Archive for Massachusetts

Couldn’t Happen to a Nicer Commonwealth

Earlier, I wrote how I enjoy the misery of others—only I take care to remain sympathetic to people who don’t have it coming to them.

I’m thinking! I’m thinking! (As Jack Benny used to say.)

A first-in-the-nation program aimed at controlling costs and improving health care for some of Massachusetts’ poorest and sickest residents has sustained deep financial losses since its launch in 2013, dealing a setback to the state’s efforts to control rising medical spending through more coordinated care.

The three insurers in the pilot program lost a combined $54 million in 18 months, according to a recent report from the Executive Office of Health and Human Services. And as losses mount, insurers and state officials say it is too early to tell whether the program is improving the health of its members.

“This is a very expensive experiment — at public expense,” said Al Norman, executive director of Mass Home Care, a network of nonprofit agencies monitoring the program. “I don’t think we can say a lot about health outcomes, but there’s a whole lot of spending going on here.”

Good line! I wish I’d said it. (“You will,” as they said of Milton Berle.)

The goal of One Care is to control costs and improve care by putting patients into a single, integrated health plan with a coordinator to help them navigate services. The program also includes expanded dental, vision, and mental health benefits.

Sounds reasonable. And you say it didn’t work?

But so far, the three nonprofit insurers in One Care have enrolled fewer than 18,000 people. Boston-based Commonwealth Care Alliance lost more than $40 million on the program. Fallon Health of Worcester lost about $13 million. Tufts Health Plan of Watertown lost nearly $1 million.

The financial challenges are so severe that Fallon plans to drop out of the program at the end of September, laying off 45 employees and leaving the state scrambling to reassign its 5,400 members to other plans.

In a statement, the insurer said it “very reluctantly” decided to exit because the program was “not economically sustainable.”

“Not economically sustainable.” So? When’s that ever stopped big government?

The state will cover some of the losses insurers sustained. Daniel Tsai, assistant secretary for the state’s Medicaid program, known as MassHealth, said state officials are considering raising reimbursement rates to help insurers cover costs in the months and years ahead, but the federal government also must approve such an increase.

Enough snarkiness (for now). There’s a very good reason thir program blew through all cost expectations: these people are old and sick. And old. And sick:

Insurers attribute the program’s financial losses to the difficulties of managing care for people with exceedingly complex lives. Many patients are homeless. Many don’t speak English. Most have problems with addiction or mental illness. Finding the patients and persuading them to join the program can be immensely challenging. “This is a population that has really lived in the shadows of our society,” said Commonwealth Care Alliance president Lois Simon.

One Tufts patient illustrates the complexity and expense of caring for a population often living with health problems that go unaddressed for years. The man was homeless, and checked in and out of detox facilities. With help from the One Care program, he controlled his alcohol addiction and found an apartment. Then he needed dental work and help monitoring his weight and diabetes.

“All of the resources to meet these people’s needs are scarce and expensive resources,” Gorton said. “All of these people are way more complex than the typical members we see.”

Oy. “Complex” is a euphemism for homeless, addicted, nuts, and illiterate in English. And old. And sick. Who thought that came cheap? The phrase “shadows of our society” makes me suspicious of their citizenship status, hence their qualification for any of these services. Without more evidence, however, I’ll keep that to myself.

No, these misérables do not tickle my funny bone. Their “complex” lives depress me. But for the state government to think they could stick private insurers with the bill—to the point where some threaten to quit—that’s pretty funny. Nice try. Your government at work.

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Boston 2024, We Hardly Knew Ye

All there is to do is quote Howie Carr:

Finally, at long last, someone has gone broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.

And it couldn’t have happened to a nicer bunch — Boston 2024. There is a God.

And for today, anyway, He is benevolent.


Black Lives Ma—zzzz—WTF?!

BTL is going to have to remember what he did yesterday to deserve such a cornucopia of news nuggets he’s found today. See below—and see this:

An irate Mayor Martin J. Walsh blasted a 4 a.m. anti-Olympics protest by Black Lives Matter outside his Dorchester home as ?unproductive and an ?”infringement” on his neighbors, even as the group’s leader boasted it was ?”absolutely effective.”

“I don’t agree with people going to people’s ?houses, protesting. On the street, I have babies, I have seniors. At 4 a.m., I just don’t think it’s effective,” said Walsh, who was at a conference in Colorado during Monday’s unwelcome rally and is due back home today. “I don’t think it’s a productive way to get your message across to anybody.”

Walsh said “showing up at 4 a.m. on Tuttle Street or any street on any issue is an infringement and it crosses a line.

