Thursday, September 17, 2009

Interim Senator

Four years ago, the Legislature in Massachusetts voted to change our state system from a gubernatorial appointment of the next US Senator in the case of a vacancy,to an elected position. I was not at the State House the day the vote was taken and didn't vote on this. I would have voted with the majority at the time. Since then, obviously this issue has come back with the death of Senator Kennedy. I have received a lot of email on both sides of this. After much deliberation, we are voting on this today.Here is my response to that email and my decision on this matter. I appreciate everyone's comments on both sides.

Thank you for your email. After consideration, I am going to vote for an interim senator for Massachusetts. While many will cry politics on this, I believe that if you strip away the politics from the current debate over replacement of Ted Kennedy, the core issue is; should Massachusetts have two US Senators representing the state at all times even in the interim while awaiting the voter's choice in a new election. I think the answer is yes. That is not political, it is practical. Given population shifts and the passing of our long time Senator as well as our reliance on these offices to give us assistance in such issues as Medicare, social security, immigration, and passport issues, I believe that it is imperative to have two US Senators in Washington.
People deserve to be represented in Washington with our full legislative contingent.

People claim that the vote to do away with the practice of appointing a Senator if there is a vacancy was political. Of course it was. Gov. Romney was running for President and no one wanted to give him a leg up on the competition by appointing himself. That was a choice that was made given that situation. We have a different situation today and if there are cries of hypocrisy, then they apply to the Republicans too as they thought this was a good idea four years ago and now decry the appointment of an interim Senator. The difference this time is that we have a pledge that the interim appointment will not be someone who will seek the permanent appointment so that the people of Massachusetts will truly be able to elect, by popular vote, the next US Senator. I believe this is fair and equitable.

Thanks for the email and input on this matter, I appreciate your comments.

Sincerely, Dan Bosley

Monday, September 14, 2009

Random Thoughts on a Beautiful Day

- Is there anyone who thinks that the vote against an interim Senator four years ago wasn’t political? Romney was sworn in as Governor and checked out immediately. He was clearly running for President and no one in the Democratic Party wanted to give him a leg up by having him become the Senator from Massachusetts.
- The difference this time around is that the idea is to ensure as much as possible that the interim Senator will not run for the elected position. So we get to have two Senators in Massachusetts during the interim and the public gets to elect the next Senator. What’s wrong with that?
- I know it is a pain in the neck to get around State St., but isn’t it great to have the bridge finally being repaired? BTW, that is the longest span in Berkshire County.
- I was out early Sunday morning taking pictures and in one area near the Savoy State Forest; the leaves are already turning quite a bit.
- My first trip for this school year to Sullivan School is today. Anna Saldo Burke and her third grade classes adopted me years ago and I get to class several times a year. Today I get to read to them.
- I keep hearing from people that Ted Kennedy’s passing is the end of an era. It is, partly because politics has become much more about personalities and less about issues. Ideologues have a hard time reaching across aisles as Ted did. But whose fault is that? We should demand that government again becomes more important than politics.
- If consumer spending is a huge part of our economy, how can we have a recovery when no one has any discretionary spending power? One of the aspects of this recession was that consumers were tapped out. Now we are being asked to do the same thing that got us into the last problem. I think this is going to take us longer to dig out of than in past recessions. Hang on, and continue to save a little.
- Gambling once again raises its ugly head in the state. Considering what we are now reading about Connecticut and the debt problems of the casinos as well as the weakness of the market, why is this still a good idea to some?
- We all have things that drive us nuts. For me, it’s people who have to push onto an elevator before people get off. Doesn’t it make more sense to wait till the elevator offloads before squeezing on? How much time do you have to save that you are in that hurry? And while I am on elevators, it drives me nuts when a young person gets on an elevator and presses the button to go up one floor. What drives you nuts?
- Back to politics; after two Globe stories where they dragged out Joe Kennedy’s ex-wife from years ago to write a story about his annulment and then printed a long story about his oil from Hugo Chavez, is it any wonder that Joe K didn’t run? The Globe has helped their candidate by defining the race. That’s too bad as Joe Kennedy was a good Congressman and would have helped this race as a candidate. This also says a lot about reporting and the direction of newspapers.
- I have decided to support Mike Capuano for the Senate seat. He is also a good Congressman and has been a good friend. I like his no nonsense style and find that he is as comfortable with a few people from the neighborhood as he is with foreign heads of state. He works hard and I like the fact that he is compassionate but also warns about how we spend money now and in the future. He is a good person and will work hard for us. And we will see him in Western Massachusetts if he is elected.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Boston Charter Day

This past Friday, I was asked by one of my colleagues to speak at Boston Charter Day. This is a celebration by historians in both Boston Massachusetts and Boston, Lincolnshire , England of the September 1630 chartering of the city of Boston. I, of course, got a kick out of being the furthest representative from Boston and talking on this occasion. I spoke about the development of government. I thought it may be interesting. These are my remarks:

