Voting for our Better (S)Elves

I amar prestar aen, han mathon ne nen, han mathon ne chae a han noston ned ‘wilith.

Fun fact: she’s also from an island that was racked by unexpected change.

For the four or five of you non-ubernerds we need to translate this for, above is the opening voiceover in Elvish (Sindiran) from the first Lord of the Rings film. It’s spoken by the Elvish Queen Galadriel, and it translates thusly:

“The world is changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air.”

We feel ya, Lady of the Golden Wood. We’re all feeling it these days, since everything seems sort of…how to put it..out of control? Or, in Clamspeak, “Awash with flying shitmonkeys”? Responding to change is never easy. For instance we’re avoiding upgrading to the Google Pixel from our old Samsung because simply the addition of a new charger cable into the mix will cast our life and work into an abyss abject chaos. But beyond just evolving electronics, absolutely nothing seems recognizable right now, not our government, not our economy, not the ways we work, communicate, learn, treat the sick or care for the vulnerable. Every day feels like waking up in a freshly off-kilter world, with a new set of rules and potential outcomes.

But, friends, as uncomfortable as they are (and they really are), times of change are times of opportunity. Change is when you get to rewrite rules, take stands, redefine and reestablish. Think about all the instances you’ve ever moved, started a new relationship (or ended an old one), changed jobs or got a really awesome haircut. You’re like a new person. That’s where we are today in our world, in our country and, despite best efforts, Gloucester.

So now is the time to choose the Gloucester we want for the future. The City Council Vote for the Tuesday, November 7 election is the first official voice we’ve had since everything left the fucking rails last Fall. Let us begin here.  

Pro tip: red carpet hides both blood and ceremonial wine stains

We at Clam Global headquarters, in our secret lair miles below the Earth’s surface, gathered in the candelabra-lit star chamber and decided the people we’re voting for are going to represent what we want to see for the future: Caring for Gloucester’s vulnerable, our kids and the environment. People with an actual sense of what a realistic future is, not just one that’s expensive homes and service jobs, but a real mixed economy that is neither a fantasy of the past nor a bunch of empty platitudes about “innovation” or “the arts.”  We’re demanding a sensible and thoughtful analysis of what we can and want to be, with the understanding it’s not going to be easy. Also we’re taking a hard line against against those who’ve linked themselves and our city to the ugliest forces of our national politics. We used to have the luxury to say, “I separate national politics from local” but choices were made, which we’ve outlined previously, making that stance impossible now.

This city is unique, it possesses something almost unheard of in the 21st century, a definite character, a sense of self. The truth is, this is why folks from the outside are eager to attack us, why they’re so eager to come up here with their TV trucks and do a “Isn’t Gloucester Wacky!” story for the nightly news at any whiff of something that, had it occurred in Fitchburg or Dunwich [note: check if actual town] wouldn’t rate a line in the “regional notes” section. It’s because those assholes live in somewhere like Acton or Bridgewater or Belmont, somewhere  bland. Our very own teenage daughter at a track meet was confronted by another team’s derisive chants of, “Stinky Gloucester fishtown!” to which she replied, index finger outstretched as if she were uttering an ancient curse, “YOU’LL ALWAYS BE FROM DANVERS!“

They wilted.

Image result for route 114, danvers

Is that really Danvers? How would you know?

Being more than not-Danvers, but the Gloucester of the 21st century is going to take work, some pain and juggling a lot of different needs and outlooks. The people you choose to steer that course, their motivations and skillsets, are incredibly important. Make your tough choices, set us on the path. If there aren’t sufficient choices in the roles you want to see, then write someone in. Send a message.

There is another Elvish line from the film, which I’m sure I don’t have to translate but I will again for the couple of you readers unfamiliar with the fair tonge. After being stabbed with the Morgol blade, Frodo is passing into the shadows to be among the soulless servants of the Dark Lord. Arwen, the Elvish princess, cries to him:

Lasto beth nîn, tolo dan nan galad

It’s what I chant every morning now when I pick up my phone to check the news:

“Hear my voice, come back to the light”

Clam Voter Guide, Tombstone Edition

TLDR: On Tuesday, November 7 vote for Paul Lundberg and Jen Holmgren and Melissa Cox for the At-Large seats on the City Council. If you feel the need to add a fourth, go with Joe Ciolino.  