“I just think it’s unfortunate that people who aren’t the mayor of Boston have to put up with that type of protest,” Walsh told the Herald in a call from Aspen yesterday. “I think if you want to protest, that’s fine, but not in front of my house and in front of other people’s homes.”

Black Lives Matter, which has left the door open to another demonstration at the mayor’s home, fanned the flames even more yesterday by posting a message to its Facebook page that read, “Brazen. Well done, fam.”

In a video of the protest posted online, about 10 demonstrators are shown unfurling a banner that reads “YES BOSTON = #NOBOSTON2024” to the tune of the Olympic hymn. A voice-over says the action was meant to bring Walsh “a long overdue wake-up call.”

Daunasia Yancey, 23, founder and lead organizer of Black Lives Matter Boston, accused the mayor of being “pretty uneducated” about the proposal’s ramifications on the city’s poor.

I hereby confess to being “pretty uneducated” on the subject myself. School me:

“The Olympics is going to disrupt an entire city and region,” Yancey said, “and so I would ?say if we can disrupt a street ?and prevent that, then job well done.”

True, and I hear a whole mess of white folks saying the same thing. Just not at 4 am. But then, they have to work…kidding! Kidding. Sheesh, it’s just a joke!

I went to their Facebook page to get educated. That’s going to be a work in progress. But I did like this comment on the anti-Olympics stand:

Asad Ddkw We will f*ck the white sh*ts ……… your bro from Asia

Thanks, bro.

Here’s a more formal statement:

BREAKING: Members of Black Lives Matter Boston along with members of Safe Hub Collective take action to demand Boston Mayor Marty Walsh pull the 2024 Olympic Bid.

FULL STATEMENT: Dozens of residents representing Black Lives Matter Boston and Safe Hub Collective gathered this morning outside the home of Mayor Marty Walsh, in solidarity with the people of Rio de Janeiro and the larger anti-Olympics movement across our city and the globe, in order to bring him a long overdue wake-up call. With the Olympic hymn as our backdrop, we delivered our message outlining the economic, social, and cultural disaster Boston 2024 is working so hard to bring here with the XXXIII Olympiad. For nearly a year we have volunteered alongside one another as members of the Hub’s vibrant, underserved communities to provide evidence as to why 54% of this city does not want to host the Olympic Games and counter the millions already spent to hide the ugly realities of its absurdist proposal and buy up support.

Displacement has accompanied every Olympic Games. Specifically, we recognize the 30,000 residents made homeless by the Atlanta Centennial Games; we are witnessing in real time the wholesale destruction of Rio de Janeiro’s neighborhoods. We refuse to allow Boston to suffer the same fate.

Likewise, we reject the continued diversion of Boston’s limited public funds for private projects when already one-third of Boston’s public schools have no physical education and roughly one-third of Boston’s children currently live in poverty.

Politics makes strange bedfellows. The Olympics in Boston would be a classic cluster[bleep] of epic proportions. You tell ’em, BLM-Bos! Fight the power!


Why We Voted for Obama

Because we in Massachusetts are just as intellectually stunted as he is.



When voters these days say they want politicians to improve the economy, what do they mean by that? It might surprise you that in Massachusetts, it doesn’t mean to grow the economy as much as possible. According to a new WBUR poll (topline results, crosstabs), right now it means slicing the economy up differently.

Registered voters across the state were asked whether Gov. Charlie Baker should grow the economy as much as possible, even if it means some groups gain more than others, or whether the governor should make sure economic gains are shared more evenly, even if it means slower growth.

A majority of voters — 57 percent — said Baker should ensure “economic gains are distributed more evenly between groups, even if it means slower economic growth overall,” compared to 33 percent who said he should grow the economy “as much as possible, even if it means some groups gain more than others.”

We’d rather be poor and equal (screw “fair”: who decides what’s fair?) than well off and unequal. And trust me, we will be poor—as demonstrated by this rather technical WSJ article, best summed up by its subhead:

From 2011-13, the five most ‘unequal’ countries in the OECD grew nearly five times faster than the others.

The best summary within the piece itself:

A more representative proxy for redistribution is government expenditure as a percentage of GDP, which encompasses all government spending on the provision of goods, services, subsidies, and social benefits. From 1995-2012, OECD member countries that increased government expenditures as a percentage of GDP grew 30% slower than member countries that trimmed government expenditure as a percentage of the economy over that span—average annual growth of 1.9% compared with 2.5%.

The data are even more revealing in recent years. OECD countries that increased government spending as a portion of the economy from 2009-12 contracted by an average of 1.3% annually; countries that trimmed government expenditure grew by an average of 0.9% a year.

