President Obama makes strong case for progressive policy

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Fair Means Giving Back

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Ken Gordon | Twenty-First Middlesex Rep District

We are pleased to endorse Ken Gordon, for state rep in the 21st Middlesex District (Burlington, Bedford, Wilmington).  Ken, a labor attorney who represents individuals in discrimination and harassment cases and recently won 40% of the vote in a four-way write in primary campaign that lasted less than a month.  We were impressed with his commitment to progressive values and his open and honest stance on the issues.  We are convinced that he will be an articulate and passionate champion for economic and social justice.   Ken indicated that, if elected, his priorities would include ensuring adequate local aid to schools and financial support for the MBTA which he believes is essential to the Commonwealth’s future success.  It is also helpful to note that Ken has been and continues to be a member of Progressive Massachusetts – our first opportunity to help one of our own.

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Marilee Kenney Hunt | Eighth Plymouth Rep District

We are pleased to endorse Marilee Kenney Hunt for State Rep in the 8th Plymouth (Bridgewater, Raynham, Easton). Marilee Hunt, who served for sixteen years in the executive branch, most recently as Mitt Romney’s Executive Director, Sexual and Domestic Violence, impressed us with her enthusiasm for working on progressive policy issues and challenging an incumbent who is actually suing his own community over a real estate deal.   Marilee is very knowledgeable and focused on issues that impact women, particularly those who have been abused and require help and protection.  In addition, she has served on her Community Presentation Committee and takes her concern for our environment personally, advocating for and incorporating conservation practices in her own life.

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Kathleen Walker | Sixth Worcester Rep District

We are pleased to endorse Kathleen Walker for State Rep in the 6th Worcester (Charlton, East Brookfield, Southbridge, Spencer, Oxford).  Kathleen Walker, who has served for many years as a Selectman in Charlton, impressed us with her coalition building skills and her commitment to greater social and economic justice throughout the Commonwealth.   She is particularly concerned about bringing greater local aid to her communities to ensure that achievement disparities are addressed in the schools and workforce training is strengthened for those who are struggling financially because they are out of work.

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The Results are In

did_you_vote.gifTwo of the three candidates that Progressive Mass endorsed in the primary won last night – thanks in part to your efforts.

Mary Keefe, running for the State Rep seat in the 15th Worcester, won with 39% of the vote.   As we said in our endorsement,

“We are impressed with Mary’s vision for her community and for the Central Massachusetts Delegation as a whole, as well as her leadership and civic engagement skills in her role as a grassroots community organizer.”

Clearly that organizing background played an important role in last night’s victory.  Mary now faces Brian O’Malley who ran uncontested on the Republican side.

Aaron Vega, running for the State Rep seat in the 5th Hampden, also won his race against Michael Kane who had previously withdrawn.

“Aaron is particularly passionate around issues of poverty and its relationship to educational attainment. As a result, he will prioritize investment in municipal aid, targeting education funding in particular.”

Unfortunately, Tim Coco, lost his bid for the State Senate seat in the 1st Essex.  However, Kathleen O’Connor-Ives, the winner with 38% of the vote, also impressed our endorsement committee as a strong progressive. As the Chair of our Endorsement Committee, Reuben Kantor recently noted,

“Kathleen O’Connor-Ives impressed the committee with her commitment to progressive values, her work as a city councilor, and her passion for the issues. She is warm and easy to talk with, and has a history of working towards progressive goals.”


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Legislative Session Wrap Up – The Good, The Bad, The Maybe

The 2011-2012 Massachusetts legislative session was certainly a busy and full one, with many legislative observers noting that whether or not you agreed with the Legislature’s and Governor Patrick’s decisions, a great deal of legislation passed over the past two years.

Progressive Massachusetts is pleased that a number of progressive policies became law that will help move the state forward, and maintain Massachusetts’s reputation as a leader in innovation, expanding opportunity and assisting our fellow citizens.

Since the battle to protect gay marriage ended, advocates to expand the civil rights of the LGBT community  have focused on passing the Transgender Equal Rights Law, in order to end discrimination against transgender residents.  Through effective organizing and the persistence of progressive leaders like Representative Carl Sciortino and Senator Ben Downing, the legal discrimination against transgender people by the government was outlawed.  Although the bill was weakened to remove public accommodation protections for the transgender community, the bill is a positive step forward in expanding civil rights in Massachusetts.

Building upon the 2008 Green Communities Act, Governor Patrick and the Massachusetts Legislature updated the law, in order to require utility companies to purchase twice as much alternative energy, thus ensuring that Massachusetts continues to do its part to reduce global warming, while also lowering energy costs for consumers and, in the process, creating more green jobs.