We think Joe Giacalone is the better choice for Ward 2.

Just vote the incumbents on the school council. The one other guy running, Scotadam J. Chernov, we’re told hasn’t been to a single meeting and that’s just…no.

There’s a whole lot of “no” in this piece, btw. It’s sort of a theme. 

For those of you who feel the pressing need to read another 1,300 odd   more words on this feel free to keep going, but you’re busy people, we know that.  

As is traditional, we begin by reminding everyone we are not journalists even though we get quoted in the fucking Washington Post for some reason. This whole blog, started on a literal dare, in its infancy was dedicated mostly to coming up with amusing names for non-existent gay strip clubs on Cape Ann. Remember “Man-Chest by the Sea?” Of course you don’t.

So the local races are coming up in November. We’re a little more than a week out.

“Hey The Clam, tell us who we should vote for because I have no idea about any of these people and I live in a literal cave and wear clothes made out of moss and spend my days making teeny tiny little top hats for the pillbugs I keep in an old Altoids tin.” This is a thing we are hearing now. Ok, fine. Here’s our take. Oh, and remember we sort of don’t care if you don’t agree with us. Feel free to go have your own angry freak out about how horrible and wrong we are on your corner of the Internet.

Mayor:

This is easy. Sefatia, Sefatia, Sefatia. (If you say her name three times fast, she shows up at your house with sugo, I’ve been told).

The other guy is bats. Sefatia will beat him in the saddest landslide that Stevie Nicks hasn’t sang.

We hate to be pedants, but when a snow covered hill cuts loose, it’s not a landslide, it’s an avalanche. Oh, who are we kidding, we love being pedants.

City Council, At Large:

Clamsplainer: What the eff is that? The City Council is like the Congress: they vote on stuff like the ban on polystyrene cups, dog ordinances, and most importantly, the budget. They have committees and this is where a lot of the local laws affecting our day-to-day lives in Gloucester come from. The At-Large Councilors are not from any particular “ward” or section of the city (helpful map), but serve the whole city and have to be elected by voters from the entire city, rather than just that district. There are four slots on the City Council for At Large councilors.

At Large is where the real game is this year. Currently the seats are held by Paul Lundberg, Joe Ciolino, Jamie Ohara (sic) and Joe Orlando Jr., all of whom are running for reelection. New folks running: Jen Holmgren, Melissa Cox (Ward 2 Councilor going for At-Large), and Robert D. Whynott Sr.  So, in the TLDR (Too Long Didn’t Read) at the top of this piece, we’re suggesting you ditch two of the existing councilors who are running again and replace them. “Why, The Clam? Why should we make such a bold move?” you ask, rattling your tin at us menacingly. Shall we solve in listiclce? Yes, let’s shall!

Reasons you should do what the Clam Says for the At Large Race:

THESE PEEPS SHOULD GET YOUR VOTE:

