The Massachusetts Republican Caucuses have held their series of Tech Tax Roundtables and have been getting very good press coverage. Here's a roundup.
Mike Ryan, who declined to name the company for which he works, said software and technology companies could relocate because the tax is hurting their businesses.
Start-up companies may look elsewhere, he said.
"If this keeps going on there are going to be no tech jobs in this state," said Ryan. "This was poorly thought out."
Officials from the Corridor Nine, Marlborough Regional and Blackstone Valley Chambers of Commerce also spoke out against the tax, saying it will hamper the success of software and information technology companies.
In the days after the measure passed, members of the three chambers told local legislators that are unhappy with the tax.
"You're putting our businesses at a disservice," said Jeannie Hebert, president of the Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce.-Metro West Daily News
Ebon Elza, owner of EE Networks, was in the process of updating his small company's sales and use tax on July 30 when his bookkeeper - his wife - happened to notice a news bulletin on the state Department of Revenue's website about a new computer services tax.
She clicked on the link, and Mr. Elza started to scramble.
"I found out on July 30 that I was supposed to start collecting taxes on July 31," Mr. Elza said. "This was the first I had ever heard of it. It just came out of left field.
"It's like driving down the Mass Pike and all of a sudden the speed limit goes from 65 mph to 45 mph and no one tells you, until you get pulled over and get a speeding ticket," Mr. Elza said. -Worcester Telegram
Attorney Scott W. Foster has heard from six computer software businesses interested in joining a lawsuit to block the Massachusetts technology tax.
Scott Foster 2012.jpgScott W. Foster
The tax, an extension of the states' 6.25 percent sales tax to cover most software purchases is too vague to survive a court challenge, Foster says, with most software vendors unable to figure out exactly what they should tax and what they should not. The state ordered businesses to start collecting July 1, but the rules and guidelines won't be out until October.
"They need to collect a tax and they don't know what they will be collecting it on," Foster, partner at the law firm Bulkley, Richardson and Gelinas in Springfield, said.
Foster said a new as-yet-unnamed business group is forming to put fort the suit has not yet been filed. - MassLive.com
Tim Murray personally responsible for $10,000 of $80,000 fines
Tim Murray and Attorney General Martha Coakley have come to an agreement on the fines Tim Murray owes due to his accepting contributions raised by a public employee. The Boston Globe has the story.
As part of his settlement with the attorney general, Murray's political committee must pay a $20,000 fine. By Aug. 15, Murray's campaign account contained more than $227,000. Murray must also personally pay a $10,000 fine. Additionally, Murray must dissolve his political committee and have no involvement with a political fund-raising committee for two years, Coakley's office said.
Murray's agreement with the chamber of commerce already prohibits him from campaign involvement.
The second public official, Plante, solicited donations from DOT employees for his son, who was a Murray fund-raiser, according to the agreement. Plante, who makes about $88,000 per year, solicited donations from DOT employees and others for three Murray fund-raisers in Worcester in 2008, 2009 and 2010, the agreement said.
So Murray's fine is really $10,000 not the $80,000 in the headlines. In contrast Tim Cahill was personally responsible for the full $100K of his fine.
I went "paperless" on all my bills a long time ago. So, like Patrick Administration, I do not receive itemized cell phone bills.
But if I find myself needing to check out the particulars on my usage for any given month, day or hour - dating back to day 1 of my Verizon Wireless contract - all the specific info I could ever want is but a few mouse clicks away. Amazing, these internets.
For one reason or another, when they came into office the Patrick Administration decided to stop receiving itemized cell phone records for the dozens of Executive Office staffers who use state-issued smart phones. Why? "Efficiency." Here's a blurb from the State House News:
In letters responding to requests for information from the Boston Globe and Boston Herald, state Public Records Division Assistant Director Shawn Williams said that during a phone conversation last month Abim Thomas, deputy chief counsel in Gov. Deval Patrick's office, told him that the executive department does not receive detailed cell phone invoices, but does receive summarized invoices.
"Attorney Thomas explained that the Department formerly obtained detailed invoices, but changed this practice at the beginning of the Patrick Administration in January 2007," Williams wrote in a letter dated Thursday. "The Department now receives summary invoices that indicate usage information for each respective period, by user, but provide no detail as to incoming or outgoing calls."
Asked what spurred the 2007 change, Kimberly Haberlin, Gov. Patrick's press secretary, said in an email to the News Service, "Nearly fifty members of the Executive Office staff use a blackberry for work. Changing to summary invoices streamlined our billing process and helped achieve administrative efficiencies."