Welcome and thank you for this opportunity to speak today
I come from North Adams – the farthest city from Boston and farthest commute in the state, but get to spend half of the week in the beautiful Berkshires and half of the week in Shawmut/Trimountaine/Boston.
My grandfather on my mother’s side comes from South England near Plymouth in a small town called Looe. This is very far from Boston England – but my great grandparents came here much the same as those in the 1600s – looking for a better life for themselves and their families.
Now we know that the first European settler here in Boston was William Blackstone in 1625. We know that the Puritans who served in the Arbella Armada of 11 ships brought too many settlers for Salem to accommodate and those settlers migrated from Salem to Charlestown before eventually settling in Boston. This was mostly because of potable water in this area. That was the start and we know that since a large number of settlers came from the Boston England area – this city came to be named Boston.
For the next 130 years, it was the largest, wealthiest, and most influential city in America. Its geographic location and large port made it so.
Due to its position of influence, the City of Boston and her residents greatly influenced the growth of a governance system in Massachusetts, and eventually in the United States.
The factor that was of most importance originally was the fact that early settlers here were Puritans rather than Pilgrims. They weren’t separatists from the Church of England, but were chartered colonists – (I was always told that the difference was that Puritans had money – Pilgrims did not). The word puritan came from their belief in purity of the Church. They felt that the Church of England had been compromised by tolerance of other beliefs.
As a result, they imposed a strict set of rules on all the residents of this new land. They legislated morality as well as laws. This had the effect of creating an extremely structured and stable society here. Lest we think it was all about morality and church, they also preached education and hard work, both of which were key factors in stability and expansion of the economy.
The other main factor in the growth of Boston and the evolution of government was that Boston and the Massachusetts Bay Colony was allowed far more self-governance than their American counterparts in Virginia.
In 1629, the twelve men in England who were members of the Mass. Bay Colony decided to transfer the power to the new world. In effect, they founded a new company and a new government.
Arguably the Charter of 1629 should be recognized as one of the most important documents in our history.
Governor Winthrop brought this charter with him when he came to the colony. It gave the colony unprecedented power. It created a General Court of all free men. This court elected a Governor themselves and stated that they possessed the right to govern their own affairs as long as their laws were not contrary to the laws of England.
That Great and General Court has met regularly except for an inter charter period in the 1680s for 379 years.
Not all settlers had a voice at the beginning. Some were indentured to others in order to finance their way to the new country. But as they worked this debt off, more and more became free men.
In October 1630, 109 settlers petitioned for rights as freemen. This was at the first meeting of the Great and General Court. In May 1631, at their next meeting, 116 men were admitted as freemen. They immediately put through reforms that curbed the Governors power and declared that only the General Court had the power to tax.
So many so became freemen, that by May 1634, the General Court arranged for representatives from each city and town to make decisions for them.
This was included in a document sent out in 1641 – the Body of Liberties. This was the first code of law for the Commonwealth. It codified a representative form of government and said that the General Court could not be dissolved without the majority consent of that body. This was amazingly progressive for its time. It included protection for the rights of children, outlawed slavery, declared usury as forbidden and separated church and state. Public records were declared open to the public. This was tremendously progressive…well not all progressive, the death penalty was reaffirmed for witchcraft.
While the first legislators were all members of the church, by the 1640’s expansion of the colony lead to elimination of religious tests of officeholders.
In 1644, the single assembly was split into two bodies, the House and Senate and the beginning of separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches began. This happened gradually ending with the Constitution of 1780. 1644 A bicameral legislature was declared. The House became the body of freemen, and the Senate was deputies to the Governor…the body of property and wealth. Thus, we are the oldest bicameral legislature in the United States
In 1652 the bodies adopted the right of mutual veto. This is important as it gave both branches equal power.
The General Court lasted under the Province Charter until 1774 when it became the Massachusetts government; however it wasn’t until adoption of the 1780 Constitution that we officially became the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
The pre-eminent political scientist, Andrew McLaughlin wrote, “If I were called upon to select a single fact on enterprise which more nearly than any other thing embraced the significance of the American Revolution…I would choose the formation of the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780; and I should do so because the constitution rested upon a fully developed convention, the greatest institution of government which America has produced, the institution which answered, in itself, the problem of how men could make governments of their own free will.”
239 representatives from 190 communities met in September 1779 to draft a Constitution. They had a “free conversation” and delegated a Grand Committee of 30 to prepare a draft. This committee selected a subcommittee of three – John Adams, Samuel Adams, and James Bowdoin to write the document. In the end, they let John Adams write this document. John Adams set out to write a document that, he wrote, created “an empire of laws, not men.”
This was a broad comprehensive document and today Massachusetts is the only state that still operates under its original constitution.
3 points are important:
1. Our rights must be respected by our government
2. It is our duty to maintain our government
3. The basic framework of that government
The Constitution gave the people tremendous power:
• Said government was accountable to the people
• We have the right to replace our officials
o Right to assemble
o Codified the separation of powers
o Right to impose taxes
This was far ahead of its time and set precedent for our national Constitution. Much of our federal government mirrors our state government.

Also in 1780, Senate was set at 40 members, where they have been since that time…House has fluctuated with growth of population high was 748 members in 1811
There are a couple things that make us unique. Each citizen of the Commonwealth can petition the legislature to pass a bill. This is the right of free petition. And each bill has to have a public hearing. No other state has both of these. You can still get your day in the general court.
This system has served us well, but it is a dynamic document. There have been changes or refinements along the way.
1840 citizens not taxpayers became the voters and legislators
1857 legislature abandoned town and city representation and elected 240 members from districts
1964 one man, one vote
1979 house cut to 160
In 1912, President Teddy Roosevelt said that, “Massachusetts has taken the lead in every movement for the welfare of this nation since the days when men of the 13 colonies sent their representatives to the first Continental Congress.”

There have been three presidents that have served here…John Adams, John Quincy Adams, and Calvin Coolidge…6 speakers of the US House, and one Supreme Court Justice. Daniel Webster, and John Greenlief Whittier served and Ralph Waldo Emerson served as clergy to the House. What a place

We are proud of our heritage, our history, and our roots in Massachusetts. I believe that those roots have been responsible for who we are today.
Because of the Puritan emphasis on education and hard work and given our spirit of self determination, we lead the nation in college degrees per capita – on doctoral degrees per capita. We have 123 colleges and universities in our small state. That has lead to a record and history of innovation and creativity in our economy – from developing the first vaccine in 1791 to mapping the human genome.