We don’t mind eating dirt and wood chips as long as Warren Buffett isn’t dining on caviar. That’s “fair”.

I get envy, I really do. But all the deadly sins are sins (and temptations) for a reason. They may feel good in the short term, but are harmful in the long term. Just see how long you can keep gluttony going. Or, Bill Clinton aside, coveting thy neighbor’s wife. Making no one richer makes us all poorer. Which is stupid, no matter what 57% of the people say.


Mosque for the Praising of Allah

If they had stuck with the Allah-praising, we might not have a problem:

Several Boston-area terror suspects, including the man killed by police earlier this month as he allegedly sought to behead cops and two alleged associates, have frequently attended sermons given by firebrand imam whose message to the faithful doesn’t match the conciliatory tone he struck when contacted by

Imam Abdullah Faaruuq, of the Mosque for the Praising of Allah in Roxbury, Mass., has been seen on videos of his fiery sermons exhorting worshipers to commit acts of violence in the name of Islam. In videos of Faaruuq preaching, the former Northeastern University chaplain appears to skirt the line between metaphor and incitement.

“You must grab onto the rope, grab onto the typewriter, grab onto the shovel, grab onto the gun and the sword,” he railed in one video reviewed by “Don’t be afraid to step out into this world and do your job.”

Typewriter? Who has a typewriter anymore? Then again, who uses pressure cookers—and see what a weapon they made.

In addition to preaching at the Mosque for the Praising of Allah, Faaruuq gave sermons at the mosque that Boston Marathon bombers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev attended.

When reached out to Faaruuq to ask about his teachings, including the sermon in which he mentions taking up the “gun and the sword,” the imam said he was simply advising his followers to learn to protect themselves.

[O]ne active member of Boston’s Muslim community, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Faaruuq’s words were not ambiguous.

“There are two types of people in Islam; radicals, and those that are peaceful,” the man said. “We never talk of killing, and never talk of taking out our ‘swords,’ even as a symbolic measure.”

The man said sermons like those given by Faaruuq are calibrated to stoke rage and promote radicalism.

“For a young mind, these statements carry weight,” he said. “That young mind now thinks it can change the world with the sword.”

So, according to this anonymous Muslim, there is no such thing as “symbolic” violence in Islam: a sword is a sword, and a gun is a gun. Remember that next time you hear an antisemitic sermon from a Palestinian pastor. They want blood.

And they get it:

Faaruuq told his congregation it must defend MIT graduate Aafia Saddiqui, known as “Lady Al Qaeda,” who is serving 86 years in prison for attempting to kill FBI agents in Afghanistan and planning a chemical attack on New York City. ISIS tried to trade American journalists Stephen Sotloff and James Foley for Saddiqui before beheading the men last year.

In the video, Faaruuq praises Saddiqui effusively.

“They say she took up a machine gun while they held her captive in the other room and was ready to attack her captors,” he said. “What a brave woman she is. And if my mother was in the same place, she would have taken her West Indian machete and cut her way through those kafirs (infidels).”

Her “symbolic” machete. To cut through those “symbolic” kafirs.


Try Not to Let This Destroy Your Faith in Local Government, Democrat Style

If you were wondering why Mini-Me to Obama, former governor Deval Patrick, wasn’t running for president (and you weren’t, I know, but play along), I could tell you stories. Anyone could, as long as they read the Boston Herald, not the Boston Gob.

Here’s today’s installment:

Former Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration secretly diverted nearly $27 million in public money to off-budget accounts that paid for a $1.35 million trade junket tab, bloated advertising contracts, and a deal with a federally subsidized tourism venture backed by U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, a Herald investigation has found.

The maneuver to fatten the hidden “trust” accounts with millions from state quasi-public agencies allowed Patrick to skirt the state Legislature and evade state budget cutbacks during the recession, the Herald found.

State lawmakers never approved the funding plan, and it’s not clear who even knew about it, but it is clear who orchestrated the end-around the budget and got state agencies to contribute.

“The (Patrick) administration asked us to,” said Katie Hauser, spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, which kicked in the largest amount to the trusts, $23.5 million.

The trust dinging taxpayers for Patrick’s around-the-world travel was funded by Massport and the Mass Tech Collaborative, an obscure agency that gets state and federal dollars, including an injection of Obama stimulus money.

Those two agencies, along with the MCCA, funneled nearly ?$27 million to the trust plan.

The donations from the convention center authority under its then-Executive Director James E. Rooney could raise eyebrows. Patrick approved the MCCA’s expansion plans in 2014 after the authority had given the $23.5 million to the tourism trust. Gov. Charlie Baker has since halted the expansion.