It is hard to argue with the Administration's reasoning. God knows, particularly when paying bills with taxpayer money nothing gets in the way of "efficiencies" quite like "details" and "information." Such things quite often result in other efficiency-busters, like "questions" or even "criticism." Best to just pay the bills and take it on faith that EO employees and electeds aren't using their state-issued phones to - oh, I don't know - talk to political operatives or make fundraising calls. If ignorance is bliss, intentional ignorance is ecstasy.
It is obvious that if the Administration (oft self-described as the most transparent in history) wished to reveal the particulars of LG Murray's cell phone usage, it could easily obtain the information... READ THE REST at CriticalMASS
Another unreported fact in the whole Tim Murray, Mike McLaughlin, John Zimini affair is that for a long period of time after getting his new job at MassHousing, Zimini was very secretive with his constituents in Dracut. As the Boston Globe has reported a few years ago Tim Murray, at Mike McLaughlin's request got his friend John Zimini a job at MassHousing. This came after Suzanne Bump fired Zimini, allegedly for cause.
It couldn't be held forever. Everyone knew that Selectmen John Zimini had found a job a while back, after being out of work for a while.
What was interesting, and created the interest, was his not willing to tell anyone where he was working.
Eventually, it would have had to come out. The people have the right to know whether votes have some sort of conflict of interest.
I never really put much effort into figuring it out.
After the last Board of Selectmen's meeting, Zimini was heard discussing this with the local Sun reporter, once again preferring to withhold the information for now. "People in this town would are always looking for conspiracy and connections," he was saying.
That last quote is the most interesting. In October of 2009, John Zimini said that people in Dracut were always looking for "conspiracy and connections" well in 2012 it looks like we've found some. It seems apparent that Zimini even back in 2009 was trying to protect the Lieutenant Governor from a scandal.
Too bad it didn't come out before the 2010 election. Mr. Zimini, if you weren't trying to hide the fact that Tim Murray got you a job, what were you trying to hide in 2009?
It got me thinking of the amount of money that goes into Murray's coffers from politicos in Dracut, especially Selectman John Zimini. It's no secret that Zimini was out of work until last year (or was it earlier this year, I can't remember) when he landed a state job. Since July 1, 2009, Zimini has donated $500 to Murray, Zimini's wife has donated $650, and Zimini's daughter has donated $500. That's $1,650 in over a year from one family (and most of it was at one fundraiser in June). Since 2007, the Zimini family (and the committee to elect John Zimini) has donated a total of $2,775 to Murray.
Looking back at records from the Office of Campaign and Political Finance the contention of this blogger seems to be true. No occupation was listed on Zimini's donations in 2007, 2008, or 2009 when he gave over the $200 reporting threshold in those years. Even though he worked for Suzanne Bump in the Executive Office of Workforce Development as an investigator at that time. In June of 2010 he finally listed an occupation, that of "Investigator with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on a donation. 2010 was coincidentally the year that three members of the Zimini family, John, His Wife Kristin, and his daughter Alyssa gave $500 each to the Tim Murray Campaign on June 29, 2010.
Click on image to zoom in.
By August of 2010 it was reported on DracutForum.net) that Zimini was working for Mass Housing.
John Zimini has been careful to recuse himself since it became public knowledge that he works for Mass Housing. Thats good to hear. And it will probably help him some in his election in the spring, because the Louisburg Square issue will follow him there.
So it seems that the timing on Zimini getting the job with MassHousing coincides with his family giving the Murray re-election campaign $1,500 in June of 2010. This is more money than he or his family had previously given to the Lieutenant Governor. It represents over 50% of the total money given to Murray by the Zimini family.
This hardly seems coincidental. I have been, as yet, unable to find the exact dates of the firing by Suzanne Bump and the Hiring at MassHousing. I will be filing public records requests for both of those dates tomorrow.
The Lowell Sun published a lengthy expose on Tim Murray's phone pal Mike McLaughin in today's paper. It shows a man who exerted a great deal of power behind the scenes in his hometown of Dracut. A man who didn't take no for an answer. It also reiterates that he used Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray to accomplish his designs. From the article:
B ond was appointed to
the authority by Gov. Deval Patrick on July 26 for a four-year term. Each of the roughly 200 housing authorities in
the state have boards of commissioners, with one member appointed by the governor. While those appointments officially fall to Patrick, Lt. Gov. Tim Murray plays a key role in maintaining the administration's relationship with the housing authorities across the state.
Murray and McLaughlin called each other at least 121 times in 2011, a relationship widely documented.
On the day before Bond's appointment, McLaughlin called Murray in the morning. Murray returned the call 13 minutes later. The call lasted 13 minutes.
