Archive for November, 2008

Being Green means being Catty…Meow!!!

Photo courtesy of The Boston Globe

Photo courtesy of The Boston Globe

 

I was partaking in my favorite procrastination pasttime…surfing the web…when I came across this post in a blog sponsored by Boston.com/The Boston Globe. The hilarious thing about this article is not the content, but the comments that follow it. 

This is one of my favorites:

Well, Flynne, not everybody who reads the reporting in the Globe lives in Brookline…shocking, I know…so not all of us who have to deal with wild turkeys are doing so while walking around Coolidge Corner. So, those of us who do not live in Brookline (and there are QUITE a few of us…again, I know this is shocking) actually DO appreciate the “ingenious” garden hose suggestion.

Brookline is not the center of the universe. Imagine that.

There is some serious hatred of Brookline and Newton residents. I mean, I think Brookline and some of its residents are really annoying and self-righteous in many ways, but I don’t feel the hatred like some of these people. I do have to say, however, I found myself laughing more often than not. If you are a sensitive Brookline resident that can’t take a joke, then don’t read the comments. For everyone else, make sure you scroll down. It’s hilarious!

Tara Donovan at the ICA

I’m a bit embarassed to say I made my first trip to the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston last weekend.  The excursion took much longer than it should have, especially since Thursday nights offer free admission; however, I’ll be making my second trip today.

Tara Donovan’s breathtaking work is on display.

Untitled (Plastic Cups)

"Untitled (Plastic Cups)"

I can’t say enough about how much I loved this exhibition: http://www.icaboston.org/exhibitions/exhibit/donovan/

Bring your friends.  Bring your enemies.  This exhibit is awesome.

Hi Neighbor!

Hi all metblog readers. I am hollygolightly and I’ll be posting on metblogs Boston now and again!  I have been living in the Boston area since 2004–First in Cambridge’s Central Square and Inman Square and now in the Beacon Hill area. I am a grad student in Fine Art, so I have a good sense of what is happening on the Contemporary Art front in Boston. But I am also interested in general goings-on about town–and will appreciate your comments!

This week, on the forefront of my thoughts is, of course, the recent elections. I am optimistic about the sea change–and am thankful to be living in a Blue State where every other young person I talk to seems just as head over heels about Obama as I am.

Let me extend a proverbial pat on the back to all you MA residents who got out there and voted! It is your right–and I am glad to hear that the voting turnout was 90%….ladies and minorities especially, generations of people fought hard for your place at the ballot box. Way to exercise the right!

I am wondering what you all are up to this coming weekend in light of the recent elections because I’m feeling this to be a cause to celebrate, aren’t you? Any ideas to commemorate the Obama-rama with cakes, parties, champagne, fundraisers, balloons, public displays of affection, walks in the park, music, etc? I expect the general good mood to overflow into the wee hours of the weekend and am wondering if anyone has heard of anything particularly geared towards celebrating the democratic victory. If nothing else, I’ll be eating 10 cent buffalo wings at the Red Hat–but that won’t be until monday, of course.

Harvard Square on this night…

 

image courtesy of Obama for President website

image courtesy of Obama for President website

…was controlled pandemonium. I know, contradiction in terms, but there is no other way to describe it. There was singing, screaming, crying, dancing, leaping in the streets, but not one window was broken, no one was beaten. I barely saw any cops. I hope you’re not surprised to hear that Cambridge is a Democratic stronghold, as is Boston, as is Massachusetts (despite our penchant for Republican governors).

The members of a finals club (Harvard’s version of a frat) all congregated on its building’s front steps and sang along with a projected recording of the Black National Anthem. THAT was a fascinating site…a bunch of white male teenagers belting “sing a song…” as loud as they could. Only in America.

Students jumped into the streets and congregated around the Newsstand. They dissipated just as fast. See? Controlled chaos.

I can’t describe my emotions right now. I go from insane laughter to tears in an instant. My heart is racing, and I’m not sure how much more it can handle. But I’m glad I’m in a blue state tonight. I’m glad Massachusetts didn’t let its bruised ego over the Hilary loss get in the way of doing the right thing. And I’m so glad that I participated in making this day happen.

Tomorrow is a new day.

Statewide Ballot Question 1: State Personal Income Tax

The proposed law would eliminate the state income tax by January 2010.