All told, contributions from the quasi-public agencies to the trusts totaled $37.35 million.

You scratch my back, I stab the taxpayers in the back—to the tune of $37,350,000. Only a five-spot and change from every man, woman, and child in the Commonwealth.

How corrupt are we? Even our gambling casinos are dirty. Imagine!

The State Ethics Commission is investigating gambling commissioner Stephen Crosby for a possible conflict of interest in his review of a proposed resort casino on land owned by a longtime friend.

The commission decided to launch a preliminary inquiry after receiving a sworn statement alleging that Crosby, the chairman, “actively participated” in the gambling commission’s work on the Eastern Massachusetts casino license after he officially recused himself from the proceedings. The land, which belonged to Crosby’s friend Paul Lohnes, is the site of Steve Wynn’s planned $1.75 billion resort casino.

I’m shocked—shocked—to find that gambling is going on here!

Your winnings sir.

So Massachusetts.


Speaker of the House Robert A. DeLeo said he was kept in the dark about former Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration’s move to secretly divert nearly $37 million in public money to off-budget accounts, and vowed to dig into the accounts.

“Quite frankly it’s something we really should take a look at, in terms of how this occurred (and) what happened,” DeLeo told reporters today following an unrelated State House event. He said he was never aware of the behind-the-scene maneuvering until “about 7 o’clock this morning” when he read a front page Herald story detailing the so-called hidden “trust” accounts the Patrick administration kept.

“If I didn’t know about it, I would doubt that any member in the Legislature would have known about it,” the Winthrop Democrat said. “It is disconcerting to me.”


Another Entitlement Computer Screw-Up

I like pithy headlines, but, really, what can you do with this?

The Baker administration said it will have to spend millions of dollars to repair a food stamp computer system that has continued to unfairly deny thousands of elderly, disabled, and working poor their food stamp benefits — a situation officials called horrible.

The $35 million system was rolled out last year, and the Patrick administration gave assurances that it was running properly in late December, after early trouble with processing food stamps arose.

But problems have persisted, as the system mistakenly closed thousands of food stamp accounts, leaving people at grocery stores with baskets of food they were unable to pay for when their cards were rejected.

“It’s an embarrassment,” said the state’s Health and Human Services secretary, Marylou Sudders.

As was most of the Patrick administration. Some thought he’d run for president, but I think David Axelrod (who ran his Together We Can campaign just before Obama’s Yes We Can campaign) told him his record as governor was an Alcatraz around his neck (as the late Boston mayor, Tom Menino, once said). This is just another example.

The cost of these measures: about $4 million.

McCue said the system was not adequately tested or vetted before it was rolled out publicly on Oct. 27. He added it was hard for him to dine at night in the comfort of his home in Weymouth, knowing the system has left people stranded without money for food.

Food stamp recipients are the latest group affected by chronic breakdowns in newly automated systems created to streamline and improve government services. In 2013, the administration of Governor Deval Patrick disastrously launched an online system to manage unemployment benefits that resulted in thousands of problems for jobless workers whose benefits were delayed or erroneously cut.

That was followed by the 2013 software failure of the Massachusetts Health Connector, which left people unable to access health coverage.

One could be forgiven for thinking that government can’t solve society’s problems for sh*t. Something tells me ex-Governor Patrick is dining just fine in the comfort of any one of his homes.

PS: Leave it to the Glob to cover only this story about food stamps, as important as it is, while ignoring the rampant fraud and abuse in the program. There would be no hungry people if other recipients didn’t trade their EBT cards for drugs, declare the cards lost, and get full replacement value.


Donkey Doo Update

Only yesterday I wrote:

ObamaCare is liberalism on steroids. Take a problem (heck, invent one), ignore human behavior, ram through a theoretical, ivory-tower, Jon Gruber-style, top-down response, watch everything turn to donkey doo.

I wasn’t wrong, but I should have added “Leave it as a steaming pile to attract flies and vermin”:

States are wasting millions of taxpayer dollars under ObamaCare’s massive Medicaid expansion by failing to regularly check the eligibility of program recipients, critics charge.

Under the Affordable Care Act, millions of people were enrolled in the expanded Medicaid, a jointly run state and federal program that primarily provides free or low-cost health care to low-income people, the elderly and disabled. Federal law requires that states annually verify the eligibility of recipients — but some are not, and that means tens of thousands of ineligible people are receiving benefits.

They focus on Arkansas and Massachusetts in the story (how do you think that makes us feel up here?), but the problem is doubtless national.