McLaughlin and Martin exchanged four calls on the day of the appointment. Each call lasted three minutes or less.
The article goes on to further outline Murray's role in finding a job for McLaughlin ally John Zimini, after Suzanne Bump fired him for alleged incompetence. As this story goes further along it shows a Lieutenant Governor that had no reservations helping his allies by using his position. Either that, or he's comfortable being someone's patsy.
Before Tim Murray's phone tag buddy Mike McLaughlin became a household name for his $360K housing authority salary, he was at the center of a town scandal in Dracut. A scandal that involves Deval Patrick's appointment of an alleged McLaughlin ally to the Dracut Housing Authority. Colleen Garry is seen as a central player on McLaughlin's side in the controversy surrounding the appointment of Brian Bond. The Globe's Glen Johnson reported in November.
Low-income residents in the Merrimack Valley town accused the authority's board of directors of ambushing the popular Karabatsos, after they abruptly voted in late August to seek new applicants for her job as executive director.
They were especially galled that one member, Brian Bond, joined in the vote, even though he was at his first meeting after a last-minute appointment by Governor Deval Patrick.
The seniors feared the fix was in for some politically connected applicant. And they suspected the strings were being pulled by McLaughlin, a longtime area politico who, at the time, was serving as executive director of the Chelsea Housing Authority.
When the Globe ultimately asked Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray - Patrick's liaison to such boards - whether McLaughlin had spoken to him about getting Bond appointed in Dracut, Murray stammered.
The controversy has fueled a challenge for Garry according to the Lowell Sun
Since first being elected nearly two decades ago, Garry has had a pretty easy time of it every two years, like many other reps from the Greater Lowell area.
This time around, however, she is seen as politically vulnerable on a number of fronts, including her relationship to Mike McLaughlin, the disgraced pol and former head of the Chelsea Housing Authority.
The other matter that has landed Garry in hot water was her support for Brian Bond as the governor-appointed commissioner to the Dracut Housing Authority.
With absolute no history, one of Bond's first votes was to side with commissioners Ken Martin and Ken Cunha in not renewing Executive Director Mary Karabatsos' contract.
McLaughlin, who still lives in Dracut, was said to have engineered the entire fiasco, a charge he denied.
According to OCPF records, Garry has received $800 in donations from McLaughlin since 2002, including $400 in October of 2010. In November of 2012, Coleen Garry may be one of the first casualties of McLaughlin's activities.
I was on Broadside with Jim Braude last night for two segments. The first was talking about the presidential primary. The second followed Sean Murphy of the Boston Globe's explanation of his investigation. I made one point that is being lost by those that say Tim Murray did nothing wrong, that this is all McLaughlin's fault. The point is, Mike McLaughlin didn't make his own picks to housing authorities across the state. Deval Patrick made those picks, under the advice of Tim Murray at McLaughlin's request. That is the quo, in the alleged quid pro quo. It will be the most damning part for Murray, and possibly Patrick.
The largest unanswered question from yesterday's Globe bombshell regarding Tim Murray and Mike McGlaughlin is, what did Deval Patrick know, and when did he know it? The paper outlined a five plus year relationship between McLaughlin and Murray. Including instances where McLaughlin raised money illegally for Patrick and Murray.
The part of the story, which perplexed most people I talked to yesterday was the use of public resources to bring Chelsea housing residents to a Deval Patrick rally in the closing days of the 2006 election. I find it hard to believe that Patrick missed buses with Chelsea Housing Authority on them at a rally in Everett.
The question the press should be asking of Patrick is what he knew and when he knew it.
Been hearing rumors for a while that multiple Globe reporters were still chasing the Tim Murray/Mike McLaughlin/Late Night Car Crash Story. This morning, the other shoe drops hard. Here is the worst of it:
To hear Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray tell it, former Chelsea housing chief Michael E. McLaughlin was just a campaign volunteer. Though phone records show that the two men called each other 193 times over the past two years - including one call on a Sunday at 1:30 a.m. - Murray aides insist that McLaughlin played no special role.
But a Globe investigation shows that the former Chelsea housing chief ran an extensive political operation for the lieutenant governor right up until McLaughlin resigned in November amid an uproar over his $360,000 salary. The FBI is investigating whether McLaughlin broke federal laws, questioning housing authority employees about McLaughlin's political activities and management of the agency.
More than two dozen politicians, housing authority employees, and Murray campaign workers say that McLaughlin was a key fund-raiser and organizer for the lieutenant governor even though, as a federally funded employee, McLaughlin was barred from most political activity, especially at work.
Housing authority employees portray a workplace that McLaughlin had turned into a political machine, inappropriately pressuring workers to give time or money to Murray's campaign and others'.