Summary
This proposed law would reduce the state personal income tax rate to 2.65% for all categories of taxable income for the tax year beginning on or after January 1, 2009, and would eliminate the tax for all tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2010. The personal income tax applies to income received or gain realized by individuals and married couples, by estates of deceased persons, by certain trustees and other fiduciaries, by persons who are partners in and receive income from partnerships, by corporate trusts, and by persons who receive income as shareholders of “S corporations” as defined under federal tax law. The proposed law would not affect the tax due on income or gain realized in a tax year beginning before January 1, 2009. The proposed law states that if any of its parts were declared invalid, the other parts would stay in effect.

WHAT YOUR VOTE WILL DO

A YES VOTE would reduce the state personal income tax rate to 2.65% for the tax year beginning on January 1, 2009, and would eliminate the tax for all tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2010.

A NO VOTE would make no change in state income tax laws.

Source: http://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/ele08/ballot_questions_08/quest_1.htm

Arguments:

In Favor

We went around and asked people what percentage of their taxes they believed government wasted.  They said 41%:

“On average, Massachusetts voters estimate that the state government wastes 41 cents out of every dollar in state taxes that they pay. Even voters who think the state is headed in the right direction feel that more than one-third of their tax dollars are being wasted.” (Source)

From what I can gather, that’s really what proponents did.  I’m not kidding.  This is the survey question: ““How many CENTS out of every dollar you pay in state taxes would you say is WASTED by the state government?”

That’s it.  That’s the survey that’s headlining this campaign.

“Follow up question for you.  How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop?”

In 2012, I’m going to propose Question 7 — a bill to get rid of paper plates in Massachusetts.  We waste more paper with those damn paper plates sticking together.  This is going to be the groundwork for my campaign: a survey question that asks people “How many paper plates would you say Massachusetts residents waste every year?”

Me: “Sir, how many paper plates would you say Massachusetts residents waste every year?”

Sucker: “Oh, I’d say — 23.7% of paper plates are wasted.  They stick together.”

Me: “Thank you.  Please vote ‘Yes’ on Question 7 in November.”

Sucker: “Will do.”

I think I’ll hire these guys to do the survey, they did the one this year:
Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates.

According to their website: “The firm has earned an unparalleled reputation among the leading survey research and campaign strategists in the nation. In this age of accelerating change and instantaneous communication, the proactive management of perceptions has never been more important. ”

“[…] the proactive management of perceptions […]” — that’s exactly what I’m looking for!

Statewide Ballot Question 2: Possession of Marijuana

The proposed law would downgrade the possession of an ounce or less of marijuana to a civil, rather than criminal, penalty.  Those 18 years or older will be subject to a $100 fine (and forfeiture of marijuana); those under 18 will be have their parents notified, etc.

Summary

This proposed law would replace the criminal penalties for possession of one ounce or less of marijuana with a new system of civil penalties, to be enforced by issuing citations, and would exclude information regarding this civil offense from the state’s criminal record information system. Offenders age 18 or older would be subject to forfeiture of the marijuana plus a civil penalty of $100. Offenders under the age of 18 would be subject to the same forfeiture and, if they complete a drug awareness program within one year of the offense, the same $100 penalty.

Offenders under 18 and their parents or legal guardian would be notified of the offense and the option for the offender to complete a drug awareness program developed by the state Department of Youth Services. Such programs would include ten hours of community service and at least four hours of instruction or group discussion concerning the use and abuse of marijuana and other drugs and emphasizing early detection and prevention of substance abuse.

The penalty for offenders under 18 who fail to complete such a program within one year could be increased to as much as $1,000, unless the offender showed an inability to pay, an inability to participate in such a program, or the unavailability of such a program. Such an offender’s parents could also be held liable for the increased penalty. Failure by an offender under 17 to complete such a program could also be a basis for a delinquency proceeding.

The proposed law would define possession of one ounce or less of marijuana as including possession of one ounce or less of tetrahydrocannibinol (“THC”), or having metabolized products of marijuana or THC in one’s body.

Under the proposed law, possessing an ounce or less of marijuana could not be grounds for state or local government entities imposing any other penalty, sanction, or disqualification, such as denying student financial aid, public housing, public financial assistance including unemployment benefits, the right to operate a motor vehicle, or the opportunity to serve as a foster or adoptive parent. The proposed law would allow local ordinances or bylaws that prohibit the public use of marijuana, and would not affect existing laws, practices, or policies concerning operating a motor vehicle or taking other actions while under the influence of marijuana, unlawful possession of prescription forms of marijuana, or selling, manufacturing, or trafficking in marijuana.

