenfeld says Republicans will use the confirmation of Rachael Rollins as US attorney against President Biden, using her appointment to charge him with being soft on crime. (Boston Herald

Malinda Harris testifies before a congressional subcommittee about how police in Berkshire County seized her car six years ago and the struggle it took to get it back. The committee is taking testimony on whether to reform the civil asset forfeiture process. (Berkshire Eagle)

ELECTIONS

The Globe endorses Boston City Councilor Lydia Edwards in next week’s special election primary for state Senate, saying she is, “by a long shot, the more experienced and compelling candidate.” Earlier this week, CommonWealth explored the Democratic Party contest between Edwards and Anthony D’Ambrosio, a member of the Revere school committee. GBH’s Adam Reilly also looked at the race

After a recount proves inconclusive in a district city council race in Framingham, a judge sets a runoff election for January 11 rather than the week between Christmas and New Year’s. (MetroWest Daily News)

The race to replace state Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz heats up, as Rep. Liz Miranda of Roxbury jumps in, joining Rep. Nika Elugardo of Jamaica Plain. (Dorchester Reporter)

Sen. Eric Lesser, a Democrat from Longmeadow, is said to be considering a run for lieutenant governor – though it looks like he’s more than considering it after former Obama White House honcho David Axelrod, for whom Lesser once worked, pops up in the Globe to help float the idea. (Boston Globe)

Former Republican state senator Dean Tran, who was accused of unethical conduct while in office and lost his seat last year, filed paperwork for a potential congressional run next year against Democratic Rep. Lori Trahan. (Boston Globe

Joy Diaz, a public radio reporter in Austin, Texas, announces a run for governor in the Democratic primary against Beto O’Rourke. (Austin American-Statesman)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Data breaches at companies across central Massachusetts raise concerns about cybersecurity. (Telegram & Gazette)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

An FBI effort to create a national database on police use of force against citizens is faltering and may be shut down because so few police and federal agencies are sending data to the FBI. (Washington Post

A Massachusetts State Police trooper is charged with domestic assault and battery for striking a family member after a disagreement at a bar. (MassLive)