But each state scams in its own way:

In Arkansas, the first DHS waiver extended the review deadline to March, from Dec. 31, 2014, but Selig testified as late as April 20 that his department had been issued another waiver pushing the deadline to September.

When King requested to see the “waivers,” the DHS was unable to provide them. “We’re thinking the dog ate their waiver,” King said after months of requests.

“They’ve been misleading us — that’s just the facts,” King said. “It seems that they’re trying to cover what they should have been doing to begin with. … And it’s wasting money.”

Siler agreed, saying, “They are all too happy to leave on tens of thousands of individuals at the cost of millions of taxpayer dollars per month, than comply with the law and start controlling the exorbitant costs.”

Massachusetts officials blame ACA-required changes in the state’s Medicaid enrollment website — changes that crashed the site — for its delay in reviewing recipient eligibility.

Because the website crashed, former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick struck a deal with the Obama administration that allowed more than 320,000 people to be added to the Medicaid expansion program without checking eligibility, Archambault said.

Archambault estimates that 1.2 million people in Massachusetts still need to have their eligibility verified.

“They have not completed a redetermination in almost two years,” Archambault said. “If the Massachusetts Affordable Care Act website had worked the first time around, state and federal taxpayers would have paid far less than they have now.”

“Medicaid is a high-risk program,” said Carolyn Yocom, director of the health care team at the Government Accountability Office (GAO). “High risk for waste, fraud, and abuse by virtue of its improper payment system.”

Improper payments last year alone totaled about $17.5 billion, Yocom said.

Is that all?

No surprise here. What government program is not run with this kind of waste and fraud? I’m not even sure what my point is. This is who we are. For every Reagan we elect, who sees, hears, and speaks the evils of big government, we elect three Obamas who burst through spending limits and expand government exponentially. We finally elected a Republican governor, Charlie Baker, here in Massachusetts, who is trying to clean up just this sort of nonsense. But he follows two terms of mini-Barack, Deval Patrick, and will doubtless be succeeded by another big-spending, big-government Democrat.

I don’t even know who I really am. Am I the dour optimist who hopes against hope that America will at last wake up from the vial of Molly the Left slipped into our national cocktail? Or do I follow Aggie’s line (if I state it correctly) that America is probably too far gone to be redeemed. Mark Steyn hews to this view, as well. Be it deficits and accumulated debt, reliance on government, or general moral decay, we seem to be addicted to the temporary euphoria supplied by liberalism. And all we want when we wake up to the shame and ugliness of our appetites is more.


No Way to Run a Railroad, II

A follow-up to out post yeaterday:

Stop the presses! Jim Rooney is not going to file for another state pension before he becomes the $370,000-a-year (plus $55,000 in bonuses) boss of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce on July 1.

This is shocking. Because if you look up the phrase “double-dipper” in the dictionary, you see a photograph of the South Boston native.

Under his photo is a caption: “See also, plate, licking the.”

Rooney is the ultimate non-elected hack. He’s gone from one hackerama to hackapalooza his entire life. He already has the ultimate hack status symbol: A pension from the MBTA, currently worth $62,544.24 a year. He started collecting in 1999. Rooney was 41 years old — 41! This means he’s already collected about $900,000 since he retired, and he’s still only 57 years old.

Who retires at 41? Other than a tech billionaire, and pushing subway tokens under the window slot at the booth hardly qualifies. Wishing him long life as we do, he’ll likely collect two and a half million dollars—our dollars—for not working since before his hair turned gray.

Oh, silly me: he is working.

When Rooney was selected to succeed his fellow hack, Paul Guzzi, at the chamber, I immediately assumed that he would start collecting yet another kiss in the mail.

So I called that white elephant known as the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center and got Rooney’s flack. I asked her if her boss would soon be filing for his second pension.

“I’m not going to ask him that! That’s personal!”

Oh, go ahead and give it a shot, Katie. She did, and a few minutes later, she sent me an email: “Jim will answer your question about filing for a pension. The answer is ‘no.’”

A true hero. Never in the field of human resources has so much been owed by so few to so many.

Once he started collecting his T pension at age 41, Rooney migrated to City Hall to work as Mumbles’ chief of staff for a couple of years.

Then the MCCA beckoned, where Rooney followed in the footsteps of such tycoons as Francis X. Joyce, whose major qualification to run the MCCA was his prior career as the tin-whistle player in Billy Bulger’s band.

For his third hack career at the MCCA, Rooney has another 15 years, 3 months in (counting his time at City Hall). At the MCCA he was making as much as $276,000 a year, although more recently his pay was reduced, and lately he’s been grabbing about $270,000.