  1. Paul Lundberg and Joe Ciolino: Two dudes who’ve been doing this pretty effectively for a long time. Paul is a retired operations guy for a major railroad and Joe is a successful Gloucester small businessman. Full disclosure we hear Joe is hard to work with and honestly, particularly the way he speaks to people, particularly a few of our female readers have mentioned this, needs work. STOP TALKING TO WOMEN LIKE THEY ARE PETS/CHILDREN AMERICA/WORLD. But that’s still our recommendation, based on the choices at hand.
  2. OUR BIG CLAMDORSEMENT THIS YEAR: Jen Holmgren: Jen is a nurse and young person who’s involved in, like, everything. She goes to all the meetings (reports say she’s been to more sub- committee meetings and full council meetings than most councilors), talks to folks in that way good nurses do to find out what the addressable parts of the problem are, and comes up with working solutions based on the resources at hand. She went to the High School and has a kid at West Parish and was supportive to other parents and community members during that ongoing nightmare, so she has major cred. To be honest, The Clam has disagreed with her on several important issues, like Sanctuary Cities which she claims may do more harm than good for everyone. But, even further full disclosure, The Clam is somewhat radical on most fronts and is pretty much in favor of establishing a post-scarcity, technology-driven utopian anarchy in Gloucester, which may be beyond the immediate reach of the City Council (until the Singularity, that is). She’s our big endorsement this time around. We need someone like her, bad.  YOU ARE CLAMANDED TO VOTE JEN. 
  3. Melissa Cox: Another person with whom we sometimes disagree, but critically (unlike ourselves) she is not an ideologue. She’s pragmatic and budget-minded. The most important thing to know about Melissa is that she takes on every issue and thinks about it objectively, and fights for what’s right. You can talk to Melissa, and she does respond – quickly. She singlehandedly saved KT’s wedding earlier this summer by helping unlock the city hall on Saturday because KT AND JOEY FORGOT TO PICK UP THEIR MARRIAGE LICENSE.  She’s a good choice. We’re not going to wax on about Melissa because she’s the kind of person you don’t really need to explain that hard… she just gets shit done. Worth your vote.

Gender: key note, electing these two means the gender balance of the Council goes from its current 2/9 (Cox and Gillman from Ward 4) to 3/9. Progress, folks.

THESE PEEPS, NO:

  1. Joe Orlando Jr: Positions himself as the “young” and a “fiscally responsible, pro-business” voice for for Gloucester. After the past two weeks, just no. His family are unabashedly pro-Trump. His campaign chair single-handedly caused the West Parish debacle and now the principal has to be escorted around for her safety because his campaign unapologetically brought the attention of ultra-right-wing paranoid lunatics to our town over a tiny matter that was being handled internally. They are, in our opinion, truly responsible for thousands of dollars in direct costs like police details and time spent opening angry emails and letters and interviews and who knows how much in indirect costs due to hits on our reputation. THIS IS VERY BAD AND WRONG. Also, for a young voice, he voted in favor of keeping polystyrene cups around, which to us is just… odd. Most young people are hipper to the increasingly threatened environment as they are going to be living in it longer.
  2. Jamie OHARA or Ohara or O’hara or O’Hara or OHaha (we’re not clear): He’s your “police and fire” candidate who supports all things public safety. The main reason we don’t support him is when he was knocking on doors during his successful run last round, we mentioned to him his stump speech was somewhat heavy on… how do we say it… fear mongering? Yes, public safety is important. But you have to have stuff to defend, like schools and roads and a community and so on. We respect and fully support the necessary and often risky work of public safety, but are squicked out by “cop groupies” and Ohara pushed that button hard for us during that meeting. So no to him.
  3. Bob Whynott Sr.: For real? The world’s crankiest candidate is running on the issue of keeping all plastic bags and styrofoam cups, and reopening the morass that is the Fuller School deal on which we’ve finally made some progress (though obviously there are still issues to be worked out). Great. A throwback candidate. Fuller again? FFS. I think I’d rather have a candidate focused on “Reading into the public record the poetry produced by Jim Dowd in the week immediately following his painful sophomore-year breakup with Molly Brackman”, than a reopening of the Fuller debate. Bob feels like he’s running to win a campaign in the 80’s, but due to current constraints in physics and engineering, campaigns cannot run to win elections in the past. So nopey nope nope on Bob. Also, last time he was on the council, he voted to keep the dangerous parking on lower Prospect across from the DES club because… drumroll… he uses that to park for church. When the public safety aspect was brought up by our men in uniform (you can’t get an ambulance through with a car coming the other way when there’s parking on both sides), he helpfully pointed out “isn’t that what your lights and sirens are for?” So much no.