A major concern for progressives has always been the influence of corporate power on public policy.  The negative effects of corporate power have grown even worse since the 2010 Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court decision, that allows corporations to spend unlimited money from their general treasury funds to directly influence federal, state and local elections.  Grassroots activists across the state rallied behind passing a resolution, filed by Senator Jamie Eldridge and Representative Cory Atkins, calling upon our congressional delegation to support a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United decision, and make it the law of the land that the First Amendment of the Constitution is for people, and not for corporations.  Thanks to dozens of communities passing town resolutions, the support of Boston city council, and organizing by good government groups such as Common Cause, Mass Vote, and the League of Women Voters, the resolution passed the House and the Senate just before the end of the formal legislative session on July 31st, 2012.

Finally, on the health care front, we believe some progress was made in the passing of the health care cost control legislation at the end of the legislative session.  Included in the law were provisions that created a Preventative and Wellness Health Care Trust that will provide grants to communities that may have a high incidence of diabetes, child obesity, or poor nutrition, the banning on mandatory overtime for nurses in hospitals, and making it easier for families on the border of falling into poverty to keeping their health care through MassHealth.  Furthermore, in the Senate there was an important discussion during the health care legislation debate on Massachusetts taking a hard look at the implementation universal single-payer health care.  An amendment largely reflecting the singe-payer legislation filed at the beginning the session was narrowly defeated, 22-15, indicating that, a growing percentage of the public, as well as more and more legislators are getting behind making health care a right.  Progressive Massachusetts played a key role in making phone calls and communicating with Senators on the fence their support for universal single-payer health care.

Of course, not every bill that became law moved the state forward, and in some instances we believe legislation was passed that is detrimental to the best interests of the people of Massachusetts.  Furthermore, we believe there was common-sense legislation that should have passed this session, but fell short.

One example of the latter was updating the Bottle Bill.  Despite strong public support, a coalition working hard to convince legislators of the importance and value of updating the Bottle Bill, and over half of legislators supporting the bill, corporate special interests (bottlers, grocery stores, liquor stores) and a Speaker of the House who insisted that a common-sense fee was actually a tax won the day.

Progressive Mass was active in trying to defeat another bill, the habitual offender or “three strikes” criminal justice legislation.  The bill, which would end probation for individuals who had committed any three crimes on a list created by the Legislature passed the Legislature overwhelmingly, despite the objections of civil rights and civil liberties groups, communities of color, and many faith communities.  Governor Patrick wisely sent back the bill with an amendment allowing for a “release valve” that would allow a judge, in the interest of justice, to not implement the three strikes probation provision depending on the circumstances of the particular case or defendant.  Sadly, the Legislature overrode Governor Patrick’s amendment.  We appreciate the votes and efforts by some progressive legislators to oppose this legislation that will add tens of millions of dollars to the state budget while doing very little to improve public safety, and hope that next session a major sentencing reform can be passed.

Looking back at the 2011-2012 session, it is clear that a vigorous, diverse statewide progressive grassroots movement can have an impact on what happens up on Beacon Hill.  We were successful in persuading the Legislature to pass the Citizen’s United resolution, pass a comprehensive health care cost control bill with progressive provisions, and keeping. Massachusetts at the forefront in the nation for embracing alternative energy.  However, more work needs to be done to transform the efforts of those concerned with the environment into legislation, making the voices and concerns of communities of color heard in the halls of the State House, and ensuring that every single legislator is hearing from progressive, forward-thinking constituents of theirs.

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Elect More Progressives – Support Tim Coco and Mary Keefe

Massachusetts needs you.

We have the opportunity to elect two true progressives to the State House.  Tim Coco for State Senate in the First Essex and Mary Keefe for State Rep in the 15th Worcester both of whom have been endorsed by the members of Progressive Massachusetts.

Imagine if we had more progressives in the State House.  Maybe Massachusetts would be the first state to have a single payer health care option.  Maybe we would have Election Day Registration.  Or maybe something even more ambitious – rules reform where the power of our Legislature isn’t concentrated in the hands of a few.

This is the kind of change that Tim Coco and Mary Keefe want to make happen.  AND THEY NEED YOUR HELP

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What is Progressive Mass?

Progressive Mass was founded on the following principles:

Progressive Massachusetts is a statewide, diverse grassroots organization. We organize around progressive issues in Massachusetts, help elect and support progressive candidates for public office who are committed to making a difference on these issues, and hold elected officials accountable to progressive positions and values. Progressive Mass welcomes all Progressives regardless of political affiliation. We will work to further progressive values through issue organizing, electoral organizing, and organization-building and education.

As Progressive Mass evolves, we will further develop our mission with the input of our members, who will be actively involved in building Progressive Mass through a democratic process.

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Tim Coco | First Essex Senate District

Progressive Massachusetts is pleased to endorse Tim Coco for State Senate in the First Essex District. We are impressed with his well-articulated, impassioned and thoughtful approach to economic and social equality. Tim has already put his progressive values into action, organizing his fellow employees into a union in a previous job and fighting for LGBT rights. We know he will be a strong advocate for progressive values in the Senate. Contribute to Tim Coco.

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