So in other words it is Jack O'Brien part deux, FBI investigation and all.
In a related note, boston.com is reporting that the Lt. Gov has hired a PR flack for the purpose of handling Nov 2 related inquiries.
Part of the story is here:
Still under fire for his unusual Nov. 2 car crash, Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray has asked his longtime political adviser to take on a more formal paid role in responding to the wave of media questions that have overwhelmed his staff in recent days.
Scott M. Ferson, a former spokesman for Senator Edward M. Kennedy and president of the Liberty Square Group, said he has advised Murray regularly and informally on media relations and political strategy since he first ran for lieutenant governor six years ago.
"From time-to-time, he needs more of my time and he'll pay me and this is one of those times," Ferson said. "I'm just helping him out more formally."
Ferson's more formal position is another indication of Murray's increasing concern that the 5:30 a.m. high speed car crash could endanger his political future.
When the Globe calls the accident "unusual," you know you have a problem.
And still unexplained is Murray's reluctance to hand over cell phone records. Records that the second most powerful pol in the Commonwealth could get with a phone call. Where are those "good government/transparency" folks over at BMG when you need them?
As a friend quipped recently, it looks like Lt. Governor Murray somehow found his way onto President Obama's top-secret elimination list and was nailed by a predator drone as his Crown Vic sped down I-190 in the wee hours of November 2. Whatever the political fallout of the ongoing scandlet, Murray has to count himself among the luckiest sons of a gun currently walking the earth. He wasn't wearing a seat belt. He drove into a stone ledge at ninety-two miles per hour. One of those photos shows a single air bag deployed from the steering wheel. And he walked away, for all intents and purposes utterly unscathed.
I know what my daughter's first car is going to be - just put a reminder in my calendar to start watching for a police surplus auction in 2024.
Seems to me that a coverup is unnecessary if all he was doing is speeding. You don't bring this many bad news cycles down on yourself to hide the fact that you were driving a little too fast. He's hiding something more significant.
So what is it? He jumped on that breathalyzer test, but never took a urinalysis. I think some substance other than alcohol was involved. He crashed his car while inspecting storm damage before dawn. So either he was hallucinating or telling a really stupid lie, either of which would support a drug use theory.
Secure Communities / Matthew Denice? He "wishes he'd known" he was going to be asked about that, because he's forgotten some of the details. Here is a refresher on those details, which are are horrible/horrifying today as the day they were first reported.
Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray emerged this morning from wherever he's been hiding for the past six weeks or so to address the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce at one of that group's periodic Government Affairs breakfasts. The unstated theme of his speech: "The Opposite of Leadership."
The stated subject was "transportation infrastructure" - which is, by the way, "the enabling system of our economy." I know this because the LG said so three times in the first thirty seconds. He began with an exhortation to the audience to raise our hands if we "drove to work today." Or "took the T." Or the commuter rail. Or a commuter ferry. Having thereby established beyond all possible challenge that yes, most people in the room require transportation of one variety of another to move themselves across non-walkable distances, the Lieutenant Governor was off and running.
It is obligatory at these things for an office-holding keynote speaker to announce at least one major new spending initiative - kind of the government equivalent of those swag bags the celebrities all get at the Oscars. So Murray "announced" $50M in "infrastructure investment" at Boston's Fan Pier. (Deep in the bowels of City Hall, some Menino acolyte makes a slight downward adjustment to the declining balance sheet established on November 2, 2010). Like all good government "investments" of the Patrick/Obama era, this one is fully expected to "pay for itself." And who knows? Maybe it will. On thing is for sure: it will "create or maintain" some jobs. "Create or maintain" is the new "create or save," in case you didn't get the memo.
Deval Patrick, our traveling governor, was on the road again yesterday, this time not to sell his book or raise money for his PAC, but to stump for President Obama in New Hampshire.
No matter that State Street had just announced that it was cutting more than 500 jobs in Massachusetts, the Globe reports that "most of Patrick's remarks, which drew cheers, laughs, and one standing ovation from the crowd of about 200, focused on creating jobs." I'm assuming the laughs weren't at the absurdity of the governor of a state with 7.6% unemployment lecturing a state with 4.9% unemployment about jobs.
Over the weekend news broke that Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua (who used to be State Rep. William Lantigua... and for a time was Mayor AND State Rep. William Lantigua) and other members of his administration are, as the Eagle-Trib puts it, "the focus of a 'multi-jurisdictional investigation' focused on allegations of corruption involving narcotics, weapons, bid rigging, suspicious out-of-country travel and more."
"Multi-jurisdictional" in this case means local, state, and federal by the way. Not bad for a guy who has only been in office a little over a year.