    Onboard the Trump Truck

Ward 2: Joe Giacalone v. Ken Hecht. This is actually a place where we know and like both candidates. But Joe here is the better choice, in our opinion, simply because we’ve known him for years and he grew up in 2, knows everyone there, and every issue down to the bricks in the sidewalk. That’s the kind of representation we want to see there, because in our opinion it’s the tightest ward in town both by density and community, is in a lot of ways the most vulnerable, and definitely the one most under threat from gentrification and Ken is a developer which we’re not sure we’re super cool with having on the council. Developers are necessary and we get it (we also really like his latest project of artist spaces above Jalapenos), but should they be in government? It’s… a grey line for us. Lots of conflicts.  So we think Joe has a grip on this and the ward will benefit from his representation. 

Ok, that’s it. Commence freaking out and unfriending us or whatever. We’re used to it. Also, let those pillbugs go, they’ll die in there, you freak.

Clam, out.

 

Diana Ploss: Russian Bots, Incest Accusations and the Fuller School

Ok Clampatriots, what do Trumpian idiocy, dubious startup ideas, Russian Facebook bots, Incest accusations and the Fuller School all have in common? If you picked “Contributing factors listed on Jim’s soon-to-be-executed involuntary psychological commitment form” you would be correct. You would also be correct if out in your conspiracy shed you had red yarn going from all these things pinned to a photo of one Diana E Ploss.

At McDonalds, with clown

Who is this woman? Why is she here? For many people she just seemed to drop out of the sky onto the Blackburn Rotary in almost passable human form but gibbering incoherently about immigrants, local Republican activists the Orlando Family and Agenda 21. Many of us, however, have had her in and out of our orbits for the past couple of years.

Here is my own experience, in handy “timeline” format.   

  1. Plosstic Fantastic I first became aware of her a couple of years ago when she was pushing her “startup” Pur Sip, which was/is a piece of plastic as far as I can tell that had something to do with filtering water in water bottles? Maybe? I’m not clear. She’s was over at Cambridge public access TV shilling it for a while, she tried to get on Shark Tank and she was going to some of the many meet-ups in Cambridge for early-stage companies, which is fine. The problem was she treated this piece of plastic like it was the recipe to turn Rice Krispies into carbon nanotubes.  
    Image result for pur-sip, ploss

    I believe this dude was her intern and would like to know if he’s safe now

    But, she vociferously insisted she couldn’t talk about it. She assumed someone else at the meeting who was probably working to create cancer- curing viruses or real-time augmented reality solutions for remote emergency surgery would pretty much ditch all that and straight up steal it from her once they found out how awesome it was. Yet she insisted in going on about the thing she said she couldn’t talk about AT LENGTH to anyone unlucky enough to be within earshot. One woman I know used her Asian ethnicity to pretend to not speak English around her (and people say immigrants have no advantages in America!). Anyway, as far as I can tell Pur-Sip is no more. The URL is dead, her show is off Cambridge Public Access.  