Let’s average out Rooney’s top three years at $260,000.

So he’s 57, 17 years beyond 40. Multiply 17 times his 15 years in and you get 26 percent, times 260,000. So he could grab a second pension of roughly $65,000, on top of the $62,541 from the T.

Does the chamber really want as its public face a … triple-dipper who’s collecting two kisses in the mail, from the T and the MCCA, on top of his chamber salary?

No. Or at least not now.

Lest you think this is an isolated event:

As long as I was perusing MBTA pensions, I checked on Whitey Bulger’s two nephews. Mark Bulger retired from the T at age 45 in 2008 and now collects $34,732. Patrick Bulger retired from the T at age 43 in 2007 and now collects $55,546.

The next time you hear coat holders and “advocates” whining about the T’s need for more “investments,” think Jim Rooney and the Bulgers.

Nepotism and living off the public teat: it’s what passes for government here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (so-called because graft and corruption are common).


No Way to Run a Railroad

During the winter just past, I believe I referred to Boston’s transit system, the MBTA or T, as a retirement plan that ran a railroad to lose money. But they can multi-multitask.

They are also a travel and leisure service:

We few, we happy few

Unscheduled absences by employees of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority resulted in the cancellation of more than 6,400 bus trips in January and February, a panel appointed to assess T management has found.

The panel, convened by Governor Charlie Baker as the MBTA struggled to recover from a series of heavy snowstorms, found that T workers were absent 11 to 12 percent of the time in 2014, roughly twice the rate reported by transit systems in other major US cities.

Overall, T employees are out of work for an average of 57 days per year, the report found. Those numbers include vacation days, as well as categories such as jury duty, sick leave, injuries, and family medical leave.

In the report, the panel attributes what it calls “excessive absenteeism” at the T to “weak MBTA management.”

As a result, “tens of thousands of trips are canceled each year due to unplanned absences,” according to a draft portion of a report obtained by the Globe.

Fifty-seven days off? That’s 11 1/2 weeks! Do they think they’re school teachers too? And that’s the average!!! Many would have had even more off days.

James O’Brien, the president of the Boston Carmen’s Union, called the numbers “distorted” because they combine so many categories of absences. Joe Pesaturo, a spokesman for the T, declined to comment on the report.

It’s the “categories” that are the problem. How many “sick days” does our “average” reader get? Jury duty occurs once every three years at most, and even then is often just a day.

There are 260 work days a year, and the average—average—T “worker” takes off 22% of them, more than one a week.

But that might not even be the worst news:

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority has failed to spend almost half of the money it has budgeted since 2009 for crucial upgrades to its aging vehicles, stations, and other infrastructure, according to findings from an expert panel convened by Governor Charlie Baker.

Though the T planned to spend about $4.5 billion on upgrades from the fiscal year 2010 to 2014, the agency left unused about $2.2 billion in grants and money it could have raised through bonds. That contributed to “chronic underinvestment and an acute backlog in fleet, facilities, systems, and infrastructure,” according to a portion of the report obtained by the Globe.

In the 2014 fiscal year, the report said, the T planned to spend $1.3 billion on crucial long-term upgrades. In reality, the agency spent just $631 million.

In early March, the agency said it would cost about $6.7 billion to repair and modernize its trains, rails, and stations. But an administration official said the panel believes the number is actually substantially higher.

They didn’t buy new trains, and their employees could barely bother to show up for work. It’s a wonder anything ran this winter. The only public service the T provides is a dry place for the bums to sleep and the buskers to play.

Joe Pesaturo, a spokesman for the T, declined to comment on the report.

He was probably on “family medical leave”. Why should he be the only one to show up for work?

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White Elephant

The perfect nickname for the building and its bloated honoree:

A worker puts the finishing touch on the “Waitress Sandwich” installation

President Obama and a host of other dignitaries will descend on the Hub today to dedicate the new ?Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate, after a pricey gala last night for high-rolling donors that the organizers did not identify.

The dedication of the $79 million institute on Columbia Point — subsidized with $38 million of federal earmarks and $5 million in state subsidies — begins at ?10 a.m. and will feature remarks from Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Gov. Charlie Baker, Mayor Martin J. Walsh, Secretary of State John F. Kerry, U.S. Sen. John McCain, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, among others.

The nonprofit institute held a gala last night, charging $250,000 for people who want to be members of the “chairman’s circle,” and $100,000 for a package of six “benefactor” tickets and recognition at the event. Other ticket prices ranged from $50,000 down to $2,500, the cheapest ticket for an individual.