Anyhoo, given the extensive political ties between Governor Patrick and Mayor Lantigua (Patrick campaigned for Lantigua, appeared personally at his swearing in, and more recently has defended a $35M state bailout of Lawrence) it is only natural that the Governor is now being asked to comment on Lantigua's current difficulties. His response is unsurprising.
Observing the Patrick Administration lately I cannot help but return to an observation I made back in June of last year: "A vote for inspiring Candidate Patrick gets you... four more years of feckless Governor Patrick."
With all of their flailing and thrashing about on everything from the probation and parole scandals that broke almost immediately in the wake of the 2010 election, to the more recent Fidelity job losses and Big Dig ceiling fiasco reprise, a political observer in the Commonwealth begins to feel like he's watching a never-ending loop of the infamous Elaine Dance.
The most recent Administration spasm came today, from our newly repatriated Governor, who told reporters at the State House that although the recent Fidelity decision to ship over a thousand jobs out of state may be "a done deal" from "Fidelity's perspective," he wants to meet with Company executives so that they can "say that to my face."
Excellent. And if that doesn't work, the Governor can challenge them to meet him behind the back-stop after school. That'll learn 'em.
Earlier this month Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray attacked Charlie Baker for a false and misleading ad. One of the central points that Murray tries to make is that Charlie is lying about the pain government employees have suffered in this downturn.
"The truth is that Governor Patrick and I have eliminated more than 2,700 positions in state government, instituted furloughs for all 5,000 managers, and negotiated major concessions from public employee unions. We understand that state government, much like families across the Commonwealth, has to do more with less in these tough times. Charlie Baker knows this and he has again failed to tell the truth in his TV ad."
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Patrick and Murray have added a net of 7K jobs to State government since they took office.
IT WAS the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness....
Mitt Romney stepped in to a fiscal mess in January of 2003........By the time Romney left in 2007, Massachusetts had a $2B surplus. The taxes and fee ratio actually increased during this time but was kept under the national average (9.8% to 10.3%). A point to note, Romney vetoed 250 items in the 2007 budget that were overturned by the liberal Democrat legislature.
In 2007, Governor Patrick had promised the residents of the Southcoast of Massachusetts (Fall River to Wareham including New Bedford) an extended MBTA commuter rail...by 2016.
As of August 23, 2010 nobody in the Patrick Administration has been able to say where a penny of the funding will come from. They point to evidence of the $100M CXS rail purchased earlier this year but that purchase is helping Lt. Governor Murray's hometown of Worcester and is for freight even if commuter rail isn't used for the southcoast. As a matter of fact, the Lt. governor came on my show on Wednesday August 18th and said that, besides hoping on the heavily competed for Tiger grants, they were counting on American Economic Recovery Plan of 2009, aka the $862B "Stimulus".
Inadvertently, Murray confessed on live WBSM 1420 AM radio that the best chance that Governor Patrick has to keep his promise of Southcoast rail is with money that was not even born when he made the promise!
Perhaps if Patrick hadn't blown most of the Massachusetts 'cut' of the stimulus on operating costs, we'd have more for real ecnomic boost. Let's not forget the state college tuition fee hike of $1,500 that was so unpopular that Patrick used the stimulus to pay for his own induced student's fee increase!
(Team Cahill has informed me that they just deposited another $65,807 today for last month. That Brings their total up. However Baker and Tisei have still outraised all other candidates combined. - promoted by Rob "EaBo Clipper" Eno)
The ticket of Charlie Baker and Richard Tisei raised $733,869 in the month of March according to the Office of Campaign and Political finance deposit reports as of last night. This figure includes approximately $592K raised by Charlie Baker and approximately $141K raised by Richard Tisei. With this total they have outraised all of the other declared candidates for governor and lieutenant governor combined.
The dynamic supposedly conservative duo of Tim Cahill and Paul Loscocco raised a combined total of $80,054. $75,631 of that total came from Tim Cahill's fundraising while Loscocco raised the balance. The $80,054 is less than the down ballot treasurer candidate Karyn Polito raised in March.
The Democratic team of Deval Patrick and Tim Murray raised a combined total of $444,177.61. The Patrick Committee raised $308K of that amount with Tim Murray raising the balance.
The Christy Mihos campaign raised $8,281, which does not include a deposit report for March 31, 2010 in which Mihos needed to deposit his convention fee. Expect that number to rise. Grace Ross has not filed deposit reports yet this month but her bank report shows $4,880 in deposits for the first half of the month. Dr. Jill Stein also has not filed deposit reports but her bank report for the first 15 days shows a total raised of $14,281 raised.