  2. She’s a Trump Fan Because of Course She Is Ploss next reappears when my brother-in-law does the thing I hate, which is “point out someone being an asshole in the national news who is also from Gloucester.” He sends me an article in the New York Times about this woman who is traveling around to Trump rallies with a cardboard cutout of Donald Trump who claims to be from Gloucester. Now, I don’t know everyone from Gloucester, but I know a lot of people and I see her in the picture associated with the article and recognize her, but can’t figure out how. It takes a while for me to put the pieces together and go, “Oh, it’s the annoying piece-of-plastic lady from Cambridge…she’s not from Gloucester, she’s from Cambridge. What the frick?” Here is where the Ploss Affair starts to take on the feeling of a zombie movie, where the symptoms of “the sickness” become apparent. I did what all characters do at this point, ignore it. We all thought the whole Trump campaign was a joke back then. It made sense joke product lady would be in favor of joke candidate. [I’m going to pause writing this article to take long, jerky pulls off a bottle of brown liquor and stare out my window for an uncomfortably long span of minutes….Ok, I’m back] Ploss also shows up on NPR as the “Lifelong Democrat who supported Trump.” She sounds unhinged. She’s clearly “patient zero” of this new world.
  3. Russian Bots Come to Gloucester Ploss shows up next on a Facebook video, at Fuller, being all wrong about the school, its sale, how the decision was made to sell it, she’s literally wrong about everything (click the image to see the video).I’ll rundown a full list of how she’s wrong after this timeline, when the bourbon hopefully starts kicking in. For now, what’s really interesting is not that she’s getting everything wrong or her terrible, terrible camera skills. What is amazing in its bald-ass attempt at fuckery is this: Look at this number of shares. 1,562 people shared this shitty video about the Fuller School in Gloucester. And very oddly, the shares are running ahead of likes, which never happens in the real world. And when you go to these shares, you start to see something weird. Bots. The vast majority of her shares are to very similar super-slim profiles with no personal images or information, just constant 24 hour-a-day forwards of right wing memes. The NYT talks about this phenomenon here. In fact, Melvin Redick – the fake profile outlined in the Times piece was one of the shares. The conclusion is simple: Ploss is either buying traffic or the Trump people gave her access to their fakeo network, the one Putin helped build to get Trump elected.. Seriously. This is happening, if you don’t believe me check out the shares yourself and tell me if there are that many people with barebones FB profiles that share a conservative meme every few minutes all day long. It’s all fake and Ploss is more botted up than a Japanese toy convention. Ploss has brought Russian social media fuckery to Gloucester. Read the Times piece and follow her shares. I feel like the scientist yelling about the zombies no one is listening to.
  4. Ploss Hates the Orlandos Ok, weird enough yet? Oh, sit your asses down people, remove any restrictive clothing and high-heeled shoes and prepare for some high-G maneuvering up in the Plossosphere. Shit’s gonna get real. Next we discover Ploss for some reason wants to be State Committeewoman of the local Republican something or other. I don’t really give a shit. But there is some deal where the previous chairperson moved out of state because her husband abandoned her and then Ploss accusing Amanda Orlando Kesterson of Gloucester of doing something illegal or something and Ploss gives this angry speech and storms out and it’s all very dramatic. So they do some digging and accuse Ploss of voter fraud. Dude, look, I could research this more and tell you all about it, but this effing piece is already too long, so just go read it on the “Rabid Republican Blog” which looks like it was designed in 1997 by a retired used office furniture salesman and it pains me physically to even look at it, much less actually read. Knock yourself out, if that’s your thing. Anyway, there is super-bad blood between Ploss and the Orlandos. What of the beef is substantive? I have no idea, but it once again seems to focus on the idea this woman is actually from Cambridge, where she voted, not Gloucester where she claimed to be from. 

    Lotsa stuff going on in this image from “Rebidrepublicanblog” but gotta call out those shades, man.

  5. Signature Move Kesterson wins the chairwhateverperson and Ploss is enraged. She decides to get her revenge on the Orlandos by running for Councilor at Large and unseating Republican millennial-in-a-suit Joe Orlando Junior. To do this, you need to get 150 signatures. Reports have her at Market Basket collecting signatures for an hour or so, but the signatures she eventually turns in “cannot be certified” which means what? That they’re fake? She can’t even collect 150 real signatures to run for City Council? Go to a couple of sports events and a bar ffs. Jebus. So, she’s not running. Or she’s a write-in because that totally works.
  6. The Return of Ploss (once again click if you still have any brain cells left)She’s back and wronger than ever. This time her “Call to Action” as we say in the business is to vote in the primary…for something. The Mayoral primary? Did she think there are councilors on the ballot in the mayoral primary? What the fuck is she talking about? The bots are back- look at those share numbers! Her piece de’ resistance is accusing the Orlando siblings of incest by comparing them to the Lannisters via lame Game of Thrones reference. Ick. That’s…just…for fuck’s sake woman. What the fucking fuck?

Have we reached Peak Ploss? Somehow I doubt it.