Forty-three million dollars of our money—over half the cost—and the cheapest ticket to get into the roach motel is $2,500. So Kennedy.

More Kennedy:

When Ted Kennedy wrote his initial account of Chappaquiddick for the Edgartown police in 1969, after he scrawled the words “Mary Jo” in the first sentence he left a blank space — because he had no idea what his victim’s last name was.

That’s one of the many facts about Ted Kennedy that you won’t learn by visiting the new Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate.

Moore facts:

Ted was named after Edward Moore, his father’s faithful procurer.

It’s an “interactive museum,” and for the kiddies, there is what is called a “Senate Immersion Module.” Yes, immersion. Although presumably not in the backseat of a 1967 Oldsmobile Delmont.

In September 1972, in the Oval Office, Henry Kissinger told President Nixon a story about Cristina Ford, Henry Ford’s wife, being stalked by Teddy in Manhattan. Finally Mrs. Ford locked herself in her suite at the Carlyle Hotel, where FBI reports in 1965 said Teddy had been engaging in wild “sex parties,” like his older brothers before him, with Marilyn Monroe.

Kissinger: “(He) practically beat her door down … She finally told him, ‘What if the newspapers get this?’ He said, ‘No newspapers are going to print anything about me. I’ve got that covered.’?”

Nixon: “Jesus Christ! That’s pretty arrogant.”

Says Nixon! If Nixon is calling you arrogant, you’ve retired the trophy.

Entering the museum, visitors will see a video that includes snippets from some of Ted’s famous speeches. I hope the family retainers include the very truthful remarks he made in 1965 about the Immigration Reform Act:

“The bill will not flood our cities with immigrants. It will not upset the ethnic mix of our society. It will not relax the standards of admission. It will not cause American workers to lose their jobs …”

How about this speech about Nixon’s pardon in 1974, five years after the brooming of what the inquest judge described as his manslaughter of Mary Jo what’s-her-name:

“Do we operate under a system of equal justice under law? Or is there one system for the average citizen and another for the high and mighty?”

Here’s another snippet, from the Senate debate in 1991 over Clarence Thomas’ confirmation to the Supreme Court. At the time Ted was under subpoena to testify at his nephew’s rape trial in West Palm Beach:

“Are we an old-boys’ club — insensitive at best and perhaps something worse? Will we strain to concoct any excuse? To tolerate any unsubstantiated attack on a woman?”

Finally, the museum has an “almost exact replica” of Teddy’s Senate office. I trust that means a very well-stocked bar has been included, and if it’s really going to be exact, it will have to be an open bar.
Bartender — a Chivas on the rocks!

I wrote over the weekend about Harry Reid’s decade of defilement and debasement of the Senate, but I should have bided my time. Reid was an amateur compared to Kennedy, a Mario Mendoza compared to a Willie Mays of debauchery and corruption.

And we celebrate him. We shovel $43 million into a mausoleum for the runt of a very randy litter. Not since ancient Rome have so many monuments been erected for so many reprobates. Some of those Romans declared themselves gods. For that, the Kennedy clan relies on the Boston Globe.


“Cambridge Icon”

When I see these words in a Boston Globe headline, I jump to certain conclusions.

And I am not disappointed:

Friends say Marcia Deihl was always the first person to think up a witty song that perfectly captured the moment, and to encourage the same lyrical invention in others with her “Bizarre Song Parties,” where the price of admission was a ditty of one’s own.

Deihl was a Cambridge activist who spent her life fighting — and singing — for what she believed in, and who had embarked upon retirement with joy that she could finally dedicate all her time to her art.

And she loved to ride her bicycle, a clunky old three-speed decorated with paper flowers and streamers. With her long hair streaming behind her, she cut a distinctive figure, one familiar to many Cambridge residents.

On Thursday, friends mourned the untimely death of the 65-year-old, who was killed Wednesday after being hit by a dump truck while riding her bike on Putnam Avenue.

“She was an icon of Cambridge life. She was a very colorful figure, beloved by the people who knew her,” said Pam Chamberlain, a longtime friend who described Deihl as “a riot” with a keen sense of irony and a gift for bonding with people. “It’s a great loss for the folk community and the feminist movement.”

The accident occurred around 1:30 p.m. as Deihl left the Whole Foods Market, authorities said. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver of the truck, a 44-year-old Medford man who was not identified, is cooperating with investigators, and no charges had been filed by late Thursday afternoon, according to Jacquelyn Goddard, a spokeswoman for Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan.

David Deihl said his sister was a leftist at home in Cambridge’s progressive tradition.