The money received from the new civil penalties would go to the city or town where the offense occurred.

WHAT YOUR VOTE WILL DO

A YES VOTE would replace the criminal penalties for possession of one ounce or less of marijuana with a new system of civil penalties.

A NO VOTE would make no change in state criminal laws concerning possession of marijuana.

Source: http://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/ele08/ballot_questions_08/quest_2.htm

Some of the arugments on both sides:

In Favor

Those in favor of decriminalizing the possession of less than an ounce of marijuana note that the bill, in instituting a civil penalty, would prevent violators from acquiring a “CORI” record (Criminal Offender Record Information).  These documents record every appearance that an individual makes in a state court for a criminal offense, regardless of whether they are convicted or not.  Proponents of the new bill suggest that the record can threaten employment, housing, and education opportunities.

Proponents claim that the state would save $30 million dollars annually, associated with enforcing the current laws regarding marijuana possession. (http://sensiblemarijuanapolicy.org/about-initiative)

The penalties for juveniles would actually be more harsh than they currently are, entailing community service (ugh) and attendance in drug awareness programs.  I like this argument because, on the one hand, we decriminalize the possession of marijuana and reconceive of the drug’s role in our society, and then we bring the hammer down on the minors — people who can’t even vote on the law and are receiving a message that “the grown-ups” don’t see the drug as being as detrimental as it once was (and hence, the decriminalization).  Bravo.

Eleven other states have decriminalized marijuana, and they’re doing fine.

You probably don’t even know which states they are.  Well, do you?

Not in Favor

The naysayers argue that the penalties for first time offenders aren’t as harsh as the other side makes them out to be:

For qualified first offenders, especially teens and young adults, the District Attorneys offer diversion programs that steer kids away from the courts, put them on probation and then dismiss the charge.  If first offenders are actually arraigned in court for marijuana possession, Massachusetts law requires that they be placed on probation and that, at the successful conclusion of probation, “the case shall be dismissed and the record shall be sealed.”

Source: http://www.mass.gov/?pageID=dmdautilities&L=1&sid=Dmdaa&U=featurestory_moreEnemeny

By imposing a civil penalty, the citation for possession of marijuana will actually be more accessible than information contained in a CORI record (Source).  I find this to be the most interesting argument from either side.  Unfortunately, for those not in favor of Question 2, this argument undercuts the basis of their position: that marijuana’s effect on society is serious, and therefore, the penalties for marijuana possession should remain harsh.  According to that logic, they should be favoring more public access to one’s infringements of the law.

Regarding claims by the other side:

  • Claim: “Question 2 claims that it will protect our children from a criminal record that will prevent them from ever receiving student loans.”
  • Response: “Under current federal law, the only way an offender can be denied a student loan is if he is convicted of a drug offense while he is in school and already receiving federal aid, and then he loses his aid for one year.  He can lessen that one year period if he completes drug rehabilitation.  If he is convicted again, under the same conditions, he loses his loan eligibility for 2 years.” (Source)
  • Claim: “Massachusetts will save $30 million.”
  • Response: First, proponents of the bill commissioned the report where that figure was unearthed from.  Second, “[…] if Question 2 passes, police officers will have to spend the same time and effort as they do on a criminal case.  They will have to confiscate the drugs, question the offender, write a report, transport the drugs to a secure site for destruction, and deliver their report to the police station as well as city hall for accounting purposes.  The time spent will be the equivalent, if not more, than what the police spend now.” (Source)

Opponents also go ad hominem on George Soros and mock  the “grassroots” characterization of the bill’s proponents.  I don’t know.

They talk about the number of criminals who are arrested with marijuana in their system, blurring the line between causality and correlation for the reader.

They argue against propositions that aren’t being made.  Prime examples include statistics regarding marijuana use and the operation of motor vehicles.  The proposed bill has nothing to do with encouraging driving while under the influence.  The statistic they need to make an argument, is one showing an increase in the number of marijuana-related accidents as a result of decriminalizing the drug.  They don’t present that.

They don’t even present numbers on the increase in marijuana usage based on the decriminalization of it.

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