Analysis: A couple of things- First, Fuller was let go because it was a junk building we couldn’t do anything with. As we’ve said elsewhere, it’s like having a surplus shed on your property. You don’t sink money into the shed because it’s going to get ripped down, which is just a reality these days because a new building costs so much less here in the 21st century than rehabbing an old one, especially one with problems like asbestos. This is settled. Stop arguing about it.

Second, there is absolutely no low income housing going in to the project. None. Zero. I have no fucking idea what Ploss is talking about, her whole premise is a shit sandwich on a shit roll with a side of shitfries dipped in shit sauce. And vinegar. The current plan has the Y going there, some retail and apartments at market rate, which is probably something like $1500 for a two bedroom. The developers are making a fairly common deal where they give an in-kind donation to the city affordable housing fund. There are a whole host of problems with this and a bunch of trade-offs deserving careful evaluation, but none are related to whatever Ploss seems to be ranting about. How is this tied to illegal immigration at all? Only the noises and flashing lights in Ploss’ mind seem to understand. She has not been to one meeting or clearly read one article about this topic.

Third, the Orlandos. And this one took some Clamtropsection, peeps. It is my firm belief the normalization of Donald Trump and the Republicans who did not stand up to him and/or embraced him encouraged the the kind of behavior we’re seeing from people like Ploss. So, at first my sympathy for them was muted, especially after their posting of a Holocaust meme a couple of weeks ago right after the president of their party was pretty much cool with people hanging around with Nazis. Then I had a conversation with Jen Holmgren (side note, you should vote for Jen Holmgren) and she said one thing that made sense:

“Not here”

And that’s it. Not here. We don’t put up with this shit here. The Ploss thing is coming from the outside. This is our town and the Orlandos have been part of it for generations. No one has any right to come here and talk shit about them that way. You can oppose what they believe (I do) but our kids go to the same schools, we all care about this place and the people in it. Back to the zombie movie metaphor: We’re all trapped in this shopping mall. The only way through is by sticking together

Image result for thriller, zombie

And showing off our amazing dance moves

What Can I do?

Ok, so we’re open to ideas here, but the most important thing to do is be vigilant. If you hear people being wrong about Fuller- correct them. Read the reports, go to the meetings or send them to people who actually know what the fuck they are talking about. Don’t let the Ploss/Putin misinformation machine get a toehold.

Next: document, document, document. Take screencaps of things she says. You can send images to the Clam where faithful members of the Underground Lair will put them with our collection.

Call the cops if you see her trespassing.

Speak out. The paper doesn’t want to report on her, in fact people told us not to report on her because “giving her attention is what she wants.” Remember how well ignoring Trump worked? Or ignoring the Nazis in Charlottesville? Speak out on social media and make sure you have your facts straight. Stand and fight. Ten years from now when people ask you about what it was like during the Trump era, you want to be able to say, “I stood up for the truth,” not “I pretty much ignored it.”

UPDATE:

Holy fucksprinkles, someone is imprsonating Amanda Kesterson Online. Don’t friend this, report it to the police and hopefully Amanda has called the cops.

Holy shit. This is out of hand. 

“Mass Fiscal Alliance” Mailer: It’s a Von Trapp!

Oh crap, we have to do politics again, don’t we? You should know this blog was started back in the day to make fun crap parking in Gloucester and Star Wars jokes, right? But you people wanted local politics. You craved it. You sent us tips. You stopped us on the street and demanded we talk about stuff and forwarded our pieces around.

Blame yourselves.

So, we’ve been thinking about how we’re going to gear back up into the local election season, maybe drop a piece on the increasing housing crisis driving creative people out of town or something. Then, in the mail, a hit piece on local legislative rep Ann-Margaret Ferrante shows up:

What manner of weaselturd is this? Oh no. Oh no oh no oh no.

You know those stories set in the pre-WW II era when some generally isolated folks find themselves unwillingly thrust into the conflict engulfing the rest of the world? Like in the Sound of Music when at first Liesel is happily capering about with a hapless seventeen-year-old bike messenger, then suddenly he’s a raging full-on fascist?