“She and Cambridge were a perfect match,” he said with a chuckle.

Ain’t that the truth. I did not know the woman—never even heard of her, icon though she was—so my comments have nothing to do with her. But where others see icon, I see cliché. A 65-year-old riding a bike in snow-clogged streets, the bike decorated with flowers and streamers, she dressed in craft clothing, wearing her hair long and gray: she fits a type. Fit, rather.

And Cambridge is where that type felt most at home, which is again why she embodied a stereotype. I repeat that I never knew her, but I know many who sound just like her.

Deihl was a musician, singer, and songwriter who performed from 1973 to 1980 with The New Harmony Sisterhood Band, a feminist folk string band formed by students at the Goddard-Cambridge Graduate School for Social Change. In 2006, Smithsonian Folkways reissued the band’s 1977 record, “And Ain’t I a Woman?”

“We considered ourselves to be one of the musical voices of the women’s movement, and one of the musical voices of the left,” said Deborah Silverstein, one of Deihl’s bandmates. “We were singing about women, we were singing about class oppression, race — the progressive issues of our generation.”

Silverstein said that one song on their record, “Union Maid,” conjures Deihl’s fighting spirit, in its opening lyrics: “There once was a union maid, she never was afraid.”

“That line is about speaking out, and not being afraid, and using your voice, and that’s what we were doing,” Silverstein said. “We were breaking out, and breaking away, and breaking rules, and shocking and disappointing our parents, and we were not afraid. We wanted to be heard.”

A song written by a man, Woody Guthrie, ten years before the icon was even born. But whatever.

I wouldn’t have bothered with this obituary, except that it’s not an obituary. It’s a news story from the front page of the Metro section of the Boston Globe. And as I comment on news stories, I feel free to comment now.

First of all, the neighborhood. As the bicycling option on the map at the link indicates, there are several cycling-friendly roads in the neighborhood—Putnam Avenue very much excluded. You can get an even better idea of the conditions from Street View.

But you have to add four-foot snowbanks lining both sides of the street, and cars likely parked in every available spot. Not everyone lived a lifestyle serviceable by a “clunky old three-speed”. I love to cycle, but it’s still not safe yet—and I live in a leafier suburb than Cambridge! I actually feel just as sorry for the truck driver—who apparently did nothing wrong—as I do for the icon. Was she even wearing a helmet? The story doesn’t say.

I have to confess it’s this anecdote that pricks me most:

Deihl was brilliantly funny about her own life, and celebrating who she was, those who loved her recalled. In one song she wrote called “I’m Settled,” she sang about what she said was a true story: watching her brother get gifts celebrating his marriage, and sending out her own fake engraved invitations proclaiming herself “Settled.”

“No hubby no house no car no kid, no regrets for what I didn’t or I did,” she sang.

“Brilliant”? If you say so. I detect the faint aroma of sanctimony. For while she certainly was “settled”, it was in the make-believe land of Cambridge. Cambridge prides itself on “diversity”, but as we’ve learned repeatedly in our studies here, diversity amounts to orthodoxy of a different sort. Obama outpolled homeboy Romney 43,515 to 5,476 in 2012, an 8-1 margin. Cambridge is a community made to specifications, a Levittown for leftists (complete with a Peace Commission, should relations with Belmont or Somerville get sticky).

Leftists left to their own devices make bad choices—see the Obama vote above. But they also ride their clunky three-speed bikes to Whole Foods for organic kale and free-range almond milk when the roads are narrowed—and visibility limited—by snow banks from the Winter from Hell. I may be unkind, but I see in Ms. Deihl’s death an adherence to ideology rather than practicality. No house, no hubby, no kid—no problem. No car…well, no promises.

She’s not the only person to have been killed or injured trying to navigate local streets; given the number of joggers, cyclists, even baby strollers I’ve seen in the streets, I’m surprised there haven’t been more such incidents. Maybe there have been, but the Globe didn’t see fit to celebrate the victims’ lifestyles and poor judgement as news stories. As usual, whatever quarrel I have is with the lame-stream media that confuses the two.

PS: Irony of ironies, what do you want to bet the dump truck that killed her was trucking snow removed for dumping?

PPS: To prove I am not a total schmuck, here’s the info about her memorial service:

The Memorial Service for our beloved sister Marcia Deihl will be held at 2:00 PM on Saturday, April 25, at Old Cambridge Baptist Church.

PPPS: I confess I associate people of Ms. Deihl’s political persuasion with anti-Israel sentiments, an unforgiveable sin. I am rarely wrong, but I can find no evidence here.

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