That’s what the whole world feels like now. Even the mail has gone alt-right, because shady propagandists can hide who they are and lie without consequences. I thought we were sort of above this kind crap here in Massachusetts, a state generally full of smart people, but apparently these buttstoats think this sort of thing will stand.

[Aside: For some reason the people doing this stuff always wind up being from that area north of Haverhill, the pseudo-New Hampshire zone full of big, new houses, massive SUVs and the muffled screams of complex human identity being smothered under a pile of Vineyard Vines catalogs.]

So, first out, let’s just dispel the general premise. Article CXVIII of the Massachusetts Constitution states [ht Meridith Fine]:

Article CXVIII.

The base compensation as of January first, nineteen hundred and ninety-six, of members of the general court shall not be changed except as provided in this article. As of the first Wednesday in January of the year two thousand and one and every second year thereafter, such base compensation shall be increased or decreased at the same rate as increases or decreases in the median household income for the commonwealth for the preceding two year period, as ascertained by the governor.

Read: Their pay is tied to performance. If the median household income of the state goes up, their base pay goes up. If it goes down, it goes down. Basically, you should pray your legislator makes ONE MILLION DOLLARS, because if so that means the MA economy has figured out how to turn discarded Fireball nips and Dunkin cups into platinum-iridium alloy.

Image result for gold trash

The rest of their pay is bonuses for things like leadership, which is what I’ve heard some private-enterprise companies do via having roles they call “management” who get paid more. People with more seniority and responsibility get more money. The legislature restructured how this is distributed for the first time in a generation recently, but no extra money was spent.

Yet somehow this is a 40% pay increase? Which not everyone got, because it was a restructuring of incentives. Oh, and the “expense account” which is for travel and running an office, which is part of the job. And, of course, not everyone got that either.

Seems like there is a lot of missing information here and this is just some kind of misinformational scare tactic from someone who thinks light type on a black background is a good design choice. And also the abbreviation for Massachusetts they use is “Mass” not “MA” which I believe was changed during the prelude to the King Phillip’s War. 

So there is really no story here, the whole premise is based on well-understood dynamics, even though a bunch of people are trying to shoehorn it into one. Now I see on the interwebs it’s a “55% pay increase and they raised taxes 40% to do it and to give 200 million dollars for the medical care of illegal immigrants!1!!1!!!!” I’m sure by tomorrow it will be a 90% increase in pay and gays will force marry all heterosexuals and induct them to the trans army.

So who’s responsible for this piece?

Enter the “Mass Fiscal Alliance” apparently socialists who oppose things like merit-based pay. They bill themselves as a “Nonprofit Educational Group” but their funders are secret. It turns out they give more money to legislative campaigns in MA than unions, who do disclose who they are.

Let’s get a look at these Bolsheviks:

Image result for ferengi

 

No. Wait, that’s the Ferengi from Star Trek: the Next Generation. My bad. Sorry, it’s this gang.

2017_Board_Photo.jpg

Your standard group of mostly white “fiscally responsible” people sitting  under a chandelier that probably cost more than your car. And you know what- that’s fine. Yes, you heard me,  it’s totally fine. People have a right to their views, and to express them, publicly. Rich people, poor people, middle people, everybody. They even have a right to that wallpaper choice. 

That’s what the whole country is about.

However, you may have noticed our democracy is being actively hacked right now. The extremely wealthy, not  “the rich” by conventional standards, but by the upper, upper tier of oligarchs like Putin, oil barrons, hedge fund profiteers and a few select others are trying to circumvent our “by the people” government in favor of either angering or scaring the crap out of citizens, and then having those citizens vote to lower the taxes of the super-rich so they can make money off our system without paying back in. Don’t believe me? Here, read this, it’s just one of dozens upon dozens of examples of the private-jet-and megayacht-class realizing they can get what they want by interfering directly with local politics and not being straight about it.

And that’s exactly what’s going on with this mailer because the Mass Fiscal Alliance, although they claim to be an “non-profit educational institution” refuse to reveal their funding sources. What the what? They’re a non-profit, yet they give money to candidates and they don’t reveal who’s giving them money? It seems frickery is afoot. 

What’s particularly galling to me is whomever’s funding it, if they are even from here, made money in MA because we have great education, good infrastructure and public transportation (needing an overhaul, of course) and investment in our key industries. Mitt Romney knew this, he almost single-handedly created the medical device and biotech industry here, making it bigger than California’s. And he knew decent health care is a requirement for a modern, knowledge-based economy. Mitt was no tax-and-spend liberal, but he understood investment. And the unbridled power of “management-style” haircut.

But these people want the goodies MA has to offer without having to pay for them, like the rest of us have to. Or even telling us who’s paying to try and change our minds. This is pretty much the biggest problem in our country right now, from Putin funding Trump, the Chinese buying Scaramucci’s company for way too much money in order to trade access  to Trump and everyone else trading to everyone else INCLUDING DEMOCRATS which is why they lost. No one trusts anybody, it’s chaos, and in chaos people try to grab things. Which is this mailer. Which is why I’m banging my head on the desk here.

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This a big problem we have to solve, folks. Not as big as a problem like Maria obviously, but you know. Still big.

 

Manchester-by-the-Free

In honor of the current hit film in the “Boston Working Class Ennui” genre going to its streaming service, Amazon just announced they are giving everyone in the eponymous town free Amazon Prime. That’s swell of them, eh?

Whatever. Also: fuck you Amazon.

You see, if you don’t know, the film is not about Manchester-by-the-Sea. MBTS or just “Manchester” as we used to call it before they changed their name as not to be confused with the working-class New Hampshire city of the same name. The film is about Gloucester. My town. It was shot in Gloucester, the vibe is Gloucester and all the issues depicted are straight-up Gloucester.

“I’m sorry sir but town ordinances plainly state lobster traps are only to be used as decorative coffee table bases and must be made of wood.”

in Manchester, our neighbor, you’re going to find less of the “picking fights with cops” sort of thing there and more of the, “people suing each other because someone’s gardener cut the branch of an historic apple tree that was leaning over into their yard”- type conflicts. It’s a wealthy town. Wealthy-as-balls, actually, 8th highest income in one of the richest states in the country.

But, you know, they get free Amazon Prime because of the name. Amazon- who are automating warehouses and killing local retail, is giving free shit to rich people who didn’t even ask for it.

That’s your late-stage capitalism, right there.

I’m not sure why this bothers me so much, but it fucking does. Here in Gloucester this week an abandoned fish pier collapsed into the harbor, which tells you everything you need to know about our core industry in the post-cod era. We’re burying a beloved veteran/cop who left behind four kids. We’re struggling to keep fire stations open, fund schools, care for the elderly and manage our opiate addiction problem. We do this with a lot of heart, tears, fighting, too much pride and never enough money.

But we do it. We do it all. We make it work.

We do it to make sure fewer people end up like the characters depicted in fucking Manchester-by-the-Sea, yet another film made so some studio can make yet another buck on the whole “Bawston” thing, with our constrained social hierarchy and our comical accents. What do you suppose, there are another 30 films in the can depicting a young, troubled, too-smart-for-his-own-good Bay State resident for whom the grip of his past is choking off his ability to live and love in the present? Maybe 40?

Why is it liberals are losing the working class again? I forget.

You know what, never mind. You can keep Prime, Amazon. And Casey Affleck’s SNL “vanilla nut tap” jokes and all that “Uncle Sullying” we locals do. Go give hot stone massages in the bistros to Man-BTSers or whatever the fuck you want to do. I’m glad for the jobs the film industry here provides, I’m thankful that unlike a lot of towns hit hard by the realities of the 21st century, we’ve got economic opportunities due to our proximity to Boston/Cambridge others don’t. I’m even glad for the town of Manchester-by-the-Sea which contains many fine people and provides tons of work for Gloucester contractors adding yoga rooms and wine cellars to houses built by puritans in the 17th century.

But once, for the love of “Gawd”, can you fuckers just go make a movie about Connecticut?